Former US president Donald Trump said Friday he would not end his run for the White House if convicted and sentenced in any of the criminal investigations threatening to derail his tumultuous comeback bid.
The Republican frontrunner was discussing the multiple indictments he faces as he pushes for a second term, a day after prosecutors broadened the charges against him over his handling of classified government documents.
Asked by radio host John Fredericks if being sentenced would stop his campaign, Trump quickly responded: “Not at all. There’s nothing in the Constitution to say that it could.”
“And even the radical left crazies are saying not at all, that wouldn’t stop (me) — and it wouldn’t stop me, either,” the 77-year-old added. “These people are sick. What they are doing is absolutely horrible.”
The twice-impeached former president was first indicted in the classified documents case last month, accused of endangering national security by holding onto top secret nuclear and defense information after leaving the White House.
The Justice Department added charges Thursday to its more than three dozen counts against Trump, who was found by a judge in a civil trial in May to have raped a writer in Manhattan in the 1990s.
– Mounting prosecutions –
Trump is also facing dozens of felony charges in a case involving hush money payments to a porn star in New York and is bracing for indictment in separate state and federal investigations into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
In a major development Thursday in the documents probe, Special Counsel Jack Smith alleged that Trump, who is scheduled to go on trial at the height of the campaign in March and May next year, asked a worker at his beachfront estate in Florida to delete surveillance footage to obstruct investigators.
Trump, who denies all wrongdoing, was also charged with illegally retaining national defense information over a document he is accused of showing to journalists at his New Jersey golf club.
Trump’s defiant radio interview came as he and rival Ron DeSantis prepared to appear on the same platform for the first in the campaign alongside almost the entire Republican presidential field at the Iowa party’s annual Lincoln Dinner.
The fundraiser in Des Moines later Friday — seen as a landmark in the early presidential cycle — comes with DeSantis facing his own challenges.
The 44-year-old has seen Trump’s lead widen from 13 points in February to 34 points now, as he has failed to connect with voters and has been beset by a series of largely self-inflicted controversies.
– Nazi imagery –
The DeSantis campaign was forced this week to fire a staffer who promoted a video featuring Nazi imagery, and the candidate sparked outrage by suggesting he’d pick anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to lead his public health policy.
Aides also announced they were firing a third of the campaign’s staff as they acknowledged wild overspending, and the Florida governor earned further opprobrium as he defended his state’s heavily criticized new curriculum teaching the benefits of slavery.
With Iowa and then New Hampshire voters due to pick their favored Republican nominee in six months, most of the candidates have been camped out in the states, attending campaign events daily.
Other speakers at the Lincoln Dinner include Trump’s vice president Mike Pence, who is running a lowly fourth in the primary behind businessman Vivek Ramaswamy. Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley and South Carolina senator Tim Scott will also take the stage.
DeSantis, who has been restrained in his responses as he has been attacked relentlessly by Trump, told SiriusXM’s “The Megyn Kelly Show” in a segment due to air Friday that he was against the former president’s prosecution.
“I’m going to do what’s right for the country. I don’t think it would be good for the country to have an almost 80-year-old former president go to prison… I think the country wants a fresh start,” he said.
© Agence France-Presse