Donald Trump has had a week!
Transcripts of closed-door testimony from a series of witnesses in front of the House Intelligence Committee seem to affirm the idea that a quid pro quo was in place between the US and Ukraine. He was ordered by a judge in New York to pay $2 million as restitution for using his Trump Foundation charity as a slush fund for his political interests. Elections in Kentucky and Virginia suggested Democratic momentum in 2018 hasn’t worn off. He lost an appeal to keep his taxes from being released. And on and on it goes.
And so it was a very frustrated President who greeted reporters Friday morning before jetting off to Atlanta. I went through the transcript of Trump’s remarks – they stretched for almost a half hour – and took note of some of his more outlandish lines. They’re below.
1. “I just told them I’ve got to come over and see the fake news. Let’s go.”
I feel like this suggests Trump reads my recaps of his press conferences and speeches. Speaking of which: And away we go!
2. “I’m not concerned about anything.”
3. “I mean, for the most part, I never even heard of these people. I have no idea who they are.”
This is, of course, an outlandish statement. Trump “has never even heard” of the former US ambassador to Ukraine? Give me a break.
4. “They’re some very fine people. You have some never-Trumpers. It seems that nobody has any firsthand knowledge. There is no firsthand knowledge.”
Ok, two things here. First, there is ZERO evidence that any of the people who testified in the House impeachment hearings are “Never Trumpers.” Second, National Security Council Ukraine expert Alexander Vindman, whose testimony was released Friday, was on the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. And he immediately reported the call as inappropriate to his superior.
5. “And all that matters is one thing: the transcript. And the transcript is perfect.”
(Narrator voice) It isn’t.
6. “Well, they shouldn’t be having public hearings. This is a hoax. This is just like the Russian witch hunt. This is just a continuation.”
Trump never elaborates on why he believes the House shouldn’t have public hearings on impeachment. (Those hearings are slated to start next week.) But, if he truly believes they are a “hoax” and a “witch hunt” wouldn’t he want that to be exposed by public hearings?
7. “I saw he said very nice things about me last night. But we’ll have to see. I’ll have to see.”
Trump, asked about Jeff Sessions’ just-announced Senate bid, proves – yet again – that all he does is watch cable TV news.
8. “I had a very good call with the President of Ukraine. I assume that’s what you’re talking about. The call was perfect.”
I know I have been over this ground before but … what, exactly, constitutes a “perfect” phone call? Is it about the contents of the call? The execution? The connection clarity?
9. And all you have to do is take a look at Biden and you will see tremendous corruption because what he did is quid pro quo times 10.”
There is zero evidence of any wrongdoing by Joe Biden vis a vis the removal of a Ukrainian prosecutor. Biden, in his service as vice president, was the face of a broad coalition effort to have the prosecutor dismissed due to concerns about his unwillingness to investigate corruption. Those are the facts.
10. “Be quiet. Quiet. Quiet. Quiet.”
Just the President of the United States telling a reporter to stop asking a question. Very normal stuff! Nothing to see here, folks!
11. “Alabama is a place where my approval numbers are very good. I think I won by 42 points.”
(Narrator voice) It was 28 points.
12. “We’ll see what happens. I mean, we’ll see what happens.”
This is Trump on whether there will be a China trade deal. Also, he says “we’ll see what happens” when he has no idea what to say.
13. “Well, now, you’ve really shaped my behavior, because from the day I came in here, I’ve had problems with phony stuff, like a phony dossier that turned out to be false, like false investigations that I’ve beaten. So a lot of my behavior was shaped by the fake news and by the other side. That was a lot of my behavior.”
This is demonstrably false. Even a cursory look at Trump’s life before politics shows the same pattern of behavior he’s shown in office: Bullying, vindictive and always, always spinning things in his favor.
14. “I caught the swamp. I caught ‘em all.”
15. “I caught all of this corruption that was going on, and nobody else could have done it.”
16. “My charity was great. I gave a lot of money away.”
Former New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said that her investigation of the Trump Foundation produced “a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more.” So, yeah – “great.”
17. “New York is a corrupt state. It’s a corrupt state, it’s a shame.”
Wait, wait. Isn’t Trump President of all 50 states? Including New York?
18. “I gave $19 million away. And what happened is, instead of saying, ‘Thank you, great,’ they hit me with a lawsuit and it was started by a man who had to get out because he beat up women.”
The man in question here is former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Schneiderman resigned his post in May 2018 amid allegations by several women that he assaulted them. Worth noting here that Trump faced a slew of allegations of sexual harassment from more than a dozen women in the run-up to the 2016 election.
19. “I had a call. I’m sure it was fine. I mean, you know, I have to – I make a lot of calls.”
20. “I’m very transparent. Nobody is more transparent than I am.”
Donald Trump was the first major party candidate in modern memory to refuse to release any of his past tax returns. He is also the first president post-Watergate to refuse to do so. So, yeah.
21. “And if I wasn’t and if I didn’t release it, it would have been a problem, because the fake whistleblower said something about the call, many things that were wrong.”
Nothing that has come out publicly disputes the original eight-page complaint by the whistleblower. In fact, everything we have learned since has bolstered the initial complaint.
22. “Let – let me just tell you, I – I hardly know the gentleman.”
Ha, ha, ha…oh wait, he isn’t joking. Trump is talking here about Gordon Sondland. Yes, the same Sondland who donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee and was rewarded with an posting as the US ambassador to the European Union. Never heard of him!
23. “Everybody that’s testified, even the ones that are Trump haters, they’ve all been fine. They don’t have anything.”
So many ways to go with this but I’ll head down this path: There is NO evidence that any of the people have testified are “Trump haters” or have feelings either way about the President. He is just making stuff up.
24. “And if I asked Bill Barr to have a press conference I think he’d do it, But I never asked him to have a press conference. Why should I?”
Truly amazing stuff here. Trump didn’t ask the attorney general to hold a press conference to clear him of any wrongdoing in the Ukraine matter – as the Washington Post has reported he did. But, if he had asked, Barr would have done it. Sure!
25. “They lost an election and they lost it big.”
(narrator voice) Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million.
26. “And, interestingly, if you look at the polls that just came out, my polls are up.”
This is, again, simply false.
27. “And I’ll tell you, the whistleblower, I call him the fake whistleblower. He gave a fake report of my phone call.”
I am going to record myself saying: “Nothing the whistleblower alleged has been proven incorrect or inaccurate in any way.” And then just hit “PLAY” over and over and over again.
28. “My phone call was perfect. He made it sound bad. That’s why I had to release.”
The transcript just doesn’t say what Trump thinks it says.
29. “So the whistleblower is a disgrace to our country. A disgrace. And the whistleblower, because of that, should be revealed.”
This is truly stunning stuff. The whistleblower followed procedures put in place for just this thing. And (hits PLAY) “Nothing the whistleblower alleged has been proven incorrect or inaccurate in any way.” And yet Trump is saying the person is a “disgrace” and urging his or her identity be revealed. Chilling stuff.
30. “And his lawyer, who said the worst things possible two years ago, he should be sued. And maybe for treason. Maybe for treason.”
The whistleblower’s lawyer should be charged with treason?!?! For what, exactly? Oh, Trump doesn’t explain.
31. “(Schiff) made up a speech and he put my voice in it. He made up a speech, had nothing to do with what I said.”
Trump has latched onto this argument, which is so dumb and so easily proven false. Please read this about that. I beg you.
32. “They’ve gone out and they’ve gone out of their way to find the people that hate Donald Trump, President Trump, the most.”
No. Evidence. Any. Witnesses. Hate. Trump.
33. “We are winning so big. My polls are the highest they’ve ever been, I’m leading in all of the states, every swing state.”
34. “Nancy Pelosi should go back to her district, which is horrible. It’s filthy. It’s drug-infested. The stuff’s being flown out to the ocean – it’s being wiped out to the ocean through their drainage systems.”
Reminder: Donald Trump is President of the people in Nancy Pelosi’s district too!
35. “We’re doing very well with African Americans.”
In a CNN national poll in September, 9% of African Americans approved of the job Trump was doing as compared to 86% who disapproved.
36. “I know Michael. He became just a nothing. He was really a nothing. He’s not going to do well, but I think he’s going to hurt Biden, actually. But he doesn’t have the magic to do well.”
Michael Bloomberg: he just doesn’t have the magic.
37. “Little Michael will fail. He’ll spend a lot of money. He’s got some really big issues. He’s got some personal problems and he’s got a lot of other problems.”
Modern day presidential.
38. “There is nobody I’d rather run against than Little Michael.”
Trump, for what it’s worth, has said this same thing about Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and virtually the entirety of the Democratic field.
39. “Just so you know, we have the highest poll numbers. We have the most energy.”
40. “I have to do what the lawyers say, to a certain extent; not always, but, you know, to a certain extent.”
Oh yeah. I get it – to a certain extent. This feels like a good place to end.