By Mimi Nguyen Ly
Former President Donald Trump shared with Republicans at a fundraising event in South Carolina late on Aug. 5 his thoughts on the indictments against him this year, saying, “I’m being indicted for you.”
Gov. Henry McMaster introduced Mr. Trump as the keynote speaker at the 56th Annual Silver Elephant Dinner hosted by the South Carolina Republican Party in Columbia.
“Every time the radical left Democrats do this and the Marxist, Communist, fascists indict me, I consider it a great badge of honor, because I’m being indicted for you,” Mr. Trump, the Republican 2024 presidential frontrunner, said at the event. “I am being indicted for you.
“I don’t like that deal so much, by the way. I don’t like that deal, but that’s okay,” he continued. “I’m being indicted because of what we’ve done, and I’m being indicted because they’re afraid of all of us, because we have a movement that’s never been seen in the history of our country—Make America Great Again.
“It’s never been seen. There’s never been anything like this. And never forget our enemies want to stop us because we are the only ones who can stop them. We’re the only ones. And this is why this election is so important,” he said.
‘Disintegration of the Values’
Held at the S.C. State Fairgrounds, the annual dinner is the largest South Carolina Republican fundraising event of the year and the longest-standing GOP event in the state’s history. This is the 56th year for the event and over 1,300 people attended.
Earlier on Aug. 5, South Carolina Speaker of the House Murrell Smith had announced his endorsement for Mr. Trump in the Republican primary.
“Under President Trump’s leadership, our country saw historic economic success and growth. South Carolinians enjoyed more opportunity and prosperity, tangibly felt by many as more money in their pockets and more food on their tables,” Mr. Smith said in a statement. “Today, under our current administration, we now feel the devastating effects of debilitating inflation, lawlessness, and the disintegration of the values we hold dear.
“America is in desperate need of a leader who has a proven record of bolstering the economy, prioritizing national defense, and championing conservative values,” he added.
Mr. Trump, during much of his 76-minute speech, drew a contrast between his administration and that of President Joe Biden in a similar manner.
The keynote speech follows a stop Mr. Trump made in Alabama on Aug. 4 to speak at a fundraising dinner for the Alabama Republican Party.
78 Charges in 3 Cases
The two dinners were Mr. Trump’s first campaign events after he pleaded not guilty on Aug. 3 to four criminal counts in relation to the second and latest federal indictment from Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith, regarding the former president’s efforts to dispute the results of the 2020 election.
The first indictment from Mr. Smith’s investigation had dealt Mr. Trump 40 counts relating to the alleged retention of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home.
Besides the two federal indictments, Mr. Trump was charged in April with state felonies of falsifying business records in New York.
Mr. Trump is the first former president to face criminal charges, and in total, he faces 78 different charges in the three criminal cases.
Mr. Trump has proclaimed his innocence in all the cases and has accused Mr. Biden, a Democrat, and his administration of targeting him for political reasons.
‘Standing in Their Way’
Regarding the latest criminal case against him, Mr. Trump has previously raised concerns about not being able to get a fair trial in Washington.
At the dinner, Trump asserted that his ability to question the election is protected under the First Amendment.
“They want to take away my freedom because I will never let them take away your freedom,” Mr. Trump told the crowd on Aug. 5.
“I’ll never let that happen. They want to silence me because I will never let them silence you. And in the end, they’re not after me. They’re after you. I’m just standing in their way. And I will never stop standing in their way. You’re going to be protected.
“I promise you this—if you put me back in the White House, their reign will be over and America will be a free nation once again. We’re not a free nation right now,” he said.
Mr. Trump asserted that the indictments against him are because he is leading Mr. Biden in the polls.
“And that’s the problem, and if I wasn’t, we wouldn’t be under investigation by deranged Jack Smith,” he said.