Hewitt: You know the old saying. A prosecutor can charge a ham sandwich if he wants to. I’m just asking if there is such a prosecutor and he is indicted, would that dissuade him from running for president again?
Triumph: I don’t think the people of the United States would tolerate it. And as you know, if such a thing were to happen, I would not be banned from running. You know it. You already said it.
Hewitt: I make. That’s what she wanted people to understand. That wouldn’t get you out of the arena.
Triumph: Should not. But I think if it happened, I think you would have problems in this country like perhaps we have never seen before. I don’t think the people of the United States would put up with it.
Hewitt: What kind of problems, Mr. President.
Triumph: I think they would have big problems, big problems. I just don’t think they would tolerate it. They will not, they will not stand still and defend the latter from deception.
It is impossible to read those lines from the former president without this context: We are less than two years away from a mob that stormed the US Capitol in the false belief that the election had been stolen from Trump. A crowd, it’s worth noting, to which Trump had told earlier in the day: “We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Hewitt, sensing that Trump had entered dangerous territory, tried to clean things up for the former president. “You know that legacy media will say that you’re trying to incite violence with that statement,” Hewitt said.
To which Trump responded: “That’s not, that’s not inciting. I’m just saying what my opinion is. I don’t think the people of this country accept it.”
(Sidebar: The dictionary definition of “incitement” is: “the action of provoking illegal behavior or urging someone to behave illegally.”)
What Trump’s responses to Hewitt suggest is that he hasn’t learned the lessons of January 6, or anything like that.
Words have power, especially when spoken by a former president who still has a very loyal following across the country.
But this, of course, is the game Trump always plays. He did not expressly say that there would (or should) be violence if he were charged. He simply said that “you would have problems in this country such as perhaps we have never seen before.”
His intention, to any neutral observer, seems very clear. Trump is always lazy enough to give himself plausible deniability. But what is startlingly obvious to anyone paying attention is that Trump wants everyone to know that impeaching him would have consequences, and they could be dire.
That kind of flirtation with violence (or even the specter of violence) is not leadership. It’s the opposite.