As Donald Trump faces growing scrutiny over his increasingly authoritarian and violent rhetoric, Fox News host Sean Hannity gave his long-time friend a chance to assure the American people that he wouldn’t abuse power or seek retribution if he wins a second term.
But instead of offering a perfunctory answer brushing off the warnings, Trump stoked the fire. “Except for day one,” the GOP front-runner said Tuesday night before a live audience in Davenport, Iowa. “I want to close the border, and I want to drill, drill, drill.” And in case anyone missed it, he re-enacted the exchange. Trump has a long history of making inflammatory proclamations that spark outrage from detractors and generate a stream of headlines, without ever coming to fruition. Trump campaign aides said Thursday that the former president was simply trying to trigger the left and the media with his dictator comment, while also seeking to focus attention on the influx of migrants at the border and stubborn inflation, two vulnerabilities for President Joe Biden heading into the 2024 general election.
But the consequences of Trump’s rhetoric have been made all too clear, after he refused to accept the results of the 2020 election and a mob of his supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop the certification of Biden’s victory. Biden and other critics have seized on Trump’s comments, painting him as a threat to democracy as they seek to turn the 2024 election into another referendum on the former president instead of Biden.