Faced with a mounting death toll from the coronavirus pandemic and historically high unemployment numbers, President Donald Trump went looking for a friend Friday morning. And as always, he was welcomed into the warm embrace of “Fox & Friends.”
The interview – such as it was – allowed Trump to give voice to his various grievances and celebrate his alleged successes, all without a word of contradiction from the Fox hosts.
I went through the transcript and picked out the, er, best lines. They’re below.
1. “Really most people knew from the beginning, and they knew it was just a total hoax. It was a made-up story, a disgrace to our nation.”
The intelligence community, special counsel Robert Mueller and the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee all concluded that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 election to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. Or, yeah, a “hoax” and a “made-up story.” And away we go!
2. “These are dirty politicians and dirty cops and some horrible people.”
The President of the United States, ladies and gentlemen!
3. “Was a perfect call.”
Yes, we are still on this.
4. “I got the President of Ukraine and said, ‘Do you mind?’ And he said, ‘No. You go ahead and do it.’”
“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.” – Donald Trump to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
5. “They tried to take down the president of the United States, a sitting, duly elected president of the United States before I even won.”
In which Trump alleges that “they” – not clear who he means – was involved in a coup attempt to keep him from serving as president. His proof of this grand conspiracy? That former President Barack Obama allegedly knew about a call between Michael Flynn and Russian official Sergey Kislyak.
6. “Rick Grenell is doing a fantastic job, an absolutely fantastic job as our number one person on intelligence. And he has been incredible. It’s too bad the people that were sitting before him, I won’t use names, didn’t do anything. They didn’t do a thing.”
To translate Trump here: Past directors of national intelligence didn’t do exactly what he wanted them to do. Grenell, the current DNI, does.
7. “You look at Mueller, that was purely corrupt. And can you imagine with all the corruption having to do with Mueller.”
Robert Mueller spent more than a decade as the FBI director – under both Democratic and Republican presidents. Trump thinks Mueller was out to get him because Mueller once asked if he could have his dues back when he and his family left as members of Trump’s golf course in Virginia. Yes, seriously.
8. “No collusion.”
Feels like I may have heard this before.
9. “If it were a Republican, if it were reversed, if that were a Republican president or that were a – let’s say me, that would be the ultimate example but if that were a Republican president I believe he and Biden, sleepy Joe, was involved in this all also very much.”
10. “And other people around President Obama were totally involved. And you’ll see more and more things come out I think because like I know how it works.”
To be clear on what Trump is alleging here: There was a broad-scale conspiracy by President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other top officials in their administration to undermine his presidency before it even began. How? Why? “Because like I know how it works.”
11. “He’s dumb as a rock and he’s a sick guy. There’s something wrong with him.”
The President of the United States on former FBI Director James Comey. Totally normal stuff!
12. “You know, I told Bill Barr you had – look, I would be absolutely entitled in theory the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in theory, but I said, you know what? I want Bill Barr to handle it.”
I think what Trump is saying here is that he could have overseen the investigation into how the FBI conducted the Russia probe because he is, in his own words, the “Chief Law Enforcement Officer.” In theory, of course.
13. “If this were a Republican and if this were – 25 people would be in jail for 50 years. They would be in jail for 50 years and it would have happened two years ago because everybody knew this was a hoax.”
Well, he is the “Chief Law Enforcement Officer.” In theory.
14. “Sean – you look at Sean Hannity, what he’s done. I mean, he should get the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prizes.”
Ah yes, the “Pulitzer Prizes.” I love those prizes.
15. “Tucker would do the Russia, Russia, Russia bit and laugh about it every night for two years.”
Russia actively sought to interfere in our presidential election to help a candidate they thought would be better for their interests. HA HA HA. Oh wait.
16. “Jeff Sessions was a disaster. He – I made him – I didn’t want to make him attorney general, but he was the first senator to endorse me, so I felt a little bit of an obligation.”
Loyalty, thy name is Trump.
17. “He wasn’t, you know, to me equipped to be attorney general, but he just wanted it, wanted it, wanted it. He was from a state that I love – Alabama.”
Wait. So Trump is admitting here that he didn’t believe Jeff Sessions was qualified to be Attorney General but he named him to that job because Sessions really wanted it? And because Trump really likes the people of Sessions’ home state? Uh, that seems like a weird thing to admit?
18. “Jeff was just very weak and very sad, and when the name Russia was mentioned, just the word Russia, he immediately instead of being a man and saying this is a hoax, he recused himself. “
Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation to ensure there was no appearance of bias. As in, for the good of the country and its justice system. Or, in Trump’s mind, because he wasn’t “man” enough.
19. “But I learned a lot by watching Richard Nixon. Of course, there was one difference – one big difference. Number one, he may have been guilty, and number two, he had tapes all over the place.”
So, Nixon “may have been guilty?” Wow.
20. “I did nothing wrong, and there are no tapes, but I wish there were tapes in my case. But learn a lot from Richard Nixon and you don’t do that.”
OK, so Trump is saying he did nothing wrong when it comes to Ukraine and Russia. But that he learned from Nixon not to make tapes of his conversations. But, he did nothing wrong. The logic here is truly mind-blowing.
21. “Had I not fired him, I probably wouldn’t be speaking to you right now other than maybe I’d be talking to you about the private sector because I’d be in the private sector had I not – because this was a takeover.”
Following this logic: If Trump hadn’t fired James Comey, the, uh, “deep state” (or someone) would have led a successful coup to remove him from office. Yeah, yeah. This all checks out.
22. “That’s when we found all of the emails and the texts where you had the two lovers, Strzok and Page, talking about how the insurance policy that if she doesn’t win essentially we have an insurance policy, meaning if she doesn’t win – that’s what we went through – that we’ll take him out. “
The Inspector General’s report made very clear that neither Peter Stzrok nor Lisa Page influenced the start of the investigation into Russian interference nor was there any evidence of political bias on their part in how they behaved during the investigation.
23. “We are draining the swamp like nobody’s ever drained the swamp.”
The best swamp-draining. Believe me.
24. “We understand it now and you can never fully under the invisible enemy.”
Wait. So do we now understand coronavirus? Or can we never fully grasp it?
25. “It’s a much smarter enemy than the enemy, than the enemy that I had that we just discussed. Much, much smarter than those characters. That’s a bunch of – you know, those are people that are not in the same league. This is a very brilliant enemy and it happens to be invisible.”
In sum: Coronavirus > “deep state.” Also, much more invisible.
26. “And our tests are the best tests. They’re calling up. We have tests that are the absolute best tests.”
The best tests. Many people are saying it.
27. “And I saved hundreds of thousands of lives. And Anthony Fauci admitted that.”
28. “We’re leading in everything.”
[nods head, looks around room tentatively]
29. “And we just got very good polling today I guess you probably saw, very good polling.”
30. “We’ve learned a lot of things about it and we may have fires and we’re going to put the fires out.”
What about if there are “Little Fires Everywhere?” [shows self out]
31. “We created the greatest economy in the history of the world, best we’ve ever had, best employment numbers, best stock markets, best number of jobs.”
32. “We’ll be at 100,000, 110,000, higher – the lower level of what was projected if we did the shutdown, but still you’re talking about – I say two Yankee stadiums of people.”
“Now we’re going toward 50 – I’m hearing, or 60,000 people. One is too many. I always say it. One is too many, but we’re going toward 50 or 60,000 people. That’s at the lower – as you know the lower (end of the projections) was supposed to be 100,000 people.” – Donald Trump, April 21
33. “I’ve had many false accusations made. I can tell you that. Many.”
34. “Law enforcement’s going to look at it and have a good governor in the state and he’s going to – a very good governor actually, and he’s going to be looking at it very strongly and he’s going to do what’s right, but it’s a heartbreaking thing.”
Trump somehow took a question about the killing of Ahmaud Arbery and turned it into a way to praise Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Which, well,OK.
35. “It’s the Comey group whether he is there or not the whole thing whether he was involved. I don’t even know that but it’s the Obama Justice Department.”
Oh so Comey was involved in “Bridgegate”? Big news! Oh wait, Trump just said he “doesn’t even know that.” So…
36. “She lost the House before because of her stupidity. She’s highly overrated, a bad woman. She doesn’t even want to go to work. She’s in California sitting in her expensive house. “
The President of the United States on the Speaker of the House. That is all.
37. “UFC is having a big fight this weekend, which has become a hot sport, and which is going to be in Florida, and that’s going to be great.”
Dana White smiles.
38. “Well, we’ll be together. I’m going to Camp David, meeting, a big meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Camp David is this very special place that nobody ever gets to see, but it’s a great work environment, and we’re going to have meetings on different things, and our military has never looked better.”
The question? “Mr. President, this Sunday is Mother’s Day. What are your plans? What are you going to do for Melania?” So, his will be doing meetings to honor the first lady. Moms always do love a good meeting to celebrate Mother’s Day. Also, according to CNN’s Kate Bennett, Melania is not going to Camp David with the president. (He is returning to the White House Sunday morning.)
39. “I couldn’t do any wrong, which is a big problem. Maybe that’s why I ended up the way I ended up. I don’t know. I couldn’t do any wrong in her eyes.”
Trump on his mom. Paging Dr. Freud…
40. ‘Well you people are so professional you pretty much cleaned it. I think nobody wants to interview me now for the next two weeks or five weeks or whatever. That would be OK with me, by the way.”
Yeah, this feels like a good place to end.