Trump says Democrats are ‘running a Gestapo administration’ at Republican National Committee’s annual retreat

Former President Donald Trump ramped up his attacks on Democrats on Saturday at a private luncheon hosted at his Mar-a-Lago club, during which he referred to Democrats as “running a Gestapo administration” — equating President Joe Biden’s administration to Nazi Germany, according to three attendees.

The remarks were part of a larger tirade during which the former president accused the Biden administration of being behind the four criminal indictments he is facing.

The fundraiser served as the main attraction during the RNC’s annual retreat in Palm Beach. Hundreds of people attended the event, and several attendees gave $40,000 or more, sources familiar with the fundraiser told CNN.

Trump cursed repeatedly throughout his speech, the attendees said, including while leveling criticism at special counsel Jack Smith and other prosecutors who have charged him with criminal indictments.

The comments were part of a roughly 90-minute speech where he touted his recent fundraising numbers and lavished praise on his vice-presidential contenders, claiming that many people were “begging” to serve as his running mate, two of the attendees said.

Trump walked onto the stage on Saturday to the recording of a January 6 anthem featuring several people convicted for their roles in the 2021 attack on the Capitol — a song his campaign frequently features at his campaign rallies.

At one point during the event, Trump’s daughter-in-law and Republican National Committee co-chair Lara Trump, presented the former president with a Billboard Music award for the song, titled “Justice for All,” which topped Billboard’s digital sales last year.

At another point, Trump called on those gathered at his resort and offered them the opportunity to speak at the podium for $1 million, the three attendees said. Two donors ultimately came to the stage, with one using the podium to claim God chose Trump to lead the country, they said.

Trump also touted efforts to prevent cheating in the upcoming election by RNC chairman Michael Whatley, the attendees told CNN. During the remarks, Trump stated he would need an attorney general with “courage” while simultaneously mocking his former attorney general, William Barr, according to the New York Times. Barr, who has been a fierce critic of Trump since leaving his administration, recently endorsed the former president.

Trump also spent several minutes praising former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was impeached and removed from office in 2009 on corruption charges, the attendees said. Trump commuted Blagojevich’s prison sentence in 2020. Blagojevich told CNN he considers himself a “Trumpocrat,” which he described as a Democrat who supports Trump.

Biden campaign spokesperson James Singer said in a statement Sunday that Trump’s speech “underscores what we already knew: Trump’s campaign is about him. His fury, his revenge, his lies, and his retribution.”

“Trump is once again making despicable and insulting comments about the Holocaust, while in the same breath attacking law enforcement, celebrating political violence, and threatening our democracy,” he continued.

Later Saturday, Trump hosted a birthday party at Mar-a-Lago for Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson, who served as one of Trump’s presidential physicians while in office, multiple attendees said. The former president used the event, which also served as a fundraising opportunity, to deliver remarks on his campaign against Biden.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, one of the vice presidential contenders who attended the Mar-a-Lago event, on Sunday brushed off Trump’s comments.

Burgum told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that Trump’s remark was a “short comment” that “wasn’t really central” to the former president’s roughly 90-minute speech.

The Republican governor also claimed that Trump was not referring to his hush money trial in New York when he made the comment, before defending the former president.

“I understand that he feels like that he’s being unfairly treated, and I think that’s reasonable that someone who’s being kept off the campaign trail as the presumptive nominee has got some frustration about that.”

This story has been updated with new reporting.

CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi contributed reporting.

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