I went through the transcript of the interview Fox released this morning. Trump’s quotes — and my thoughts on them — are below.
1. “And I guess you could say that our numbers in winning whether it’s for the Senate, or for Congress, or for governor has been very good.”
And away we go! To be clear: Every traditional predictor of election outcomes suggest Republicans will take a battering in the House and at the governors level. The Senate, because the playing field is heavily tilted toward Republicans, could be more favorable to Trump’s side.
2. “I’ve always had controversy in my life and I’ve always succeeded. I’ve always won. I’ve always won.”
Two notes here: a) he’s right — his entire life has been controversial and b) he only sees things through the lens of winning or losing. There is no other measure of success or failure. If you win, you were right.
3. “They like to cover nonsense.”
4. “Well I don’t know if he was a fixer. I don’t know where that term came from.”
5. “But he was somebody that was probably with me for about 10 years and I would see him sometimes.”
This is a dramatic underplaying of Cohen’s closeness to Trump over that decade, according to what we know about the two men’s relationship. Anytime Trump had a problem that needed fixing — and that happened fairly frequently — he turned to Cohen to fix it. Cohen was involved therefore in some of the most delicate situations in Trump’s world — including paying hush money to women making allegations about affairs.
6. “He made the deal. He made the deals.”
This is Trump’s response to Earhardt asking him whether he directed Cohen to make the payments to Daniels and McDougal. Which, of course, isn’t a denial at all. The issue is not who “made the deals,” but who directed the deals to be made.
7. “Those two counts aren’t even a crime. They weren’t campaign finance.”
8. “Later on I knew. Later on.”
Reporter: “Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?”
Reporter: “Then why did Michael Cohen make [the payment], if there was no truth to her allegations?”
Trump: “You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael’s my attorney, and you’ll have to ask Michael.”
Reporter: “Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?”
Trump: “No I don’t know.
What’s remarkable is Earhardt’s follow-up to this clear lie by the President of the United States is “Why is Cohen doing this?” Really knocking it out of the park.
9. “If you look at President Obama, he had a massive campaign violation but he had a different attorney general and they viewed it a lot differently.”
Apples and oranges. Or, more accurately, apples and kumquats. Like, not even in the same universe.
Compare that fine to what is alleged here: A candidate for president directed the end-run of campaign finance laws in hopes of suppressing allegations made by women about romantic dalliances. He did so, according to Cohen, with the express purpose of influencing the election.
Yes, so, no.
10. “But what Michael Cohen pled to weren’t even campaign related. They weren’t crimes.”
Again, Trump simply doesn’t understand — or is choosing not to understand — campaign finance laws. Simply because the money he paid to Cohen wasn’t from the campaign’s coffers doesn’t mean it wasn’t a crime. Cohen literally pleaded guilty to two campaign finance crimes on Tuesday. Like, does Trump not think the Southern District of New York is aware of what the laws surrounding campaign finance are? [Narrator voice: They are.]
11. “And they put the two counts of campaign violations in there but a lot of lawyers on television and also lawyers that I have say, they’re — they’re not even crimes.”
Name one. Seriously.
12. “For 30, 40 years I’ve been watching flippers. Everything’s wonderful and then they get 10 years in jail and they — they flip on whoever the next highest one is, or as high as you can go.”
13. “It — it almost ought to be outlawed. It’s not fair.”
14. “You know, campaign violations are considered not a big deal, frankly.”
Let me say again: Donald Trump is not terribly well-versed in campaign finance laws.
15. “But if somebody defrauded a bank and he’s going to get 10 years in jail or 20 years in jail but if you can say something bad about Donald Trump and you’ll go down to two years or three years, which is the deal he made.”
There’s a big difference between Cohen (or anyone) getting a reduced sentence because they are willing to “say something bad about Donald Trump” and what Cohen did: Agreed to plead guilty to eight felony counts and testify — under oath — that Trump directed and coordinated an end-run of campaign finance laws. This is not Michael Cohen calling Donald Trump names and getting time cut off his prison sentence. This is Michael Cohen saying the President of the United States was complicit in a crime.
16. “I’ve had many friends involved in this stuff. It’s called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal.”
17. “I’ll tell you than somebody made a better deal. Awan, the IT guy for Shultz. Congresswoman Shultz. He had all the information on Democrats. He had all the information on everybody. He went to jail holding the hands of the Justice Department and the FBI.”
In the plea deal with Awan, the government said that there was zero evidence that Awan stole information from DNC servers or tried to abscond with the servers themselves.
18. “I mean, he was worse than anybody in my opinion. He got nothing. He’s a Democrat. He got nothing.”
19. “I put in an attorney general that never took control of the Justice Department. Jeff Sessions never took control of the Justice Department and it’s a sort of an incredible thing.”
20. “Comey’s his best friend.”
21. “He had a really nasty business transaction with me, which he never reported. I’ve been talking about it, he never reports it.”
22. “I have great respect for what he’s done in terms of what he’s going through.”
This is Trump’s response to an Earhardt question on whether he is considering pardoning former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Trump’s response is a little bit different — OK, a LOT bit different — from how White House Secretary Sarah Sanders answered the Manafort pardon question on Wednesday afternoon. “Once again, that is not something that has been up for discussion,” Sanders said. Um, what?
23. “He wasn’t with the campaign long.”
24. “They surveilled my campaign, it’s very simple.”
25. “When everybody see’s what going on in the Justice Department I always put justice now with quotes. It’s a very, very sad day. Jeff Sessions recused himself, which he shouldn’t have done. Or he should have told me.”
This is Trump’s response to Earhardt asking whether he was going to fire Sessions. It doesn’t exactly read like a vote of confidence.
26. “Even my enemies say that Jeff Sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself and then you wouldn’t have put him in.”
[Narrator voice: They don’t.]
27. “You know the only reason I gave him the job. Because I felt loyalty, he was an original supporter. He was on the campaign.”
28. “The immigration laws are horrible. We’re doing an incredible job.”
Back to back sentences. Unedited. No rhyme, reason or connection I can decipher.
29. “You know when you have bad laws you can do good. But you can do a lot better if you had good laws.”
[scratches out a series of complex math equations on a yellow-lined notebook] Yeah, this checks out.
30. “I don’t know how you can impeach somebody who’s done a great job.”
This is the most astounding quote in the entire Trump interview. If you are doing a self-assessed “great job” then it is impossible for you to have broken any laws? That’s literally what Trump is saying here.
31. “I tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash, I think everybody would be very poor.”
Remarkable. The self-regard on display here is truly staggering. The only thing that has made the economy strengthen is Trump, according to Trump. Without him? Good luck, America.
32. “The New York Times cannot write a good story about me. They’re crazed. They’re like lunatics.”
Let’s be clear here. Trump views “true” news as news that is good for him. “Fake news” is then news that is bad for him. For all of his talk about “fake news” he is totally uninterested in the accuracy of reporting. He is entirely fixated on whether a story reads positively or negatively for him.
33. “And I’ll never forget, you talk about the fake news, they said Donald Trump met [Kim Jong Un] the first day it was incredible, nobody could believe I was able to do it.”
So, wait. The news is fake. But Trump cites favorably in this section the fact that the news reported on the historic summit he engineered with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. But if the news is fake, then how… [head explodes]
34. “So I give myself an A-plus.”
Earhardt asked Trump what grade he would give himself. That Trump went with the highest possible grade really tells you everything you need to know about him. Seriously.
35. “The only thing … I’m doing badly on is the press doesn’t cover me fairly.”
If I had to name my greatest weakness, I think I would probably say it’s that I care too much about people. Or maybe that I am so smart it makes it hard to interact with people not as smart as me. Either one would work.
36. “I would say I would honestly give myself an A-plus and so would many other people.”
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct Imran Awan’s employer.