Former President Donald Trump sat down with NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Kristen Welker to give a wide ranging interview on why he’s campaigning and his plans.
He recalled the initial platform he campaigned on—”Make America Great Again”—but said the country has gotten worse since he left office.
“Our country is in serious trouble. I don’t think we’ve ever been so low in terms of, certainly opinion—world opinion and country opinion—people are devastated,” he said.
He referenced illegal immigrants “flooding” into the country, including people on the terror watch list, pessimistic views of the economy, and what was widely regarded as a botched exit from Afghanistan. He discussed the four indictments against him and maintained that he’s done nothing wrong. Political opponents of the GOP frontrunner have praised the indictments as legal action to “protect our democracy” while President Trump has meanwhile decried them as political attacks and election interference.
Ms. Welker asked whether he still thought “that democracy is the most effective form of government” after all the foreign dignitaries he’s met with and all he’s seen.
“I do. I do. But it has to be a democracy that’s fair,” President Trump said. “This democracy is—I don’t consider us to have much of a democracy right now. They indict their political opponents. Free speech is shot, because the press is very dishonest, very dishonest.”
He also criticized Ms. Welker for “fighting” him on the answers he gave, and lamented the low public approval of the media.
“We need a media that’s free and fair. And frankly, if they don’t have that, it’s very, very hard to straighten out our country,” he said.
Ms. Welker asked whether he thought he had enough power to do what he wanted if he won the Oval Office in 2024.
“There’s a report you’re looking into firing potentially people within the federal government who aren’t necessarily perceived to be loyal. Would you need more power if you win?”
President Trump dismissed the rumor, and added that “just so you understand, that’s what the Democrats do.”
“I want great people, whether they’re Republican or Democrat. I want great people. But I want people that love our country, not people that hate our country,” he said.
He answered similarly when asked about a potential vice president, saying that he’s looking for the “best person” but it wasn’t the right time to talk about it yet.
Besides several civil suits, President Trump is facing 91 counts on four criminal indictments.
In New York, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is prosecuting a case against him for allegedly mishandling business financial records in a “hush money” case.
In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is prosecuting a racketeering case against him and 18 co-defendants for their actions in challenging the state’s 2020 election results.
In Washington, D.C., special counsel Jack Smith is prosecuting a case against him for much the same, regarding his contesting the 2020 election results and seeking a pause on the vote certification proceedings.
In Florida, Mr. Smith is also prosecuting a case against the 45th president over allegedly mishandling classified documents, after the FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago resort last year.
The former president pleaded not guilty on all counts.
Note for Biden
When President Trump left office, he left a note for incoming President Joe Biden.
“It was a very nice note,” he told Ms. Welker. “I took a lot of time in thinking about it.”
“I’d love him to do a great job, even if it was very bad politically. I would rather have him have wonderful borders, have no wars, have no Ukraine problems,” he said. “I would much rather be in a position where the country’s doing great now we had him as a president.”
“But the country’s doing horribly. I don’t think the country’s ever been so disrespected. So many bad things are happening,” he added.
He said President Biden wasn’t too old to be president, at the same time defending his own age in reference to voter polls, but said the incumbent president was “incompetent, and that’s a bigger problem.”
“I don’t think 80 is old,” he said. “Take a look at Bernie Marcus, Home Depot [founder]. He’s 95 years old. It’s really a level of competency, not the age.”