Former President Donald J. Trump, who is facing criminal charges for illegally storing classified documents, criticized a special counsel’s decision Friday not to indict President Biden over his handling of classified documents, accusing prosecutors of unfair double standards.
“You know, if he doesn’t get charged, it’s up to them. But then I shouldn’t be impeached,” Trump said at an event in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. “This is nothing more than selective persecution of Biden’s political opponent: me.”
Mr. Trump’s speech at a forum hosted by the National Rifle Association was his first public statement on the issue since special counsel Robert K. Hur released a report finding that while Mr. Biden “willfully” withheld it and Having disclosed classified material after the end of his vice presidency, no criminal charges were warranted.
Mr. Trump said he had cooperated “with the very hostile and unfriendly federal authorities” more than Mr. Biden, a claim that is not supported by any evidence. Mr. Hur’s report says the president cooperated fully with his investigation, while Mr. Trump is accused of misleading the government for months about classified documents in his possession.
Mr. Trump also insisted that Mr. Biden’s violations were more serious than his own, in part because Mr. Biden was not president at the time of his actions. Mr. Trump faces 40 criminal cases related to his withholding of sensitive documents after he left office and his refusal to return them even after he was subpoenaed for classified documents.
“They’re desperately trying to turn the Biden documents disaster into an ‘Oh, but wasn’t Trump worse?’ to transform. No no no. “Compared to that, Trump was peanuts,” Trump said.
He then referred to comments from the special counsel who questioned Mr. Biden’s mental memory and argued that the president mishandled classified material at a time when he was “a little bit better psychologically than he is now.”
Mr. Trump’s speech in Pennsylvania, a swing state expected to be a crucial battleground in November, suggested how he might use the special counsel’s report to bolster two key arguments of his campaign: that he is the victim of unfair prosecution by the Democrats and that Mr. Biden is not mentally competent enough to be president.
Mr. Trump also clearly expressed his desire to weaken Democrats’ support base in a state he falsely claimed he had won twice. Without providing details, he argued that the border crisis would disproportionately affect the key constituencies he sees Democrats trying to win: “African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans and all unions.”
But while signaling his efforts to woo swing voters, Mr. Trump also used the setting of his speech — a forum at an outdoor sports convention sponsored by the NRA — to highlight his support for gun rights, a cause close to the hearts of conservative politics .
He made a strong promise to defend gun rights from an “onset” by Democrats. Although he offered few concrete policy proposals, he promised to reverse all of Mr. Biden’s gun control efforts.
“No one will lay a finger on your firearms,” he told the crowd, which erupted in cheers.