Donald Trump said on Thursday that if he wins the 2024 presidential election, he will order the Justice Department to investigate “radical” county and state prosecutors whom he accused, without evidence, of targeting conservatives.
In a campaign speech, the former president, who faces multiple criminal investigations, said the prosecutors were “persecuting conservatives” and touched on his policy positions and personal grievances as he painted himself as a victim of the so-called Deep State.
“On day one of my new administration, I will direct the DOJ to investigate every radical district attorney and attorney general in America for their illegal, racist … enforcement of the law,” Trump told more than 1,000 supporters in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Trump faces at least four criminal investigations including a federal probe into his alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters and a recent New York indictment related to a hush money payment to a porn star. Trump has denied wrongdoing and called the investigations politically motivated.
The call for federal probes of prosecutors fits what critics have described as Trump’s increasingly authoritarian rhetoric on the campaign trail. On Thursday, he repeated plans for a “truth and reconciliation commission” as part of a purge of the federal bureaucracy.
Trump also sought to reframe the choice between him and President Joe Biden. Biden, a Democrat, launched his re-election campaign two days ago with a video promising to protect personal freedoms from “extremists” linked to the former Republican president.
Trump said the U.S. was a “failing nation” and pointed to economic data on Thursday showing U.S. economic growth slowed dramatically in the first three months of 2023.
“The choice in this election is now between strength or weakness, between success or failure, between safety or anarchy, between peace or conflict, and prosperity or catastrophe,” Trump said.
Trump’s remarks assume that both he and Biden will win their party’s nominations. Trump appeared to be consolidating his support in the race for the Republican nomination and travels to New Hampshire in hope of capturing the early nominating state.
The former president, who handily won New Hampshire’s primary in 2016, had a sizeable national lead over Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, 49% to 23%, among self-identified Republicans, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted April 21-24.
In a mocking moment, Trump drew applause when he shuffled around the stage pretending he was struggling to find the exit, suggesting he may revive a theme from his 2020 campaign when he portrayed Biden as elderly and lacking energy and acuity.
In February the president’s personal physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, issued Biden a clean bill of health and said he was fit to continue his duties. Biden, 80, is the oldest person ever to serve as U.S. president. Trump is 76.
Trump on Thursday repeated the false claim that his election loss in 2020 was due to systemic fraud orchestrated by the Democrats.