President Donald Trump took aim at “lying” James Comey, the FBI and the Justice Department in a rambling telephone interview Thursday morning with the hosts of Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” But he had kind words for hip hop star Kanye West, who surprised fans this week by expressing his support for the President.
“He’s got good taste,” Trump said of West. Trump credited his track record on economic issues for spurring West’s public show of appreciation.
“Kanye looks and he sees black unemployment at the lowest it’s been in the history of our country,” Trump said. “He’s smart. And he says, ‘You know what? Trump is doing a much better job than the Democrats did.'”
During the roughly 25-minute call, Trump defended Ronny Jackson, his embattled former nominee to head the Veterans Administration, and his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who is under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump called allegations of alcohol abuse and other questionable behavior that have surfaced about Jackson “a disgrace” but confirmed that he is no longer a candidate to head the VA. Trump said he had a new nominee in mind but would not disclose the name other than to say it would be “somebody with political capability.”
With Comey, the FBI director fired amid the chaos of Trump’s first few months in the White House, Trump reiterated his assertion: “I did a great thing for the American people by firing him. Comey is a leaker and he’s a liar and not only on this stuff. He’s been leaking for years.”
Trump also reasserted that Comey “is guilty of crimes” and disparaged the Justice Department’s lack of action. Trump did not directly address the swirling question of whether he will move to fire Mueller but he seemed to indicate that he would not take that step. “I will not be involved with the Justice Department. I will wait until this is over,” he said. “I’m very disappointed in my Justice Department… I have decided I won’t be involved.”
Trump once again decried the “witch hunt” and “the fix” in Washington signified by Mueller’s probe. “There’s no collusion with me and the Russians. Nobody’s been tougher to Russia than I am.”
Regarding Cohen, Trump told hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade that he is “a good person.” Trump asserted that Mueller’s interest in Cohen stemmed from Cohen’s business interests, not his past work for Trump. “I have nothing to do with his business,” he said, adding that “I’ve been told I’m not involved.”
Cohen is the attorney who paid $130,000 on Trump’s behalf to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump, on the eve of the 2016 election. Trump referred only to “this crazy Stormy Daniels deal” and reiterated that Cohen “did absolutely nothing wrong.”
Trump confirmed that his candidate for Secretary of State, CIA director Mike Pompeo, met earlier this month with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un when Pompeo traveled to North Korea, presumably to lay the groundwork for a face-to-face meeting with Trump. “They had a great meeting” that lasted more than an hour, Trump said.
Trump as ever took aim at “fake news” media, notably CNN and “sleepy-eyed” Chuck Todd, anchor of NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He praised Fox News for what he described as even-handed coverage. “You guy don’t always treat me great, but you treat me fairly,” he told the “Fox & Friends” trio.
Trump said he would give himself “an A-plus” grade for his tenure in office so far, citing his administration’s track record of passing the tax reform legislation, eliminating an array of regulations on business and the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. “I’ve accomplished more than any president in the first year in our history.”