The former president, who mentioned the South African anti-apartheid activist in New Hampshire, is at risk of prison in four separate criminal trials.
Donald Trump compared himself to civil rights icon Nelson Mandela, claiming he is also willing to go to prison “for a reason.”
Speaking at a campaign event in Derry, New Hampshire, on Monday, Trump hit out at the federal and state investigations into his alleged criminal attempts to overturn the 2020 election results, while suggesting he is being persecuted in a way similar to the former South African president, who was jailed for more than 27 years for opposing apartheid rule in the country.
Trump, who is facing 91 charges across four separate investigations, made the comment after two co-defendants indicted alongside the former president in Georgia under Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis‘ election interference probe, lawyers Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, took a plea deal and agreed to testify against the others charged in the sprawling RICO case.
Trump, the frontrunner in the 2024 GOP primary, has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him, including under Willis’ and Special Counsel Jack Smith‘s 2020 election investigations. He has accused all four probes of being politically motivated “witch hunts” that aim to prevent him from winning the next presidential election.
“If you want to challenge the results of an election, they hound you,” Trump said. “But we don’t get scared.
“I don’t mind being Nelson Mandela, because I’m doing it for a reason,” he added.
“We’ve got to save our country from these fascists, these lunatics that we’re dealing with. They’re horrible people and they’re destroying our country.”
The Nelson Mandela Foundation has been contacted for comment via email.
Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with former South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk in 1993 for their “peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa.”
Mandela was jailed at the infamous Robben Island prison between 1964 and 1982 after being convicted of high treason and conspiracy against the state for fighting against the South Africa’s white minority government.
After de Klerk arranged for Mandela to be freed from prison, Mandela was elected as South Africa’s first ever Black president in 1994, with de Klerk named as his first deputy. Mandela died in December 2013, aged 95.
Trump was in New Hampshire on Monday to officially file the paperwork to be a Republican presidential candidate for the in the first-in-the-nation primary in the Granite State.
According to a USA Today/Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll released on October 5, Trump has a commanding lead in the New Hampshire primary, with 49 percent. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley polled in second place on 19 percent, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was third on 10 percent.