Former President Donald Trump addressed a raucous crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday night — and reiterated claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin would never have invaded Ukraine had he won the 2020 presidential election.
He also frequently repeated the false accusation that President Biden was not the legitimate winner of the election.
“Under our administration Russia respected America just like every other country respected America, but now Joe Biden is seen as weak,” Trump said. “As everyone understands, this horrific disaster would never have happened if our election was not rigged and if I was the president.”
In customarily cutting remarks, Trump derided President Biden as “bad and weak and grossly incompetent.”
“Putin is playing Biden like a drum and it’s not a pretty thing,” Trump said while also denouncing the Russian invasion a “travesty“ and an “assault on humanity.”
“We are laughingstock all over the world today,” Trump bemoaned.
Trump said Putin was likely benefiting from the sudden increase in oil prices caused by his invasion and creating a disincentive for him to cease hostilities.
“Russia right now is making more money than they ever dreamt possible. The cost of the war is very small compared to the kind of money they’re taking in.”
Trump touted his dovish record as president and pointedly noted that Vladimir Putin had launched invasions of his neighbors during the administration’s of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Joe Biden — but not while he was in office.
“He understood me and he understood that I didn’t play games,” Trump said. “He did have an affinity for Ukraine and I said ‘never let it happen.’”
Trump also offered red meat on a number of non-Ukraine issues. He called for an end to coronavirus-related mandates, blasted Biden for allowing illegal immigration to increase, and offered a voice of support to the Canadian Freedom Convoy.
“We stand with the truckers and we stand with the Canadian people,” he said in one of the larger applause lines of the night. Trump warned that the Democratic Party would be “held accountable” in the midterm elections and “exiled into political oblivion.”
He added that Democratic talking points were “a lot of bulls—t.”
“The Washington swamp knows we are coming to break their grip on power forever,” he said. “We’re going to kick the Biden crime family out of the White House in 2024.”
Trump is a longtime CPAC veteran. The real estate mogul first addressed the GOP activists in 2011 and regularly attended during his four years in office.
The former president also used his speech Saturday to attack the Supreme Court of the United States — which refused to take up efforts by his legal team to overturn the 2020 election.
“They are trying desperately to be politically correct and be loved by all. They are terrified of the radical left,” Trump said, offering a specific attack on his own appointee Brett Kavanaugh.
“He has lived through hell and I believe he’s afraid. I really do,” Trump offered wistfully, alluding to string of sexual misconduct allegations which emerged during the jurist’s confirmation in 2018.
Trump also took a veiled swipe at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — offering his praise and thanks to a long list of GOP notables, without naming the sunshine state pol. He did find time to thank Florida Sen. Rick Scott, his former White House physician Rep. Ronny Jackson, and pillow merchant Mike Lindell.
DeSantis is widely viewed as a 2024 presidential contender, who could potentially challenge Trump for the nomination.
Trump later praised “certain Republican governors” who did “a very good job” handling the coronavirus pandemic — but again declined to name DeSantis.
The former president also offered a shout out to Marjorie Taylor Greene. The controversial Georgia congresswoman made headlines for speaking at a conference organized by white nationalists ahead of CPAC.