Donald Trump claimed in a combative interview on Sunday that he doesn’t lie awake at night worrying about going to jail for one of his many active criminal cases, though he didn’t decisively rule out pardoning himself if he was re-elected.
The former president, who has been indicted four times this year alone, told NBC News’s Meet the Press on Sunday he doesn’t think it’s likely he’ll need to pardon himself if he’s re-elected, and added that he decided against such an unprecedented use of power once in the days after the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.
“I think it’s very unlikely,” Mr Trump said. “What, what did I do wrong? I didn’t do anything wrong. You mean because I challenge an election, they want to put me in jail?”
The former president also claimed he doesn’t “even think about” the possibility that the criminal charges against him in New York, Georgia, Florida, and Washington could result in consequences.
“I’m built a little differently I guess, because I have had people come up to me and say, ‘How do you do it, sir? How do you do it?’” he said. “I don’t even think about it.”
Mr Trump may be confident, but he faces grave criminal risks, as the federal special counsel prosecutes him for allegedly conspiring to overturn the 2020 election and hide classified documents, while state officials have charged him for alleged crimes ranging from financial fraud, to covering up hush money payments, to meddling in Georgia’s presidential election process. (The former president has denied wrongdoing in all cases.)
Speaking with NBC on Sunday, Mr Trump said that the last time he was in so much peril, at the end of his presidency, he declined to try a self-pardon, despite some advisers suggesting it as a possibility.
“Let me just tell you,” he said. “I said, ‘The last thing I’d ever do is give myself a pardon.’ I could’ve given myself a pardon. Don’t ask me about what I would do. The last day, I could’ve had a pardon done that would’ve saved me all of these lawyers, all of these fake charges.”
As The Independent has reported, the broad consensus among legal experts after January 6 was that there was no stipulation in place to actually stop a president from pardoning him- or herself, but given that there was no precedent for it either, it would likely be subjected to a lawsuit calling into question its legal validity.
A presidential self-pardon also would only apply to federal crimes, and Mr Trump faces serious state cases in New York and Georgia.
The vice around Mr Trump’s re-election hopes continues to tighten.
Last week, federal prosecutors asked a judge for a gag order limiting Mr Trump’s use of a key tool, social media, while The New York Times reports that the special counsel’s office has obtained 32 of Mr Trump’s private Twitter messages as part of its investigations.