Trump holds first election rally in Waco overshadowed by legal threats

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Donald Trump will hold an election rally in Texas on Saturday at a site that critics say will play to his far-right supporters as he seeks to boost a presidential campaign dogged by the threat of criminal indictments.

In what the former president has billed as his first major rally of the 2024 presidential race, Trump has called on supporters to assemble at an airport in Waco, Texas, and cheer on his bid for the Republican Party nomination.

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Waco is marking the 30th anniversary of a raid by federal agents on the Branch Davidians religious sect there that resulted in 86 deaths, including four law-enforcement officers. Some right-wing extremists view the raid as a seminal moment of government overreach.

In an email, a Trump campaign spokesperson said Waco was chosen because it is situated between several major population centers and has the infrastructure to host a large event.

Trump faces growing legal peril from a series of ongoing criminal investigations, including one in Manhattan related to an alleged hush-money payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels during his 2016 White House campaign.

Trump has sought to paint the Manhattan case as politically motivated, raised money off it and used it to rally supporters to his side. On Friday, he issued an apocalyptic warning, saying the country faced potential “death & destruction” if he was charged with a crime.

“Trump is walking on a high wire without a net, telegraphing that he has nothing to lose and is willing to risk dangerous outcomes to rally support,” said Ron Bonjean, a Republican strategist in Washington.

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