Following the committee’s eighth public hearing on January 6, the events leading up to and during the Capitol riot and the central role Donald Trumpthe former president told a conference of right-wing student activists that a friend called him “the most persecuted man in the history of our country.”
Speaking at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday, he continued: “I never thought about it that way. I never had time. I always fought these people who tried to persecute me.”
“I didn’t have time to think about the chase because I was fighting persecution“, he added, “Certainly no politician or president has ever been treated the way I have been treated.”
Mr. Trump made a similar statement in a Friday night speech at the “Save America” rally in Arizona.
In a wide-ranging speech at a student summit Saturday night after taking the stage WWE-style, the former president ran through his elaborate list of gripes about the climate crisis, the media, trans people and his ambivalent attitude toward NATO.
He also told the crowd that while in office, he wanted to award himself the Congressional Medal of Honor — the military’s highest award for valor in action — but was told that was inappropriate.
“As president, I wanted to award myself the Congressional Medal of Honor, but they wouldn’t let me do it… They said it would be inappropriate,” he said.
In one moment that drew cheers from the crowd, the former president, returning to his alleged harassment, said: “If I had announced that I was not going to run for office, the harassment of Donald Trump would have stopped immediately. That’s what they want me to do.’
“But you know what? I have no chance,” he said to the shouts and cheers of the audience.
It was almost two hours in Arizona on Friday before Mr Trump finally mentioned the hearing on Thursday, January 6, calling it a hoax.
“Where does it stop? Where does it end?” he said of the House of Representatives investigation. “Never forget, everything this corrupt establishment is doing to me is to maintain their power and control over the American people, for whatever reason. They want to damage me in any way so that I can no longer represent you.’
“If I announced that I was not going to run for political office again, the persecution of Donald Trump would stop immediately,” he said.
“They’re coming after me because I’m standing up for you.”
Also on Friday, the crowd — otherwise enthusiastic about Mr. Trump and his favored candidates in the upcoming midterm elections — reacted negatively when he mentioned Eli Crane, who is running in the Republican primary for Congress.
“And a very respected person, just endorsed by me today, the future congressman from the 2nd district, Eli Crane,” Mr. Trump said. After a few seconds, the roar started.
The former president looked somewhat surprised by this reaction and smiled awkwardly as he looked towards the source of the noise.
“But you like me, don’t you?” – he managed to say with a laugh.