Trump’s interview with Axios’s Jonathan Swan is iconic, and an instant classic. Good God. Trump’s handlers should have staged a diversion to stop that disastrous interview. Pulled a fire alarm. Pumped laughing gas into the room. Set themselves on fire. Whatever it took.
“Train wreck” is too gentle a description. It was like a nuclear-armed jet crashed into a train, which then plummeted off the bridge and landed on a nuclear reactor, causing an explosion and meltdown that reached the earth’s molten core and triggered simultaneous eruptions of every volcano on the planet.
This exchange about statistics that prove how badly the U.S. (Trump) has bungled the coronavirus response in comparison to other developed countries:
.@jonathanvswan: “Oh, you’re doing death as a proportion of cases. I’m talking about death as a proportion of population. That’s where the U.S. is really bad. Much worse than South Korea, Germany, etc.”@realdonaldtrump: “You can’t do that.”— Axios (@axios) August 4, 2020
Swan: “Why can’t I do that?” pic.twitter.com/MStySfkV39
There has never been a better example of how Trump does not use data to inform decision-making but to simply to spin existing beliefs. The numbers are merely tools to assert he’s right. https://t.co/pvmeO4kzmS— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) August 4, 2020
Here’s what he had to say about the legacy of the late John Lewis:
.@jonathanvswan: “How do you think history will remember John Lewis?”— Axios (@axios) August 4, 2020
President Trump to #AxiosOnHBO: “I don’t know…I don’t know John Lewis. He chose not to come to my inauguration.” pic.twitter.com/LDv76rrIFc
On voting by mail:
Trump raised new alarms about the alleged danger of election fraud in an interview with #AxiosOnHBO, warning that “lots of things can happen” with voting by mail if the presidential race isn’t decided on election night.https://t.co/u2fx7XrRTM— Axios (@axios) August 4, 2020
There’s even more.
In an extraordinary moment last month, Trump offered warm wishes to Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime associate of Jeffrey Epstein who was recently charged with helping Epstein’s child-trafficking operation. “I just wish her well, frankly,” he said at a July 21 news conference.
Asked for his thoughts on Maxwell, Trump stood by his remarks and said, “Yeah, I wish her well. I’d wish you well. I wish a lot of people well.”
He also promoted the conspiracy theory that Epstein was murdered. “Her friend or boyfriend was either killed or committed suicide in jail.”
In an op-ed published at The Daily Mail this Tuesday, Piers Morgan gave his thoughts on President Trump’s recent interview with Axios, saying it was a moment where the whole world could finally see the true character of Trump.
“For President Donald J. Trump, there have been many grim moments during his catastrophic handling of the coronavirus pandemic that may end up defining his presidency,” Morgan wrote.
According to Morgan, Trump’s “toe-curling” interview with Axios’s Jonathan Swan exposed “just why the US has become a horrifyingly bad template for how NOT to combat Covid-19.”
Morgan was also taken aback at how detached Trump seemed in the face of a pandemic that has caused so much suffering for so many Americans. “No empathy, no apology, no expression of sorrow,” Morgan wrote. “Just a heartless, dismissive shrug.”
“The problem for Trump in this crisis is that the stats don’t lie like he does.”
Republican turned Libertarian Congressman Justin Amash weighed in, calling it, “like an episode of Veep but real.”
Swan is being lauded for his interview skills, just as Chris Wallace was a couple of weeks back when his interview exposed Trump as an incoherent fool. Swan did better than most (including Wallace, IMO) by pushing back with some easily accessed facts to counter the lies and nonsense Trump predictably spewed. It ain’t rocket surgery.
He didn’t show up looking for gotcha moments, let Trump speak but also called him out in real time. https://t.co/csNRsU4vz9— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 4, 2020
The portion of the interview with the COVID-19 charts (first embed) unmistakably revealed why we’re in the mess we’re in for all who haven’t figured it out. It’s a Biden campaign ad and fractal portrait of Trump all in one clip. Trump’s people spend all day creating colorful, misleading charts to puff up the boss’s fragile ego, and Trump spends all day watching TV and throwing himself a pity party because no one else is praising his efforts. That’s the White House’s pandemic management strategy.
The comments about John Lewis are of a piece because they’re all about Trump’s feelings too. Lewis, a giant of a man — a central and inspiring figure in the ongoing struggle for civil rights — is dead, but Trump felt snubbed when Lewis didn’t attend his inauguration or state of the union speeches, so that’s the only noteworthy thing about Lewis in Trump’s solipsistic view.
Same with the vote-by-mail thing — there is no coherent strategy except ego protection. Trump’s donor/Postmaster General will try to use the levers of power to turn the situation to their advantage, but I’m convinced it began not as strategy but as a preemptive excuse for a possible election loss.
This entire interview is worth watching. It was disturbingly revealing in many different ways. https://t.co/xVfnD4Bq7m— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) August 4, 2020
Another question I have: does Trump’s staff think this was a good interview? Does Trump? Can they not see how his obfuscation and confusion with statistics and numbers is… you know… a bad thing?
Here’s the full uncut interview:
Potus pronounces Yosemite as “yo-Semites” at White House event.— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 4, 2020
Here it is, folks. “yo-SEMITE.” pic.twitter.com/A4KMLQWdbE— Alexander Nazaryan (@alexnazaryan) August 4, 2020
It looks like Trump is belatedly recognizing the electoral threat posed by his own fulminations.
Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True. Florida’s Voting system has been cleaned up (we defeated Democrats attempts at change), so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail! #MAGA— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2020
Yeah. Bookmark that tweet if Florida is close and Trump challenges the Florida mail-in ballots.
Trump, every day for the last several months: VOTE BY MAIL IS CORRUPT AND FRAUDULENT— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) August 4, 2020
Trump, just now: EVERYONE IN FLORIDA, PLEASE VOTE BY MAIL https://t.co/wPxyQWKPqE