Donald Trump took a defiant stance at a rally Saturday in Waco, Texas, disparaging the prosecutors investigating him and predicting his vindication as he rallied supporters in a city made famous by deadly resistance against law enforcement, per the AP. With a hand over his heart, Trump stood at attention when his rally opened with a song called “Justice for All” performed by a choir of people imprisoned for their roles in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Some footage from the day was shown on big screens displayed at the rally site as the choir sang the national anthem and a recording played of Trump reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
The display opened Trump’s first rally of his 2024 campaign. He then launched into a speech brimming with resentments and framed the probes, including a New York grand jury investigation, as political attacks on him and his followers. “You will be vindicated and proud,” Trump said. “The thugs and criminals who are corrupting our justice system will be defeated, discredited, and totally disgraced.” Trump's event at the airport grounds in Waco was part of a broader effort by the former president to use the potential indictment as a rallying cry for supporters to maintain his status as the GOP frontrunner. It came one day after Trump raised the specter of violence should he become the first former president in US history to face criminal charges.
Trump declared his innocence in the Manhattan investigation into a hush money payment made during the 2016 election to porn actor Stormy Daniels to keep her from going public about a sexual encounter she said she had with Trump years earlier. A grand jury hearing the case is expected to meet again on Monday. Trump declared Saturday that his “enemies are desperate to stop us" and that “our opponents have done everything they can to crush our spirit and to break our will." He added: “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."
Trump's choice of venue in Waco for his first rally came amid the 30th anniversary of a 51-day standoff and deadly siege between US law enforcement and the Branch Davidians that resulted in the deaths of more than 80 members of the religious cult and four federal agents and has become a touchstone for far-right extremists and militia groups. Trump’s campaign insisted the location and timing of the event had nothing to do with the Waco siege or anniversary. A spokesperson said the site, 17 miles from the Branch Davidian compound, was chosen because it was conveniently situated near four of the state’s biggest metropolitan areas—Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. (Read more Donald Trump stories.)