Feb 21, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump calls his New York civil fraud fine "a form of Navalny"

Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a Fox News town hall with host Laura Ingraham at the Greenville Convention Center on February 20, 2024 in Greenville, South Carolina. South Carolina holds its Republican primary on February 24.

Republican presidential candidate former President Trump participates in a Fox News town hall with host Laura Ingraham in Greenville, South Carolina, on Tuesday. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Former President Trump on Tuesday sought to draw similarities between his four indictments and New York civil fraud judgment and the plight of Putin critic Alexei Navalny, who died in a Russian prison last week.

The big picture: 2024 Republican presidential primary rival Nikki Haley has criticized Trump for failing to condemn Russian leader Vladimir Putin, whom she, President Biden and other Western leaders blame for Navalny's death.

  • Haley also slammed Trump for not praising Navalny's courage after he broke his silence three days after the Russian opposition leader's death was made public. But at a Fox News town hall on Tuesday he called Navalny a "brave guy" — though he did not mention Putin.

What they're saying: Trump said at the town hall in South Carolina ahead of the state's Republican primary that Navalny was brave for returning in 2021 to Russia from Germany, where he had been recuperating after being poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok on a flight to Moscow.

  • "He could have stayed away, and frankly probably would have been better off staying away and talking from outside the country as opposed to going back in because people thought that could happen and it did happen," Trump told Fox host Laura Ingraham. "And it's a horrible thing.
  • "But it's happening in our country, too. We are turning into a communist country in many ways," Trump added.
  • "And if you look at it, I'm the leading candidate. ... I got indicted four times. I have eight or nine trials, all because of the fact that ... I'm in politics."

Of note: Ingraham asked Trump how he could pay the $354 million penalty he and his various organizations face following last week's New York civil fraud trial judgment against them. "It is a form of Navalny. It is a form of communism or fascism," Trump replied.

  • Ingraham asked Trump if he saw himself as a "potential political prisoner."
  • "If I were losing in the polls, they wouldn't even be talking about me. And I wouldn't have had any legal fees," Trump claimed.
  • "If I were out, I think, although they hate me so much, I think if I got out, they would still... let's pursue this guy, we can't stand this guy."

Go deeper: N.Y. AG says she may seize Trump's assets if he can't pay $354M fine

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