Donald Trump vowed Saturday to continue running for president even if he were to be convicted as part of the 37-count federal felony indictment that was issued against him this week.
“I’ll never leave,” Trump said in an interview aboard his plane. “Look, if I would have left, I would have left prior to the original race in 2016. That was a rough one. In theory that was not doable.”
Trump is not legally prohibited from running for president from prison or as a convicted felon. But such a bid would nevertheless provide a massive stress test for the country’s political and legal systems.
The former president leveled harsh criticisms at special counsel Jack Smith and argued that the case against him was politically motivated and flimsy. “These are thugs and degenerates who are after me,” he said.
Trump predicted he would not be convicted and said he did not anticipate taking a plea deal, though he left open the possibility of doing so “where they pay me some damages.”
He sidestepped the possibility that he would pardon himself should he win the presidency in 2024. “I don’t think I’ll ever have to,” Trump said. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
While Trump said campaign fundraising had skyrocketed since the indictment was issued, he conceded it was an unwelcome development.
“Nobody wants to be indicted,” said Trump. “I don’t care that my poll numbers went up by a lot. I don’t want to be indicted. I’ve never been indicted. I went through my whole life, now I get indicted every two months. It’s been political.”