The President of the United States is so incredibly stupid. It’s such a big challenge to write about Trump in an engaging and original manner given that he has exhausted political writers of every adjective we own. In fact, I can say that Trump’s abject stupidity has actually made me a better writer, in that I have had to learn more adjectives, and get more creative with phrases like calling him a “meat-filled bottle of spray tan lotion.”
Because our manchild of a president cannot conceive of the outside world through any other lens than that of cable news—or really feel any human emotion at all without his beloved teevee—one of the features of the Trump era is him putting on his big boy pants to call the nation’s most prestigious newspapers in for an Oval Office interview where he tries to play minister of propaganda, but instead winds up sounding like he just sustained a severe concussion after dropping several tabs of acid. Here are the 15 craziest excerpts from Trump’s hour(ish)-long interview with the New York Times yesterday.
1. The interview starts with our big strong president telling everyone how awesome and kewl he is
PRESIDENT TRUMP: How you guys doing? You’re O.K.?
PETER BAKER, chief White House correspondent: We’re good. How are you?
TRUMP: Very good. We had a busy day.
A.G. SULZBERGER, publisher of The New York Times: I can imagine.
TRUMP: So, we just had, this is from, they just delivered that to me from President Xi. You’ll get a transcript of the meeting. The press was here. A lot of the press was here. A nice letter. They have a nice way of giving letters.
But we’re doing very successfully.
2. A close reading of this passage reveals that Trump admits he wasn’t paying attention during the meeting with President Xi
TRUMP: That doesn’t mean there are any guarantees. But I will say there’s a very good feeling. There’s a very good relationship. This is the letter. You can actually read it. This is the translated version. So you can get a print out of that. But that was given out, and it was also, I guess it was read. They had the interpreter read it.
3. He still has no idea how tariffs work (the tax revenue he’s bragging about is coming from Americans, not Chinese)
TRUMP: Yeah, sure. We have 25 percent now on $50 billion. And by the way, Peter, that’s a lot of money pouring into our Treasury, you know. We never made 5 cents with China. We’re getting right now 25 percent on $50 billion. And then I was putting 25 percent at a later date, which date came and went — 25 percent or $200 billion.
4. In the before times, presidents just made simple, boring news like this in these interviews
MAGGIE HABERMAN, White House correspondent: Could you ever see a point in the next year where you say, “You know what, I don’t need to do this again, I don’t need to run for re-election”?
TRUMP: I don’t see it, because — so I just gave you a list of a lot of the things we’ve done. And this list isn’t even complete. I don’t even know if you have it.
5. I love instances like these where he goes full-mush brain and just starts repeating what he saw on TV
TRUMP: No, because it’s a very big job and there is a lot to do. And I would say that I would really start focusing — you know, we’ve done a lot on health care, and people haven’t given us too much credit. We have a lot of the different plans, the cooperative plans and other plans. Health care was terminated, and if the Obamacare were repealed and replaced — except for John McCain, it would have been, you know, he campaigned against it for six years, and then when he had the chance, he went thumbs down at 2:00 in the morning.
TRUMP: National security is very important and we’re fighting over — a very important element is the southern border. When we talk about drugs coming from China, the fentanyl — you look at the heroin and a lot of the other drugs, they come from — 90 percent, more than 90 percent — from right across the southern border. And unlike what the Democrats say, they don’t, you don’t bring trucks of drugs through the checkpoints. You bring trucks of drugs by making a right 20 miles, and a left into the country. They’re not bringing, you know, they bring massive amounts of drugs, and they do it because there’s no barrier, there’s no hardened wall that you can’t knock down with your breath.
7. “Kameela” Harris is the Dems best candidate
BAKER: Who do you think is their toughest candidate?
TRUMP: So, you never know that answer. You — somebody that you think would be the least tough is the toughest. I would say, the best opening so far would be Kamala [pronouncing as Kameela] Harris. I would say, in terms of the opening act, I would say, would be her. I think she probably —
8. This is most of his response to the question are “you happy with [ODNI Director] Dan Coats?”
TRUMP: And then you had the China group over here, the delegation. And I’m looking and I’m saying these are really outstanding people. They’re outstanding. Did you notice that today? How outstanding? We have a lot of great people.
Now I do tell the story about driving down Pennsylvania Avenue, you know. Because I’d been in Washington probably 17 times in my life. And on the 18th time, I was president of the United States. And you know, Washington wasn’t really my place. And I didn’t know people. I didn’t know a lot of people. And I got — I put some people in that I wasn’t happy with and I put some people in that I was very happy with.
But we’ve gotten it very — you know, as I’ve — now I know a lot of people.
9. His oxygen is ink in the New York Times
AIDE: You just have some important calls whenever you’re finished.
TRUMP: O.K., I’ll be in in a little while. What’s more important than The New York Times? Ok, nothing, nothing.
10. This is the NRA’s most beloved president ever
HABERMAN: Speaking of former aides, we wanted to talk to you about [Roger] Stone.
TRUMP: That was a long time. I will say this, I’ve always liked — I like Roger, he’s a character. But I like Roger. For a team of 29 people with AK27s, or whatever they were using, to charge a house like they did at 6:00 in the morning. I think that was a very sad thing for this country.
11. Siri, please show me an example of witness tampering
TRUMP: Bear false witness. I will never testify against the president. [Roger Stone] actually said at one time — you know he’s said it numerous times, but I heard him say it one time he’s done a great job, he’s a great president, and I will not, you know, lie in order to — people respect that so much. They respect that.
12. Trump Tower Moscow was supposedly a “very unimportant deal”
TRUMP: So let me tell you about about Trump Tower Moscow. This was a very unimportant deal. This was a very unimportant deal. No. 1. No. 2, this was a deal, the only thing you heard is through Rudy [Giuliani]. Is that what you heard? Through Rudy?
Someone should tell 1986 Trump about this when he “wrote” in Art of the Deal that he was pursuing a hotel “across the street from the Kremlin in partnership with the Soviet government.”
Also someone should let 2013 Trump know this is a nothingburger since he was clearly making very public plans with an oligarch in Vladimir Putin’s circle of power.
13. “We’re not going to war with Venezuela but I’m not taking war off the table”
HABERMAN: Ending foreign engagements. And you have said we’re not going to lecture the world. But you seem to be leaving open the idea of a military option in Venezuela. Am I reading that right?
TRUMP: It’s true.
HABERMAN: Why there, and not 100 other countries?
TRUMP: Well, I’m not saying I’m doing anything in terms of the military option in Venezuela. But I can say very pointedly we’re not taking that off the table.
14. He was definitely about to reveal classified intelligence before this interview suddenly cuts out here and changes topics
BAKER: What’d you say to Mr. [Juan] Guaidó, the opposition leader that you talked to?
TRUMP: We had a very good talk. Just more than anything else, I guess, I wished him good luck. It’s a dangerous journey. He’s in a very dangerous place. And it’s a very dangerous journey. I watched him —
15. This is basically what the entire Trump era sounds like
HABERMAN: But just broadly, sir: Why do you find yourself at odds with your government —
TRUMP: I don’t.
HABERMAN: — and why do you feel in terms of what the advice —
TRUMP: Well, first of all, when I walked into the room, there’s your picture, I guess you have it. [Hands reporters a photograph of intelligence chiefs meeting with him.] But when I walked into the room, I said, “What’s the story with Iran?”
If you haven’t read the transcript yet and consider yourself an aficionado of unintentional comedy, I implore you to read this incredibly long fit of madness. There’s an entire Michael Cohen witness tampering section that I didn’t even get to mention because there is no one quote that summarizes its insanity. God help us all.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.