Trump argues Michael Cohen's hush money payments "weren't crimes," flipping should be "outlawed"

In a "Fox & Friends" interview, the president suggests people should not be allowed to "flip" for the prosecution

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published August 23, 2018 11:03AM (EDT)

Donald Trump on "Fox & Friends" (Fox News)
Donald Trump on "Fox & Friends" (Fox News)

President Donald Trump sat down for an interview with Fox News' Ainsley Earhardt that aired on Thursday morning. The beleaguered commander in chief promoted his political agenda. As a result, the interview covered a wide range of topics, from undocumented immigration to the legal woes of some of the president's top former aides.

Trump seized on the murder of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, which authorities believe was perpetrated by an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, to promote his proposed border wall.

"Mollie is this beautiful young girl, who the father — I watched the father, he kept saying, I sort of doubted it was gonna happen, 'She's coming back. She just left, but she's coming back.' And I'd say, 'That's called hope. And it's a beautiful thing in a way, it's hope.' But now there's no hope," Trump told Earhardt. "She was killed by a horrible person that came in from Mexico, illegally here, found by ICE, our great ICE, who is abused by the Democrats and the left. And without them, you might not be sitting here so comfortably right now."

He added, "I just think it's so sad. We're building the wall. It's already started. We've spent $3.2 billon on it. We're asking for $5 billion for this year's funding. The wall is going up. A lot of people don't know it. I'd like to build it even faster, but dealing with the Democrats is very tough. The immigration laws are horrible. We're doing an incredible job — we're doing a record-breaking job, but we have bad laws. You know, when you have bad laws, you can do good, but you can do a lot better if you had good laws. So they'll all get changed, but we have to elect more Republicans."

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Trump also discussed how he couldn't imagine being impeached because of what he perceives to be his strong performance as president. He even predicted dire outcomes for the American economy if he was forcibly removed from office.

"I guess it says something like 'high crimes' and all — I don't know how you can impeach somebody who's done a great job," Trump told Earhardt. "I'll tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor. Because without this thinking, you would see numbers that you wouldn't believe, in reverse. If Hillary Clinton got elected, instead of 4.1 up — and each point is $3.5 trillion and 10 million jobs — when I took it over it was at 1 and it was gonna be down, it was going down. I freed up, I got rid of regulations. The tax cut was a tremendous thing. But even before the tax cut, right from the first day, I got rid of regulations. I approved the pipelines, 48,000 jobs. But I did a lot of things. Had Hillary and the Democrats gotten in, had she become president, you would have had negative growth."

Trump also denounced the act of "flipping" during his interview. This refers to his concern that his former lawyer Michael Cohen is going to "flip" on Trump — that is, provide damning information about the president to special counsel Robert Mueller's legal team in order to get a reduced sentence for the crimes to which Cohen himself has pleaded guilty.

"It's called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal," Trump told Earhardt. "I know all about flipping, 30, 40 years I have been watching flippers. Everything is wonderful and then they get 10 years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is or as high as you can go."

Trump also used his interview to take shots at some of his favorite political targets. After reviewing a bank fraud scandal involving a former aide of Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a former Democratic National Committee chair, Trump argued that Schultz had not been punished because Democrats are "very strong in the Justice Department." He then insulted Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a former Alabama senator with whom Trump used to be very close but with whom he became dissatisfied after Sessions recused himself from overseeing the Trump-Russia investigation.

"I put in an attorney general that never took control of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions. Never took control of the Justice Department," Trump griped about Sessions.

Not surprisingly, when asked to grade his own presidency, Trump bestowed himself with the highest possible marks.

"So I give myself an A+. I don't think any president has ever done what I've done in this short period," Trump told Earhardt. "We haven't even been two years: Biggest tax cuts in history. Soon to be two unbelievable Supreme Court justices. I'm sure Justice Kavanaugh will be approved. Justice Gorsuch has been a star. You look at all of the things we've done with regulations. The economy is the best it's ever been in history."

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By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Ainsley Earheardt Donald Trump Fox News "fox & Friends" Michael Cohen Paul Manafort