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Trump to hold rally in Florida ahead of Fourth of July

▶ Watch Video: Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg pleads not guilty to a slew of tax charges

Former President Donald Trump will attend a rally in Sarasota, Florida on Saturday, in his first large campaign-style event since he lost the presidential election. His appearance comes after the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg, its chief financial officer, pleaded not guilty to a slew of charges in an alleged tax fraud scheme on Thursday.

Mr. Trump’s appearance in Florida also comes after the partial collapse of a condominium in Surfside, Florida that killed at least 22 people and left more than 100 unaccounted for. According to a report last week by the Washington Examiner, a conservative outlet, Mr. Trump ignored pleas from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to postpone his rally in the wake of the disaster. However, the governor’s office denied that DeSantis wants to postpone the rally, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

DeSantis has been a staunch supporter of the president, but he is also a potential rival for the Republican nomination in 2024. The Florida governor has gained popularity in the party for his response to the coronavirus pandemic and his outspokenness on ideological issues that resonate with Republican voters, such as support for restrictive voting measures and opposition to critical race theory. But DeSantis is toeing a fine line as he raises his own profile, as he will want Mr. Trump’s support for his reelection race as governor in 2022.

This is Mr. Trump’s second campaign-style rally in as many weeks, as he appeared at an event in Ohio last Saturday. During that event, the president aired grievances about the 2020 election, which he has repeatedly and falsely claimed was stolen. He also condemned Congressman Anthony Gonzalez, a freshman Republican who voted to impeach Mr. Trump in January after a mob of violent Trump supporters overran the U.S. Capitol in a deadly attack on January 6.

Mr. Trump is expected to reiterate his lies about the 2020 election during the Sarasota rally on Saturday. It is unclear whether he will discuss the charges against the Trump Organization and Weisselberg, although he said in a statement Thursday that the continued investigations into his business dealings are a “political witch hunt by the radical left Democrats.”

Mr. Trump has continued to hold significant influence over the GOP since leaving office, and his falsehoods about the election have penetrated the party’s base. A CBS News poll in May found that 66% of Republicans believe it is important for Republicans to be loyal to Mr. Trump. A Monmouth University poll released June 21 found that 57% of Republicans still incorrectly believe that President Biden won the election due to voter fraud. Of the Republicans who believe, falsely, that Mr. Biden won due to fraud, 31% said they will never accept him as president.

Despite there being no evidence of widespread fraud in the presidential election, several Republican-led states have taken the opportunity to enact more restrictive voting measures in the wake of Mr. Trump’s loss, including Florida. DeSantis in May signed a sweeping bill that makes several revisions to the state’s election procedures, including new requirements for drop boxes and mail-in voting just months after the state saw a historic rise in voters casting their ballots by mail. Critics argue that the changes disproportionately affect Democratic voters.

Adam Brewster contributed to this report.



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