Trump says he would be a dictator only on “Day One” if he wins a second term

Former President Donald Trump said Tuesday in Fox News Town Hall that he would not be a dictator “except for Day One” if he is elected to the presidency next year. 

In a taped town hall with Fox News anchor Sean Hannity in Iowa, the former president was asked whether he would use the presidency to “abuse power, to break the law, to use the government to go after people” several times. 

“You are promising America tonight you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?” Hannity asked. 

“Except for Day One,” Trump said. 

When asked to clarify, Trump said he would use the presidency to close the border and increase oil drilling in the U.S. 

“That is not retribution,” Hannity said. 

Donald Trump Campaigns For The Republican Presidential Nomination In Iowa
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump greets guests as he arrives at a commit to caucus campaign event at the Whiskey River bar on December 02, 2023 in Ankeny, Iowa.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

“I love this guy. 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 said. 

The Biden campaign immediately pounced on the comments in a campaign email and posted a clip of the exchange to X. 

“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. 

Trump has maintained that the 91 indictments he is facing across several criminal investigations are political in nature and has said he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate President Biden and his family if he is elected. 

“When we get there, the Biden crime family will pay a price like other people are being forced to pay. And that price will be very, very substantial,” Trump wrote in a post on his social media platform Truth Social in August. “It will be fair, but you know what, if they’re guilty they are going to be guilty.” 

The town hall was taped in Davenport as the Iowa caucus, the first Republican primary contest of the season, is just 40 days away. The town hall also was broadcast one day before His four leading Republican challengers, who are far behind him in the polls, hit the debate stage in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. As with the previous three debates, Mr. Trump declined to participate in Wednesday’s debate. 

Trump is the leading candidate in the GOP presidential primary with 61% of Republican primary voters choosing him, according to a CBS News poll last month. 

Several polls, including a CBS News poll from last month, also have Trump beating Mr. Biden in a head-to-head rematch in 2024. 

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