On Thursday, the New York Times’ Michael Schmidt was able to reach President Donald Trump, accompanied by Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, on a Mar-a-Lago golf course.
While at the president’s West Palm Beach golf club, Trump provided a far-reaching, unscripted interview to the New York Times. Several choice quotes are making waves throughout the media.
Of the Russia investigation, the president looked forward to the end of it, and surprisingly, told the Times that he thought Special Counsel Mueller would end up treating him fairly.
“It makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position,” Trump said. “So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.”
In reference to speculation that Trump might direct that Mueller be removed from his post as Special Counsel, the president was blunt.
“I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department,” he said, echoing claims by his supporters that as president he has the power to open or end an investigation. “But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter.”
After the president earlier accused China of secretly shipping oil to North Korea, he responded to questions surrounding the report.
“Oil is going into North Korea. That wasn’t my deal!” he exclaimed, raising the possibility of aggressive trade actions against China. “If they don’t help us with North Korea, then I do what I’ve always said I want to do.”
Trump continued to characterize the Russian collusion investigation “as a hoax, as a ruse, as an excuse for losing an election.”
After expressing regret that Jeff Sessions excused himself from the Russia investigation, he surprisingly expressed respect for former Attorney General Eric Holder.
“I don’t want to get into loyalty, but I will tell you that, I will say this: Holder protected President Obama. Totally protected him,” Mr. Trump said. He added: “When you look at the things that they did, and Holder protected the president. And I have great respect for that, I’ll be honest.”
One of the most controversial segments involved the claim that it would not be unlawful to collude with Russia, even if it were to be proven. The segment begins in reference to Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the case.
“I thought it was a terrible thing he did,” Trump said. “I thought it was certainly unnecessary, I thought it was a terrible thing. But I think it’s all worked out because frankly there is absolutely no collusion, that’s been proven by every Democrat is saying it.”
Schmidt confirms with Trump that it is fine to record the interview.
“Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion,” Trump continued. “There is no collusion. And even these committees that have been set up. If you look at what’s going on — and in fact, what it’s done is, it’s really angered the base and made the base stronger. My base is stronger than it’s ever been. Great congressmen, in particular, some of the congressmen have been unbelievable in pointing out what a witch hunt the whole thing is. So, I think it’s been proven that there is no collusion.”
The interview was so broad in scope, it provided fodder for instant and highly critical reaction in the media.
There is a whole lot of nutty in this interview that should be cause for concern. But on the main point, he’s just wrong. In our country, no one—even the @POTUS—is above the law, and that makes America look very, very GOOD. https://t.co/wHdtqfprSx
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) December 29, 2017
I’ve long suspected Trump thinks this. Never thought he’d say it aloud though. pic.twitter.com/A249kBDhyu
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) December 29, 2017
Trump: “There is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime.”
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) December 29, 2017
Trump on @AlanDersh:
“..I don’t know him. He’s a liberal Democrat…he said, No. 1, there is no collusion,
No. 2, collusion is not a crime — but even if it was a crime — there was no collusion… And he has studied this thing very closely. I’ve seen him a number of times.”
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) December 29, 2017
Almost unbelievably, several people attacked the New York Times for not asking him “hard” questions.
Trump attacks NYT mercilessly, then gives NYT interview in which he’s asked no tough questions, which they then promote mercilessly. Rinse. Repeat.
— Mike Signorile (@MSignorile) December 29, 2017
Can you imagine someone on the left being interviewed by @nytimes and never ever challenged by any of their comments?
— ___?___ (@ThinSkinTrump) December 29, 2017
Trump then took his own shot at the New York Times, whom he gave the nearly thirty minute interview to. The president made the argument that the media, and specifically, the Times, have a vested interest in seeing him continue as president.
“Another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes,” Mr. Trump said, then invoked one of his preferred insults. “Without me, The New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times.”
“So they basically have to let me win,” he argued. “And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, ‘Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump.’ O.K.”
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