Trump Says He Didn’t Call for ‘Death and Destruction,’ Simply Voiced His Concern It Would Happen
After a months-long absence, Former President Donald Trump returned to Fox News on Monday for an extended interview with host Sean Hannity.
As Trump gasses up his 2024 campaign, the former president is caught in a maelstrom of investigations into his conduct within and outside of the presidency. As it stands, Trump is bracing for a potential indictment from a Manhattan grand jury investigating his 2016 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
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He rebuffed claims that his posts addressing Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and the investigation into the Daniels payment were encouraging violence. When questioned regarding a post that warned of “death and destruction” should he be indicted, Trump replied that he “didn’t say [to] do something bad. I said I’m afraid people will do something.”
The former president addressed a separate Truth Social post in which he featured an image of him holding a baseball bat next to a photo of Bragg. Trump claimed that he had no idea that photo had been selected as the article’s image.
Interestingly, this is exactly the kind of post I would put on social media were I a target in a criminal investigation and I wanted to be denied bail. pic.twitter.com/yy79EcCHbs
— George Conway🌻 (@gtconway3d) March 23, 2023
Multiple times throughout the interview, Trump claimed that the investigations against him were “a new way of cheating in elections,” and a form of “election interference” orchestrated against him. While the upcoming 2024 presidential election weighs heavily on Trump’s mind, the primaries present a more immediate obstacle.
Trump had harsh words for potential GOP primary opponent Ron DeSantis, telling Hannity that the Florida governor owed him his career. At one point Trump said that DeSantis had come to him “with tears in his eyes” in the run-up to his 2019 primary race begging for an endorsement. “I got him the nomination,” Trump said, adding that DeSantis would be working “a pizza parlor place” without his help.
Trump says DeSantis would be working in a pizza parlor if it wasn’t for him pic.twitter.com/C7qL2oTi18
— Acyn (@Acyn) March 28, 2023
In classic Trumpian fashion, the interview was packed with self-incrimination and risible claims.
While discussing the Mar-a-Lago Documents investigation, Trump asserted that the Presidential Records Act gives him the authority to “take stuff” as he sees fit. Spoiler alert: It absolutely does not. The investigation into his unauthorized retention of classified documents came up several times in the course of the interview, with Trump claiming that he would have turned over everything to the FBI if they had just asked (they did), and asserting that President Biden retained far more documents than him (he didn’t).
On Ukraine, Trump told Hannity that he had a way to solve the Ukraine crisis within 24 hours once he assumed office — but that he couldn’t explain how because then it wouldn’t work. We’re sure it’s totally real and absolutely brilliant.
While the interview covered a large swath of Trump’s recent controversies, it was a particularly notable occasion. Trump had not appeared on Fox since September, reportedly as a result of a “soft ban” placed upon him by network executives. One source close to Trump told Semafor in March that the ban was “indicative of how the Murdochs feel about Trump in this particular moment.”
If a timeout wasn’t enough to incense Trump, the slight has been compounded by the network’s seemingly weekly invites to potential challenges for the 2024 Republican primary. A Media Matters for America study found that Fox mentioned Florida Governor Ron DeSantis more times than Trump in March, a first this year.
Trump has, of course, picked up on this shift. In February the former president lashed out at the network on Truth Social, accusing them of artificially inflating DeSantis’ popularity. ”FoxNews is promoting Ron DeSanctus so hard and so much that there’s not much time left for Real News,” he wrote.
In March, court documents revealed that Rupert Murdoch admitted to investigators that hosts on the network aired false claims about the election and alleged voter fraud, and that company executives could have intervened to prevent their broadcast. Trump had a complete meltdown over the comments.
So while the relationship between Fox and Trump may be strained, it looks as if the former president is willing to let bygones be bygones, if only to ensure he’s in fighting shape for the 2024 primary.
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