Donald Trump gave his first extended interview following this week’s impeachment inquiry hearings to Fox & Friends, and it was what would be expected: A lengthy attack, even a tirade at times, on Democrats, the news media and Ukraine.
The hosts at times questioned some of Trump’s assertions.
Trump advanced a debunked conspiracy theory that the hacked Democratic National Committee server was somehow given to the Ukrainians to hide the country’s role – not Russia’s – in meddling in the 2016 election.
“The FBI went in and said, ‘We’re not giving it to you.’ They gave the server to Crowdstrike, which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian. And I still want to see that server. You know the FBI has still never gotten that server. That is a big part of this whole thing. Why did they give it to a Ukrainian company?”
Host Steve Doocy interjected, “Are you sure they did that? Are you sure they gave it to Ukraine?”
Trump replied, “Well that is what the word is. That is why I asked it in my [July 25] phone call, you know. I asked it very point blank because we are looking for corruption. There is tremendous corruption.”
According to Politifact, the conspiracy theory is “baseless,” and the DNC servers were never missing. One of the co-founders of the tech security firm Crowdstrike is an American who was born in Russia, not Ukraine.
On Thursday, Fiona Hill, a former top National Security Council official specializing in Europe and Russia, warned against promoting “fictional narratives,” including the Crowdstrike theory. She also described her anger as she saw Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, pursuing what she called a “domestic political errand” in trying to press the Ukrainians to launch investigations into the 2016 elections and Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company.
Trump also railed against the Obama administration after a CNN report on Thursday that a former FBI lawyer is under criminal investigation for allegedly altering a document that was used to gain a warrant to conduct surveillance on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide.
“Personally I think it goes all the way,” Trump said, claiming that it goes to the “highest level” and that many top Obama administration officials will be implicated, before saying, “Let’s see what it all says.”
The inspector general of the Justice Department, Michael Horowitz, is reviewing how surveillance warrants were obtained by the FBI.
Trump praised Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee for their questioning during the hearing, including Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY). But he called the witnesses at the hearing “all shifty Schiffs,” a reference to the nickname that he has given to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
“Frankly, I want a trial,” Trump said.
“You want a trial?” host Brian Kilmeade asked.
“Number one, they should never, ever impeach. I watched five people on your network say, ‘There’s nothing here.'”
Trump singled out Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine who was ousted from her position. She testified last week that Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, waged a smear campaign against her.
Trump said she was “not an angel.”
“This ambassador, that everybody says is so wonderful, she wouldn’t hang my picture in the Embassy…She wouldn’t hang it. It took like a year and a half or two years for her to get the picture up. She said bad things about me. She wouldn’t defend me, and I have the right to change an ambassador.”
At times during the interview, the hosts tried to interject, but Trump would say, “one other thing.”
“We can keep this going all day. It’s easy.”
Trump also called George Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, a “whack job.” George Conway has been among the most vocal conservative opponents of the president.
Conway responded on Twitter with a series of tweets.
“I have little doubt that, within the lifespans of many reading this tweet, students throughout the world will learn in their history books that a deeply psychologically unwell man – also a criminal – was president of the United States in the late 2010s,” he wrote.
“Many of those young people will see and hear clips of that man, like his interview on Fox & Friends this morning. And they will shake their heads in virtual disbelief.”