Trump returns to the campaign trail holding his first ‘revenge’ rally Saturday night in Ohio

Former President Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail Saturday night, holding a ‘revenge’ rally on behalf of a former aide who’s running against a GOP congressman who voted for the ex-president’s impeachment.

Trump welcomed thousands of supporters to the ‘first rally of the 2022 election.’

‘We’re going to take back the House, we’re going to take back the Senate,’ he announced.

Trump immediately called President Joe Biden’s tenure a ‘complete and total catastrophe.’

‘I told you – crime is surging, murders are soaring, police departments are being gutted, illegal aliens are running over our borders,’ Trump said.

Trump, whose hardline stance on immigration made him stand out when he first announced his run for the White House in 2015, sang that tune again.

He boasted that Vice President Kamala Harris only traveled to the border because he announced a trip there next Wednesday.

‘There is no more dire threat today than the crisis on our southern border,’ he said. ‘Other than our elections, that’s a dire threat,’ he then uttered, calling it a ‘disgrace.’

He said his immigration policy was, ‘We caught them, we detained them and we rapidly threw them the hell out of our country.’

‘Once we got the word out people didn’t come,’ Trump said.

He added that the current border numbers are incorrect, guessing ‘you have millions of people coming into this country.’   

He held his first ‘revenge’ rally Saturday night outside of Cleveland, Ohio – hitting the campaign trail for the first time since leaving the White House. 

Former President Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail Saturday night, holding a 'revenge' rally in Ohio on behalf of a former aide who's running against a GOP congressman who voted for the ex-president's impeachment

Former President Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail Saturday night, holding a 'revenge' rally in Ohio on behalf of a former aide who's running against a GOP congressman who voted for the ex-president's impeachment

Former President Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail Saturday night, holding a ‘revenge’ rally in Ohio on behalf of a former aide who’s running against a GOP congressman who voted for the ex-president’s impeachment

Former President Donald Trump addresses the crowd outside of Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday evening as he returns to the campaign trail to stump for a former staffer of his who's running for Congress

Former President Donald Trump addresses the crowd outside of Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday evening as he returns to the campaign trail to stump for a former staffer of his who's running for Congress

Former President Donald Trump addresses the crowd outside of Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday evening as he returns to the campaign trail to stump for a former staffer of his who’s running for Congress

Trump took the stage to loud cheers and waves after 'Proud to Be an American' played over the loudspeakers

Trump took the stage to loud cheers and waves after 'Proud to Be an American' played over the loudspeakers

Trump took the stage to loud cheers and waves after ‘Proud to Be an American’ played over the loudspeakers

The crowd put up their cell phones to take pictures as Trump made his way to the stage

The crowd put up their cell phones to take pictures as Trump made his way to the stage

The crowd put up their cell phones to take pictures as Trump made his way to the stage

Trump said it’s time to return to the U.S. to law and order – cracking down on crime and illegal immigration – and said it was imperative for Republicans to take back the House in 2022. 

He was expected to speak for around an hour. He is stumping for his former aide Max Miller, who’s running to unseat Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez in Ohio’s 16th Congressional District.

In the lead-up to the rally traffic was backed up hours around Wellington, the small town adjacent to the site. 

Trump allies Mike Lindell, the CEO of My Pillow, Inc. who has continued to push the ex-president’s false election fraud claims, and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan walked around the media pen, inspiring cheers from the crowd. Planes flew overhead dragging signs including one that said ‘Ohio is Trump Country.’      

Trump’s warm-up act included QAnon Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene who pushed that the election had been stolen from Trump.

She said she’s become controversial in Washington because ‘I want to fire Joe Biden.’

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene served as a warmup act for former President Donald Trump. She pushed that the election had been stolen from Trump

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene served as a warmup act for former President Donald Trump. She pushed that the election had been stolen from Trump

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene served as a warmup act for former President Donald Trump. She pushed that the election had been stolen from Trump

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who had walked around the media pen, inspiring cheers from the crowd, also spoke before Trump

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who had walked around the media pen, inspiring cheers from the crowd, also spoke before Trump

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who had walked around the media pen, inspiring cheers from the crowd, also spoke before Trump

Former White House aide Max Miller, who is challenging Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, speaks to the audience ahead of Trump's speech. Gonzalez, one of the 10 Republicans who voted for Trump's impeachment earlier this year - and Trump is in Ohio in support of him

Former White House aide Max Miller, who is challenging Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, speaks to the audience ahead of Trump's speech. Gonzalez, one of the 10 Republicans who voted for Trump's impeachment earlier this year - and Trump is in Ohio in support of him

Former White House aide Max Miller, who is challenging Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, speaks to the audience ahead of Trump’s speech. Gonzalez, one of the 10 Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment earlier this year – and Trump is in Ohio in support of him

‘And I want to expel Maxine Waters,’ she continued. ‘And I want to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci.’

A ‘lock him up’ chant started at the mention of Fauci’s name.

‘Did you hear that Tony? They want you locked up!’ Greene exclaimed.

Greene also knocked Biden’s Justice Department for going after Capitol insurrectionists, saying he ‘weaponized’ the agency against Trump supporters.

She also slammed ‘critical race theory.’

‘How many of you stood in line and picked your skin color before you were born?’ she asked the crowd.

Supporters of former US President Donald J. Trump gather for a rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio

Supporters of former US President Donald J. Trump gather for a rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio

Supporters of former US President Donald J. Trump gather for a rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio

People arrived to the fairgrounds in shirts for Trump - and against Joe Biden

People arrived to the fairgrounds in shirts for Trump - and against Joe Biden

People arrived to the fairgrounds in shirts for Trump – and against Joe Biden

'Don't Blame Me I Voted for Trump' one of the signs in the audience said, which also included a sea of MAGA hats

'Don't Blame Me I Voted for Trump' one of the signs in the audience said, which also included a sea of MAGA hats

‘Don’t Blame Me I Voted for Trump’ one of the signs in the audience said, which also included a sea of MAGA hats

MAGA hats were everywhere as a popular accessory at the Ohio fairgrounds ahead of Trump's speech

MAGA hats were everywhere as a popular accessory at the Ohio fairgrounds ahead of Trump's speech

MAGA hats were everywhere as a popular accessory at the Ohio fairgrounds ahead of Trump’s speech

'Trump Rumps' one woman wore on her behind area in favor of the former president

'Trump Rumps' one woman wore on her behind area in favor of the former president

‘Trump Rumps’ one woman wore on her behind area in favor of the former president

At the fairgrounds to see former President Donald Trump people in MAGA hats proudly display the stars and stripes and 'Save America!' signs

At the fairgrounds to see former President Donald Trump people in MAGA hats proudly display the stars and stripes and 'Save America!' signs

At the fairgrounds to see former President Donald Trump people in MAGA hats proudly display the stars and stripes and ‘Save America!’ signs

Greene then transitioned to saying ‘trans men’ don’t belong in girls’ sports – which has become a popular anti-LGBTQ talking point on the right.

Finally Greene slammed her fellow House members, calling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other members of the so-called ‘squad,’ the ‘jihad squad,’ adding that AOC is the ‘little communist from New York.’

Greene pushed that Ocasio-Cortez is ‘not an American’ because she pushes for a Green New Deal, climate change plan.

The Georgia Republican also complained about being fined for not wearing a mask on the House floor, calling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a ‘maskhole.’

‘What we need to do in ’22 is rip that gavel out of her hand and we need to fire Nancy Pelosi,’ Greene said.   

Trump is stumping for his former aide Max Miller, who is running to unseat Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez in Ohio’s 16th Congressional district.

Gonzalez was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach the ex-president for inciting the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill.    

Miller took the stage before Trump appeared and nicknamed Gonzalez, ‘Turncoat Tony,’ for his pro-impeachment vote, which Miller called a ‘betrayal.’

Miller said that if he beats Gonzalez in the Republican primary Gonzalez’s political career ‘will look like his professional football career: all-star recruit to out in four short years.’

Gonzalez played for both Ohio State and later the Indianapolis Colts.

‘Now let’s make America great again, again!’ Miller said, as ‘Macho Man,’ a Trump rally favorite, began to loudly play.   

Supporters of former President Donald Trump gather for his first post-presidential rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio

Supporters of former President Donald Trump gather for his first post-presidential rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio

Supporters of former President Donald Trump gather for his first post-presidential rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio 

Supporters of former President Donald Trump wait in line for his first rally since leaving the White House Saturday in Wellington, Ohio

Supporters of former President Donald Trump wait in line for his first rally since leaving the White House Saturday in Wellington, Ohio

Supporters of former President Donald Trump wait in line for his first rally since leaving the White House Saturday in Wellington, Ohio 

Supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump gather for his first post-presidency campaign rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio

Supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump gather for his first post-presidency campaign rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio

Supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump gather for his first post-presidency campaign rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio

David Dumiter from Michigan wears a 'Trump 2024' hat and Trump sunglasses in advance of the former president's first post-White House rally Saturday in Wellington, Ohio

David Dumiter from Michigan wears a 'Trump 2024' hat and Trump sunglasses in advance of the former president's first post-White House rally Saturday in Wellington, Ohio

David Dumiter from Michigan wears a ‘Trump 2024’ hat and Trump sunglasses in advance of the former president’s first post-White House rally Saturday in Wellington, Ohio 

A car is decorated to mark former President Donald Trump's first post-presidential rally in Wellington, Ohio. The car also features an anti-Biden/Harris bumper sticker

A car is decorated to mark former President Donald Trump's first post-presidential rally in Wellington, Ohio. The car also features an anti-Biden/Harris bumper sticker

A car is decorated to mark former President Donald Trump’s first post-presidential rally in Wellington, Ohio. The car also features an anti-Biden/Harris bumper sticker 

A supporter carries a large 'Trump 2024' flag at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio on Saturday in advance of the former president's first post-White House campaign rally

A supporter carries a large 'Trump 2024' flag at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio on Saturday in advance of the former president's first post-White House campaign rally

A supporter carries a large ‘Trump 2024’ flag at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio on Saturday in advance of the former president’s first post-White House campaign rally

A large banner outside former President Donald Trump's Saturday rally in Ohio says 'Trump Won.' Trump, for months, has falsely claimed that he won the 2020 election, which he lost to President Joe Biden

A large banner outside former President Donald Trump's Saturday rally in Ohio says 'Trump Won.' Trump, for months, has falsely claimed that he won the 2020 election, which he lost to President Joe Biden

A large banner outside former President Donald Trump’s Saturday rally in Ohio says ‘Trump Won.’ Trump, for months, has falsely claimed that he won the 2020 election, which he lost to President Joe Biden 

Trump gleefully knocked around Gonzalez, the Ohio Republican he wants his former aide, Miller, to take out.

Trump called Gonzalez a ‘grandstanding RINO, not respected in D.C.’ before promptly bringing up the Ohio Republican’s pro-impeachment vote.

The ex-president then recalled how Gonzalez had once asked him for a ride on Air Force One, before casting his vote with Democrats and nine other House Republicans – all of whom Trump wants gone.

‘That’s not the reason why I’m doing this,’ Trump said of Gonzalez’s Air Force One ask. ‘But I just thought it was a character trait that was not good.’

‘He’s not the candidate you want representing the Republican Party,’ Trump said. ‘He’s the candidate of Liz Cheney. Mitt Romney,’ the former president said to jeers from the crowd. 

Trump wants all the Republicans who voted against him excised from the party. 

He’s also already pledged to hit the trail for Republican Kelly Tshibaka, who’s running to unseat Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska. 

‘We’re giving tremendous endorsements,’ Trump told Newsmax on Friday. ‘Fake Republicans, anybody that voted for the impeachment doesn’t get it,’ he said. 

‘But there weren’t too many of them. And I think most of them are being, if not all, are being primaried right now, so that’s good. I’ll be helping their opponent.’ 

Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump a second time, only New York Rep. John Katko hasn’t attracted a MAGA opponent.  

Since leaving office on January 20, Trump has maintained a fairly low profile – speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando in February and at a North Carolina GOP event earlier this month. He’s called in and done interviews, or appeared on podcasts, with like-minded, right-wing hosts. And he’s sent out statements through his Save America PAC, as he continues to be banished from Twitter and Facebook. 

The Saturday night rally, being held at the Lorain County Fairgrounds, to the southwest of Cleveland, will kick off more regular public appearances from the ex-president. 

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, an Ohio Republican who voted in favor of President Donald Trump's impeachment for inciting the January 6 insurrection, is being primaried by a former White House and Trump campaign official, Max Miller

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, an Ohio Republican who voted in favor of President Donald Trump's impeachment for inciting the January 6 insurrection, is being primaried by a former White House and Trump campaign official, Max Miller

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, an Ohio Republican who voted in favor of President Donald Trump’s impeachment for inciting the January 6 insurrection, is being primaried by a former White House and Trump campaign official, Max Miller 

He’ll hit up the swing state of Ohio first, before traveling to Florida for a July 3 rally and fireworks show in Sarasota. 

His return to the trail comes as the ex-president looks to be in imminent legal jeopardy. 

Manhattan prosecutors informed the Trump Organization Thursday that it could face criminal charges over its business practices, with The New York Times reporting that charges could come as early as next week.  

Trump also returns to the trail at a time when the coronavirus threat has decreased, yet still exists – especially to those who are unvaccinated.   

Ohio falls in the middle of U.S. states’ vaccination rates, with 44.1 per cent fully vaccinated. 

While Trump has tried to take credit for COVID-19 vaccine development, he also didn’t receive his doses of vaccine publicly. 

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll from earlier this month found that nearly half the unvaccinated respondents to the survey, 49 per cent, were Republicans. That’s in comparison to 29 per cent who said they were Democrats. 

Part of Trump’s legacy will be his politicization of the pandemic response. 

Trump flouted his own government’s advice and started holding large rallies – which had the potential to become ‘superspreader’ events – starting last June. 

His disastrous indoor Tulsa rally wasn’t well attended, but outdoor rallies afterward attracted large, mostly mask-less crowds through the November 3 election.   

There were already droves of Trump supporters at the Ohio site Saturday morning, with the rally slated to begin at 7 p.m.  Some had been camping at the site for days, according to The Associated Press.      

Trump’s bet to beat Gonzalez, who is a former Ohio State and Indianapolis Colts football player, is Miller, who worked in the Presidential Personnel Office.   

The office was featured in a March 2018 investigation by The Washington Post.   

The Post found inaccuracies on Miller’s LinkedIn page, which said he attended Cleveland State University from 2007 to 2011, worked on the presidential campaigns of Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio and worked as a Marine recruiter. 

Cleveland State University said Miller graduated in 2013. 

Once the newspaper started asking questions Miller removed the dates of his education and the claim that he was a Marine recruiter. 

In an interview with the paper, he called them mistakes and blamed them on a relative he said made his LinkedIn page. 

Miller was introduced to the Trump campign by his cousin, Eli Miller, who was a senior official in the Treasury Department. 

Miller told The Post that it was his ‘work ethic’ that won the Trump campaign over, not his familial ties. 

Politico reported that Miller was the grandson of real estate executive and philanthropist Sam Miller. 

Max Miller (right) accompanies then White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham (left) to the White House State Dinner with Australia in September 2019

Max Miller (right) accompanies then White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham (left) to the White House State Dinner with Australia in September 2019

Max Miller (right) accompanies then White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham (left) to the White House State Dinner with Australia in September 2019 

While a source told Politico Miller already had a six-figure sum pledged to him by potential donors, he also had family money to pull from.  

The Washington Post also reported on Miller’s criminal record, including a 2007 charge for assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest after he reportedly punched a man in the back of the head and ran away from police. 

He pleaded no contest for two misdemeanor charges. The case was later dismissed as part of a program for first offenders, the Post reported.  

In 2009, Miller was charged with underage drinking, which was also dismissed as part of a first offenders’ program.  

In 2010, he pleaded guilty do a disorderly conduct charge, stemming from a late night fight after Miller left a hookah bar. During the fight, police said he punched through a glass door, cut his wrist and then wandered off, the Post wrote. 

‘Growing up, everyone makes mistakes,’ Miller told The Post. ‘Who I was in the past is not who I am now,’ he told the paper in 2018. 

The Post investigation highlighted frat-like behavior at this White House office, which was responsible for vetting key posts across government. Memorably, The Post found that PPO staff was playing the drinking game ‘icing’ at work happy hours, where a Smirnoff Ice would be hidden and the person who found it would have to take a knee and chug the bottle. 

Miller moved on from the PPO to become director of advance and left the White House for the 2020 campaign after the disastrous Tulsa, Oklahoma rally, which featured droves of empty seats. 

He served as deputy campaign manager for presidential operations. 

‘Every day, our campaign grows in strength, and Max’s wealth of experience and expertise is an important addition to our team’s world-class advance efforts,’ then Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in the July 2020 announcement. 

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