For President Trump, the territory doesn’t get any friendlier than Fox & Friends. But that’s not how he treated the show that helped launch his political career during an unhinged interview Thursday morning.
Instead of limiting his remarks to self-aggrandizement and exaggerated claims of his success, Trump treated the American public to the type of angry rant we’re used to hearing about secondhand from “sources.” Even when the hosts tried to steer him toward lighter topics, such as Kanye West’s recent embrace of MAGA, Trump insisted on rehashing grievances about James Comey and the Department of Justice. He also may have done something he’s done before: create legal problems by running his mouth. Here are highlights from the interview:
He undermined his claims to attorney-client privilege.
On Thursday, lawyers representing Trump will be in court to explain how they plan to quickly and efficiently review documents seized from Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, in order to identify those protected by attorney-client privilege. Trump made their jobs harder Thursday morning when he attempted to distance himself from Cohen by claiming that the lawyer performs only “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work.
Prosecutors with the Southern District of New York are already using those words against him, arguing that Trump’s claim about Cohen means that it’s unlikely that many of the lawyer’s documents are privileged.
He admitted that Cohen represented him in the Stormy Daniels deal.
Three weeks after denying all knowledge of Cohen’s $130,000 hush payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, Trump appeared to change his story Thursday when he admitted that Cohen represents him “with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal.”
Daniels’s lawyer Michael Avenatti called the admission a “gift from the heavens.” He went on: “It’s a hugely damaging admission by the president because according to what he said on Air Force One a few weeks ago, he didn’t know anything about the agreement, he didn’t know anything about the payment … We now find out that’s bogus.”
He admitted to staying a night in Moscow.
The question of whether Trump spent a night at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow while in town for the 2013 Miss Universe pageant is central to the most salacious allegation in the Steele dossier. For some reason, Trump brought it up Thursday.
While branding former FBI director James Comey a liar, Trump admitted that he did in fact spend the night in Moscow during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, contradicting what Comey said Trump told him. “Of course I stayed in Russia overnight,” Trump said, adding that Comey’s memos about their conversations are “phony.”
Comey maintains that Trump denied spending the night in Moscow and, on Wednesday, when Anderson Cooper asked why Trump might lie about such a thing, Comey speculated that it could “reflect a consciousness of guilt.”
He threatened to upend the DOJ.
At the end of the interview, before Fox all but cut Trump’s mic to prevent him from digging himself into a deeper hole, Trump threatened to force the Department of Justice to stop investigating him and to focus instead on his political opponents.
He graded himself.
He got an A+, of course.