Former President Donald Trump gave a long, rally like speech to the North Carolina Republican Party on Saturday, and while much of it played out like an extended version of his greatest hits, he also addressed Facebook’s decision to suspend his account for another two years before their decision is reassessed.
“They say they may allow me back in two years. I’m not too interested in that,” Trump said. “They may allow me back in two years. We got to stop that. We can’t let it happen. So unfair. They are shutting down an entire group of people. Not just me. They are shutting down the voice of a much more powerful and a much larger group.”
Trump also went after Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, suggesting that Zuckerberg’s support of get-out-the-vote efforts in advance of last year’s presidential election was somehow a crime. But a number of figures donated heavily to such campaigns to drive turnout.
“You know, [Zuckerberg] used to come to the White House,” Trump said. “He’d call, ‘Could I have dinner with you sir?’ Sure. ‘Could I bring my wife?’ Oh absolutely. He actually walked into the office one day in front of numerous people. ‘Congratulations, sir.’ Why? ‘You’re number one on Facebook.’ …We had a nice dinner. The day I was out he became rather, well’ I guess it is human nature. But we can’t let our country be run by that kind of human nature, can we? Zuckerberg, another beauty.”
Facebook announced on Friday that it was suspending Trump’s account at least through January, 2023, when their decision will be reassessed. Although Trump continues to have tremendous sway in the Republican party — on display at the Saturday night dinner — his suspension from major tech platforms has diminished his daily voice to the broader public. A recent effort by his office to establish a blog by the former president was scuttled after less than a month, while his spokesman said that other plans are in the works.
And in a sharp contrast to how Trump was treated when he was in office, major news networks gave the speech limited coverage as it was taking place. CNN and MSNBC did reports on the address, which lasted about 90 minutes, but Fox News stayed with regular programming. C-SPAN, Newsmax and some other platforms carried the speech.
The speech itself was full of distortions and falsehoods, as well as Trump’s repeat of “the big lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. He called the election “by far the most corrupt election in the history of our country,” even though his campaign and his allies lost their challenges more than 60 times in court. Trump’s efforts to advance the unfounded election claims are at the heart of tech platforms’ decision to suspend his accounts following the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Trump now is placing his hopes on an election audit in Arizona and potentially in other states as exposing election fraud, but those counts of the ballots are being carried out by his own supporters and have been called into question by state election officials. Other parts of Trump’s speech were aimed at Joe Biden, Dr. Anthony Fauci and prosecutors in New York who are investigating his businesses.
“Remember, I am not the one trying to undermine American democracy,” Trump told the crowd. “I’m the one that’s trying to save it. Please remember that.” Trump also touted his efforts to speed the development of a Covid-19 vaccine but, as reporters, those parts of the speech were greeted with less enthusiasm among the crowd than others. Polls have shown that a significant share of his supporters are hesitant or resistant to getting the vaccinations.
The major piece of news from the speech was the announcement by Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, now a Fox News contributor, that she would not be running for Senate in North Carolina. Instead, Trump endorsed Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC).
Trump has not said whether he will run in 2024, even though he is thinking about it, as C-SPAN carried the speech under their “2024” banner.
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