Key moments from Donald Trump’s interview with Tucker Carlson

Former President Donald Trump appeared in an online interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson as his 2024 Republican presidential election rivals debated in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The 46-minute interview was uploaded to Carlson’s account on X, formerly Twitter, only minutes before the GOP debate began amid Trump’s conspicuous absence on Wednesday night, hosted by the network that fired Carlson earlier this year.

In an email to Newsweek, Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung touted the number of people who may have seen the interview when asked about competing with the debate, noting that the interview post had “75 million [views] in 45 minutes.”

However, the X metric only measures the number of people who saw the post, even fleetingly. It does not measure how many actually watched the interview, or how long it was watched, with platform owner Elon Musk having removed the ability to measure video views earlier this year.

Key Moments from Trump's Interview With TuckerCarlson
Tucker Carlson, left, is shown on July 15, 2023, in West Palm Beach, Florida, while former President Donald Trump, right, is pictured on June 10, 2023, in Columbus, Georgia. Trump appeared in an online interview with Carlson as his presidential primary opponents debated in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Joe Raedle/Getty; Anna Moneymaker/Getty

The interview began with the former president explaining his decision to skip the debate and lashing out at a number of debate participants, including former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Trump also spoke on topics that included his legal turmoil, President Joe Biden’s administration, false claims of massive fraud in the 2020 election, the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and a selection of conspiracy theories pushed by Carlson.

Here are some key moments from Trump’s interview:

Trump Wanted to Avoid Getting ‘Harassed’ on Network That Isn’t ‘Friendly’

The former president explained his decision to opt out of the Republican debate by touting his significant lead in the polls and suggesting that it was not “appropriate” to participate because he would have been “harassed” by those who “shouldn’t even be running for president.”

Trump also took a shot at Fox News, complaining about the network’s extensive past coverage of “lost cause” DeSantis.

“I’m leading by 50 and 60 points,” Trump said. “And I’m saying, ‘Do I sit there for an hour or two hours, whatever it’s going to be, and get harassed by people that shouldn’t even be running for president?”

“Should I be doing that?” he continued. “At a network that isn’t particularly friendly to me, frankly? You know, they were backing Ron DeSanctimonious like crazy. And now they’ve given up on him. I mean, that’s a lost cause.”

Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson ‘Shouldn’t Be Running for President’

Trump later clarified who he thought “shouldn’t be running for president,” specially taking aim at former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.

“I call him ‘Aida’ Hutchinson, it’s Asa but I call him Aida,” Trump said. “He’s weak and pathetic … He was the governor of Arkansas. Not a very popular guy … How does this guy get elected governor of Arkansas? But he’s nasty and always has been.”

“A guy like Chris Christie … He runs solely on the basis of, ‘Oh, let’s get Trump,'” he added. “He’s like a savage. A maniac. He’s like a lunatic … I’ve been friendly with him over the years but I couldn’t give him a job because I just never trusted him very much.”

Jeffrey Epstein ‘Probably Committed Suicide,’ Had a ‘Beautiful’ Life in Florida

Trump rejected what seemed to be Carlson’s repeated prompts to promote a conspiracy theory claiming that Jeffrey Epstein was killed while jailed in 2019.

The former president backed the official ruling of suicide instead, while remarking that the convicted sex offender and suspected sex trafficker had been “a fixture” in Palm Beach, Florida, and had a “beautiful” life before the discovery of his crimes.

“He was a fixture in Palm Beach,” Trump said. “I think he probably committed suicide. He had a life with, you know, beautiful homes and beautiful everything. And all of a sudden, he’s incarcerated and not doing very well.”

Trump Ignores Carlson’s Suggestion That Democrats Are Plotting Assassination

Carlson recalled Trump’s two impeachments by the U.S. House and the current criminal proceedings in state and federal court before suggesting to the former president that his political opponents would “try and kill” him.

“I mean, the next stage is violence,” said Carlson. “Are you worried that they’re going to try and kill you? Why wouldn’t they try and kill you?”

Trump did not directly address the suggestion but instead suggested that his opponents are “savage animals,” declaring himself “the president of everybody” and calling Biden “the worst president” in history.

“They’re savage animals,” said Trump. “They are people that are sick, really sick … You have great people in the Democratic Party … I represent everybody. I’m the president of everybody.”

“Crooked Joe Biden is so bad,” he added. “He’s the worst president in the history of our country.”

Trump went on to criticize Biden’s beach excursions, saying that the current president “looks terrible on the beach” and insisting that “the beach doesn’t represent what the president is supposed to be doing.”

The Former President Is ‘Disappointed’ With Pence; DeSantis is ‘Gone-Zo’

Trump did not directly respond when asked about Pence’s attacks on him during the 2024 election cycle but said that he had been “disappointed” with his former running mate for not buying his false claims of massive fraud in the 2020 election and overturning Biden’s win in Congress.

“Mike wants to run for president,” said Trump. “I haven’t spoken to him in a long time. I was very disappointed.”

The ex-president also said that Democrats would “go after” any other potential Republican 2024 nominee, while ruling out success for the candidacy of DeSantis entirely. He then touted his ability to “hold up” under fire.

“Look. DeSanctus is out,” Trump said. “I think he’s gone-zo. He was at a level [but] people figured him out. He’s gone. But if someone else got in, other than me, go at him just as viciously as they did me.”

“A lot of people say [the other candidates] won’t be able to hold up,” he added. “I do get credit for holding up quite well, I must tell you.”

Getting Indicted is ‘Easier’ for Trump Because He Is ‘So High in the Polls’

Trump said that the four felony criminal indictments that he has faced so far this year have been “easier” due to his polling numbers, claiming that voters can see that the prosecutions are “fraud.”

“I think it’s a lot easier because I’m so high in the polls,” said Trump. “It means the people get it. The people see that it’s a fraud.”

Trump also claimed, incorrectly, that Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis indicted him for attempting to “criticize an election.” In reality, he is being accused of crimes related to illegally attempting to overturn the 2020 election outcome.

“Fani Willis, in Atlanta, she’s getting killed,” said Trump. “Basically, she’s saying Trump doesn’t have the right to criticize an election.”

Trump Touts ‘Love and Unity’ on January 6

The former president claimed that he witnessed “love and unity” from supporters during his January 6, 2021, speech on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., just before many in the crowd violently stormed the U.S. Capitol in an ill-fated attempt to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss.

“I think that the biggest crowd I’ve ever spoken before was on January 6,” Trump said. “People in that crowd said it was the most beautiful day they’ve ever experienced. There was love in that group. There was love and unity. I have never seen such spirit and such passion. And such love.”

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