Speaking before tens of thousands of people in Wildwood, New Jersey, Trump called the hush money case a “sham.” He mocked Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg as “Fat Alvin.” He insulted the judge overseeing the case as “corrupt” and “highly conflicted.” And according to Trump, Joe Biden was to blame for it all.

Speaking before tens of thousands of people in Wildwood, New Jersey, Trump called the hush money case a “sham.” He mocked Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg as “Fat Alvin.” He insulted the judge overseeing the case as “corrupt” and “highly conflicted.” And according to Trump, Joe Biden was to blame for it all.

“As you know, I’ve come here from New York, where I’m being forced to endure a Biden show trial — all done by Biden,” Trump said.

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Trump’s tirade came after a pivotal week in his New York criminal trial, where Daniels’ eye-popping testimony resulted in an excruciating few days for the former president. And Monday is set to be another big day at the courthouse, when Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen is expected to take the stand.

But Trump on Saturday avoided mentioning the witnesses or jurors in the case, likely aware that any public attack would violate the gag order imposed by Justice Juan Merchan. While Merchan already held Trump in contempt for violating the order 10 times and fined him a total of $10,000, the judge also threatened Trump last week with jail time for future violations.

Surrounded by roller coasters and amusement park thrills along a boardwalk in Wildwood, the former president railed against the trial that has largely taken him off the campaign trail. This was only the third rally Trump has held since the case began almost one month ago.

But in recent events, Trump has been escalating his attacks on the justice system and Biden. During a private donor retreat last week in Palm Beach, Trump accused Biden of “running a Gestapo administration.” And on Saturday, he said the president is “surrounded by fascists around the Oval Office.”

“All of this persecution is only happening because I’m running for president. If I wasn’t leading in the polls by a lot and running for president, they wouldn’t be after me. I’d have a nice place. I’d be down in Palm Beach. I’d be traveling the world,” Trump said, before repeating falsehoods about the 2020 election that he lost to Biden.

During the speech, Trump threw well-worn lines on the border, windmills and electric vehicles, China and migrants. And he compared himself to the infamous gangster Al Capone, which has become a regular bit on the campaign trail.

“Al Capone was so mean that if you went to dinner with him and he didn’t like you, you’d be dead the next morning. And I got indicted more than him. On bullshit, too. Just bullshit,” Trump said. The crowd erupted into cheers of “bullshit.”

While Trump hit many familiar targets in his speech — like criticizing countries for not contributing more to NATO — he also attacked Biden over his pledge to withhold weapons from Israel if it launches any assaults on the highly populated city of Rafah. Other Republicans have also strongly criticized Biden’s warning to Israel and accused him of emboldening Hamas.

“He has truly set the world on fire,” Trump said. “This week, he announced that he will withhold shipping weapons to Israel as they fight to eradicate Hamas terrorists in Gaza. That was shocking to hear it, even as there are still American hostages being held by Hamas.”

And Trump vowed to deport any foreign student who brings “jihadism or antisemitism” to U.S. college campuses, saying that America’s biggest enemies are “from within.”

“The enemies from within are more dangerous to me than the enemies on the outside. Russia and China we can handle, but these lunatics within our government that are going to destroy our country, we have to get it stopped,” Trump said. “They’re not on the right, they’re on the left.”

Trump was met with a massive crowd of supporters in Wildwood, who waited in lawn chairs outside the event for days, according to local media. One local official told the Associated Press that there were approximately 80,000 people in attendance. The crowd cheered as the former president flew over the rally site and the beachside amusement park on his Trump-branded private plane.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a former presidential challenger-turned top surrogate and vice presidential contender, and Christian Craighead, a former British Special Air Service operative and hero in the 2019 Nairobi terrorist attack, introduced Trump.

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“Who are we going to send back to the White House — Trump!” Burgum said.

While the court proceedings have put a damper on Trump’s campaigning, he has held campaign events in Michigan and Wisconsin as well as fundraisers and campaign events at his private club in Florida.

Trump lost the historically Democratic state of New Jersey to Joe Biden in 2020 by 16 points, but the rally was held in an area that has leaned Republican. Cape May County, where Wildwood is located, voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020.

It’s also an area that attracts residents — and media attention — from the battleground state of Pennsylvania and it is a quick trip from New York, where Trump has been spending four days a week inside a chilly courtroom over charges he falsified business records to cover up an alleged affair with Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

Trump was visibly frustrated with Daniels’ testimony last week in court, where she described in embarrassing detail their alleged sexual encounter. Next week, Cohen — Trump’s former attorney and closest aide turned public antagonist — will be taking the stand to discuss his involvement in making the hush money payment to Daniels and orchestrating her payouts. In 2018 Cohen was charged with campaign finance violations, tax fraud and bank fraud, and was sentenced to three years in prison.

While Trump was stumping on the East Coast, Biden was making his pitch to donors on the West Coast with fundraising stops in San Francisco and Seattle on Friday and Saturday.

Ahead of Trump’s rally, Biden’s campaign and surrogates knocked his visit to New Jersey and his team’s recent assertion that they believe states like Minnesota and Virginia are in play. They also took a jab at Trump’s plans to campaign in New York.

“They’re talking about holding concerts in Madison Square Garden to turn out voters in states like New York and here, on planet Earth, in the Biden campaign, we’re going to remain laser focused on the pathway to 270 electoral votes,” Biden campaign communications director Michael Tyler told reporters on Friday.

“We’re focused on communicating directly with the voters who are actually going to decide this presidential election,” he continued. “So, no matter where the Trump team decides they want to spend their time, the fact of the matter is, as I said at the top of this call, they do not have the infrastructure to reach the voters who are going to decide this election.”

Trump on Saturday also went after some of New Jersey’s most famous residents, including Bruce Springsteen and former Gov. Chris Christie. Trump claimed he attracted a bigger crowd than Springsteen, and invited the crowd to boo Christie, a former Trump ally turned critic.

“Does anybody like Chris Christie?” Trump said, before calling Christie “unhinged” and suffering from a major case of Trump derangement syndrome.”

WILDWOOD, N.J. (AP) — Sandwiched between his appearances in court, Donald Trump headed on Saturday to the Jersey Shore, where he repeatedly blamed President Joe Biden for the criminal charges he’s facing as the presumptive nominees prepare to face off in the November election and called his New York hush money case “a Biden show trial.”

Blasting the Democratic president “a total moron,” Trump before a crowd of tens of thousands repeatedly characterized the cases against him as politically motivated and timed to harm his ability to campaign.

“He’s a fool. He’s not a smart man,” Trump said of Biden. “I talk about him differently now because now the gloves are off.”

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, drew what his team called a “mega crowd” to a Saturday evening rally in the southern New Jersey resort town of Wildwood, 150 miles (241 kilometers) south of the New York City courthouse where he has been forced to spend most weekdays sitting silently through his felony hush money trial.

Trump was joined on stage by several high-level endorsers including North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who is still listed as a registered sex offender after pleading guilty in New York in 2011 to misdemeanor criminal charges of sexual misconduct and patronizing an underage prostitute.

The beachfront gathering, described by Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., as the largest political gathering in state history, was designed to serve as a show of force at a critical moment for Trump, who is facing dozens of felony charges in four separate criminal cases with the election less than six months away.

Hours before he was scheduled to take the stage, thousands of Trump loyalists donning “Never Surrender” T-shirts and red “Make America Great Again” hats crowded onto the sand between the boardwalk and carnival rides to greet the former Republican president.

“The everyday American people are 100% behind him,” said Doreen O’Neill, a 62-year-old nurse from Philadelphia.

“They have to cheat and smear him and humiliate him in that courtroom every single day,” O’Neill said. “This country is going to go insane if they steal the election again.”

Trump’s extraordinary legal woes, which include three other unrelated criminal cases, have emerged as a central issue in the campaign.

Trump has repeatedly accused the Biden administration and Democratic officials in New York of using the legal system to block his return to the White House. Prosecutors allege the former president broke the law to conceal an affair with a porn actor that would have hurt his first presidential bid.

The hush money case was filed by local prosecutors in Manhattan who do not work for the Justice Department or any White House office. The Justice Department has said the White House has had no involvement in the two criminal cases against Trump brought by special counsel Jack Smith.

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