Trump Calls His Classified Documents Case ‘Selective Persecution’

Former President Donald J. Trump, who faces a criminal case accusing him of illegally retaining classified documents, blasted on Friday a special counsel’s decision not to charge President Biden for his handling of classified material, accusing prosecutors of an unfair double standard.

“You know, look, if he’s not going to be charged, that’s up to them. But then I should not be charged,” Mr. Trump said at an event in Harrisburg, Pa. “This is nothing more than selective persecution of Biden’s political opponent: me.”

Mr. Trump’s speech, at a forum hosted by the National Rifle Association, were his first public remarks on the matter since the special counsel, Robert K. Hur, released a report stating that, although Mr. Biden had “willfully” retained and disclosed classified material after his vice presidency had ended, no criminal charges were warranted.

Mr. Trump said he had cooperated “with the very hostile and unfriendly feds” more than Mr. Biden, a claim unsupported by any evidence. Mr. Hur’s report said the president fully cooperated with his investigation, while Mr. Trump has been accused of misleading the government for months over the classified documents in his possession.

Mr. Trump also insisted that Mr. Biden’s transgressions were more severe than his, in part because Mr. Biden was not president at the time of his actions. Mr. Trump faces 40 criminal counts tied to his retaining sensitive documents after he left office and his refusal to return them, even after being subpoenaed for classified records.

“They’re trying desperately to spin the Biden document disaster into a ‘Oh, but wasn’t Trump worse?’ No, no, no. Trump was peanuts by comparison,” Mr. Trump said.

He then referred to comments the special counsel made questioning Mr. Biden’s mental recall, arguing that the president mishandled classified material during a period when “he was mentally a little better than he is right now.”

Mr. Trump’s speech in Pennsylvania, a swing state expected to be a pivotal battleground in November, suggested how he might use the special counsel’s report to reinforce two arguments at the heart of his campaign: that he is the victim of unfair prosecution by Democrats and that Mr. Biden is not mentally competent enough to be president.

Mr. Trump also made explicit his desire to chip away at Democrats’ base of support in a state he falsely claimed he won twice. Without offering details, he argued that the border crisis would disproportionately affect the key constituencies that he is trying to win over from Democrats: “African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans and all unions.”

But even as he signaled an effort to court swing voters, Mr. Trump also used the setting of his speech — a forum at an outdoor sporting expo sponsored by the N.R.A. — to highlight his support of gun rights, an issue at the heart of conservative politics.

He forcefully promised to defend gun rights from an “assault” by Democrats. Though he offered few specific policy proposals, he promised to undo any efforts that Mr. Biden made toward gun control.

“No one will lay a finger on your firearms,” he told the crowd, which erupted in cheers.

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