60 Minutes host Lesley Stahl started the discussion by arguing that Trump encourages “lock her up” chants at his rallies, especially when they’re directed at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his 2016 opponent.
“I don’t encourage it. If I mention her name about something, they go crazy,” Trump responded.
Stahl then noted that similar chants were directed at Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who was recently the target of an alleged kidnaping plot.
“When did I say lock her up?… When did I say lock up the governor? I didn’t say lock up the governor. Why would I lock her up?” Trump said.
“Of course I don’t want to lock her up,” he stressed, before slamming Whitmer for imposing restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Crowds at Trump rallies have also taken aim at former President Barack Obama, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, and Biden’s son, Hunter.
But when Stahl asked Trump whether he wants to throw his predecessor and the entire Biden family in jail, the president said he doesn’t actually want to do that, but argued they should be investigated.
“No, I don’t want to lock them up, but they certainly should be looked at,” he explained, accusing his predecessors of spying on his 2016 campaign.
“I don’t want to lock him up, but he spied on my campaign. Obama and Biden spied on my campaign.”
Trump has repeatedly alleged that Obama and members of his administration conspired to undermine Trump’s presidency from the outset. He has also accused his predecessors of treason, which is a high crime punishable by death.
Democrats have raised concern about this rhetoric, accusing the president of putting the lives of Democratic politicians such as Whitmer and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar in danger.
In recent weeks, Trump has openly endorsed the calls to jail his political opponents. During a rally in Florida last week, when the crowd urged him to indict and imprison Clinton, Trump embraced the suggestion.
“I used to just be quiet on that. I agree with you 100 percent,” he told a group of supporters.
With less than two weeks until Election Day, Republicans have called on Trump to dial down the personal attacks and focus on policy.
Earlier this week, a handful of GOP senators advised the president to pivot to more important issues, such as COVID-19 and the economy, instead of constantly slamming the Biden family and other Democrats.