Exclusive audio: Trump defends threats to "hang" Pence

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Former President Trump — in a taped interview with Jonathan Karl of ABC News that was shared with Axios — defended, quite extensively, supporters who threatened to "hang" former Vice President Mike Pence.

Why it matters: Well, it is unprecedented for a former president to openly say it was OK to threaten the life of his vice president.

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  • Oh, the two men are on track to run against each other for the GOP nomination in 2024.

Zoom out: This is a slice of a 90-minute interview — conducted at Mar-a-Lago on March 18 — for Karl's book, "Betrayal," out on Tuesday.

  • More news-breaking audio from the interview will air Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

Go deeper: We will let the Q&A tell the story.

Jonathan Karl: "Were you worried about him during that siege? Were you worried about his safety?"

  • Trump: "No, I thought he was well-protected, and I had heard that he was in good shape. No. Because I had heard he was in very good shape. But, but, no, I think — "

Karl: "Because you heard those chants — that was terrible. I mean — "

  • Trump: "He could have — well, the people were very angry."

Karl: "They were saying 'hang Mike Pence.'"

  • Trump: "Because it's common sense, Jon. It's common sense that you're supposed to protect. How can you — if you know a vote is fraudulent, right? — how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress? How can you do that? And I'm telling you: 50/50, it's right down the middle for the top constitutional scholars when I speak to them. Anybody I spoke to — almost all of them at least pretty much agree, and some very much agree with me — because he's passing on a vote that he knows is fraudulent. How can you pass a vote that you know is fraudulent? Now, when I spoke to him, I really talked about all of the fraudulent things that happened during the election. I didn't talk about the main point, which is the legislatures did not approve — five states. The legislatures did not approve all of those changes that made the difference between a very easy win for me in the states, or a loss that was very close, because the losses were all very close."

📚 Preorder ... Read a "Betrayal" adaptation about "deputy president" Johnny McEntee ... Read a "Betrayal" excerpt about Trump's disastrous Tulsa rally.

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