Trump’s Post-verdict Outburst

Donald Trump, former president and newly convicted felon, went on a vocal rampage this morning at a press conference inside his namesake Manhattan skyscraper. Trump is livid after having been found guilty yesterday on all 34 counts related to hush-money payments and connected cover-ups dating back to his 2016 campaign. His wild, unrestrained remarks today offered a rhetorical hint at the extremism to come in the remaining five months of this year’s presidential election, for which he is once again the presumptive Republican nominee.

“You saw what happened to some of the witnesses that were on our side,” Trump said. “They were literally crucified by this man who looks like an angel, but he is really a devil.” Trump deemed the judge in the case, Juan Merchan, a “tyrant,” called his trial “ridiculous,” and lamented that Merchan could lock him away for 187 years. The former president will be sentenced on July 11; it is uncertain whether he will serve any jail time at all.

President Joe Biden, Trump seethed, is the “most incompetent,” “dumbest,” and “most dishonest” president America has ever had. “He is a Manchurian candidate,” Trump said of his rival—an explosive, unfounded accusation that, had anyone else said it, would elicit bafflement and condemnation. Michael Tyler, the Biden campaign’s communications director, said in a statement this afternoon that Trump is “confused, desperate, and defeated” and “consumed by his own thirst for revenge and retribution.”

Trump’s speech resembled the remarks he’s made during his rallies over the past several months, as his tone has become ever more dark and apocalyptic. “I am your retribution” has been his 2024 campaign’s central theme. But this morning, it was clearer than ever that anyone who does not fall in line behind Trump is considered an enemy.

Though the speech was ostensibly a reaction to his trial verdict, he used the time to attack one of his favorite targets: immigrants. He repeated his line that foreign countries are emptying out their jails and “insane asylums” and sending people to America. “We have a president and a group of fascists that don’t want to do anything about it,” Trump said. “They’re destroying our country. Our country is in very bad shape.” He complained that people “are allowed to pour in from countries unknown, from places unknown, from languages that we haven’t even heard of.” He claimed that American children can’t play Little League games anymore because of too many migrant tents on the field.

Nine years ago, on June 16, 2015, Trump took his infamous golden-escalator ride in this same Manhattan tower and announced that he was running for president. That day, many people treated the event like a carnival—a former reality-TV star and tabloid fixture called a press conference in the building with his name on it because he wanted attention. But even that day, Trump’s mask was off. He attacked immigrants then too, calling Mexicans “rapists” and “people that have lots of problems.” A year and a half later, he was elected president of the United States.

Today, despite his conviction and ever-ratcheting bombast, Trump is leading Biden in the polls and could well return to the White House. Yesterday’s verdict and this morning’s remarks may not derail his career so much as galvanize his supporters. His campaign claims to have raised $34.8 million since the verdict. Trump concluded his statement this morning by saying that November 5 is “the most important day in the history of our country.” He’s right.

Rose Horowitch contributed to this report.

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