The ‘threat to country’ hits back at the ‘enemy of state’, highlighting divisions
WILKES-BARRE, Pennsylvania－As US midterm elections draw near, former president Donald Trump and President Joe Biden have continued to trade barbs, with Biden saying his predecessor and his supporters are “a threat to this country” and Trump calling Biden an “enemy of the state”, underscoring the deepened political rift in US politics.
On Saturday Trump used the “enemy of the state” barb as he hit back at Biden’s assertion that the Republican and his supporters are undermining US democracy, and criticized an FBI search of his Florida home last month.
Making his first public appearance since the Aug 8 search, Trump told a rally in Pennsylvania that the search was a “travesty of justice” and warned it would produce a “backlash”. Trump told cheering supporters at the gathering in the city of Wilkes-Barre that the “egregious abuse of the law” was going to produce “a backlash the likes of which nobody has ever seen”.
“He’s an enemy of the state. You want to know the truth. The enemy of the state is him,” Trump said.
Trump also hit back at Biden’s speech on Thursday in which the president said: “Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic … And that is a threat to this country.”
The explicit effort by Biden to marginalize Trump and his followers marks a sharp turn for the president, who in his inaugural address on Jan 20 last year talked of his desire to bring about national unity, The Associated Press reported.
However, on Friday Biden said he does not consider supporters of Trump to be a “threat”. Biden made the clarification after a nationally televised speech in which he referred to “MAGA Republicans”, those who support Trump, as a “threat” to democracy.
In a news conference on Friday, Biden said: “I don’t consider any Trump supporters a threat to the country.”
Shortly following Thursday night’s speech, Trump lambasted Biden, posting on social media that he “must be insane, or suffering from late-stage dementia” for accusing Trump and his supporters of being a “threat” to the United States.
Liu Yuanling, a researcher at the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily that the war of words shows a deepened political polarization in Washington.
The Republicans and the Democrats in recent years have been further divided on many issues including the abortion ban that has forced many to take to the streets, Liu said, adding that the widening political rift would continue to divide US citizens and turn them against one another, even as the nation is gripped by crises.
“The United States is facing a big political dilemma and we still can’t see any way out,” she said.
The dueling visits by Biden and Trump to Pennsylvania, a key battleground state, come as Trump is under increasing legal pressure over documents found by the FBI at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
A filing unsealed by a federal judge on Friday listed items that FBI agents seized last month from the estate.
A detailed list of what was seized also showed Trump held on to more than 11,000 unclassified government records that he says are his to keep, but legally are owned by the National Archives.
Among the papers seized were 18 documents labeled top secret, 53 labeled secret and another 31 marked confidential.
Agents also found several dozen empty folders labeled classified in the office, raising speculation that sensitive documents may have been lost, destroyed or moved.
The records were unsealed by a court order amid a review of Trump’s request to appoint what is called a special master to go through the seized materials.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and said all documents taken by FBI agents were declassified.
Trump, who is keeping supporters and commentators guessing about whether he intends to run for president in 2024, has sued to have the documents turned over to the special master, a move that could slow the government’s investigation.
On Friday the White House counsel under Trump and his top deputy arrived at a federal courthouse to appear before a federal grand jury investigating efforts to undo the 2020 presidential election.
Pat Cipollone was the top White House lawyer at the end of the Trump administration as Trump and outside allies pressed for ways to overturn the Republican’s loss to Biden, culminating in the insurrection at the US Capitol on Jan 6 last year.
Cipollone vigorously resisted efforts to undo the election and has said he did not believe there was sufficient fraud to have affected the outcome of the election.
Trump has insisted the election was rife with fraud and was stolen from him, even though numerous federal and local election officials of both parties, a long list of courts, top former campaign staffers and his own attorney general have said there is no evidence of the fraud he alleges.
Agencies – Xinhua
Zhao Ruinan contributed to this story.