Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters in a campaign visit to Council Bluffs on July 7, 2023. He was back in Iowa on July 18 to participate in a cable TV interview. (Photo by Jared Strong/Iowa Capital Dispatch)
Former President Donald Trump — who might face criminal charges for attempting to interfere with the outcome of the 2020 presidential election — claimed Tuesday afternoon in Iowa that he is the victim of election interference by federal prosecutors.
Trump announced earlier Tuesday he has received a letter from Special Counsel Jack Smith saying he is a target of the federal investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Typically, such a notice precedes an indictment.
There is also pending investigation in Georgia into Trump’s alleged attempt to alter the results of the 2020 election. Trump asked Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” 11,780 votes — one more than his slim deficit to Democrat Joe Biden — according to a recording of a phone call between the two men.
But Trump said Tuesday those investigations — and two others that have already yielded criminal indictments against him — are the result of Democrats’ fears that he could be reelected.
“It’s election interference — never been done like this in the history of our country,” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity, who interviewed the candidate before a live audience in Cedar Rapids. “And it’s a disgrace what’s happening to our country, whether it’s the borders or the elections or kinds of things like this, where the (U.S. Department of Justice) has become a weapon for the Democrats, an absolute weapon.”
Reporters were barred from covering the event, which was billed as a town hall meeting but featured no questions from the audience during its Tuesday night broadcast on the cable channel.
About half of the one-hour program was devoted to the investigations into Trump that he and Hannity allege are politicized.
“If elected, he is also planning to completely reform America’s two-tiered system of justice,” Hannity said in his introduction.
Hannity alleged that there were insufficient investigations or prosecutions in recent years of Democrats: of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for her private email server and a dossier that linked Trump to Russian election interference; of President Joe Biden who was found to have improperly retained classified documents from his time as vice president; and of Biden’s son Hunter and his overseas business dealings.
Trump has been indicted twice this year, including for allegedly scheming to keep classified documents from his time as president and sharing some of the information with people who lacked necessary security clearances. His residence and resort in Florida was searched by federal investigators.
“Hillary Clinton’s home wasn’t raided; Joe Biden’s garage wasn’t raided,” Hannity said, and he later added: “Hunter Biden has always been protected.”
Trump is also accused of falsifying New York business records to conceal a hush-money payment to an adult film actress.
“Until I got indicted, I had such respect for the office of the president,” Trump said.
He claimed Biden’s family has received money from foreign countries and that Biden is a “compromised president.”
Little talk of IowaTrump’s Tuesday appearance in Cedar Rapids was four days after he skipped a gathering of evangelical Christians in Des Moines that featured interviews with six of his caucus opponents.
The event was hosted by The Family Leader, whose president recently called for three Iowa Supreme Court justices to resign or be impeached for failing to put a restrictive abortion law from 2018 into effect. State lawmakers last week adopted new, similar legislation, and Gov. Kim Reynolds signed it into law at the Family Leadership Summit.
Trump has been reluctant to express support for federal legislation to restrict abortion, and he didn’t broach the topic — or much else pertaining to Iowa other than his lead in the polls — on Hannity’s show. He claims credit for the overturning of Roe v. Wade because of his three appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court, but he says the issue should be decided by each state.
A Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll in March found that about 61% of adults in the state support legal abortion in most or all cases. That’s up from 48% in 2008.
That level of support is likely to increase in the future: About 72% of Iowans younger than 35 support legal abortion in most or all cases, according to the poll.
Trump has said he supports exceptions to abortion restrictions for rape, incest and to protect the mother’s wellbeing.
Trump has been criticized recently by some supporters of Reynolds for bemoaning her public neutrality toward the Republican presidential field. It’s customary for governors of the first-in-the-nation caucus state to refrain from endorsements before party nominees are chosen.
Trump insinuated on Truth Social last week that Reynolds won election in 2018 because of his support and endorsement. Trump has said he expects some measure of loyalty from those he aids in elections.
“Now, she wants to remain ‘NEUTRAL,’” Trump wrote on the social media platform he founded. “I don’t invite her to events!”
Reynolds, speaking to reporters Tuesday at the Iowa Capitol, did not credit Trump for her 2018 win. “You know, I owe it to the Iowans who actually put their trust in me. They put their trust in me in 2018. It was a tough year for Republicans. I was one of the few that made it across the finish line and I overwhelmingly won in 2022,” she said.
Reynolds said she has invited all of the Republican candidates to the Iowa State Fair, including Trump, for one-on-one chats with her. “So hopefully, he’ll take that opportunity to show up,” she added Tuesday.
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