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Rosie O’Donnell on Roseanne Barr, LeBron James and Why She Can’t Run for Office

Rosie O’Donnell has never minced words when it comes to her disdain for Donald Trump. But now, the former talk show host has a song or two for the 45th president of the United States.

O’Donnell is jumping on a bus on Monday in New York City to head to Washington, D.C. to perform musical numbers with a team of Broadway actors at the Kremlin Annex, a three-week-old nightly protest against President Donald Trump in front of the White House that encourages participants to be so loud that they hope the president will have trouble sleeping.

Variety caught up with O’Donnell at her apartment in New York City just hours after having flown home from the Boston set of her Showtime series “SMILF” to talk Trump, Roseanne Barr, LeBron James and why she won’t be running for office anytime soon.

You’re going to Washington to do two of your favorite things — politics and musical theater.

Exactly. Merge them when you can. Look how it helped “Hamilton.”

Where did the idea come from to sing Broadway songs in front of the White House?

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I called [Sirius/XM radio On Broadway host] Seth Rudetsky and said, “I am going to rent a bus and I’m going to get as many people as I can on the bus with a drum team and do a drum circle at the White House. But then we got such a great response from the Broadway community that we said we’ll do the drum circle the next time. For now, let’s just get as many Broadway people as we can. We want to remember what is good about this country and what they love while voicing their disgust with this administration and what’s become of our nation’s reputation. I made sure with [Kremlin Annex organizer] Adam Parkhomenko was okay with it and he said, “Of course, that’s what we’re here for.”

Did you ever think when your feud originally started with Donald Trump we’d be where we are today?

I never in a million years would have imagined that so many people would fall for him. If you’re from New York, we understand all what he was about because we watched him try to create this façade in real time in front of our eyes as his planes were being repossessed from the runways of LaGuardia. And now it’s so tragically sad what he’s doing to a part of the country that doesn’t have neither the time or the resources or desire to look deeper. He’s taking the people who are easily fooled and fooling them over and over again to the point where we are now in this horrible predicament.

Are you hopeful for the midterms?

Yes, I’m hopeful. I think Americans will turn up in numbers that will astound everyone. And I am hopeful we are going to take the House and if we’re lucky, the Senate and then we’re going to get rid of him as soon as possible — a day after we win. And I think people will be rejoicing all over the place, all over the world.

Who do you want to see run in 2020?

I’m just looking at the elections in November and see if our country is going to be able to recover from the damage that he has done. Anyone in there — Republican or Democrat — is going to be better than him. He’s a vicious dictator and he admires vicious dictators. He’s now going after LeBron James. It’s insanity, coming off of this man opening this school to save people from the community he grew up in and providing them with opportunities they would have never had before — that’s the man you try to bully? He’s so beyond a racist. He’s just a hateful person without a soul.

Members of the protest group "Occupy Lafayette Park" hold up letters making the word "Treason" outside the White House, in WashingtonTrump White House, Washington, USA - 31 Jul 2018
CREDIT: Andrew Harnik/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Have you ever thought of running for office?

I really don’t have the mental ability to (laughs). I really don’t. I suffer from depression and I take things very personally. At night, I still wake up because of those babies that are missing. Where are those girls? What happened? Were they sex trafficked? What happened to all those girls and those babies? Where are they? It’s like a Hitler movie. They try to diminish and deride anyone they feel is vulnerable. He did that with me. He felt like I was vulnerable because I’m a gay overweight loud New York woman who has absolutely no use for him or what he stands for and is not afraid to say it.

You’re friends with Roseanne Barr. Have you spoken to her recently?

We’re friendly. We talk on the phone. I reached out to her when she first sent that tweet and I encouraged her to delete it and to really look inside herself to find out where that was coming from. And she did say to me moments after it was up and before it was even deleted exactly what she said to everyone else, that she didn’t know Valerie Jarrett was black and that she was talking about the Iran arms deal or I don’t even know what she was talking about. Roseanne and I have vastly different political views although many years ago we did not. We were very aligned.

Do you think ABC was right to cancel the show?

I think the amount of damage that was done by that tweet whether it was inadvertent or not, it’s pretty huge. I have been in Boston and people have mistaken me for her. It’s been really intense. I’ve had black and brown people come over to me and say, “You’re not so funny now? You going to say it in front of me, Roseanne?” And I’m like, “Actually I’m Rosie O’Donnell. I’m the one who loves Tom Cruise and hates Donald Trump.” They think I’m her. The people who have come up to have been very disturbed and insulted by that one thing.

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