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Donald Trump Interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News

August 17, 2021

HANNITY: Mr. President, thank you for being with us.

HANNITY: Let me go back. I have had a number of people tell me that there were very specific conditions and very specific warnings that you gave personally to the Taliban. Joe Biden is trying to blame you.

HANNITY: I want first to give you an opportunity to respond to that, your assessment of what's going on. And what was that conversation, to the extent you feel you're able to share it with us?

TRUMP: Well, it's good to be with you, HANNITY, but it's a terrible time for our country. I don't think, in all of the years, our country has ever been so humiliated. I don't know. Would you call it a military defeat or a psychological defeat? There's never been anything like what's happened here.

TRUMP: You can go back to Jimmy Carter with the hostages. We all thought that was a great embarrassment. And we were pulled out of that by Ronald Reagan. This is many, many times worse. And you're dealing with thousands and thousands of Americans and others that are stranded and very dangerously really stranded in Afghanistan. So, it's something that you can't even believe that a thing like this could…

TRUMP: I looked at that big monster cargo plane yesterday with people grabbing the side and trying to get flown out of Afghanistan because of their fear, their incredible fear. And they're blowing off the plane from 2,000 feet up in the air. Nobody's ever seen anything like that. That blows the helicopters in Vietnam away. That's not even a contest. This has been the most humiliating period of time I have ever seen.

TRUMP: Yeah, we had a great deal. We worked on it very hard. Mike Pompeo, a brilliant guy, and many others worked on it endlessly, meetings with the Taliban. Of course, you have to meet with the Taliban. They're the ones that you're negotiating with. I spoke on numerous occasions to the head of the Taliban and we had a very strong conversation. I told him up front, I said: "Look, before we start, let me just tell you right now that if anything bad happens to Americans or anybody else, or if you ever come over to our land, we will hit you with a force that no country has ever been hit with before, a force so great that you won't even believe it. And your village, and we know where it is…" and I named it, "will be the first one."

HANNITY: HANNITY wants to interrupt.

TRUMP: "The first bombs will be dropped right there."

HANNITY: You said this to who?

TRUMP: Yeah.

HANNITY: You said that to who?

TRUMP: To Mullah Baradar, who is probably the top person now. Nobody really knows who the top person is, but I would say that's probably the top person. And it seems to be that's the way it's rolling right now, but I had a very strong conversation. I also had a good conversation with him. We talked for a while after that. That was the primary point I was making and he understood it.

TRUMP: And I asked him, "Do you understand?"

TRUMP: He said, "Yes, I do understand."

TRUMP: And I wanted them to get a deal done with the Afghan government. Now, I never had a lot of confidence, frankly, in Ghani. I said that openly and plainly. I thought he was a total crook. I thought he got away with murder. He spent all his time wining and dining our senators. And the senators were in his pocket. That was one of the problems that we had. But I never liked him. And I guess, based on his escape with cash… I don't know, maybe that's a true story. I would suspect it is. All you have to do is look at his lifestyle, study his houses where he lives. He got away with murder in many different ways.

TRUMP: But I had a very, very strong talk with the Taliban, which I considered to be much more important in this sense, because they were the problem. And they have been there for a long time. And they're good fighters and they fight hard. And after I said that, we had a pretty good conversation.

TRUMP: Now, I have to tell you that, if you remember, when they were coming to Washington to meet with me, they decided to kill an American soldier, because they thought that was a good way to negotiate. And I canceled the trip. And we had a conditions-based agreement. And if you remember, it said May 1, we want to get out, because we have to get out.

TRUMP: I have listened to people on your show and other shows say we should stay. They don't know. We were spending $42 billion a year, $42 billion. Think of it, $42 billion. I understand Russia spends $50 billion a year for their entire military. We were spending $42 billion, not 1%. They were saying 1%. That's a lot of nonsense. We're spending $42 billion a year on defending this for years and years. We're in there really now, not 20 years, but 21-and-a-half years. And we get nothing out of any of these things that we do, whether it's them or many other countries I could tell you about. I'm not going to insult anybody right now. But to spend that kind of money, and then to have people get on shows and say how inexpensive it was…

TRUMP: And I have to tell you also that we lost no soldiers in the last year-and-a-half because of me and because of the understanding that we had. We lost no… Think of that. In Chicago and in New York and in other cities in the United States, many people die every weekend. We lost no soldiers in Afghanistan because they knew I wasn't going to put up with it. And that's what happened. So, we had a very strong conversation.

HANNITY: HANNITY wants to ask this, sir. It's interesting to listen to Joe Biden blame you. "I inherited this deal," he kept saying, but he also inherited secure borders, and he also inherited energy independence. And he also inherited three vaccines and therapeutics like Regeneron. And we now see what's been unfolding and he didn't have inflation at the time.

HANNITY: I want to go back. I want to be very clear here, because Secretary of State Pompeo on this program said exactly what you did, that there wouldn't be an exit strategy that didn't include the current conditions on the ground. And I have multiple sources, and you're confirming tonight that it sounds to me like you told the Taliban that, if they violated any aspect of this agreement with territorial ambitions… We learned last week that 60% of the country was in their control. And you told them in no uncertain terms, it sounds to me like you would basically treat them like you took care of the caliphate in Syria, ISIS.

TRUMP: Well, we did. We got rid of the caliphate. Everyone said it was impossible, and I did it very quickly. And I let the generals make the decisions, the generals, the real generals, the ones that were over there doing the fighting, the ones that knew how to do it, because we have a lot of generals that shouldn't be generals right now, frankly. And I'm watching them all the time. But we have some great ones. We have great leaders in our military. We have the greatest military in the world and we're giving it a very bad reputation, what's happening.

TRUMP: Think of it. We took this horrible place, I mean, a place that just we shouldn't have been in involved. It was a horrible decision going into the Middle East. And I know the Bush family will not be happy, but I believe it was the worst decision in the history of our country when we decided to go into the Middle East. It's turned out to be quicksand. We have destroyed the Middle East. Do you think it's better now than it was 20, 21 years ago? It's much worse. It was a horrible decision, cost us trillions of dollars and, if you look at both sides, because I like to look at both sides, millions and millions of lives. And it's no different than it was. It's much worse, because you have to rebuild it. It has been blown to pieces. The worst decision ever made was going. You could do a strike as retribution, and it could be a big strike, as retribution for the World Trade Center, et cetera, but to get stuck in there, it was like quicksand. So, we did a terrible thing.

TRUMP: But think of what's happening now. I have heard as many as 40,000 Americans. And the Taliban, good fighters, I will tell you, they're good fighters. We have to give them credit for that. They have been fighting for 1,000 years. That's what they do, is they fight. The Taliban has circled the airport. And who knows if they're going to treat us right. You know, all of a sudden, they will say, "Well…" Frankly, if they were smart, then really… And they are smart, and they are smart. They should let the Americans out. But we have had situations where you have two or three or four hostages. We could have 40,000 Americans, not to mention others, like people that helped us in Afghanistan.

TRUMP: So, we have never had a situation like this. We have 40,000 potential hostages, a minimum-

HANNITY: We don't know how many.

TRUMP: … of 11,000, but it could be as many as 40.

TRUMP: No, they have no idea how many. Nobody knows how many. They don't know anything.

HANNITY: When Joe Biden told the country that he trusted that the Afghan military was so far superior, and there were over 300,000-strong, and they had an air force, and we wouldn't see what happened in Saigon, he couldn't have been more wrong. But let me go back to the words you used to the Taliban leader, because we knew last week that 60% of the country had already been taken over by the Taliban. And there was no sense of urgency to me.

HANNITY: Under your plan, if they had taken over 5%, not 60, like they had last… 5% that was not in your agreement, what would have happened to them?

TRUMP: We would have hit them very hard. Again, the words are conditions, plural, conditions-based. It was an agreement where, actually, we wanted to get out by May 1, and they violated the agreement. So, we didn't. It's a great agreement from a lot of different standpoints. And, frankly, Biden didn't have to even go by that agreement. He could have done… Look what he's done to the border. We had the greatest border, Southern border, in the history of our country. We stopped drugs. We stopped human trafficking. We stopped people from coming in, prisoners from coming in. Now-

TRUMP: We stopped people from coming in, prisoners from coming in. Now you have the worst people in the world. They're emptying their jails into our country. This is like the Southern border but it's handled even worse. Nobody handled the Southern border worse than him. We had the most secure border we've ever had. Now we have, by far, the worst border we've ever had.

TRUMP: Well, Afghanistan is the exact same thing. To think of this, we have a military, it's holding it. I got to reduce down to 2,500 soldiers and they were doing a good job. It was fine. It was a smaller force. I took it down from close to 20 to 2,500 and we were fine, but we have the military there and we take the military out before we took our civilians out and before we took the interpreters and other, we want to try and help.

TRUMP: But by the way, I'm America first, okay? The Americans come out first, but we're also going to help people that helped us. And we have to be very careful with the vetting because you have some rough people in there, but we're going to help those people, but can you imagine?

TRUMP: Now what we were going to do just very quickly is we were going to take the military out last, okay? Last. The people were coming out. They were going to come out, but the agreement was violated, so I held things back because we weren't going to do anything again, conditions based.

HANNITY: Well, we will be debating.

TRUMP: So they weren't fulfilling their obligations and condition, but here's… Just to finish. The people come out first, then I was going to take all of the military equipment. We have billions and billions of dollars worth of new Black Hawk helicopters, brand new that Russia now will be examining and so will China and so will everybody else to figure it, because it's the greatest in the world.

TRUMP: We have brand new army tanks and all sorts of equipment, missiles. We have everything. I was going to take it out because I knew they weren't going to fight. Just one thing, and I have to say, and this is different from everyone else. I said, "Why are they fighting? Why are these Afghan soldiers fighting against the Taliban?" And I was told some very bad information by a lot of different people.

TRUMP: The fact is they're among the highest paid soldiers in the world. They were doing it for a paycheck because once we stopped, once we left, they stopped fighting. So all of the people that talk about the bravery and everything, I say everybody's brave. But the fact is our country was paying the Afghan soldiers a fortune.

TRUMP: So we were sort of bribing them to fight. And that's not what it's all about. It's a great thing that we're getting out, but nobody has ever handled a withdrawal worse than Joe Biden. This is the greatest embarrassment, I believe, in the history of our country.

HANNITY: Mr. President, we don't know how many Americans are trapped behind enemy lines. We know that the Taliban have set up a perimeter around the airport. I guess the question is, how do we get our people home now? What you advise? What would you do if you were put into this situation right now and dropped in and you were to take over? What is the answer? Because we don't know where they are.

HANNITY: Senator Tom Cotton literally said that people are being told to go to a website. "Don't call anymore, go to our website," he said. I'm like, "Please tell me we have a better plan than that." Joe's been on vacation. I just heard that apparently he landed back at the White House. Nice of him to return.

TRUMP: And he only returned because he was getting terrible press, okay? He didn't return for any other reason. And I don't even believe he's calling the shots. Look, what you need more than anything is a president that's respected. You need a president that got rid of ISIS. We 100% got rid of ISIS. We did a job, Al Baghdadi. I won't even mention all of the things that we did. Nobody's ever done what we've done.

TRUMP: We were respected all over the world. China was paying us billions and billions of dollars of tariffs. Companies were moving back into our country and China respected us. And frankly, they respected me. But you look, Russia, I had the pipeline stopped. Totally stopped. Biden comes in. He approves that pipeline, but he disapproves the Keystone XL Pipeline.

TRUMP: You need a president that's respected. I've never realized how important frankly, and it's a horrible thing to say, how important a president, the head of this country is? I thought it would maybe run through bureaucracy. It doesn't. You need somebody up there that they're going to respect. So when they say, "Oh, he talked to the Taliban, you remember they were criticizing me."

TRUMP: They criticized me when I talked to Kim Jong-un. Well, President Biden told me it's the single biggest problem we have. I said, "Have you ever called him? Have you ever talked to him?" "No, I haven't." He did try but he was not receptive on the other side, but he was receptive with me.

TRUMP: Now we were supposed to have a war and probably a very big nuclear war. I get along with him great and I got along with him great. He doesn't like Biden much, I'll tell you that. But I got along with him great and we had no problems. You remember that? We were virtual-

HANNITY: I was there.

TRUMP: Remember the big button versus the little button and all thing. Let me just… We get along great. We had a very good relationship. We met, we got no credit for that one. No problem. By the way, South Korea, I got them to pay billions of dollars. Billions. We're protecting South Korea. They're very wealthy. They build the ships. They build the televisions. They've built… They do everything. They're very rich.

TRUMP: They were paying us nothing. I got them to pay billions and billions of dollars because we're protecting them from North Korea. And I had a very good relationship with President Moon and all of the people in South Korea. In fact, they liked me and I liked them, but I said, "Why are we doing this for nothing?"

TRUMP: Japan, the same thing. So many… We're protecting the world. We can't do this. We're not supposed to be doing this. If you look at Russia, if you look at China, how many countries are they fighting for? One, you ask them. They're fighting for Russia, they're fighting for China. They're not fighting for 93 different countries all over the world. Most of them, I mean, nobody ever heard of them. So we had a very, very strong conversation with the Mullah. And frankly, it absolutely is interesting.

HANNITY: [crosstalk 00:16:30]

TRUMP: They would not have done what they've done right now. This is the greatest embarrassment and beyond embarrassment. This is something that will affect our relationships for years to come and decades to come. I will say when China watches this, they're so happy and they're laughing at us. They're laughing. I extracted billions and billions of dollars out of China. It never happened.

TRUMP: We never got 10 cents from China. Billions and billions. They was so happy to see a rigged election. They might've helped it along actually, but they were so happy. But Sean, I'll tell you what, this is the greatest embarrassment that I've ever seen. This is… And you know it better than… You do an incredible job in covering it and I appreciate it. The whole country appreciates it.

TRUMP: This is the greatest embarrassment in the history of our country. There's never been… And let me tell you, we haven't stopped. This is not ending again. We have all of those thousands of Americans over there and others, and you're saying, " How are they going to get…" They have a Taliban ring around the airport and they said, "Nobody else now."

TRUMP: They're saying we'll negotiate. But I really… Do you really think… I mean, their history is that they're very brutal and they don't like to negotiate. That's their history and Biden put us in this position. He should have gotten the civilians out first. Then he should have taken the military equipment.

TRUMP: We have billions of dollars of brand new, beautiful equipment. Take the equipment out and then take the soldiers out. And frankly, I said, take the soldiers out. But before you leave, blow up all the forts because we built these forts that are being now used by the enemy. It's not even believable.

HANNITY: They left everything. It's interesting because I'm watching both Russia and China race in and they want to recognize the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan almost immediately. It's funny. I mentioned to you that I had numerous sources that said that, apparently a lot of people are on your phone calls.

HANNITY: I know everyone wanted to release the Ukraine call. They said, "What we really need to do is release the calls between president Trump and the head of the Taliban. And maybe while we're at it, we can release some of the calls with President Trump and President Xi because America might be shocked to hear how strong you were and forceful you are in a lot of these conversations," which leads me to a question about what's going on with China and Russia.

HANNITY: They're both arming Iran putting that aside. But China in particular has threatened our military bases, Japan's military bases. They lectured our country in front of our Secretary of State, not Mike Pompeo, Blinken in anchorage about human rights of all things after COVID.

HANNITY: And then the communist Chinese are saying we need to beg for permission to land in Taiwan and their propaganda newspapers suggesting that America won't lift a finger to help our ally, Taiwan. If in fact they have reunification, which we both means they want to take over Taiwan. And I'm not sure I disagree with that assessment. I don't believe Joe Biden would lift a finger to help Taiwan. Your thoughts on the new aggressive nature of China.

TRUMP: Well, I had a great relationship with President Xi, a really great relationship. We got along great until COVID, even though I taxed the hell out of him through the tariffs, they weren't happy. But I had a very good relationship and we met at-

TRUMP: They weren't happy, but I had a very good relationship, and we met at Mar-a-Lago, and I told him very strongly, "Do not do anything having to do with Taiwan. Just don't do it." And I said it much stronger than that. I'm not going to say exactly how, but it was said very strongly. This wasn't a call, this was sitting in a sofa at Mar-a-Lago, where a meeting that was supposed to last 15 minutes before we went on to various other things with our different people, but it lasted for hours. We got along great.

TRUMP: The first half hour, I said, "Do not do anything having to do with Taiwan. I know you want to, do not do it." Anyway, then the election gets rigged and we end up with a different president. And what happens, there are bombers now last week, 28 bombers flying over Taiwan. And this happened a week after the election. They were all of a sudden, I think bad things are going to happen with respect to Taiwan because they don't respect our leadership and they no longer respect our country. And that's a really bad thing, China does not respect us any longer. And they had more respect for us just seven months ago than they ever had for this country.

HANNITY: Let me ask you about, the border was one of your big issues, sir. You had put in place a Stay in Mexico policy, you built over 500 miles of border wall, you ended Catch and Release. Okay. Well, now the Stay in Mexico policy is gone, the wall construction has ended, and it's no longer Catch and Release, it's process and release in the middle of a pandemic. You've see in the cages that are overcrowded with all these illegal immigrants, a high rate of COVID positivity, there's no vaccine mandates, vaccine passports, mass mandates for illegal immigrants that many states are putting and burdening American people with. Those people are then being dispersed all over the country. Wow! A big change that seven months can make, and now it's going to be millions of people. What was your reaction? What is your reaction?

TRUMP: I've never seen anything like what was happening and what is happening now at our Southern border, all he had to do is nothing. We had the greatest Remain in Mexico, people weren't even allowed into our country. And we won that in the courts, it was very tough. The wall was almost completed. It could have been built in another month, they delayed with two and a half years, when the Democrats in Congress sued me. We never had a border anywhere like it.

TRUMP: And then almost immediately they ended these policies, Catch and Release, you catch them and release them into our country, instead of catching them and bringing them back to their country. And many of these people are stone cold and very hard convicts and prisoners, they're very tough. I mean, literally, as I said, they are emptying their jails. And not just the three countries, not just Honduras, and Guatemala, and El Salvador, many countries are coming in and they're emptying out their prisons and letting them come into our country. And they're walking in in caravans and other ways. What's happening?

TRUMP: So I never saw anything so stupid in my life until the last few days with Afghanistan, that blows the stupidity of the Southern border. What happened and what is happening in Afghanistan is unbelievable. And we're being set up by very tough people that are very great negotiators. I'll tell you what, they're automatically great negotiators. They've been fighting for a thousand years, and everything about them, they negotiate. We're being set up. They have all of those people, and in a certain way, I guarantee you, they consider them to be hostages. And let's see what happens over the coming weeks. But this is not a story that just ended today or yesterday, this is a story that's going to go on for a long time, and it could be a very, very bad ending.

HANNITY: We have Americans caught behind enemy lines right now, and we were told this could never happen, and it happened. Let me ask you about energy. One of the reasons I had, for many years, been an advocate of energy independence, because what happens in the Straits of Hormuz and in the Middle East are not really that important. You accomplished something in your administration, I don't think you got a lot of credit for, but you made America energy independent for the first time in 75 years. I don't think in the last months of your administration, you imported a single barrel of oil from Saudi Arabia, for example, not one.

TRUMP: Zero.

HANNITY: And now we just had in the last two weeks, Joe Biden, begging OPEC to increase production because it still is the lifeblood of the world's economy. My question is, with gas up $1.30 a gallon, this is now a new tax on the American people, that means the cost of delivering every single product in every grocery store, drug store, every Homes Depot, and Lowe's, is costing Americans more. And inflation on top of it at 5.4%, a 15-year high, your reaction to that aspect of the economy alone.

TRUMP: So energy independence was one of my greatest achievements, I thought. I think the vaccine, energy independence, what we did on the border, frankly, Afghanistan would have been great, we would have been out, and we would have been out with dignity and with pride and it would have worked out great, none of this stuff going, this though. Again, it's not the concept of leaving, it's the way they withdrew, it was not even possible to believe. But gasoline, as you know, was a $1.87 when I was leaving office, and now it's going to be up to over $5 very soon. And they're talking to OPEC. I know the OPEC people very well. You talk about negotiators, they're killing us. And what you didn't say is that Biden failed with OPEC. They told him no on the cutbacks, they failed with OPEC.

TRUMP: To think that we're back to negotiating with OPEC, that's how we got into the Middle East years ago because we needed the energy, and we went into the Middle East and would protect countries because we needed the energy. We didn't have to do that anymore, we were energy independent. And now, those wells are shut down and those jobs are gone. And Keystone is, and it's number is 48,000 jobs not 8,000 jobs. And they lied in the campaign because Biden never talked about closing up Keystone. He said, "Oh, well, we'll look at it. We'll look at it." They were lying because it was almost the first day that they closed up Keystone and those workers are devastated. And the head of the union, they all support me, but the head of the union supported Biden and they got to throw him the hell out because he was worthless because look what happened. But they lied about so many things. They lied about energy, they lied about Keystone, they lied about the military, they lied about so much. Our country is in such trouble, such trouble.

HANNITY: Mr. President, you touched on Russia, I want to go back to it because we saw these massive cyber attacks in their energy grid and also our food line, especially with our meats in this country. And then we also witnessed, and you referenced it earlier in the interview, the waiver that you prevented Vladimir Putin from getting, which allowed him to build the pipeline, that is literally the lifeblood of the economy of our allies in Western Europe, while simultaneously cutting out the Keystone XL pipeline, high-paying career jobs for Americans. And I've got to ask, because if it was you or your sons, and let's see, what do they have in common? Russia, Hunter Biden got a lot of money, China, they didn't do a deal with Goldman Sachs, they didn't do a deal with Deutsche Bank, they did a deal with Hunter Biden, 1,000,000,005 with the Bank of China.

HANNITY: And again, Joe Biden has said nothing to threats against our military or "reunification" threats with Taiwan, or you must get permission to land an airplane in Taiwan, which I never thought would happen or get lectured on human rights. My question then is, if the last name was Trump and your sons were making money in China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, if your sons lied on a gun application and threw that gun in a garbage basket or wastebasket, if your sons were on video smoking crack and with hookers, would the question not logically become, do you believe these countries have compromising materials, potentially, the very thing, you remember, Adam Schiff, "compromising materials on Trump", when they didn't have it and he was being scammed. Do you see any potential for compromise here? Because it doesn't make sense to me to give Putin a waiver.

TRUMP: So this story, the new tape that just came out two days ago has not been on any mainstream media at all. It was on your show and a couple of shows, but no mainstream, it wasn't an NBC, or CBS, or ABC, it wasn't on CNN, it wasn't on any, it's Hunter Biden, and it's the worst thing I've seen. You can't even imagine this. And look, I hope families live well, but what they're doing is they're doing political persecutions with their prosecutors, whether they're local or federal and our people didn't do that, the Republicans don't do it anywhere. I mean, it's like a different world. They use prosecutors for persecution, and it's happening. And our country is angry about it and they see it. But what's going on with Hunter and China and Russia and all of that. I mean, they go after people for much, for tiny…

TRUMP: Yeah. And all of that. They go after people for tiny little things. And here's somebody that took vast amounts of money out of China and out of Ukraine and out of Russia, three and a half million dollars from the mayor's wife and Chris Wallace. Wouldn't let me talk about that during a debate. He wouldn't even let me bring it up. Well, that has nothing to do. I said, "It has a lot to do with it."

TRUMP: But it's a very sad period of time for our country. Everything's going bad. We have inflation. The economy is going to go to hell. We have inflation like we haven't seen in a long time. I think it's much worse if you look just at energy. And when energy goes up, everything goes up because it's all about energy. Everything goes up. But you look at the price of food where it's being doubled and tripled in some cases, we're going to have inflation.

TRUMP: And I remember with Jimmy Carter … and the good thing is for Jimmy is that Jimmy's looking like a much better president right now because you always have to have comparisons. But I remember with Jimmy Carter with a big inflation, the prime rate went to 21%, 21% and the country came to a halt. Worse than a halt. Well, I'll tell you, we better get our act together. That's all I can say.

TRUMP: You look at what's going on with our economy and with inflation and so many other things. ANWR in Alaska, biggest drilling site in the world, I got it open. Ronald Reagan couldn't do it. Nobody could do it for 60, 7 … They'd been trying for 60, 70 years, I got it done. And it was just terminated. The biggest site in the world, probably bigger than Saudi Arabia in terms of oil. I got it done and they just terminated it. And the people of Alaska are very upset. Okay. They are very upset with Senator Murkowski and others.

HANNITY: They made money.

TRUMP: But here's the greatest thing. And they ended it. So we had energy independence and now we don't.

HANNITY: Instead of begging OPEC, Governor Abbott … We're praying for him tonight. I know that he announced that he had COVID today, another breakthrough case. Instead of begging OPEC, why don't we just go back to doing what was working for you instead of allowing millions of people into this country with a high rate of COVID positivity in the middle of pandemic and then dispersing them all around the country, why don't we go back to the stay in Mexico policy, the border wall building, and process and release and protect our borders? They seem to be things that can be solidly resolved.

TRUMP: They could all be done. Yeah. Well, nothing's simple. The things we want on the border were won through courts. It took a long time. And then all of a sudden they gave them up. We had to make deals with Mexico. The President of Mexico is a great guy. We're very friendly and we did a deal. I had 28,000 soldiers paid for by Mexico, his soldiers on the border, not letting people in, and we didn't pay anything. I promised not to tariff his cars during this period, but that's okay, whatever it takes. But we didn't have people coming in during the construction of the wall. And the wall worked. We built almost 500 miles. They could finish it in a month. Now they're paying billions of dollars not to finish the wall. It's not even believable. And the contractors that haven't been … They're just having a field day. But when you look at all of this stupidity, I don't think our country can take it. And I don't think our people can take it, either.

HANNITY: Let me ask you, the American people now watching, what will be a 25 to 30 year record of illegal immigrants coming into the country when you had set a 25 year low of illegal immigrants coming into the country. The American people now, many are angry about mask mandates, vaccine mandates, vaccine passports, but none of these restrictions are being applied to people that are not respecting our laws, our borders, and our sovereignty. How do you explain that? And do you support the restrictions on Americans, but not illegal immigrants?

TRUMP: Yeah. First of all, the border, it's not 25 years, it's the worst in history. It's not the worst in 25 years. We've never had a situation where massive caravans of people are pouring into our country. So it's the worst ever.

TRUMP: As far as the vaccine, I'm very proud of it. I pushed the FDA like they've never been pushed. They don't like me too much. I'm not so sure I like them. Very bureaucratic, but I got them to approve a great vaccine, three of them, in a period of less than nine months. I was told by Fauci and everybody else it would take three to five years and probably five and it probably won't even happen. And I got it done in less than nine months. So I consider it a great achievement. I actually think that if we didn't get it done, worldwide, you would have another Spanish flu, which killed almost a hundred million people according to history. 50 to a hundred, they don't even know. But I would love people to take the vaccine. In the meantime, wear your mask if you want but, again, you want your freedoms. You have to have your freedoms.

HANNITY: I know the obvious question as we head with the last minute of the program available is, are you considering a run again in 2024? I'll let you answer it any way you want, but I'll go back to our original question. Now that we have all these Americans behind enemy lines, in the 45 seconds we have left, what would you do now to help them with that specific situation?

TRUMP: So, because the campaign finance laws are extremely complicated and unbelievably stupid, I'm actually not allowed to answer that question. Can you believe it? I'd love to answer it. But let me put it this way. I think you'll be happy. And I think a lot of our friends will be very happy, but I'm not actually allowed to answer it. It makes it very difficult if I do. So people, you're going to be happy because I love this country and I hate to see what's happening to it. As far as if you look at-

HANNITY: Would you be willing to get on the phone with the people that you gave very harsh words to and talk to them on behalf of the Americans that are behind enemy lines tonight? We have 15 seconds.

TRUMP: Well, I would, but they're not into words, they're into strength. And the strength is the President because he controls … I rebuilt the military. We had an obsolete military. We had old jets, we had 45-year-old jets. We rebuilt this military and created Space Force. But the answer is I'd like to help, but you have to do it through the strength of the President's office and Biden has dissipated that strength. We are no longer respected.

HANNITY: We're out of time, sir. Thank you for your time. We'll have you back soon. We appreciate you being with us. Laura is going to have a great show next. Don't miss it straight ahead.

Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump Interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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