Trump calls FBI 'vicious monsters' at his Pa. rally endorsing Mastriano, Oz, Bognet
In his first rally speech since the FBI recovered classified documents from his Mar-a-Lago home, former President Donald Trump railed against that agency and the Department of Justice, calling them “vicious monsters” during a visit to Wilkes-Barre.
Trump was in northeast Pennsylvania on Saturday to promote a slate of Republican candidates: State Sen. Doug Mastriano for governor, Dr. Mehmet Oz for U.S. Senate and Jim Bognet for the 8th District U.S. House seat. Other guests included U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania’s 9th District and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia.
Speaking at Mohegan Sun Arena, Trump pushed falsehoods about the 2020 election, claiming that he won and complaining that he had been that he had been ahead in vote totals before “the equipment closed down,” an apparent reference to the process of counting mail-in ballots, which officials had warned would not be completed on election night.
What did Trump talk about at the Wilkes-Barre rally?
Trump’s rally followed trips to Wilkes-Barre and Philadelphia by President Joe Biden, who was slated to return to the Keystone State on Labor Day with a scheduled stop in Pittsburgh. In the Philadelphia speech, Biden called out Trump by name, saying that he and “extreme MAGA Republicans” are a threat to democracy.
"Our country is going to hell," Trump said, noting that the November election is a referendum on issues plaguing the country.
Trump, who called Biden "an enemy of the state," claimed that Biden's recent speech in Philadelphia was the most "divisive" ever given by a U.S. president.
Trump cited crime statistics for Philadelphia, saying that Biden and Democrats should focus on that “instead of trying to demonize half of the population.” He told Mastriano, “Doug, you have to take care of this,” and called on Oz to “send him the goods,” the goods being “lots of police officers.”
Biden has also called for an increase in law enforcement officers. The Safer America Plan that he pitched in Wilkes-Barre includes a proposal “to help communities recruit, hire, and train nationwide more than 100,000 additional officers.”
Trump also called Biden’s student debt relief announcement an “immoral plan” and called for the execution of drug dealers before turning to attacks on his endorsed candidates’ opponents.
Reinforcing the conspiracy theory that the 2020 election had been "stolen" from him, Trump said he had won the presidency twice.
"We just have to do it again," Trump shouted, and the crowd erupted in cheers, although the former president did not officially declare his candidacy for 2024. "But first we have to win a historic victory for Republicans this November."
Mastriano, Oz and Bognet had spoken earlier in the evening.
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Meuser and Greene pump up the crowd
Meuser invested a hefty portion of his speaking time on patriotism, as well as calling out Biden and Democrats in general for creating crises in Afghanistan and at the southern border, and also casting blame upon them for COVID and the deficit.
"Fellow Americans, we have fallen way off course," Meuser said, lamenting the loss of a "strong America."
He claimed that "our southern border is open, and illegals are pouring through, as are illegal drugs," adding that "the situation is an unmitigated disaster created by the Biden administration and Biden Democrats."
Meuser then shared a message to "Biden Democrats": "Americans are hurting, people are hurting, and it's time to wake up and woke down."
Greene drew mass enthusiasm from the crowd as she called for tighter spending in Washington, stronger borders and a defunding of the "military vaccine mandate."
Greene called out Biden, saying he "declared all of you terrorists," also challenging Nancy Pelosi — "we're gonna fire her for sure."
From there on, the Congresswoman focused upon the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, sympathizing with those imprisoned on related charges and speaking about the rioters singing the national anthem in jail. She cast those arrested in the siege as victims of weaponized politics. "I saw those men, and I saw those conditions," she said.
She, too, claimed that "President Trump won the 2020 election," which triggered avid cheers and applause from the crowd, though numerous audits have proven the results of the 2020 election were legitimate.
Bognet, Oz and Mastriano
Bognet, Oz and Mastriano utilized similar tactics as Trump when they took to the stage, riling their base by attacking opponents and bringing up standard Republican talking points.
District 8 challenger Bognet asked the crowd if they were "ready to win Congress and save America?" after walking out to the podium to a short clip from the song "Stranglehold" by Ted Nugent. Bognet, a Luzerne County native, served in the Trump administration as a political appointee.
Selling himself as a true local, Bognet pitched the point that he was running for Congress to represent the "greatest place in the world, northeast Pennsylvania," going on to reference his upbringing in Hazleton, "about 20 minutes down the road" from Wilkes-Barre.
In reference to the Philadelphia speech in which Biden said that "Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic," Bognet said that "Biden insulted us, Biden belittled us, Biden demeaned us" and further characterized the comment as "shameful and disgusting."
"It sounds to me like northeast Pennsylvania doesn't support Joe Biden," Bognet said.
The crowd was slightly more reserved once Oz took the stage, though a few proponents of the senatorial candidate were vocal.
Oz called his opponent for Senate, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, "the poster child for the far-left part of the Democratic party," eliciting a chorus of "boos" from the audience.
He went on to challenge Fetterman on accusations of releasing prisoners, supporting sanctuary cities, and legalizing all drugs in the commonwealth. Fetterman is known for supporting marijuana legalization, but is not pushing the legalization of other drugs.
"He would probably say something like 'it sounded good on Twitter,'" Oz said in reference to Fetterman's hypothetical defense of those positions.
Fetterman's campaign released a statement in an email that evening: "More and more lies from Trump and Dr. Oz; another day, but it's the same crap from these two desperate and sad dudes."
Gubernatorial candidate Mastriano drew the most energy from the crowd, pre-Trump, with chants of "Doug for gov" carrying throughout the arena.
"Any free people in the house?" Mastriano asked the crowd, stating that the "people are pissed" after "Old 'sleepy Joe' crawled out of his hole without the bunny rabbit," at his speech Thursday at Independence Hall.
Mastriano said his opponent Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Biden and Gov. Tom Wolf are all "cut of the same cloth."
"Doug Mastriano just took the stage with Dr. Oz and Donald Trump to spread election lies, undermine our democracy, and shine a national spotlight on his dangerous extremism," Shapiro tweeted after Mastriano spoke. "He is showing us who he is. Let’s show him who we are, Pennsylvania."
Mastriano named various "day one" policies he wants to implement, such as increased oil and gas drilling and doing away with mask mandates, critical race theory and "boys in girls' bathrooms."
The Pennsylvania Department of Health does not currently have a mask mandate and critical race theory is not taught in public schools. Mastriano was not alone in making anti-transgender statements, with multiple candidates making comments about boys or men in girls' or women's bathrooms and sports.