After several lines of questioning related to Trump’s widely debunked election claims, Inskeep asked Trump whether he would endorse only Republican candidates this year who are pressing his case that the 2020 contest against Joe Biden was stolen from him.
“Is that an absolute?” Inskeep asked.
Trump responded that the candidates “that are smart” are going to press his case, citing Kari Lake, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Arizona. Lake, a former news anchor, has parroted Trump’s baseless claims about election fraud.
“She’s very big on this issue,” Trump said. “She’s leading by a lot. People have no idea how big this issue is, and they don’t want it to happen again. . . . And the only way it’s not going to happen again is you have to solve the problem of the presidential rigged election of 2020.”
As Inskeep sought to interject, Trump said: “So, Steve, thank you very much. I appreciate it.” He then hung up, prompting Inskeep to protest.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, I have one more question,” Inskeep said, adding that he wanted to talk about a court hearing related to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol.
Earlier in the interview, Inskeep had challenged Trump multiple times on his claims of election fraud.
Inskeep asked, for example, why election officials in Arizona had accepted the findings of a Republican-ordered audit that uncovered no issues that would have altered the result of the 2020 presidential race in the state.
“Because they’re RINOs, and frankly, a lot of people are questioning that,” Trump said, referring to the term “Republicans in name only.”
Pressed on why most U.S. senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have not backed his election fraud claims, Trump replied, “Because Mitch McConnell is a loser.”
McConnell has been elected to his Senate seat seven times, first in 1984 and most recently in 2020, when he won nearly 58 percent of the vote against Democrat Amy McGrath. He has served as the Republican leader in the Senate since 2007.
During the interview, Trump also repeated an argument that Biden could not have won the election because he drew only modest crowds on the campaign trail.
“How come Biden couldn’t attract 20 people for a crowd?” Trump asked. “How come when he went to speak in different locations, nobody came to watch, but all of a sudden, he got 80 million votes? Nobody believes that, Steve. Nobody believes that.”
“If you’ll forgive me, maybe because the election was about you,” Inskeep responded.
Trump also spoke about his views on vaccines, claiming a mandate on businesses by the Biden administration “is really hurting our country.”
“A lot of Americans aren’t standing for it, and it’s hurting our country,” Trump said. “It’s hurting our economy very badly.”
Trump said that while he recommends getting vaccinated, “I think it has to be an individual choice.”