Trump vows to remove ‘thugs and criminals’ from justice system at rally, amid legal woes

Former President Trump vowed to remove the “thugs and criminals” from the justice system at his first official campaign rally of the 2024 cycle on Saturday, as he faces down a potential indictment.

“When this election is over, I will be the president of the United States,” Trump said at an airport tarmac in Waco, Texas. “You will be vindicated and proud, and the thugs and criminals who are corrupting our justice system will be defeated, discredited and totally disgraced.”

The former president took aim at the various prosecutors investigating him in New York, Georgia and Washington, D.C., decrying “prosecutorial misconduct” and telling a crowd of his supporters that “our enemies are desperate to stop us.”

“Our opponents have done everything they can to crush our spirit and to break our will, but they failed. They’ve only made us stronger,” Trump said. “And 2024 is the final battle. That’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 remarks come just one week after he ignited a political firestorm by suggesting that he could be arrested as soon as Tuesday in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s (D) hush money probe. 

While his prediction has yet to come to fruition, the former president has doubled down on his claims, warning on Friday that an indictment could result in “potential death & destruction.” 

He struck a similarly bombastic tone as he looked ahead to the 2024 election at Saturday’s rally.

“Either we surrender to the demonic forces abolishing and demolishing, and happily doing so, our country, or we defeat them in a landslide on Nov. 5, 2024,” Trump said. “Either the deep state destroys America, or we destroy the deep state.”

The former president also continued his recent torrent of attacks on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who is widely considered Trump’s biggest potential competitor despite having yet to announce a 2024 bid.

“Florida has been tremendously successful for many years, long before this guy became governor,” Trump said on Saturday. “Florida has been successful for decades, in fact probably as or more successful than it is now.” 

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House Republicans rebuke Bragg’s ‘unavailing’ refusal to provide testimony on Trump probe

House Republican leaders on Saturday rebuked Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s (D) refusal to testify about his investigation into former President Trump’s role in a 2016 hush money payment.

The letter — from House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), House Administration Committee Chair Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) and House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) — comes in response to Bragg’s accusation on Thursday that their request was an “unlawful incursion” on his investigation.

“Your conclusory claim that our constitutional oversight responsibilities will interfere with law enforcement is misplaced and unconvincing,” the trio of Republican lawmakers said in their eight-page letter

“As a threshold matter, whether your office is, in fact, fairly enforcing the law or abusing prosecutorial discretion to engage in a politically motivated indictment of a former President is a serious matter that … implicates significant federal interests,” the group added.

The GOP lawmakers’ request for Bragg’s testimony came in response to Trump’s claim last weekend that he could be arrested in the Manhattan probe as soon as Tuesday.

The Manhattan district attorney has appeared to be nearing an indictment in the probe, which is investigating a $130,000 payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence about an alleged affair with Trump ahead of the 2016 election.

Despite Trump’s warnings, Bragg has yet to make an official decision on whether to charge the former president, and the Manhattan grand jury assembled in the case ultimately did not meet on the issue this week.

In his five-page response to the GOP lawmakers, Bragg said their requests would interfere with ongoing law enforcement duties, violate state sovereignty and represent an inappropriate use of congressional power. 

However, he did offer to “meet and confer to understand whether the Committee has any legitimate legislative purpose in the requested materials that could be accommodated.”

The Republican committee chairmen defended the legislative purpose of their requests in Saturday’s letter, claiming that it was in the service of potential legislation.

“[T]he Committee on the Judiciary, as a part of its broad authority to develop criminal justice legislation, must now consider whether to draft legislation that would, if enacted, insulate current and former presidents from such improper state and local prosecutions,” they wrote.

The lawmakers also dismissed Bragg’s assertion that their requests represent an “unlawful incursion into New York’s sovereignty,” claiming that the issue “involves substantial federal interests.” 

On the Manhattan district attorney’s accusations that they were usurping executive branch powers, they argued that the courts have recognized Congress’ “broad authority to conduct oversight of ongoing civil and criminal investigations.”

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Sunday shows preview: 2024 inches closer as possible Trump indictment looms; TikTok fight heats up

With the 2024 presidential election inching closer, the looming potential indictment of former President Trump is likely to dominate the Sunday morning talk show circuit this weekend, alongside discussions of a potential TikTok ban.

After suggesting last weekend that he could be arrested as soon as Tuesday in the Manhattan district attorney’s hush money probe, Trump ignited a political firestorm. 

Republican lawmakers slammed the potential indictment as “politically motivated” and an “abuse of power,” with some even calling for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) to be arrested for “prosecutorial misconduct.”

Several House Republican chairmen also demanded that Bragg appear before Congress and turn over documents and communications about the case.

The investigation centers on a $130,000 payment that was made to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election in an effort to buy her silence about an alleged affair with the former president.

Trump’s remarks appear to have been premature, as the Manhattan grand jury assembled in the case ultimately did not meet on the matter this week. Bragg on Thursday criticized the former president for creating a “false expectation” of arrest and slammed Republican lawmakers’ demands for him to testify as an “unlawful incursion” into his ongoing investigation.

However, the former president and 2024 Republican presidential candidate doubled down on his attacks on the looming indictment on Friday, suggesting that filing charges against him could result in “potential death & destruction.”

Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina, who has been making the rounds on TV to defend the former president, similarly claimed that it would be “an all-out war”  if Trump were indicted. Tacopina is set to join NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

Preet Bharara, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was fired by Trump, is also set to make an appearance on “Meet the Press” this weekend. Bharara has previously chimed in on Trump’s potential for charges from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigations.

Matthew Whitaker, former acting U.S. attorney general under Trump, will also likely discuss the potential indictment during his appearance on “Fox News Sunday” this weekend. He has repeatedly criticized Bragg in a series of interviews this week and described the case as “weak.”

Following TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew’s testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday, discussions of a potential TikTok ban are also likely to feature heavily on the Sunday shows.

As concerns have emerged about potential national security threats posed by the app and its Chinese-based owner ByteDance, some lawmakers have called for a ban on the social media app.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who will make appearances on CBS’ “Face the Nation” and CNN’s “State of the Union” this weekend, introduced bipartisan legislation alongside Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) that would give the federal government more power to regulate or ban technology, like TikTok, that is linked to foreign adversaries.

“TikTok is an enormous threat,” Warner said in an interview in November, adding, “It is a massive collector of information, oftentimes of our children. They can visualize even down to your keystrokes. So, if you’re a parent and you got a kid on TikTok, I would be very, very concerned.”

Chew attempted to assuage lawmakers’ concerns about the app during Thursday’s 5-hour hearing but appeared to have little success. 

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who will also join CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, said in her opening statement at the hearing that U.S. lawmakers “aren’t buying” Chew’s assurances.

Below is the full list of guests scheduled to appear on this week’s Sunday talk shows:

ABC’s “This Week” — Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.)

NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Joe Tacopina, a lawyer for Donald Trump; Preet Bharara, a former U.S. attorney in New York; Gov. Spencer Cox (R-Utah)

CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.); Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas); National Security Council spokesman John Kirby; Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis; former Homeland Security secretaries Jeh Johnson and Michael Chertoff; Bill Bratton, a former New York City police commissioner

CNN’s “State of the Union” — Warner; Reps. James Comer (R-Ky.), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.)

“Fox News Sunday” — Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas)

Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures” — Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.); former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.); Matt Taibbi, independent journalist; Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law professor emeritus; Matthew Whitaker, former acting U.S. attorney general

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