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Former President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at Trump Tower.
Former President Donald Trump touched on immigration, cars, polls and much more in sprawling remarks on Friday. Julia Nikhinson/AP

Donald Trump’s Rambling Post-Verdict Remarks Were Exactly What Democrats Wanted

Democrats hope the former president’s rants will convince undecided voters not to back him. “He killed himself with Latino voters,” one Democratic strategist said of Trump.

The day after Donald Trump was found guilty, with every network carrying him live for the first time in months, he did exactly what his opponents hoped for: He acted like Trump.

“When he gets emotional, he goes off,” former Hillary Clinton spokesperson Josh Schwerin told NOTUS. “He can’t control himself. And that’s what this was today.”

It’s rare for Trump to get such a major platform — while many networks used to carry his rallies live, he seldom gets the wall-to-wall coverage he received Friday. It could have been a perfect opportunity to appeal to folks who could aid him in November. Instead, in remarks that lasted 33 minutes, Trump wound his way from President Joe Biden to District Attorney Alvin Bragg; made several stops at the border, a couple at polling numbers; repeatedly visited his gag order and the prosecution’s top witness, Michael Cohen; waved at the Jan. 6 committee; and detoured into Venezuelan and Congo prisons.

“They want to stop you from having cars, with their ridiculous mandates that make it impossible for you to get a car, afford a car,” Trump said of Democrats during opening remarks that started with discussing the need to crack down on unauthorized immigration.

“It’s a very serious problem that we have,” he added, before an abrupt shift to the case at hand: “We just went through one of many experiences where we had a conflicted judge — highly conflicted. There’s never been a more conflicted judge.”

The Biden campaign quickly put out a statement saying the remarks showed “Trump is consumed by his own thirst for revenge and retribution.”

“America just witnessed a confused, desperate, and defeated Donald Trump ramble about his own personal grievances and lie about the American justice system, leaving anyone watching with one obvious conclusion: This man cannot be president of the United States,” campaign communications director Michael Tyler said.

As the trial has dragged out, and Republicans have grabbed headlines for hauling themselves to the New York courthouse holding it, the Biden campaign has mostly kept its mouth shut, with the exception of a guest appearance by Robert De Niro.

And as Biden left his Delaware home for D.C. this morning, he didn’t mention Trump’s conviction. As time ticked toward Trump’s remarks, a CNN analyst questioned Biden’s silence. Yet, while some Democrats wish he’d speak up, the president is between a rock and a hard place. Any comments on the verdict could be used by Trump and his campaign to fuel their claim that the Biden administration orchestrated the trial in the first place.

Biden briefly addressed the verdict before remarks on the war in Gaza on Friday afternoon.

“Donald Trump was given every opportunity to defend himself,” Biden said. “After careful deliberation, the jury reached a unanimous verdict. They found Donald Trump guilty on all 34 felony counts. Now he’ll be given the opportunity, as he should, to appeal that decision, just like everyone else has that opportunity. That’s how the American justice system works. And it’s reckless, it’s dangerous, it’s irresponsible for anyone to say, ‘This was rigged,’ just because they don’t like the verdict.”

Some Democratic strategists have said Biden staying out of the way is the best strategy. Trump’s remarks Friday, which included framing migrants as dangerous, are likely to hurt his efforts with some of the voters his campaign has been trying to peel away from the Democratic voting block, one strategist said.

“He killed himself with Asian voters today,” said one Democratic strategist. “He killed himself with Latino voters.”

Though being convicted of a felony is not ideal — “I’d rather not have it happen,” Trump said — there have been obvious benefits for him. The verdict seemingly united a long-divided Republican Party, with Trump allies and detractors alike decrying the result as unfair. Meanwhile, the expected boost to his fundraising became reality overnight, as the campaign has received over $34.8 million in small-dollar donations.

But having his full remarks again in the media’s spotlight could help undecided voters make up their minds for Election Day.

“If he is out there uncensored more often, that is likely to remind voters why they don’t like him, why they voted him out,” Schwerin said.

“And so it’s a net negative for Trump, whether or not he’s raising a lot of money. This is not going to help him in the election.”

Ben T.N. Mause is a NOTUS reporter and an Allbritton Journalism Institute fellow.