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Trump may get another chance to be president. He's planning an aggressive second term

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump attends a news conference with Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., on April 12, at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee
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AP
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump attends a news conference with Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., on April 12, at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla.

Donald Trump has already been president once, and has been outspoken about the policies he would support and enact if elected again in November.

He's promised mass deportationsof millions of migrants and suggested the United States would not defend foreign allies from aggression in certain circumstances. He's vowed to eviscerate the federal bureaucracyand staff those career civil service roles with political loyalists, use law enforcement to target foes, and painted a dire picture of America's future if he does not return to the White House.

In two wide-ranging interviews with TIME Magazine published Tuesday, Trump expanded upon that vision for a second term, which would buck traditional conservative viewpoints about the role of government and expand the powers of the presidency that he would then wield against a wide range of groups in America.

Trump touched on a number of topics that are important factors to voters ahead of November, like abortion, crime and the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump also made eyebrow-raising comments about political violence, using the military against civilians and about the multiple criminal cases against him.

Here's a few takeaways from one of the few longform interviews Trump has given this election cycle:

Abortion

One of the biggest flashpoints in politics the last few years has been abortion access, following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Trump has largely sidestepped questions about what specific policy he would support as president, and continued to do so in the TIME interview, arguing that the decisions are now made at the state level.

"I won't have to commit to [federal abortion restrictions] because it'll never — number one, it'll never happen," Trump said in the interview transcript. "Number two, it's about states' rights. You don't want to go back into the federal government."

Trump also deflected on a question about access to abortion pills, promising to release a statement on that "over the next 14 days."

That's an important question to answer, and one with great political consequence. As NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben has reported, Trump allies are pushing for him to enforce the Comstock Act, a 19th century law that could be used to halt the mailing of abortion pills and essentially stop all abortion in the U.S.

The former president insisted that it was up to states to make all decisions about abortion, including if they would monitor pregnancies to know if someone has an abortion or prosecuting them.

"It's irrelevant whether I'm comfortable or not," Trump said of the prosecution of women for having abortions. "It's totally irrelevant, because the states are going to make those decisions."

So far, voters have sided with abortion rights advocates every time the issue has been placed on the ballot, and several states — like Florida, where Trump lives — will have similar questions on the ballot this year. He declined to indicate how he will vote on that issue in November as well.

Immigration

Trump's aggressive stance on immigration is a cornerstone of his 2024 campaign, as well as a key issue for many Republican primary voters. But it's not just Republicans that have concerns about the U.S.-Mexico border, making Trump's pronouncements about immigration and migrants especially noteworthy.

In campaign stump speeches, Trump has vowed to enact "the largest domestic deportation operation" in history and roll back virtually every Biden administration policy around the border. He continues to equate immigrants with crime, often mentioning murders and other grisly crimes committed by noncitizens as evidence that a crackdown is needed under his watch.

In the TIME interview, Trump takes that rhetoric a step further, suggesting he would use the National Guard and the U.S. military to go after migrants, potentially in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act that prevents federal troops from being used against civilians. When asked about that provision, he falsely said people in the country illegally "aren't civilians" and would not rule out constructing additional migrant detention camps.

Political violence, law enforcement and criminal indictments

Trump once said on Sean Hannity's show that he would not want to be a dictator "except for day one: I want to close the border, and I want to drill, drill, drill." Like many of his inflammatory claims, Trump said it was meant sarcastically as a joke, but it's just a small part of the aggrieved view he would bring to law enforcement in a second term.

In the interview, Trump claimed that a lot of people "like" language about being a dictator, and did not understand why anyone took it as anything other than a jest.

Trump said he is not worried about political violence in this year's presidential election, but implied it would be because he is victorious in November.

He faces multiple criminal trials in several states, including charges of federal election interference stemming from a hush money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels that he is facing trial for in New York currently; and a racketeering case in Georgia stemming from his failed efforts to overturn his 2020 defeat there, and more than 800 of his supporters have been sentenced for various crimes stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection attempt at the U.S. Capitol seeking to stop the transfer of power to President Biden.

Trump repeated that he would consider pardoning those supporters.

At several times over the last few years, Trump has suggested he would go after political opponents and seek to prosecute them, ranging from Biden to local district attorneys that do not align with his views on crime.

In the interview, Trump said he would not go after Biden, but if the Supreme Court did not find presidential immunity applied to Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, then Biden would be "prosecuted for all of his crimes, because he's committed many crimes."

There's no criminal charges currently pending against Biden, and a year-long effort to impeach the president over alleged improper business dealings with his son Hunter has stalled with no evidence of crimes.

If elected again, Trump would gut the federal bureaucracy and remake it in his ideological view, using something called Schedule F to fire career nonpartisan civil servants. A similar purge and rebuilding of the Republican National Committee and several key state Republican parties has taken place in recent years, with Trump's daughter-in-law Lara leading the RNC alongside former North Carolina GOP Chair Michael Whatley.

Trump said in the interview he would not hire anyone who believed Biden won the 2020 election, continuing to repeat false claims that voter fraud cost him the presidency but saw Republicans elected up and down the ballot in key states.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Stephen Fowler
Stephen Fowler is a political reporter with NPR's Washington Desk and will be covering the 2024 election based in the South. Before joining NPR, he spent more than seven years at Georgia Public Broadcasting as its political reporter and host of the Battleground: Ballot Box podcast, which covered voting rights and legal fallout from the 2020 presidential election, the evolution of the Republican Party and other changes driving Georgia's growing prominence in American politics. His reporting has appeared everywhere from the Center for Public Integrity and the Columbia Journalism Review to the PBS NewsHour and ProPublica.
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