NEW YORK — Former US president Donald Trump said in an interview aired Sunday that while he believes democracy is still the most effective form of government, “it has to be a democracy that’s fair.”
“This democracy – I don’t consider us to have much of a democracy right now,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“They indict their political opponents. Free speech is shot, because the press is very dishonest, very dishonest,” he said. “Even the way you fight me on simple questions like, you know, the border, and this. You fight me so much.”
Trump repeatedly declined to answer questions about whether he watched the Capitol riot unfold on television, saying he would “tell people later at an appropriate time.”
Trump, the current front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, refused to say how he spent January 6, 2021 once the insurrection began, and whether he made phone calls as his supporters stormed the seat of American democracy.
“I’m not going to tell you. I’ll tell people later at an appropriate time,” Trump told moderator Kristen Welker after she asked if he spent that afternoon watching the attack on television in a dining room at the White House.
Trump’s former aides have said he sequestered himself in the room off the Oval Office to watch, at times even rewinding and rewatching some parts.
In the interview, taped Thursday at Trump’s golf club in New Jersey, Trump said in response to Welker’s pressing him about his public silence during the violence that he had made “beautiful statements” on the day of the attack.
Trump’s supporters, fueled by his lies about the 2020 presidential election, stormed the building as Congress prepared to certify the victory of Democrat Joe Biden. Trump is facing federal criminal charges for his efforts to overturn his loss in that election but he is not facing charges related to the insurrection.
Trump said he might consider pardoning some of the rioters charged for their actions that day.
More than 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the January 6 riot and more than 600 have pleaded guilty or been convicted.
“I’m going to look at them, and I certainly might if I think it’s appropriate” to pardon them, the former president said.
Trump is facing 91 criminal charges across four cases in federal and state courts related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, the mishandling of classified documents and charges related to allegations of hush money paid to cover up extramarital affairs. He has denied wrongdoing.
Trump was asked if he fears going to jail.
“No, I don’t really. I don’t even think about it. I’m built a little differently I guess,” he said.
The NBC appearance was Trump’s first broadcast network interview since leaving office and marked Welker’s debut show as host.