Wilkes-Barre, PA – In a speech that lasted nearly two hours on Saturday night in northeastern Pennsylvania, former President Donald Trump decriedat his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida as “one of the most shocking abuses of power by any administration,” and compared his treatment to that in a “third world nation.” It was his first rally since the FBI served a search warrant Aug. 8, seizing dozens of documents marked as classified.
“The shameful raid and break-in of my home, Mar-a-Lago, was a travesty of justice that made a mockery of America’s laws, traditions and principles before the entire world,” Trump said before the passionate crowd at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre.
Mr Trump said, without merit, that the FBI and the Justice Department have become “vicious monsters” working for “radical left scoundrels” and the media. Trump accused President Biden of having involvement in the timing of the raid.
“The Mar-a-Lago raid was a desperate effort to distract from Joe Biden’s record of misery and failure,” Trump said.
Trump also repeated frustration over a photo – submittedin response to a request from Trump and his legal team for a federal judge to appoint a special master – which showed seized documents laid out on a floor. Some of his outrage mirrored his recent posts to his social media platform, Truth Social.
“They talk about documents not being properly stored, yet they go in and take documents, dump them on the floor, stage a photo shoot and pretend that I had done it, like I had put them all over the floor,” Trump said.
On Friday,during the FBI search was released, one day after a U.S. district judge’s order to do so. The inventory included a list of 33 items, boxes or containers seized during the search. It showed multiple documents and photographs with classified markings – including secret and top secret – as well as several empty folders with classification markings.
About a dozen Trump supporters waiting in line ahead of his rally told CBS News they believed the Mar-a-Lago search was part of a “witch hunt” and a “political hit job.”
During his speech, Trump alluded to another bid for president, saying he may just have to “do it again,” which brought the crowd to their feet. He later vowed the Republicans would take back the White House in 2024, but did not make a definitive announcement that he will run.
Among those CBS News spoke to at the rally, all expressed hope he would indeed run. If he were not to, supporters mentioned Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a potential second choice, who himself has been campaigning with 2022 Republican candidates in battleground states as well, including a visit last month to Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania has served as the center of the U.S. political world this week as campaigning starts to heat up ahead of the midterm elections. Pennsylvania has a governor’s race,, and several competitive congressional districts that could help decide which party wins the majority in the House.
Both GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano and GOP Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz addressed the crowd in Wilkes-Barre. Trump later called both of them back on stage to stand alongside him for brief remarks.
Mr. Biden, meanwhile, also visited Pennsylvania twice this week, including a visit to Wilkes-Barre, where he talked about public safety. He alsooutside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where he warned that democracy is under threat, and took aim at “MAGA Republicans.”
Trump attacked Mr. Biden for his criticism of the Make America Great Again movement, calling his successor “an enemy of the state.”
“Joe Biden came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to give the most vicious, hateful and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president,” Trump said. “He’s an enemy of the state if you want to know the truth.”
Mr. Biden heads back to the state on Labor Day, his third visit in less than a week.
– Sarah Ewall-Wice reported from Wilkes-Barre. Jake Rosen reported from Washington, DC.