Trump tells Hannity he will be a dictator only on ‘day one’ if elected president | Donald Trump #Trump #tells #Hannity #dictator #day #elected #president #Donald #Trump

Former president Donald Trump declined to rule out abusing power if he returns to the White House after Fox News host Sean Hannity asked him to respond to growing Democratic criticism of his rhetoric.

The Republican presidential frontrunner has talked about targeting his rivals – referring to them as “vermin” – and vowed to seek retribution if he wins a second term for what he argues are politically motivated prosecutions against him. As Trump has dominated the Republican presidential primary, president Joe Biden has stepped up his own warnings, claiming Trump is “determined to destroy American democracy”.

Trump had to be asked twice during the televised town hall event in Iowa to deny that he would abuse power to seek revenge on political opponents if re-elected to the White House.

“Under no circumstances, you are promising America tonight, you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?” Hannity asked Trump in the interview taped in Davenport, Iowa on Tuesday.

“Except for day one,” Trump responded. Trump said on the “day one” he referred to, he would use his presidential powers to close the southern border with Mexico and expand oil drilling.

Trump then repeated his assertion. “I love this guy,” he said of the Fox News host. “He says, ‘You’re not going to be a dictator, are you?’ I said: ‘No, no, no, other than day one. We’re closing the border and we’re drilling, drilling, drilling. After that, I’m not a dictator.’”

Trump made the comments at a town hall event in Iowa hosted by Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Trump made the comments at a town hall event in Iowa hosted by Fox News host Sean Hannity. Photograph: George Walker IV/AP

Earlier in the interview, Hannity had asked Trump if he “in any way” had “any plans whatsoever, if reelected president, to abuse power, to break the law to use the government to go after people.”

“You mean like they’re using right now?” Trump replied.

Trump’s campaign rhetoric and sweeping plans for a second term that include firing large swathes of the federal bureaucracy and targeting his rivals have alarmed Democrats and become a chief election argument for Biden as he prepares for a potential rematch against Trump.

“Donald Trump has been telling us exactly what he will do if he’s reelected and tonight he said he will be a dictator on day one. Americans should believe him,” Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said in a statement.

Trump, meanwhile, has tried to turn the tables on Biden and argued in a Saturday speech in Iowa that the president is the real “destroyer of American democracy” as he repeated his longstanding contention that the four criminal indictments against him show Biden is misusing the federal justice system to damage his chief political rival.

Trump has promised to prosecute Biden if he wins.

The event with Hannity, a longtime Trump supporter, had been advertised as a town hall the day before Trump’s leading rivals gather at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa for the fourth Republican debate. While town halls typically feature audience questions, only Hannity asked questions of Trump on Tuesday. He taped a similar interview with Trump in July.

Trump is once again planning to skip the Republican debate and will spend the evening at a fundraiser in Florida instead.

Trump has been dominating his rivals both nationally and in Iowa, which will kick off the election with its caucuses on 15 January.

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report

#Trump #tells #Hannity #dictator #day #elected #president #Donald #Trump

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