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Trump deflects anti-democracy criticism; accuses Biden, without evidence, of conspiring against U.S.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Donald Trump made a renewed attempt to turn criticism that he is a threat to democracy on its head, accusing President Biden without evidence of conspiring against the United States with his policies at the southern border.

“Biden’s conduct on our border is by any definition a conspiracy to overthrow the United States of America,” Trump told the crowd. “He talks about democracy. He is a danger to democracy.”

Trump’s remarks come as he faces 91 charges across four criminal cases Two of those four cases relate to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. Special counsel Jack Smith has charged Trump with a “conspiracy to defraud” the United States, as part of his investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump has denied any wrongdoing, seeking to portray the cases as politically motivated.

Saturday’s speech marked a convergence of two of Trump’s campaign strategies for the 2024 presidential race: seeking to turn the tables on Biden when it comes to anti-democracy attacks, and making immigration a central focus. Biden and Democrats have made the future of democracy a key part of their campaign against the former president amid reports and concern from historians that a second Trump term would be more authoritarian than his first.

Trump’s statement Saturday, first made in North Carolina and then reiterated at a rally in Richmond, was the latest in a long pattern of responding to attacks by leveling the same accusations against his opponents. On the third anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Trump attempted to use the term “insurrection” against his political opponents, after he was impeached for the incitement of an insurrection but acquitted in the Senate.

At his rally here, Trump continued to falsely claim that the 2020 election was “rigged.” During the event at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, his supporters waved signs that said “Too Big to Rig” — an effort to boost turnout ahead of Super Tuesday, when 15 states, including North Carolina, will hold their Republican nominating contests.

During his speech, Trump again portrayed migrants as waging an “invasion” and ramped up his use of the term “migrant crime.” Most of those arrested at the southern border do not have criminal convictions, according to federal data, and experts say that most evidence indicates that undocumented immigrants do not cause more crime.

In Richmond, Trump accused Democrats without evidence of encouraging migrants to enter the country illegally and “trying to sign them up to get them to vote in the next election.” It is against the law for noncitizens to vote in a federal election, and registration of an ineligible voter is a federal crime.

Immigration advocates have accused Trump of deploying racist rhetoric against migrants and say they fear it could inspire violence against the new arrivals. Among the migrants seeking entry at the southern border are record numbers of families traveling with children and underage migrants arriving without their parents.

Trump and Biden made dueling visits to the southern border Thursday. Polls show that the border is a vulnerability for Biden in the November election. Under Biden, the number of people taken into custody by the U.S. Border Patrol has reached the highest levels in the agency’s 100-year history, averaging 2 million per year.

Trump has often spoken in exaggerated terms to describe migrants seeking to enter the country. In his North Carolina speech, Trump suggested that Biden was bringing in “foreign armies.”

“That’s why a central question in this election is whether the foreign armies Joe Biden has smuggled across our border will be allowed to stay, or whether they’ll be told to get the hell out of here and go back home. We’ll take them back home,” he said to cheers.

Ammar Moussa, a Biden campaign spokesman, responded in a statement: “Once again Trump is projecting in an attempt to distract the American people from the fact he killed the fairest and toughest border security bill in decades because he believed it would help his campaign. Sad.”

During Biden’s border visit to Brownsville, Tex., on Thursday, the president blamed Trump for killing a bipartisan border security deal in the Senate that tied border reforms to Ukraine aid. “Instead of playing politics with this issue, join me — or I’ll join you — in telling the Congress to pass this bipartisan border security bill,” Biden said. “We can do it together.”

The former president is on a glide path to the Republican nomination, which his campaign expects him to wrap up this month. During his speeches in North Carolina and Virginia, Trump barely mentioned his remaining primary opponent, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley.

Even as Trump touted his string of victories, the campaign events occasionally took on a dark tone. Ahead of Trump’s speech in Richmond, an announcer said: “Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the horribly and unfairly treated Jan. 6 hostages,” before playing the song “Justice for All,” which features the “J6 Prison Choir” as Trump recites the Pledge of Allegiance. Trump has repeatedly used the word “hostages” to describe people charged with violent crimes in the Jan. 6 attack.

During his Richmond speech, Trump described himself as a “political dissident.” At one point, he appeared to mix up Biden and former president Barack Obama as he warned about impending war. Russian President Vladimir Putin “has so little respect for Obama that he’s starting to throw around the nuclear word,” he said.

As he neared the end of his speech, Trump compared his opponents to domestic enemies, reiterating suggestions he’s made that they pose a greater threat than foreign countries.

“We’re taking on some of the most menacing forces and vicious opponents anywhere in the world, and our worst opponents are the people within the country,” he said.

Isaac Arnsdorf and Maria Sacchetti contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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