A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
Of all the quotes from President Trump’s interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, this is the one I want to highlight. The context: Weeks ago the NYT’s Maggie Haberman reported on Trump 2020’s internal polling, showing the president losing to Joe Biden. Then the NYT reported on his anger *about* the polling. And that spurred his tweets on Wednesday, calling the media “fake” and “corrupt” and claiming the poll #’s were “made up.” The #’s were real, of course. So Stephanopoulos asked Trump: “Why does it bother you so much?”
“Because it’s untrue,” Trump claimed. “I like the truth. You know, I’m actually a very honest guy. If I thought they were correct, I wouldn’t be complaining at all.”
I like the truth! Alright, now to the biggest news from the interview…
Trump: “I think I’d take” info from foreigners
Trump told Stephanopoulos that he’d listen if, say, Russia or China offered up dirt on his political rivals. ABC aired the clip on Wednesday’s “World News Tonight.” And now this assertion is the headline on many major news websites right now, from ABC to CNN to Fox.
– Anderson Cooper: “It bears repeating, this is not normal behavior of a president…”
– James Clapper said on “AC360” that “I’ve run out of adjectives.” He called it “incredible, amazing, stunning and disturbing that the president would advocate the use of accepting info provided by a foreign country…”
– Samantha Vinograd’s column for CNN.com: “By putting a ‘for sale’ sign on his forehead – and indicating that he’s open for business when it comes to receiving dirt on his political rivals – President Trump is encouraging foreign governments to attack his political opponents…”
Another Stephanopoulos scoop
“Trump had an unusual entourage this week” as G.S. and an ABC News crew “followed him to Iowa and met him at the W.H. for the president’s first network news interview in more than four months, a sign that Trump may be hoping to reach beyond his base ahead of his formal 2020 campaign launch next week,” Politico’s Michael Calderone and Nancy Cook wrote Wednesday. More bites from the interview will air on Thursday’s “GMA.”
“It was an extraordinary 48 hours,” Stephanopoulos said Wednesday. His travels with Trump will form the basis of a prime time special on ABC, airing either Sunday night, if there’s no Game 7 of the NBA Finals, or Tuesday night, if there is…
→ ABC’s enviable access sparked some grumbling on Wednesday – with rivals pointing out that ABC News president James Goldston dined with Trump during the UK state visit just last week. They asked: Is this interview timing a coincidence? Yes, an ABC source responded – Stephanopoulos has been seeking this type of sit-down interview for about a year…
These FOIAed documents prove Trump wrong
“I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI. In my whole life,” Trump told Stephanopoulos while explaining why he wouldn’t necessarily report foreign election interference to the FBI.
“The FBI director says that’s what should happen,” G.S. noted. “The FBI director is wrong,” Trump said.
Well, for the record, Trump is wrong when he says he’s never called the bureau. BuzzFeed’s Jason Leopold tweeted this out: “In 1981, Trump personally reached out to FBI proposing that FBI agents work undercover in a casino he was considering opening in AC.” AND “Trump called the FBI in 1982 during a dispute with the NYC Housing Commissioner.”
All of this info came courtesy of Leopold’s past FOIA requests…
Ingraham’s reaction: Why was he talking to ABC?!
Here’s what Laura Ingraham said on her show Wednesday night, per Mediaite: “Setting aside the question of why you would have George Stephanopoulos standing over the president in the Oval Office – I don’t know who approved that – what about this notion of accepting foreign intel about an opponent? Is that a risk for President Trump, getting pulled back into Mueller? Again, why he was put in that situation is beyond me.”
Of course, that’s the same thing people wondered last week when Fox and Ingraham interviewed Trump with the graves of WWII soldiers right behind his shoulder, and he proceeded to attack Robert Mueller and Nancy Pelosi. Maybe the president is NOT his own best communications director, after all. The job has been vacant for more than three months…
Is Trump a “liar?”
It’s a divisive question that delineates the president’s supporters and critics. Which is why it was surprising to see Trump Org’s recently departed chief compliance counsel George Sorial refuse to tell CNN’s Cristina Alesci that Trump does NOT lie. Her interview with Sorial aired on “New Day” Wednesday…
– The Mirror Awards, celebrating media reporting, will be announced at a luncheon in midtown Manhattan. Jeff Zucker will receive the Fred Dressler Leadership Award…
– Susan Zirinsky, Alicia Menendez, Elaine Welteroth, Elisabeth Bumiller, and Maggie Haberman are a few of the speakers at the NYT’s New Rules Summit in Brooklyn…
– Fox News has a 6:30 p.m. ET town hall with Julián Castro…
– Game 6 of the NBA Finals tips off at 9 p.m. ET…
400 detained during Moscow protest over journalist arrest
Russian police detained more than 400 people participating in a protest in Moscow on Wednesday, Reuters reports. The protest was “calling for punishment for police officers involved in the alleged framing” of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov. Among those reportedly arrested was a prominent opposition politician, Alexei Navalny.
>> Reuters’ Anton Zverev and Andrew Osborn give some more context: “The crude way supporters said Golunov was set up and detained triggered an unusual show of media unity and an uncharacteristically swift reversal from authorities nervous about social unrest at a time when President Vladimir Putin already faces disquiet over living standards.”
>> ICYMI: “Authorities reversed course” and dropped the case against Golunov “because a lack of evidence” on Tuesday…
FOR THE RECORD
– “The Daily Show” is airing ads on Fox News in the DC market… Trying to reach Trump and generate publicity… Inviting Trump to its pop-up “Trump Presidential Twitter Library” exhibition in the nation’s capital… (THR)
– CBS News exec Kim Godwin “will launch the ‘CBS Evening News’ with Norah O’Donnell next month from New York.” She’ll be the EP until the newscast moves to DC in the fall, “when Godwin will hand the broadcast off to a new EP…” (TVNewser)
– Gayle King’s new deal is “worth $11 million annually, doubling her previous pay,” and it comes with “the privilege — and responsibility — of a role as the de facto face of CBS News,” Marisa Guthrie writes. This is a great read… (THR)
– TheStreet, the financial info company founded by “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer, was just purchased for $16.5 million… (NY Post)