US President Donald Trump was defiant in the face of an impeachment probe as he sought to convert the threat to his presidency into a weapon on the campaign trail, with biting and unsupported attacks on potential Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
Confronting an investigation provoked by his unprecedented calls for Ukraine and then China to assist in digging up dirt on his political rivals, Mr Trump continued to lay into Mr Biden and his son Hunter, whom he and his allies have accused, without evidence, of illegally profiting off his father’s office.
“The Bidens got rich, and that is substantiated, while America got robbed,” Mr Trump said.
While the young Biden did have business interest overseas while he father was in office, there is no evidence of misconduct.
Mr Trump’s adult children have faced congressional scrutiny for their foreign business dealings while their father is serving as president, and he still maintains ownership stakes in his family’s businesses.
The rally in Minneapolis, the first since Democrats began proceedings two weeks ago to remove him from office, served as a proving ground for the president as he tries to use the impeachment inquiry to energise supporters for his 2020 campaign by casting himself, and his supporters, as victims of Washington Democrats.
The performance revealed a defence strategy largely detached from the allegations Mr Trump faces.
Mr Trump spent little time defending his attempt to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate the Bidens.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2019
Instead, he cast the impeachment fight in simpler basic terms, a battle between him and the “swamp.”
“They want to erase your vote like it never existed,” Mr Trump said.
“They want to erase your voice, and they want to erase your future.”
He added: “The Democrats’ brazen attempt to overthrow our government will produce a backlash at the ballot box the likes of which they have never ever seen before in the history of this country.”