Donald and Eric Trump repeat unsubstantiated claims of improper behaviour by Bidens son in sign of how 2020 race will be fought
Donald Trump sought to weaponise Democrats impeachment inquiry to his electoral advantage on Thursday at a typically crude-but-effective rally in which he declared Joe Biden was only a good vice-president because he understood how to kiss Barack Obamas ass.
In his first campaign stop since the inquiry was announced, the US president and a 20,000-capacity crowd staged a formidable show of defiance at a basketball arena in Minneapolis. Trump mesmerised his fans for 102 minutes with a verbal cannon of conspiracy theories, blatant falsehoods, profane insults and anti-refugee bigotry.
Im energised, he boasted, pointing his finger at the media, because were draining the swamp.
There was clapping, cheering and chanting of drain the swamp! from the crowd, many wearing Make America great again hats and sweaters. Trump went on: The Democrats brazen attempt to overthrow our government will produce a backlash at the ballot box the likes of which they have never ever seen before in the history of this country.
But the raucous event took place in a congressional district that Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by 55 percentage points in 2016 and that is represented by Ilhan Omar, a Muslim, Somali-born US congresswoman. Several protesters interrupted the presidents flow and demonstrators marched outside, demanding his removal from office. There were reports of police shooting pepper spray and making arrests when skirmishes broke out in Minneapolis on Thursday night.
Trump and his allies showed their willingness to fight dirty every bit as much as they did against Clinton in 2016. Among the warm-up acts, his son Eric, who pushed a baseless allegation that former vice president Joe Bidens son, Hunter, embezzled a lot of money. He added: Maybe Lock her up goes to Lock him up, I dont know. The crowd duly shouted: Lock him up! Lock him up!
Later, Trump entered to deafening roars of adulation. Facing an impeachment inquiry triggered by his call for Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden, he cast himself and by extension his supporters as victims of the Washington ruling class. Just as he used Robert Muellers Russia investigation to conjure fears of a deep state conspiracy, so he now lunged at impeachment as a convenient tool to further his narrative and demonise his opponents.
Democrats and their partner the media, he claimed, are conspiring to stage a coup to overturn the 2016 election result. They want to erase your vote like it never existed, Trump said. They want to erase your voice, and they want to erase your future. But they will fail because in America the people rule again.
He again defended his July conversation with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy as a totally appropriate, casual, beautiful, accurate phone call and accused crooked Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, of making up a fake conversation that never happened, later endorsed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Trump claimed to have wrong-footed them by releasing a transcript of the call.