The former US president has claimed that the attacks would stop if he announced that he won’t run for political office again
Donald Trump has railed against the congressional committee probing the US Capitol riot, arguing that the investigation is a “hoax” and claiming that political attacks against him would end if he vowed not to run for office again.
“If I renounced my beliefs, and if I agreed to stay silent, and if I stayed home and took it easy, if I announced that I was not going to run any longer for political office, the persecution of Donald Trump would immediately stop,” the former president said on Friday night at a rally in Arizona. “You know that, right? They would go on to the next victim.”
Trump was quick to add that he won’t bow out of politics, saying, “That’s not what I do. I can’t do that. I can’t do that. I can’t do that because I love this country, and I love you. I’m doing it for you, and it’s my honor to do it.”
Trump has repeatedly hinted that he will run for president again in 2024. Some of his critics have argued that he should be criminally charged for “inciting” the January 2021 Capitol riot, and he faces investigations by prosecutors in New York and Georgia. Rolling Stone magazine claimed in an article last week that Trump has told confidantes that he wants to win another term as president to evade his legal troubles.
Trump suggested just the opposite on Friday, telling supporters that his enemies are trying to destroy him to keep him out of office. “Where does it stop?” he asked. “Where does it end? Never forget: Everything this corrupt establishment is doing to me is all about preserving their power and control over the American people, for whatever reason. They want to damage me in any form so I can no longer represent you.”
The House committee investigating the riot is at the forefront of those efforts, Trump argued. He denied claims made by witnesses in publicly televised hearings of the committee, including allegations by former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson that he threw food against a wall on one occasion and lunged at a Secret Service agent who refused to take him to the Capitol.
“They have me throwing food,” Trump said. “I don’t throw food in the White House. I don’t throw food anywhere. I eat the food.”
Trump held Friday’s rally north of Phoenix in support of the Arizona political candidates whom he has endorsed, including gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake and US Senate contender Blake Masters. Earlier in the day, former Vice President Mike Pence campaigned for Lake’s rival, Karrin Taylor Robinson, in the Republican primary election for governor.
The August 2 primary will mark the latest test of Trump’s enduring influence over Republican voters. He and Pence, his 2016 running mate, may find themselves battling each other in the 2024 Republican presidential primaries.