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President Trump, in an interview with Axios that will premiere Sunday on HBO, says railing against his enemies in the media helped him win — and that his supporters like him more when he cranks up the "enemy of the people" rhetoric. 

Why it matters: In modern American history, no other president argued it’s not his job to calm people in a moment of high tension and unease, especially in the days following deadly domestic terrorism. 

Two exchanges during the interview provide a window into why Trump feels no responsibility for how Americans respond to his words or actions: He both feels wronged by the media, and knows he can whip his supporters into a frenzy by pounding the press:"

1) "Axios on HBO": "You are the most powerful man in the world. And if you say that word — 'enemy,' 'enemy,' 'enemy' — think about what enemy means."

  • Trump: "I think I'm doing a service [by attacking the press] when people write stories about me that are so wrong."
  • "I know what I do good and what I do bad. I really get it, OK? I really get it better than anybody in the whole world."

2) “Axios on HBO": "Tens of thousands of people go into a stadium to listen to you, and then people go on social media and they get themselves so jazzed up. There’s got to be a part of you that's like: 'Dammit, I'm scared that someone is gonna take it too far.'"

  • Trump: “It’s my only form of fighting back. I wouldn’t be here if I didn't do that.” 

When asked if people, including his kids, advise him to calm his rhetoric, the president replied: "Not too much. Hey, I'm here! It got me here." 

  • Reality check: White House officials tell us several family members and friends have implored him to tone it down.

Trump, in the interview for “Axios on HBO," which debuts Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT, said Republican election momentum was stopped by "two plots" — the Pittsburgh shooting and the mail bombs.

  • Trump — despite being the world's most powerful man, with the world's most powerful pulpit — portrayed himself as mismatched against a biased press.
  • "If they would write accurately about me, I would be the nicest president you've ever seen. It would be much easier."
  • "It's much easier ... for me to be nice than it is for me to be the way I have to be."

Context ... Both attacks last week were carried out by politically charged individuals:

  • The accused mail bomber, Cesar Sayoc, 56, had decked out his van as a mobile Trump billboard, including a "CNN SUCKS" sticker, and pictures quickly surfaced of him cheering at a Trump rally.
  • In Pittsburgh, Robert Bowers, 46 — who is charged with 44 counts in the 11 deaths, including hate crimes — disparaged Trump online but "pushed online conspiracy theories about the migrant caravan," the N.Y. Times reported.
  • The big picture: An Anti-Defamation League study found that "white supremacists and other far-right extremists" were responsible for 59% of extremist-related fatalities in the U.S. last year, up from 20% in 2016.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

U.S. drone strike victims' families in Afghanistan seek compensation

A relative of Ezmarai Ahmadi, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike, looks at the wreckage of a vehicle that was damaged in the strike in the Kwaja Burga neighbourhood of Kabul on Saturday. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi AFP via Getty Images

Relatives of 10 Afghans killed by a U.S. drone strike in Kabul last month said Saturday they want to see punishment and compensation over the deaths.

Driving the news: The relatives said it's "good news" that the U.S. had "officially admitted" that "they had attacked innocents" in the Aug. 29 strike that killed Zamarai Ahmadi, an aid worker with a U.S.-based group, and nine family members, but they still need "justice," per AFP.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
5 hours ago - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 is back on Earth after flight to space

A side-by-side of the Inspiration4 crew and a shot of their capsule on the way back to Earth. Photo: SpaceX

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew is back on Earth after their three-day mission in orbit.

The big picture: The launch and landing of this fully amateur, private space crew marks a changing of the guard from spaceflight being a largely government-led venture to being under the purview of private companies.

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.