By NICHOLAS RICCARDI and MICHELLE L. PRICE (Associated Press)
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Former President Donald Trump tried Saturday to turn the tables on his likely November rival, President Joe Biden, arguing that the man whose election victory Trump was trying to overturn was “the destroyer of American democracy.
Trump’s allegations against Biden, a Democrat, echo those Biden has made for years against his predecessor. While Trump dominated the Republican presidential primary and talked about targeting his rivals and the media if he wins the White House again, Biden stepped up his own warnings, saying Trump is “determined to destroy American democracy.”
On Saturday, Trump made his most explicit argument yet about why voters should instead view his rival as the biggest Democratic threat. Trump reiterated his long-standing claim that the four criminal indictments against him show Biden is misusing the federal justice system against his rival.
“He uses the government as a weapon against his political opponents, as a third world political tyrant,” Trump told a crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “Biden and his radical left allies like to present themselves as allies of democracy,” Trump continued, arguing: “Joe Biden is not the defender of American democracy, Joe Biden is the destroyer of American democracy. »
Ammar Moussa, a spokesperson for the Biden campaign, responded: “Donald Trump’s America in 2025 is one where the government is his personal weapon to lock up his political enemies. You don’t have to take our word for it: Trump admitted it himself.”
Trump has long vowed to sue Biden in retaliation if he returns to the White House. On Saturday, however, the former president extended his arguments about Biden’s threat to democracy to lawsuits filed by two liberal organizations seeking to declare him ineligible for office under a constitutional provision rarely used in the era of the civil war which prohibits those who “engaged in the insurrection”. back to the office.
So far, all prosecutions have failed. Biden is not involved in it, but Democratic donors who support him also help fund the liberal groups filing these claims. This led Trump to blame them on the president, who he said had “degraded the Constitution” by trying to block him.
And the former president, who has long spoken warmly of authoritarian leaders and sometimes echoed their rhetoric, seemed aware of the criticism against him. “Americans don’t like fascists,” Trump said. He praised Chinese President Xi Jinping and China’s criminal justice system for quickly executing drug traffickers, and boasted that North Korean President Kim Jong Un likes him.
But Trump noted that he was often attacked because of those relationships and tried to defend them. “It’s good to have good relations with people who have nuclear weapons,” he said.
Throughout his speech, Trump repeated his arguments that the 2020 presidential election, which he lost, was “stolen” and that U.S. elections in general were “rigged.” There is no evidence that the 2020 election was stolen. Dozens of lawsuits have been thrown out by the courts and the government, and independent reviews have not found enough alleged fraud to call the outcome into question.
Trump supporters reportedly attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, in an attempt to stop the certification of Trump’s defeat to Biden. On Saturday, Trump continued to refer to some of those arrested in connection with the riots as “political prisoners.”
Earlier in the day, at a rally in Ankeny, Iowa, Trump returned to allegations of Democratic voter fraud, one of his favorite themes on the campaign trail. He asked the crowd to “watch the vote” in 2024 and focused on various cities that he has often denigrated as examples of places where fraud could occur.
“You should go to Detroit and you should go to Philadelphia and you should go to some of these places, Atlanta, and you should go to some of these places and we have to watch those votes when they come in,” Trump said. his supporters.
Riccardi reported from Denver.