TRUMP: Look, Sessions gets the job. Right after he gets the job, he recuses himself.
BAKER: Was that a mistake?
TRUMP: Well, Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.
HABERMAN: He gave you no heads up at all, in any sense?
TRUMP: Zero. So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.” It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy.
TRUMP: Who is he? And Jeff hardly knew. He’s from Baltimore.
TRUMP: Yeah, what Jeff Sessions did was he recused himself right after, right after he became attorney general. And I said, “Why didn’t you tell me this before?” I would have — then I said, “Who’s your deputy?” So his deputy he hardly knew, and that’s Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, who is from Baltimore. There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any. So, he’s from Baltimore. Now, he, we went through a lot of things. We were interviewing replacements at the F.B.I. Did you know Mueller was one of the people that was being interviewed?
HABERMAN: I did, actually.
—Excerpts from the Times’s Interview with Trump
A few thoughts on reading the transcripted excerpts of the most recent NYT interview with 45:
1.) Some theater company ought to do a staging of Glengarry Glen Ross where all the parts are played as Donald Trump impersonations. You heard it here first. I’ll clear space in my schedule for next year’s Tony Awards. (Seriously, though: I can’t be the only one who’s thought of this.)
2.) In interviews with competent executives, it is usually the journalists asking their subject for basic information and clarifications. In this interview, the president asks the reporters a lot of questions about things you would expect him to know. Or, as in the quote above, the president asks a rhetorical question that only makes him look like an uninformed buffoon.
3.) In a post that is very critical of the president’s lack of ethics or good sense, Rod Dreher comments, “I don’t see how Jeff Sessions has any choice now but to resign. He has lost the confidence of the president. And I think Sessions will one day very soon be grateful that he got out of this Dumpster fire of an administration before it all went to hell.” To which I say, “before it goes to hell”?!? But also: Jeff Sessions has a lot of choices. Jeff Sessions played a central role in legitimizing Trump for the Republican base during the long election, and I’m sure that he intends to do a lot more with the power of the A.G.’s office before he’s done.
Dreher, bless him, seems to operate under the impression that the key players in the Republican Party have some semblence of a political conscience. But they fell in line behind Donald J. Trump, a man who has demonstrated a truly incredible capacity to prove his ignorance and lack of moral scruple time and again. In a country where a majority of the Republican base could be outraged/shocked/marginally perturbed by Trump saying, almost in so many words, that he would not have hired Sessions as Attorney General if he’d known that Sessions would do his job in holding the president accountable to the law, perhaps Dreher would be on the mark. In the real world, as long as Trump’s flagrantly tyrannical effusions don’t upset the core constituencies that keep them in power, people like Jeff Sessions can continue to bathe in the dumpster fire, confident that they won’t get burned. I mean, the whole thing stinks, but voters evidently will continue to hold their noses and pull the lever for these people.