Since leaving office, former President Donald Trump has mostly agreed to interviews with sycophantic conservative media figures. His interview with NPR on Tuesday is a good indication of why.
Trump called in for an interview Tuesday with NPR host Steve Inskeep, one Inskeep said he had been trying to arrange since Trump became a candidate in his first run for president in 2015. The interview was supposed to last for 15 minutes, but when Inskeep pressed Trump on his lies about the 2020 election, the former president abruptly hung up.
During the nine minutes they were actually on the phone, Inskeep pressed Trump on COVID vaccines, asking the former president what he would say to his supporters who haven’t chosen to get vaccinated. (Registered Republicans made up a majority of people who haven’t chosen to get vaccinated, according to an October analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.)
Trump attempted to deflect by talking about the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate. “The vaccines, I recommend taking them, but I think that has to be an individual choice,” Trump told Inskeep.
“I mean, it's got to be individual, but I recommend taking them. Many people recommend them. And if some people don't want, they shouldn't have to take them. They can't be mandated, as the expression goes. And I think that's very important.”
The interview got more contentious when Inskeep began asking about Trump’s thoroughly disproven claims about the 2020 election. Over the weekend, South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds, a Republican, told ABC News that the election was not stolen and that President Joe Biden was the rightful winner. Rounds said it was a “huge disadvantage” for Republicans to keep talking about 2020.
Trump’s response was predictably furious: he called Rounds “a weak and ineffective leader, and I hereby firmly pledge that he will never receive my Endorsement again!” in a Monday statement.
“I think it's an advantage, because otherwise they're going to do it again in '22 and '24. And Rounds is wrong on that, totally wrong,” Trump told NPR, before citing the Arizona audit that showed he lost and a number of “audit” efforts in other states Trump lost in 2020. “This was a corrupt election.”
Unlike the people who usually interview Trump, however, Inskeep pressed the former president on a number of his claims, including a federal judge Trump himself appointed, Trump’s own campaign attorneys, and Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan. “The ballots that were provided to us to count in the Coliseum very accurately correlate with the official canvass numbers,” Logan told the Arizona State Senate, which commissioned Cyber Ninjas to run the audit after Trump became the first Republican to lose Arizona in decades, in September.
Eventually, Inskeep asked Trump: “Are you telling Republicans in 2022 that they must press your case on the past election in order to get your endorsement? Is that an absolute?”
“People have no idea how big this issue is, and they don't want it to happen again. It shouldn't be allowed to happen, and they don't want it to happen again,” Trump said. “And the only way it's not going to happen again is you have to solve the problem of the presidential rigged election of 2020.”
“So Steve, thank you very much. I appreciate it,” Trump said before hanging up.
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