Inside the story behind TIME’s “If He Wins” Donald Trump cover

Read our full cover story on Donald Trump . You can also read the transcript of the interviews and a full fact check .

Interviewing political leaders has long been a staple of TIME’s journalism, as we report on the most influential people worldwide and share those insights with our readers and viewers. With half a year remaining until the U.S presidential election, we want our coverage of this campaign to be helpful to our readers, and to help the world and American voters understand what the candidates would do if elected. Today, Donald Trump is better positioned to win the White House than at any point in his prior two campaigns. TIME’s Eric Cortellessa, who covers the Trump campaign, interviewed the former president twice in April to hear directly from Trump himself what a second term would look like.

Much of the coverage of the 2024 race has focused on the future of American democracy—and rightly so, given Trump’s and the subsequent at the Capitol. Trump’s ongoing in Manhattan and impending legal battles have drawn attention from specific policy proposals and priorities for Candidate Trump.

But those priorities will ultimately define the nation’s politics if he wins. We came away from our interviews with Trump and a dozen of his closest advisers and confidantes with a clear understanding of an agenda that would reshape the presidency and American life. So much about Trump can seem unchanged since he . One can miss how much of the situation around him has transformed.

In the last decade, many of the remaining Republicans in Congress who opposed major pieces of Trump’s agenda have left office to be replaced by Trump loyalists. His campaign, , appears more competent and cohesive than the one that propelled him to power in 2016. While the courts played a significant role in overturning some of Trump’s efforts when he was in the White House, he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stocked the judiciary with hundreds of new judges who on the whole are more likely to rule in his favor than those they replaced. Trump tells us he “wouldn’t feel good about” hiring someone for his administration who admits Biden won. The last nine years have witnessed a blossoming of operatives and organizations better positioned to provide intellectual, legal, and financial support for a second Trump term. Similarly, as Trump told us, he thinks he has a better grasp of how to mobilize Washington to enact his vision. While the original members of the Trump Administration may not have been a Team of Rivals, many positions in the Administration as well as leading Trump White House figures originated from regions of the Republican Party other than his own. Trump tells us he won’t be making that mistake again.

Trump has sat with TIME journalists regularly for extensive interviews since he announced he was running for President in 2015. We believe these interviews—and deep reporting that places them in historical context—provide valuable guidance for our readers. You’ll find published in TIME today the feature profile that resulted from our two recent interviews with Trump, as well as a full transcript and analysis of his remarks.