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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

Garland says DOJ will strengthen rules on obtaining lawmakers' records

Photo: Tom Brenner-Pool/Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday he has directed Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco to "evaluate and strengthen the department’s existing policies and procedures for obtaining records" from members of Congress.

Why it matters: At Garland's direction, the Justice Department's inspector general has opened an investigation into the Trump-era DOJ's use of secret subpoenas to obtain data belonging to House Democrats.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Technology

Israel's new PM Naftali Bennett made his name as a millionaire tech founder

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images

Naftali Bennett yesterday became prime minister of Israel, succeeding Benjamin Netanyahu, after his power-sharing government survived a vote of confidence.

Why it matters: Bennett becomes Israel's first new prime minister since 2009, and he takes office as Netanyahu stands trial for corruption.

2 hours ago - World

Biden at NATO summit: Collective defense is "a sacred obligation"

President Joe Biden is greeted by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the NATO summit. Photo: Patrick Semansky/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden reaffirmed the United States' commitment to NATO during a sit-down with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the president's first meeting of NATO's 2021 summit in Brussels.

Why it matters: Biden has used his first international trip as president to reassure allies of his administration's commitment to multilateralism and to NATO's Article 5, which stipulates that the entire alliance will respond to an attack on any member nation.