Former president Donald Trump has emerged from hibernation, making a raucous speech in which he attacked Anthony Fauci, demanding China pay the US for the coronavirus fallout, and maintained Joe Biden’s presidential win was the “crime of the century”.
It was the first time the world has seen Mr Trump in several months.
He emerged for his first speaking event of the US summer at North Carolina’s state Republican Party convention on Saturday night.
During his 90-minute speech, Mr Trump hinted that he’ll be back on the campaign trail to try and win back the presidency in 2024.
He refused to give ground to Mr Biden, again claiming voting fraud took the win from him.
He said it was “by far the most corrupt election in the history of our country”.
“It was a third-world country election like we’ve never seen before,” he told the crowd.
Interestingly, neither Fox News nor CNN broadcast any live footage from Mr Trump’s speech.
Donald Trump uses return speech to blast Fauci
Mr Trump lambasted US infectious disease expert Dr Fauci over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, criticising his recent request for Americans to wear masks.
“He’s been wrong on almost every issue and he was wrong on Wuhan and the lab also,” Mr Trump said, adding he was “not a great doctor but a great promoter”.
Dr Fauci has become a regular on television screens and media appearances throughout the pandemic in the US.
Dr Fauci has also been outspoken to debunk Mr Trump’s favourite theory that COVID-19 was specifically developed in a lab in Wuhan.
Mr Trump has long demanded China pay the US a “minimum of $10 trillion” in damages sustained from the pandemic.
I’ll be back … maybe
It appears Mr Trump is hoping the pandemic will be long forgotten by 2024, as he hinted at making another tilt at the presidency.
Almost 600,000 Americans died from the virus while he was president – a grand failure thought to have contributed to his election downfall.
Mr Trump said a recent criminal investigation into his company, launched by the New York attorney-general’s office, is “the ultimate fishing expedition,” and said it was the latest attempt by Democrats to bring him down after two impeachment sagas when he was president.
“It’s been a five-year witch hunt, hoax after hoax,” he said.
“They’ll never stop until November of 2024.”
New York Attorney-General Letitia James has been investigating if the Trump Organisation falsely reported property values to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits.
Advisers say Mr Trump, who faces a potential indictment in New York over his business dealings, has been discussing the possibility of another presidential campaign.