At the end of President Donald Trump’s, angry, freewheeling interview on Fox & Friends Thursday morning, host Steve Doocy remarked on the mile-a-minute clip Trump was talking at.
“I think he was awake and he had a lot to say,” Doocy quipped.
That was putting it mildly. Doocy and his fellow Fox hosts tried to keep the president on track through a 30-minute rant that took several bizarre turns. Trump bounced from topic to topic including Kanye West (“he’s smart”), James Comey (“a leaker and a liar”), Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen (“a businessman ... he’s got a business”), North Korea (“we’re doing very well with North Korea”), and Ronny Jackson, Trump’s pick for VA secretary who withdrew his nomination on Thursday morning (“highly respected, a real leader”).
Throughout the interview, the president seemed fixated on two things he kept coming back to: his 2016 Electoral College win and how the news media was covering him. Trump repeatedly called television networks CNN, NBC, and MSNBC “fake news” as the Fox & Friends hosts tried to steer him back to other questions.
Here's Trump ranting about the fake news media while the Fox & Friends desperately try to get him to talk about something else. pic.twitter.com/yvWdfpeRc9— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) April 26, 2018
On the subject of the Russia investigation, Trump again insisted there was “no collusion” and hinted he might get involved with the Department of Justice at some point, making his displeasure with the investigation clear.
“I’ve taken this position that I will not be involved with the Justice Department,” Trump said, before adding he could change his mind at any time. “I’m very disappointed in my Justice Department. I may change my mind at some point because what’s going on is a disgrace; it’s an absolute disgrace.”
Here are four key moments from Trump’s unhinged rant this morning.
Ronny Jackson withdrawing his nomination for VA secretary
Trump was asked to comment on some breaking news on Thursday morning — his White House doctor and new nominee for the US Department of Veterans Affairs Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson had just withdrawn his name from consideration for the position.
Jackson did so after numerous allegations surfaced that he dispensed medication (including prescription opioids) improperly and was intoxicated on the job. The news was first revealed by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), the ranking member on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, who revealed 20 people approached his committee with allegations about Jackson’s conduct.
Trump heaped praise on Jackson, calling him “an incredible man” with “a wonderful record, unblemished.”
And he accused Tester of trying to kill Jackson’s nomination, despite the fact that Tester’s concerns were shared by many Republicans in the Senate, including Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), the Veterans’ Affairs Committee chair. Tester is up for reelection in Montana 2018, and Trump said flat out he would pay a price during the midterms.
“Jon Tester, I think this is going to cause him a lot of problems in [the] state,” Trump said. “People in Montana, the admiral is the kind of man they respect and admire. For him to be doing this to this man and his family, I think Jon Tester has a big price to pay in Montana.”
Trump hinting he could get involved with the Justice Department’s Russia investigation
The president had former FBI Director James Comey on his mind on Thursday morning, after staying up to watch a Comey interview on CNN the night before, he told Fox & Friends. Trump said Comey is “guilty of crimes.”
He also hinted ominously that while he has stayed out of Justice Department matters when it comes to the Russia probe, it might not stay that way forever. Trump suggested that rather than investigating whether his campaign had colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign, they should be investigating Comey.
“Our Justice Department should be looking at that kind of stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia. There is no collusion with me and Russia and everyone knows that,” he said.
And Trump accused his own Justice Department of a “witch hunt,” saying that while he’s “taken the position that I will not be involved” with the department, that could change.
“So I’m very disappointed in my Justice Department,” Trump said. “I may change my mind at some point because what’s going on is a disgrace; it’s an absolute disgrace.”
Michael Cohen is a “businessman”
Trump went to great lengths to minimize his involvement with his personal attorney Michael Cohen, who is currently the subject of a corruption investigation. Trump was clearly angry about the recent FBI raid of Cohen’s office but insisted it doesn’t involve him and rather is a focus on Cohen’s own private business.
“I don’t know his business, but this doesn’t have to do with me,” Trump said. “Michael is a businessman; he’s got a business.”
Fox & Friends hosts pointed out that Cohen was Trump’s personal attorney for years, and Trump responded that he has many attorneys and that Cohen only performed “a tiny, tiny fraction” of his overall legal work. However, Trump did reference the legal work Cohen did for him with porn actress Stormy Daniels, who is currently suing both Cohen and Trump.
“He represented me with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal,” Trump said. “He did absolutely nothing wrong.”
Daniels’s lawyer Michael Avenatti, for one, seemed pleased with what he heard come out of Trump’s mouth during the interview.
Thank you @foxandfriends for having Mr. Trump on this morning to discuss Michael Cohen and our case. Very informative.— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) April 26, 2018
Kanye West and the black vote
Fox hosts asked Trump to weigh in on his Twitter bromance with rapper Kanye West, who made a lot of news this week when he tweeted pictures of a Trump-signed Make America Great Again hat and called the president his “brother.” (West also said he and the president are both “dragon energy.”)
“I have known Kanye a little bit, and I get along with Kanye; I get along with a lot of people,” Trump said. He also gave the rapper a shoutout on Twitter, thanking him for his support.
The president added that Kanye was “smart” to say nice things about him, claiming his support is reflective of the black vote overall. Trump said that while he got some black votes in the 2016 election, “I should have gotten a lot more.”
“Kanye looks and he sees black unemployment at the lowest it’s been in the history of our country ... he sees that and he’s smart, and he says Trump is doing a much better job than the Democrats did,” the president added.