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The 6 Wildest Moments from Trump's ABC Interview

Coughing is bad, but election interference and being cozy with dictators are fine.

by Tim Marcin
Jun 17 2019, 1:20pm

Sit Donald Trump down with an interviewer for an extended period of time and, well, things are bound to get a little odd. True to form, the president’s interview with ABC News, which aired on Sunday, produced its fair share of head-scratching moments.

The commander-in-chief did everything from yelling at someone for coughing to bragging about his close relationship with a dictator. Here’s a quick rundown of the six wildest moments.

He dressed down his chief of staff for... coughing

Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney had the temerity to cough while Trump was talking to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos about his “fantastic financial statement,” seemingly referencing his tax returns, which congressional Democrats are after. Trump — a notorious germaphobe who cares deeply about his TV image — was not pleased. So not pleased, in fact, Trump requested a do-over on the comments, like he was filming a reality-TV show. Here’s the exchange, via ABC’s transcript:

Trump: No, at some point, I might, but at some point I hope they get it because it’s a financ—, it’s a fantastic financial statement. It’s a fantastic financial statement. And let’s do that over, he’s coughing in the middle of my answer.

Stephanopoulos: Yeah. OK.

Trump: I don’t like that, you know, I don’t like that.

Stephanopoulos: Your chief of staff.

Trump: If you’re going to cough, please leave the room. You just can’t, you just can’t cough. Boy, oh boy. OK, do you want to do that a little differently than uhh—

It must be fun to work in the White House. It must be joyous to walk the halls, just praying you don’t ever have to cough, lest you get booted from the room.

Only Lincoln (maybe) had it worse

It’s not news that Trump hates the press (while also being deeply addicted to TV news). When Trump claimed his press coverage was worse than any other president, Stephanopoulos countered that every president probably thinks that. Trump conceded that maybe Abraham Lincoln — who steered the country through the Civil War and was then assassinated — had worse press coverage.

“Look, it's been acknowledged,” he said. “Although they do say Abraham Lincoln was treated really badly. I must say that's the one. If you can believe it, Abraham Lincoln was treated supposedly very badly. But nobody's been treated badly like me.”

Trump: But of course I would listen to foreign intelligence

This clip already made the rounds, but it bears restating: The president flat-out said he would welcome foreign intelligence to help him win the 2020 election.

Asked if he’d take info from Russia, China, or any other nation, or if he’d pass it along to the FBI, Trump said, “Maybe you do both.” He rejected the idea that taking foreign intelligence — which is illegal — counts as election interference.

“It’s not an interference; they have information,” Trump said in the ABC interview. “I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI. If I thought there was something wrong.”

Last week, Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub tweeted a statement countering Trump’s comments.

“Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office,” she wrote. “It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election. This is not a novel concept.”

“I would not have thought that I needed to say this,” Weintraub added.

Air Force One gets a Trump makeover

The president was ever-so-proud to show off mock-ups of his redesigned Air Force One. Despite, one presumes, lots of other pressing issues on his agenda, Trump seemed quite excited and involved in the new-look plane that’s many years off from being a reality. In fact, he has been crowing about doing away with the current baby blue color for quite some time now. And the redesign? Well, it looked exactly like a Trump plane.

Bragging about his dictator friend

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un just reportedly executed the country’s special envoy to the U.S., along with a handful of other officials. Trump, meanwhile, was happy to tell ABC News how well he gets along with the Dear Leader, during an extended back-and-forth about North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Stephanopoulos bluntly asked Trump if Kim was still trying to build a nuclear arsenal.

“I don't know. I hope not,” Trump said. “He promised me he wouldn't be. He promised we— me he wouldn't be testing. I think he'd like to meet again. And I think he likes me a lot. And I think— you know, I think that we have a chance to do something.”

He claimed he didn’t try to help House Republicans in the midterms. (He did.)

The president campaigned for 75 House and Senate candidates in 2018. Democrats, of course, took back control of the House. But, according to Trump, he wasn’t really trying.

“Well, I didn't campaign for the House,” he told ABC. “Remember this also. I wanted to say, ‘I'm running. I'm running. I'm running.’ But I wasn't running. There's a big difference when I run and when I just say, ‘Hey, I hope you vote for somebody.’"

Cover: President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, June 14, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)