Photo: Charlie Neubergall/APTrump tells Hannity he will only become dictator on “day one” if elected president
In town hall At an event in Iowa with Fox News host Sean Hannity, the former president was asked to deny that he would use “power as retaliation.”
Former President Donald Trump refused to rule out abuse of power if he will return to the White House after Fox News host Sean Hannity asked him to respond to growing criticism of his rhetoric from Democrats.
The Republican presidential candidate has spoken of targeting his rivals as “saboteurs” and vowed to seek retribution if he wins a second term for what he says is a politically motivated prosecution against him. As Trump dominated the Republican presidential primaries, President Joe Biden stepped up his own warnings, saying Trump was “determined to destroy American democracy.”
Trump had to be asked twice during a televised town hall event in Iowa to deny that he would abuse power to retaliate against political opponents if he is re-elected to the White House.
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“Under no circumstances will you promise America tonight that you will never abuse your power in retaliation against anyone?” Hannity asked Trump in an interview recorded Tuesday in Davenport, Iowa.
“Except for the first day,” Trump replied. Trump said that on the “day one” he referred to, he would use his presidential powers to close the southern border with Mexico and expand oil production.
Trump then repeated his claim. “I like this guy,” he said of the Fox News host. “He says, 'You're not going to be a dictator, are you?' I said, “No, no, no, except the first day. We close the border and drill, drill, drill. After this, I'm not a dictator.”
Earlier in the interview, Hannity asked Trump if does he have “any plans” if re-elected president to abuse power, break the law and use the government to persecute people.”
“You mean they use right now?” Trump responded.
Trump's campaign rhetoric and his ambitious plans for a second term, which include firing large parts of the federal bureaucracy and persecuting his rivals, have alarmed Democrats and become their main campaign argument. Biden is preparing for a potential rematch against Trump.
“Donald Trump told us exactly what he would do if he was re-elected, and tonight he said he would be a dictator from day one. Americans must believe him,” Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said in a statement.
Trump, meanwhile, tried to turn the tide on Biden and said in a speech Saturday in Iowa that The president is the true “destroyer of American democracy,” repeating his long-standing contention that the four criminal charges against him show Biden is abusing the federal justice system to harm his main political rival.
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Trump has vowed to hold Biden accountable if he wins.< /p>
The event, featuring Hannity, a longtime Trump supporter, was promoted as a town hall the day before Trump's top rivals converge on the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa for the fourth Republican debate. While town halls typically feature questions from the audience, on Tuesday only Hannity asked questions of Trump. He recorded a similar interview with Trump in July.
Trump is again planning to skip the Republican debate and will instead spend the evening at a fundraiser in Florida.
Trump dominates his rivals both nationally and in Iowa, where elections begin Jan. 15.
Reuters and Associated Press contributed this report