After his historic guilty verdict, Trump focuses on revenge

Donald Trump wants to talk revenge, and neither Sean Hannity nor Dr. Phil can stop him.

Both tried.

Fresh off his historic guilty verdict in New York, Trump’s public comments, including in interviews with both men, increasingly focused on the idea of ​​”retaliation” against his enemies if he returned to the White House.

It’s rhetoric driven by Trump’s obsession that President Joe Biden and Democrats orchestrated a series of legal problems designed to derail his presidential campaign — a theory of political persecution unsupported by the facts.

On May 31, a New York jury unanimously found Trump guilty of 34 counts related to falsifying business records related to a $130,000 payment he made to an adult film star during the 2016 election. The Biden administration had nothing to do with this matter.

But for Trump, it’s all politics and he may have to take revenge.

“Well, revenge takes time, I say,” Trump said during a Thursday interview with Dr. Phil. “And sometimes revenge can be justified, Phil, I have to be honest. Sometimes it is possible.

Trump has given at least five interviews since his guilty verdict. In all five cases, he mentioned possible reprisals.

“I think there should be some concern,” said Ty Cobb, the lawyer who served as White House counsel during the Trump administration. “From a 30,000-foot vantage point, what I see is that Trump is angrier now than before because he is now convicted.”

“President Trump has made it clear that success will be the best revenge,” said Brian Hughes, a senior adviser to Trump. “When others have used government and legal institutions as a weapon against him for political interference, he will return those institutions to their constitutional purpose of protecting the liberty of Americans and creating once again a secure and prosperous nation .”

Dr. Phil’s interview came a day after Trump sat down with Hannity and at times appeared to debate the idea of ​​revenge.

At one point, Trump said “they’re wrong” when the Fox News host asked about those who said Trump would use his administration for revenge, but in the same breath he laid out the potential opportunities.

“Look, when this election is over, based on what they did, I would have every right to sue them,” Trump said. “And it’s easy because it’s Joe Biden, and you see all the crime, all the money that’s going into the family and into him, all this money that’s coming from China, from Russia, from Ukraine.”

Hannity tried to steer Trump away from the idea of ​​revenge, interrupting him at one point to try to encourage him to say that political retaliation “needs to stop.”

Dr. Phil also tried to get Trump to say he wouldn’t seek revenge if he wins in November.

“It’s a major problem and I’ve leaned heavily towards the position of saying ‘look, this is not going to help this country,'” Dr. Phil told CNN about his interview with Trump.

In other interviews and public appearances, Trump has made similar comments.

In an interview with conservative newspaper Newsmax on Tuesday, Trump appeared to raise the possibility of imprisoning his political opponents if he becomes president again.

“So, you know, it’s a terrible, terrible path that they’re leading us down, and it’s very possible that it has to happen to them,” Trump said.

“Does this mean the next president will do this to them? That’s really the question,” he added.

He also suggested there would be a “breaking point” for the public if he was sentenced to prison or house arrest, as he awaits sentencing set for July 11.

The apparent desire to exact revenge on his political enemies is nothing new to Trump and his supporters.

While still president in 2020, Trump took to social media to ask, “Where are all the arrests?” echoing criticism from his supporters that his own attorney general, William Barr, had failed to arrest figures like Biden, former President Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton for what Trump called illegal activity linked to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia.

Trump also made “lock her up” a rallying cry during his 2016 campaign against Clinton, promising supporters he would put the former secretary of state in jail if elected. Trump recently denied ever saying “lock him up,” despite numerous videos of him saying that throughout the 2016 election.

Trump often frames his calls for retaliation as something he does on behalf of all his supporters.

“I know a lot of Republicans who want retaliation,” Trump told NBC News Thursday at Mar-a-Lago. “They want to do that. We’ll see what happens.

He told the crowd at the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference that “for those who have been wrong and betrayed, I am your punishment.” In January, he said on Fox News that he “wouldn’t have time for revenge” if elected – comments that came just hours after he resent a fundraising email. funds telling his supporters “I AM YOUR RETRIBUTATION”.

But as the weight of his legal troubles has come to light this year — and especially since his guilty verdict — this revenge-driven language has taken center stage.

“Even Hannity recognized that this was dangerous territory and tried to lure him in,” said Cobb, who while at the White House helped coordinate the internal response to the Mueller’s Russia investigation. “Trump wouldn’t want any of that.”

Cobb said he believed the country’s institutions would resist if Trump tried to seek clearly politically motivated revenge, but that it was a situation nonetheless fraught with peril.

“I think the checks and balances are adequate to resist those instincts because he has to get people to implement them,” he added.

For Trump’s political base, there is support for the renewed emphasis on revenge against political opponents.

“I agree with him,” said Adam Radogna, a 35-year-old Trump supporter from Cleveland. “Obviously, you know, nothing is against the law. But he just says, “Hey, we’re going to sue you because you’re suing me.” »

Parker Shonts, a 22-year-old Trump supporter from Fowlerville, Michigan, said it’s a question of “accountability.”

“I would say ‘revenge’ is a campaign buzzword, but ‘responsibility’ would seem more appropriate,” he said.

Calls for revenge among Trump supporters intensified further Thursday when a federal judge ordered former Trump adviser Steve Bannon to report to prison on July 1 to begin a four-month sentence for defied the January 1 subpoenas. 6 committee. The news angered Trump supporters and prompted Bannon to make direct threats.

“Don’t pray for me. “Pray for my enemies,” Bannon said Thursday. “They’re the ones who need it.”

In response to Bannon’s incarceration order, Trump posted on Truth Socail that members of the Jan. 6 The committee should be indicted.


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