President Trump sat down with New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt for an interview in West Palm Beach yesterday. Schmidt was low-key and even respectful, while Trump was ebullient. You can read excerpts here. (As always, there is no point in reading any newspaper’s account of the conversation.)
Trump was his usual unscripted self–rambling, not very articulate, sometimes humorously self-promoting, generally correct if often imprecise. He talked at length, and with great confidence, about Mueller’s investigation. Here, he knows things are going his way:
Let’s just say — I think that Bob Mueller will be fair, and everybody knows that there was no collusion. I saw Dianne Feinstein the other day on television saying there is no collusion. She’s the head of the committee. The Republicans, in terms of the House committees, they come out, they’re so angry because there is no collusion. So, I actually think that it’s turning out — I actually think it’s turning to the Democrats because there was collusion on behalf of the Democrats. There was collusion with the Russians and the Democrats. A lot of collusion.
TRUMP: Starting with the dossier. But going into so many other elements. And Podesta’s firm.
He’s right about that. The liberal press has done its best to avert its eyes from the real collusion scandal involving the Hillary Clinton campaign, Fusion GPS, Steele. the Russians who fed lies about candidate Trump to the Clinton campaign through Steele, and the FBI. But the more Trump talks about the real scandal, the harder it will be for liberals, including but not limited to those at the Times, to ignore it.
The Times’s own account of the interview led with the fact that Trump said the Mueller investigation was bad for the country. Well, it is. What Trump actually said is, I think, indisputable:
TRUMP: [Inaudible.] There was tremendous collusion on behalf of the Russians and the Democrats. There was no collusion with respect to my campaign. I think I’ll be treated fairly. Timingwise, I can’t tell you. I just don’t know. But I think we’ll be treated fairly.
SCHMIDT: But you’re not worked up about the timing?
TRUMP: Well, I think it’s bad for the country. The only thing that bothers me about timing, I think it’s a very bad thing for the country. Because it makes the country look bad, it makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position. So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.
Trump also is clued into the Awan scandal, although he doesn’t describe it with any precision:
But there is tremendous collusion with the Russians and with the Democratic Party. Including all of the stuff with the — and then whatever happened to the Pakistani guy, that had the two, you know, whatever happened to this Pakistani guy who worked with the D.N.C.?
Whatever happened to them? With the two servers that they broke up into a million pieces? Whatever happened to him? That was a big story. Now all of sudden [inaudible].
Here, too, it would be smart for Trump to keep talking about the Awan scandal. It is a classic example of Iowahawk’s dictum that journalism is all about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving.
Mostly, the interview is fun to read because you can tell the expansive Trump knows he is increasingly ascendant. Massive deregulation; economic growth picking up; standing up to Russia, Iran, China and North Korea; destroying ISIS; remaking the federal courts; recognizing Jerusalem; and now, the greatest tax reform in a generation–all while the Mueller investigation crumbles, and his opponents are tied up in knots over his tweets. The winning is under way.