The 45 oddest quotes from Donald Trump's secretive Wall Street Journal interview
Posted August 2
On July 25, President Trump sat down for an interview with The Wall Street Journal. The paper wrote a few stories on the 45-minute chat and released a handful of excerpts. What they didn't do was release the full transcript of the interview -- which has become common practice among media organizations over the last few years.
Thanks to the good folks at Politico, however, we can now see the full back and forth of the Journal's conversation with the President; Politico got their hands on the entire transcript and released it Tuesday night. (Hooray for transparency!) Worth noting: The New York Times didn't release its FULL transcript of the Trump interview last month. The Times, however, did release extensive excerpts.
It is a classic of the form. I went through and pulled out the strangest of the strange Trump lines. They're below in the order Trump said them.
1. "But once you get that motion, it's in pretty good shape, once you get in. It's hard to get in, but once you get in."
Trump is talking here about the motion to proceed on the health care legislation, in case you were wondering.
2. "John McCain was a great help, coming in as he did. And so it was something I very much appreciate, and we'll see what happens."
This interview was conducted on Thursday afternoon. By early Friday morning, the Senate had failed to pass the measure with McCain casting the decisive "no" vote.
3. "Many conversations. I just had one with a certain senator that was very convincing to that senator. So I've done a lot."
Hmmm. You would assume this had to do with health care given the timing of the interview. And, if so, was Trump really "very convincing" given that the vote failed hours later?
4. "And I - you know, I think I - you know, look, just don't quote me on this unless it happens, but I think we have a pretty good shot."
They did quote you. And the vote failed.
5. "If it's repeal and replace, which one do you want to go? Which form of existing conditions? I mean, there's many things."
Here's the truth: Trump isn't a details guy. Never has been. He comes in at the end and uses the power of his #brand and personality to close deals. In this quote he makes clear he knows very, very little about the specific policies being debated in the health care fight. "Which form of existing conditions" is not a phrase anyone who knows the law and the proposed changes says.
6. "It was nice to see you out in Southampton a couple weeks ago."
OK, I'm cheating a little bit here since this quote is from Wall Street Journal executive editor Gerard Baker. But what a quote! He's talking to Ivanka Trump who stopped by the interview. And who says media tycoons don't live like regular people!
7. "You did a good job. He's a good - he's a good boy."
Trump is praising Baker here for an op-ed the Journal ran, which Baker acknowledges he didn't write. And, yes, Trump is calling the editor of a major national and international newspaper a "good boy" for publishing something he liked. (Side note: I searched for the op-ed that Trump was referencing but couldn't find it.)
8. "If you remember, it was - you know, it was an idea that I had very early on, repeal."
Trump appears to be taking credit here for calling for the repeal of an Obamacare, an idea that has been kicking around in Republican circles for almost as long as the Affordable Care Act has existed.
9. "It's a very difficult -- it's a very difficult thing, always has been."
"On my first day in office, I am going to ask Congress to send me a bill to immediately repeal and replace, I just said it, Obamacare." -- Donald Trump, September 2016.
10. "I honestly believe for six months I have done more than just about any president when you look at all of the bills that were passed, 42, 43."
This is a common trope for Trump -- he's signed lots of bill and is, therefore, incredibly productive. But, not all bills are the same -- or even close to the same. Read this from PolitFact on that.
11. "Look, I had 45,000 people there yesterday. It's the biggest crowd they've ever had, and they were - they were going wild yesterday in West Virginia."
In response to a question about what he is most proud about in his first six months in office, Trump cites his speech at the Boy Scouts annual Jamboree.
12. "And, you know, it is - it would have been easier to start with taxes, but this is better if it works, OK? If it works, this is better."
So ...Trump thinks, in hindsight, he should have started with tax reform rather than health care? Or no? Yes?
13. "And then I'm going to do a very big - we're doing very big trade deals, and we're looking forward to that."
Things to look forward to: "Very big trade deals." So, we got that going for us, which is nice.
14. "She lost easily, you know, 306 to 223 I think, right -- 223, something like that."
This was a question about whether Democrats have any incentive to work with Trump. Also, he won 304 electoral votes.
15. "So you have the governor of Ohio not supporting you and you win by almost 10 points, which is pretty good because Ohio's not - if you remember, you guys were always saying you have to win Ohio, right?"
The 2016 election ended 259 days before this interview was conducted.
16. "Biggest crowd they've ever had. What did you think?"
This quotes proves two things. First, Trump is obsessed with crowd size and it always being the biggest and best. Second, he cares deeply what reporters and their editors think of him.
17. "I'd be the first to admit mixed. I'm a guy that will tell you mixed. There was no mix there. That was a standing ovation from the time I walked out to the time I left, and for five minutes after I had already gone. There was no mix."
NO MIX. Trump is insistent that the Boy Scouts crowd loved him. Every second of his speech. One long standing ovation. NO MIX.
18. "I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful."
It's not actually clear that the call Trump references here actually, you know, happened.
19. "I call him Mr. Elegant. I mean, that was a great debate. We did such a great job."
Who is Mr. Elegant? Lester Holt, who moderated the first general election debate? Or Maybe CNN's own Anderson Cooper, who moderated the second one? Oh, yeah, Trump is answering a question about his tax policy here. But, he wants you to know he did a great job in that debate.
20. "So I deal with foreign countries, and despite what you may read, I have unbelievable relationships with all of the foreign leaders. They like me. I like them. You know, it's amazing."
21. "You know, a lot of people say - they say, well, but the United States is large. And then you call places like Malaysia, Indonesia, and you say, you know, how many people do you have? And it's pretty amazing how many people they have."
Wait, there are countries that have more people in them than the US??? That IS amazing.
22. "You know, I was with Bob Kraft the other night. He came to have dinner with me. He's a friend of mine."
"Richard Gere's a real hero of mine. Sting. Sting would be another person who's a hero. The music he's created over the years, I don't really listen to it, but the fact that he's making it, I respect that." -- Hansel
23. "When George Steinbrenner died, like with the estate taxes, the estate paid nothing."
This is true! Also, this.
24. "We think we're going to have tremendous growth. We think money's going to come pouring into the country."
Well, I'm satisfied! [shakes hands, nods, walks away]
25. "They go to Ireland, they go to other -- I own a lot of property in Ireland."
There's a Trump hotel in Ireland!
26. "We'll have companies pouring back into our nation. I mean, it's going to be -- you know, it's going to be beautiful."
So, so beautiful.
27. "We have Tim Cook I spoke to, and he's promised me three big plants -- big, big, big."
That's three "bigs." Four and you have a "huge," I believe -- if I'm doing my math right. (It's also not totally clear that Apple has agreed to build three new plants -- big or otherwise.)
28."I just don't know if he'd like -- this is off the record -- if he wants to sit down."
It wasn't off the record.
29. "I mean, you don't hear the word Britain anymore. It's very interesting. It's like, nope."
30. "What would they do with the British Open if they ever got out? They'd no longer have the British Open."
Trump is referring to Scotland's impending independence vote. He cares a lot about golf -- and sees much of the world through that lens.
31. "So for a guy to go -- you know, to me, that's almost worse than, like, a triple bogey, because -- but for a guy to go through these horrible holes, hit a bad drive like I've never seen -- I mean, he was 150 yards, right."
In case you needed Trump's thoughts on Jordan Spieth's victory at the Open Championship, here they are.
32. "There'll be certain pieces. It's not -- there'll be certain pieces."
Trump's answer when asked to get specific on what a trade deal with the United Kingdom would look like.
33. "I was last night in West Virginia, and I had farmers coming up to me and hugging me and kissing me because of the cattle stuff."
The "cattle stuff."
34. "The word reciprocal, to me, is very important."
I am more of a "reciprocity" guy myself.
35. "We're the people that are getting beat up -- one of the reasons I think I'm talking to -- I'm sitting behind this beautiful desk as opposed to somebody else."
36. "Well, we're doing major studies. Oh, I would be very surprised if they will be -- look, we've been extremely nice to them. We've been extremely nice to them in saying they were compliant, OK?"
The president of the United States on Iran.
37. "I know, that's just -- and Anthony will handle that. I can -- Anthony can do that out of his back pocket, OK?"
Anthony Scaramucci was driven out as communications director six days after this interview was conducted.
38. "But I was -- I appointed a man to a position. And then shortly after he gets the position, he recused himself. I said, what's that all about? Why didn't you tell me that you were going to do that, and I wouldn't have appointed you? But I appointed him. And shortly thereafter, he recused himself."
Here's how it went down: First Trump appointed Sessions. Then Sessions recused himself. Then Trump was like "WHAAAAA?"
39. "That's a total witch hunt, the whole Russia story. It's a hoax. It's a hoax. We had no collusion with Russia. We never dealt with Russia."
Trump's oldest son, Don Jr., released an email exchange in which he is told that "incriminating" information about Hillary Clinton has been obtained by a Russian government program. He agrees to meet in hopes of obtaining that information. When the meeting is revealed, Donald Trump is involved in the crafting of Don Jr.'s statement to The New York Times about it -- a statement that is, at best, misleading on the details of why the gathering took place and what was discussed.
40. "You know, I put out a letter from a very -- from the biggest law firm saying Trump has no involvement with Russia. I don't."
It was the biggest law firm so ...
41. "So he wasn't in love with me for a short period of time."
Trump on The Mooch. Yes, really.
42. "He looks at 40,000 people and he probably says, what do I have to lose, and he endorsed me. So it's not like a great, loyal thing about the endorsement."
Trump has rewritten history in his own mind to suggest Jeff Sessions, then a senator and now his attorney general, only endorsed him because Trump was so incredibly popular. And, therefore, Sessions deserves no credit for the endorsement.
43. "And if Jeff Sessions didn't recuse himself, we wouldn't even be talking about this subject."
Trump really believes this -- that if Sessions had not recused himself on Russia it would have all disappeared. Which is, um, not right.
44. "I make good deals. I don't make bad deals. I make good deals."
Good deals only here. Bad deals need not apply.
45. "But I'm very happy with Anthony. I think Anthony is going to do amazing."
Scaramucci was pushed out six days after this interview.