I’m going to level with you folks: every time Trump does one of these long, unhinged interviews, I get excited. Not only do we have a whole bunch of new comedy to enjoy, but I get a free column that’s easy to write and is guaranteed to do good traffic. People have lives to live and can’t parse through a very long transcript of a babbling madman, and these lists embedding the mushbrained president’s craziest words are always pretty popular. So without further adieu, I present to you, the President of the United States (also kudos to The Washington Post for noting when Trump decided to go off the record):
DAWSEY: Last night, Mr. President, the special counsel’s team charged Paul Manafort with saying, they accused him at least of saying more lies, and ended his plea deal. People around you have told me you’re upset about the way he’s been treated. Are you planning to do anything to help him?
TRUMP: Let me go off the record because I don’t want to get in the middle of the whole thing.
[Trump speaks off the record.]
DAWSEY: Is there any version of that you’re willing to give us on the record in answer to that question?
TRUMP: I’d rather not. At some point, I’ll talk on the record about it. But I’d rather not.
[Trump speaks off the record.]
DAWSEY: You said yesterday when you were leaving that you were skeptical of a climate change report that the government had done. Can you just explain why you’re skeptical of that report?
TRUMP: One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence, but we’re not necessarily such believers. You look at our air and our water and it’s right now at a record clean. But when you look at China and you look at parts of Asia and when you look at South America, and when you look at many other places in this world, including Russia, including – just many other places — the air is incredibly dirty. And when you’re talking about an atmosphere, oceans are very small. And it blows over and it sails over. I mean, we take thousands of tons of garbage off our beaches all the time that comes over from Asia. It just flows right down the Pacific, it flows, and we say where does this come from. And it takes many people to start off with.
Number two, if you go back and if you look at articles, they talked about global freezing, they talked about at some point the planets could have freeze to death, then it’s going to die of heat exhaustion. There is movement in the atmosphere. There’s no question. As to whether or not it’s man-made and whether or not the effects that you’re talking about are there, I don’t see it — not nearly like it is. Do we want clean water? Absolutely. Do we want clean air to breathe? Absolutely. The fire in California, where I was, if you looked at the floor, the floor of the fire they have trees that were fallen, they did no forest management, no forest maintenance, and you can light — you can take a match like this and light a tree trunk when that thing is laying there for more than 14 or 15 months. And it’s a massive problem in California.
TRUMP: Josh, you go to other places where they have denser trees — it’s more dense, where the trees are more flammable — they don’t have forest fires like this, because they maintain. And it was very interesting, I was watching the firemen and they’re raking brush — you know the tumbleweed and brush and all this stuff that’s growing underneath. It’s on fire and they’re raking it working so hard, and they’re raking all this stuff. If that was raked in the beginning, there’d be nothing to catch on fire. It’s very interesting to see. A lot of the trees, they took tremendous burn at the bottom, but they didn’t catch on fire. The bottom is all burned but they didn’t catch on fire because they sucked the water, they’re wet. You need forest management, and they don’t have it.
TRUMP: No, I’m not because what I’m doing is I’m doing trade deals. The trade deals take a little time. The fact is I think — I disagree with the Fed. I’ve been open about that. I think the Fed is a much bigger problem than China. I think that China wants to make a deal very badly. I think we’ll either make a deal or we’ll be taking in billions and billions of dollars a month in tariffs and I’m okay with either one of those two situations. But I can tell you that China wants to make a deal. I can tell you that other countries want to make deals because they know that I’m not playing around. The USMCA was a very well-received deal. That got done and a lot of people said it wouldn’t get done. We’re making great trade deals. We lose $800 billion a year with trade.
RUCKER: So who should be held responsible? You mentioned the Fed, but when Harry Truman sat here he had that sign that said the buck stops here. —
TRUMP: Oh, I’m not blaming anybody.
RUCKER: — But Mr. President, it doesn’t seem to stop with you.
TRUMP: I’m not blaming — look, I took recommendations. I’m not blaming anybody. But I will tell you, at this moment in time I am not at all happy with the Fed. I am not at all happy with my choice.
TRUMP: So I’m doing deals and I’m not being accommodated by the Fed. I’m not happy with the Fed. They’re making a mistake because I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.
TRUMP: And the banks are now much more liquid during my tenure. And I’m not doing — I’m not playing by the same rules as Obama. Obama had zero interest to worry about; we’re paying interest, a lot of interest. He wasn’t paying down — we’re talking about $50 billion lots of different times, paying down and knocking out liquidity. Well, Obama didn’t do that. And just so you understand, I’m playing a normalization economy whereas he’s playing a free economy.
Reminder: we were losing 800,000 jobs a month when Obama took office.
TRUMP: In the end, though, they’re spending massive amounts of billions of dollars.
TRUMP: I know him. I know him well, the Crown Prince. And, by the way, never did business with them, never intend to do business with them. I couldn’t care less. This is a very important job that I’m doing right now. The last thing I care about is doing business with people. I only do business for us. Somebody said, well, maybe they’re an investor in one of his jobs. The answer is no.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.