Appearing publicly for the first time since the FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago home on August 8, discovering a slew of “classified” government documents, Mr Trump told a supporter rally in Pennsylvania the search was a “travesty of justice” which would provoke “a backlash the likes of which nobody has ever seen”. Earlier this week president Mr Biden said Mr Trump and his Republican supporters represented “an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic”.
Speaking in Philadelphia Mr Biden attacked Republicans who supported the former president, urging his own supporters to fight back in what he described as a “battle for the Soul of the Nation”.
Mr Trump slammed it as the “most vicious, hateful and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president”.
He added: “He’s an enemy of the state. You want to know the truth. The enemy of the state is him. There can be no more vivid example of the very real threats from American freedom than just a few weeks ago, you saw, when we witnessed one of the most shocking abuses of power by any administration in American history.”
Mr Trump accused Mr Biden of having “vilified” the 71 million voters who supported the ex-president in 2020, repeating the claim that these were “threats to democracy and as enemies of the state”.
Mr Trump also accused the sitting president of being “cognitively impaired and in no condition to lead our country,” though he offered no evidence to support his claims. Speculation is intensifying about the possibility of Mr Trump announcing his intention to run for president in 2024.
However, this ambition could be derailed by multiple criminal and civil litigations against the Make America Great Again candidate – not least of which are the legal implications of over 11,000 government documents being discovered at his Florida home. The Justice Department and FBI, who searched Mr Trump’s home, operate independently of the White House.
Of the discovered records and photos, 18 were labelled as “top secret”, 54 were labelled “secret” and 31 were labelled “confidential”, according to the government’s inventory.
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The fiery speech has been followed by a series of memes and posts on Mr Trump’s Truth Social website. The former US leader re-posted images that placed the words “your enemy is not in Russia” over the faces of top Democrats, including Mr Biden.
He also shared a meme referencing “the storm”, a mass unsealing of indictments which, according to conspiracy theory QAnon, would lead to his return to the White House. QAnon started after anonymous persona “Q” shared posts on fringe online forums including unfounded claims about a cabal of Stan-worshipping paedophiles, including Mr Trump’s former election opposition candidate Hillary Clinton.
Mike Rothschild, author of a book on the QAnon conspiracy theory, told ABC: “Trump has certainly amplified Q content before. He had retweeted Q believers or memes over 300 times on Twitter.
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“But he had never shared something directly connected to a Q drop before.”
Truth Social launched in February 2022 as Mr Trump’s response to his ban from Twitter, as well as his two-year suspension from Facebook, following the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol – which itself has also been connected to QAnon.
Caroline Orr Bueno, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Maryland, added: “Trump’s most ardent supporters will follow him wherever he goes. So although his messages may be reaching a smaller audience, those who are still following him are likely a more hardcore group of supporters who may be more easily incited to violence.”