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‘A lot of things are the matter with me’: The best lines from Trump’s Fox interview

President Donald Trump called in to “Fox & Friends” on Friday for a nearly hour-long interview that he agreed after was a form of “stress relief.”

As House Democrats close in on an impeachment vote, Trump waxed on about a wide range of topics from the Ukraine investigation to his trade war with China to Kellyanne Conway’s relationship with her Trump critic husband.

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Here are some of the best nuggets from Trump’s interview:

It’s electric

Trump made a strange assertion about his long-promised border wall with Mexico, claiming that the government had deployed high-tech defenses to track migrant activity along the border, including electrifying the barrier.

“We have drones flying to see if anybody is trying to break through the wall. Because if you have a bulldozer or if you have heavy blowtorches and things you can break through. We have the wall, is electrified, so that if anybody touches it we know exactly what is happening we can get there in minutes,” Trump claimed.

Repeating a debunked conspiracy theory

Trump repeated his claims, which had been debunked less than 24 hours earlier by no less than his former top Russia adviser, that Ukraine is harboring the servers of the Democratic National Committee that the FBI determined had been hacked by Russia in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

“It is very interesting, it is very interesting, they have the server, right? From the DNC,” Trump said. “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade jumped in, asking the president who he was referring to.

“The FBI went in, and they told them get out of here. We’re not giving it to you. They gave the server to Crowdstrike, or whatever it is called, which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian. I still want to see that server. You know, the FBI’s still never gotten that server.”

“Are you sure they did that? Are you sure they gave it to Ukraine?” host Steve Doocy countered.

“That is what the word is,” Trump responded.

Praise for ‘Bull’ Durham

Trump had high praise for John Durham, the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut who was tapped by Attorney General William Barr to lead the Justice Department’s review of the origins of the Russia investigation. Trump again repeated the unfounded accusation that the highest rungs of the Obama administration had spied on his 2016 presidential campaign.

“Everybody knows it and now we’re going to find out,” Trump said. “You have ‘Bull Durham’ who’s supposed to be the toughest — I never met him, never spoke to him. But he is supposed to be the smartest and best.”

Trump then complimented Barr, who oversaw the completion of the Muller probe, positing that “we may have ended this thing a lot sooner had he been there originally.”

Saving ‘a lot of money’ by canceling subscriptions to The Washington Post and New York Times

Last month, Trump made a show of announcing that he’d canceled the White House’s subscriptions to The New York Times and The Washington Post, two papers he’s denigrated throughout his presidency. He still appears to read them, however, admitting to Fox that he was keeping apprised of their coverage of the last two weeks’ impeachment hearings while also claiming to have saved “a lot” of money by canceling the subscriptions.

“When I see the hearings, we have a great day, pick up the phony New York Times which is a phony total paper I don’t read it anymore,” he claimed. “You can’t read it. It has no relationship to the truth. And you read a story that took place, and they don’t tell you what happened. They only put in the bad, they don’t put in the good. Same thing with The Washington Post. It’s a phony paper. We don’t no longer have it in the White House. We saved a lot of money.”

A slip of the tongue?

One of the central parts of Trump’s explanation for pressuring Ukraine to publicly commit to investigations that could benefit him politically is that he wanted to ensure the eastern European country’s new leadership was serious about rooting out corruption. But he appeared to misspeak on Friday, telling “Fox & Friends” that he does, in fact, want corruption.

“I do want — always — corruption, I say that to anybody,” Trump remarked, adding: “Why should we give money to a country who’s known corrupt?”

Trump wants a Senate impeachment trial

Trump dared the House to vote to impeach him, suggesting he thinks he could get a fairer shake in a trial put on by the GOP-led Senate.

“Frankly I want a trial,” Trump said, before going on to outline his dream slate of witnesses for such proceedings. Still, Trump argued, “number one, they should never, ever impeach.”

Trump weighs in on the GOP’s newest impeachment star

Rep. Elise Stefanik has made a splash during the impeachment inquiry, becoming a breakout star for her fierce defense of the president and her combative nature throughout the public hearings. The attention has catapulted her into the national limelight, with conservatives cheering the young upstate New Yorker and liberals lambasting her.

“She’s become a star. You know, every time you do something, you have guys like Jim Jordan, [Mark] Meadows, all these guys they have been around and they’re stars but they’ve been stars,” Trump said of his congressional attack dogs. “Every once in a while you meet a new star — I know a lot about stardom. I know a lot about it, I made plenty of them — but I’ll tell you what, this young woman from upstate New York, she has become a star. Her way, you can never define exactly what it is, you understand that.”

“Just the whole thing. It just works. She, she’s a tremendous person. She was fantastic during the hearings,” Trump added.

Trump asserts that he knows the identity of the Ukraine whistleblower

The identity of the intelligence community whistleblower whose complaint sparked the impeachment inquiry has been the hottest secret in Washington. Trump has repeatedly accused the whistleblower of being a partisan intent on bringing him down, and has urged the media to divulge the person’s identity.

“I know exactly who it is. Everybody does,” Trump claimed Friday. He blew past questions from Kilmeade about whether the whistleblower was still in government, accusing the hosts of his favorite show of concealing the whistleblower’s identity as well.

“By the way you know who the whistleblower is too, otherwise you’re not doing your job. Everybody knows it. If the whistleblower were on the other side, they would have revealed the whistleblower two months ago. But the Democrats and their machine, the media machine, the fake, corrupt media, they protect. But you know who the whistleblower is, so do I know it.”

Sizing up his potential 2020 competitors

Trump has enjoyed telling the media about his assessments of the Democratic candidates fighting to take him on next November, and he provided his latest evaluation after the fifth primary debate took place earlier this week.

Trump reiterated his criticisms of former Vice President Joe Biden’s stamina.

“I don’t know if Joe can make it mentally. He’s off, there is no question about it. So I don’t know if he make it through mentally, if he get through it without cracking up, which is a real question, I mean many people have asked it,” he opined. “And don’t forget, people have seen his name for a long time.”

He also dismissed South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who’s shot up in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire in recent weeks.

“Pete, I call him Alfred E. Neuman. It reminds me of ‘Mad Magazine’ Alfred E. Neuman,” Trump said, repeating a past dig. “I don’t see him dealing with [China’s] President Xi. I don’t see him dealing with [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un. I don’t see him winning against any of them. I think Biden maybe has the advantage.”

The president again hit himself for going after Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who he derisively calls Pocahontas, referencing her rebound in the polls. She “came up from the embers,” he said. “I hit her too early. I came up with this name that seems to have stuck very nicely. They don’t use it.”

Trump also downplayed the threat from his fellow New Yorker, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is strongly considering a late entry to the race.

“I don’t see him. I know him pretty well. He finished very weak in New York,” Trump argued. “He starts telling you what you can drink, what you can do, no, I don’t see it. He desperately — I’m sure he is going to run. He is going to spend, he has got the money to put on a great campaign. I don’t see it. I think his time has come and gone.”

Claiming there are no longer U.S. troops in Syria

Trump has long campaigned on pulling American troops out of “endless wars” in the Middle East, a stance that has put him at odds and caused friction within his own party. That tension reached a boiling point a few months ago when Trump abruptly announced he’d begin to yank troops from the Syrian border with Turkey, paving the way for a Turkish assault on the U.S. allied-Kurds.

Trump relented and agreed to keep a small contingent of troops in Syria, something he neglected to mention Friday. “I just pulled out of Syria, except I kept the oil, if it was OK with you,” he quipped to the hosts.

Straddling the line on Hong Kong

The president has remained conspicuously quiet on the pro-democracy protests raging in Hong Kong for months now, never delivering a full-throated defense of the protesters and sparking speculation that he’s been mum on the issue in hopes of salvaging a crucial trade deal with China.

Trump dodged a question on whether he would sign a bill Congress sent to his desk this week professing solidarity with Hong Kong, and issued a pledge of support riddled with caveats.

“I stand with Hong Kong, I stand with freedom, I stand with all the things we want to do,” Trump said. But, he continued, “we’re in the process of making the largest trade deals in history. If we could do that, that would be great. China wants it.”

While he said he stands with the protesters there, he added that he also stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom he called “incredible” and a “friend.” He acknowledged that the desire for a trade deal “is a complicating factor, no question about it.” But he also suggested he deserves credit for ensuring the Chinese government’s response to the protesters hadn’t been worse.

“If it weren’t for me, Hong Kong would have been obliterated in 14 minutes,” he contended. China, he continued, “has got a million soldiers standing outside of Hong Kong that aren’t going in only because I asked him, please don’t do that. You will be making a big mistake. It’s going to have a tremendous negative impact on the trade deal, and he wants to make a trade deal.”

Standing by his man

Trump also shot down rumors that he’s looking to replace Vice President Mike Pence as his running mate for the 2020 election, telling Fox that the current veep “is our man 100 percent” despite rumors Pence might be kicked off the ticket in favor of former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

“Mike Pence is a great vice president,” Trump said, adding that Haley would “absolutely” be involved in his campaign no matter what, offering praise for the rare former member of his administration he remains on good terms with and suggesting she’s likely enjoying her time in the private sector.

“She is a friend of mine, she endorsed me with the most beautiful endorsement you’ve ever heard. She did a great job at the U.N.,” Trump continued. “Nikki would be great, but Mike Pence has done a phenomenal job as our vice president. He is our guy, he is my friend.”

Trump wades into Kellyanne Conway’s marriage again

Trump has not shied away from inserting himself in the public discussion of the marriage of Kellyanne Conway, a top aide and his former campaign manager whose husband has become somewhat of a household name thanks to his outspoken Twitter broadsides against the president. He did so again Friday, whacking George Conway for propagating the rumor that Pence might be replaced as vice president after the “Fox & Friends” hosts brought it up.

“First of all, Kellyanne is great, Trump began, before questioning his aide’s effect on her husband. “But she is married to a total whack job. I think she must have done some number on him, Ainsley. I don’t know what Kellyanne did to that guy. But she — I don’t even know him. I met him for a second. He’s got to be some kind of a nut job. She must have done some bad things to him because that guy is crazy.”

George Conway fired back on Twitter, tweeting out a link to an op-ed he wrote outlining his belief Trump is unfit for office. “Hey, @realDonaldTrump, if you want to learn about a real wack job, read this. Or have someone read it to you and tell you what the big words mean,” he wrote.

On a potential Sen. Mike Pompeo

Trump was asked about the status of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has played coy about his Senate aspirations. Despite routinely telling the press he’ll remain in Foggy Bottom for as long as Trump will have him, he keeps popping up at a number of Kansan political events.

The president did not rule out dispatching him if he felt the soon-to-be empty Kansas Senate seat was in danger of falling into Democratic hands.

“Mike would easily win in Kansas, great state,” Trump said. “I thought they had somebody out there that couldn’t win, and Mike would really, he loves what he is doing, but if I thought they somebody out there that — and he came to me and said, ‘Look, I would rather stay where I am’ — but he loves Kansas. He loves the people of Kansas. If he thought there was a chance of losing that seat, I think he would do that.”

Another missing Trump portrait

One of the storylines that’s emerged from the impeachment inquiry is the smear campaign orchestrated to get the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, removed from her post in Kyiv. Allies of the president painted her as an Obama holdover who needed to be ousted, and Trump singled her out for criticism in his call to the Ukrainian president in July.

Trump has also lobbed personal attacks on the longtime diplomat, including as she testified in the impeachment inquiry and again on Friday. But Trump homed in on one detail in particular that he argued was proof of his case against her.

“This ambassador that you know, everybody says is so wonderful, she wouldn’t hang my picture in the embassy,” Trump complained, without offering any evidence. “She is in charge of the embassy, she wouldn’t hang it. It look like a year and a half, two years to get the picture up. She said bad things about me. She wouldn’t defend me.”

‘Crazy as a bedbug’

Trump also trashed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of his most unflappable congressional opponents, dishing out a new insult for the woman who initiated impeachment proceedings against him.

“I have to deal with crazy Nancy,” he said during a riff on establishment politicians he’s had to overcome. “I mean, she is crazy as a … bedbug. She is nuts.”

He continued to rip on the speaker, accusing her, falsely, of focusing on oversight rather than legislating: “What she’s doing, she’s not talented. She is highly overrated, all she is doing is sitting. She is not doing any work for the people and now it turns out the whole impeachment thing is a scam.”

Trump embraces some lighthearted ribbing about his health

The president was asked to weigh in on the commotion he caused last weekend with a surprise trip to the hospital, which the White House later said was only so Trump could begin his annual physical examination.

The unannounced visit sparked a host of unfounded theories about Trump’s health, and Doocy, with a smile, asked Trump to finally reveal “what is the matter with you?”

“Well, a lot of things are the matter with me,” Trump began, getting introspective before answering what Doocy had really asked. “Number one, what did I do this for? But I love it. One of those things.”

“So we had some free time. My doctor calls, he said would you like to do something, because I will be slightly busy in 2020,” Trump continued, giving a similar explanation downplaying concerns to the one he provided reporters earlier in the week.

But he used the occasion to boast about his stamina, a trait he frequently hits his opponents over.

“So Mr. President, your health is fine?” Doocey asked. By way of an answer, the president offered an anecdote about the 14-hour workday he had earlier this week, apparently accounting for when he began tweeting just after 7 a.m., went to Austin, Texas, for the day, and returned back to the White House around 9 p.m.

“I left early, I got home very late. And I did many things in between,” he said. “I was sort of joking to the people: Hey that’s not bad considering these people had me all washed up and finished in a hospital, and I just get back from a 14-hour day.”


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