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Trump dismisses warnings that his victory would threaten democracy and says Biden is the real threat

Former president Donald Trump speaks during the New York Young Republican Club's annual gala at Cipriani Wall Street, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura) Former president Donald Trump speaks during the New York Young Republican Club's annual gala at Cipriani Wall Street, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)
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Former President Donald Trump on Saturday characterized warnings that his victory in 2024 would represent a threat to democracy as a “hoax” and “Democrat misinformation.”

The former president, who faces federal and state charges stemming from his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, said in a speech hosted by the New York Young Republican Club that President Joe Biden “is the real threat to democracy.”

“Can you believe it? This is their new line, you know,” Trump said. “Here we go again — ‘Russia, Russia, Russia,’ ‘Mueller, Mueller, Mueller,’ ‘Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine.’ One hoax after another.

“But no, I’m not a threat. I will save democracy. The threat is Crooked Joe Biden,” Trump said. “And that’s what it is, it’s a hoax. We call it now the threat-to-democracy hoax, because that’s what it is.”

The former president, who said last week that he wouldn’t be a dictator if reelected “except for Day 1” to address the border and domestic oil production, complained about how those remarks had been characterized, saying he never claimed he wanted to be a dictator.

“I said I want to be a dictator for one day,” Trump said. “And you know why I want to be a dictator? Because I want a wall … and I want to drill, drill, drill.”

Trump said later that Democrats’ attacks regarding democracy were a “desperate and shameless attempt to distract from the monstrous abuses of power the left is committing before your very eyes.” He pointed to more than a dozen state-level petitions to remove him from the 2024 ballot, citing a clause of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment barring those who have engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” from office.

Biden and Democrats have warned that electing Trump again in 2024 could erode the foundations of American democracy. The president said at a fundraiser Saturday in Los Angeles that “the greatest threat Trump poses is to the democracy.”

Trump himself has talked about exacting “retribution” against political enemies if he wins in 2024, and his campaign has rolled out a series of policy proposals that would expand presidential authority over even nonpolitical levers of the federal government.

Former Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican who lost her seat to a Trump-backed primary challenger last year after she participated in the House select committee that probed the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol, said in a recent CBS interview that the nation would be “sleepwalking into a dictatorship” if Trump wins next year.

Asked about Cheney’s warning, Trump told Fox’s Sean Hannity during a town hall last week that he wouldn’t be a dictator “except for Day 1” to address the border and domestic oil production.

Those remarks kicked off a flurry of criticism. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a rival for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, said during the party’s fourth primary debate that Trump was “an angry, bitter man who now wants to be back as president because he wants to exact retribution on anyone who has disagreed with him.”

Former Vice President Al Gore, a Democrat, also weighed in on Trump’s “dictator” remarks during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. “I saw the other day where he pledged to be a dictator on Day 1, and you kind of wonder what it’ll take for people to believe him when he tells us who he is,” he said on “State of the Union.”

Trump on Saturday called Democrats “sick people” and said they “don’t care about our country.”

“They think the threat-to-democracy hoax will save Biden from having created the worst inflation in our country’s history, a fragile economy that may soon end in a depression,” the former president said.

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