Trump defends promise to sue rivals, saying ‘sometimes revenge can be justified’

Former President Donald J. Trump has stepped up suggestions in recent days that he could go after his political enemies if elected in November.

In interviews broadcast Thursday and earlier this week, Mr. Trump’s remarks demonstrate the extent to which he is trying to put his legal issues on the ballot as a referendum on the American justice system and the state of right. His Republican Party allies also joined his calls for legal action and other retaliation against Democrats in response to his felony conviction by a New York court jury on 34 counts .

M. In recent days, sympathetic interviewers have offered Trump several opportunities to clarify or walk back his previous statements. Mr. Trump instead defended his position, saying at times that “I don’t want to seem naive” and that “sometimes revenge can be justified.”

Dr. Phil McGraw, television host and self-described donor to Mr. Trump’s campaign, addressed the former president’s previous statements in an interview that aired Thursday and gave him the opportunity to say it, as Dr. McGraw said it: “Enough is enough.” ” Enough is enough. It’s a race to the bottom, and it stops there. This stops now.

Mr. Trump initially responded, “I’m OK with that,” but then added, “Sometimes I’m sure at times I wouldn’t be, you know, when you’re going through what I lived. »

Then, when Dr. McGraw said that revenge and retaliation were unhealthy for the country and that Mr. Trump didn’t have time to “get even,” the former president responded: “Revenge takes time.” time. I will say that. And sometimes revenge can be justified, Phil, I have to be honest – sometimes it can.

In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity that aired Wednesday night, Mr. Trump was also given several opportunities to promise that he would not “retaliate” against his political opponents.

Mr Trump was asked to respond to critics who fear he will seek “retaliation” if he wins in November and returns to the White House. “So no. 1, they’re wrong,” he said. “This has to stop, otherwise we won’t have a country.”

Mr. Trump instead said that “based on what they did” — referring to the Democrats — “I would have every right to sue them.”

He added: “And it’s easy, because it’s Joe Biden, and you see all the crime, all the money going to the family and him. »

Mr. Hannity then pushed the former president to condemn “this practice of militarization.”

Mr. Trump responded: “You have to do it. But it’s horrible — look, I know you want me to say something so nice,” but, he added, “I don’t want to sound naive. »

The former president was also asked in an interview with ABC15 News in Arizona on Thursday about suing his opponents, and he suggested he was considering it.

“I thought that would be a horrible thing to do to Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Trump said, repeating a recent false suggestion that he had never called to “lock up” Mrs. Clinton. But he added: “The world is different now. So when you ask me, would we do it? I’ll talk to you in about three years.

On Tuesday, he also suggested that his opponents could face prosecution.

“You know, it’s a very terrible thing. This is a terrible precedent for our country. Does this mean the next president will do this to them? That’s really the question,” Mr. Trump told Newsmax host Greg Kelly when asked if the conviction could help him politically.

He added: “So, you know, it’s a terrible, terrible path that they’re leading us down, and it’s very possible that this will have to happen to them. »

Michael Gold And Maggie Astor reports contributed.

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