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Trump vows to keep campaigning on his criminal cases despite prosecutors seeking order to stop

KEYT

By MICHELLE L. PRICE and HOLLY RAMER
Associated Press

WINDHAM, N.H. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday blasted special counsel Jack Smith anew and vowed to continue campaigning on his criminal cases even as prosecutors seek a protective order to limit the evidence that he and his team can share.

In the early voting state of New Hampshire, Trump assailed Smith as a “thug prosecutor” and a “deranged guy” a week after being indicted on felony charges for his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election in the run-up to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The former president lobbed the insults at Smith just days after the Department of Justice asked a judge to approve a protective order stopping Trump from publicly disclosing evidence. Federal prosecutors contend that Trump is seeking to “try the case in the media rather than in the courtroom.”

The judge overseeing the case has scheduled a hearing over the protective order for Friday morning.

Trump’s lawyers have argued that the prospective order is too broad and would restrict his First Amendment rights of free speech, something Trump echoed on stage Tuesday.

“I will talk about it. They’re not taking away my First Amendment,” Trump said, speaking to supporters during a rally at a high school in the southeastern New Hampshire town of Windham.

The former president said he needs to be able to respond to reporters’ questions about the case on the campaign trail — something he has not made a practice of doing — and cited the movie “2000 Mules,” which made various debunked claims about mail ballots, drop boxes and ballot collection in the 2020 presidential election.

“All of this will come up during this trial,” Trump said.

In the four-count indictment filed against Trump last week, the Justice Department accused him of orchestrating a scheme to block the peaceful transfer of power. He was told by multiple people in trusted positions that his claims were false, prosecutors said, but he spread them anyway to sow public mistrust about the election.

Trump, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, repeated his lies about the election on Tuesday, despite the fact that numerous federal and local election officials of both parties, a long list of courts, top former campaign staffers and even his attorney general have all said there is no evidence of the fraud he alleges.

Trump will have none of that.

“There was never a second of any day that I didn’t believe that that election was rigged. It was a rigged election, and it was a stolen disgusting election and this country should be ashamed,” Trump said.

Trump, who is also facing charges in Florida and New York, is gearing up for a possible fourth indictment, in a case out of Fulton County, Georgia, over alleged efforts by him and his allies to illegally meddle in the 2020 election in that state. The county district attorney, Fani Willis, has signaled that any indictments in the case would likely come this month.

Trump alluded to that Tuesday, predicting that when it comes to indictments, “I should have four by sometime next week.” He also launched into a highly personal attack on Willis, who is Black, calling the 52-year-old prosecutor “a young woman, a young racist in Atlanta.”

“She’s got a lot of problems. But she wants to indict me to try to run for some other office,” he said.

A spokesperson for Willis declined to comment.

Beyond his criminal cases, Trump faces several civil cases that are working their way through the courts.

Although he usually boasts that his legal problems only help his campaign prospects, he made a rare statement Tuesday that they are taking a financial toll. His political operation spent more than $40 million on legal fees so far this year, according to recent campaign finance disclosures.

Trump, who has portrayed the investigations as politically motivated, said they are forcing him “to spend time and money away from the campaign trail in order to fight bogus made-up accusations and charges.”

“That’s what they’re doing. ‘I’m sorry, I won’t be able to go to Iowa today. I won’t be able to go to New Hampshire today,'” he said. “Because I’m sitting in a courtroom on bull—-.”

The crowd cheered and broke into chants of “bull——!”

Trump smiled and shook his head while he watched the crowd chant.

“Thank you very much,” he said.

___

Price reported from New York. Associated Press writer Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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