President Donald Trump called into Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham’s show on Monday night, searching for friendly ground amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and swing state and national polling that suggests he didn’t get the bounce he wanted — or needed — from last week’s Republican National Convention.
The interview was, even by Trumpian standards, wild. The President pushed a debunked conspiracy theory about Black Lives Matter activists being flown into major cities to cause unrest and compared police who shoot suspects to golfers who miss three-foot putts. Yes, really.
I went through the full transcript of the interview and picked out the lines you need to see. They’re below.
1. “Portland has been burning for many years. For decades, it’s been burning, but now it’s gotten to a point they don’t want to do — I watched the mayor try and get in with these people.”
Portland has, um, NOT been “burning for many years.” The protests — some peaceful, some violent –– began just over 90 days ago following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. And away we go!
2. “We have a $300 million courthouse, and they wanted to blow up our courthouse or burn it down. Take your choice, blow it up or burn it down, they said.”
I couldn’t find any specific threats to burn down or blow up the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse building that has become the epicenter of protests in Portland. The closest I came was a quote in July from Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec in which she said they were investigating “suspicious devices” outside the building.
3. “But no, it’s been going on for many — it’s been going on for many, many years. It’s like you’re in — I won’t name the city, but it’s a city someplace in the world that’s not so good. OK?”
Again, there is no evidence that Portland has been burning for years. (I can’t even believe I have to write that.) As for Trump’s unnamed city? Maybe Baltimore, which he has referred to as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” last September? But who knows.
4. “I think it’s a sickness.”
This is Trump’s explanation for why Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown allegedly won’t accept his offer of National Guard troops to quell the protests in the city. What sort of sickness? Oh, he didn’t say.
5. “Look, he’s a weak person. He’s been weak all his life, but now he’s really weak. He shouldn’t be running for president. He should not be there.”
This is Trump on former Vice President Joe Biden. Being “weak” is simultaneously Trump’s greatest putdown and greatest fear. He is obsessed with appearing strong but, in truth, doesn’t really grasp what strength and toughness actually mean.
6. “Well, that — it’s a peaceful protest. I mean, they were protesting. They weren’t — you know it’s amazing. They want to protest, and they get criticized.”
Trump is referring to a large group of pro-Trump protesters who caravaned into Portland on Saturday night. According to video footage: “A man riding in the bed of a passing black pickup displaying a blue ‘Oregon for Trump’ flag and an American flag can be seen pointing and firing a paintball gun at the protesters standing on the corner. … And as a green pickup passes, someone riding in its bed can be seen spraying something toward protesters.” (A man affiliated with a far-right group called “Patriot Prayer” was killed in the violence on Saturday night.)
7. “At some point, I will not be President. Hopefully, that will be in five years from now, but I will not be President. And they’re going to die, they’re all going to die.”
It’s not at all clear from the context who the “they” who are “going to die” when he is no longer in office actually are. I think he is referring to the media, as in, the press will wither and expire when they don’t have him to cover anymore. I think.
8. “I leave early in the morning, I get home late at night.”
9. “Joe doesn’t have energy.”
This feels like a good place to remind everyone that Trump ascribes to the battery theory of life. As in, you start life with a full battery and things like, say, exercise, unnecessarily drain that battery — making you more likely to die young. And no, I am not kidding.
10. “That was — first time I ever heard of Black Lives Matter, I said that’s a terrible name. It’s so discriminatory. It’s bad for Black people. It’s bad for everybody.”
This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the BLM movement. The phrase “Black Lives Matter” is not meant to suggest that all lives don’t matter, but rather that historically, White lives have seemed to unfairly matter more — particularly in regard to how the two races are treated by law enforcement — than Black lives.
11. “If Biden gets in, they will have won. He’s a weak person. He’s controlled like a puppet. So it’s not going to be calm things down. It’s going to be they will have won.”
This is straight up fear-mongering by the President. He is arguing that if Biden wins, the protests, fires and violence that we’ve seen in Portland and Kenosha will be the standard operating procedure in every city — large and small — in America. As in, if you don’t want violet anarchists on your doorstep, you better vote Trump.
12. “People that you’ve never heard of, people that are in the dark shadows.”
This is Trump’s response to an Ingraham question about who controls Biden. (Not a loaded question at all, Laura!) Who are these “people that are in the dark shadows,” you ask? Who knows. Trump never explained.
13. “We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend. And in the plane, it was almost completely loaded with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear and this and that. They’re on a plane.”
This appears to be Trump channeling a debunked conspiracy theory that bounced around Facebook claiming Antifa members were coming to DC to disrupt the Republican National Convention. And yes, just as a reminder, this is the President of the United States pushing this junk.
14. “I’ll tell you sometime, but it’s under investigation right now. But they came from a certain city, and this person was coming to the Republican National Convention. And there were like seven people on the plane like this person and then a lot of people were on the plane to do big damage.”
Oh, it’s under investigation? Why haven’t we heard about that prior to right now? Wouldn’t you think that a group of Antifa members coming to DC to “do big damage” during the RNC might be the sort of thing law enforcement would want people to know about?
15. “I have to be aggressive because I’m like standing here in a sea of incompetent people, stupid people and violent people. Very violent people.”
This is Trump’s message to women. Not kidding. Ingraham’s question that led to this answer was this: “What do you say to [women] directly about what you’ll do in a second term?”
16. “It’s also like — well, where are we? Oh, we are in the White House, I see. See. OK.”
Trump’s answer to almost any question about issues he is having in the 2020 race — or with some specific group of voters like women — amounts to this: I won last time. And I live in the White House now. Both of those things are true! But they have little bearing on whether he win again.
17. “They were trying to destroy the suburban, beautiful — the American dream, really. They want low-income housing, and with that comes a lot of other problems, including crime. May not be nice to say it, but I’ll say it.”
I was going to say that this is a racial dog-whistle, but it’s not. It’s a flat-out weaponizing of race to suggest that Black people are going to invade the White suburbs if Biden wins.
18. “So you have this beautiful community in the suburbs, including women, right? Women. They want security. I ended where they build low-income housing project right in the middle of your neighborhood.”
Just in case you missed the race message the first time …
19. “Let’s rip down a building and build a new one with no windows.”
This is one of Trump’s favorite talking points about the Green New Deal. It’s also not true. The proposal doesn’t call for tearing down buildings with windows. Instead, it calls for replacing windows with more energy-efficient ones.
20. “I saved the Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”
Uh …Trump signed the FUTURE Act in January, which ensures millions for STEM learning continues to flow to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. It’s a considerable exaggeration to equate that action with having “saved” HBCUs.
21. “I’ve done more than any president in the history of our country except for maybe — and I say maybe — maybe Abraham Lincoln. The reason I say maybe is – I’ll explain that to you later. OK?”
[takes off hat, scratches head confusedly]
22. “What the Black community wants in this country is they want police and they want law and order.”
How does Trump know what the Black community wants? He didn’t say.
23. “The police are under siege because of things — they can do 10,000 great acts, which is what they do, and one bad apple, or a choker — you know a choker, they choke — shooting the guy in the back many times. Couldn’t you have done something different? Couldn’t you have wrestled him? In the meantime, he might’ve been going for a weapon. And there’s a whole big thing there. But they choke. Just like in a golf tournament, they miss a three-foot…”
In which the President of the United States compared a police officer shooting a man in the back — a la what happened to Jacob Blake in Kenosha — with a golfer missing a three-foot putt. No words.
24. “People choke. And people are bad people. You have both. You have some bad people, and they choke.”
So, according to Trump, cops who shoot someone in the back are either a) “bad people” or b) chokers who can’t perform in critical moments. OK.
25. “I’ve seen bad decisions of people that it looked bad but probably it was a choke.”
Again just to follow this logic: People who make bad decisions might be bad. But they also might not be bad, but simply chokers.
26. “So I’m going to give it a very good shot. I’m going to give New York a very good shot, because the same people that voted against me like me now.”
Trump lost New York by 22 points in 2016. A Siena College poll in June had his favorable rating in the state at 33% and his unfavorable rating at 62%. So …
27. “[Cuomo] killed 11,000 people with bad decisions on nursing homes. He’s the number one state in the country by far for death. Probably in the whole world for death.”
There’s no question that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) decision to make nursing homes accept patients who were positive for Covid-19 deserves more scrutiny. But it’s deeply irresponsible to use language like Cuomo “killed” 11,000 people. As irresponsible as it would be to suggest that Trump “killed” 183,000-plus Americans due to his questionable decisions in dealing with the nationwide coronavirus pandemic.
28. “[New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio] wanted me to send doctors and nurses to a hospital that was having a lot — I got it. I did so much, and then what happens? He does a Black Lives Matter sign in front of Trump Tower.”
“I got it. I did so much.”
29. “We’ve done a great job in Covid but we don’t get the credit.”
Six million Americans have tested positive for Covid-19. More than 183,000 have died. The US leads the world in both of those categories.
30. “I never had the flu, but I never had a shot. I never had the vaccine. I come the first day — ‘Sir, you have to have a flu shot.’ I said, ‘Why?’ ‘Because you have to have it.’ I say, ‘What’s the percentage?’ And I wasn’t thrilled with the percentage. It’s like 50%, 52%.”
Just the President of the United States suggesting that the flu vaccine is ineffective and unnecessary. Totally normal stuff! Nothing to see here!
31. “If you add 35 to the people that have had it and to all the other things, people that have had it where in theory you can’t get it, although they found one person and they are making a big deal. One person got it twice. But if you add it all up, it gives a very good protection.”
This is Trump’s response to Ingraham citing data that suggests roughly one-third of the country says they won’t take the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available. What is he talking about? Honestly, I have no idea.
32. “It wasn’t the people’s fault that China give us the virus. China gave us the virus, whether it was through incompetence or on purpose.”
There continues to be no actual evidence that China purposely created the coronavirus or unleashed it on the world purposely.
33. “I inherited him, he was here, he was a part of this huge piece of machinery — I didn’t put anybody in charge. He was here. He’s been here for 40 years.”
Donald Trump on Anthony Fauci. What an endorsement!
34. “I don’t agree with him that often, but I like him.”
Just to be clear: Fauci is one of the world’s foremost experts in infectious disease. He is also a medical doctor. Trump is, um, neither of those things.
35. “It’s been different for a lot of different reasons, I think primarily because I’ve accomplished so much.”
In which Trump says he is treated differently by lawmakers in Congress because he has just done so many things. This feels like a good place to end.
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