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Donald Trump held a rally Saturday night in Sarasota, Florida, where he revived his long-running list of grievances about Joe Biden’s “atrocious” administration and appeared to voice support for Jan. 6 Capitol rioters.
“The radical Left, thanks to a rigged and dishonest election, now controls the U.S. government,” he complained, continuing to propagate the lie that he won the 2020 presidential election. He also called New York prosecutors “fascist and authoritarian” for charging his family’s company, the Trump Organization, and its chief financial officer with tax crimes. “It’s solely because of politics,” he said, adding that “it’s because I got, we got, 75 million votes.”
The twice-impeached former president also riled up supporters by appearing to praise those who took part in the Jan. 6 riot that he incited.
“By the way, who shot Ashli Babbitt?” he asked of the Air Force vet who was shot dead by a Capitol police officer while she climbed through a broken window in a door leading to the House chamber. “Who shot Ashli Babbitt? We all saw the hand. We saw the gun … Now they don’t want to give the name, but people know the name. People know where he came from,” Trump told supporters.
The Department of Justice declined to file criminal charges against the officer who shot Babbitt, with witnesses saying he had “no choice” but to shoot as a violent mob tried to enter an area where lawmakers were present.
“Now if that were on the other side, the person who did the shooting would be strung up and hung. Now they don’t want to give the name,” Trump told the crowd, prompting at least one supporter to yell, “Hang him!”
“Who shot Ashli Babbitt? It’s got to be released. And how come so many people are still in jail over Jan. 6?” he asked, claiming that nobody “paid a price” for Black Lives Matter protests last year.
Resurrecting one of his longest-running and most inexplicable vendettas, he railed against windmills, which he said were ugly, drove down property values, and were “ruining our fields and ruining our oceans.” He suggested that the entire state of Texas should do away with them entirely.
Meanwhile, a few hours away away in Surfside, Florida, efforts to recover the more than 100 people still listed as missing in the collapse of the 12-story Champlain Tower South condo complex continue as tropical storm Elsa barrels towards the state. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a longtime Trump ally, skipped the rally to focus on the disaster. A DeSantis spokesperson said, “The Governor’s duty is to be in Surfside making sure the families and community have what they need in the aftermath of the tragic building collapse.” Trump, a resident of Florida, has not visited Surfside or met with victims’ families. Joe Biden visited earlier this week. A spokesperson for Trump said that that the rally “will not impact any of the recovery efforts.”