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Saturday May 25, 2024

Trump, in Pennsylvania, attacks judge as first criminal trial looms

The former president has frequently attacked Justice Juan Merchan and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in the past

By Reuters
April 15, 2024
Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump, speaks at a rally outside Schnecksville Fire Hall in Pennsylvania. — AFP/File
Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump, speaks at a rally outside Schnecksville Fire Hall in Pennsylvania. — AFP/File

SCHNECKSVILLE, Pennsylvania: Donald Trump again slammed the judge overseeing his first criminal trial during a rally in Pennsylvania on Sunday, comments that portend a rough-and-tumble several weeks ahead as the former president gears up for court.

Trump is expected to be in Manhattan on Monday for the beginning of the trial, a case involving hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.

The former president has frequently attacked Justice Juan Merchan and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in the past, accusing both men of exhibiting political bias against him.

Merchan in late March issued a gag order preventing Trump from making public statements about witnesses concerning their potential testimony and about prosecutors, court staff and their family members, if those statements are meant to interfere with the case.

On April 1, Merchan extended that gag order to include members of his own family, after the former president disparaged his daughter, who runs a digital marketing agency that works with Democratic candidates and nonprofits. The order excluded Merchan himself.

“I have a crooked judge. This has never happened before, you do know that, right?” Trump told supporters on Saturday night in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Allentown.

“Fully gagged before a highly conflicted and corrupt judge, who suffers from TDS. Does anyone know what TDS is? Correct. Trump Derangement Syndrome.”

During the speech, Trump briefly referenced Iran’s recent drone and missile attack on Israel, saying that it would have never happened under his watch. “They’re under attack right now,” Trump said. “That’s, that’s because we show great weakness. This would not happen, the weakness that we’ve shown, it’s unbelievable, and it would not have happened if we were in office.”

Trump’s visit to Pennsylvania, which also included a fundraiser, will be closely followed by President Joe Biden, who will make three stops in the battleground state next week, speaking first in his hometown of Scranton about his push to reform the US tax code.

With 19 electoral votes - one of the highest counts among all 50 states and voters that swing between backing Democrats like Biden and Republicans like Trump, Pennsylvania is a top prize in the 2024 presidential election and is likely to see many more visits in coming months.

Biden won Pennsylvania in 2020 by less than 1.5 percent, or roughly 80,000 votes, after Trump beat Hillary Clinton there by less than 45,000 votes in 2016. State opinion polls taken in March swing from showing Biden with a 10-percentage-point lead to Trump up 4 points, election data site FiveThirtyEight shows.

Democrats are betting on a strong turnout in Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs, a region that accounts for 33 percent of all voting registrations, to offset losses throughout much of the rest of the state. Trump and Republicans are looking to run up huge margins in less populous, largely white counties to offset urban votes.

Biden, who has been to Pennsylvania four times so far this year, will also travel to the Pittsburgh area and Philadelphia over three days, the White House said on Friday.