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Trump refuses to answer questions about January 6 conduct but says he behaved ‘very well’

In a new interview, former President Donald Trump refused or avoided answering many specific questions about his conduct on Jan. 6 — but maintained it was his decision to contest the 2020 election, including how to proceed is now at the center of two of the four indictments he faces.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and has dismissed the prosecution as politically motivated.

In the interview with NBC News’ Kristen Welker, which aired Sunday on “Meet the Press” after parts of it were published last week, Trump acknowledged that he was taking the lead when it came to falsely claiming that the last presidential election was illegitimate.

“As for whether or not I believe it was rigged? Of course. That was my decision. But I listened to some people. Some people said that,” he said.

Trump, who is seeking the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election, became angry at times when interviewed by Welker, refusing to answer whether he had called law enforcement on January 6, 2021 , who he called that day and how he saw the chaos unfold, saying he “behaved so well.”

“I’m not going to tell you. I’ll tell people later, at the appropriate time,” he said.

He insisted he wanted to go to the Capitol “peacefully and patriotically,” echoing the speech he gave outside the White House on January 6.

However, in those same remarks, he also encouraged his supporters to march to Congress where lawmakers were certifying the 2020 election results. “If you don’t fight like hell, you won’t have a country anymore,” he said. -he then declared.

In his NBC News interview, Trump said he was “going to look into it” when asked if he would pardon those convicted of crimes on January 6: “I certainly would if I think it’s appropriate “.

According to the Justice Department, more than 1,000 people were arrested as part of the government’s Jan. 6 investigation.

More than 300 people were accused of assaulting, resisting or obstructing officers or employees that day, the DOJ said, and more than 100 defendants were charged with using deadly weapons.

About 140 police officers were attacked on January 6, according to the DOJ.

On the possibility of pardoning himself if he is re-elected president — which would be an unprecedented move under the Constitution taken by any other commander in chief — Trump told Welker in another excerpt from the interview that it was “very improbable”.

“What did I do wrong? I didn’t do anything. Well, you mean because I contested an election they want to put me in jail,” he said.

“The last thing I would do is grant myself a pardon,” he said.

President Donald Trump speaks to supporters from The Ellipse near the White House January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

He again said he plans to testify under oath at trial to push back against government allegations that he ordered a staffer to delete security footage from his Mar-a-Lago estate in order to obstruct the investigation into his handling of government secrets. outside the office.

Trump called it a “false accusation.”

Trump is charged in four criminal cases: two federally, brought by special counsel Jack Smith, in Washington and Florida; one in New York state court; and one in Georgia state court.

The Washington and Georgia indictments are linked to the campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The Florida indictment is linked to Trump’s handling of classified documents after leaving the White House and the charges in New York relate to money he paid to an adult film actress before the 2016 election, which his lawyers had previously likened to blackmail.

In Washington’s indictment, Trump is accused of undertaking a “criminal plan” to stay in power.

Prosecutors say the plot involved six unnamed co-conspirators, including enlisting a list of so-called “fake voters” targeting multiple states; using the Justice Department to conduct “sham election crime investigations”; and attempting to enlist then-Vice President Mike Pence to “change the election results,” which Pence refused to do.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and said he was being charged because of his political views, not the law. Prosecutors dispute that.

“President Trump has always followed the law and the Constitution, with the guidance of many highly qualified attorneys,” his campaign said in a statement after his indictment in Washington.

In his interview with Welker, Trump said he wasn’t worried about going to prison and wasn’t thinking about it.

“No, not really,” he said. “I don’t even think about it. I’m built a little differently, I guess, because people have come up to me and said, ‘How do you do it, sir? How do you do it?’ I don’t even think about it…I only think about making the country great.”

Welker asked what he meant when he said in his campaign that he was a “punishment” for his supporters. He said it was about restoring law and order in the country, as he saw it, and said he would “never” seek to use law enforcement to target his opponents. .

On the right to abortion, Taiwan and its women

On abortion, Trump, whose Supreme Court appointments played a crucial role in removing the constitutional guarantee of abortion access last year, would not say whether he would sign a federal law banning abortion at 15 weeks.

Opponents of abortion have called for strict nationwide restrictions.

“I would sit down with both sides and negotiate something,” he said, repeating a common part of his speech: that he is a negotiator.

Since the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision, voters have directly weighed in on abortion in both conservative and liberal states, and in each case, they have voted to protect abortion access.

Last year’s midterm exit polls showed the issue was important in swing states like Michigan.

Trump remained evasive on banning abortion at the federal level, saying it was “probably better” to leave it to the states.

Trump also refused to answer a question about whether he would send U.S. troops if China invaded Taiwan, the self-governing island that Beijing considers a breakaway province.

“Only stupid people will” answer that question, he said.

Separately, the former president addressed former first lady Melania Trump’s lack of presence on the trail thus far – something that was denounced by critics during the campaign.

“She’s a private person, a great person, very trusting,” he said of his wife.

“She’ll be over there,” he said, “and, honestly, I like to keep her away. It’s so mean and so nasty.”

ABC News’ Lucien Bruggeman, Katherine Faulders and Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.

ABC News

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