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Trump says Democrats are ‘running a Gestapo government’ at annual Republican National Committee retreat

Former President Donald Trump stepped up his attacks on Democrats Saturday during a private lunch at his Mar-a-Lago club, calling Democrats “running a Gestapo government” — equating President Joe Biden’s administration with Nazi-Germany. to three attendees.

The comments were part of a larger tirade, in which the former president accused the Biden administration of being behind the four criminal charges he faces.

The fundraiser served as the main attraction at the RNC’s annual retreat in Palm Beach. Hundreds of people attended the event, and several attendees gave $40,000 or more, sources familiar with the fundraiser told CNN.

During his speech, Trump cursed repeatedly, attendees said, including as he criticized special counsel Jack Smith and other prosecutors who have indicted him on criminal charges.

The comments were part of a roughly 90-minute speech in which he touted his recent fundraising numbers and effusively praised his vice presidential candidates, claiming that many people were “begging” to serve as his running mate, two of the attendees said.

Trump walked on stage Saturday for the recording of a Jan. 6 anthem featuring several people convicted for their roles in the 2021 attack on the Capitol — a song his campaign regularly performs at his campaign rallies.

At one point during the event, Trump’s daughter-in-law and co-chair of the Republican National Committee, Lara Trump, presented the former president with a Billboard Music award for the song, titled “Justice for All,” which surpassed Billboard’s digital sales last year. .

At another point, Trump called attendees at his resort and offered them the chance to speak on stage for $1 million, the three attendees said. Eventually, two donors took the stage, with one using the podium to claim that God had chosen Trump to lead the country, they said.

Trump also praised efforts to prevent cheating in the upcoming elections by RNC Chairman Michael Whatley, attendees told CNN. During the remarks, Trump stated that he would need an attorney general with “courage,” while simultaneously mocking his former attorney general, William Barr, according to the New York Times. Barr, who has been a fierce critic of Trump since leaving his administration, recently endorsed the former president.

Trump also spent several minutes praising former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was impeached and removed from office in 2009 over corruption allegations, attendees said. Trump commuted Blagojevich’s prison sentence in 2020. Blagojevich told CNN that he considers himself a “Trumpocrat,” which he described as a Democrat who supports Trump.

Later Saturday, Trump hosted a birthday party at Mar-a-Lago for Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson, who served as one of Trump’s presidential doctors during his time in office, several attendees said. The former president used the event, which also served as a fundraising opportunity, to make comments about his campaign against Biden.

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