Donald Trump sat down with ABC News anchor David Muir on Wednesday for his first interview as president. Their discussion did not do much to dispel rumors that Trump is obsessed with both the size of the crowd at his inauguration and his feud with the media. None of Trump’s remarks were a departure from what he said on the campaign trail, but it was still odd to see a sitting president insulting a journalist, calling his critics “fools” for accurately describing international laws, and poring over inauguration photos with the zeal of someone trying to demonstrate the moon landing was fake. Here’s a rundown of the most befuddling moments.
Trump kicked things off by affirming that he believes there could have been 3 to 5 million illegal votes cast in the 2016 election, and he raised concerns about people who are registered in two states. (It’s only illegal to vote in two states, and several of his advisers and family members are on two state voting registers.)
As evidence, Trump pointed to a 2012 Pew Survey about inaccurate voter registries. Muir said he had just talked to the author of the report, David Becker, who has repeatedly said that the report wasn’t about voter fraud, and that there’s no evidence that large numbers of people are casting illegal ballots. Trump accused Becker of “groveling.”
At two points in the interview, Trump insisted that even if millions of people voted illegally, his election is still legitimate because every single one was a Clinton voter.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Believe me. Those were Hillary votes. And if you look at it they all voted for Hillary. They all voted for Hillary. They didn’t vote for me. I don’t believe I got one. Okay, these are people that voted for Hillary Clinton. And if they didn’t vote, it would’ve been different in the popular.
Trump then denied that he said millions of people voted illegally — though he thinks it’s possible. When Muir read a tweet contradicting that, Trump ignored him and continued explaining how he could have won the popular vote if he wanted to.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I didn’t say there are millions. But I think there could very well be millions of people. That’s right …
DAVID MUIR: … you tweeted, “If you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally, I won the popular vote.”
PRESIDENT TRUMP: David, and I also say this, if I was going for the popular vote I would’ve won easily. But I would’ve been in California and New York. I wouldn’t have been in Maine. I wouldn’t have been in Iowa. I wouldn’t have been in Nebraska and all of those states that I had to win in order to win this. I would’ve been in New York, I would’ve been in California. I never even went there.
Trump closed by noting that the investigation he intends to launch won’t uncover all the facts about voter fraud in the 2016 election, but the investigation will also uncover all the facts.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think that if [massive voter fraud] didn’t happen, first of all, would — would be a great thing if it didn’t happen. But I believe it did happen. And I believe a part of the vote would’ve been much different.
DAVID MUIR: And you believe millions of illegal votes …
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we’re gonna find out.
DAVID MUIR: Let me ask you this …
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’re gonna find out. And — and, by the way, when I say you’re gonna find out. You can never really find, you know, there are gonna be — no matter what numbers we come up with, there are gonna be lots of people that did things that we’re not going to find out about. But we will find out because we need a better system where that can’t happen.
Referencing Trump’s speech in front of a wall honoring fallen CIA officers on Saturday, Muir asked Trump when he would move on and stop bragging about the crowd size at the inauguration. Trump responded by bragging that his CIA speech was a “home run.”
According to ABC’s transcript, Trump said he received the “biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl.” It’s unclear what he was referring to, and the line was cut from the broadcast.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: That location was given to me. Mike Pence went up before me, paid great homage to the wall. I then went up, paid great homage to the wall. I then spoke to the crowd. I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time.
This led into another discussion of the crowd size at Trump’s inauguration, and the president accusing Muir of having a 17 percent approval rating, “which is pretty bad.” It’s not clear if he was talking about Muir personally, ABC News, or the media in general.
On the question of reinstating waterboarding, Trump said he “absolutely” thinks torture works, but he’s going to go with whatever Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA director Mike Pompeo think. “If they don’t wanna do, that’s fine,” he said. “If they do wanna do, then I will work for that end.”
Then Trump doubled down on his statement from over the weekend that the U.S. should have taken Iraq’s oil, but “maybe we’ll have another chance.” He said all the people telling him that would violate international law are “fools.”
Finally, Trump took Muir on a tour of the White House. In the Oval Office, he showed off the new decor, a lengthy letter President Obama left for him, and a paperback book he received from “one of the combatants that I fought to get here.” Then during a tour of the West Wing, Trump stopped at two separate photos to analyze the size of the crowd at his inauguration.
“Now the audience was the biggest ever,” he said, falsely, before one of the photos. “But this crowd was massive. Look how far back it goes. This crowd was massive. And I would actually take that camera and take your time if you want to know the truth.”