Read the Full Transcripts of Donald Trump’s Interviews With TIME

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Read our full cover story on Donald Trump here. You can also read the transcript of the interviews here and a full fact check here.

Former President Donald Trump sat down for a wide-ranging interview with TIME at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., on April 12, and a follow-up conversation by phone on April 27.

Over the course of the interviews, Trump discussed his agenda for a second term, which includes deporting millions of people, cutting the U.S. civil service, and intervening more directly in Justice Department prosecutions than his predecessors. He also discussed his thinking on other issues, including abortion, crime, trade, Ukraine, Israel, and the prospects for political violence in this election cycle.

Read More: How Far Trump Would Go

Below is a transcript, lightly edited for clarity, of the interviews between Trump and TIME National Politics Reporter Eric Cortellessa. Click here to read our fact-check.

Let’s start with Day One: January 20, 2025. You have said that you will take a suite of aggressive actions on the border and on immigration—

Donald Trump: Yes.

You have vowed to—

Trump: And on energy. 

Yes, yes. And we'll come to that, certainly. You have vowed to launch the largest deportation operation in American history. Your advisors say that includes—

Trump: Because we have no choice. I don't believe this is sustainable for a country, what's happening to us, with probably 15 million and maybe as many as 20 million by the time Biden's out. Twenty million people, many of them from jails, many of them from prisons, many of them from mental institutions. I mean, you see what's going on in Venezuela and other countries. They're becoming a lot safer.

Well, let's just talk—so you have said you're gonna do this massive deportation operation. I want to know specifically how you plan to do that.

Trump: So if you look back into the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower, he's not known for that, you know, you don't think of him that way. Because you see, Ike, but Dwight Eisenhower was very big on illegal immigration not coming into our country. And he did a massive deportation of people. He was doing it for a long time. He got very proficient at it. He was bringing them just to the other side of the border. And they would be back in the country within a matter of days. And then he started bringing them 3,000 miles away—

What’s your plan, sir? 

Trump: We will be using local law enforcement. And we will absolutely start with the criminals that are coming in. And they're coming in in numbers that we've never seen before. And we do have a new category of crime. It's called migrant crime. It's, ugh, you see it all the time. You see it in New York City where they're having fistfights with police. And far worse than that. You see it all the time. And you're seeing it in all of the cities, especially the Democratic-run cities, which is a lot of the big ones, but you're seeing it in Chicago, you're seeing it in New York and L.A. and getting worse than in other places.

Does that include using the U.S. military? 

Trump: It would. When we talk military, generally speaking, I talk National Guard. I've used the National Guard in Minneapolis. And if I didn't use it, I don't think you'd have Minneapolis standing right now, because it was really bad. But I think in terms of the National Guard. But if I thought things were getting out of control, I would have no problem using the military, per se. We have to have safety in our country. We have to have law and order in our country. And whichever gets us there, but I think the National Guard will do the job. You know, had Nancy Pelosi used the National Guard. You know, I offered them whatever they wanted, but I often—

You would use the military inland as well as at the border?

Trump: I don't think I'd have to do that. I think the National Guard would be able to do that. If they weren't able to, then I’d use the military.  You know, we have a different situation. We have millions of people now that we didn't have two years ago.

Sir, the Posse Comitatus Act says that you can't deploy the U.S. military against civilians. Would you override that?

Trump: Well, these aren’t civilians. These are people that aren't legally in our country. This is an invasion of our country. An invasion like probably no country has ever seen before. They're coming in by the millions. I believe we have 15 million now. And I think you'll have 20 million by the time this ends. And that's bigger than almost every state.

So you can see yourself using the military to address this?

Trump: I can see myself using the National Guard and, if necessary, I'd have to go a step further. We have to do whatever we have to do to stop the problem we have. Again, we have a major force that’s forming in our country, when you see that over the last three weeks, 29,000 people came in from China, and they're all fighting age, and they're mostly males. Yeah, you have to do what you have to do to stop crime and to stop what's taking place at the border.

Would that include building new migrant detention camps?

Trump: We wouldn't have to do very much of that. Because we'll be bringing them out of the country. We're not leaving them in the country. We're bringing them out. It’s been done before.

Will you build new ones?

Trump: And it was done by Obama in a form of jails, you know, prisons. And I got blamed for that for four months. And then people realized that was done by him, not by me.

So are you ruling out that you would build new migrant detention camps?

Trump: No, I would not rule out anything. But there wouldn't be that much of a need for them, because of the fact that we're going to be moving them out. We're going to bring them back from where they came.

I ask because your close aide and adviser Stephen Miller said that part of what it would take to carry out this deportation operation would include new migrant detention camps. 

Trump: It’s possible that we’ll do it to an extent but we shouldn't have to do very much of it, because we're going to be moving them out as soon as we get to it. And we'll be obviously starting with the criminal element. And we're going to be using local police because local police know them by name, by first name, second name, and third name. I mean, they know them very well. 

How are you going to get state and local police departments to participate in this? Under what authority is the President able to do that?

Trump: Well, there's a possibility that some won't want to participate, and they won't partake in the riches, you know. We have to do this. This is not a sustainable problem for our country. 

Does that mean you would create funding incentives from the federal government for state and local police departments?

Trump: It could very well be. I want to give police immunity from prosecution because the liberal groups or the progressive groups, depending on what they want to be called, somewhat liberal, somewhat progressive, but they are—they’re very strong on the fact that they want to leave everybody in, I guess, I don't know. You know, sanctuary cities are failing all over the place. And I really believe that there's a pent-up demand to end sanctuary cities by people that were in favor of sanctuary cities, because it's just not working out for the country.

So by your own telling, these are new, bold, and aggressive actions that you would take.

Trump: I don't think they're bold actions. I think they’re actions that are common sense. But I really believe, Eric, that they’re actions that—it's incredible that they've allowed so many people to come into our country, especially considering they were unchecked and unvetted, most of them. They're just pouring in. They're pouring in at levels that no country has ever seen before. It's an invasion of our country.

Well, let me put it this way: They’re new and they're certainly going to be tested in the courts. If the courts rule against you, do you commit to complying with all court orders upheld by the Supreme Court? 

Trump: I will be complying with court orders. And I'll be doing everything on a very legal basis, just as I built the wall. You know, I built a tremendous wall, which gave us great numbers. I also was willing to do far more than I said I was going to do. I was also and am willing to—they should have completed the wall. I completed what I said I was going to do, much more than I said I was going to do. But as you do it, you realize you need more wall in different locations, locations that, at one point, people thought you wouldn't be able to—you wouldn't need.

But, and—the first glimpse I found that Biden, frankly, wanted open borders, because I never believed it. It just didn't make sense. The first time I really saw that was when he didn't want to install the wall that was already built and could have been thrown up, hundreds of miles of additional work could have been thrown up in a period of three weeks. 

I want to talk about your plan to build the wall in just a second, but just to come back on that. So you commit to complying with all Supreme Court orders? All orders upheld by the Supreme Court?

Trump: Yeah, I would do that, sure. I have great respect for the Supreme Court.

So come back to the border wall for a second because in the last term, you tried to negotiate border funding with Democrats, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, and had an opportunity for $25 billion. Didn't work. Got the $1.4 billion—

Trump: But with the $25 billion things came that were unacceptable.

Codifying the DREAMER protections—

Trump: Well, a lot of other things besides that. There were a lot of bad things. Sure, they gave you money for the wall. I basically took the money from the military, as you know. I consider this an invasion of our country and I took the money from the—

So my question is, what do you plan to do in the second term? Are you going to move right away on day one to direct federal funds to continue building the wall? Are you going to aim for legislation? How do you plan to do that?

Trump: I think what we will do is we will complete—and when you say and when I say complete the wall, I built much more wall than I ever thought necessary. But as you build it, you find out that you need it. And we built it, and there were certain areas then you find out that are leaking and they leak. Like a politician leaks, they leak. And we would get that and we would build that and then you build something else. And it was just a system, we had a great system going. And we could have added another 200 miles of wall and good territory for it. Because it really does work, you know, walls work. Walls and wheels. I would say, you know, a lot of, see what you have here, your tape recorder, everything else is going to be obsolete in about six months. You'll have something that's much better. But the two things that are never obsolete are walls and wheels.

Something you said a moment ago. You said, “We want to protect police from prosecution.” What do you mean by that? 

Trump: Police have been—their authority has been taken away. If something happens with them, even if they're doing a very good job, they take away their house, they take away their pension, they take away their, I mean, essentially, they end up losing their families over it. They take away everything. They prosecute people. And we have to give the police back the power and respect that they deserve. Now, there will be some mistakes, and there are certain bad people and that's a terrible thing. But there are far more problems with what's happened now, where police are standing outside of a department store as it’s being robbed and 500 mostly young people are walking out carrying air conditioners and televisions and everything else. And the police would like to do something about it. But they're told to stand down. They said don't do it. And if you do anything about it, if you stop crime, we're going to go after your pension, your home, your family, your wife or your husband. And you know, police are being prosecuted all the time. And we want to give them immunity from prosecution if they're doing their job.

Would you try to pass a law for that through Congress? 

Trump: Excuse me. 

Would you push a bill through Congress to do that? 

Trump: We’d have to take a look at that. 

Let’s shift to the economy, sir. You have floated a 10% tariff on all imports, and a more than 60% tariff on Chinese imports. Can I just ask you now: Is that your plan?

Trump: It may be more than that. It may be a derivative of that. A derivative of that. But it will be somebody—look when they come in and they steal our jobs, and they steal our wealth, they steal our country.

When you say more than that, though: You mean maybe more than 10% on all imports?

Trump: More than 10%, yeah. I call it a ring around the country. We have a ring around the country. A reciprocal tax also, in addition to what we said. And if we do that, the numbers are staggering. I don't believe it will have much of an effect because they're making so much money off of us. I also don't believe that the costs will go up that much. And a lot of people say, “Oh, that's gonna be a tax on us.” I don't believe that. I think it's a tax on the country that's doing it. And I know. Look, I took in billions of dollars from China. Nobody else ever did anything on China. I also let people know what the threat of China was. China was going along making $500 to $600 billion a year and nobody was ever even mentioning it until I came along. What's happening in Detroit is very sad because electric cars with this EV mandate, which is ridiculous, because they don't go far. They cost too much and they're going to be made in China. They're all going to be made in China.

Mr. President, most economists—and I know not all, there isn't unanimity on this—but most economists say that tariffs increase prices. 

Trump: Yeah. 

Are you comfortable with additional inflation?

Trump: No, I've seen. I've seen—I don't believe it'll be inflation. I think it'll be lack of loss for our country. Because what will happen and what other countries do very successfully, China being a leader of it. India is very difficult to deal with. India—I get along great with Modi, but they're very difficult to deal with on trade. France is frankly very difficult on trade. Brazil is very difficult on trade. What they do is they charge you so much to go in. They say, we don't want you to send cars into Brazil or we don't want you to send cars into China or India. But if you want to build a plant inside of our country, that's okay and employ our people. And that's basically what I'm doing. And that’s—I was doing and I was doing it strongly, but it was ready to really start and then we got hit with COVID. We had to fix that problem. And we ended up handing over a higher stock market substantially than when COVID first came in. But if you look at the first few years of what we did, the numbers we had were breathtaking. There's never been an economy—

Sir, the economy was certainly humming during your first term. There's no question about it. But, you know, Moody's did say that your trade war with China cost the U.S. economy $316 billion and 300,000 jobs. [Editor’s note: The estimate of $316 billion was made by Bloomberg Economics, not Moody’s.]

Trump: Yeah. Moody’s doesn’t know what they’re talking about. We had the greatest economy in history. And Moody's acknowledges that. So how did it cost us if we had such a good economy? Everybody admits it. If we didn't do that, we would have no steel industry right now. They were dumping steel all over this country. And I put a 50% tariff on steel. It was gonna go higher. And the people that love me most are businesses, but in particular, the steel industry. They love me because I saved their industry. I've had owners of steel companies and executives of steel companies come up and start crying when they see me. They say, nobody, nobody helped us until you came along. China was dumping massive amounts of steel into our country. And we saved the steel industry.

Do you think that businesses pass along the cost of a tax to the consumer?

Trump: No, I don’t believe so. I believe that it cost the country that—I think they make less. I actually think that the country that is being taxed makes less. I don't believe—

You don't believe that businesses pass on the cost? 

Trump: No, I think what happens is you build. What happens to get out of the whole situation is you end up building, instead of having your product brought in from China, because of that additional cost, you end up making the product in the United States. And that's been traditionally what happened. If you look at what goes on. If you look at China, they don't want our cars. They charge them tremendous numbers. You look at India. India is a very good example. I get along very well with the people, representatives of India. Modi is a great guy, and he's doing what he has to do. But we had a case with Harley Davidson, I had Harley Davidson on the White House. I said, “How are you doing? How's business? Very good? Everything's good?” I said, “Just out of curiosity, how do you deal with India?” “Not Well.” Now you’ve got to remember, this is five years ago, four years ago, they said, “Not well. We can't do business with India, because they charged us such a big tariff, it was over 100%.” And at that price, you know, there's a point at which the consumer breaks and can't buy. They said, “But they will do anything for us to build a Harley Davidson plant in India. They don't want us to give motorcycles to India, but they do want us to build a plant.” I said, “Well, I'm not going to be very happy with that.” But that's ultimately what happened. They built a plant in India. And now there's no tax, and I'm saying we're doing the same thing. We're gonna build plants here. Now something that's taking place that nobody's talking about, maybe don’t know, but I have a friend who builds auto plants. That's what he does. If you ask him to build a simple apartment someplace, he wouldn't know how to do it. But he can build the plant, millions of feet, the biggest plants in the world. He's incredible. And I said to him, “I want to see one of your plants.” And he said to me, “Well, are you ready to go to Mexico? Are you ready to go to China?” I said, “No, I want to see it here.” He said, “We're not really building them here, not the big ones, the big ones are being built right now in Mexico or China.” China now is building plants in Mexico to make cars to sell into the United States. And these are the biggest plants anywhere in the world. And that's not going to happen when I'm President, because I will tariff them at 100%. Because I'm not going to allow them to steal the rest of our business. You know, Mexico has taken 31% of our auto manufacturing, auto business. And China has taken a much bigger piece than that. We have a very small percentage of that business left and then you have a poor fool like the gentleman is at the United Auto Workers who is okay with the fact that we're going to do all electric cars and it's so sad to see because the all electric cars are just not what the consumer wants.

Sir, I understand your position—

Trump: And by the way, I have no problem with all electric. I think it's great. And you can buy electric, I think it's fine. They don't go far. They have problems. They don't work in the cold. They don't work in the heat. There's a lot of problems. When I was in Iowa where they were all over. They were all over the streets. It was 40 degrees below zero the night of the Iowa caucuses.

I was there with you. 

Trump: Right. That’s right. I’ve never heard of cold weather like that. 

Just to clarify something you said a moment ago: You're considering a 100% tariff on Chinese and Mexican imports?

Trump: I didn't say that. They charge us 100%. But they charge us much more than that. India charges us more than that. Brazil charges us what—Brazil's a very big, very big tariff country. I ask people, Who are the worst to deal with? I'm not going to give that to you because I don't want to insult the countries because I actually get along with them. But you'd be surprised. The E.U. is very tough with us. They don't take our foreign products. They don't take our cars. We take Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen and BMW. They don't take our cars. If we want to sell a Chevrolet, even if we want to sell a Cadillac, a beautiful Cadillac Escalade, if we want to sell our cars into Germany, as an example, they won't take them. 

Let's come back to Europe later.

Trump: I said to Angela Merkel, “Angela, how many Chevrolets are in the middle of Berlin?” She said none. I said, “You're right about that. But we take your cars, including cars that aren't that expensive, like Volkswagen, relatively speaking.” I said, “Do you think that's fair?” She said, “Probably not, but until you came along, nobody ever mentioned it.”

Sir, you've been critical of how Israel has prosecuted its war against Hamas. In a recent interview, you said that it needed to “get it over with” and “get back to normalcy.”

Trump: Yeah.

So as President, would you consider withholding American military assistance to Israel to push it to winding down its war? 

Trump: Okay. So let me, I have to start just as I did inside. [Asks an aide to turn down the air conditioner.] I don't have to go through the whole thing. But as you know, Iran was broke. Iran is the purveyor of—

No, I know that but would you— 

Trump: No, but think of the great job I did. It would have never happened. It would have never happened. You wouldn't have had—Hamas had no money. Do you know that?

I do understand that, sir, I just want to know—

Trump: No, but I hope it can be pointed out. During my term, there were stories that Iran didn't have the money to give to any—there was very little terrorism. We had none. I had four years of—we had no terrorism. We didn't have a World Trade Center knocked down. You know, Bush used to say, “Well, we’ve been a safe country.” I said they knocked down the World Trade Center in the middle of your term. Do you remember that one during the debate? That was a good one. But it was true, very true. But we had no terror during our—and we got rid of ISIS 100%. Now they're starting to come back. 

I want to know—you said you want to get Israel to wind down the war. You said it needs to “get it over with.” How are you going to make that happen? Would you consider withholding aid?

Trump: I think that Israel has done one thing very badly: public relations. I don't think that the Israel Defense Fund or any other group should be sending out pictures every night of buildings falling down and being bombed with possibly people in those buildings every single night, which is what they do. 

So you won’t rule out withholding or conditioning aid? 

Trump: No, I—we have to be. Look, there's been no president that's done what I've done for Israel. When you look at all of the things that I've done, and it starts with the Iran nuclear deal. You know, Bibi Netanyahu begged Obama not to do that deal. I ended that deal. And if they were smart and energetic, other than trying to get Trump, they would have made a deal because they were in bad shape. They should have made a deal with Iran. They didn't prosecute that. They didn't make that deal. But I did Golan Heights.

You did. 

Trump: Nobody even thought of Golan Heights. I gave them Golan Heights. I did the embassy and in Jerusalem. Jerusalem became the capital. I built the embassy. I even built the embassy. 


Trump: And it's a beautiful embassy for a lot less money than anybody ever thought possible. And you've heard that. But there's been no president that's done what I've done in Israel. And it's interesting. The people of Israel appreciate it. I have like a 98%—I have the highest approval numbers.

Do you know who doesn’t have a high approval rating right now in Israel, though?

Trump: Bibi.

Yeah. Do you think it's time for him to go?

Trump: Well, I had a bad experience with Bibi. And it had to do with Soleimani, because as you probably know by now, he dropped out just before the attack. And I said, “What's that all about?” Because that was going to be a joint and all of a sudden, we were told that Israel was not doing it. And I was not happy about that. That was something I never forgot. And it showed me something. I would say that what happened on—the October 7 should have never happened.

It happened on his watch. 

Trump: No, it happened on his watch. And I think it's had a profound impact on him, despite everything. Because people said  that shouldn't have happened. They have the most sophisticated equipment. They had—everything was there to stop that. And a lot of people knew about it, you know, thousands and thousands of people knew about it, but Israel didn't know about it, and I think he's being blamed for that very strongly, being blamed. And now you have the hostage situation—

Has his time passed?

Trump: And I happen to think that on the hostages, knowing something about the enemy, and knowing something about people, I think you have very few hostages left. You know, they talk about all of these hostages. I don't believe these people are able or even wanting to take care of people as negotiations. I don't—I think the hostages are going to be far fewer than people think, which is a very sad thing.

You think you could work better with Benny Gantz than Netanyahu in a second term? 

Trump: I think Benny Gantz is good, but I'm not prepared to say that. I haven't spoken to him about it. But you have some very good people that I've gotten to know in Israel that could do a good job.

Do you think—

Trump: And I will say this, Bibi Netanyahu rightfully has been criticized for what took place on October 7.

Do you think an outcome of that war between Israel and Hamas should be a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians?

Trump: Most people thought it was going to be a two-state solution. I'm not sure a two-state solution anymore is gonna work. Everybody was talking about two states, even when I was there. I was saying, “What do you like here? Do you like two states?” Now people are going back to—it depends where you are. Every day it changes now. If Israel’s making progress, they don't want two states. They want everything. And if Israel's not making progress, sometimes they talk about two-state solution. Two-state solution seemed to be the idea that people liked most, the policy or the idea that people liked above. 

Do you like it? 

Trump: It depends when. There was a time when I thought two states could work. Now I think two states is going to be very, very tough. I think it's going to be much tougher to get. I also think you have fewer people that liked the idea. You had a lot of people that liked the idea four years ago. Today, you have far fewer people that like that idea.

You said–

Trump; There may not be another idea.  You know, there are people that say that that situation is one of the toughest, the toughest to settle.

Yeah, absolutely. 

Trump: Because children grow up and they're taught to hate Jewish people at a level that nobody thought was possible. And I had a friend, a very good friend, Sheldon Adelson, who felt that it was impossible to make a deal because the level of hatred was so great. And I think it was much more so on one side than the other, but the level of hatred of Jewish people was so great, and taught from the time they were in kindergarten and before.  He felt that—and he was a great dealmaker. He was a very rich man. He was a rich man because of his ability to make deals. And he loved Israel more than anything else. He loved Israel, and he wanted to protect Israel. And he felt that it was impossible to make a deal because of the level of hatred.

Do you feel that way now?

Trump: I disagreed with it. But so far, he hasn’t been wrong.

You said you're proud to be one of the first presidents in generations to have not gotten the United States into a war. You addressed this a little bit in the press conference. But if Iran and Israel got into a war, will you join in Israel side?

Trump: I have been very loyal to Israel, more loyal than any other president. I've done more for Israel than any other president. Yeah, I will protect Israel.

You came out this week and said that abortion should be left to the states and you said you won't sign a federal ban. So just to be clear: Will you veto any bill that imposes any federal restrictions on abortions? 

Trump: You don’t need a federal ban. We just got out of the federal. You know, if you go back on Roe v. Wade, Roe v. Wade was all about—it wasn't about abortion so much as bringing it back to the states. So the states would negotiate deals. Florida is going to be different from Georgia and Georgia is going to be different from other places. But that's what's happening now. It's very interesting. But remember this, every legal scholar for 53 years has said that issue is a state issue from a legal standpoint. And it's starting to work that way. And what's happened is people started getting into the 15 weeks and the five weeks or the six weeks and they started getting into, you know, time periods. And they started all of a sudden deciding what abortion was going to be. 

People want to know whether you would veto a bill, if it came to your desk, that would impose any federal restrictions. This is really important to a lot of voters. 

Trump: But you have to remember this: There will never be that chance because it won't happen. You're never going to have 60 votes. You're not going to have it for many, many years, whether it be Democrat or Republican. Right now, it’s essentially 50-50. I think we have a chance to pick up a couple, but a couple means we're at 51 or 52. We have a long way to go. So it's not gonna happen, because you won't have that. Okay. But with all of that being said, it's all about the states, it's about state rights. States’ rights. States are going to make their own determination. 

Do you think that—

Trump: And you know what? That’s taken tremendous pressure off everybody. But we—it was ill-defined. And to be honest, the Republicans, a lot of Republicans, didn't know how to talk about the issue. That issue never affected me. 

So just to be clear, then: You won't commit to vetoing the bill if there's federal restrictions—federal abortion restrictions?

Trump: I won't have to commit to it because it’ll never—number one, it’ll never happen. Number two, it’s about states’ rights. You don't want to go back into the federal government. This was all about getting out of the federal government. And this was done, Eric, because of—this was done, this issue, has been simplified greatly over the last one week. This is about and was originally about getting out of the federal government. The last thing you want to do is go back into the federal government. And the states are just working their way through it. Look at Ohio. Ohio passed something that people were a little surprised at. Kansas, I mean, places that are conservative and big Trump states, I mean, Ohio and way up Kansas, all these states, but they passed what they want to pass. It's about states rights.

I understand, sir. Your allies in the Republican Study Committee, which makes up about 80% of the GOP caucus, have included the Life at Conception Act in their 2025 budget proposal. The measure would grant full legal rights to embryos. Is that your position as well?

Trump: Say it again. What? 

The Life at Conception Act would grant full legal rights to embryos, included in their 2025 budget proposal. Is that your position?

Trump: I'm leaving everything up to the states. The states are going to be different. Some will say yes. Some will say no. Texas is different than Ohio.

Would you veto that bill? 

Trump: I don't have to do anything about vetoes, because we now have it back in the states. 


Trump: They’re gonna make those determinations. 

Do you think women should be able to get the abortion pill mifepristone? 

Trump: Well, I have an opinion on that, but I'm not going to explain. I'm not gonna say it yet. But I have pretty strong views on that. And I'll be releasing it probably over the next week.

Well, this is a big question, Mr. President, because your allies have called for enforcement of the Comstock Act, which prohibits the mailing of drugs used for abortions by mail. The Biden Department of Justice has not enforced it. Would your Department of Justice enforce it? 

Trump: I will be making a statement on that over the next 14 days. 

You will? 

Trump: Yeah, I have a big statement on that. I feel very strongly about it. I actually think it’s a very important issue. 

Got it. You think this issue should be left to the states. You've made that perfectly clear. Are you comfortable if states decide to punish women who access abortions after the procedure is banned? 

Trump: Are you talking about number of weeks? 

Yeah. Let’s say there’s a 15-week ban—

Trump: Again, that’s going to be—I don't have to be comfortable or uncomfortable. The states are going to make that decision. The states are going to have to be comfortable or uncomfortable, not me.

Do you think states should monitor women's pregnancies so they can know if they've gotten an abortion after the ban?

Trump: I think they might do that. Again, you'll have to speak to the individual states. Look, Roe v. Wade was all about bringing it back to the states. And that was a legal, as well as possibly in the hearts of some, in the minds of some, a moral decision. But it was largely a legal decision. Every legal scholar, Democrat, Republican, and other wanted that issue back at the states. You know, Roe v. Wade was always considered very bad law. Very bad. It was a very bad issue from a legal standpoint. People were amazed it lasted as long as it did. And what I was able to do is through the choice of some very good people who frankly were very courageous, the justices it turned out to be you know, the Republican—

States will decide if they're comfortable or not— 

Trump: Yeah the states— 

Prosecuting women for getting abortions after the ban. But are you comfortable with it? 

Trump: The states are going to say. It’s irrelevant whether I’m comfortable or not. It's totally irrelevant, because the states are going to make those decisions. And by the way, Texas is going to be different than Ohio. And Ohio is going to be different than Michigan. I see what's happening.

President Trump, we're here in Florida. You're a resident of Florida.

Trump: Yeah. 

How do you plan to vote in the state’s abortion referendum this November that would overturn DeSantis’s six-week ban?

Trump: Well, I said I thought six weeks is too severe. 

You did. 

Trump: You know, I've said that previously.


Trump: I think it was a semi-controversial statement when I made it, and it's become less and less controversial with time. I think Ron was hurt very badly when he did this because the people—even conservative women in Florida thought it was—

Well this referendum would undo that. Are you gonna vote for it in November? 

Trump: Well, it'll give something else. I don't tell you what I'm gonna vote for. I only tell you the state's gonna make a determination. 

Okay, sir. Violent crime is going down throughout the country. There was a 6% drop in—

Trump: I don't believe it. 

You don’t believe that?

Trump: Yeah, they’re fake numbers. 

You think so?

Trump: Well it came out last night. The FBI gave fake numbers.

I didn't see that, but the FBI said that there was a 13% drop in 2023. [Editor's note: This statistic refers specifically to homicides.]

Trump: I don’t believe it. No, it’s a lie. It’s fake news. 

Sir, these numbers are collected by state and local police departments across the country. Most of them support you. Are they wrong? 

Trump: Yeah. Last night. Well, maybe, maybe not. The FBI fudged the numbers and other people fudged numbers. There is no way that crime went down over the last year. There's no way because you have migrant crime. Are they adding migrant crime? Or do they consider that a different form of crime? 

So these local police departments are wrong? 

Trump: I don't believe it's from the local police. What I saw was the FBI was giving false numbers.

Okay. So if elected, going on to the Department of Justice. If elected, would you instruct your Attorney General to prosecute the state officials who are prosecuting you, like Alvin Bragg and Fani Willis?

Trump: Well, we're gonna look at a lot of things like they're looking. What they've done is a terrible thing. No, I don't want to do that. I was not happy looking at Clinton. I was not happy. I think it's a terrible thing. But unfortunately, what they've done is they've lifted up the lid and they've—what they've done to me is incredible. Over nothing. 

Well you said Alvin Bragg should be prosecuted. Would you instruct your Attorney General to prosecute him? 

Trump: When did I say Alvin Bragg should be prosecuted?

It was at a rally. 

Trump: I don’t think I said that, no. 

I can pull it up. 

Trump: No.

So just to be clear: You wouldn’t instruct your Attorney General to prosecute Alvin Bragg? 

Trump: We are going to have great retribution through success. We're going to make our country successful again. Our retribution is going to be through success of our country.

Would you fire a U.S. attorney who didn't prosecute someone you ordered him to? Him or her?

Trump: It depends on the situation, honestly. 

So you might? 

Trump: It would depend on the situation. Yeah.

Okay, so sir, you said that you would appoint a real special prosecutor to go after Biden and his family—

Trump: Well, it depends what happens with the Supreme Court. Look, a president should have immunity. That includes Biden. If they've ruled that they don't have immunity, Biden, probably nothing to do with me, he would be prosecuted for 20 different acts, because he's created such. You take a look at not only his criminal acts of taking a lot of money and being a Manchurian Candidate. Look at what happened in Afghanistan. Look at what happened throughout the world. Look at what happened with him allowing Russia to do that with Ukraine. That would have never happened with me, and it didn't happen. And I knew Putin very well.

President Trump, isn’t going after your political opponents what they do in a banana republic?

Trump: That’s what’s happening now. Yeah.

Well okay—

Trump: No, no, no, no. Eric, that’s what’s happening now. I’ve got to be on Monday—in fact, we’re doing this today because Monday was a little bit tougher, because I have to be in a criminal court on Monday. 

That’s right.

Trump: Over a non-criminal case. It's not even a criminal case. And it's like I said, if you go to Andy McCarthy, or if you go to Jonathan Turley, two real experts, or if you go to all the legal scholars that wrote, they say, this isn't even a criminal case. And I have a judge who's more conflicted than any judge anyone's ever seen. And he's a mean guy who hates Trump. And you take a look at what's going on there. You just asked me, you know, you're talking about—you just asked me a question and they're doing that to me!

Well, sir, just to be clear—

Trump: Wait a minute, I haven't had a chance to do it to them. I would be inclined not to do it. I don't want to do it to them. But a lot of that's going to have to do with the Supreme Court. Look, we are going in another two weeks to the Supreme Court. And they're going to make a ruling on presidential immunity. If they said that a president doesn't get immunity, then Biden, I am sure, will be prosecuted for all of his crimes, because he's committed many crimes. If they say, on the other hand, that a president has immunity, and I happen to think a president has to have immunity, because otherwise it's going to be just a ceremonial position. But Biden has done so many things so badly. And I'm not even talking the overt crime. I'm talking about the border, allowing all of the death and destruction at the border—


Trump: Allowing all of this stuff. If a president doesn't have immunity. So when you asked me that question, it depends on what the Supreme Court does. 

Well on that question, your lawyer, John Sauer, argued in court recently that if you as President ordered a Navy SEAL team to assassinate a political rival, you shouldn’t be prosecuted. Do you agree with your lawyer? 

Trump: Well, I understood it differently.  I thought it was a political rival from another country. I think I understood it differently, and I'm not sure. And John Sauer also said that first you go through an impeachment and then you make that determination based on impeachment. But a president, if you don't don't have immunity from prosecution, fairly strong immunity from prosecution. Now, if you do something just overtly very bad and very stupid, that's a different situation. That may be one of those cases.

Gotcha. So just to come back to something you were saying a moment ago, I just want to say for the record, there's no evidence that President Biden directed this prosecution against you. But even if we—

Trump: Oh sure there is. 

Well, even if we stipulated that—

Trump: I always hate the way a reporter will make those statements. They know it’s so wrong. It’s just sort of to protect yourself. But no, no. His head of the Justice Department, one of the top few people, was put into the DOJ. Fani, Mr. Wade, Fani’s lover, spent hours in Washington with the DOJ working on my case. The DOJ worked with Leticia James on my case. The DOJ worked with deranged Jack Smith. He's a deranged person on my case. No, no, this is all Biden—

But the question, though—

Trump: And by the way, let me go a step further. 


Trump: On my case with a woman that I never—that I have no idea who she is, until she made a phone call. “Do you know her?” And I said, “This is something that's a figment of her imagination.”

You’re talking about E. Jean Carroll? 

Trump: Then I got sued. Until that, I had no idea who this woman was, I have no, I had nothing to do with this woman. That was done by a political lawyer in front of a highly, in my opinion, a totally inappropriate judge, who was conflicted for a lot of reasons, who wouldn't allow us to put in evidence, he was so bad, he was so evil. But I've had three of those judges in New York now, three of them. That's all I get. And it's a very unfair situation. They've gone after me, it's called election interference. But it's even beyond election interference, what they've done, and they've never seen, and I sort of, it's amazing when you say that Biden knew nothing. Biden knew everything. Just like, he knew nothing about Tucker's business and his business.

Even if we stipulate that, do two wrongs make a right?

Trump: No, I don't, I wouldn't want to, I wouldn't want to do anything having to do with. I wouldn't want to hurt Biden. I'm not looking to hurt Biden. I wouldn't want to hurt him. I have too much respect for the office. But he is willing to hurt a former President who is very popular, who got 75 million votes. I got more votes than any other sitting president in history. And I have probably eight cases right now that are all inspired by them, including my civil case.


Jason Miller: Eric, the President has his dinner in about 15 minutes. So he has a few more minutes here. 

Trump: Are you staying? Are you going to have dinner with everybody?

Yeah, yeah. We only have 15 minutes left? 

Trump: Yeah, his dinner is at 7:15. 

In that case, let’s just do some rapid-fire questions. 

Trump: All right. Do you think you could do this interview with Biden? 

You know, he didn’t say yes. So I’m grateful that you’re giving me the opportunity. 

Trump: He will never say yes, cause he’s off. He’s off, way off. 

Let's take a second to talk about January 6. You have called the men and women who have been prosecuted for their actions on January 6 “hostages” and “political prisoners.” More than 800 of these people have been sentenced through our judicial system, most of whom pleaded guilty. Some of them have been convicted by juries. You've said you will pardon them. Are you calling into question the conclusions of the justice system in more than 800 cases? 

Trump: It’s a two-tier system. Because when I look at Portland, when I look at Minneapolis, where they took over police precincts and everything else, and went after federal buildings, when I look at other situations that were violent, and where people were killed, nothing happened to them. Nothing happened to them. I think it's a two-tier system of justice. I think it's a very, very sad thing. And whether you like it or not, nobody died other than Ashli.

Will you consider pardoning every one of them? 

Trump: I would consider that, yes. 

You would? 

Trump: Yes, absolutely.

All right, so—

Trump: If somebody was evil and bad, I would look at that differently. But many of those people went in, many of those people were ushered in. You see it on tape, the police are ushering them in. They’re walking with the police. 

I want to ask you another question on this. There are some former allies and staff who don't support you in this election and have cited your attempts to overturn the 2020 election. What would you say to voters who like your policies, but who believe that someone who attacked a cornerstone of democracy—the peaceful transfer of power—cannot be entrusted to preserve it?

Trump: Well, actually, I did the opposite of attack. I'm the one that tried to stop it. I offered 10,000 soldiers and Nancy Pelosi turned me down. So did the mayor of Washington, she turned me down in writing.

What would you say to those voters, though?

Trump: That I offered. Number one, I made a speech that was peaceful and patriotic that nobody reports. Nobody talks about it: peacefully and patriotically. Nobody talks. You know, the committee never used those words. They refused to allow those words. Number two, I had like five tweets that were, go home, blah, blah. I got canceled because of those tweets.


Trump: No, I got canceled because of those tweets. I didn't get canceled because of bad things I said. I got canceled because of good things I said. Because when you read my tweets, and when you see the speech that I made, and when you see the statement that I made in the Oval Office in the Rose Garden, during this very dramatic and horrible period, I'm a very innocent man. Nancy Pelosi is responsible, because she refused to take the 10,000 soldiers or National Guardsmen that I offered. She refused to take them. The mayor of Washington refused to take them too. And they're responsible, you know, for the Capital. 

Speaking of this, looking forward—

Trump: One other thing they did that’s so horrible and the press refuses to talk about it. They destroyed all evidence.

Are you worried about political violence in connection with this November's election? 

Trump: No. I don't think you’ll have political violence. 

You don’t expect anything? 

Trump: I think we're gonna have a big victory. And I think there will be no violence. 

Mr. President, you've talked a lot about your plan to obliterate the deep state. What exactly does that mean?

Trump: It means we want to get rid of bad people, people that have not done a good job in government. And we look at people like a company would look at people. You know, when you buy a company, you go in and you look at, how do you like the job? Job performance. They have job performance standards.  And yeah, we would like to get rid of people that haven't done a good job. And there are plenty of them. 

How do you plan to do that? Your team is preparing to give you the power through Schedule F, which would allow you to fire civil servants. 

Trump: We’re looking at a lot of different things. Civil service is both very good and very bad. You have some people that are protected that shouldn’t be protected. And you have some people you almost want to protect because they do such a good job. I know a lot of people that are in civil service and they’re outstanding people.

Would you hire anyone who believes Joe Biden won the 2020 election?

Trump: I have no doubt that what we said was fact. The press, the fake news media, doesn't want to talk about it. You know, I have a lawsuit against the Pulitzer Foundation over the Russia, Russia, Russia hoax, because they talked about it for two and a half years and it turned out to be a total scam. And then certain writers got Nobel Prizes—

The RNC is holding litmus tests on employees, asking if they believe the election was stolen or not. Would you do the same? [Editor's Note: While the RNC is reportedly asking job applicants this question, it has denied it is a litmus test for employment.]

Trump: I wouldn’t feel good about it, because I think anybody that doesn't see that that election was stolen. It just—you look at the proof. It's so vast, state legislatures where they didn't go through the legislature. They had to go through the legislature. You look at it, it’s so vast, all of the different things. I could give you report after report on state after state of all of the fraud that was committed in the election, and if you had a really open mind, you would say I was right.

I want to get to your policies on Russia and Ukraine in a second, but President Trump, we just passed the one-year anniversary of Evan Gerskovich’s detainment in Russia. Why haven't you called for his release?

Trump: I guess because I have so many things I'm working on. I have hundreds of things. And I probably have said very good things about him. Maybe it wasn't reported. But I think he's a very brave young man.

Will you do it now? 

Trump: You’re talking about Wall Street Journal


Trump: Oh, I would certainly call. I’ll call for it right now in your story if you'd like.


Trump: But I do have. I do have many, many things. And here's a difference between me and Biden: I'll get him released. He'll be released. Putin is going to release him. 

Can we talk about—

Trump: I think Biden has dealt with Putin very poorly. Putin should never have gone into Ukraine. And he didn't go in for four years with me. I get along very well with Putin, but the reporter should be released and he will be released. I don't know if he's going to be released under Biden. 

But you would try to get him released as President? 

Trump: Yeah, I would get him released. Yes.

You said that Russia—

Trump: I’m surprised that Biden. Well, I'm not surprised with anything with Biden. But I think it's a terrible precedent. And I'm very surprised that he hasn't been released, but I will get him released, if he's not released by the time we get to office.

Sir, you have said that you're willing to let Russia “do whatever the hell they want” to NATO countries that don't spend enough on their defense. If Putin attacked a NATO state that you believe was not spending enough on their defense, would the U.S. come to that country's assistance? 

Trump: Yeah, when I said that, I said it with great meaning, because I want them to pay. I want them to pay up. That was said as a point of negotiation. I said, Look, if you're not going to pay, then you're on your own. And I mean that. And the question was asked to me: If we don't pay? It was asked to me long before this event. Do you know that, after I said that, do you know that billions of dollars poured into NATO? Do you know that? 

I know that, sir. Secretary General Stoltenberg gave you credit for that. He said that your threat to pull out of NATO—

Trump: Correct.

Led to the allied countries giving $100 billion more on their defense. 

Trump: Both then and three years before. Do you know that NATO—the cupboards were bare. They had no cash, they were dying, we were spending almost 100% of the money on NATO. We were protecting Europe. And they weren't even paying.

The question, though, is would you—

Trump: Eight. Only eight countries were paying. The rest of them were delinquent. And I said to them, if you don't pay, enjoy yourselves, but we're not going to protect you. I said it again a few weeks ago, two months ago, I said it again. And I said it, that if you don't pay. Look, that's the way you talk as a negotiator. I'm negotiating because I want them to pay. I want Europe to pay. I want nothing bad to happen to Europe, I love Europe, I love the people of Europe, I have a great relationship with Europe. But they've taken advantage of us, both on NATO and on Ukraine. We're in for billions of dollars more than they're in in Ukraine. It shouldn't be that way. It should be the opposite way. Because they're much more greatly affected. We have an ocean in between us. They don't. And when I say things like that, that’s said as a point of negotiation, and I did a very good job because billions of dollars came in recently.

You said in 2016 in an interview, you said “in order to get reform, you have to be willing to walk away.” 

Trump: I said, for instance, the question was asked when we had a very big meeting, rather secret, but the press knew about it. We had 28 countries at that time. And a gentleman stood up who happened to be the head of a very important country. And he said, “Are you saying”— because I said to him, “You guys aren't paying your bills, we're paying your bills. It's not fair. You're hurting us on trade. And then on top of it, we're defending you. We're spending most of the money on NATO with the United States.” I said it's not fair. And the man stood up and said, “Are you saying that if we aren't paying our bills, if we don't pay our bills, and Russia attacks us, are you saying that you will not protect us?” I said that's exactly what I'm saying. 

Now, after I said that, billions of dollars poured in. It was like magic. Obama never said that. Obama would go give a speech and he’d leave. Bush would go give his speech and he’d leave. I went, I looked at the numbers, and I said, wait a minute, the United States is paying for NATO. We're paying for close to 100% of NATO. 

So the question, though, sir—

Trump: And not being treated right, because we're being treated very badly by most of the same countries on trade.

So you want to renegotiate the terms of the treaty, it sounds like. Do you want to—

Trump: No, I just want them to pay their bills. I don't have to renegotiate it. It's like Biden. Biden has the right to close up the border right now. He doesn't need anything from Congress. Same thing with NATO. I don't need to renegotiate the terms of the treaty. All I need to do is have them pay their bills. They don't pay their bills.

Do you want to maintain 80 years of American leadership in defending the West, especially Europe, or do you want to change the architecture of the post-war world that has kept us out of a World War for the last 80 years? 

Trump: I want them to pay their bills. Very simple. NATO is fine. See, the problem I have with NATO is, I don't think that NATO would come to our defense if we had a problem. 

You don't?

Trump: No, I don't believe that. I know them all. It's a one-way street, even if they paid. I want them to pay. But I believe if we were attacked, NATO wouldn't be there. Many of the countries in NATO would not be there.

Would you continue to provide military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine?

Trump: I’m going to try and help Ukraine but Europe has to get there also and do their job. They're not doing their job. Europe is not paying their fair share.

Orban says he came here and met with you, and said that you wouldn’t give a penny. Is he wrong? 

Trump: No, I said I wouldn't give unless Europe starts equalizing. They have to come. Europe has to pay. We are in for so much more than the European nations. It's very unfair to us. And I said if Europe isn't going to pay, who are gravely more affected than we are. If Europe is not going to pay, why should we pay? 

So you may not aid Ukraine? 

Trump: Look, we get hurt on trade. We get hurt on trade. European Union is brutal to us on trade. We went over it, the cars, they don't want our agriculture. They don't want our cars. They don't want anything from us. It's like a one-way street. Well it’s the same thing with NATO. They treat us very badly. They don't pay their bills. Now, I came along and they start paying their bills. I'll tell you something, Secretary Stoltenberg said, and I hope he says it now, but he certainly said it then loud and clear, he has never seen any force like Trump. Because every president would come over, they'd make a speech and they'd leave. Trump came over and he got us billions and billions of dollars. I got them hundreds of billions of dollars from countries that were delinquent. And he was my biggest fan. I hope he still is, but I don't know that he is, you know, maybe he is, maybe he is. But even this recent go-round, right, because you're asking me a question. There are two parts of that question. One is, four years ago, and one is now. I did a hell of a job getting money for NATO because nobody else—NATO had no money. NATO couldn't have even prosecuted what they're doing right now. They had no money. All they were doing was building stupid office buildings. They built a $3 billion office building.


Miller: Eric, Eric, I gotta wrap because his dinner is coming up. 

Can we just do the rapid fire then, because—

Miller: Eric, I literally have three minutes until this dinner starts.

Okay, you said—

Trump: By the way, you understand what I just said?  

Yeah, yeah.

Trump: He spent $3 billion by the same architect—

Let’s just go through this rapid fire because of the time. 

Trump: But you understand?

I do. I do, Mr. President. You said you only want to be dictator for a day. What did you mean by that?

Trump: That was said sarcastically as a joke on Sean Hannity. He said, “Do you want to be a dictator?” I said, “Only for one day. I want to close up the border and I want to drill, baby, drill.” Then I said, “After that, then I never want to be a dictator.” That was done. That was said sarcastically. That was meant as a joke. Everybody knows that. 

Do you see why—okay, you say you were joking, but do you see why—

Trump: No, no, wait. If you read it, it was a joke. I wanted to be for one day. You know why? Because we have an incompetent fool that’s allowing people to come into our country. We have an incompetent fool that drove energy prices so high over such a short period of time. And by the way, you know, he's gone to a lot of my policies now. But the day after the election, if they win, there won't be any more oil.

Do you see why so many Americans see language like that, you know, dictator for a day, suspending the Constitution—

Trump: I think a lot of people like it.

But you see why they see that as contrary to our most cherished democratic principles?

Trump: No. I think the press does. Not because they don’t understand it. They understand it as well as you do, as well as anybody does. That was said in fun, in jest, sarcastically.

Only four—

Trump: It’s like “Russia, if you’re listening.” Remember “Russia, if you’re listening”? 


Trump: That was said in the exact same vein. “Russia, if you're listening.” Everybody knows that was said sarcastically. But they cut off the laughter. You know, they cut it off immediately. As soon as it was—immediately, it was cut off. But that was said, sarcastically, a joke, it was in jest. This is the same thing. I said, “I want to be dictator for one day, I want to close up the border. And I want to drill, baby, drill.” And then I said, “After that, I don't want to be a dictator.” Now— 

You did. 

Trump: I did. But nobody reports that.

Well, we have a chance to have a good conversation and get the full truth here, which is what I’m trying to do. 

Trump: But you understand what I mean. 

I know what you mean.

Trump: I hope you report it. Because that was said. 

I’m giving you a chance to respond. 

Trump: Good. That was also said, Eric, with a smile. I'm laughing. And Sean Hannity, it was a question that he asked me. 

It scares people, though, sir. It scares people. 

Trump: I don't understand why it would. Everybody. Anybody that saw it would say I was laughing. He was laughing. The whole place was laughing. You know, it was a town hall? 

I saw it. 

Trump: And the town hall, they were laughing like hell. That was said in jest.

Only four of the 44 people who served in your cabinet the last time are endorsing you in this election. [Editor’s note: Roughly half a dozen Trump cabinet members had endorsed him at the time of this interview.] A number, as you know, have come out and said they won't support you in this election. 

Trump: I don’t know. Like who? I’ve gotten many. I got Mnuchin!

Your former chiefs of staff, your former secretary of defense—

Trump; Well, I don’t know. Look, I mean—

The question, though, is why should voters—

Trump: Well, wait. Even this week, Mnuchin endorsed me. Pompeo endorsed me. Who are the people that? I mean, some didn’t because I didn't think they were very good. Look, when people think you don't like them and you're not going to bring them back. I'm not going to bring many of those people back. I had some great people. I had some bad people. When they think they are not in favor and they're not coming back, they're not inclined to endorse. 

Well, the question I have to ask you, sir, is why should voters trust you? 

Trump: I’ve had a lot of people endorse me. 

You’ve gotten a lot of—

Miller: I’ll send him the full list.

You’ve gotten a lot of endorsements. I don’t dispute that. But the question I have to ask—

Trump: No, I mean that. I’ve had a lot of people endorse me from cabinets. Now, I have to tell you this, I haven’t asked for a lot of endorsements. 

They come to you know. I know, sir. 

Trump: If I call up 95% of those people that you say, if I made one phone call, they’d be endorsing me in two minutes. 

The question I have to ask you is: Why should voters trust you when so many of the people who watched you the most closely in the first term don't think you should serve a second?

Trump: Well, they don't because I didn't like them. Some of those people I fired. Bill Barr, I fired Bill Barr. I didn't want him. Other people. I thought he did a terrible job. As soon as he was going to be impeached, he was going to be impeached by the Democrats, he totally folded. Bolton was a fool. He was a stupid fool. But actually, he served a good purpose because he's a nutjob. And every time he walked into a room, people thought you were going to war. He's one of the people, one of the many people, that convinced Bush to go into the Middle East, blow the place up and end up with a whole destroyed world. And nothing. What did anybody get out of it? We blew up the Middle East. And nobody got anything out of it. That was one of the Bolton people. You could go past. You could give me every single person you're talking about. And I would tell you a reason why I wouldn't want their endorsement. Now I had great people like, you know, I rebuilt the military.

Miller: The president's late for his dinner. 

Biden doesn’t have any cabinet members who have come out against him. 

Trump: Because Biden’s a very different kind of a guy than me. He keeps bad people. For instance, when you had Afghanistan, he kept Milley. Milley should have been fired immediately. Milley should have been fired based on his statement to China. If he actually made those statements, that's a very serious thing. You know, the statement to China, if he actually made them, and I guess he did, because they're on tape. That is really a serious problem. But he should have been fired for that. Other people should have been. Many people should have been fired. I did fire people, I fired a lot of people. Now I let them quit because ,you know, I have a heart. I don't want to embarrass anybody. But almost every one of those people were fired by me. 

You could look at the military people. I said, “Hand me a letter, general, hand me a letter,” every one of them. So they handed me a letter. I don't think I’ll do that again. I think, from now on, I’ll fire. You know why? Because they say that they quit. They didn't quit. I said, “Hand me a letter.” That's a gentleman's thing to do. “General, hand me a letter.” I took care of ISIS. I had people saying it would take five years. I did it in a very short period of time. We have a great military, if you look at our military, I have great support from our military, from the real people, from the real generals, not the television generals. But I could ask for endorsements from 90 to 95% of the people that you're telling me. Every one of them would give me an endorsement.

Would you—

Miller: Eric, Eric, I do have to get the president to his dinner. I’m sorry. 

Both the Heritage Foundation's Project 25 and the American Conservative magazine, they're a big supporter of yours, have proposed abolishing the 22nd amendment that limits presidents to two terms. They say that, you know, if you come back into office, you will have served two non-consecutive terms, and that if the popular will is there for you, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to—[Editor's note: The proposal came from the American Conservative, not Project 25.]

Trump: I didn't know they did that.

Well, would you definitely retire after a second term, or would you consider challenging the 22nd amendment?

Trump: Well, I would, and I don't really have a choice, but I would.

You would consider it?

Trump: I’m at a point where I would, I  think, you know, I would do that. Look, it’s two terms. I had two elections. I did much better on the second one than I did the first. I got millions more votes. I was treated very unfairly. They used COVID to cheat and lots of other things to cheat. But I was treated very unfairly. But no, I'm going to serve one term, I'm gonna do a great job. We're gonna have a very successful country again—

But you’d consider it? 

Trump: And then I'm gonna leave.

You’d consider it, you said. 

Trump: Consider what? 

Challenging the 22nd amendment. 

Trump: I don't know anything about it. I mean, you're telling me now that somebody's looking to terminate. I wouldn't be in favor of it. I wouldn't be in favor of a challenge. Not for me. I wouldn't be in favor of it at all. I intend to serve four years and do a great job. And I want to bring our country back. I want to put it back on the right track. Our country is going down. We're a failing nation right now. We're a nation in turmoil.  

Miller: Eric, we’re way past—the President’s gotta get to his dinner. I’m sorry. 

Is there anything we didn’t talk about that you wanna talk about before they—

Trump: No.

Any question that I didn’t ask you that I should have? 

Trump: No, I thought it was a good interview, actually. 

Well, I really appreciate—

Trump: I mean, if it’s written fairly, it’s a good interview. 

I had so many more questions I’d love to ask you. 

Trump: And I find them to be very interesting questions. 

I just try to ask good, probing questions. I have a lot more I’d love to talk about.

Trump: All I ask is one thing: Treat it fairly.  

I will, sir. 

Trump: I will say this, let me just say this. Everybody wants to work for me. And a lot of people say, “Oh, would he work for me? Oh, would he be a Vice President? Would he accept?” Vice President? I’ve got everybody in the nation calling me begging me to be vice president. I have everybody calling me wanting to be in the cabinet. Everybody wants to work for me. Everybody. And the practice of saying, “General, give me a letter” or “somebody give me a letter,” that's a nice thing to do. I don't think I'll do it anymore. But that's a nice thing to do. But everybody wants to work for me. We're gonna have a very successful administration. And the advantage I have now is I know everybody. I know people. I know the good, the bad, the stupid, the smart. I know everybody. When I first got to Washington, I knew very few people. I had to rely on people. And some of those people gave me very good advice.

People close to you tell me you’re more skeptical now—

Trump: Of what?

Of people betraying you in Washington? 

Trump: I'm not more skeptical. I know the way nature—that's the way nature works. And I run a tough operation and some people can't take it. You know, working for Biden is very easy. He never fires anybody. He should fire everybody having to do with Afghanistan. He should fire everybody having to do with the border. I would have fired everybody and it would have been a big story. 

Miller: Eric, he’s 10 minutes late for his dinner.

All right, all right. I don’t mean to be rude.

Trump: No, I find it very interesting. 

Thank you, sir.

Trump: Thank you very much.

Follow-up Phone Interview With Trump

Two weeks after the Mar-a-Lago interview, TIME conducted a 20-minute phone interview with Trump on April 27. Below is a lightly edited transcript of that conversation.

Last time we spoke, you said you had an announcement coming over the next two weeks regarding your policy on the abortion pill mifepristone. You haven't made an announcement yet. Would you like to do so now?

Trump: No, I haven’t. I’ll be doing it over the next week or two. But I don't think it will be shocking, frankly. But I'll be doing it over the next week or two. We’re for helping women, Eric. I am for helping women. You probably saw that the IVF came out very well. And, you know, I set a policy on it, and the Republicans immediately adopted the policy. 

That’s true. 

Trump: And that was a good policy for women. You know, it's about helping women, not hurting women. And so IVF is now, I think, really part of what we do. And that was important. I think that might have been right around the time of our interview. But in terms of the finalization—and you saw that Alabama and other states have now passed legislation to approve that.

Right, right. And of course there was the law in Arizona that was passed since then too. 

Trump: Right.

Mr. President, for the first time ever, Iran recently launched a massive attack against Israel from its own territory. 

Trump: Right.

If Israel and Iran get into a war, should the U.S. support Israel in striking Iran militarily?

Trump: Yes, if a situation like occurred. A lot of people say it was a ceremonial, it was a ceremonial attack. Because they allowed everybody to know what happened, et cetera, et cetera. If that’s the case, it would be a good thing, not a bad thing. But a lot of people say that that attack was, you know, I mean, everybody knew about it. I heard about it long before the attack was made, and so did many others. So it would depend, obviously, but the answer is yes. If they attack Israel, yes, we would be there. 

Gotcha. Well, on that front, right now there are campus protests across the country, as you know, against Israel and against Israel's war in Gaza and against the United States’ posture there. 

Trump: Right. 

Your former Secretary of Defense says you once suggested shooting protesters in the leg during the Black Lives Matter—

Trump: Yeah, which Secretary of Defense was that? 

That was Esper.

Trump: Well, he was my worst Secretary of Defense. He was a weak, ineffective person. He was recommended by some RINOs that I don't have too much respect for. But I was, you know, I was not there very long. So I had to rely on people. No, he was a very ineffective Secretary of Defense. No, but I would, are you talking about in the case of colleges, or what are you talking about?

I was just going to ask, would you use the American military against protesters as President?

Trump: Well, I would use certainly the National Guard, if the police were unable to stop. I would absolutely use the National Guard. It would be something, I mean, if you look at what happened in Washington with monuments, I passed the law. I took an old law, brought it into effect that you get a minimum of 10 years without any adjustment if you do anything to desecrate a monument and everything was immediately set up. I didn’t have to use very much. That was having to do with the monuments. That was the monument period, where they liked to rip down monuments.

And I signed into effect a law that gives you 10 years, not one day less than 10 years of prison if you desecrate a monument. You know, that was very effective. I don’t know, I think you saw it, everything stopped after that. 

I remember that period, sir.  So you would rule out using the military on protesters?

Trump: Well, I would use the National Guard. I don't think you'd ever have to use much more than that.

So you have spoken a lot about “woke-ism” on college campuses. Polls show a majority of your supporters have expressed the belief that anti-white racism now represents a greater problem in the country than anti-Black racism. Do you agree?

Trump: Oh, I think that there is a lot to be said about that. If you look at the Biden Administration, they're sort of against anybody depending on certain views. They're against Catholics. They're against a lot of different people. They actually don't even know what they're against, but they're against a lot. But no, I think there is a definite anti-white feeling in this country and that can't be allowed either.

How would you address that as President? 

Trump: I don't think it would be a very tough thing to address, frankly. But I think the laws are very unfair right now. And education is being very unfair, and it's being stifled. But I don't think it's going to be a big problem at all. But if you look right now, there's absolutely a bias against white and that's a problem. 

I want to get to your thoughts on China. Do you think the U.S. should defend Taiwan if China invades?

Trump: Well, I’ve been asked this question many times and I always refuse to answer it because I don't want to reveal my cards to a wonderful reporter like you. But no. China knows my answer very well. But they have to understand that things like that can’t come easy. But I will say that I have never publicly stated although I want to, because I wouldn’t want to give away any negotiating abilities by giving information like that to any reporter.

I understand your position there—

Trump: It puts you in a very bad position if you actually come out and make a statement one way or the other. 

I understand, sir. Taiwan's foreign minister said U.S. aid for Ukraine was critical for deterring China from attacking Taiwan. Do you agree with that?

Trump: Well, I think they think the concept, because they have the same concept. Are we going to be helping them the same as we helped Ukraine? So they would want to think that, they think if you’re not helping Ukraine, you’re most likely not going to be helping them. So I think it’s difficult from their standpoint in terms of the policy. That’s a policy of the United States. It’s to help various countries that are in trouble.

You said you would back Israel if it goes to war with Iran. Do you think the U.S. can keep troops in the Middle East and contain the expansionist goals of Russia and China at the same time, or would we need to withdraw troops to realistically manage our obligations overseas?

Trump: I think we have a lot of options. And I think we’re in a lot of places where we shouldn't be, and we probably aren't in some places where we should be. We have a lot of options as to troops. And one of the things we have, we can manage our expectations, troops can be put in certain locations very quickly. 

Would you withdraw troops from South Korea? 

Trump: Well, I want South Korea to treat us properly. As you know, I got them to—I had negotiations, because they were paying virtually nothing for 40,000 troops that we had there. We have 40,000 troops, and in a somewhat precarious position, to put it mildly, because right next door happens to be a man I got along with very well, but a man who nevertheless, he’s got visions of things.

And we have 40,000 troops that are in a precarious position. And I told South Korea that it's time that you step up and pay. They’ve become a very wealthy country. We've essentially paid for much of their military, free of charge. And they agreed to pay billions of dollars. And now probably now that I’m gone, they're paying very little. I don't know if you know that they renegotiated the deal I made. And they're paying very little. But they paid us billions, many billions of dollars, for us having troops there. From what I’m hearing, they were able to renegotiate with the Biden Administration and bring that number way, way down to what it was before, which was almost nothing.

Gotcha. President Trump, you have been—

Trump: Which doesn’t make any sense, Eric. Why would we defend somebody? And we’re talking about a very wealthy country. But they're a very wealthy country and why wouldn't they want to pay? They were actually, they were a pleasure to deal with. Not easy initially, but ultimately, they became a pleasure to deal with. And they agreed to pay billions dollars to the United States for our military being there. Billions, many billions. 

President Trump, you have been the leader of the world's most powerful democracy and you have dealt with the leaders of authoritarian countries. Why is democracy better than dictatorship?

Trump: Well, it's because the word freedom. You have freedom. And you have all of the advantages with none of the disadvantages. You have freedom if you have a real democracy. I think we’re becoming less of a democracy when I look at the weaponization of the Justice Department, the FBI. When you look at what happened with FISA. When you look at all the things that have happened, we’re becoming less and less of a democracy. But with democracy, if it's a properly-run democracy, which it will be, if and when I get back into office, it’ll be a very proper democracy, not like what we have right now. I don't even think what we have right now is, where a presidential candidate has to spend eight hours a day in court instead of campaigning over nothing. Over zero. Over nonsense. And all speared and all spread out and—and really done by the Biden administration. And I think that's no longer democracy. I think that's third-world country stuff.

I want to get you to respond to one other thing you said that stirred some controversy. You once wrote on Truth Social that you might have to terminate parts of the Constitution. What did you mean by that?

Trump: I never said that at all. I never said that at all. When I talk about certain things, we are, there is nothing more important than our Constitution. But the Democrats have violated our Constitution with crooked elections and many other things. They violated it by using the FBI and the DOJ to go after people very unfairly, very unconstitutionally. I have a judge that gave me a gag order, where I'm the leading candidate, I'm leading Biden. I'm the Republican candidate who's substantially leading Biden. I don't know if you've seen the recent polls, Eric. But in fact, if you would, we will send them to you. Jason, if you could send them to Eric, it would be great.

Jason Miller: Yes, sir. 

Trump: But we're substantially leading in all of the swing states and overall, and you know, I’m in a court case. A Biden-inspired court case, where the judge has put a gag order on me where I'm not allowed to answer many very important questions. And so that's a violation of our Constitution. And I would end those violations of Constitution. So that's what I was referring to. They have broken the Constitution. They have gotten very far astray from our Constitution. I'm talking about the fascists and the people in our government right now, because I consider them, you know, we talk about the enemy from within. I think the enemy from within, in many cases, is much more dangerous for our country than the outside enemies of China, Russia, and various others that would be called enemies depending on who the president is, frankly.

President Trump—

Trump: Because if you have the proper president, you'll be able to handle them very smartly, and everybody will be very satisfied. But if you don't have the proper president, I agree they would be strong enemies. But the enemy from within is a bigger danger to this country than the outside enemy, on the basis of having a president that knows what he's doing. Because if a President is good, solid, the proper person, and you're not gonna have a big problem with China, Russia or others, but you still have a problem from the sick people inside our country. 

Mr. President, in our last conversation you said you weren't worried about political violence in connection with the November election. You said, “I think we're going to win and there won't be violence.” What if you don't win, sir?

Trump: Well, I do think we're gonna win. We're way ahead. I don't think they'll be able to do the things that they did the last time, which were horrible. Absolutely horrible. So many, so many different things they did, which were in total violation of what was supposed to be happening. And you know that and everybody knows that. We can recite them, go down a list that would be an arm’s long. But I don't think we're going to have that. I think we're going to win. And if we don't win, you know, it depends. It always depends on the fairness of an election. I don't believe they'll be able to do the things that they did the last time. I don't think they'll be able to get away with it. And if that's the case, we're gonna win in record-setting fashion.

One last question, Mr. President, because I know that your time is limited, and I appreciate your generosity. We have just reached the four-year anniversary of the COVID pandemic. One of your historic accomplishments was Operation Warp Speed. If we were to have another pandemic, would you take the same actions to manufacture and distribute a vaccine and get it in the arms of Americans as quickly as possible?

Trump: I did a phenomenal job. I appreciate the way you worded that question. So I have a very important Democrat friend, who probably votes for me, but I'm not 100% sure, because he's a serious Democrat, and he asked me about it. He said Operation Warp Speed was one of the greatest achievements in the history of government. What you did was incredible, the speed of it, and the, you know, it was supposed to take anywhere from five to 12 years, the whole thing. Not only that: the ventilators, the therapeutics, Regeneron and other things. I mean Regeneron was incredible. But therapeutics—everything. The overall—Operation Warp Speed, and you never talk about it. Democrats talk about it as if it’s the greatest achievement. So I don’t talk about it. I let others talk about it. 

You know, you have strong opinions both ways on the vaccines. It's interesting. The Democrats love the vaccine. The Democrats. Only reason I don’t take credit for it. The Republicans, in many cases, don’t, although many of them got it, I can tell you. It’s very interesting. Some of the ones who talk the most. I said, “Well, you didn’t have it did you?” Well, actually he did, but you know, et cetera. 

But Democrats think it’s an incredible, incredible achievement, and they wish they could take credit for it, and Republicans don’t. I don't bring it up. All I do is just, I do the right thing. And we've gotten actually a lot of credit for Operation Warp Speed. And the power and the speed was incredible. And don’t forget, when I said, nobody had any idea what this was. You know, we’re two and a half years, almost three years, nobody ever. Everybody thought of a pandemic as an ancient problem. No longer a modern problem, right? You know, you don't think of that? You hear about 1917 in Europe and all. You didn’t think that could happen. You learned if you could. But nobody saw that coming and we took over, and I’m not blaming the past administrations at all, because again, nobody saw it coming. But the cupboards were bare. 

We had no gowns, we had no masks. We had no goggles, we had no medicines. We had no ventilators. We had nothing. The cupboards were totally bare. And I energized the country like nobody’s ever energized our country. A lot of people give us credit for that. Unfortunately, they’re mostly Democrats that give me the credit.

Well, sir, would you do the same thing again to get vaccines in the arms of Americans as quickly as possible, if it happened again in the next four years?

Trump: Well, there are the variations of it. I mean, you know, we also learned when that first came out, nobody had any idea what this was, this was something that nobody heard of. At that time, they didn’t call it Covid. They called it various names. Somehow they settled on Covid. It was the China virus, various other names. 

But when this came along, nobody had any idea. All they knew was dust coming in from China. And there were bad things happening in China around Wuhan. You know, I predicted. I think you'd know this, but I was very strong on saying that this came from Wuhan. And it came from the Wuhan labs. And I said that from day one. Because I saw things that led me to believe that, very strongly led me to believe that. But I was right on that. A lot of people say that now that Trump really did get it right. A lot of people said, “Oh, it came from caves, or it came from other countries.” China was trying to convince people that it came from Italy and France, you know, first Italy, then France. I said, “No, it came from China, and it came from the Wuhan labs.” And that's where it ended up coming from. So you know, and I said that very early. I never said anything else actually. But I've been given a lot of credit for Operation Warp Speed. But most of that credit has come from Democrats. And I think a big portion of Republicans agree with it, too. But a lot of them don't want to say it. They don't want to talk about it.

So last follow-up: The Biden Administration created the Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy, a permanent office in the executive branch tasked with preparing for epidemics that have not yet emerged. You disbanded a similar office in 2018 that Obama had created. Would you disband Biden's office, too?

Trump: Well, he wants to spend a lot of money on something that you don't know if it's gonna be 100 years or 50 years or 25 years. And it's just a way of giving out pork. And, yeah, I probably would, because I think we've learned a lot and we can mobilize, you know, we can mobilize. A lot of the things that you do and a lot of the equipment that you buy is obsolete when you get hit with something. And as far as medicines, you know, these medicines are very different depending on what strains, depending on what type of flu or virus it may be. You know, things change so much. So, yeah, I think I would. It doesn't mean that we're not watching out for it all the time. But it's very hard to predict what's coming because there are a lot of variations of these pandemics. I mean, the variations are incredible, if you look at it. But we did a great job with the therapeutics. And, again, these therapeutics were specific to this, not for something else. So, no, I think it's just another—I think it sounds good politically, but I think it's a very expensive solution to something that won't work. You have to move quickly when you see it happening.

Well, Mr. President, you've been extremely generous with your time, both in Mar-a-Lago and today, so thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to ask you these questions.

Trump: Thank you, Eric. And it’s an honor getting to know you. And call me anytime you want, okay? 

All right, I will, sir. Thank you.

Trump: Okay. Thank you very much.

Correction, April 30: The original version of this transcript mis-attributed a proposal to abolish the 22nd amendment. It was proposed by the American Conservative magazine, but not by the Heritage Foundation's Project 25.

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