Americans learned a lot about President Donald Trump from his recent interview with The New York Times. Among other things, we discovered that the president continues to vilify immigrants, blame Democrats for not wanting to work with him and defend disgraced former colleagues like his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.
Trump had some choice words on immigration, and came back to the myth of "chain migration," which he's been focused on for some time now:
We have to get rid of chainlike immigration, we have to get rid of the chain. The chain is the last guy that killed. . . . [Talking with guests.] . . . The last guy that killed the eight people. . . . [Inaudible.] . . . So badly wounded people. . . . Twenty-two people came in through chain migration. Chain migration and the lottery system. They have a lottery in these countries.
They take the worst people in the country, they put ‘em into the lottery, then they have a handful of bad, worse ones, and they put them out. ‘Oh, these are the people the United States. . .” We’re gonna get rid of the lottery, and by the way, the Democrats agree with me on that. On chain migration, they pretty much agree with me.
Speaking of Democrats and whether or not they work with Trump, the president had some sharp words for Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., who has long been considered one of his closest Democratic allies in the Senate:
But he talks. But he doesn’t do anything. He doesn’t do. “Hey, let’s get together, let’s do bipartisan.” I say, “Good, let’s go.” Then you don’t hear from him again. I like Joe. You know, it’s like he’s the great centrist. But he’s really not a centrist. And I think the people of West Virginia will see that. He not a centrist. … I’m the one that saved coal. I’m the one that created jobs. You know West Virginia is doing fantastically now.
He also explained how he feels the negotiations over an infrastructure package ought to proceed:
Now, in my opinion, they should come to me on infrastructure. They should come to me, which they have come to me, on DACA. We are working. … We’re trying to something about it. And they should definitely come to me on health care. Because we can do bipartisan health care. We can do bipartisan infrastructure. And we can do bipartisan DACA.
The president also defended his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who has been indicted related to his past consulting work with a pro-Putin government in Ukraine.
Maybe I’ll just say a little bit of a [inaudible]. I’ve always found Paul Manafort to be a very nice man. And I found him to be an honorable person. Paul only worked for me for a few months. Paul worked for Ronald Reagan. His firm worked for John McCain, worked for Bob Dole, worked for many Republicans for far longer than he worked for me. And you’re talking about what Paul was many years ago before I ever heard of him. He worked for me for — what was it, three and a half months?
Trump also made it clear that, while he has no "expectations" of special counsel Robert Mueller, he will not be okay with them concluding that his campaign colluded with Russian government officials.
I have no expectation. I can only tell you that there is absolutely no collusion. Everybody knows it. And you know who knows it better than anybody? The Democrats. They walk around blinking at each other.
Trump also defended himself after the Alabama special election earlier this month, which ended in embarrassment for the president after Republican candidate Roy Moore lost to the Democratic nominee, Doug Jones:
Well, I. … Look. … Let him do whatever he wants to do. I was for Strange, and I brought Strange up 20 points. Just so you understand. When I endorsed him, he was in fifth place. He went way up. Almost 20 points. But he fell a little short. But I knew what I was doing. Because I thought that. … If you look at my rhetoric, I said the problem with Roy Moore is that he will lose the election. I called it. But as the head of the party, I have a choice: Do I endorse him or not? I don’t know. Um. …
When asked if it was a mistake to endorse Moore:
I feel that I have to endorse Republicans as the head of the party. So, I endorsed him. It became a much closer race because of my endorsement. People don’t say that. They say, Oh, Donald Trump lost. I didn’t lose, I brought him up a lot. He was not the candidate that I thought was going to win. If you look at my statements, you’ve seen them, I said, “Look, I’m for Luther Strange because I like him, but I’m also for Luther Strange because he’s going to win the election.” There wouldn’t have been an election. He would have won by 25 points.
Trump was also asked to explain this tweet, which explained his views on China and North Korea:
Yeah, China. … China’s been. … I like very much President Xi. He treated me better than anybody’s ever been treated in the history of China. You know that. The presentations. … One of the great two days of anybody’s life and memory having to do with China. He’s a friend of mine, he likes me, I like him, we have a great chemistry together. He’s [inaudible] of the United States. …[Inaudible.] China’s hurting us very badly on trade, but I have been soft on China because the only thing more important to me than trade is war. O.K.?