3 takeaways from Tucker Carlson's softball interview with Donald Trump

Donald Trump is interviewed by Tucker Carlson on Aug. 23, 2023. (via X)
Donald Trump is interviewed by Tucker Carlson on Aug. 23, 2023. (via X)

In a pretaped interview designed to undercut the first Republican presidential primary debate, fired former Fox News host Tucker Carlson gave former President Donald Trump a platform to express himself without being challenged. Trump opted to skip the debate, where the GOP frontrunner would have taken blows from his rivals.

Before the 46-minute interview began, Trump wrote on his social media site that “SPARKS WILL FLY.” Instead, Carlson marched in lock-step with Trump throughout the bulk of the interview.

Softball questions

Tucker Carlson interviews Donald Trump
Tucker Carlson one-on-one interview with Donald Trump on Wednesday night. (via X)

Carlson did not touch on the substance of the 91 felonies Trump is accused of having committed in the four criminal trials that could take place during the presidential election. But he did offer: “How do you get indicted every week and stay cheerful?”

On the subject of who Trump might run against if Biden were to drop out of the race, Carlson ventured, “I’m interested. So you think he’s failing. It’s obvious he is failing. I think it’s clear to everybody. But that would make Kamala Harris the candidate?”

“Well, not really,” Trump responded before speculating at length and reflecting that Harris “has some bad moments.”

An eye on revenge

Republican presidential candidate and former Vice President Mike Pence
Republican presidential candidate and former Vice President Mike Pence speaking on Saturday. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

While Carlson boasted that his interview with Trump would likely have more viewers than the GOP debate on the network fired in April, he also made sure to encourage some score settling with those who have criticized the former president. That list included Republican presidential candidates Asa Hutchinson, Chris Christie and Mike Pence, who Trump singled out for not going along with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

“I was very disappointed in him,” Trump said of his former running mate.

Also singled out for scorn were Trump’s former Attorney General William Barr, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and former Fox News anchor Chris Wallace.

‘Not a conspiracy person at all’

Jeffrey Epstein
Financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who died in prison in 2019. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP)

Though Carlson asserted that he was “not a conspiracy person at all,” he asked Trump whether he believed his former friend Jeffrey Epstein had been killed in prison and whether Barr might have had something to do with it or helped cover up the murder. In perhaps the most newsworthy moment of the interview, Trump responded that he believed Epstein had “probably committed suicide.”

At two different points in the interview, Carlson asked Trump whether he was worried that his political opponents were “going to try to kill you?”

“They’re savage animals,” Trump responded. “They’re people that are sick.”