Former President Donald J. Trump spent much of his first major political rally of the 2024 campaign portraying his expected indictment by a New York grand jury as a result of what he claimed was a Democratic conspiracy to persecute him, arguing wildly that the United States was turning into a “banana republic.”
As a crowd in Waco, Texas, waved red-and-white signs with the words “Witch Hunt” behind him, Mr. Trump devoted long stretches of his speech to his own legal jeopardy rather than his vision for a second term, casting himself as a victim of “weaponization” of the justice system.
“The abuses of power that we’re currently witnessing at all levels of government will go down as among the most shameful, corrupt and depraved chapters in all of American history,” he said.
The speech underscored how Mr. Trump tends to frame the nation’s broader political stakes heavily around whatever issues personally affect him the most. Last year, he sought to make his lies about fraud in his 2020 election defeat the most pressing issue of the midterms. On Saturday, he called the “weaponization of our justice system” the “central issue of our time.”
Lamenting all the investigations he has faced in the last eight years that have — to date — not resulted in charges, Mr. Trump claimed that his legal predicament “probably makes me the most innocent man in the history of our country.”…
The rally featured one new twist: the playing of “Justice for All,” a song featuring the J6 Prison Choir, which is made up of men who were imprisoned for their part in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
The song, which topped some iTunes download charts, is part of a broader attempt by Mr. Trump and his allies to reframe the riot and the effort to overturn the election as patriotic. The track features the men singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” while Mr. Trump recites the Pledge of Allegiance.