Trump Rambles Through Grievances in Train Wreck Post-Conviction Speech

A lot has happened in the nearly eight years since Donald Trump descended the golden escalator at Trump Tower and announced that he was running for president. He won, he lost, he tried to overthrow the government, and on Thursday, he became — for the first time in the history of the presidency — a felon convicted by a jury of his peers.

On Friday, Trump once again called the media to the lobby of Trump Tower, where he responded to the conviction by railing against President Joe Biden, Judge Juan Merchan, and the case against him.

During the lengthy, rambling address, Trump unloaded a stream-of-consciousness laundry list of grievances ranging from the trial itself, to his issues with the Jan. 6 Committee, to the border. He did not take any questions after the nearly 40-minute rant despite advertising the event as a press conference.

“This is a case where if they can do this to me, they can do this to anyone. These are bad people,” Trump said. “These are in many cases, sick people.”

At one point, the former president, who is yet to be sentenced, described Merchan as a “tyrant” and a “man who looks like an angel, but he is really a devil.” Trump complained that Merchan had placed him under a “nasty” gag order.

Trump, as he has been doing for weeks, claimed that the case was orchestrated by the Biden administration “and his people,” alleging that the court is in “total conjunction with the White House and the DOJ.”

The former president spent a significant chunk of time complaining about Merchan’s treatment of the defense’s witnesses, and the flaws he perceived in the prosecution’s case. While Trump is still barred from publicly commenting on witnesses because of that “nasty” gag order, he made several very clear allusions to testimony provided by porn star Stormy Daniels and his former attorney Michael Cohen.

“This was a highly qualified lawyer,” Trump said of Cohen. “I’m not allowed to use his name because of the gag order. But you know he’s a sleazebag, everybody knows that — took me a while to find out. But he was effective, he did work. But he wasn’t a fixer, he was a lawyer.”

As always, Trump’s thoughts drifted back to his safe space: bashing migrants. The former president went on several long tangents about the southern border, immigration, and complaints about migrants speaking foreign languages.

“People are allowed to pour in from countries unknown, from places unknown — from languages that we haven’t even heard of. We have people sitting in schools with languages where very few people have even heard of these languages. It is not like Spanish, or French, or Russian,” he griped.

Trump supporters crowded outside of Trump Tower as he spoke, waving flags, holding up signs, and even blasting Lee Greenwood’s anthem “God Bless the U.S.A.” One Trump supporter in attendance, Rosangel Perez, lamented to Rolling Stone that “mainstream media is wasting our time distracting those with this bullshit trial,” while decrying that “the Biden inflation is not working.”

“We lost a democracy yesterday,” added Joe Palau, a 57-year-old Trump supporter from Brooklyn. “He was tried, convicted in a kangaroo court with a corrupt judge and a corrupt system led by Joe Biden and his cronies in Washington.”

Ronnie, a Trump supporter who held up a variety of anti-Biden signs, including a large “Fuck Biden” flag, said the conviction will make Trump “stronger” and that it only shows how scared Democrats are of him being elected. “They tried to destroy his chances and try to destroy this guy because he’s trying to take care of our country and he knows that if he becomes president, he’s gonna take care of all these corrupted government people that we have inside the administration,” he said.

A contingent of Trump detractors also showed up, as well, holding signs that read “Don the Felon,” “Justice Matters,” and “Ask Your Doctor if Trump in Prison Is Right for You.” At one point, the crowd started chanting “guilty” repeatedly.

Kathleen Zea, a 58-year-old entrepreneur from Queens, said a Trump supporter ripped her flag from her hands and stabbed her with it outside the courthouse days earlier. She showed Rolling Stone the bruise. “For any faults that Joe Biden has, and he does have them, he’s been trying to help us for years and the other side wants to burn the country to the ground,” she said. “They’re saying this guilty verdict makes them more likely to vote, I have no idea. All I know is that the people who love him are gonna love him no matter what. So we’re going to try to reach the people who are undecided, or the people who just haven’t been paying attention because frankly, this is exhausting.”

Sandy Radoff, a 73-year-old from Manhattan, echoed this sentiment. “The MAGAs are really loud, but they are a small proportion of the U.S. population,” she said. “There’s a significant portion of independent voters who have said that if Donald Trump is a convicted criminal, convicted of a criminal offense, that they couldn’t vote for him. And I think this trial and conviction could be pivotal because there’s going to be a close election. So even if a few percent won’t vote for a convicted criminal, it has done its job.”

Trump on Thursday was found guilty of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records stemming from a 2016 hush-money payment made to porn star Stormy Daniel ahead of the election. Judge Merchan scheduled sentencing for July 11, just a few days before Trump is expected to be officially nominated as the GOP’s 2024 presidential candidate.

The campaign to retake the presidency continues to dominate Trump and his allies’ reaction to the verdict. As he left court on Thursday, Trump raged to reporters gathered outside of the courtroom that “this was a rigged, disgraceful trial,” and that “the real verdict is going to be Nov. 5th, by the people.”

“I’m a very innocent man. And it’s OK. I am fighting for our country, I am fighting for our constitution,” he said. “Our whole country is being rigged right now. This was done by the Biden administration, in order to wound or hurt an opponent, a political opponent, and I think it is just a disgrace.”

Trump also launched a wall-to-wall fundraising blitz immediately after his conviction. According to his campaign, the former president pulled in a whopping $34.8 million in less than 24 hours. So overwhelming was the wave of donations that Trump’s pages on the Republican fundraising website WinRed intermittently crashed due to an overload of user traffic.

The Biden campaign was quick to weigh in on Trump’s speech on Friday. “America just witnessed a confused, desperate, and defeated Donald Trump ramble about his own personal grievances and lie about the American justice system, leaving anyone watching with one obvious conclusion: This man cannot be president of the United States,” campaign communications director Michael Tyler said in a statement. “Unhinged by his 2020 election loss and spiraling from his criminal convictions, Trump is consumed by his own thirst for revenge and retribution. He thinks this election is about him. But it’s not. It’s about the American people: lowering their costs, protecting their freedoms, defending their democracy.”

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