Robstown, Texas — At his first public rally since being subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, former President Donald Trump on Saturday complained again about that panel’s investigation and did not indicate whether he’ll comply with the demand to turn over documents and testify.
Democrats have an uphill battle in Texas — a poll released Friday by UT Austin and Texas Politics Project showed Texas Gov. Greg Abbott well-positioned to win his reelection bid. The poll had his lead up to 11 points — by far his largest lead so far. Lt. Gov Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton also held double-digit leads in the same poll.
Trump described the Democratic candidates as “against guns, God and oil” and added, “and they say they’re going to do well in Texas? I don’t think so.”
But the rally was held in South Texas, a critical part of the state for both Republicans and Democrats on Election Day, and Trump’s appearance there could help drive up support for the GOP here. Just 120 miles south is the district represented by Democrat Henry Cuellar, who is in the fight of his political life against Republican opponent Cassy Garcia, a former Sen. Ted Cruz aide. Garcia appeared at Saturday’s rally with Trump. Although Trump talked at length about the Jan. 6 committee, he said little that he hasn’t said before, and he offered no comment about whether or not he would be interviewed by the panel.
As Trump started discussing Jan. 6 at the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds in Robstown, the crowd interrupted him by breaking out into the national anthem. Trump called it “beautiful,” before saying he had initially thought he had been interrupted by protesters. He went back to it later, calling it a “beautiful moment” and said, “We haven’t had that in two years.”
Trump mainly railed about the “unselect committee,” his nickname for the House Jan. 6 committee, and complained that they “don’t talk about” how the size of the crowd at his rally at the Ellipse that day. He also alleged that he authorized 10,000 to 20,000 National Guard troops, a claim that has been disputed by then-acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller’s testimony before the committee. Miller said he was “never given any direction or order or knew of any plans of that nature.”
Trump railed against the many investigations against him, even joking at one point that his wife, Melania Trump, says “every day you get a subpoena.”
In what was likely the last public hearing by the House Jan. 6 committee, the committee voted last week to subpoena Trump, with committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney calling him “the one person at the center” of what happened on Jan. 6.
The subpoena was issued Friday, with the committee demanding that the former president submit documentary material by Nov. 4, which would be followed by “one or more days” of his deposition under oath “on or about” Nov. 14, according to the panel’s letter.
Trump did not say if he would comply with the subpoena.
Trump insisted the Justice Department had been “weaponized” against him, starting with the “Russia hoax,” which he spent a significant amount of time discussing. Trump only briefly touched on the investigation into his handling of documents after he left office, calling it the “boxes hoax.”
In his nearly two hours on stage, he also teased a possible 2024 run, saying, “I will probably have to do it again,” similar to his comments at his last appearance in Texas, at CPAC in Dallas.
The 27th Congressional District, where the rally took place, went for former President Barack Obama in 2008 but has trended more heavily Republican since then — and Trump won the region by double digits in both 2016 and 2020.
Richard Vallejo, of Corpus Christi, said he had never voted before casting a ballot for Trump in 2020 — and he said he is ready to vote for Republicans this time too.
“I feel like he’s stood more for the people of color – people don’t see that, more people of color were graduating from school, we had the biggest economy in the world, we had a secure border,” Vallejo said. “It’s not about race, but uniting the American people, no matter what the color of our skin was.”
Another attendee, Scott Graham of Robstown, said he had voted for Democrats in the past, but he feels that it’s Republicans who are now “for the people.” He said he had supported Trump “since Day 1.”
Immigration remains one of the top issues for Texans — especially in this region. Trump kicked off the rally by talking about undocumented migrants crossing the border and drugs. He also thanked ICE and Border Patrol – two major employers in the region. Trump called for doubling the amount of ICE and Border Patrol agents.
Abbott, who was in Florida at a fundraiser on Saturday, has made immigration and crime key to part of his campaign, especially since his locally popular busing of migrants to Democrat-run cities has gotten national attention.
Although Abbott wasn’t at the rally, Trump called him a “wonderful man” and blasted his Democratic opponent Beto O’Rourke for being against “God, guns and oil.”