Trump Again Compares Himself to Navalny While Discussing Legal Woes

Former President Donald J. Trump continued to liken himself to the Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny during a town hall in South Carolina on Tuesday, at one point directly comparing a civil fraud judgment against him to the case of an anticorruption activist who died in a Russian prison last week.

Halfway through the town hall, the host, Fox News’s Laura Ingraham, asked Mr. Trump how he would come up with the $450 million penalty issued by a New York judge last week.

“It is a form of — Navalny,” Mr. Trump said. “It is a form of communism or fascism.”

The remark came after a prolonged discussion in which Mr. Trump continued to suggest that his legal travails were somehow equivalent to those of Mr. Navalny, a staunch opponent of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia who was politically persecuted and imprisoned on charges that supporters believed were fabricated in an attempt to silence him.

Mr. Trump did not specifically address Mr. Navalny’s death until Monday, when he posted on social media that the situation was reminiscent of his legal problems. The former president faces four criminal cases, all of which he has attributed to President Biden, although Mr. Biden has no oversight over them.

During the town hall, Ms. Ingraham asked Mr. Trump to expand on those comments. The former president commended Mr. Navalny for his courage, calling his death “very sad” and saying that Mr. Navalny “was a very brave guy.” He also expressed his belief that Mr. Navalny — who returned to Russia in 2021 from Germany, where he had been recovering from being poisoned — would have been better served by “staying away and talking from outside of the country.”

But Mr. Trump then said that what had happened to Mr. Navalny was happening “in our country too.” He went on to mention his four indictments, which he said were “all because of the fact that I am in politics.”

Ms. Ingraham then followed up by asking Mr. Trump if he viewed himself as a “potential political prisoner.” Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly without evidence claimed that the criminal cases against him are part of a plot to keep him from winning a second term, seemed to affirm her.

“If I were losing in the polls, they wouldn’t even be talking about me,” Mr. Trump said.

Still, Mr. Trump did not condemn Mr. Putin, who has drawn widespread condemnation and speculation from officials, including Mr. Biden, that he or the Russian government may have had a hand in Mr. Navalny’s death.

During the town hall, he praised Russia’s military, which is invading Ukraine, for its prowess.

“You’re really up against the war machine in Russia,” Mr. Trump said. “Russia, what did they do? They defeated Hitler, they defeated Napoleon. Yeah, they’re a war machine.”

Mr. Trump has opposed providing more military aid to Ukraine, and he has vowed to end the war if elected president, though he is vague on the details other than citing his relationship with Mr. Putin.

When asked by Ms. Ingraham about his opposition to supporting Ukraine, Mr. Trump again insisted the invasion would not have happened if he had won re-election in 2020 and then said that he would encourage European leaders to provide more aid to Ukraine.

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