The protester who rushed the stage during Donald Trump’s Saturday rally in Dayton, Ohio, gave an exclusive interview with CNN Sunday night during which he explained his motivations behind his attempt to snatch the podium away from the GOP frontrunner.

Tommy DiMassimo, 22, of Fairborn, Ohio, made headlines over the weekend when the Secret Service prevented him from mounting the stage and stealing the microphone from Trump during the rally. During his interview with CNN’s Martin Savidge, DiMassimo answered Savidge’s blunt question: “What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking that Donald Trump is a bully, and he is nothing more than that,” DiMassimo answered. “He is somebody who is just saying a lot of bold things. He’s making bold claims. But I can see right through that, and I can see that he’s truly just a coward, and he’s opportunistic, and he’s willing to destroy this country for power for himself.”

When Savidge asked him whether he had planned on attacking Trump, DiMassimo said he had not.

“No, not at all. There would have been no point. Donald Trump is 6 foot 3. I’m 5 foot 9, maybe. He’s a giant man surrounded by thousands of followers, 12 Secret Service and a former Ohio State offensive lineman. That would have accomplished nothing,” DiMassimo said, adding that he could understand how people might have perceived his actions.

“I thought my chances of getting up on stage and getting to the podium would have been better,” DiMassimo said.

When Savidge pressed DiMassimo and asked him if he had actually thought through the potential consequences of his rash actions, DiMassimo maintained that he was more focused upon showing people that he is “unafraid” of Trump.

“But again, it was more important for me to show that there are people out there who aren’t afraid of Donald Trump. He says scary things. He lets his people do scary things. He’s threatened Mexico, Islam, you name it, and yet I am unafraid,” DiMassimo said. “And if I can be unafraid enough to go take his podium away from him, then we all can be unafraid enough to not let this man walk into the White House.”

During the interview, DiMassimo continued to elaborate upon the problems he found he Trump that he says prodded him to make a statement — or at least attempt to make one — as he expressed his disapproval of Trump’s supporters.

“…and I said, this is going to become a problem, that these people have a safe haven to be as boldly racist and violent as they want to be, and as time went on, I was right,” DiMassimo said. “Things have gotten more and more violent to the point now where his people are attacking protesters using violence and threatening their lives.”

When Savidge attempted to make him admit that Trump had a right to speak, DiMassimo instead focused on his own “right” to protest.

“I have the right to non-violent civil disobedience,” DiMassimo said, later adding, “And it’s not even anything about Donald. I’m focused on the microphone. ‘Cause the second I can get to the microphone and I can clutch it in my hands, I can speak, and I’ve robbed him of his power. I’ve robbed him of his voice. Even for a moment, that moment transcends. It transcends across images on social media. It transcends time. It shows you that … we can keep you from becoming the worst president in the history of the United States.”

“But you didn’t even get close…” Savidge countered, noting that DiMassimo never successfully mounted the stage and never took the microphone from Trump.

“I got my hands on the stage, and I think that was enough to show people that there are people out there who are not afraid,” MiMassimo argued. “We’re not afraid of Donald Trump.”

In response to Trump’s tweet claiming that he had ties to the Islamic State, DiMassimo maintained that he never intend to harm anyone during his attempted protest.

“I in no way harmed anyone, intended to harm anyone, I’m not a member of ISIS. I have no known ties to ISIS. I’ve never been out of the country; I only speak English,” DiMassimo said.

Follow Kathryn Blackhurst (@kablackhurst) on Twitter

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