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Donald Trump returns to Michigan facing a warning of jail time if he violates a trial gag order

CBS News poll shows Michigan voters says economy was better during Donald Trump presidency
CBS News poll shows Michigan voters says economy was better during Donald Trump presidency 10:38

Donald Trump used a one-day break from his hush money trial to rally voters in the battleground state of Michigan, a day after he was held in contempt of court in New York and threatened with jail time for violating a gag order. 

Trump spoke at MBS International Airport in Freeland, Michigan, at Avflight Saginaw. He spoke in the afternoon at the Waukesha County Expo Center in Waukesha, Wisconsin. 

Wednesday's visit was Trump's third to Michigan this year and his first since speaking in Grand Rapids on April 2.

During his April visit to Grand Rapids, Trump targeted President Joe Biden on border and crime and focused his time on the murder of Ruby Garcia, a Michigan woman who was found dead on the side of a Grand Rapids highway in March. 

Garcia had been in a relationship with Brandon Ortiz-Vite, who officials say is a citizen of Mexico and had previously been deported after being arrested for drunk driving. Ortiz-Vite told authorities that he shot Garcia multiple times during an argument before leaving her body on the side of the highway. 

Trump's remarks were being closely watched after he received a $9,000 fine for making public statements about people connected to the case. In imposing the fine for posts on Trump's Truth Social account and campaign website, Judge Juan M. Merchan said that if Trump continued to violate his orders, he "will impose an incarceratory punishment." 

The former president is trying to achieve a balancing act unprecedented in American history by running for a second term as the presumptive Republican nominee while also fighting felony charges in New York. Trump frequently goes after Merchan, prosecutors and potential witnesses at his rallies and on social media, attack lines that play well with his supporters but that have potentially put him in legal jeopardy.

During Wednesday's rally in Michigan, he said he was being forced to spend days in a "kangaroo courtroom" and claimed without evidence the district attorney was taking orders from the Biden administration.

"I've got to do two of these things a day. You know why? Because I'm in New York all the time with the Biden trial," he said. "It's a fake trial. They do it to try and take your powers away, try and take your candidate away."

Trump insists he is merely exercising his free speech rights, but the offending posts from his Truth Social account and campaign website were taken down. Merchan is weighing other alleged gag-order violations by Trump and will hear arguments on Thursday.

Trump appeared frustrated after the ninth day of the trial came to an end, saying he should be out in Georgia and New Hampshire instead of sitting in court.

"They don't want me on the campaign trail," he told reporters.

Trump has often called this case and other criminal cases against him "election interference," saying they keep him from campaigning for the presidential election in November.

The gag order barred him from making public statements about witnesses, jurors and some others connected to his hush-money case.

Manhattan prosecutors have argued Trump and his associates took part in an illegal scheme to influence the 2016 presidential campaign by purchasing and then burying stories. He has pleaded not guilty.

Trump's visits to Wisconsin and Michigan mark his second trip to the swing states in just a month. For the last rallies, the former president largely focused on immigration referring to people who are in the U.S. illegally and who are suspected of crimes as "animals."

Wisconsin and Michigan are among a handful of battleground states expected to decide the 2024 election. He won both states in 2016 by narrow margins but both states flipped to Mr. Biden in 2020. 

For Trump to win both states in 2024, he must do well in suburban areas like the areas outside of Milwaukee and Saginaw, Michigan, where he will hold Wednesday's rallies. He underperformed in suburban areas during this year's primary even as he dominated the Republican field overall.

Trump won Saginaw County in 2016 by a margin of 1,073 votes but lost the county to Mr. Biden in the 2020 election, with Mr. Biden coming out on top by 303 votes. 

Trump has repeatedly falsely said that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Trump's losses in battleground states in 2020 have withstood recounts, audits and reviews by the Justice Department and outside observers.

On April 24, a state investigator testified Wednesday that he considers the former president and his White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, as co-conspirators in a scheme to claim that Trump had won Michigan in 2020. 

In a recent CBS News poll in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, registered voters in all three states say the economy was better during the Trump presidency.

Of those Michiganders likely to cast their ballot in November, 51% said they would vote for Biden. With the presence of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on the ballot, the gap between Mr. Biden and Trump remains the same at 2%, but Kennedy is polling at 9%, with most of those picking Kennedy in a four-way ballot test having backed Trump in a two-way test with Mr. Biden.

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