For weeks on the campaign trail, former President Donald Trump has been suggesting the possibility that, if elected, he would use the office of the presidency to seek retribution against his political enemies, promising to "root out" opponents who "live like vermin" and saying he wouldn't be a dictator "except for Day One."
Now, a key political ally who's been touted as a possible acting attorney general under Trump is doubling down on those threats, vowing to target those he called "conspirators" among journalists and government officials during a potential second Trump administration.
"We will go out and find the conspirators not just in government, but in the media," said former Defense Department official Kash Patel during an appearance on Steve Bannon's War Room podcast.
Patel, who served as chief of staff in the Department of Defense during the Trump administration and Trump's counterterrorism adviser on the National Security Council, was asked by Bannon if he would be able to deliver "serious prosecution and accountability" against their political opponents during a second Trump presidency.
"We're going to come after you whether it's criminally or civilly," Patel said of Trump's political foes. "We'll figure that out."
"This is just not rhetoric," Bannon said. "We're absolutely dead serious."
"You cannot have a constitutional republic and allow what these Deep Staters have done to the country," said Bannon, repeating unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about sinister elite groups controlling the country.
The former president faces 91 felony counts across four different court cases, including federal charges for unlawfully trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election, and has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He says he is being prosecuted for political reasons.
Patel was touted by Donald Trump Jr. during an interview last month as a possible acting attorney general should Trump return to the White House.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.
Kash's comments come as Trump has ratcheted up his anti-government and anti-media rhetoric on the campaign trail. Last week he called for a government crackdown on MSNBC after the network criticized him on air.
"Our so-called 'government' should come down hard on them and make them pay for their illegal political activity," Trump wrote on his social media site, adding, "Much more to come, watch!"
His post immediately drew concern from journalists and media critics who see his message as a threat to the freedom of the press protected by the First Amendment.