Trump again raises the specter of political violence if he loses the presidential election

In an interview with ‘Time,’ the Republican candidate also says he will use the National Guard for mass deportations of immigrants because ‘they aren’t civilians’

Former U.S. President Donald Trump
Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he leaves the courthouse where he is being tried in New York, April 30.JUSTIN LANE (via REUTERS)
Miguel Jiménez

“Please read the entire interview,” read the message tweeted by James Singer, a spokesman for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, linking to a wide-ranging interview with former U.S. president Donald Trump conducted by Time magazine, the full transcript of which was released on April 30. For a candidate’s campaign to ask potential voters to read what a rival candidate has said is unusual. In this case, many Democrats have pointed to fragments or the integrity of Trump’s answers, which reiterate some of the messages that he frequently delivers to his supporters at rallies. The Republican White House candidate states that he will carry out mass deportations if he is elected. On the possibility of violence in the wake of the November election, he says there will be none if he wins. If he loses? “It depends.”

Singer has not been alone in pointing out Trump’s messages. Several Democratic spokespeople and officeholders have highlighted excerpts, or the entire interview. “Trump has doubled down on inciting political violence and ruling as a dictator if he wins in November. We should take him at his word,” tweeted California Senator Alex Padilla. “Given the opportunity to disavow political violence in his interview with TIME, Donald Trump says it depends ‘if he loses.’ He’s going to do it again,” tweeted Marco Frieri, another Biden campaign spokesman.

One of the most pointed bits of the interview is when the reporter reminds Trump that in a previous conversation he wasn’t concerned about political violence in connection with the November election. Because he was going to win. “What if you don’t win?” he is asked. “Well, I do think we’re gonna win. We’re way ahead. I don’t think they’ll be able to do the things that they did the last time, which were horrible. Absolutely horrible. So many, so many different things they did, which were in total violation of what was supposed to be happening,” Trump replied, alluding to the 2020 presidential election theft hoax. “I think we’re going to win. And if we don’t win, you know, it depends. It always depends on the fairness of an election. I don’t believe they’ll be able to do the things that they did the last time. I don’t think they’ll be able to get away with it. And if that’s the case, we’re gonna win in record-setting fashion.”

Trump also stated he is “absolutely” willing to consider pardoning those who participated in the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots. “If somebody was evil and bad, I would look at that differently. But many of those people went in, many of those people were ushered in. You see it on tape, the police are ushering them in. They’re walking with the police,” he stated, glossing over the violence with the assault was carried out.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump
Donald Trump at a campaign rally on March 2, 2024, in Greensboro, N.C. Chris Carlson (AP)

Presidential immunity

In the interview, Trump defends the presidential immunity he has claimed before the Supreme Court and assures that, in the case it is not granted and he wins the election, Biden may also be prosecuted. “Look, a president should have immunity. That includes Biden. If they’ve ruled that they don’t have immunity, Biden, probably nothing to do with me, he would be prosecuted for 20 different acts, because he’s created such,” he says without any basis whatsoever.

The former president goes off on a tangent when asked if he shares his lawyer’s arguments that a president should have immunity even if he orders a special forces team to assassinate a political rival. “Well, I understood it differently. I thought it was a political rival from another country. I think I understood it differently, and I’m not sure. And John Sauer also said that first you go through an impeachment and then you make that determination based on impeachment. But a president, if you don’t have immunity from prosecution, fairly strong immunity from prosecution. Now, if you do something just overtly very bad and very stupid, that’s a different situation. That may be one of those cases,” he counters.

Mass deportations

In another excerpt, the journalist asks the former president about the mass deportations of immigrants he has promised if he wins, to which Trump resorts to another of his favorite hoaxes. “I don’t believe this is sustainable for a country, what’s happening to us, with probably 15 million and maybe as many as 20 million by the time Biden’s out. Twenty million people, many of them from jails, many of them from prisons, many of them from mental institutions,” he says without providing any data on his claims.

Trump also discusses using the National Guard as well as law enforcement to carry out these mass deportations. When asked by the reporter if he would be willing to bypass the law that prohibits deploying the military against civilians, he replies: “Well, these aren’t civilians. These are people that aren’t legally in our country. This is an invasion of our country. An invasion like probably no country has ever seen before. They’re coming in by the millions. I believe we have 15 million now. And I think you’ll have 20 million by the time this ends.” At some of his rallies, Trump has even gone so far as to say that undocumented immigrants “can’t be called people.”

Asked again if he sees himself using the military carry out deportations, Trump says: “I can see myself using the National Guard and, if necessary, I’d have to go a step further. We have to do whatever we have to do to stop the problem we have [...] you have to do what you have to do to stop crime and to stop what’s taking place at the border.”

In another of his authoritarian turns, Trump also states that he wants to “give police immunity from prosecution.” When asked for an explanation by the journalist, he elaborates: “We have to give the police back the power and respect that they deserve. Now, there will be some mistakes, and there are certain bad people and that’s a terrible thing [...] Police are being prosecuted all the time. And we want to give them immunity from prosecution if they’re doing their job.”


Democrats have also drawn attention to Trump’s statements on abortion. The former president declines to speak openly on the issue, knowing that it is one that disaffects Republican voters. He considers the ban on abortions after six weeks that goes into effect this week in Florida to be too “severe,” but refuses to reveal how he will vote in the abortion referendum in Florida in November, which takes place at the same time as the presidential election. Trump has also remained on the fence over access to the abortion pill mifepristone, which is being debated in the Supreme Court, stating during the interview that “I have an opinion on that, but I’m not going to explain. I’m not gonna say it yet. But I have pretty strong views on that. And I’ll be releasing it probably over the next week.”

Asked if he is comfortable with the possibility of women being prosecuted for having abortions after a ban, he replies: “It’s irrelevant whether I’m comfortable or not. It’s totally irrelevant, because the states are going to make those decisions And by the way, Texas is going to be different than Ohio. And Ohio is going to be different than Michigan. I see what’s happening.”

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