Trump’s Prime-Time Speech From Mar-a-Lago: A Laundry List of Grievances

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Former President Donald J. Trump, speaking at his Florida resort at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday evening hours after his arraignment in New York, cast the case against him as unfair and politically motivated in an unusually short 21-minute speech that focused as much on other grievances and investigations.

Standing before his family members, Republican Party officials and allies, Mr. Trump called the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, a “criminal,” claiming without evidence that Mr. Bragg had leaked information from the grand jury. And Mr. Trump also called the judge overseeing the case, Juan M. Merchan, “a Trump-hating judge with a Trump-hating wife and family.”

In the courtroom during his arraignment earlier on Tuesday, Justice Merchan admonished Mr. Trump about his public remarks, urging him to refrain from making statements about the case with “the potential to incite violence and civil unrest.”

In his speech, which was carried live by CNN and Fox News, Mr. Trump spent much of his time airing other perceived wrongs against him. He renewed his criticisms of the F.B.I.’s search of Mar-a-Lago in August, the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into him and his family’s business dealings and the open case in Georgia about his meddling in the 2020 election there.

“This is a persecution, not an investigation,” he said of the New York attorney general’s case.

Anticipation for Mr. Trump’s remarks had been building all day as cable networks and national media outlets delivered minute-by-minute updates. The former president, meanwhile, declined to speak with reporters in New York and instead saved his remarks for a prime-time address back home in Florida.

How Times reporters cover politics. We rely on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staff members may vote, they are not allowed to endorse or campaign for candidates or political causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving money to, or raising money for, any political candidate or election cause.

But Mr. Trump seemed to squander his opportunity with a speech that was long on complaints and light on applause lines. Inside the ballroom, the biggest cheer of the night was when he ended his speech by repeating his 2016 campaign motto.

His remarks amount to a strategy that has become commonplace for Mr. Trump: blurring the lines between his court battles and political opponents to sway public opinion over his arrest while ginning up enthusiasm — and campaign contributions — from supporters.

The ballroom at Mar-a-Lago where Mr. Trump spoke — the same spot where he announced his third White House bid in November — was set up with a wide walkway for Trump allies and relatives to make their entrances. The design also divided the room in a way that made the crowd appear larger than it was. Roughly 350 seats were set up for the audience, which included two of Mr. Trump’s adult children, Tiffany Trump and Donald Trump Jr., as well as Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, both far-right Republicans.

The former president spoke roughly seven hours after he left a Manhattan courthouse, where he pleaded not guilty to 34 felony charges that prosecutors brought against him over his role in coordinating hush-money payments to a porn star. He is the first former president to face the prospect of a criminal trial.

Mr. Trump has long aimed to paint himself as a target of politically motivated attacks and claimed the charges against him were baseless. Shortly after being indicted by a grand jury last week, he issued a statement calling the indictment “political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history.”

His message has resonated with supporters. Since his indictment, Mr. Trump’s poll numbers in the 2024 Republican presidential primary have risen by double digits, even as some longtime supporters have slowed in their rush to defend him. As he was arraigned on Tuesday, a crowd of his supporters gathered in the streets outside the Manhattan courthouse.

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