Biden camp blasts 'unhinged' Trump as convicted ex-President says US is a fascist state

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Donald Trump was branded ‘unhinged’ as the former President described the US as a ‘fascist state’ in his first press conference as his conviction in the porn star hush money case.

The Republican returned to the campaign trail a day after being convicted and vowed to appeal the guilty verdict, while his opposite number Joe Biden warned it was “irresponsible” for people to say the case against Trump was rigged.

Speaking at a press conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Friday, Trump said Americans were “living in a fascist state” and implored voters to focus on November’s election as the “most important day in history” after becoming the first former US president to be convicted.

Michael Tyler, communications director for President Biden’s re-election campaign, said the speech showed why he was unfit to be president.

“America just witnessed a confused, desperate, and defeated Donald Trump ramble about his own personal grievances and lies about the American justice system, leaving anyone watching with one obvious conclusion: this man cannot be president of the United States,” he said.

“Unhinged by his 2020 election loss and spiralling from his criminalconvictions, Trump is consumed by his own thirst for revenge and retribution.

“He thinks this election is about him. But it’s not. It’s about the American people: lowering their costs, protecting their freedoms, defending their democracy.”

President Biden also spoke out, warning “it’s reckless, it’s dangerous, it’s irresponsible” for people to say the jury’s decision was “rigged just because they don't like the verdict."

Trump used his conviction to rally his supporters, telling them: “If they can do this to me they can do this to anyone.”

He added: “These are very bad people."

Mr Trump told the press conference: “We're going to be appealing this scam.”

Speaking just hours after being convicted of trying to illegally influence the 2016 election, he described the trial judge as “highly conflicted” and said he was under a “nasty gag order” and threatened with jail.

Donald Trump speaks out after his conviction in a hush money trial (AFP via Getty Images)
Donald Trump speaks out after his conviction in a hush money trial (AFP via Getty Images)

“I’m the leading person for president and I’m under a gag order,” Mr Trump told reporters as large crowds gathered outside, holding placards that read ‘loser’ and ‘guilty’.

Crowds outside Trump Tower on Friday (Getty Images)
Crowds outside Trump Tower on Friday (Getty Images)

The case revolved around payments made to porn actress Stormy Daniels to ensure she did not reveal the couple’s brief relationship.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, the businessman said: “It's not hush money. It's a nondisclosure agreement, totally legal, totally common”.

Mr Trump’s lawyers and supporters described him as defiant and ready to fight the 34 guilty verdicts which they claimed are illegitimate and driven by politics.

No former president or presumptive party nominee has ever faced a felony conviction or the prospect of prison time but Mr Trump is expected to keep his legal troubles central to his campaign.

Stormy Daniels (AFP via Getty Images)
Stormy Daniels (AFP via Getty Images)

He has long argued without evidence the charges against him were orchestrated by Democratic President Joe Biden to try to keep him out of the White House.

On Friday his campaign announced it had raised 34.8 million dollars (£27.2 million) as donations poured in after the verdict. That is more than one million dollars for each felony charge and more than his political operation raised in January and February combined.

Trump supporters (AFP via Getty Images)
Trump supporters (AFP via Getty Images)

Aides reported an immediate rush of contributions so intense that the fundraising platform, WinRed, crashed.

Mr Trump’s campaign spokesman Brian Hughes cited the outpouring as a sign "Americans have seen this sham trial as the political election interference that Biden and Democrats have always intended".

"November 5th is the day Americans will deliver the real verdict," he said.

Judge Merchan set sentencing for July 11, just days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where Republican leaders are expected to formally make him their nominee.

The charges of falsifying business records carry up to four years behind bars though Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg would not say on Thursday whether prosecutors intend to seek imprisonment, and it is not clear whether the judge would impose that punishment even if asked.

The conviction, and even imprisonment, would not bar Mr Trump from continuing his bid to return to the White House.

The trial involved charges that the former president falsified business records to cover up the hush money payment to Ms Daniels.

The 130,000 dollar payment came from his former lawyer and personal fixer Michael Cohen to buy Ms Daniels' silence during the final weeks of the 2016 race.

When Mr Cohen was reimbursed, the payments were recorded as legal expenses, which prosecutors said was an unlawful attempt to mask the true purpose of the transaction.