Donald Trump ended his pre-midterm rally blitz in disgusting fashion, calling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “an animal,” championing the death penalty, and giddily imagining the prison rape of the journalist who reported on the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“The leaking from the Supreme Court is unbelievable,” the former president said Monday night at a rally in Ohio. “But you get the information very easily. You tell the reporter who is it … and if the reporter doesn’t want to tell you it’s ‘bye bye.’ The reporter goes to jail. When the reporter learns he’s going to be married to a certain prisoner who’s extremely strong, tough, and mean, he will say, ‘you know, I think I’m going to give you the information.'”
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The rally on Monday wasn’t the first time Trump imagined journalists being raped in prison. He laid out the same fantasy at a rally in Texas last month, saying the reporter would give up the identity of the leaker as soon as they realize they are “going to be the bride of another prisoner very shortly.” The audience burst out in laughter, just as they did Monday night in Ohio.
It isn’t just a laugh line.
This year, as Trump has privately strategized about what a second term, potentially starting in 2025, could look like, he’s begun occasionally soliciting ideas from conservative allies for how the U.S. government and Justice Department could go about turning his desires — for brutally imprisoning significant numbers of reporters — into reality.
Several months ago, the former president briefly asked a small gathering of his allies and at least one of his attorneys about what would have to be done to make that authoritarian, First Amendment-shredding vision a norm, according to a source who was present.
“He said other countries do it — the implication being: Well, why not here?” the source recounts.
The other countries here are un-free authoritarian states, the kind for which Trump has long showed admiration. North Korea does not tolerate free expression. China and Russia are well known for jailing journalists. Viktor Orban, the Trump-endorsed autocratic ruler of Hungary, has been targeting reporters, as well. Trump has repeatedly made clear he wants to reshape America into a similarly brutal, fascist state. He praised China on Monday for executing drug dealers and sending the bullet to their families, drawing cheers from the crowd. He touted his “great relationship” with the man responsible, President Xi, at a rally last week. “He’s president for life,” Trump said. “I call him king.”
Trump closed the rally on Monday by noting that he will be making a “very big announcement,” which is widely expected to be a declaration of his 2024 presidential candidacy, at Mar-a-Lago next Tuesday.
Trump hasn’t just recently started wondering about how he might be able to jail journalists should he reclaim the White House in 2024. He was wondering about it almost immediately upon arriving there for the first time, as well. The New York Times reported in 2017 that less than a month after Trump took office, he griped to then-FBI Director James Comey about leaks to the media, and told Comey he should consider imprisoning journalists who publish classified information. It’s unclear how Comey responded. Trump would fire him less than three months later.
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