His interview with Hannity told us everything we need to know about his second-term plans.

by Matt Ford, The New Republic

Former President Donald Trump appeared on a town hall hosted by Sean Hannity, his phone buddy at Fox News, on Tuesday night. It would be hard to imagine a friendlier environment for Trump. So it was remarkable when the likely 2024 GOP presidential nominee took a softball question and went the other direction.

“They want to call you a dictator,” Hannity told Trump. “Do you in any way have any plans whatsoever, if reelected president, to abuse power? To break the law? To use the government to go after people?” The host referred to a wave of recent reporting that highlighted Trump’s authoritarian goals if he retakes the White House next year, which would build on the authoritarian steps and impulses he took during his first term.

Donald Trump looking smug standing at a podium

The easy, normal answer would have been to say, “Of course not, Sean” or “I love American democracy.” Trump tried to evade the question at first by complaining about President Biden, but Hannity was unusually determined to get a straight answer out of him. He circled back to the subject minutes later: “You are promising America tonight, you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?”

Hannity was practically begging Trump to deny he would ever do such a thing. Alas, Trump refused to take his cue.

“Except on Day One,” he replied, to half-hearted cheers and laughs from the friendly audience. The former president seemed to find the whole thing amusing. “This guy, he says, ‘You’re not going to be a dictator, are you?’” Trump joked to the crowd, motioning at Hannity. “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.”

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