ABC News’ chief anchor Geoge Stephanopoulos spent a grand total of 30 hours with President Trump over two days for a special edition of 20/20 that aired on Sunday. For a political figure who can rifle off several norm-defying quotes in a span of minutes, a day and a quarter is a profound amount of time to spend with Trump — which may explain why the interview is such a bounty of outrageous statements. Though the network has been teasing out gems over the past week, it is now available in full.
Perhaps the most insane moment was when the president appeared to compare his treatment in the press to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln:
Trump: And when I’m treated badly by the press — and nobody’s ever been treated badly like me. When I’m treated so badly —
Stephanopoulos: You know that every president says that.
Trump: I — I disagree. Look, it’s been acknowledged. Although they do say Abraham Lincoln was treated really badly. I must say that’s the one. If you can believe it, Abraham Lincoln was treated supposedly very badly. But nobody’s been treated badly like me. And this way I can fight the dishonest media, the corrupt media, the fake news.
Stephanopoulos: And could do — what they’re talking about though is you calling people names. It’s demeaning.
Trump Tells Mick Mulvaney to Leave the Oval Office for Coughing
Frustrated by the bodily functions of acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, the germophobe-in-chief asked him to leave the room during the interview. More stunning, however, is Trump’s suggestion to reset the cameras. “Do you want to do that a little differently then?” Trump asks, every bit the producer, before completely shifting his tone back to presidential-argument mode. As New York’s Olivia Nuzzi noted on Twitter, “This is one of the most revealing scenes of Donald Trump that I’ve ever watched.” The theater of it is palpable.
Trump Won’t Drop the Idea of Republican Health-Care Reform
Every few months, the president promises that the GOP will be the “party of health care” before dropping the idea without any follow-through. The last major effort occurred in April, when Trump deemed Rick Scott, whose company defrauded Medicare, to be the man to lead the reform effort. The initiative soon fizzled out when Senate Republicans showed no interest in taking another hammering on a policy debate owned by the Democratic Party. According to an April poll by the Associated Press, 40 percent of voters trust Democrats on health care, compared to just 23 percent who trust the GOP on the issue.
But it’s June now, and Trump has determined it’s worth another go. “Obamacare has been a disaster,” Trump told Stephanopoulos. “You’ll see that in a month when we introduce it. We’re going to have a plan. That’s subject to winning the House, Senate, and presidency, which hopefully we’ll win all three. We’ll have phenomenal health care.” If Trump did have a viable policy idea in the pipeline, it would transform his approach in the coming election, as it could neutralize the Democratic candidate on one of the party’s stronger issues. But Republicans still don’t want to back Trump on the issue, and the last time he promised health-care reform “soon,” nothing materialized.