Donald Trump, in his first post-trial rally, demands that appeals courts reverse his felony conviction

Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail Thursday with a trip to Arizona, his first appearance in a battleground state since he was convicted in a hush money scandal, repeating his critiques of the case against him as politically motivated and calling for his conviction to be overturned on appeal.

“Those appellate courts have to step up and straighten things out or we’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump said at a Phoenix town hall organized by Turning Point, a conservative youth organization that has seen its influence rise alongside Trump’s takeover of the GOP.

Trump is expected to appeal last month’s conviction on all 34 charges in his New York hush money trial, in which he became the first former American President to be convicted of felony crimes. He responded defiantly to the verdict against him a day after a New York jury found him guilty last week of a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election through a hush money payment to a porn actor but had not spoken directly to the swing-state voters who will decide the November election until Thursday, when he used a profanity to decry the “fake” and politically motivated case against him.

The crowd of thousands inside the mega church, where bass for the pre-show and introductory music was turned up so high that it shook seats and media camera shots, chanted the same profanity in response.

The Phoenix Police Department said 11 people at the event were transported to hospitals, treated and released for heat exhaustion. Officials said an excessive heat warning was in effect for the area during Trump’s town hall, where many of Trump’s supporters were unable to get inside before it reached capacity, and Phoenix set a new record high of 112 degrees Fahrenheit by mid-afternoon.

Trump’s conviction infuriated his supporters, who pumped tens of millions of dollars into his campaign in the immediate aftermath. Trump blames his conviction on President Joe Biden, though the case was brought by the locally elected district attorney in New York, and many of his allies are calling for revenge.

“What are they going to campaign on?” Juan Arredondo of Peoria, Arizona said of the Democrats as he waited to get inside Trump’s rally. “They can’t campaign on the border. They can’t campaign on the economy.”

Trump focused much of his hourlong speech and subsequent Q&A on the U.S.-Mexico border, blaming a litany of problems — from inflation to the long-term health of Social Security — on illegal immigration, characterizing Biden’s policies “a deliberate demolition of our sovereignty and our borders.”




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