Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt was hardly the vision of either the independent journalist or the representative of Christianity she packages herself as during her chummy, unchallenging interview with Donald Trump – even as he revealed both his complete ignorance and contempt for the law and our system of justice during their lengthy interview.
Earhardt likes to say she doesn’t want to come across as “in the tank” for Trump. But she did her best to signal otherwise with her first question (and almost all of the others). In a voice laden with sympathy, her first question was, “How are you doing?” Because, yeah, when the commander in chief’s fixer just implicated him in a federal crime and his former campaign manager was just convicted on eight counts of corruption, the most important thing to the country is how hard it's been on him. Ditto for her next question about how “our country’s first lady” and the Trump children are doing.
When Trump replied that Melania Trump “goes through a lot with all this publicity” (but is doing “great”) Earhardt asked, “How do you handle all of that?”
But Earhardt knew she had her own tough job to handle. How to ask Trump about Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort (former lawyer and campaign manager, respectively) while still letting Dear Leader and viewers know she's on their side but without acting too blatantly sycophantic? On that score she succeeded pretty well. As for promoting the values of decency, morality and Christianity she claims to want to embody, not so much.
Trump thinks Cohen is a bad lawyer but kept him on for 10 years
Earhardt broached the subject of Cohen, not by questioning Trump’s shifting accounts of the hush money payouts to his former mistresses but by offering him, pardon the pun, a get-out-of-jail-free card: “Tell me about your relationship with him.”
Trump immediately downplayed their relationship, even as he let slip that it was way more significant than he claimed:
TRUMP: Well, he was a lawyer for me for—one of many. … Didn’t do big deals; did small deals. Not somebody that was with me that much. You know, they make it sound like I didn’t live with—without him.
I understood Michael Cohen very well. He—well, it turned out he wasn’t a very good lawyer, frankly. But he was somebody that was probably with me for about 10 years. And I would see him sometimes. But when I had deals and big deals, I had outside lawyers and I have a lot of inside lawyers too, in addition to Michael. I always found him to be a nice guy.
So Cohen was a bad lawyer but Trump kept him on for 10 years? Earhardt didn’t follow up.
Trump’s idea of good legal counsel are “the shows”
Instead of a follow up about why Trump kept on a poor lawyer for 10 years, Earhardt moved on to ask if Cohen was correct in saying Trump had directed him to make the law-breaking hush money payments.
Trump said no but that he found out “later on.” Then he revealed where he gets the legal guidance he values:
TRUMP: [B]y the way, he [Cohen] pled to two counts that aren’t a crime, which nobody understands. I watched a number of shows; sometimes you get some pretty good information by watching shows. Those two counts aren’t even a crime. They weren’t campaign finance.
But either Trump needs new counsel or he needs to re-watch those “shows” (which are probably on Fox). Because he then wrongly declared that since the hush money had come from his personal funds, it could not be a campaign violation:
TRUMP: But you have to understand, Ainsley, what he did—and they weren’t taken out of campaign finance; that’s a big thing. That’s a much bigger thing. Did they come out of the campaign? They didn’t come out of the campaign, they came from me and I tweeted about it. You know, I put—I don’t know if you know, but I tweeted about the payments.
But they didn’t come out of campaign.
In fact, my first question when I heard about it was, “Did they come out of the campaign?” because that could be a little dicey. And they didn’t come out of the campaign and that’s fake.
But, as Vox pointed out, “Trump appears to be trying to say that this proves his innocence, but the opposite is the case — you can’t just evade campaign finance rules by paying for your campaign expenses with non-campaign funds. If you could, the rules would be meaningless. … Simply put, there is no legal way to spend money on your election campaign without disclosing that fact.”
Earhardt’s follow up? “Why—why is—why is he doing this? Why—he is your attorney.”
Trump goes full mob boss style: says he knows a lot about ‘flipping’ and thinks criminals should stand together against the law
If Trump’s last comments were shockingly ignorant, his next ones were shockingly crooked.
TRUMP: And one of the reasons I respect Paul Manafort so much is he went through that trial.
You know, they make up stories. People make up stories. This whole thing about flipping, they call it, I know all about flipping. For 30, 40 years I’ve been watching flippers. Everything’s wonderful, and then they get 10 years in jail, and they—they flip on whoever the next highest one is, or as high as you can go. It—it almost ought to be outlawed. It’s not fair, because if somebody’s going to give—spend five years, like Michael Cohen, or 10 years or 15 years in jail because of a taxicab industry, or because he defrauded some bank—the last two were the tiny ones. You know, campaign violations are considered not a big deal, frankly.
But if somebody defrauded a bank and he’s going to get 10 years in jail or 20 years in jail, but if you can say something bad about Donald Trump and you’ll go down to two years or three years—which is the deal he made—in all fairness to him, most people are going to do that. And I’ve seen it many times. I’ve had many friends involved in this stuff. It’s called flipping, and it almost ought to be illegal.
Wait, what? Trump thinks getting a criminal to snitch on another criminal ought to be illegal? And that those who don’t are to be praised? And he’s had “many friends involved in this stuff?” Oh, and, by the way, while many campaign violations (such as Obama’s, which Trump whined about) are not a big deal, Trump’s is different because it wasn’t a clerical error but a deliberate attempt to sway an election.
But Earhardt didn’t have a single question about any of it.
Trump says Jeff Sessions’ campaign loyalty was ‘the only reason’ Trump made him attorney general
If ever you needed proof that Trump cares nothing about policy and only about himself, his comments about Sessions could not be any clearer. And Earhardt seems to be right in step.
As Vox noted, “Sessions has been by far the most productive member of the Trump administration when it comes to implementing policies, overhauling immigration enforcement from the DOJ side, and shifting US attorneys’ priorities toward drug and violent crimes and away from white-collar prosecutions.”
EARHARDT: Mr. President, a lot of people are frustrated, a lot you supporters are frustrated with the DOJ, with Jeff Sessions. There are rumors that you’re going to fire him after the midterms and Rosenstein. They also want these documents. They’re wondering if you will use your power to get these documents released.
EARHARDT: Will you fire him? Will you fire Sessions?
TRUMP: Well, I’ll tell you what, as I’ve said, I wanted to stay uninvolved. But when everybody sees what’s going on in the Justice Department—I always put “Justice” now with quotes—it’s a very, very sad day.
And by the way, he was on the campaign. You know, the only reason I gave him the job is because I felt loyalty. He was an original supporter. He was on the campaign. He knows there was no collusion.
And what was Earhardt’s response to that admission that loyalty trumps all to Trump? That he chose someone for the post of attorney general for the United States based only on a perception of loyalty? “Right,” she said. Then she moved on to suggest that the FBI raid on Cohen was unfair.
Watch Earhardt prove that, despite all her talk about Christianity, she’s as shamelessly unconcerned with ethics as Trump is below, from the August 23, 2018 Fox & Friends. The interview was recorded yesterday.
(Transcript excerpts via RealClear Politics)