Trump lays blame for strike on Israel on Democrats, rips into prosecutors in New York case

Trump’s rally in Pennsylvania served as a preview of his approach to the trial opening on Monday.

Donald Trump blamed both Iran’s strike on Israel and his looming hush money trial in New York on Democrats on Saturday, casting himself in opposition to “menacing forces and vicious opponents” as he enters an unprecedented, weeks-long legal chapter of his presidential campaign.

Once again, on everything from Israel to criminal justice to immigration and inflation, Trump sought to put himself at the center of events at home and abroad, portraying his reelection as a cure-all solution.

And his remarks — following a flurry of social media rants testing the limits of a gag order in the New York case — served as a preview of the pugilistic approach he is all but certain to take to the trial.

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“They want to take away my constitutional right to talk,” Trump said Saturday, calling the judge in the case “crooked” and the proceedings a “Communist show trial.”

Speaking at a rally in Schnecksville, Penn., as sirens sounded in Israel and the Iron Dome defense system intercepted drone attacks, Trump said that both Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack and the Iranian aerial attacks on Israel “would not have happened if we were in office” and criticized what he said was President Joe Biden’s “weakness” abroad.

“Everything he touches turns to shit,” Trump said of Biden, who cut short his weekend trip to his Delaware beach home on Saturday, returning to the White House to meet with his national security team on events in the Middle East, as events there thrust foreign policy at least momentarily to the center of the campaign.

Trump has boasted that he “ fought for Israel like no president ever before” while president, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv. In 2020, he also signed the historic Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and a pair of Arab states: United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

But Trump has also previously accused Jewish people who vote for Democrats of being sacrilegious, claiming they “ hate Israel” and their religion.

And in recent weeks, Trump had taken a more critical posture toward Israel’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war, saying it was “ losing the PR war” in its handling of the conflict in Gaza because of its social media posts showing images of destruction. He previously said Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had been unprepared for the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on the country, and called the anti-Israel militant group Hezbollah “very smart.”

On Saturday, as the crowd broke out into chants of “Genocide Joe,” Trump said, “They’re not wrong.” The phrase had been popularized by protesters of Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war — especially from the left.

A spokesperson from the Biden campaign declined to comment.

Trump’s remarks on Israel were relatively brief, and the balance of his speech hewed closer to home. He assailed Biden — who he called a “stupid person” and a “demented tyrant” — for everything from the price of gas to a “border bloodbath,” with immigrants coming “from prisons, from mental institutions, they’re coming from all over the world.”

Earlier in the day, the former president criticized various people involved in the hush money case, including his former fixer Michael Cohen, who is expected to be a key witness for the prosecution.

“Has disgraced attorney and felon Michael Cohen been prosecuted for LYING?” Trump wrote.

Under the gag order issued last month by Justice Juan Merchan, the New York state judge presiding over the trial, Trump is prohibited from making any public statements about potential witnesses “concerning their potential participation” in the case.

“On Monday in New York City, I will be forced to sit fully gagged,” said Trump, the first former U.S. president to face a criminal trial. “I’m not allowed to talk. Can you believe it?”

He called Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg “a Soros-appointed prosecutor.”

Once his trial begins on Monday, Trump will be sidelined in court for weeks, with the exception of Wednesdays — a day reserved by the judge for other business — and weekends. But he will still be able to hold weekend rallies, and he is expected to hold in-person and virtual events even on some court days.

Even before the trial, Trump’s pace on the trail has slowed since he romped to victory on Super Tuesday. He held three rallies in March, and two in April so far. Biden, who tends to hold smaller and often issue-focused events when he treks across the country, launched a post-State of the Union travel blitz last month. Both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hit every battleground state in March, and the president will return to Pennsylvania on Tuesday.