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Trump defends Johnson, rips prosecution in post-court radio interview

Donald Trump defended embattled House Speaker Mike Johnson, declined to criticize House Republicans over their vote on Ukraine funding and railed against prosecutors trying him in a wide-ranging post-court interview on Monday.

The former president, who had spent the day holed up in hostile territory in the Manhattan courtroom where he is being tried, took to conservative airwaves that evening in an effort to reset the conversation.

“This is all Biden,” Trump told radio host John Fredericks. “It’s all political persecution and interference of this election at a level we have never seen before.”

Trump also offered a defense of Johnson, who has come under fire by some conservatives for pushing a $95 billion foreign aid package through the House.

“Well, look, we have a majority of one, OK?” Trump said. “It’s not like he can go and do whatever he wants to do. I think he’s a very good person. You know, he stood very strongly with me on NATO when I said NATO has to pay up … I think he’s trying very hard.”

Trump praised Johnson for securing part of the aid for Ukraine in the form of forgivable loans and he repeated his calls for Europe to “pay up.”

Trump’s interview came after he spent Monday listening to opening statements from his defense team and prosecution. Prosecutors claimed that the hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels were meant to “corrupt” the 2016 election, while Todd Blanche, Trump’s attorney, called Trump “innocent” and said there is nothing illegal about things like non-disclosure agreements or efforts to influence an election.

Every weekday for the next six weeks — with the exception of Wednesdays, which are set aside for other court business — Trump’s schedule will be dictated by courtroom demands. Last week, Trump was forced to sit in a chilly courtroom as potential jurors were interviewed and some offered their blunt assessments of the former president. Trump is not permitted to pull out his iPhone and post to Truth Social as he sits there, although once released he has made a flurry of posts to his social media site railing against the case.

The courtroom drama has created scheduling difficulties for Trump both personally and politically. The former president complained to Fredericks about the possibility he may not be permitted to attend his son Barron’s high school graduation in Florida.

And last week, Trump only held one campaign event outside of court after a planned rally in North Carolina on Saturday was scrapped at the last minute due to weather.

Instead, Trump made a single public stop: a Harlem bodega, the site of a high-profile incident in which a clerk fatally stabbed a customer who was attacking him. The shop was used as a backdrop for the former president’s attempt to draw attention to crime in New York and his claim that the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, was pursuing a political case against him rather than go after violent crime. Trump also hosted Polish President Andrzej Duda for dinner at his Trump Tower residence, where Ukraine, among other things, was discussed.

There has been discussion among Trump’s advisers of holding larger events on the sidelines of Trump’s case in New York. In early May, the former president will hold a rally in nearby New Jersey.

But on Monday, he demonstrated a desire to command an audience after hours — and it would have been hard to find a friendlier one.

“Let’s get to this scam, communist, Soviet manifesto trial that is going on in New York City,” Fredericks said during his interview. “You’re being politically persecuted. Our justice system is now perverted and weaponized. How does this play out Mr. President?”

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Author: POLITICO