Thursday, December 7, 2023

Sean Hannity gave Donald Trump two chances to deny that, in a second term, he would retaliate against foes and act as a dictator -- and Trump flunked both times

Donald Trump and Sean Hannity

Donald Trump had two opportunities Tuesday to ensure the American public that he would not, if elected to a second term as president, abuse his power by seeking to retaliate against political opponents and critics -- or act as a dictator. Both times, Trump failed to deny that he might resort to such actions, according to a report from The New York Times (NYT). Writes reporter Michael Gold:

Twice during a town hall on Fox News on Tuesday night, Sean Hannity asked former President Donald J. Trump to say categorically that he would not abuse presidential power and retaliate against his political opponents if elected next year.

Both times, Mr. Trump declined to give an outright denial.

It might seem like a simple thing to give a clear-cut answer, such as "I will not do those things" -- especially considering that Hannity is not exactly a hardball interlocutor, especially when his subject is a  Republican. But it was not so simple for Trump, Gold reports:

First, Mr. Hannity, the moderator, asked Mr. Trump to respond to concerns raised by recent reporting that has detailed his violent rhetoric on the campaign trail and his vow to use the Justice Department against his political foes.

“Do you in any way have any plans whatsoever, if re-elected president, to abuse power?” Mr. Hannity asked. “To break the law? To use the government to go after people?”

“Look,” Mr. Trump joked to the crowd watching him in Davenport, Iowa. “He’s going crazy.”

And even as Mr. Hannity tried to clarify that Mr. Trump had no intention of abusing his office, Mr. Trump did not state a clear aversion to the idea of authoritarian power.

“This guy, he says, ‘You’re not going to be a dictator, are you?’” Mr. Trump said, referring to Mr. Hannity. “I said, ‘No, no, no — other than Day 1.’ We’re closing the border. And we’re drilling, drilling, drilling. After that, I’m not a dictator.”

Should voters be concerned about Trump's responses? If you are a sentient being, and understand that democracy has served America well for 247 years you should be concerned. Even the most brainwashed MAGA cultist must realize they have been getting a pretty square deal under the American system of governance. But they want to turn it over to a man who has vowed to wreck it into an unrecognizable, and probably unworkable, state. And he cannot answer a simple question about his intentions? Gold writes:

Both exchanges underscored a growing challenge for some on the Trump team who are privately aware that his comments are of growing concern to voters ahead of next year’s general election.

The Biden campaign has sought to seize on recent reporting about plans being made by Mr. Trump and his allies that would reshape the American presidency, vastly expanding presidential power and upending central elements of American government and the rule of law.

Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, Julie Chávez Rodríguez, said in a statement that Mr. Trump “has been telling us exactly what he will do if he’s re-elected, and tonight he said he will be a dictator on Day 1. Americans should believe him.”

Mr. Trump’s comments were a stark break from an interview in which he was largely on friendly territory. He and Mr. Hannity have a long relationship, and both of them warmly recalled past conversations they had had over Mr. Trump’s political career.

Mr. Hannity also did not ask Mr. Trump about his rivals in the Republican primary, who faced off in a debate last night in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, an event that Mr. Trump skipped to attend a fund-raiser in Florida.

Still, Mr. Trump made brief mention of Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, criticizing her for taking donations from Democrats, and criticized Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida for votes in Congress he took that appeared to support changing Social Security benefits.

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