Trump compares his legal troubles to the persecution of Alexei Navalny

Despite prompts from the host, the former US president did not mention Putin when asked about Navalny in the Fox News town hall event

Donald Trump has used an interview with Fox News to compare his own legal troubles to the persecution of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, who died in prison last week.

In the interview on Tuesday, the former US president said Navalny was “a very brave man” who probably should not have returned to Russia, but did not assign any blame for the Russian opposition leader’s unexpected death.

President Joe Biden and other western leaders have blamed Russian president Vladimir Putin for Navalny’s death, as has Nikki Haley, who trails far behind Trump as his sole remaining rival for the Republican presidential nomination.

In the hour-long appearance broadcast on Fox News, Trump railed against the $355m fine meted out to him in a New York fraud trial, saying “it’s a form of Navalny.”

“It is a form of communism or fascism,” he added.

Despite prompts from host Laura Ingraham, Trump did not mention Putin when asked about Navalny.

“He was a very brave guy because he went back. He could have stayed away, and frankly, probably would have been a lot better off staying away and talking from outside of the country.”

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Trump added: “It’s happening in our country, too. We are turning into a communist country in many ways. I have eight or nine trials all because of the fact that … I’m in politics.”

The Kremlin has denied involvement in Navalny’s death and said western claims that Putin was responsible are unacceptable.

On Sunday, Trump wrote in a Truth Social post that Navalny’s death in an Arctic penal colony last week had made him “more aware of what is happening” in the United States. Trump did not elaborate, but he has frequently dismissed the 91 criminal charges against him as politically motivated, a claim prosecutors deny.

Biden on Tuesday issued a blistering critique of Trump’s post on Navalny’s death, saying, “Why does Trump always blame America? Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death. Why can’t Trump just say that?”