By JILL COLVIN
Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump will be holding the first rally of his 2024 campaign later this month in Waco, Texas.

The rally, announced Friday, will be held the evening of Saturday, March 25, in a Republican state where the former president has a large following, increasing the chances of a packed house.

The rally comes as Trump is facing the possibility of becoming the first former president in U.S. history to be indicted, with law enforcement officials in New York currently making security preparations for the possibility of legal action in the coming weeks.

Waco holds deep symbolism as the site of the 1993 Waco massacre, when federal agents seized a compound of the Branch Davidians, a religious cult. The siege lasted 51 days and ended with the deaths of cult leader David Koresh and 80 of his followers in a fire 30 years ago next month.

It’s not clear that the city’s history played a role in Trump's decision. Trump has made numerous visits to the state over the years and Waco is part of McLennan County, which Trump won in 2020 by more than 23 points.

But Trump has long railed against federal law enforcement. When his Mar-a-Lago club was searched by the FBI last summer as part of an investigation into the possible mishandling of classified documents, he broke the news by declaring that his home was "currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.”

Trump spent the first months of his campaign rarely leaving his Florida club, but has begun to make visits to early-voting states. On Monday, he took his first trip to Iowa, which will hold the Republican Party's first nominating contest.

The rally plans come as Trump is facing a series of investigations, including one in New York that appears to be nearing its conclusion.

Porn actor Stormy Daniels met Wednesday with Manhattan prosecutors who are investigating a $130,000 hush money payment made on Trump’s behalf. That same day, Michael Cohen, the former Trump attorney who orchestrated the payment, delivered a second day of testimony before a New York grand jury.

The payment was made in 2016, as Trump’s first presidential campaign was in its final weeks and Daniels was negotiating to appear on television to air her claims of a sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier.

Trump has denied the allegation and blasted the investigation as politically motivated.

Waco is also home to Baylor University and the headquarters of “Fixer Upper” stars Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia home decorating empire.

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