Donald Trump has hung up on an NPR journalist who challenged him on his baseless claims that the election of 2020 was stolen, insisting that Republicans should continue to push his story despite worries in the party that he is hurting its chances in future elections.

Speaking to host Steve Inskeep, the 45th president claimed that the myriad court cases filed by his team after the election failed because it was “too early” to demonstrate the fraud he claims occurred while also dismissing one of his own lawyers, Kory Langhofer, saying “I did not think he was a good attorney to hire”.

He also claimed without citing any facts that more evidence of fraud has been “found out” since the election, reiterating debunked claims about “out of balance” results in Detroit, where no evidence of organised fraud has been found.

Mr Inskeep – who tweeted that he has been asking the sometime president for an interview for six years – repeatedly corrected Mr Trump on his falsehoods and pressed him to explain why Republican officials in many states had accepted the results if the election theft he alleges was so widespread, organised and obvious.

Replying specifically on the case of Arizona, where an “audit” staged by a Trump-supporting group Maricopa County actually widened Joe Biden’s margin of victory, Mr Trump replied: “

“Because they’re RINOs, and frankly, a lot of people are questioning that. Why would they? They fought very hard, the Maricopa County people. And people don’t understand it, because all you have to do is look at the findings.

“And, just so you know, some of those people went before Congress a short while ago… They couldn’t answer a thing. They got up and gave a beautiful statement. And then when it came time to ask, why this? Why that? What about these votes? What about those votes? They look like total fools.”

At the end of the interview, Mr Inskeep asks Mr Trump “are you telling Republicans in 2022 that they must press your case on the past election in order to get your endorsement? Is that an absolute?” That question is central to the problem of Mr Trump’s dominance in the party, with senior figures worried that his fixation on the election will cloud their message and further toxify their brand headed into the 2022 midterms.

Mr Trump was nonetheless insistent. “They are going to do whatever they want to do — whatever they have to do, they’re going to do. But the ones that are smart — the ones that know, you take a look at. Again, you take a look at how Kari Lake is doing, running for governor. She’s very big on this issue. She’s leading by a lot. People have no idea how big this issue is, and they don’t want it to happen again. It shouldn’t be allowed to happen, and they don’t want it to happen again.

“And the only way it’s not going to happen again is you have to solve the problem of the presidential rigged election of 2020.”

At that point, he abruptly ended the call.

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