Former U.S. President Donald Trump says in a new interview that as he left office in 2021, he decided against preemptively pardoning himself against possible criminal charges. Trump, who is facing dozens of charges, however, refused to rule out doing so if he wins the 2024 election.
Trump told NBC’s “Meet the Press” in a recent interview, broadcast Sunday, that he listened to conflicting advice from aides on pardoning himself in the waning days of his four-year presidency but came to a decisive response: “Let me just tell you. I said, ‘The last thing I’d ever do is give myself a pardon.’”
Now, in facing 44 federal charges for which he could pardon himself and another 47 state charges for which he could not exonerate himself, Trump has not outright rejected clearing himself of at least some of the charges.
“I think it’s very unlikely,” Trump said. “What did I do wrong? I didn’t do anything wrong. You mean because I challenge an election, they want to put me in jail?”
The 77-year-old Trump said he does not worry about being imprisoned for years if he is convicted on any of the charges in the unprecedented four indictments he is facing. Three trials are set to start in the first half of 2024 and the fourth could be scheduled in the coming weeks, although pending legal issues could delay any of the proceedings.
“I don’t even think about it,” Trump said of the prospect of prison. “I’m built a little differently I guess, because I have had people come up to me and say, ‘How do you do it, sir? How do you do it?’ I don’t even think about it.”
“I sleep,” he said. “Because I truly feel that, in the end, we’re going to win.”
Trump, the leading 2024 Republican presidential contender, defiantly maintained his stance that the 2020 election was rigged with vote fraud that let Democrat Joe Biden defeat him, even though dozens of judges have ruled against his claims and numerous recounts in political battleground states have confirmed the outcome.
Trump said he still believes in U.S. democracy but hedged his stance.
"I do. I do,” he said. “But it has to be a democracy that’s fair. This democracy — I don’t consider us to have much of a democracy right now."
He suggested it was unfair because of the indictments he is facing. He faces charges of illegally trying to upend the 2020 election outcome, mishandling classified documents he took with him when he left the White House and falsifying business ledgers at his real estate company to hide a hush money payment to a porn film actress ahead of his successful 2016 run for the presidency.
Trump spoke in broad terms about ending Russia’s war on Ukraine and the fate of Taiwan, the self-governed island territory China claims as part of its own domain.
The former U.S. leader said he appreciated that Russian President Vladimir Putin recently praised him for saying that he could resolve Russia’s war against Ukraine, even though Trump has given no specifics on how he would do that.
"Because that means what I’m saying is right,” Trump said. “I would get him into a room. I’d get [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy into a room. Then I’d bring them together. And I’d have a deal worked out. I would get a deal worked out. It would’ve been a lot easier before it started."
Trump was also vague on how he might deal with a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
He dodged the specifics of whether he would commit U.S. forces to defend Taiwan, as Biden has said he would.
"I won’t say. I won’t say," Trump said. "Because if I said, I’m giving away — you know, only stupid people are going to give that."