Former President Donald Trump called the indictment against him a “fraudulent” and “political” attack by his enemies in a brief and rambling speech at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Tuesday night. Trump, who pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records related to a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, accused Democrats of trying to interfere in elections by using law enforcement and claimed he was the victim of a witch hunt.
He also rehashed his long list of grievances and falsehoods about the 2020 election, the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the Covid-19 pandemic, the border crisis and other issues. He received cheers and applause from his supporters, who included some Republican lawmakers and allies.
Trump’s speech came hours after he was arraigned in a Manhattan courthouse and became the first former president ever charged with a crime. The indictment alleges that Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, orchestrated a scheme to conceal payments to Daniels and another woman who claimed to have had affairs with him before he ran for president in 2016.
The payments were intended to influence the outcome of the election, according to prosecutors. Trump has denied the allegations and said he never had any sexual relationship with Daniels or the other woman. He also said he never authorized any payments to them. Trump’s speech was his first public appearance since his arrest and his first major address since leaving office in January. He did not take any questions from reporters or address any details of the case. He said he would continue to fight for the country and hinted at a possible run for president again in 2024. “We are a nation in decline, and now these radical left lunatics want to interfere in elections by using law enforcement,” Trump said. “We can’t let that happen. With all of this being said, and with a very dark cloud over our beloved country, I have no doubt nevertheless we will make America great again.”