The forty fifth president has repeatedly deflected blame for stoking the assault with false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, and in the interview, he struck a defiant posture, refusing to say whether or not he would testify earlier than a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault. Trump mentioned he didn’t bear in mind “getting very many” cellphone calls that day, and he denied eradicating name logs or utilizing burner telephones.
Trump additionally mentioned he had spoken throughout his presidency with Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the spouse of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. A seven-hour hole in Trump’s phone records on Jan. 6, and Thomas’s texts to then-White House chief of workers Mark Meadows urging the White House to battle the election outcomes, have each come beneath scrutiny by the Jan. 6 committee.
THE ATTACK The Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol was neither a spontaneous act nor an isolated event.
During the assault, Trump watched tv, criticized then-Vice President Mike Pence and made calls pushing lawmakers to overturn the election as the violent mob of his supporters ransacked the Capitol. He was ultimately persuaded by lawmakers, members of the family and others to launch a video asking his supporters to go dwelling — 187 minutes after he urged them to march to the Capitol throughout a rally close to the White House. He was described by advisers as enthusiastic about the occasion.
Trump, talking Wednesday afternoon at his palatial beachfront membership, mentioned he didn’t remorse urging the crowd to come to Washington with a tweet stating that it would “be wild!” He additionally stood by his incendiary and false rhetoric about the election at the Ellipse rally earlier than the rioters stormed the Capitol. “I mentioned peaceable and patriotic,” he mentioned, omitting different feedback that he made in a speech that day.
In reality, Trump mentioned he deserved extra credit score for drawing such a giant crowd to the Ellipse — and that he pressed to march on the Capitol along with his supporters however was stopped by his safety element. “Secret Service mentioned I couldn’t go. I would have gone there in a minute,” he mentioned.
The former president praised organizers of the rally, a few of whom have now acquired subpoenas from federal authorities, and repeatedly bragged about the measurement of the crowd on the Ellipse, when questioned about the occasions of Jan. 6.
“The crowd was far larger than I even thought. I consider it was the largest crowd I’ve ever spoken to. I don’t know what that means, however you see only a few photos. They don’t need to present photos, the pretend information doesn’t need to present photos,” he mentioned. “But this was a super crowd.”
On a minimum of a dozen events in the interview, Trump blamed Pelosi for the occasions of Jan. 6. On that day, Pelosi was taken to a safe location and labored with a few of Trump’s high army officers and others to assist safe the constructing. Trump supporters stormed her workplace and vowed to damage her, with some shouting for her by title.
Pelosi doesn’t have complete management over the Capitol Police, as Trump alleged, however shares management of the Capitol with the Senate majority chief. Most choices on securing the Capitol are made by a police board. He additionally blamed the D.C. mayor, whose advisers furiously tried to attain Trump’s crew that day.
“The former president’s determined lies apart, the speaker was no extra in control of the safety of the U.S. Capitol that day than Mitch McConnell,” mentioned Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi.
Trump mentioned he had not been contacted by the Jan. 6 committee and added that he didn’t know what he would do if he had been. “It relies upon what the request is,” he mentioned. He has repeatedly invoked govt privilege in a bid to block the committee from seeing paperwork.
He mentioned the committee’s interview along with his daughter Ivanka Trump for eight hours this week was a “disgrace and harassment,” although he insisted he didn’t know what she had informed the members. He mentioned he additionally didn’t know what her husband, Jared Kushner, had informed the committee, and that he had provided the couple “privilege” in the event that they wished it. They declined, Trump mentioned.
Trump mentioned he had not destroyed any name logs from the afternoon of Jan. 6 and took half in no cellphone calls on “burner telephones,” though there is a large gap in his White House cellphone logs. Trump mentioned that he remembered speaking to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and different folks throughout that interval. He mentioned he had a “superb” reminiscence however couldn’t say precisely who he talked to that afternoon, or when.
“From the standpoint of phone calls, I don’t bear in mind getting very many,” he mentioned, later including, “Why would I care about who referred to as me? If congressmen had been calling me, what distinction did it make? There was nothing secretive about it. There was no secret.”
Trump mentioned he had talked at occasions throughout his presidency with Ginni Thomas, whose texts with Meadows urging him to overturn the election had been obtained by The Washington Post and CBS News. But Trump mentioned he wasn’t conscious of her electoral efforts. He declined to say whether or not he thought Meadows ought to have handed over the textual content messages to the Jan. 6 committee.
“First of all, her husband is a nice justice. And she’s a advantageous lady. And she loves our nation,” he mentioned.
Trump emerged Wednesday in his ornate and gilded Mar-a-Lago lounge with the solar beaming into the couches alongside two advisers — Susie Wiles, who often urged it was time for the interview to finish, and David Bossie, whose household stood close by. After he requested 4 occasions, loud music piping into the ballroom was turned down. He wore a blazer with no tie and carried a Diet Coke as he sat close to a toy Air Force One.
He meandered throughout the interview and stonewalled questions with lengthy solutions. He appeared to be in a good temper, except for when he confronted a sequence of questions on Jan. 6.
At one level, Trump was greeted by Scott Atlas, his White House coronavirus adviser who clashed with the medical neighborhood. Atlas strolled in from the patio to see him on the sofa.
“Doc!” Trump mentioned, earlier than complimenting Atlas on dropping pounds. “Look who we have right here!”
“This is the heart of the universe,” he mentioned, shortly after Atlas walked away. “Come again later,” he hollered after him.
Trump additionally delved into overseas coverage, lashing into NATO for not doing extra to assist Ukraine — Trump has repeatedly lampooned the group — and mentioned he’d threatened NATO leaders throughout a 2018 assembly in Brussels, a notion his advisers denied vigorously at the time.
“Lots of people are a little bit shocked, I believe they’re very impressed with Ukraine, however they’re not impressed with what NATO is doing, as a result of a lot of individuals assume NATO might be doing extra,” Trump mentioned, talking basically phrases.
When requested whether or not he had modified his thoughts on Ukraine, a nation he commonly criticized as president, he started talking about his impeachment trial that was launched after he requested Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to examine Biden’s son Hunter Biden and discover an electronic mail server.
“I preferred Zelensky from the starting for one motive. When we had the impeachment hoax, primarily based on a good cellphone name, he completely backed me up, and I didn’t ask him to do that. They requested him, and he mentioned, he completely did nothing mistaken,” Trump mentioned. “He mentioned there was no quid professional quo. He didn’t even know what his folks had been speaking about. He thought they had been loopy. … So I gained nice respect for him there.”
Trump provided few concepts for what he would do to finish the battle between Russia and Ukraine. He mentioned he thought Russian President Vladimir Putin was a savvy negotiator for sending troops to the Ukrainian border however thought he “overplayed his hand” by invading the nation.
Some high Republicans have distanced themselves from Trump’s continued reward of Putin. Trump mentioned he had not spoken to Putin since leaving workplace.
“Now, it’s a onerous scenario. What they need to do is decrease the value of oil. Because you want cash to battle wars. At $150 a barrel and going up to extra, you have a look at it, it’s going up to numbers that no person has ever seen, it’s already the highest it’s ever been in historical past. The very first thing they need to do is decrease the value of oil by utilizing the liquid gold we have beneath our ft,” he mentioned, requested about the Biden administration’s response.
The former president additionally had a lot to say about home issues. Trump declined to relinquish the fantastical concept he might be reinstated as president after he misplaced the election, a notion that has been roundly mocked by Republicans and even a few of his advisers. Trump bristled that he requested Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) to assist in his bid to be reinstated, as Brooks mentioned final month after Trump rescinded his endorsement of him in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race. Brooks was trailing in the polls and inspired the former president and the social gathering to transfer previous the 2020 election.
“I didn’t ask him to do it. He’s in no place to do it. I definitely didn’t ask him to do it. But I consider while you see huge election fraud, I can’t think about that someone who received the election primarily based on fraud, that one thing doesn’t occur? How has it not occurred? If you might be a financial institution robber, otherwise you’re a jewellery retailer robber, and you go into Tiffany’s and you steal their diamonds and get caught, you have to give the diamonds again,” he mentioned.
Trump repeated unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, saying new findings from Georgia would emerge subsequent week. He mentioned they would be launched by a group referred to as True the Vote and would present hundreds of thousands of unlawful votes, however he provided no proof.
The former president additionally refused to say whether or not he would ever endorse a Republican candidate who didn’t accede to his election fraud calls for. “Some of them are extra into it than others,” he mentioned. “But the ones who’re into it, they’re actually into it. They have little doubt.”
He sought throughout a lot of the interview to tout his political supremacy inside the Republican Party, which stays sturdy however has light in latest months. Trump appeared preoccupied with the notion that his grip on the GOP will not be as sturdy because it as soon as was, starting the interview with a lengthy riff about how well-liked he was inside the GOP. Unprompted, he decried information protection that indicated in any other case and crowed about how many individuals wished his endorsement, whereas vowing to cease the Republicans who favored impeaching him.
“Our numbers are greater than ever,” he mentioned, with out presenting proof.
Other Republicans, equivalent to Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, would not need to run in opposition to him in a 2024 Republican presidential major season, he mentioned. None of them have dominated out difficult him.
“If I ran, I can’t think about they’d need to run. Some out of loyalty would have had a onerous time operating. I believe that most of these folks, and nearly each title you talked about, is there due to me. In some instances, as a result of I backed them and endorsed them. You know Ron was at 3 p.c, and the day I endorsed him, he received the race,” he mentioned. Asked if he thought he “made” DeSantis, Trump mentioned he knew he did. “As quickly as I endorsed him, the race was over,” Trump claimed.
Trump later allowed that DeSantis had been a good governor, significantly on dealing with the coronavirus — as a result of Trump allowed him to make choices on whether or not to hold the state open. “Federalist,” he mentioned. “I gave them the proper to do what they wished to do.”
The former president additionally mentioned he agreed with DeSantis signing a recent bill that bans lecturers from instructing college students in early grades about gender identification and sexual orientation. “I do assume it was a good transfer,” he mentioned, however declined to elaborate.
“I have a good relationship with Ron, I have a good relationship with all the names you talked about. Would they run in opposition to me? I doubt they would run in opposition to me. I doubt it,” Trump reiterated.
A DeSantis spokesman declined to remark.
Asked about candidates he endorsed that had been struggling, equivalent to gubernatorial hopeful David Perdue in Georgia, he repeatedly downplayed their lagging polls and moved the dialog to different states, the place GOP members of Congress who voted to impeach him had been retiring and beneath hearth. “What are you listening to?” he mentioned of Perdue, the former senator, after saying it would be tough to topple Republican Brian Kemp, whom he loathes.
Out on the patio, he mentioned, was David McCormick, the Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate and hedge fund honcho who wished his endorsement. McCormick met with Trump later Wednesday. Trump requested a reporter if he ought to endorse McCormick or Mehmet Oz and mentioned he would be making a choice in “about a week,” noting that he was torn. “They all come right here,” he mentioned.
Trump additionally mentioned his post-presidential interactions with overseas leaders. Earlier this week, Trump claimed, Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary, referred to as him to thank him for endorsing him and to credit score Trump with the win. “After I endorsed him, he went up like a rocket ship,” Trump claimed of his unusual endorsement.
Other world leaders commonly name him as a result of they like him a lot, Trump claimed. He declined to say if he’d spoken to President Xi Jinping of China or Kim Jong Un of North Korea.
“These different leaders, they need endorsements,” he mentioned. “I’m the king of endorsements. It’s extra than simply this nation. It’s different international locations.”
He declined to specify which different world leaders had pressed him for an endorsement — or whether or not he would be giving extra. “You’ll see,” he mentioned.
Trump mentioned it was true he had informed advisers that his well being would issue into whether or not he would run once more in 2024 however that he was presently in good well being.
“You all the time have to speak about well being. You seem like you’re in good well being, however tomorrow, you get a letter from a physician saying come see me once more. That’s not good after they use the phrase once more,” he mentioned.
“I don’t need to remark on operating, however I believe a lot of persons are going to be very completely happy by my choice,” he mentioned, including: “Because it’s a little boring now.”