Former US president Donald Trump has repeated his false claim that he actually won last year’s election in his first interview since leaving office.
Mr Trump phoned in to Fox News today to speak about the death of conservative talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh, who just lost a long battle with lung cancer at the age of 70.
During the course of the interview, anchor Bill Hemmer asked Mr Trump what he and Mr Limbaugh had spoken about in their conversations “after the election” in November of last year.
“Well Rush thought we won. And so do I, by the way. I think we won substantially. And Rush thought we won,” said Mr Trump.
“He thought it was over at 10 o’clock, it was over. And a lot of other people feel that way too. But Rush felt that way strongly, and many people do. Many professionals do.
“I don’t think that could have happened to a Democrat. You would have had riots going all over the place if that happened to a Democrat. We don’t have the same support in certain levels of the Republican system. But we have great people.”
President Joe Biden won the electoral college vote 306-232, and won the popular vote by about seven million ballots.
Mr Trump’s claims about voter fraud were tested repeatedly in court, and judges at federal and state level – including conservative judges appointed by Mr Trump – found they were without merit.
Nevertheless, the outgoing president continued to tell his supporters the election had been “stolen” from him, and on January 6 thousands of them stormed the US Capitol as Congress met to formally count the electoral votes.
The rioters were attempting to halt the count. They specifically hunted for Mike Pence, who was presiding over the joint session. Mr Trump had told his supporters the then-vice president had the power to unilaterally reject Mr Biden’s victory. Mr Pence had no such power.
Groups of insurrectionists were heard saying they wanted to “hang” Mr Pence as a “traitor”.
Five people died in the violence, more than 100 law enforcement officers were injured, and two officers later took their own lives.
Mr Trump was impeached on January 13 by the House of Representatives, which accused him of “incitement of insurrection”.
His impeachment trial in the Senate ended on Saturday, with a 57-43 vote in favour of convicting him. That fell well short of the 67 votes required for conviction, meaning Mr Trump is free to run for office again.
Today’s interview was the first Mr Trump had given since the riot.
He said the US was a “third world country on election night” and Mr Limbaugh was “furious” about it.
“Many people are furious. You don’t know how angry this country is,” said Mr Trump.
“We should have had it. We did have it.”
These remarks came a few days after the former president released a triumphant statement about his acquittal in the Senate, promising his political movement had “just begun”.
“It is a sad commentary on our times that one political party in America is given a free pass to denigrate the rule of law, defame law enforcement, cheer mobs, excuse rioters, and transform justice into a tool of political vengeance and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree,” he said.
“I always have, and always will, be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honourably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate.
“This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country. No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago.
“I also want to convey my gratitude to the millions of decent, hardworking, law-abiding, God and country loving citizens who have bravely supported these important principles in these very difficult and challenging times.
“Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun. In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people. There has never been anything like it!
“We have so much work ahead of us, and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant and limitless American future. Together there is nothing we cannot accomplish.”