Trump paints FBI and Justice Department as ‘vicious monsters’ at rally in Pennsylvania, hints at 2024 race

Donald Trump came to northeast Pennsylvania in his role as a political kingmaker on Saturday night. But he seemed far more determined to push forward his own return to power in a speech that increasingly resembled a campaign speech as it stretched to nearly two hours.

A northeastern Pennsylvania arena filled with boos at Trump’s mention of the recent raid on his Florida home in which the FBI said it found dozens of classified documents that Trump should not have removed from the House White.

“The FBI and the Justice Department have become vicious monsters” under the control of “radical” politicians and the media, said Trump, who called the raid one of the greatest injustices in history.

Trump also repeated his baseless claims of a stolen election, saying, “I ran twice and won twice and did much better the second time.”

But some of the loudest cheers came when Trump talked about restoring the country “again”.

Apart from that, Trump appeared at a crucial time for two of his chosen candidates in the nationwide watched Pennsylvania races: Gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano and US Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Still, he briefly mentioned Oz and Mastriano at the start of his talk, then barely mentioned either for over an hour. Perhaps in response to a lack of enthusiasm for Oz among the Trump base, he referred to the former TV doctor and longtime New Jersey resident as “my friend Oz who is a great guy…He is with the MAGA movement all the way.”

If the polls are accurate, Mastriano and Oz can each use a boost.

According to Real Clear Politics’ polling average as of Friday, Oz trails Democrat John Fetterman by 7.4 percentage points. Mastriano trails Democrat Josh Shapiro by 5.9 percentage points.

Still, scrutiny of the polls could diminish Democrats’ comfort. A more recent poll found a lead of just 4 points for Fetterman, just outside the poll’s 3% margin of error. The most recent poll puts Shapiro’s lead at 3 points, equal to the margin of error.

And the fact that Trump came to their aid at his first rally of the general election campaign shows that he believes the races can be won.

Donald Trump at Wilkes Barre

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)PA

The event took place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Casey Plaza near Wilkes-Barre in Luzerne County, about 110 miles northeast of Harrisburg. The 8,300-seat arena was full except for the very first circle of seats, where state troopers were stationed.

Oz spoke for a few minutes in a partially packed arena nearly two hours before Trump spoke, quickly noting that his parents had immigrated legally from Turkey. He returned briefly well over an hour later, as did Mastriano.

Oz claimed great “overreach” in the public health response to COVID-19, saying medicine was “armed” to violate human rights.

He accused Fetterman of ducking it in debates and, saying he understood the impact of a stroke, said he tried to agree with Fetterman on the terms of the debate.

Oz has offered five debates, but Fetterman has yet to accept any. Fetterman’s campaign said he was ready, but also acknowledged he was undergoing therapy for issues related to the severe stroke he suffered in mid-May.

Mastriano, speaking just after Oz, was quick to remark, “We the people are pissed. I know I am, don’t I? »

He split his time with his wife Rebecca, who addressed “what Republicans believe” about women’s rights.

“We believe in the right of a woman to be born. We believe in the right of women to have a say in their education. We believe a woman should have access to formula and affordable groceries for her family,” she said.

Mastriano said Democrats call Republicans “extremists…but don’t want to talk about the businesses they looted. They don’t want to talk about the criminals they freed.

He called face masks on children “child abuse”. He vowed to end any mask or vaccination mandates, ban critical race theory in schools, allow ‘no boys on girls’ teams’ and ‘no boys in the bathroom girls”, and that Pennsylvania “will not welcome any illegal”.

Donald Trump at Wilkes Barre

Former President Donald Trump, left, is joined by Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano on stage during a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/ Mary Altaffer)PA

Yet for many, if not most, of the crowd that waited more than four hours for Trump, he was the main attraction.

“I love this man,” said Timothy Laing, 48, of Canadensis, Pennsylvania. “Look at the work he has done.”

Florida’s Tracey Sheldon came to the rally with about 100 people who attend Trump events across the country.

“Everyone is so loving and happy. You just sing and dance. It’s like a rock concert,” the 54-year-old Pittsburgh native said.

Explaining the former president’s appeal, she said: ‘I love Trump and what he is doing for our country. He has done more for child trafficking and human trafficking than any other president. »

She was less enthusiastic about Oz.

“I just don’t know if he’s on the rise,” she said of Oz. “Pretty much everyone I talk to, they don’t think highly of him.”

But it wasn’t hard to find more open people in Oz.

Suzanne Kravitsky of Dallas, Pennsylvania, said she was supporting Oz, a longtime New Jersey resident who only recently purchased property in Pennsylvania.

“I think he’ll be good for us. I think he’ll live up to what he says he’s going to do,” she said. don’t need the money.

Laing said, “I’m not sure, but I think Oz will do well with us. He’s a conservative… just hope he does what he says he’s going to do.

Kravitsky said she and her husband, Micheal, came to the rally because they were upset with the direction of the country. They attribute much of it to Biden and would like to see Trump back in power.

“Do we think Trump is the Almighty God? Absolutely not. Do we like his politics? Yes,” said Michael Kravitsky.

Suzanne Kravitsky said her opinion of Trump was not changed by the classified documents allegedly found at his Florida home.

“I don’t believe he would do anything to harm the country,” she said.

The event looked and felt nearly identical to the Trump rallies of 2016 and 2020, filled with red hats, albeit featuring the revised theme of “Save America.”

A warm-up speaker, Republican U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, drew resounding applause when she said Trump had won the 2020 election. She further said that the lawsuits filed in the 6 January against the Capitol were unfair, and promised investigations and holding Democrats “accountable” when Republicans return to power.

In Luzerne County, voters backed Trump over President Joe Biden by a wide margin, 57% to 42%. Still, it’s a battleground region, along with adjacent Lackawanna County, where Biden spent part of his childhood, backing Biden over Trump 54% to 45% in 2020.

Fetterman, meanwhile, attacked Oz in a written statement that built on Trump’s remarks this week that if he returned to power, he would pardon those convicted in the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. Fetterman’s sweep included Mastriano, who went to the Capitol on Jan. 6 but did not enter, and who organized buses to Washington, DC that day.

“Dr. Oz, you’re not just a TV doctor anymore. You’re a candidate for the Senate. You have to take sides. Stand up to Trump and Mastriano, or admit you agree with them and don’t care. of law and order as you claim,” Fetterman said.

Paige Cognetti, the Democratic major for nearby Scranton, also slammed Oz and Mastriano on Friday.

“It’s hard to explain to some people how dangerous Doug Mastriano’s election as governor would be,” she said.

She pointed to Oz’s lack of physical connection to the state before the campaign, saying, “It’s insulting in so many ways that Oz walks around the state pretending to understand what Pennsylvanians need. “

Elna M. Lemons