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The backstory: Former US President Donald Trump is no stranger to controversy. Throughout his term from 2017 to 2021, he faced multiple allegations of racism and making inappropriate comments. Yet, despite being impeached twice (but acquitted both times) and facing a rocky re-election campaign, Trump has maintained a loyal following. After he lost the 2020 election, his followers stormed the US Capitol on January 6.
More recently: Trump has been facing a bunch of legal issues from all angles. For example, he's facing a probe in Georgia for allegedly trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He's also being investigated for paying hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election to prevent her from spilling the tea on them having sex. That case went before a grand jury on Monday.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing, and he's been making public comments to fire up his supporters, posting on his social media site Truth Social about "potential death & destruction in such a false charge" if he was indicted. He also said he would be arrested last Tuesday, but that didn't happen.
The development: Over the weekend, Trump launched his 2024 presidential campaign with a rally in Waco, Texas. During the event, he criticized the prosecutors investigating him, and a choir of people imprisoned for participating in the January 6 insurrection sang "Justice for All."
There was talk that Trump chose Waco because of its association with the deadly 51-day standoff between law enforcement and the Branch Davidians cult 30 years ago. This event has become a rallying cry for anti-government movements and the far-right. But Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick denied these claims, saying he had chosen the location himself.
The former president's supporters turned up in droves, donning Trump merch and waving "witch hunt" signs. The rally venue holds up to 15,000 people, and the Waco Fire Marshal's Office estimated the attendance at around 10,000.
"He didn't make it up, he was reacting to a lot of leaks coming out of the district attorney's office," said Joseph Tacopina, Trump's current lawyer, referring to Trump's remarks on his potential arrest, in an NBC interview. "And then there was of course a lot of rumors regarding the arraignment being the next day. So I think he just assumed, based on those leaks, that was what was going to happen."
"They're not coming after me, they're coming after you," said Donald Trump during his speech in Waco, Texas.
"When this election is over, I will be the president of the United States," said Donald Trump during his speech. "You will be vindicated and proud, and the thugs and criminals who are corrupting our justice system will be defeated, discredited and totally disgraced."
"Trump is walking on a high wire without a net, telegraphing that he has nothing to lose and is willing to risk dangerous outcomes to rally support," said Ron Bonjean, a Republican strategist in Washington, DC.