On Thursday night, Donald Trump took a victory lap. On the phone with Sean Hannity.
Trump called into Hannity’s Fox News show to talk (and talk) about former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony on Capitol Hill and his various conspiracy theories related to the Justice Department.
I went through the transcript and pulled out the most, uh, notable lines. They’re below.
1. “Well, I think people learned a lot yesterday, watching a very poor performance and watching things that they couldn’t believe when they saw what was going on.”
“I think Robert Mueller did a horrible job, both today and with respect to the investigation. Obviously he did very poorly today.” – Donald Trump, Wednesday. And away we go!
2. “It was a disgrace to our country, it was a disgrace from every standpoint and I would say that most people have never seen anything like it.”
Trump is right – we’ve never seen anything like a foreign power seeking to influence our election in a broad and deep way to aid someone they believed would be better for their interests. Oh wait, that’s not what he’s talking about?
3. “So, I wasn’t going to watch at all, and then I started thinking about it, and then I watched a little bit at the very beginning and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. So, I ended up watching more than I wanted to.”
I laughed out loud when I read this quote. Not kidding.
4. “It was sort of good television.”
Remember that Trump, at root, is a TV producer. His lens on the world is cable TV.
5. “I have heard the same thing about the fake dossier. I’ve heard it came out of Russia. I think a lot of it also is made up.”
So, Trump, with zero evidence – “I have heard the same thing” is not evidence – is suggesting here that the dossier that Christopher Steele produced was actually a Russian effort to influence the election. Again, he has zero actual proof of this claim.
6. “Nobody would write a novel like this because people wouldn’t believe it. It wouldn’t be believable.”
Agree! A billionaire businessman and reality TV star who has been a Democrat in the not-distant past becomes not only the Republican nominee but also the President! It’s a way crazier story than most novels! Oh wait, that’s not what he is talking about?
7. “This was a fake witch hunt and it should never be allowed to happen to another president again.”
8. “This was treason. This was high crimes. This was everything as bad a definition as you want to come up with.”
Treason! What, exactly? Oh yeah, Trump didn’t say/doesn’t know.
9. “I think the press has lost all credibility, much of it. But it’s lost a big part of it. I mean, a very substantial part of it, lost all credibility.”
So, the media has lost all credibility. Actually just most of the media. But all of the media has lost a big part of its credibility. Actually it’s a “substantial” part of the media. But they’ve lost all credibility, that’s for sure. Got it?
10. “I watch as people scream at these poor Democrats, the congressmen, scream like I’ve never seen. You must do this, you must do that, I mean, these are supposed to be journalists, talk show hosts, of all sorts of people, I could not believe it.”
Hannity’s show on the night before the Mueller hearing was just him going through a series of questions congressional Republicans needed to ask the former special counsel. Amazing.
11. “It’s fake news, but it’s the enemy of the people, more importantly.”
Let’s not normalize this. The President of the United States is saying, again, that the free and independent media is the enemy of the people.
12. “So, I had the absolute right to fire him but I didn’t.”
It’s very debatable whether this is true. A president can remove – or ask the attorney general to remove – a special counsel for cause. It’s not clear what that cause would be in the case of Mueller.
13. “I didn’t do any of the things – you know, when they said he was going to do this or said he was going to do that, I didn’t do any of it and it’s really incredible when I hear this.”
Trump here is saying he never tried to fire Mueller. That directly contradicts the Mueller report, which says that Trump told Donald McGahn, the White House counsel, to remove Mueller.
14. “You know, all of these things like the Russian bloggers, they had nothing to do with us. And everybody knew it.”
Here’s an exchange between Mueller and House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) in Wednesday’s hearing:
SCHIFF: “Trump and his campaign welcomed and encouraged Russian interference?”
SCHIFF: “And then Trump and his campaign lied about it to cover it up?”
15. “General Flynn, who is a good man, what they did to General Flynn and so many others – Hope Hicks, this wonderful young woman.”
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the depth and breadth of his connections and conversations with the Russians. So….
16. “Yes, it is absolute and it’s a beautiful thing.”
Donald Trump on presidential pardoning power. Very legal and very cool!
17. “We have some very, very bad people in government that would be willing to do very bad things and for bad reasons.”
Like former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, who resigned amid 13 separate federal investigations into his conduct? Oh wait, that’s not what he’s talking about?
18. “Well, Comey is a liar and a leaker and that’s obvious. All you have to do is just follow him along and see what he said to Congress.”
Lying to Congress is a felony that carries a five-year prison sentence.
19. “The country has had tremendous support from [Mark] Meadows and [Jim] Jordan and Devin Nunes and so many of the names that you saw yesterday, performed so well.”
“Performed.” And yes, the people Trump named understood that they were playing to an audience of one. And the audience of one very much appreciated it.
20. “I mean, this was – this was a coup attempt, in my opinion.”
!!!! A coup attempt! How? What? Where? Also, this isn’t some commenter on “The Donald” subreddit suggesting this. It’s the President of the United States.
21. “I’ll tell you what, more people working in the United States today than at any time in the history of our country. “
True! But also misleading. More people are working in the US today than ever before because there are more people in the US today than ever before.
22. “Every time, you’ve never seen an empty seat. We go into these massive arenas and they are packed and there’s thousands of people outside. You’ve never seen an empty seat.”
Crowd size has long been Trump’s stand-in for popularity. If 8,000 people in North Carolina turn out to see his rally, how can he be unpopular in all of these “fake” polls? The logic flaw here, of course, is large enough to fly a 747 through.
23. “Had Hillary won this election, you’d be at war right now with North Korea, and I have no doubt about that.”
Yes, this is a hugely broad assertion. And no, Trump has no way of knowing what would have happened with North Korea under a President Hillary Clinton. This feels like a good place to end.