Donald Trump, Sean Hannity, Green Bay
President Donald J. Trump participates in a town hall interview taping with Sean Hannity of Fox News on June 25, 2020, at Green Bay-Austin Struble International Airport in Green Bay, WI. Photo credit: Trump White House Archived

Two sympathetic interviewers tried to get Donald Trump to say that he would not seek revenge in a second term. However, the former president wouldn't have it.

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Donald Trump’s allies in the media really want to stop the former president from voicing his revenge fantasies in public, but he clearly won’t.

There are some people who think that something snapped in Trump after his felony conviction last month and that he is now consumed by a desire to “get even.” (Mind you, it doesn’t matter that there is no evidence that anybody conspired against the former president, and certainly not that anybody committed crimes to “get him.”) 

Those people are idiots. 

He has always been like this.

But reveling in these fantasies is not a good look for Trump… especially not if he wants to attract moderate conservatives who believe that he would be a better steward of the economy than Joe Biden but also are wary that he is nuts. 

People like Sean Hannity and “Dr. Phil” know this, which is why, in separate interviews, they wanted to prompt Trump to assure these voters that he is not consumed by thoughts of revenge. 

After trying to bail out the former president for saying that he wanted to be a “dictator on day one” of a second term in office, Hannity really tried to get Trump to say something that he clearly doesn’t want to say.

“People are claiming you want retribution,” the right-wing Fox News host said. “People are claiming that you will do what has happened to you to Democrats. Would you do that…ever?”

The last word almost sounded pleading, as though Hannity really wanted to say: “Just say ‘No,’ you big old oaf. I’m trying to give you a real assist here, don’t screw this up!”

Trump screwed it up.

Instead of saying, “Sean, of course not. I’m a beacon of virtue. I would never do the thing I have repeatedly said that I would do. Believe me!” the former president started to launch into his usual spiel by claiming that everybody is mean to him and that he is a victim rather than the perpetrator of various crimes. 

“It has to stop,” Trump said, which gave Hannity an opening to get Trump back on track. 

“Wait a minute,” he said. “I want to hear that again. ‘It has to stop.’”

Hannity then inquired what that would mean if Trump got elected. Once again, he was trying to tee up the answer with his question… and once again, the former president swung and missed as he went on another rambling monologue about the unfairness of it all since he was a “very legitimate person,” before talking about inflation. 

This forced the Fox News personality to butt in again. 

“Focus on those that want people to believe that you want retribution, that you will use the system of justice to go after your enemies,” he said, giving Trump a third chance to simply say. “You know, Sean, I really won’t.”

He did not say that.

“Number one, they are wrong. It has to stop because otherwise we’re not going to have a country,” he said. While all of those are words in the English language, put together in this context, they make no sense whatsoever. “Look, when this election is over, based on what they have done, I have every right to go after them, and it’s easy because it’s Joe Biden, and you see all of the criminality, all of the money that’s going to the family and him. All of this money from China, from Russia, from Ukraine.”

While Fox News viewers have been told this is true, Republicans have found no evidence of this “criminality” or that money went to President Joe Biden. And, boy, they have been trying to find it.

At this point, Hannity couldn’t help himself. Perhaps everybody at Fox News has a Pavlovian reaction to the mention of the words “Biden” and “crime,” so he joined Trump in pointing out some details of the investigations into the president. 

After a couple of minutes, he tried to get Trump back on track once again.

“You pledged to restore equal justice, equal application of our laws, end this practice of weaponization. Is that a promise you are going to make?” Hannity asked, giving it one more shot. 

“You have to do it,” Trump said, without revealing what “it” meant. “But it’s awful.”

The former president then had his only moment of true insight. 

“Look, I know you want me to say something so nice,” he said. “But I don’t want to look naïve.”

And then he went off on another tangent, and Hannity finally and mercifully threw in the towel. The two then shifted their conversation to an Ultimate Fighting Championship event at which people had liked Trump.

As though that wasn’t bad enough, Trump then did an interview with TV personality Dr. Phil, and the entire thing happened again. 

The main difference was that the former Oprah Winfrey sidekick was even more obvious in his attempt to get Trump to say that he would stop this practice of going after his political opponents, and that revenge and retribution would be bad for the country. 

For once, the former president got it right by saying he would be OK with that. 

Dr. Phil really should have ended the interview right there. Instead, he let Trump ramble on about crowd sizes and then tell a lie about how he never said his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton should be locked up. 

The interviewer then gave Trump an out by noting that he probably wouldn’t have enough time to get even because he would be so busy making America great again. 

Trump wouldn’t have it. 

“Revenge does take time. I will say that,” the former president stated. “And sometimes revenge can be justified Phil, I have to be honest — sometimes it can.”

Well, we’re glad this is cleared up now.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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