What was Donald Trump, a man who may or may not be able to read, doing hours before he set off what could unfold to be the biggest political scandal since Watergate? Showing off his shiny new big-screen TV to reporters, of course. In a surreal interview with Time, Trump walked though his fancy new taxpayer-funded digs like he was on an episode of MTV’s Cribs hours before he fired FBI Director James Comey.
Trump seemed far more interested in his TV than just about anything else. He even teased it by saying, “You’ll see something that is amazing. It just happened.” Trump then led reporters through the White House, discussing his extravagant redesign and renovations, which included a new chandelier. Then, he arrived upon the glorious box:
But the thing he wants to show is on the opposite wall, above the fireplace, a new 60-plus-inch flat-screen television that he has cued up with clips from the day’s Senate hearing on Russia. Since at least as far back as Richard Nixon, Presidents have kept televisions in this room, usually small ones, no larger than a bread box, tucked away on a sideboard shelf. That’s not the Trump way.
Did you know that TiVo is one of the the greatest inventions of all time? Well, it is:
But for now, Trump is focused on his TV. He watches the screen like a coach going over game tape, studying the opposition, plotting next week’s plays. “This is one of the great inventions of all time—TiVo,” he says as he fast-forwards through the hearing.
On that particular evening, Trump was delighting in watching former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former National Intelligence Director James Clapper testify in Congress—or, as he put it, “choke like dogs”(which is not really how dogs work, but okay):
The next clip starts to play, this time showing Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley asking Clapper and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates if they ever requested that the names of Trump, his associates or members of Congress be identified by name, or unmasked, in a legal intelligence intercept. “Watch them start to choke like dogs,” Trump says, having fun. “Watch what happens. They are desperate for breath.”
If the decision over Comey weighed on him, it wasn’t apparent from the Time profile. Clinging to his baseless claim that Barack Obama wiretapped him at the Trump Tower, he dismissed the subject of the Russia investigation as “a total hoax” via Twitter and maintained, “The real story is the surveillance.”
The interview, wedged between Trump’s meetings with officials over the firing of FBI Director James Comey, portrays Trump as the eye of the storm; a locus insulated by his own visions of grandeur from which chaos radiates and upends everything around him. Trump seemed shockingly unaware that the firing of the man leading an investigation on him would sent tremors through DC, and without a communications strategy in place, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer essentially jumped out of the bushes to talk to reporters in the dark of night.
And guess what Trump was doing at that time? Per the Washington Post, he “had retired to the residence to eat dinner” where he watched the damage unfold on his (apparently very big) TV.