Former President Donald Trump skipped the first Republican debate and opted to sit down with conservative media titan Tucker Carlson to discuss his campaign and the 2024 election cycle.
Trump declined to appear at the recommendation of advisors who say there is little to gain, given Trump’s decisive lead over his Republican challengers.
In most polls, Trump holds at least a 30-point advantage over second-place challenger Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Most other candidates are polling in single-digits.
An hour after the video was posted to social media platform X, formerly Twitter, the interview had garnered more than 75 million views.
Ep. 19 Debate Night with Donald J Trump pic.twitter.com/ayPfII48CO
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) August 24, 2023
The interview focused on issues widely covered over the past few years, with few new statements about what will be different during a second term.
While the interview did not produce much new information, Carlson did attempt to press the former president on multiple topics, including the grim possibility that Trump’s enemies might pursue assassination as a means to stop him from winning the 2024 election.
After questioning Trump on whether he believes the death of disgraced financier and convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was actually a suicide, Carlson explains:
So the reason I’m asking you is, I’m looking at the trajectory since 2015, when you got into politics — you know, for real — and then won. It started with protests against you — massive protests, organized protests by the left — and then it moved to impeachment twice, and now indictment. I mean, the next stage is, is violence. Are you worried that they’re gonna try and kill you? Why wouldn’t they try and kill you? Honestly?
Trump responded by calling those who have targeted him over the past half decade “savage animals,” adding they are “people that are sick, really sick.”
Without directly addressing the question over whether attempts could be made on his life, he pivoted to his love of the country, explaining that “most of the people in our country are fantastic” reassuring voters that he, as president, is representing everyone.
Roughly 12 minutes later, after not getting a clear answer, Carlson pressed Trump again on the matter, this time noting the series of actions Trump’s opponents are taking against him that seem to be escalatory in nature.
So, can I just ask you, that gets back to my original question: So if the protests didn’t work, you got elected anyway; impeachment didn’t work twice, obviously; indictment is not working, your poll numbers go up; when they raided Mar-a-Lago in August of last year, your numbers went up. They can indict you 20 times and it’s not gonna, you’re not gonna lose the Republican primary because of that.
Trump interjected, “Well, it makes it look even more ridiculous. I mean, the four indictments, and maybe there’ll be more, I don’t know. These people are crazy.”
Carlson replied, “But they’re counterproductive. So if you chart it out, it’s an escalation is what I’m saying. So what’s next? After, you know, [they] try to put you in prison for the rest of your life, that’s not working. So like…don’t they have to kill you now?”
Trump brushed off the question, telling Carlson, “I think the people of our country don’t get enough credit for how smart they are,” before re-directing the conversation back to the multiple indictments that have had little impact on his poll numbers.
The blunt questioning by Carlson comes less than two months after conservative radio and television show host Alex Jones predicted that Trump’s political enemies may attempt to assassinate him in order to stop him from returning to the White House.
TRUMP’S ASSASSINATION? “I think they’ll blow his airplane up. I really at gut level believe they’re gonna kill Trump.”
Alex Jones says he believes they’ll assassinate Trump. (Episode 281) pic.twitter.com/CtoarqoJny
— PBD Podcast (@PBDsPodcast) June 25, 2023
“If people don’t get serious and get out of their comfort zones, yeah, I think they’ll, I mean I think they’re gonna demonize him, indict him, indict him, indict him, indict him, and then I think they’ll blow his airplane up,” Jones said.
“I really believe at a gut level they’re going to kill Trump,” Jones added, further clarifying his belief that it is possible the “Deep State establishment will murder him.”
The pre-recorded interview between Trump and Carlson was posted the evening before Trump was slated to appear in Fulton County Georgia to face arraignment over his latest indictment by District Attorney Fani Willis.
The first-term prosecutor has had the former president in her crosshairs since February 2021, after members of the Trump administration had a phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a bid to investigate allegations that fraud may have impacted the outcome of the state’s elections.