(CNN) — Minutes after his nominee to head the Veterans Affairs department withdrew from consideration amid a maelstrom of negative headlines, President Donald Trump called into his favorite show on his favorite network: “Fox & Friends” on Fox News Channel.
And he talked. And talked. And talked.
It was an emotional roller coaster as Trump was, at turns, calm, angry and everything in between. I went through the transcript and picked out the 53 most memorable lines. They’re below.
1. “I better not get into that because I may get in trouble. Maybe I didn’t get her so much.”
Trump starts the interview noting that today is a special day because it is his wife’s birthday. Annnnnnd, he didn’t get her anything. Off to a great start!
2. You know, I’m very busy — to be running out looking for presents, OK? But I got her a beautiful card and some beautiful flowers.”
Yes, I often tell my wife I didn’t get her a present for her birthday because I am “very busy.” It goes over great!
3. “I’ll tell you what, the people of France are just — were spellbound by what happened with their great president who just left”
The entire nation of France was spellbound. Believe me. Many people are saying it.
4. “We really accomplished a lot. More than anybody knows. You’ll be seeing what we accomplished.”
Trump is talking about his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron here. Also, he’s using his tried and true TV/salesman pitch. “Just wait until you see what we’ve got planned in the next episode! You’ll never guess what happens next!”
5. “All they do is scream ‘Death to America, death to America.’ And by the way, they’re not screaming it so much anymore. They were screaming it with him.”
So. Iran used to scream “Death to America.” But they don’t it anymore because Trump is president now. So, he’s got that going for him. Which is nice.
6. “The Democrats are obstructionists. It’s horrible what they’re doing. They’re not approving people.”
Trump here is blaming Senate Democrats for Ronny Jackson’s withdrawal. Of course, the reason Jackson was forced to withdraw was that Trump shouldn’t have nominated him in the first place — and certainly not without vetting him in any meaningful way.
7. “Jim Jordan, and Mark Meadows, and Matt Gaetz, and DeSantis, and so many — Corey Lewandowski.”
Four of these people are members of Congress. One is Corey Lewandowski.
8. “Diamond and Silk are warriors, by the way. How about Diamond and Silk?”
My file of “things I never thought I would hear a president say ever” is already WAY overstuffed.
9. “You know, we call him Doc Ronny, we call him Admiral Ronny.”
Also, “The Candy Man.” BOOM. Too soon?
10. “I want to tell you that Jon Tester — I think this is going to cause him a lot of problems in his state.”
Color me skeptical. Tester does have a tough re-election race in a state that Trump won by 20 points, But, he’s not going to lose because he aired concerns — passed on to him by whistleblowers — about Trump’s nominee for the VA.
11. “Doc, you run a great operation. How do you think you’d do at the VA?”
12. “It’s a big monster.”
The VA should consider adding this to their official name — “Department of Veterans Affairs: A Big Monster.”
13. “I’m really proud of the job we’ve done for the VA because we got — we’re working right now on choice and really big — but we got rid of so many rules and regulations that made it impossible and we’re really doing great at the VA.”
This sentence is either a) a purposeful ode to Jack Kerouac’s stream-of-consciousness style as best exhibited in “On The Road” or b) totally nonsensical.
14. “He’s got a tremendous heart.”
Ronny Jackson: One tremendous heart.
15. “These are all false accusations that were made. These are false and they’re trying to destroy a man.”
But, I’d note this: The allegations came from more than 20 people who had worked or do work with Jackson. The accusations about his prescribing himself medication, of being intoxicated on foreign presidential trips et cetera all were confirmed by at least two separate whistleblowers, according to Tester.
And, if Jackson was totally innocent and could prove these were all false allegations, why not stay and fight?
16. “(Jackson) has a perfect record. He’s got this beautiful record unblemished.”
a) Not exactly;
b) “Beautiful” is an odd word to use to describe someone’s professional qualifications.
17. “I did a great thing for the American people by firing him.”
Thus begins the James Comey section of the interview. Buckle up.
18. “So the special counsel — and by the way, and Intelligence Committee and everybody else has found no collusion. There’s no collusion with me and the Russians.”
NO COLLUSION! NO COLLUSION!
19. “You can ask President Putin about that. There’s been nobody.”
Trump is advising reporters to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin who has been the toughest on Russia. So, put that on the list of questions, I guess.
20. “So there’s no collusion whatsoever.”
So, there is or is not collusion? I’m fuzzy on that point.
21. “Those memos were about me and they’re phony memos. He didn’t write those memos accurately. He put a lot of phony stuff.”
This is a serious charge. Because Comey recounted much of what was in the memos in his sworn testimony in front of Congress. So Trump is saying Comey lied to Congress.
22. “He does these memos and then fake news CNN who’s a total fake — you know, they give Hillary Clinton the questions to the debate and nobody — can you imagine, by the way, if you gave me the questions to a debate?”
The non sequitors here are truly mind-boggling.
23. “He is guilty of crimes and if we had a Justice Department that was doing their job instead of spending $8 million trying to find …”
Reminder: The Justice Department is run by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the man Trump hand-picked to serve as the country’s top cop.
24. “I’ve taken the position — and I don’t have to take this position and maybe I’ll change — that I will not be involved with the Justice Department. I will wait until this is over.”
HUGE news. The President of the United States saying that he has previously not meddled in Justice Department business but threatening that if they keep up this course of action — presumably meaning the Russia investigation — he could change his mind on that.
Yet more evidence that he either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that Justice has traditionally existed largely independently from the Executive Branch. And, I can’t emphasize this enough: The President is threatening Justice to change direction — or else.
25. “A horrible thing and yet, I’ve accomplished, with all of this going on, more than any president in the first year in our history.”
This is not, strictly speaking, accurate. In fact, it’s in no manner of speaking accurate.
26. “Even the enemies and the haters admit that.”
[narrator voice]: They don’t.
Also, here’s an oldie but goodie: “I would like to extend my best wishes to all, even the haters and losers, on this special date, September 11th.”
27. “We have accomplished more than any president in the first year, by far.”
28. ” I’m very disappointed in my Justice Department but because of the fact that it’s going under, and I think you’ll understand this, I have decided that I won’t be involved. I may change my mind at some point because what’s going on is a disgrace.”
In case you missed the first time the President threatened his Justice Department to drop the Russia investigation, here’s him doing it again.
29. “That’s not the FBI. That’s a fix.”
No big deal — just the President of the United States suggesting one of the most prominent law enforcement agencies in the country is compromised in fundamental ways.
30. “I have many, many — just so you understand, I have many attorneys. I have attorneys — sadly, I have so many attorneys you wouldn’t even believe it.”
Many people are saying Trump has the most attorneys. Beautiful attorneys. Unblemished even.
31. “(Michael Cohen) represents me — like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal he represented me.”
Wait. Trump just admitted for the first time that Cohen represented him in the Stormy Daniels case. Remember that Trump had previously said he knew nothing about the $130,000 payment Cohen made to Daniels. And he said he knew absolutely nothing about the broader case, referring all questions to Cohen. So…..
32. “But I’m not involved and I’m not involved — and I’ve been told I’m not involved.”
NOT INVOLVED! NO INVOLVEMENT!
33. “I have known Kanye a little bit and I get along with Kanye. I get along with a lot of people, frankly. “
34. “If you go back to the Civil War it was the Republicans that really did the thing.”
They did do that thing. They really did.
35. “If you have people do that they become much more popular.”
So: If celebrities come out and say they like Trump, they get “much more popular.” Causation? Correlation?
36. “They also like to always talk about Electoral College. Well, it’s an election based on the Electoral College. I would rather have a popular election but it’s a totally different campaign.”
The 2016 election ended 534 days ago.
37. “I got 306 and she got what, 223. So, remember — there was no way to break 270.”
By way of context, this is Trump’s “answer” to a question about what it said about our culture that celebrities coming out in support of Trump were being castigated.
38. “So what they’re trying to do is suppress the vote.”
OK. Trump is accusing mainstream media outlets of working to keep people from voting so that projections that Trump would lose would come true. I really, really hope he doesn’t believe this. If he does, whoa boy.
39. “We’re doing very well with North Korea and we’ll see how it all comes out.”
Here’s how it is going to shake out on North Korea: a) we are going to do very well b) we’ll see what happens.
40. “Look, it was very, very nasty with Little Rocket Man and with the buttons — and, you know, my button’s bigger than — everybody said this guy’s going to get us into nuclear war.”
41. “The nuclear war would have happened if you had weak people.”
Following this logic: Had Trump not called Kim Jong Un “Little Rocket Man” we would have had nuclear war. So, you’re welcome.
42. “I don’t watch them at all. I watched last night.”
This is by far my favorite line of an interview full of them. Trump says he doesn’t watch CNN. Then, IN THE NEXT SENTENCE, he says he watched CNN last night. Epic.
43. “You know, one of the reasons people say you’re still looking good, Mr. President. How do you do it?”
Nothing triggered this observation. it came totally out of the blue. One minute Trump was talking about how he doesn’t/does watch CNN. The next sentence? Many people say he is looking good. Unrelated: People always come up to me and say: “Man, Chris, how did you get so damn cool?”
44. “I have an ability — I don’t watch NBC anymore. They’re as bad as CNN.”
[narrator voice]: He does.
45. “I don’t watch things now.”
Of all the things Trump has said in this interview, this one is the farthest afield from reality. Like, on another planet.
46. “I did watch a liar-leaker and his performance, by the way, was horrible.”
Is “liar-leaker” like a “singer-dancer”? Like a dual threat?
47. ” Anderson Cooper was surprisingly tough and he did a good job.”
Shouts to AC!
48. “When I came into office people thought we were going into nuclear war, OK, and now they’re saying wow.”
Donald Trump: He took you from nuclear war to “wow” — and in only 15 months!
49. “I would give myself an A+.”
The most Trumpian thing ever. Most people when asked to grade their performance say “B” or something like that. Room for improvement and false modesty and all that. Not Trump. A+!!!!!!
50. “The Electoral College is set up perfectly for the Democrats and this was an absolute total beating in the Electoral College.”
51. “And our Justice Department, which I try and stay away from, but at some point I won’t.”
Third times a charm! And, if you look up “threat” in the dictionary, you get something very like that sentence above.
52. “There is no collusion with me.”
NO COLLUSION. NONE. NO COLLUSION.
53. “Sounds OK.”
Yes, yes it does. Let’s call it a day!
— Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
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