Returning to Fox News Monday night, former President Donald Trump aired a host of grievances about investigations he faces, mail-in voting and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in his first interview with the network since legal documents revealed that network leaders private convicts.
There was no trace of the bitterness described in those communications, which were made public as part of Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion libel lawsuit against the network. Trump, the Republican presidential frontrunner, spoke for nearly an hour with primetime host Sean Hannity, long one of his most outspoken Fox News contributors.
Trump found a welcome environment for his attempt link a possible charge he faces the myth of 2020 election fraud in New York City that led to his supporters’ attack on the Capitol, defended rioters arrested in the aftermath and says he and DeSantis — his main rival for the GOP presidential nomination – never were friends.
“It’s a new way to cheat in elections,” Trump said when asked about Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s hush money investigation. “That’s called election interference.”
On March 18, Trump predicted he would be arrested in three days, which turned out to be wrong. But he has shared more heated rhetoric in recent days about a possible charge, including warning of “possible death and destruction” should he be charged.
Trump said on Monday he was not calling for violence, adding that his Truth Social posted an article with a split photo of him with a baseball bat in front of Bragg done unconsciously.
“We didn’t see any pictures. We did a story that was very exculpatory, a really good story from the point of view of what we’re talking about,” he said.
He expressed relatively little emotion when asked how he handled the risk of arrest.
“Well, I’ll handle it,” he said of a possible charge. “We are dealing with very dishonest people. We are dealing with villains. We are dealing with people who I believe hate our country.”
Elsewhere in the conversation, Trump promoted the song “Justice for All,” which features a chorus of men imprisoned for their role in the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, singing the national anthem, interrupted by Trump shouting the recites pledge of allegiance. . Trump began his rally Saturday in Waco, Texas, by playing a video version of the recording, which also showed footage of the uprising.
“The J6 beats Taylor Swift,” Trump said, noting the song’s success on various charts. “It’s Donald Trump and the J-Sixers on iTunes and on Amazon and on Billboard, which is most important. No. 1, Donald Trump.
“That is a tribute to the fact that people feel that the J6 people have been treated very unfairly,” he added.
Reflecting on some of his personnel decisions during his presidency, Trump said he “might have made a mistake” in choosing FBI Director Christopher Wray and added that he “didn’t like” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell .
But Trump has saved his harshest criticism for DeSantis.
“No friends,” Trump said of their relationship before DeSantis became a presidential candidate. “I didn’t know him well.”
Trump described DeSantis as a “desperate” politician who, he claimed, came to him with “tears in his eyes” asking for his endorsement in a 2018 primary race for governor against Adam Putnum, then Florida’s agriculture commissioner.
As Trump sees it, DeSantis owes him his luck and shouldn’t be competing against him in 2024.
“I helped a lot of people get elected,” he said, adding, “But some I got in. Ron, I got in. He lost. There was no way. It was over. He was dead. He went to fall out. He was gone.”
A DeSantis spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. DeSantis polls by far as the second most favored contender in the 2024 GOP field, but amid intense Trump attacks, some donors and allies have questioned whether he is ready for what would be a bloody primary fight. Trump has increasingly focused on DeSantis since he mispredicted his date of arrest.
The interview was Trump’s first since September with a prime-time Fox News host.
After the January 6 attack on the Capitol, Fox Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch said in emails that the network “wanted to de-personize Trump” and was “running as fast as possible,” recent legal documents revealed as part of the Dominion lawsuit.
But Trump’s team has felt Fox’s coverage of him this year is an improvement on its coverage in 2016, the last time he faced a seriously contested primary.
“They were openly hostile to him in 2016,” an adviser said this month. “They’re not so openly hostile now.”