President Trump’s trainwreck of a phone interview on Thursday’s edition of Fox & Friends came to an abrupt end after hosts basically cut him off.
“Our Justice Department, which I try and stay away from, but at some point I won’t,” Trump yelled, striking an authoritarian tone as Steve Doocy let out an uncomfortable groan, “should be looking at that kind of stuff [alleged anti-Trump bias in the FBI], not the nonsense of collusion with Russia.”
As soon as Trump stopped talking, Brian Kilmeade brought the interview to a close, informing the president that he had to get going because he had a busy day ahead of him.
“We’d talk to you all day, but it looks like you have a millions things to do,” Kilmeade said.
Trump seemed a bit surprised to hear it.
“You could,” he interjected, suggesting he was in the mood to keep talking. But hosts wrapped it up.
After the smoke cleared, Doocy quipped, “You know, I think he was awake,” as his co-hosts chuckled uncomfortably.
You’d think hosts of the president’s favorite show would give him all the air time he wants, but they had good reason to usher him off the air — Trump did a lot of damage to himself over the course of the roughly 25-minute interview.
Trump scored two legal own-goals that could make it more difficult to fend off Mueller and a separate FBI investigation into his personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Trump minimized his relationship to Cohen, which could complicate his lawyers’ effort to shield seized documents from federal investigators in prosecutors. But later, Trump acknowledged that Cohen did in fact represent him during his dealings with a woman who claims to have had an affair with Trump and received a hush payment that may have violated federal law — a claim at tension with the story Cohen has told about the payment.
Not even two hours after the interview ended, his words were used against him in federal court. The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York submitted a letter to a federal judge noting that Trump’s Fox & Friends comments supported their position. The government specifically cited Trump’s assertion that Cohen handled a “tiny, tiny little fraction” of his overall legal work.
Maggie Haberman of the New York Times reported that Trump’s advisers have been trying to prevent him from doing exactly what he did on Thursday — calling a cable show and ranting.
Trump aides fought for months to keep him from doing what he did this morning/the thing that makes him happiest – just calling Fox and Friends and talking as if it was one of his private conversations.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 26, 2018
While Trump regularly called Morning Joe during the campaign, he hasn’t done a TV interview with a non-Fox News host since May 11, 2017, when he sat down with NBC’s Lester Holt days after firing FBI director James Comey. During that interview, Trump admitted that he fired Comey because of his frustration over the FBI’s investigation into his campaign — a revelation that opened the door to the appointment of Mueller and his investigation of Trump for obstruction of justice.
As Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation reportedly nears its end, Trump is hoping that people have forgotten about his interview with Holt. Last week, Trump tweeted that Comey “was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation” — a claim impossible to square with his comments to Holt.