Donald Trump is sounding new alarms about what he would do if returned to the White House, even describing himself in an interview Tuesday night as a “dictator,” but only, he said, from “day one “.
During an Iowa town hall with Fox News host Sean Hannity, the former president refused to rule out abuse of power when asked repeatedly whether he would do so during a second term.
“I want to be very, very clear on this, be clear,” Hannity asked, citing criticism of Trump’s previous comments, including that he would seek “revenge.”
“Do you in any way intend, if you are re-elected president, to abuse power, to break the law, to use the government to prey on people? ” he said.
“You mean like they’re using right now?” » said Trump, dodging the question.
A few minutes later, Hannity pressed him again for an answer.
“Under no circumstances – you promise America tonight – will you ever abuse your power in retaliation against anyone?”
“Except the first day,” Trump replied.
“Meaning?” » asked Hannity.
“I want to close the border and I want to drill, drill, drill…” Trump said.
“It’s not revenge,” Hannity interjected.
“We love this guy,” Trump said, referring to Hannity. “He says, ‘You’re not going to be a dictator, are you?’ I said, “No, no, no, except for the first day. We close the border and we drill, drill, drill. After this, I am no longer a dictator.”
Trump’s comment comes as President Joe Biden is making what he calls Trump’s threat to democracy a large part of his campaign message.
At a closed-door fundraiser on Tuesday, Biden told donors: “If Trump wasn’t the candidate, I’m not sure I would run. But we can’t let him win.”
The president later walked back that statement, telling reporters he would still run even if Trump dropped out. A senior Biden campaign adviser told ABC News that Biden was trying to emphasize what’s at stake in 2024.
Biden faces low approval ratings — and a slew of polls showing him neck and neck with Trump, even as the former president faces multiple criminal charges.
A new court filing in one of those cases makes clear that special prosecutor Jack Smith will attempt to pin blame for the Jan. 6 violence squarely on Trump — demonstrating that the rioters were essentially doing what Trump wanted them to do. TO DO.
Smith plans to use Trump’s own words to claim that the former president is not only responsible for the January 6 violence, but that “the rioters’ disruption of the certification process is exactly what the defendant wanted “.
Smith highlights Trump’s embrace of those who were convicted and sentenced to prison for storming the Capitol.
“I call them the J6 hostages, not the prisoners. I call them the hostages, what happened – and it’s a shame,” he said at a rally in Houston.
Smith cites how Trump and his campaign raised the so-called J6 choir — a group of prisoners who recorded a version of the national anthem behind bars.
Trump played their recording – with video footage of the January 6 violence in the background – during the first-ever campaign rally of his 2024 campaign.
Smith also says he will present evidence that Trump had enormous influence over the rioters, that he could have stopped the violence but didn’t – something Trump seemed to acknowledge in an interview with me shortly after January 6.
“I was thinking about going back during the problem to fix the problem, doing it myself,” he said in March 2021. “The Secret Service wasn’t too keen on that idea. I could have done it and, you know what, I would have been very well received. Remember the people who went to Washington that day, in my opinion, they went there because they thought the election was rigged. is why they went there.
Smith claims that such statements by Trump show that these individuals acted as he asked, arguing that it is evidence of his intention that day to disrupt the certification and prevent Joe Biden from taking office.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The Trump campaign responded to Smith’s dossier by attacking President Biden and the special prosecutor’s team, accusing them of attempting to interfere in the 2024 election, saying they are “perverting justice by trying to include allegations that are nowhere in the file.” their fabricated false indictment,” spokesperson Steven Cheung wrote in a statement to ABC News.
ABC News’ Lalee Ibssa and Soorin Kim contributed to this report.
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