Trump: ‘Persecution’ Would Stop If I Said I Weren’t Running in 2024

Trump: 'Persecution' Would Stop If I Said I Weren't Running in 2024 Donald Trump gestures behind a podium and in front of spectators Former President Donald Trump speaks at a Save America rally in support of Arizona GOP candidates on July 22, 2022, in Prescott Valley, Arizona. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Saturday, 23 July 2022 03:05 PM EDT

Former President Donald Trump, during his rally Friday night in Arizona, lambasted the ongoing Jan. 6 House committee hearings as a "hoax" and said that if he announced he wasn't running for president, the "persecution" against him would "immediately stop."

"They're coming after me because I'm standing up for you," Trump said at the Prescott Valley Save America rally, where he was campaigning for the candidates he's endorsing in Arizona's races, including Kari Lake for governor, Blake Masters for the U.S. Senate, and a new endorsement for Eli Crane, who is campaigning for the state's 2nd District congressional seat.

Trump said he watched the committee's prime-time hearing Thursday when the testimony and evidence centered around his actions during the violence at the Capitol. He slammed the proceedings as a "hoax" and ridiculed former deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews for testifying about her reaction to the Jan. 6 incidents.

"I watched this hoax last night where a young lady said, 'Oh, I'm so heartbroken,'" Trump said. "But three weeks after Jan. 6, she wrote us a letter saying, 'Oh, I loved working for the president. He's so great.'"

Trump also slammed former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony from a previous hearing, in which she said he tried to make his Secret Service detail take him to the Capitol.

"Can you imagine this made-up story?" he said. "It is total fiction, and I say thank God for the great people in the Secret Service because they put out a statement that it wasn't terrible.

"Then she had me throwing food, throwing food in the White House. I don't throw food in the White House. I don't throw food anywhere. I eat the food, which is a problem. I'd probably be better off if I threw it."

But the committee's participants won't bring in the Secret Service detail, which wants to testify, claimed Trump.

"It's just a horrible thing that's going on in our country," he said. "It's sick, and the fake news media is totally complicit. These are very dishonest people."

Trump said that if he announced he wasn't running, the media and Democrats "would go on to the next victim, but that's not what I do," but he "can't do that because I love this country, and I love you."

He also told the audience that he had a "very good and luxurious life before entering the wonderful world of politics."

"I'm doing it for you, and it's my honor to do it," he said. "Because if I don't do it, I truly believe our nation is doomed to become another Venezuela or become another Soviet Union or become another large-scale version of Cuba, where all is lost, and there is no hope."

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