For 35 long, dreadful, maddening minutes I watched two of the most annoying men in political news sit down for a televised interview that may have actually left viewers dumber than when they started. Call it the Dueling Comb-Overs.
In an interview recorded Friday and broadcast on Sunday, Chuck Todd, of NBC’s Meet the Press, questioned the president on an array of topics, from crimes against humanity happening to migrant children in concentration camps at the southern border to Trump’s nonchalant dismissal of the kidnapping, torture, and murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The common thread throughout the interview was Trump’s habitual lying, his bragging, and his incessant need to play the victim. And of course there were plenty of attacks on Obama.
It wasn’t that Todd’s questions were particularly bad—although some were—but we’ve heard all of these lies before, and the fact that they’re presented together, in one sitting, doesn’t make Trump look any more or less presidential than he already does to viewers on either Fox News or NBC.
After being appropriately condemned earlier this week for his criticism of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s accurate use of the term “concentration camps” to describe conditions at detention facilities for migrant children, Todd tried to sound more compassionate with his questioning about the Trump administration’s soul-crushing mistreatment of children.
“I want to ask what’s going down with the children in these migrant camps. The stories are horrible, Mr. President. You have children without their parents. You have kids taking care of kids,” Todd said, to which Trump replied, “Yeah.”
“Why aren’t you doing something?” Todd asked.
“It’s been that way for a long time,” Trump responded [cue attack on Obama]. “And President Obama built the cages. Remember when they said that I built them? And then it was 1914 [1914?! What?]…It was 2014. Chuck, just listen for one second.”
“Separation, President Obama, I took over separation,” Trump continued. “I’m the one that put it together. What’s happened though are the cartels and all of these bad people, they’re using the kids. They’re, they’re, it’s almost like slavery.”
“But let’s not punish the kids more,” Todd responded.
What’s this? Empathy? What exactly are the political implications of empathy, Chuck?
Of course, it should be pointed out that Trump’s response is an utter lie. In fact, nearly a year ago to the day, NBC fact-checked this lie, which was being circulated at the time by Trump, then-Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and other Republican hacks. Back in June 2018, Trump had said that family separations had been going on “for 50 years or longer.”
The truth is that Donald Trump and his former Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the “zero tolerance” policy to be implemented, which ripped children by the thousands from their parents at the border, a mass-scale policy of abuse that has ended in the inhumane and criminal conditions we’re seeing at detention centers today. Only public condemnation convinced Trump to backtrack and rescind the policy.
Here’s Donald Trump’s warped version of reality (emphasis mine):
“You’re right. And this has been happening long before I got there. What we’ve done is we’ve created, we’ve, we’ve ended separation. You know, under President Obama you had separation. I was the one that ended it. Now I said one thing, when I ended it I said, ‘Here’s what’s going to happen. More families are going to come up.’ And that’s what’s happened. But they’re really coming up for the economics. But once you ended the separation. But I ended separation. I inherited separation from President Obama. President Obama built, they call them jail cells.”
Trump also muttered a sentence that will infuriate anyone who’s been paying attention to the situation with migrant children lately: “We’re doing a fantastic job under the circumstances.”
Then he blamed Democrats, saying, “If the Democrats would change the asylum laws and the loopholes, which they refuse to do because they think it’s good politics, everything would be solved immediately.”
A little later, Todd asked Trump, “Do you think impeachment’s good politics for you?
There are a million comments I could make about this question, but I want to get back to Jeff Sessions. Todd asked Trump what he would change if he could have a do-over as president. Without giving it much thought, Trump, who only hires the “best people,” responded, “personnel,” which might have been the funniest moment of the entire sad episode.
“I would say if I had one do over, it would be, I would not have appointed Jeff Sessions to be attorney general,” Trump said. And we all know why.
Another blatant lie Trump told, and there were several, involved a question about WikiLeaks. Todd brought up the Mueller report. (Trump said he had read “much of it” only to backtrack later and admit he only “read the conclusion.”)
“But going back, on WikiLeaks, knowing now that that was stolen foreign material, do you regret using it?” Todd asked.
“I’m not a WikiLeaks person,” Trump responded, after some back-and-forth.
Trump (again, emphasis mine):
“Let me tell you—WikiLeaks, etc., that’s not my deal in life. You know, in other words, I don’t know about WikiLeaks. It was a strange name. But there were stories about something WikiLeaks that they had information. And I say it in a joking manner at a speech. Joking. Everybody laughing. Everybody having a, and they made it like it was serious. No, I don’t want anything bad to happen to our country. Anything bad happens to this country, I will end it and I’ll end it fast. I don’t want any of that to happen.”
Here’s a compilation of Trump repeatedly praising WikiLeaks in the past:
Next, Todd asked if Donald Trump Jr. had been subpoenaed by a grand jury. “I don’t know…I, I really don’t know,” Trump said.
I could go on and on, but what’s the point? We know Trump’s a brainless, cruel, dictator wannabe who wouldn’t tell the truth to save his own life, and Todd and his arrogant, shit-grinning, center-of-the-road nonsense is a worthless sideshow in the national debate. The only thing you need to know is that Trump must be defeated in 2020, and lawmakers really should impeach him.
If you really must watch the interview, here it is. And, I’m sorry.