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Trump likens court ordering him to pay millions in civil fraud case to Navalny’s death

By Kate Sullivan, CNN

(CNN) — Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday likened his $355 million fine for fraudulently inflating the value of his properties to the death of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny.

“It is a form of Navalny,” Trump said at a Fox News town hall in South Carolina, when asked how he was planning on paying the judgment in his civil fraud case. “It is a form of communism or fascism.”

The former president, who faces 91 criminal charges across multiple cases, continued to baselessly suggest he was being politically targeted in the same way the outspoken Kremlin critic was.

Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, did not condemn Russia or President Vladimir Putin for Navalny’s death – standing in stark contrast to the swift and forceful reactions from Western leaders, including President Joe Biden, who blamed Putin in a speech from the White House hours after reports of Navalny’s death.

In Trump’s most extensive comments yet about Navalny, the former president said Tuesday: “Navalny, he was a very sad situation, and he’s very brave. He was a very brave guy because he went back, he could’ve stayed away and frankly probably would’ve been a lot better off staying away and talking from outside of the country as opposed to having to go back in.”

“And it’s a horrible thing. But it’s happening in our country too. We are turning into a communist country in many ways. And if you look at it, I’m the leading candidate, I got indicted … I got indicted four times, I have eight or nine trials … all because of the facts that I’m in politics,” Trump said.

The jailed Russian opposition figure died at the age of 47, the Russian prison service said last week. He had returned to Russia in 2021 from Germany, where he had been treated after being poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent. On arrival, Navalnvy was swiftly arrested on charges he dismissed as politically motivated.

When Trump was in the White House, he declined to join other world leaders in condemning Russia after Navalny was poisoned in 2020. Trump has long expressed fondness and admiration for Putin and went so far as to side with the Russian leader over the country’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election in a stunning rebuke of the US intelligence community.

The former president went days without publicly mentioning Navalny even as others expressed outrage. He then posted on Truth Social that Navalny’s death “has made me more and more aware of what is happening in our Country,” and argued, “Open Borders, Rigged Elections, and Grossly Unfair Courtroom Decisions are DESTROYING AMERICA.”

Biden seized on the comments, blasting Trump in a new video posted on social media for refusing to hold Putin accountable for Navalny’s death.

“After Putin’s most fierce opposition leader, Alexey Navalny died in a Russian prison last week, the former President Trump and other Republicans refused to hold Putin accountable for his death,” Biden said. “Instead, Trump said Navalny’s death made him realize how bad America is. He said, and I quote, we are a nation in decline, a failing nation, end of quote. Why does Trump always blame America? Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death. Why can’t Trump just say that?”

Biden also took harsh aim at Trump during a fundraiser in Los Angeles Tuesday, calling the former president’s refusal to condemn Putin “outrageous.”

“Trump is dragging us back to the past and not leading us to the future,” Biden added.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Nikki Carvajal contributed to this report.

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