Former President Donald Trump predicted there would be "big problems" like "we've never seen" should the Department of Justice (DOJ) indict him over his handling of classified documents after leaving office.
Trump's remarks were his latest attempt to steer the narrative in the month since agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided his Mar-a-Lago estate on the hunt for classified documents he'd spirited away from the Oval Office.
Trump insisted that an indictment would not deter him from running for office again, saying that Americans "would not stand" for his prosecution.
You can hear what he said in the video below.
Asked by conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt whether an indictment would deter him from running again, Trump said:
"I don't think the people of the United States would stand for it, and as you know, if a thing like that happened, I would have no prohibition against running, you know that." ...
“I think if it happened, I think you’d have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before. I don’t think the people of the United States would stand for it.”
“I think they’d have big problems. Big problems. I just don’t think they’d stand for it. They will not sit still and stand for this ultimate of hoaxes."
Trump's response prompted Hewitt to ask him how he would respond should the "legacy media" accuse him of inciting violence, to which Trump said:
“That’s not inciting. I’m just saying what my opinion is. I don't think the people of this country would stand for it."
Trump's remarks were soon harshly condemned by Chris Cillizza, CNN's Editor-at-Large, who noted that the dictionary defines "incitement" as “the action of provoking unlawful behavior or urging someone to behave unlawfully," and that Trump's responses to Hewitt suggested he has not "learned the lessons of January 6," the day a mob of his supporters attacked the United States Capitol on the false premise the 2020 general election had been stolen.
Cilizza added that words "have power – especially when uttered by a former President who still retains a very loyal following across the country." He also noted that Trump "didn’t expressly say that there would (or should) be violence if he were indicted" because he "is always just vague enough to give himself some plausible deniability."
Later, George Conway—whose criticisms of Trump have previously put him at odds with wife Kellyanne Conway, who served as a top aide to Trump—said that Trump's comments are "basically January 6 all over again," suggesting that Trump was sending veiled threats of violence to fire up his most fervent supporters.
Trump's comments quickly went viral as others expressed similar concerns.
Trump has a history of making similar threats, as when he told his supporters on January 6, shortly before they stormed the Capitol, to "fight like hell" because if "you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
His remarks that day have been pivotal to the investigation by the House Select Committee tasked with investigating the insurrection.
Earlier this summer, testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, offered further insight into Trump's mindset that day, notably that he was aware of and supported the plan to attack the nation's seat of government.
According to Hutchinson, Trump was "very concerned" about the shot photographers would get of the "Stop the Steal" event "because the rally space wasn't full."
Indeed, when Trump spoke, he kept making references to the size of the crowd, declaring that "thousands" of people were in attendance but that those viewing the proceedings from elsewhere could not "see hundreds of thousands of people behind you."
Hutchinson stressed that Trump was "angry" that the Secret Service was not allowing people who had arrived armed with weapons into the event. The footage shows Trump saying he "would love it if they could be allowed to come up here with us."
Hutchinson also said she heard Trump say those in attendance were "not here to hurt me" and demanded his security people "Let my people in" so they could "march to the Capitol after the rally's over."