Former President Donald Trump hung up on an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep Tuesday after being challenged on his unrelenting and baseless assertions of election fraud, slamming members of his own party who reject the claims and dismissing evidence of their falsity as he serves as political kingmaker in backing candidates supporting the lies for upcoming elections.
In the interview, Trump continued false claims that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged” and “corrupt” and said Democrats would attempt to steal this year’s midterms and 2024 unless Republicans kept talking about the issue.
When pushed on why his claims of widespread electoral fraud had not panned out and resulted in repeated losses in court, Trump claimed he had a bad attorney, that it was “too early” to claim fraud at the time and reiterated debunked claims there were more votes than voters.
Trump decried fellow Republicans who rejected his claims, calling them “RINOs,” a derogatory term standing for “Republicans In Name Only.”
He called Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell a “loser” and blamed him for the majority of Senate Republicans not backing his election claims.
Ultimately, Inskeep said Trump “hung up” on him when he continued to push on his assertions of election fraud before he was able to ask the former president questions about the Capitol insurrection.
What To Watch For
Trump said “smart” political candidates in the Republican party are those pressing his case for the 2020 election, pointing to Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake as an example. Support of his fraud claims are practically a requirement for securing his endorsement and his support has proven influential in Republican primaries.
Before allegations of voter fraud, Trump criticized the current administration’s coronavirus vaccine mandate. “It’s hurting our country… [and] it’s hurting our economy very badly,” he said, calling for therapeutics to be promoted more alongside vaccines. Trump has not been as forthcoming as other former presidents about his vaccination status and stressed “individual choice,” though said he feels “very comfortable having taken them.” However, Trump said he was unsure why people would get the vaccine unless they were in a certain age group or had other health conditions—a statement that runs counter to public health guidance on the virus—and downplayed the risks of reinfection, which are significant with the spread of the more contagious omicron variant.
Trump’s claims of election fraud were back on center stage in early January, as the country marked the first anniversary of his supporters storming the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election on January 6. While Trump continued to push the baseless claims on the anniversary, President Joe Biden days later threw his support behind changing Senate rules to abolish the filibuster when it comes to voting rights, after Republicans introduced restrictive voting bills following the election.
15 minutes. That’s how long Trump’s interview with NPR was scheduled for. The call lasted just over 9 after the former president abruptly ended the interview.