- By Alex Leary
- 26 minutes ago
Former President Donald Trump, in one of his first public appearances since leaving office, tore into the policies of President Biden and said China should pay the world $10 trillion in reparations over Covid-19.
“Our movement is far from over. In fact, it is just getting started,” Mr. Trump said Saturday night in a lengthy campaign-style speech to North Carolina Republicans that underscored his plan to remain a force in the GOP.
Mr. Trump decried a rise in crime, which he attributed to pressure from some Democrats to decrease police funding, criticised Facebook Inc.’s ban on him and offered a lengthy critique of Mr. Biden’s immigration policies, reprising a theme that he harnessed in his upstart 2016 campaign.
“The border is just the beginning of the Biden disasters,” Mr. Trump said, citing a recent surge in migrants. Also on Mr. Trump’s list was the Biden administration’s decision to re-enter the Paris climate accord and the proposal to increase the corporate tax rate to pay for a massive infrastructure package. He also repeated false claims about widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
Boasting of his push to develop Covid-19 vaccines, Mr. Trump then turned to renewed attention over whether the virus might have started with a laboratory leak in China. He called for $10 trillion in compensation and the imposition of a 100% tariff on Chinese-made goods.
“The time has come for America and the world to demand reparations and accountability from the Communist Party of China,” he said. “We should all declare within one unified voice that China must pay.” The Chinese embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The Chinese government has previously dismissed questions about a possible lab leak as a smear campaign.
Late last month, Mr. Biden ordered a U.S. intelligence inquiry into the origins of the virus, saying there is a divergence among officials in the American intelligence community on how the virus emerged, whether from an accident at a laboratory or from human contact with an infected animal.
Mr. Trump’s speech before the North Carolina GOP convention came a day after Facebook said it was suspending Mr. Trump’s accounts for two years, upholding a prohibition that began a day after the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob as lawmakers were certifying Mr. Biden’s win.
Though Mr. Trump has largely been out of public view — his last televised speech was in February at the Conservative Political Action Conference — he has maintained dominance over the GOP, posing a challenge for party leaders who want to focus on trying to regain control of Congress in 2022.
Some Republicans have taken more visible steps toward a potential 2024 presidential run, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. On Thursday, former Vice President Mike Pence gave a speech in New Hampshire in which he called the Capitol assault a dark moment in history. He said of Mr. Trump, “I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye-to-eye on that day.” Still, he said that he is proud of what the administration accomplished.
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During his Saturday speech, Mr. Trump brought onstage his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, a North Carolina native, who said she wouldn’t mount a bid for U.S. Senate, citing her young family. Mr. Trump then endorsed Rep. Ted Budd for the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr.
Public appearances are a way for Mr. Trump to maintain visibility, having been cut off from Facebook, Twitter and other social media. He is in talks to form his own platform, though a recent blog-style addition to his website was scrapped this week amid reports of low traffic. Mr. Trump and his advisers are planning a return to campaign-style rallies, according to people familiar with the discussions.
The Democratic National Committee, in a statement, chided Republicans for sticking with Mr. Trump and said Mr. Biden is overseeing an economic recovery and “a return to normalcy.” The Wall Street Journal