Kicking Off Trump’s 2024 Campaign Near Cult Compound Worries Some

  • Former President Donald Trump is holding his 2024 campaign kick-off event Saturday in Waco, Texas.
  • Cult leader David Koresh fought federal agents there in 1993 in a standoff where nearly 100 died.
  • Trump is bracing for indictment any day now and has urged supporters to protest if he’s arrested.

Donald Trump’s rush to hold the first rally of his 2024 presidential campaign in Waco, Texas, on the 30th anniversary of a cult’s deadly standoff there as he clamors for fans to rise up if he’s ever arrested strikes some political observers as troubling. 

“So Trump is planning his first campaign rally for Waco on thirtieth anniversary of the siege where a cult leader challenged the authority of the federal government and threatened violence,” presidential historian Michael Beschloss wrote online in a post linking the twice-impeached, indictment-wary former president to late religious sect leader David Koresh. 

The 1993 siege between the Branch Davidians and federal authorities was a 51-day saga that ended after fires swept through the compound, killing dozens of adults and children while others died from gunshots attributed to a murder-suicide pact. Trump’s visit falls squarely in the middle of that grim anniversary.

John Cook, author of “Waco Rising: David Koresh, the FBI, and the Birth of America’s Modern Militias,” describes the central Texas town — which Trump never visited during his two prior presidential bids — as a “pilgrimage site for the patriot movement.” 

Trump’s campaign announced his intention to stop by Waco’s regional airport on March 17, touting recent poll numbers showing that “Trump Country” supporters widely favored him over anticipated 2024 rival Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

The 2020 election results for surrounding McLennan County show that Waco does fit the bill for one of Trump’s freewheeling fly-ins. Trump beat President Joe Biden there by 23 points the last time around, collecting nearly two-thirds of the total votes. 

Trump campaign aides did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the timing or planning surrounding the upcoming Waco trip. 

Trump, who last weekend called on supporters to “take our nation back” as he awaited word from a Manhattan grand jury, is facing multiple federal probes exploring everything from his business practices to his involvement in the January 6, 2021 attack on Congress. 

The most pressing case revolves around the $130,000 Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid porn star Stormy Daniels in late 2016 to quash talk of an alleged affair she had with Trump. 

Trump has denied the affair. But he’s now fundraising off the threat of being indicted for the potential campaign finance violation.