Biden is an 'enemy of the state', Trump says in Pennsylvania rally for Mehmet Oz

Former president under intense pressure following FBI raid of his Florida home that found dozens of classified documents

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Donald Trump has hit back against President Joe Biden's assertion that he and his supporters are undermining American democracy, branding his rival an “enemy of the state” in the latest escalation of once-unthinkable political rhetoric in the US.

Mr Trump uses personal attacks and insults as an everyday political tool. He called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “crazy” and an “inherently dumb person”, but the latest retaliation against Mr Biden could inflame political tension to a new level.

At a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday to support Republican senate candidate Mehmet Oz, Mr Trump said Mr Biden had two days earlier made the “most vicious, hateful and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president”.

“He's an enemy of the state. You want to know the truth. The enemy of the state is him,” Mr Trump said.

In that speech on Thursday, Mr Biden said “Maga forces” — devotees of Mr Trump's “Make America Great Again” agenda — are willing to overturn democratic elections and are “determined to take this country backwards”.

“They do not believe in the rule of law,” Mr Biden said in a 25-minute speech from Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy, where the US Constitution was debated and signed.

Mr Biden urged his own supporters to fight back in what he billed as a “battle for the Soul of the Nation”.

Mr Trump addressed cheering supporters at the “Save America” gathering in the city of Wilkes-Barre.

US election officials see potential violence and disruptions as the biggest threats to midterm elections in November, with misinformation fuelling those concerns, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said on Sunday.

Ms Benson, a Democrat, said election officials from both parties are working with law enforcement officials to protect the November 8 elections and make clear there will be consequences for those who try to interfere.

"We are, in many ways, even more prepared this year than ever before," she said on CBS's Face the Nation.

The former president used the rally to criticise last month's FBI raid of his Florida home.

Marking his first public appearance since the August 8 raid, Mr Trump said the search was a “travesty of justice” and warned it would produce “a backlash the likes of which nobody has ever seen”.

Federal agents raided Mr Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate and seized hundreds of documents, many of them marked “Secret” or “Top Secret”.

Seven top secret files, 17 secret files and three confidential files were retrieved from Mr Trump's private office.

A detailed property inventory of items seized by the FBI from the Mar-a-Lago estate. AFP

The documents had apparently been improperly stored and handled. It is not clear why Mr Trump or his team took them after he left office.

Mr Trump, who is keeping supporters and commentators guessing about whether he intends to run for president again in 2024, has sued to have the documents turned over to a neutral “special master,” a move that could slow the government's probe.

Mr Trump has refused to accept he lost the election in 2020 and built an alternative narrative in which victory was “stolen” from him by a shadowy conspiracy of corrupt election officials and Democratic operatives.

His claims, considered outright lies in many cases, have been tossed out of dozens of courtrooms including by Trump-appointed judges.

A committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection has found that Mr Trump's baseless claims were instrumental in leading to the deadly attack on Capitol that day.

“Republicans in the Maga movement are not the ones trying to undermine our democracy,” said Mr Trump on Saturday.

“We are the ones trying to save our democracy, very simple. The danger to democracy comes from the radical left, not from the right.”

He was appearing at the rally ahead of November's midterm elections, which could see Mr Biden's Democrats lose control of both houses of Congress.

Even though Mr Trump is not on the ballot, Mr Biden, 79, is seeking to turn the vote into a referendum on his predecessor in a bid to hold on to the Senate and House of Representatives.

At the Wilkes-Barre rally — where Mr Trump took to the stage to support his candidate in the Senate race, celebrity TV doctor Mehmet Oz — Trump supporter Edward Young said he had been “disgusted” by Mr Biden's speech.

“He declared war on me. He declared war on half of America,” Mr Young told AFP.

Dr Oz is struggling in his race against Democrat John Fetterman, whom Mr Trump called a “spoiled and entitled socialist loser”.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Updated: September 04, 2022, 9:31 PM
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