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Trump rails against legal charges, caters to global manufacturing fears during Michigan visit

(Credit: Kyle Davidson/Michigan Advance)

Kyle Davidson, Michigan Advance
February 18, 2024

Former President Donald Trump railed against his many legal charges while continuing to stoke fear about migrant workers, China and the southern border during a visit to Michigan, 10 days before the state’s Feb. 27 presidential primary.

Hundreds of people packed into a hangar in Waterford Township in Oakland County on Saturday as the former president took shots at President Joe Biden, spoke out against clean energy, electric vehicles, and continued to tout false claims that the 2020 election had been stolen, which have been repeatedly disproven.

Trump is facing a bevy of charges including felony charges for working to overturn the results of the 2020 election and mishandling top secret documents, as well as anti-racketeering charges in Georgia and charges in New York tied to hush money payments made during his 2016 presidential campaign. Last week, he also was ordered to pay $355 million plus interest in a New York civil fraud case for lying about his wealth.

In the beginning of his speech Trump contested the charges against him, blasting the judge and the attorney general in the New York civil fraud case, special counsel Jack Smith, and E. Jean Carrol, whom Trump was found liable for sexually assaulting and defaming.

Carroll was awarded $5 million in May 2023 when a jury found Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation. She was awarded an additional $83.3 million in January for another defamation case.

“We haven’t done anything wrong. How about the [case] two weeks ago? A woman, I’m saying who the hell is she, who is the woman? It’s so unfair,” Trump said.

Although Trump argued the legal system was being weaponized against him, he offered no evidence to support this claim.

“Every time the radical left Democrats, Marxists, communists and fascists indict me, I consider it a great badge of honor, I am being indicted for you,” Trump said.

“They want to silence me because I will never let them silence you,” he said.

Ahead of Trump’s appearance, U.S. Reps. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) and Lisa McClain (R-Bruce Twp.) shared their support for the former president, saying Trump would address concerns of inflation and border security, topics that he centered in his own speech.

“We have a new category of crime in our country. It’s called migrant crime, and it’s taking over America,” Trump said.

While the former president voiced concerns of rising crime in New York he said were committed by gangs of migrants, total crime in the city dropped by .3% in 2023, with 400 fewer shootings, and a 12% drop in homicides. However, the police reported concerns with increased felony assaults and car thefts.

Trump also stoked concerns of global trade, particularly around auto manufacturing jobs.

“A vote for Biden is a vote to send tens of thousands of Michigan jobs to China and other places that we don’t want them to go. A vote for Trump is a vote to keep those manufacturing jobs in America and add a lot of jobs,” Trump said.

Before his speech, Trump said he met with auto workers backstage. He argued these workers had been sold out by United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain and that a pivot to electric vehicle manufacturing would result in a loss of jobs to China.

He also said that migrants posed the largest threat to unions, saying that undocumented workers would perform the same jobs for a lower price.

While Trump promised to bring auto jobs back to America, a 2020 report from the Detroit Free Press found the former president failed to deliver on these promises for Michigan during his time in office.

LaShawn English, UAW Region 1 Director told reporters during a Friday press call that the former president had repeatedly failed to show support for autoworkers, including during the 2019 GM strike, and in 2023 when Trump paid to speak at a non-union parts manufacturing and supply facility.

“In the labor movement, we say, ‘Which side are you on?’ We know what side he’s on, and it’s not our side,” English said.

The UAW endorsed Biden for president at its biennial political conference in Washington, D.C., with Fain calling Trump a “scab.”

Although Trump said the tariffs he imposed on China while in office protected autoworkers, U.S. companies got many of their parts from other countries, though the tariffs led to a 3% increase in gross domestic output for auto parts, according to a report from Politifact.

China also raised its own tariffs in response, leading to a reduction of U.S. auto exports to China. However, Trump’s campaign told Politifact that without these tariffs the U.S. might have seen a soaring number of imports of Chinese vehicles, as seen in the European Union.

During his speech Trump shared plans for additional tariffs.

“I’ll also pass the Trump Reciprocal Trade act. You know what that is? When a country charges us a tax, we say, ‘Oh, what is it 100%? Good, we’re charging them the same tax,’” he said.

“It’s basically saying you screw us and we screw you,” Trump said.

Before Trump’s arrival in Michigan on Saturday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a statement on X blasting Trump for his administration’s impact on the state.

“When Donald Trump comes to Michigan he’ll see a state that is better off  because President [Joe] Biden has our backs. While Donald Trump has stood squarely against workers we restored their rights and cut taxes for hardworking Michiganders by $1 billion. While Donald Trump worked to take away the constitutional right to an abortion, we protected reproductive rights here at home. And now he’s doubling down on banning abortion nationwide,” the Democrat said.

“While Donald Trump shipped jobs overseas, we brought the supply chain home, with President Biden serving as a champion for Michigan’s world-class autoworkers. Donald Trump creates division everywhere he goes, but we’ve come together to make our state more welcoming and more preposterous. Michigan didn’t buy what Donald Trump was selling in 2020 and we won’t in 2024.”

Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan J. Demas for questions: Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Michigan Advance under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.