Trump's disturbing Time interview shows he has no idea abortion is a ticking time bomb for the GOP

Donald Trump thinks he's brilliantly found a way to evade responsibility for the backlash to overturning Roe

By Heather Digby Parton


Published May 1, 2024 9:00AM (EDT)

Former U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks outside the clubhouse at the Trump National Golf Club on June 13, 2023 in Bedminster, New Jersey. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Former U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks outside the clubhouse at the Trump National Golf Club on June 13, 2023 in Bedminster, New Jersey. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Donald Trump has said many things that should have chased him out of politics a long time ago. But in an interview with Eric Cortellessa of Time Magazine this week, he finally said something so outrageous that it could make a difference in this campaign. When asked if states should monitor women's pregnancies so they can know if they've gotten an abortion after the ban, Trump replied:

"I think they might do that. Again, you'll have to speak to the individual states."

In other words, he's fine with whatever medieval torture a state might want to inflict. 

That wasn't all. He went on to say that states prosecuting women who get abortions is none of his concern. He promised to reveal his position on a possible national ban on the widely used drug Mifepristone in two weeks. (The two weeks have passed and when Time approached him to see if he had an update he extended it.) He may be waiting to see if the Supreme Court lets him off the hook with a ruling in the FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine case they heard last month. And he was unwilling to say whether he will vote to overturn the 6-week abortion ban that goes into effect in his home state of Florida on Wednesday. Again, he said that it would be up to the state. 

Trump thinks he's brilliantly found a way to evade responsibility for the backlash by insisting that turning it back to the states solves the problem. He really seems to believe that by putting the words "states' rights" on repeat, and constantly pushing the lie that ending Roe v. Wade, for which he proudly takes credit, was what every expert and the majority of Americans wanted, he can convince people the controversy is over. Here he is telling the press that people are very happy with what he's done:

Trump believes, with some reason, that he can change reality just by saying something over and over again. His Big Lie is proof that there are tens of millions of people who are ready to believe anything he says. But this position that the Supreme Court ban is exactly what "everyone" always wanted is a lie too far — even for him. 

Support for abortion rights has grown since the Supreme Court issued the Dobbs decision and there is no evidence that this fatuous "states' rights" rationale means anything, especially since we all know that the extremists are planning to exhume archaic laws like The Comstock Act to further restrict reproductive rights on a federal level. 

The Time interview comes on the heels of a flurry of belated reports in the press about his second-term agenda, which many of us have been screaming about for months. Project 2025 and Agenda 47 among other plans being pulled together by the MAGA establishment, which now includes venerable institutions like the Heritage Foundation and the Club for Growth, have been public for months but the media seemed to be reluctant to take them too seriously. Perhaps this was because Trump campaign officials Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita put out several statements insisting that none of these plans were official campaign policies and that any lists of personnel or plans were mere suggestions. But the election is just six months away now and it is long past time that Trump is confronted with what we've been hearing. This interview makes it clear that the candidate is on board with all of it and even has some extreme ideas of his own to add to the list.

For example, Trump confirmed in this interview that he plans to control the Department of Justice and ensure that his attorney general does his bidding. He said that if the Supreme Court does not grant the president total immunity, then Joe Biden will be prosecuted for a plethora of unnamed crimes. (He later said he didn't want to hurt Joe Biden because he has respect for the office but essentially blames Biden personally for all of his legal troubles and payback's a bitch.) 

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He plans to round up millions of immigrants, put them in camps and deport them, using the military if necessary. If the local police won't cooperate he'll withhold federal funds from their cities until they comply. He will destroy the civil service as we know it and replace the personnel with loyalists and any member of his administration must swear that they believe the 2020 election was stolen. He'll close the pandemic preparedness office (!) because he knows how to deal with it without spending all that money.

On foreign policy, he believes that the whole world is in awe of his awesomeness and that world peace will be achieved the moment he becomes president again. And if our allies don't comply with his edicts, as he's said on the campaign trail, their enemies "can do whatever the hell they want." 

Does Trump think there will be violence if he doesn't win the election in November?

“I don't think we're going to have that. I think we're going to win. And if we don't win, you know, it depends. It always depends on the fairness of an election.”

That is a threat. (Nice little election you've got here...) As we all know, there is no such thing as a fair election that Trump doesn't win. He's made that crystal clear. And by saying over and over again to his people that he's way ahead in the polls (not true) and that it's impossible for him to legitimately lose, he's setting the stage for more violence if it happens. 

Cortellessa asked Trump if he thinks his loose talk about dictatorship is "contrary to our most cherished principles" and Trump blithely replied, “I think a lot of people like it.” Well, he certainly does. 

Trump and the MAGA establishment have laid out a vivid plan for a revolutionary imperial presidency. He's said before that the Constitution can be suspended and repeatedly insisted when he was president that he had "an Article II" that gave him unlimited power. Now he's got the Supreme Court contemplating giving him immunity from prosecution for any of his crimes. As Biden would say, it's not a joke. He means it. 

By Heather Digby Parton

Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

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