By Caden Pearson
Former President Donald Trump accused President Joe Biden and his allies of orchestrating his arrest on Tuesday, saying it is the pinnacle of “abuse of power” by a sitting president.
Trump, who is the leading challenger for the 2024 presidency, denounced his indictment while delivering remarks from Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, hours after his arraignment.
“Today, we witnessed the most evil and heinous abuse of power in the history of our country—a very sad thing to watch,” Trump told a crowd of his supporters.
Trump also vehemently criticized Special Counsel Jack Smith and accused Biden of orchestrating the arrest and charges against him. He framed Smith’s indictments as amounting to election interference and as evidence of a politically motivated persecution by his chief political opponent, reminiscent of totalitarian regimes.
Smith was appointed special counsel shortly after Trump announced his presidential candidacy in November last year.
“He does political hit jobs,” Trump said, going on to call Smith an “uncontrolled Trump hater.”
Trump also highlighted the special counsel’s infringement upon attorney-client privilege by acquiring the notes from his attorney, M. Evan Corcoran.
“What they did to lawyers, what they have done to our lawyers, our lawyers, all of our lawyers, they’ve done things that were absolutely horrible and unthinkable,” Trump said.
Trump described the charges he faces as being part of “yet another attempt to rig and steal a presidential election.”
“But they will fail, and we will win bigger and better than ever before,” he declared to an enthusiastic crowd of his supporters.
Trump made his remarks hours after he entered a plea of not guilty in a Miami federal court. He faces 37 felony charges related to the alleged improper possession of classified records at Mar-a-Lago.
The indictment alleges that Trump unlawfully retained 31 government documents, including top-secret information related to defense capabilities, nuclear programs, and potential vulnerabilities. The indictment includes six counts, including conspiracy to obstruct justice, concealing documents, and false statements.
It also accuses Trump of twice sharing classified documents in 2021, possibly violating the federal Espionage Act. If convicted, he could face penalties of up to 20 years in prison.
Trump, who has steadfastly maintained his innocence and called the charges a “witch hunt,” defended himself, saying his case should fall under the Presidential Records Act.
Democrats and Trump’s critics have argued that Trump has been treated fairly and was given enough time by National Archives to turn over the documents.
Trump on Tuesday night said that he lives a “busy life” and that many of the boxes containing presidential records also contained personal items. Citing a 2012 district court ruling related to former President Bill Clinton, who kept audio tapes in a sock draw, Trump said he believed there “seemed to be no rush.”
“I hadn’t had a chance to go through the boxes. It’s a long tedious job, it takes a lot of time,” Trump said.
“The Espionage Act has been used to go after traitors and spies and has nothing to do with a former president legally keeping his own documents,” Trump said.
“As president, the law that applies to this case is not the Espionage Act, but very simply the Presidential Records Act—which is not even mentioned in this ridiculous 44-page indictment,” he continued. “Under the Presidential Records Act, which is civil, not criminal, I have every right to have these documents.”
Trump said he is being threatened with 400 years in prison for “possessing my own presidential papers—which just about every other president has done,” calling it “one of the most outrageous and vicious legal theories ever put forward in an American court of law.”
Trump pointed out the discrepancy between him and Biden, who is also under special counsel investigation for his alleged improper retention of classified records but hasn’t been indicted. Trump also noted that Hillary Clinton destroyed classified emails and wasn’t indicted.
The White House has previously declined to comment.