Last month, former President Donald Trump took part in a town hall with CNN, and after he appeared to outfox the moderator to the applause of a live audience, it was widely seen as a triumph for the former president.
Baier Presses Donald Trump
Trump’s interview this week with Fox News’s Bret Baier was the opposite of his CNN experience.
Donald Trump not only likely incriminated himself in ways no criminal defendant should but appeared to give a great deal of ammunition to his political rivals.
According to Axios, the interview has the potential to hurt Trump in multiple ways.
Per the report, the Baier interview “singlehandedly helped sharpen new lines of attack for Trump’s three main adversaries: Democrats, Republican primary opponents, and prosecutors.”
That’s because Baier’s questions, Axios said, “pushed back on Trump’s falsehoods and exposed his vulnerabilities on key conservative priorities, previewing the gloves-off treatment the former president can expect in the coming months.”
For one thing, Trump spoke of plans to execute drug dealers, before Baier asked him if that would apply to Alice Johnson, a convicted drug dealer who was pardoned by Trump in 2020 after Kim Kardashian had lobbied for her release. Trump had commuted Johnson’s sentence two years earlier. Trump didn’t appear to have an answer prepared when Baier asked him about the inconsistency, before declaring that Johnson would never have sold drugs at all if the death penalty for drug dealers was in place.
The First Step in Trump’s Actions
The Trump Administration had embraced the cause of criminal justice reform during his term, seeking to draw a contrast with Democratic candidate Joe Biden, who had authored 1994’s notorious crime bill. Trump signed the First Step Act in 2018. But the winds have shifted somewhat, on the right, with Ron DeSantis and other GOP candidates calling for the First Step Act to be repealed.
In addition, Trump said things during the Baier interview that may very well be of interest to prosecutors.
“I want to go through the boxes and get all my personal things out. I don’t want to hand that over to [the National Archives] yet,” Trump said in the Fox interview, of the boxes that had been kept in his possession after he left the presidency.
If Trump participates in the first Republican presidential debate, on August 23 on Fox News, he’ll have to face Baier again, as the Fox anchor will co-moderate the debate with Martha MacCallum.
According to the latest edition of Morning Consult’s tracking poll of the Republican race, released Wednesday, Trump has maintained his huge lead in the GOP race but is off from his all-time high.
As of this week, Trump is in first place with 57 percent of the vote, with Ron DeSantis in second place with just 20 percent. Mike Pence is in third place with 7 percent, while Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Chris Christie each have 3 percent support. Asa Hutchinson is listed with 1 percent support.
Trump, as of May and prior to his indictment, had reached over 60 percent, so his numbers are down slightly, despite the huge lead.
“Fifty-seven percent of potential Republican primary voters back Trump for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination, a slight decline from an all-time high of 61% in mid-May,” Morning Consult said in the poll announcement. “Despite the small dip in support, Trump is still well ahead of DeSantis, his closest competitor who is backed by 20% of the party’s electorate.”
Morning Consult also noted that Christie hasn’t gotten much traction since he entered the race earlier this month, and he’s become less popular after attacking his former ally Trump.
“Almost half of potential GOP primary voters (46%) hold unfavorable views of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, up from 39% ahead of his June 6 campaign announcement as he’s made headlines for criticizing Trump,” the announcement said.
Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.