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.

Protesters
Protesters demonstrate outside the Target Center after the Donald Trumps speech in Minneapolis. Photograph: Jeff Wheeler/AP

These people are sick, he said, bristling with indignation. Democrats are on a crusade to destroy our democracy. Thats whats happening. We will never let it happen. We will defeat them.

The president showed how he intends to merge impeachment with the 2020 election campaign so they become indistinguishable in the minds of his voters. He launched a ferocious attack on Biden and Hunter, whom he and his allies have accused, without evidence, of illegally profiting off his fathers vice-presidency.

Using the Sleepy Joe nickname, Trump claimed Biden is totally owned and totally controlled by the Washington swamp, for many years. He said the vice president was put in charge of Ukraine policy and mocked the medias use of the term unsubstantiated charges. He joked about creating a t-shirt with the logo: Wheres Hunter?

Trump went on, mockingly: Hunter, youre a loser. Why did you get $1.5bn, Hunter? And your father was never considered smart. He was never considered a good senator. He was only a good vice-president because he understood how to kiss Barack Obamas ass.

The crowd erupted in delight, relishing Trumps vulgar, taboo-busting audacity a key characteristic of his political rise. Describing trade deals with China, he added: The Bidens got rich, and that is substantiated, while America got robbed. Thats what happened. Sleepy Joe and his friends sold out America.

While Hunter Biden did have business interest overseas while he father was in office, there is no evidence of misconduct.

The impeachment saga appeared to have fired Trump up. Isnt it much better when I go off script? he asked in rollicking fashion. There were more insults to come. Pelosi, he said, is either really stupid or shes really lost it or maybe theres a certain dishonesty there.

He branded Omar an America-hating socialist, ran through some of her past antisemitic remarks (for which she later apologised) and allegations by some conservative media that Omar married her brother to commit immigration fraud a claim she has called disgusting lies. Trump said: She is a disgrace to our country and she is one of the big reasons that Im going to win and the Republican party is going to win Minnesota in 13 months.

There was no repeat of the Send her back! cries heard at a rally this summer in North Carolina. But Trump said Minnesota, home to the biggest Somali population in the US, allowed refugees in without considering the impact on schools, the community and taxpayers.

I have reduced refugee resettlement by 85%, he boasted to the overwhelming white crowd, warning that Democrats would open the floodgates.

Omar responded in a tweet: At his rally just now, Trump called me an America-hating socialist and a disgrace. He shouted xenophobic conspiracy theories about me. He scolded my district for voting for me. His hate is no match for our movement. Stand with me by donating now.

Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, said: By now, it is painfully clear that President Trump embraces hate and intends to resort to anti-Muslim bigotry to distract voters. Yet, for the safety of American Muslims in Minnesota and across the nation, I urge him to stop engaging in hateful smears.

Before a sympathetic audience, the president also shrugged off bipartisan criticism of his decision to abandon the USs Kurdish allies against Isis to an attack by Turkey. We could mediate a deal between Turkey and the Kurds, he said. I like that. Lets mediate a deal. The crowd chanted Bring them home! about US troops.

Meanwhile, the estate of Minneapolis-born singer Prince is objecting to Trumps use of his song Purple Rain before the rally got under way. The estate released a statement after the rally saying it will never give permission to President Trump to use Princes songs. The campaign had confirmed a year ago that it would not use Princes music, it added.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

 

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