Former President Donald Trump railed against New York prosecutors on Saturday for charging the Trump Organization and its chief financial executive in what he called a politically motivated effort “reminiscent of a communist dictatorship.”
On Thursday, the Manhattan district attorney’s office indicted the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, on tax-related charges following a three-year investigation, conducted alongside New York Attorney General Letitia James, which grew out of the hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
Trump dismissed the charges in his opening remarks at the “Save America” rally in Sarasota, Florida, on the eve of Independence Day—the second campaign-style rally held by the ex-president since he left the White House in January.
“In New York, they’re doing what you would see in a Third World nation. This isn’t for us. It’s reminiscent of a communist dictatorship targeting your political opponents,” he told the crowd.
Prosecutors have accused Trump Organization and Weisselberg of engaging in a 15-year scheme to avoid taxes on $1.7 million in off-the-books company perks that should have been declared as income. “To put it bluntly, this was a sweeping and audacious illegal payments scheme,” said Carey Dunne, general counsel for Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
Trump was not charged, nor were any other company executives. The defendants have pleaded not guilty and vowed to battle the charges.
“It’s unprecedented, unheard of, and totally unacceptable in America for prosecutors to run for office on a promise to get their political enemies,” Trump continued. “How about the one in New York state? ‘We’re going to get Trump, I’m running.’ She knows nothing about me, all she knows is she’s going to get me from the day she got in. But you know that people are wise to it.”
Trump is referring to James, the first woman and first African American to be elected as New York attorney general. Throughout her 2018 campaign, James pledged to go after Trump on “day one” of her term over his alleged violation of the Emoluments Clause.
“It’s just fascist and authoritarian. The people who talk about democracy are literally destroying it before our very eyes. Nobody can believe the things that we’re witnessing,” Trump told his supporters. “Four years of searching, dozens and dozens of interviews, and millions of millions of dollars spent of taxpayer funds, all wasted.”
“The radical left continues to search for a crime and wreck lives, break laws, violate every principle of justice, fairness and liberty—you say it, you see it—on a constant basis,” he added. “It’s really called prosecutorial misconduct.”
Newsweek reached out to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and New York Attorney General Letitia James for comment. This story will be updated with any response.