Trump on political violence in 2024: 'If we don't win, you know, it depends'

Former President Donald Trump said in a new interview with Time magazine that he doesn’t think there will be political violence around the 2024 election because he believes he’ll win — but that it “always depends on the fairness of an election.”

The comments came along with a statement that Trump would “consider” pardoning every person who has been charged or convicted for rioting at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, after the then-president rallied his followers against what he has repeatedly and baselessly called a “rigged” election.

Trump also answered questions digging into his campaign position on abortion policy being left up to the states — and deflecting questions pressing him on any potential federal action, including his position on whether abortion medication should be available. And Trump reinforced past statements he has made on Russia doing “whatever the hell they want” to NATO countries who don’t pay their “fair share” and the extent of a military crackdown he plans to order on illegal immigration.

When Trump was asked in an initial interview about the prospect of more political violence in 2024, after the events following the 2020 election, he said no. “I think we’re gonna have a big victory. And I think there will be no violence,” Trump said.

But asked in a follow-up conversation about what will happen if he doesn’t win, Trump was equivocal.

“Well, I do think we’re gonna win,” Trump answered. “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. And you know that and everybody knows that. We can recite them, go down a list that would be an arm’s long. But I don’t think we’re going to have that. 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.”

Trump also said that he’d be reluctant to hire people for a second administration who thought President Joe Biden won the 2020 election: “I wouldn’t feel good about it,” he said.

On the people charged and convicted of violent acts as Congress was preparing to certify the 2020 election results on Jan. 6, 2021, Trump complained that they’ve faced a “two-tier system” but, when pressed, said, “I would consider that, yes,” when asked if he’d consider pardoning every single person prosecuted for their actions on Jan. 6.

‘The states are going to have to be comfortable or uncomfortable, not me’

Trump’s rare long-form interview included him talking through his position on leaving abortion policy up to states. When asked directly if he was comfortable with states deciding to punish women who access abortions after the designated state-specific ban, Trump said: “I don’t have to be comfortable or uncomfortable. The states are going to make that decision. The states are going to have to be comfortable or uncomfortable, not me.”

Then, asked if women’s pregnancies should be monitored by state governments to ensure they don’t get abortions after a certain timeline ban, Trump said: “I think they might do that. Again, you’ll have to speak to the individual states.”

Trump also dodged on the question of whether women should have access to abortion pills. As the interviewer noted that Republican allies of Trump have called “for enforcement of the Comstock Act, which prohibits the mailing of drugs used for abortions by mail,” Trump said he will be making a statement later but declined to outline his position.

“I will be making a statement on that over the next 14 days,” Trump said. In the follow-up interview on April 27, Time noted that Trump had not yet made the statement even though two weeks had passed.

“I’ll be doing it over the next week or two,” Trump said. “But I don’t think it will be shocking, frankly. But I’ll be doing it over the next week or two.”

Trump recently said that it should also be up to individual states to determine any penalty for doctors who perform abortions outside state law. He labeled a question about what he’d do on potential federal legislation on abortion a hypothetical “because it won’t happen. You’re never going to have 60 votes.”

‘I can see myself using the National Guard and, if necessary, I’d have to go a step further’

When asked about immigration, Trump reiterated a consistent campaign promise to use the U.S. military to remove undocumented immigrants from the country.

And Trump said he’d be willing to use other parts of the U.S. military besides the National Guard to address issues inland as well as the border, saying, “I can see myself using the National Guard and, if necessary, I’d have to go a step further.” When the interviewer noted the law preventing the deployment of the military against civilians, Trump claimed undocumented immigrants weren’t civilians and said: “These are people that aren’t legally in our country. This is an invasion of our country.”

Trump has previously vowed to relocate thousands of overseas U.S troops to the southern border to crack down on border security as well as promising to terminate “every open border policy of the Biden administration.”

Trump also floated the idea of migrant detention camps, calling it a “possibility” but something he hopes “we shouldn’t have to do very much of.”

At the core of Trump’s immigration promises over the last year is the use of local law enforcement, though policy specifics surrounding the idea have been scarce.

When asked to clarify, Trump proposed “police immunity from prosecution” and left the door open to possible incentives from the federal government for state and local police departments.

‘If you’re not going to pay, then you’re on your own’

On international affairs, Trump again dug in on recent comments that Russia could “do whatever the hell they want” to NATO countries who do not “pay up” what he deems are appropriate military expenses.

Trump told Time, “Yeah, when I said that, I said it with great meaning, because I want them to pay. I want them to pay up. That was said as a point of negotiation. I said, Look, if you’re not going to pay, then you’re on your own. And I mean that.”

Trump also backed up comments that he wouldn’t “give a penny” to Ukraine unless other European countries started supporting Ukraine in “equalizing” amounts.

“I said I wouldn’t give unless Europe starts equalizing,” Trump said. “They have to come. Europe has to pay. We are in for so much more than the European nations. It’s very unfair to us. And I said if Europe isn’t going to pay, who are gravely more affected than we are, if Europe is not going to pay, why should we pay?”

Trump also conceded that a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine looks “very, very tough,” and that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “rightfully” been criticized for the fact that Hamas was able to attack Israel on Oct. 7.

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