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Shanthi Rexaline

Trump Galvanizes Supporters At Well Attended Waco Rally In The Wake Of Legal Woes

A motorcycle rider shows his support for former President Donald Trump near his Mar-a-Lago home on March 23, 2023 in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump said on a social media post that he expects to be arrested in connection with an investigation into a hush-money scheme involving adult film actress Stormy Daniels and called on his supporters to protest any such move. Trump awaits a possible indictment from the Manhattan grand jury probing the hush money scheme. JOE RAEDLE/BENZINGA

Donald Trump’s campaign trail couldn’t have started any better for the former president, who is facing the prospect of a potential arrest.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the Waco Regional Airport on March 25, 2023 in Waco, Texas. Former U.S. president Donald Trump attended and spoke at his first rally since announcing his 2024 presidential campaign. Today in Waco also marks the 30-year anniversary of the weeks deadly standoff involving Branch Davidians and federal law enforcement. 82 Davidians were killed, and four agents left dead. BRANDON BELL/BENZINGA

Donald Trump’s rally in Waco, Texas late Saturday was attended by thousands of his supporters — despite the fact that his niece Mary Trump had called on her followers last week to book tickets and ensure that her uncle would be met with an entirely vacant venue. Mary Trump had also suggested that the ex-president would use his appearance as a ploy to incite “violent chaos to escape justice.”

“What happened is he needed attention, he told a lie, a very melodramatic lie, a lot of people fell for it, and suddenly he had a platform again to set up the situation in which someone potentially could do his bidding,” The former president’s niece said about the post on Truth Social.

Donald Trump landed in Waco — a city in central Texas — on his private jet and took to the stage amid chants of “USA” from the crowd, video footage shared by local television station KWTX showed. As a choir of mostly people arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 riots performed the song “Justice for All,” footage of the Capitol Hill insurrection was shown on big screens.

The former president, meanwhile, stood with his hands on his heart throughout the performance.

Waco is also the site of a 51-day standoff between federal authorities and Branch Dravidian leader David Koresh that took place in 1993. Nearly 80 people were killed as a result.

“Prosecutorial misconduct is their new tool, and they’re willing to use it at levels never seen before in our country. We’ve had it, but we’ve never had it like this,” Donald Trump said at the rally, in reference to the authorities who are conducting multiple criminal investigations into him.

“We must stop them, and we must not allow them to go through another election where they have yet another tool in their tool kit,” he added. “The thugs and criminals who are corrupting our justice system will be defeated, discredited and totally disgraced.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs copies of his book after speaking to Iowa voters during an event at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on March 10, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa. DeSantis, who is widely expected to seek the 2024 Republican nomination for president, is one of several Republican leaders visiting the state this month. SCOTT OLSON/BENZINGA

The former president also tried to argue that his personal troubles were not his alone. “They’re not coming after me, they’re coming after you,” he told the crowd. 

“2024 is the final battle,” Donald Trump said at one point. “It’s going to be the big one.”

The embattled president noted that his “enemies are desperate to stop us” and “opponents have done everything they can to crush our spirit and to break our will.”

“But they failed. They’ve only made us stronger. And 2024 is the final battle, it’s going to be the big one. You put me back in the White House, their reign will be over and America will be a free nation once again,” he said.

Donald Trump also said that the greatest threat to America was not China or Russia but American politicians, including President Joe Biden, Senate Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) and House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif).

Donald Trump also took shots at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, suggesting that the governor had come to him in 2018 and begged for an endorsement. The former president called the governor disloyal and told the crowd that DeSantis, a former congressman, supports raising the retirement age for Social Security.

“He’s dropping like a rock,” Donald Trump said, referring to his lead over DeSantis in recent surveys.

DeSantis has yet to make any announcements if he will run for the White House. Donors have questioned whether he will make the commitment in this coming presidential election cycle.

Produced in association with Benzinga

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