Trump, under federal gag order, says Biden is using courts to ‘illegally’ attack him

By: - October 16, 2023 11:10 pm

Trump spoke at the Horizon Events Center in Clive Oct. 16, 2023, asking supporters to caucus for him in the Iowa GOP caucuses in 2024. (Photo by Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

CLIVE, Iowa — Former President Donald Trump, in Iowa Monday after being issued a gag order in federal court, said President Joe Biden and the federal justice system are “illegally” attacking him on political grounds.

Trump campaigned in Iowa instead of attending a court hearing in Washington, D.C., where he is charged with four felony charges for allegedly attempting to sabotage the 2020 election. It’s one of multiple legal battles the former president currently faces on allegations ranging from election interference to business fraud.

At the Monday hearing, Judge Tanya Chutkan issued a gag order prohibiting Trump from attacking court staff, prosecutors and witnesses involved in the federal case.

Chutkan said Trump’s presidential candidacy does not give him “carte blanche to vilify” public servants doing their jobs. Trump posted on social media Monday that he intends to appeal the order, calling it an “absolute abomination.”

Trump held a rally Monday afternoon at the Horizon Events Center in Clive, where he told Iowans that Democrats and federal bureaucrats have “weaponized law enforcement” against him, repeating claims that the indictments are false allegations.

“I’ve been indicted more than Alphonse Capone,” Trump told the crowd. “It all happened so fast, too – they all happened right before the election.”

He claimed there are political motives behind the cases against him, pointing to the timing of the election interference case set to begin March 4, 2024. Chutkan said the start date will not change, saying the trial will “not yield to the election cycle.”

“I have a trial scheduled for the day before Super Tuesday,” Trump said. “I can’t imagine the courts are going to allow that to happen. The day before Super Tuesday? Oh no, that’s not political, is it? It’s not going to matter though because the people of the country get it.”

He also repeated false claims that the 2020 election was stolen by Biden, who he called an “incompetent fool.”

Trump said he used to be less critical of Biden, but claimed he is speaking out because the president is corruptly using federal courts and law enforcement against him.

“Out of respect for the office, I never used to talk about him this way,” Trump said. “I felt this, but I wouldn’t do it out of respect for the office. But once he did that – he did something … that’s what you do in banana republics, that’s what you do in third world countries.”

Kristine McVicker of Des Moines, who attended the rally, said her support of Trump has only grown in light of the “persecution” Trump has battled in the U.S. justice system. The charges against Trump show that people in power felt threatened by the changes Trump pursued as president, she said, like “draining the swamp” of corrupt politicians in both parties.

“I’d say in every category he attempted to correct, all the while fighting terrible people who are stealing from us,” she said.

Trump secures endorsement from Iowa attorney general, calls for reinstating travel ban

At an earlier event in Adel, Trump announced a new Iowa endorsement from Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird, a Republican who ousted longtime Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller in the 2022 midterms.

Bird joined Trump in Clive, saying he has the “full support” of her and the people of Iowa.

“As Iowa’s attorney general, I am so proud of the job that President Trump did to keep America safe,” Bird said. “I think we wouldn’t see what’s going on in Israel right now if we had President Trump.”

Trump said one of Biden’s biggest failures was the management of national security, pointing to the southern border and the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Trump said he would reinstate the travel ban from “terror-plagued countries,” primarily Middle Eastern countries with Muslim populations, and expand the ban to Palestinian refugees.

“If you’re coming from somewhere full of people who want to kill Americans, we will not let you in,” Trump said.

He also said his administration would deport immigrants who have “jihadist sympathies,” as well as revoke student visas from international students on American college campuses who demonstrate in support of Palestine.

“We will send them straight back home,” Trump said. “Say, ‘go back home, enjoy your life.’ Likewise the mobs — I mean, literally barbarians that we saw on the streets of New York and other cities last week have no place in America. We can’t have it.”

Trump is not the only candidate saying he will bar Palestinian refugees from entering the United States. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also said on the campaign trail that the U.S. cannot accept Palestinians fleeing the conflict in Gaza, saying in Iowa Saturday that “not all of them are Hamas, but they are all antisemitic.”

Trump continues to needle Reynolds

Trump has retained his top position in the Republican presidential field in the months ahead of the GOP presidential nominating cycle, holding a double-digit lead over DeSantis, his closest competitor, in national and Iowa polls. However, the candidate has faced criticism from some Iowa Republicans for his abortion positions and complaints about Gov. Kim Reynolds.

In a Friday post on Truth Social, a social media website, Trump suggested Reynolds was seeing lower support in polls due to DeSantis. Reynolds has not endorsed any candidate in the caucus race. Her approval rating slipped slightly from 53% in October to 50% in the March Des Moines  Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll.

Trump has also been critical of DeSantis’ support for a six-week abortion ban, a measure similar to the law signed by Reynolds after a special legislative session in July. The former president said in Iowa last month that some Republicans’ rhetoric on banning abortion alienates voters – linking it to GOP losses in the 2022 midterm elections. Reynolds responded on X in September that she was proud to sign the law, saying “it’s never a “terrible thing” to protect innocent life.”

Bird has been an outspoken anti-abortion advocate in Iowa. After taking office in January, she halted the state’s payments for emergency contraception, and in rare situations abortion, for sexual assault victims. She did not mention Trump’s comments on abortion restrictions in her endorsement.

Marty Jorgensen, a Des Moines area resident who attended Monday’s rally, said he plans to support Trump in the caucuses. While there are caucusgoers and voters who do not like the former president because of his conflicts with fellow Republicans, Jorgensen said liking Trump’s record in office is more important than liking his personality.

“I think the people that don’t like him, they’ve made up their minds,” he said. “But I think with what people have seen under Biden — I think it’s a different situation than 2020.”

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. They have experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald.