Trump says Americans couldn’t ‘stand’ to see him in prison

Donald Trump addressed his conviction on 34 felony charges and claimed that Americans would rise up in his defense should he be thrown in prison during an interview that aired Sunday on Fox News.

Taking his first questions after a verdict was reached in his trial on Thursday, Trump spoke to three co-hosts of Fox & Friends Weekends as he turned to the relatively friendly territory of Fox News to give his reaction. The ex-president once again lashed out at prosecutors for bringing the case and wrongly accused President Joe Biden of orchestrating the various criminal prosecutions he continues to face.

He also suggested that the American public would reach its “breaking point” were he to be incarcerated for his crimes. He was found guilty of falsifying business records with the purpose of hiding a hush money scheme involving a porn star at the height of the presidential election, which prosecutors said was an illegal method of aiding his campaign. The former president has vowed to appeal. He could potentially face a maximum of four years in prison for each or any of the 34 counts.

Donald Trump appears on Fox & Friends Weekends after his conviction on 34 felony counts (Fox News)
Donald Trump appears on Fox & Friends Weekends after his conviction on 34 felony counts (Fox News)

“I don’t know that the public would stand it. You know, I don’t ... I’m not sure the public would stand for it. I think it would be tough for the public to take. You know, at a certain point, there’s a breaking point,” said the former president.

There’s no evidence that Americans are widely up in arms about the conviction of the former president on criminal charges. A YouGov poll released shortly after the verdict found that about half of all Americans agree with the jury’s verdict, while smaller segments of the population disagreed or were unsure about the ruling.

Donald Trump speaks at a press conference after his conviction on Friday, 31 May (AP)
Donald Trump speaks at a press conference after his conviction on Friday, 31 May (AP)

But Trump is likely hoping that his supporters will continue to put pressure on the legal system as his campaign uses the conviction to rile up the ex-president’s most loyal supporters. Already, his campaign has reported more than $52.8m in donations in the first 24 hours following the jury’s decision. His allies on Capitol Hill and in conservative media have relentlessly attacked the integrity of the trial, with some calling for vengeance against the Biden family and other prominent Democrats should Trump be elected to a second term.

On the campaign trail, Trump’s journey becomes more uncertain as his conviction means more court battles in the months ahead. It remains wholly unclear whether any of the other criminal prosecutions of the former president will begin before the election in November, but he now has an appeal process and sentencing to contend with on top of everything else.

Trump attacked his 2024 opponent in the interview Sunday on Fox and argued that the GOP would remain unified with him on the issue of his criminal trials.

“People get it. It’s a scam. And the Republican Party… they’ve stuck together in this. They see it’s a weaponization of the Justice Department of the FBI and that’s all coming out of Washington,” he said.

Separately, his daughter-in-law Lara Trump, now chair of the Republican National Committee, made clear what that unity meant in real terms: the cutting-off of any Republican who did not pass Trump’s latest loyalty test. That test’s newest victim is Larry Hogan, the former governor of Maryland looking to pick up a Senate seat for the GOP in the otherwise Democratic stronghold of Maryland.

“He doesn't deserve the respect of anyone in the Republican Party at this point,” Lara Trump said of Hogan in a CNN interview on Sunday’s State of the Union.

Where it once looked like Hogan had a clear shot at winning the seat (and thereby almost guaranteeing Republican control of the Senate), it now seems obvious that the ex-governor will be running against not only the Democratic Party’s establishment but the GOP’s as well as he battles Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks for the seat in November.

The Independent has reached out to the governor’s campaign for comment on the Trump team’s threats to end national support for his campaign.