Former US President Donald Trump called the federal indictment against him “ridiculous and baseless” in his first public appearance since the charges against him were announced.
A 37-count indictment was released Friday accusing him of keeping sensitive documents at his Mar-a-Lago property.
On Saturday, he said the indictment amounted to “election interference” by the “corrupt” FBI and Justice Department.
He denied any wrongdoing.
He accused Trump of mishandling hundreds of classified documents, including some related to US nuclear secrets and military plans.
The indictment accused him of keeping the records at his home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, in a ballroom and shower.
He alleged that he lied to investigators and tried to obstruct the investigation of his handling of the documents.
These are the first federal charges ever against a former US president.
Addressing a Republican convention in Georgia on Saturday, Trump said: “They cheat, they’re corrupt – these criminals cannot be rewarded, they must be defeated.”
He added that when he flies over the “blue state” – a state controlled by Democrats – he gets called out.
He described the indictment as a “trick” by the “corrupt political establishment”. He said it was a “joke” and a “joke”.
Trump, who is running for president again in 2024, had previously responded angrily to the indictment, calling it a politically motivated “fraud”.
He also claimed that he had “nothing to hide” and had provided the documents “publicly”.
“We have one set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone,” said special counsel Jack Smith, who oversaw the investigation.
As the momentum builds towards the 2024 election, Trump speaks at a Republican convention in Columbus, Georgia, before moving on to another Republican event in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he is scheduled to speak at 6:00 PM EST (22). : 00 GMT).
He is currently the front runner for the 2024 Republican nomination.
Georgia is likely to be a key battleground in the race for the White House, a place where Trump narrowly lost to incumbent President Joe Biden in 2020 — and could also be the scene of more legal cases for the former president.
State officials are currently investigating whether Mr. Trump broke the law when he asked Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the exact number of votes he needed to sway the vote in his favour.