On Wednesday evening, the New York Times published excerpts of a lengthy interview between reporters Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, and Michael S. Schmidt, and Donald Trump. Posting direct transcripts of Trump’s conversations with his proctologist, let alone informed reporters, is going to be a scramble of baffling, offensive, and highly disturbing comments, and this is no different.
The interview begins with Trump faulting Hillary Clinton for working in the White House as First Lady for eight years and still somehow being unable to pass a healthcare bill—a critique that is ultimately Trumpian, ignoring, or winking to, the powerlessness of wives, while also bestowing them all the blame.
Later, still discussing health care, Trump says he has meetings scheduled today with “good people.” “They are all good people,” he says. “We don’t have bad people. I know the bad people. Believe me, do I know bad people.”
My guy, no one is saying they don’t believe you!!!
But life is short and should not be spent languishing in Trump’s mind (think of how hard it must be for him)—let’s get to the highlights.
On Holding Hands with Emmanuel Macron
Trump has some sort of episode of the brain (or heart) when discussing his trip to France for Bastille Day, and his eventful handshakes with President Emmanuel Macron:
After that, it was fairly surprising. He [President Emmanuel Macron of France] called me and said, “I’d love to have you there and honor you in France,” having to do with Bastille Day. Plus, it’s the 100th year of the First World War. That’s big. And I said yes. I mean, I have a great relationship with him. He’s a great guy.
HABERMAN: He was very deferential to you. Very.
TRUMP: He’s a great guy. Smart. Strong. Loves holding my hand.
HABERMAN: I’ve noticed.
TRUMP: People don’t realize he loves holding my hand. And that’s good, as far as that goes.
TRUMP: I mean, really. He’s a very good person. And a tough guy, but look, he has to be. I think he is going to be a terrific president of France. But he does love holding my hand.
On the Length and Organization of Parades
He has strong feelings, maybe stronger than his feelings about any other national policy.
TRUMP: And it was one of the most beautiful parades I have ever seen. And in fact, we should do one one day down Pennsylvania Ave.
HABERMAN: I wondered if you were going to say that.
TRUMP: I’ve always thought of that.
TRUMP: I’ve always thought of that. I’ve thought of it long before.
TRUMP: But the Bastille Day parade was — now that was a super-duper — O.K. I mean, that was very much more than normal. They must have had 200 planes over our heads. Normally you have the planes and that’s it, like the Super Bowl parade. And everyone goes crazy, and that’s it. That happened for — and you know what else that was nice? It was limited. You know, it was two hours, and the parade ended. It didn’t go a whole day. They didn’t go crazy. You don’t want to leave, but you have to. Or you want to leave, really.
On Why He Didn’t Shake Angela Merkel’s Hand That One Time
“I have a very good relationship with Merkel [Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany]. Do you know what happened with Merkel? So I am sitting in the chair. We’d been sitting there for two hours. So it’s not like, “Nice to see ya.” So the press comes in. So I guess someone screamed out, “Shake her hand, shake her hand!” I didn’t even hear. So I didn’t shake her hand, because I’d been with her for so long. I’d been with her for a long period of time. So I didn’t shake her — the next day, “Trump refused to shake…” [garbled]”
A Disturbing Masterclass in Transitioning From Napoleon to Hitler to Russia to the Economy as If History Is a Fever Dream and Words Don’t Mean Anything
TRUMP: Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. So I asked the president, so what about Napoleon? He said: “No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.” [garbled] The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes. He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death. How many times has Russia been saved by the weather? [garbled]
TRUMP: Same thing happened to Hitler. Not for that reason, though. Hitler wanted to consolidate. He was all set to walk in. But he wanted to consolidate, and it went and dropped to 35 degrees below zero, and that was the end of that army.
But the Russians have great fighters in the cold. They use the cold to their advantage. I mean, they’ve won five wars where the armies that went against them froze to death. [crosstalk] It’s pretty amazing.
So, we’re having a good time. The economy is doing great.
On the G20 Seating Arrangement that Led to His Private Meeting With Russian President Vladimir Putin (It Was Because of the Seating Arrangement, Are You Listening to Me?)
TRUMP: So, it was tremendous media. And we took a picture of everybody, the wives and the leaders, and then the leaders, and, you know, numerous pictures outside on the river. Then everybody walked in to see the opera. Then the opera ended. Then we walked into a big room where they had dinner for not only the leaders — Lagarde [Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund] was there, who I think is terrific, and various others. You had the E.U. people there, people other than just the leaders, but quite a few people. I would say you have 20 times two, so you had 40, and then you probably had another 10 or 15 people, you had Christine Lagarde, you had some others also.
So, I was seated next to the wife of Prime Minister Abe [Shinzo Abe of Japan], who I think is a terrific guy, and she’s a terrific woman, but doesn’t speak English.
HABERMAN: Like, nothing, right? Like zero?
TRUMP: Like, not “hello.”
HABERMAN: That must make for an awkward seating.
TRUMP: Well, it’s hard, because you know, you’re sitting there for——
TRUMP: So the dinner was probably an hour and 45 minutes.
Let’s pause here briefly for a moment of interrogation, which I know is discouraged in this country. Madame Akie Abe, First Lady of Japan, actually does seem to speak some English.
Like here, where she delivers an entire speech:
Now we return to the meeting:
[TRUMP]: And now Melania was sitting on the other side of the table, way down on the other end, very far away. She was sitting next to Putin and somebody else, I don’t know. She was sitting next to Putin.
HABERMAN: She had been the whole time?
TRUMP: Yes. She was sitting next to Putin.
BAKER: Does she speak Russian at all?
TRUMP: No. She speaks other languages.
TRUMP: She was sitting next to Putin and somebody else, and that’s the way it is. So the meal was going, and toward dessert I went down just to say hello to Melania, and while I was there I said hello to Putin. Really, pleasantries more than anything else. It was not a long conversation, but it was, you know, could be 15 minutes. Just talked about — things. Actually, it was very interesting, we talked about adoption.
HABERMAN: You did?
TRUMP: We talked about Russian adoption. Yeah. I always found that interesting. Because, you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don [Jr., Mr. Trump’s son] had in that meeting. As I’ve said — most other people, you know, when they call up and say, “By the way, we have information on your opponent,” I think most politicians — I was just with a lot of people, they said [inaudible], “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?” They just said—
Oh shit, he’s moving too quickly into Trump Jr. “opposition research” meeting with Russian government officials; we need a headline change.
On Jr.’s Meeting With the Russian Government
HABERMAN: The senators downstairs?
TRUMP: A lot of them. They said, “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?”
BAKER: You asked them about it at lunch?
TRUMP: Nah, a couple of them. They — now, that was before Russia was hot, don’t forget. You know, Russia wasn’t hot then. That was almost a year and a half ago. It wasn’t like it is, like it is radioactive, then. Russia was Russia.
BAKER: I do want to come out, on the email, now that you have seen that email that said Russia’s government — I mean, how did you — did you interpret it that way?
TRUMP: Well, I thought originally it might have had to do something with the payment by Russia of the D.N.C. Somewhere I heard that. Like, it was an illegal act done by the D.N.C., or the Democrats. That’s what I had heard. Now, I don’t know where I heard it, but I had heard that it had to do something with illegal acts with respect to the D.N.C. Now, you know, when you look at the kind of stuff that came out, that was, that was some pretty horrific things came out of that. But that’s what I had heard. But I don’t know what it means. All I know is this: When somebody calls up and they say, “We have infor—” Look what they did to me with Russia, and it was totally phony stuff.
HABERMAN: Which, which one?
SCHMIDT: The dossier.
TRUMP: The dossier.
HABERMAN: The dossier. Oh, yes.
(Trump denies the dossier’s existence, or veracity, rather vigorously, and invokes former FBI Director James Comey, who had not been brought up.)
On How He Probably Wouldn’t Have Hired Jeff Sessions to Be Attorney General If He Had Known About All That Russia Stuff
TRUMP: Zero. So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.” It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy.
And Finally, For Now, Arabella Kushner, Who Speaks Fluent Chinese
ARABELLA KUSHNER: [enters room] Hi, Grandpa.
TRUMP: My granddaughter Arabella, who speaks — say hello to them in Chinese.
KUSHNER: Ni hao.
TRUMP: This is Ivanka. You know Ivanka.
IVANKA TRUMP: [from doorway] Hi, how are you? See you later, just wanted to come say hi.
TRUMP: She’s great. She speaks fluent Chinese. She’s amazing.
BAKER: That’s very impressive.
TRUMP: She spoke with President Xi [Jinping of China]. Honey? Can you say a few words in Chinese? Say, like, “I love you, Grandpa” —
KUSHNER: Wo ai ni, Grandpa.
BAKER: That’s great.
TRUMP: She’s unbelievable, huh?
TRUMP: Good, smart genes.
You’re all invited to my off-off-Broadway play, Wo Ai Ni Grandpa. It’s eight hours long and just terribly offensive.
I, to my own horror, have excerpted only a petite handful of the most outrageous moments from the conversation. Read it in full here.