During a Fox-hosted town hall on Tuesday, the GOP presidential candidate admitted that he would become a dictator if reelected—but just for the first day.
“The media has been focused on this and attacking you—you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody,” Sean Hannity prompted.
“Except for day one,” Trump responded. “I want to close the border, and I want to drill, drill, drill.”
“After that, I’m not a dictator,” he chuffed.
“That sounds to me like you’re going back to the policies when you were president,” Hannity said.
The brash admission came after Hannity tried earlier in the event to get the former president to rule out abuse of power, asking if he “in any way” had “any plans whatsoever, if reelected president, to abuse power, to break the law to use the government to go after people.”
“You mean like they’re using right now?” Trump retorted, repeating claims that Biden has weaponized the DOJ against him while deriding his indictments and 91 felony charges as “made up.”
“I often say Al Capone, he was one of the greatest of all time—if you like criminals,” Trump said. “And he got indicted once. I got indicted four times.”
Trump has talked up quite a storm in recent months about getting retribution against his political enemies if he returns to the White House. During a Veteran’s Day speech, Trump pledged to “root out” the “vermin,” whom he denoted as “Communists, Marxists, fascists”—a grouping he has previously used to refer to mainline Democrats, including President Joe Biden.
Trump’s reentry plan also, blatantly, includes an agenda to dismantle the “deep state,” stripping tens of thousands of career employees of their civil service protections via a 2020 executive order known as “Schedule F” and subsequently firing them, according to the Associated Press. That could include federal prosecutors pursuing criminal cases against him.
“Donald Trump has been telling us exactly what he will do if he’s reelected and tonight he said he will be a dictator on day one. Americans should believe him,” Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said in a statement.
Still, none of Trump’s blatantly authoritarian and fascist rhetoric seems to be interrupting his favorability among Republican voters. As of Wednesday, the GOP front-runner was still polling head and shoulders among his conservative competitors at 59.8 percent, leaving Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Koch-backed former ambassador Nikki Haley in the dust, according to aggregated data by FiveThirtyEight.