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Alexandraah! Scarin’ @alexandraerin
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So, after a period of being relatively reticent with interviews except for like call-ins to his friends at the state media (which they would inevitably try to end before he was done talking, as they realized he was saying something damaging), Trump has been doing the media rounds
Here today I'm going to be talking about a couple of recent ones, a televised interview with Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes and one with the Associated Press that went up yesterday.
If you'd like to support this kind of work, I do appreciate tips. I'll keep on keeping on as long as it's feasible for me to do so.…
So, you can read or watch the 60 Minutes interview here. It says it's the "complete transcript" of the interview, but it's the transcript of what was aired, which is very heavily compressed and edited. I actually waited a few days to see if it would leak.…
Because the Stahl interview is so heavily edited, a lot of my observations of it are pretty general. One thing she did that she's been praised for is pressing Trump on evasions and asking follow-up questions, which almost *never* happens in pressers and even rarely in interviews.
Here's the beginning of her back and forth with him on climate change.

Now, one thing I think this interview as a whole shows is the *limits* of backing him into a corner and why most people don't bother. They'll ask once, maybe remind him of the question once, then move on.
As you'll notice, Trump never acknowledges that yes, he is denying what his own government's scientists are saying, he never specifies who "they" are. And you can think Stahl should have kept after him, pointing out *those* evasions, and then the next ones, but...
...then the interview is nothing but a single topic until he ends it, and he and his supporters say it was supposed to be an interview about all these things but she made it an interrogation on a single subject, clearly she had an agenda and an axe to grind.
And maybe you think there's some value to showing that Trump is a mass of contradictions and evasions, but to his fans, to the people on his side, he's handling the questions well and she keeps interrupting him to complain that he's not answering instead of letting him answer.
What I'm getting at here is: Monday morning quarterbacking aside, maybe there's not actually a good way to interview Donald Trump. Maybe there's not a good way to interview a habitual liar and con man who occupies the highest office and whose fans are in an alternate reality.
The fact that he occupies the White House is significant because if he were just some schmuck running a scam company, Stahl could grill him and play the tapes and just show him floundering and it would play pretty well. But the whole "dignity of the office" thing works for him.
That is, even as people accept they will never *get* any dignity for the office from Trump expect him to be *given* it, because that's normal.
If a crooked CEO storms off the set of an interview after a tape is played contradicting his lies, most people who aren't the CEO's fanboys will agree he performed poorly. But if Trump did it, then about half the people in the Mild Moderate Middle would think "she overstepped."
So that's the backdrop for this interview. Lesley Stahl is giving him what may be the most pointed questioning of his term yet but it doesn't really get anywhere, except insofar as establishing the limits of asking a liar questions.
Next topic is about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Again, she stays on it for multiple questions. Now, I've got a few different things I'm going to highlight here.
Now, "vehemently" is one of those words that when Trump throws out, people go, "Oh, who fed him that line? He doesn't know that word."

But of course Trump knows the word "vehemently". It's how you deny stuff. Like, that's the number 1 context it crops up in the English language.
People take potshots at Trump's vocabulary but it's not as simplistic as counting number of syllables. There are words he likes and latches onto, loves the sound of. "Vehemently" is a nice, strong word. It sounds strong and it even means strongly. Of course he loves it.
You don't spend your life denying things and paying lawyers and PR flacks to deny things for you and never learn the word "vehemently". Trust me, in Trump's brain, that word pops up just as quick as an air bag, and for the same reason.
Now, he says "And we would be very upset and angry if that were the case." Trump tends to be very sure of things. For him the hypothetical case is only deployed if he wants to keep people guessing, as in, "Maybe I will and maybe I won't." or "You'll have to find out."
For Trump to say something like "And we *would* be very mad, if that *were* the case" (emphasis mine), well compare that to "We will be very mad, if that is the case." He's reflexively negating the possibility even as he appears to entertain it. He knows it won't happen.
The image of someone "denying it every way you can imagine" is just so hypberbolic. I wonder if Jared even asked, even put the prince in the position of having to lie. Or if it just went like, "Of course you had no idea." "Of course. It goes without saying."
Others have already pointed out that Trump is being very honest about his priorities here, or one set of them: economic. Saudi Arabia does business with us, as in the US. To Trump, though, that's not giving away the game. That's just obvious.
It's the same thinking he puts on display when he talks about the trade deficit. He can't think of canceling the deal in terms of Saudi Arabia losing something, Saudi Arabia being punished, because *they* are paying *us* money. If anything, the deal is a loss for them.
And while he's not giving away the game here, he's not mentioning his other reasons: that the Saudis do business with his family, that his family and close allies have business deals brewing with their kingdom.
So he *seems* more honest because he's talking about the arms deal as a reason to overlook what they're doing but he's still not actually coming clean.
I'll return to this theme when we get to the AP interview, but his mentioning that "punishing" is a harsh word jumps out. Just as a quick reminder, because this is so surreal, but the crime we're talking about here is murder. He doesn't want to talk about *punishment* for murder.
ITts possible Trump's blase reaction to all of this is helped b/c the man was a reporter with WaPo, and he thinks a strong ruler should be able to silence critics like this. Looking at this paragraph, I am not all sure he could explain why him being a reporter matters to people.
"There's something-- you'll be surprised to hear me say that." But he doesn't say it. He doesn't come close to finishing the thought. Nor does he say what the stakes are, just that there are a lot of them. It's clear this has been explained to him. Also clear it didn't stick.
The word "disgusting", like "disgrace"/"disgraceful", crop up in Trump's mouth more than most people who've held the same office. I think his life is in a lot of ways ruled and bounded by a sense of shame and disgust. I know, you think he's shameless. But I think he fears shame.
I think he fears shame to the point that he rarely, if ever, doesn't feel it, or feel like he's on the cusp of feeling it. It's at the root of his fear of failure and fear of feeling weak, his need for approval from people he sees as strong male figures...
...and the fear/resentment that makes him react badly to men who are close to him who seem to be stronger than he is without being strong enough for him to sort of gaze up in them at wonder.
As for disgust: the man's a germaphobe, a homebody, and a xenophobe. He likes to eat the same food the same way from sources he trusts. He likes to be surrounded by his people and his things (but I repeat myself). Disgust, visceral revulsion, governs so much of his life.
And I don't think you can feel disgust the way he does without being affected by shame. What do you care if the dirt gets on you, if you can't be ashamed of it?
This segment of the talk ran sort of in isolation, no follow-ups and no relation to what comes before or after it. I suspect it was an attempt at balance, so Trump would feel like he had some "win" during the interview, and might decide he was treated fairly when it aired.
The way Trump now hedges on North Korea ("so far", acknowledging it's not done) suggests he's started to become pessimistic. I think he considers it a win for him if he can draw the peace process out until it's his successor's problem, but that's starting to look untenable to him
Trump's been using this line recently, that President Obama was about to go to war with North Korea. Could just be another case of Trump Says A Lot Of Things, but I think the specific genesis is how *Trump* brought us to the brink of war.
The way Trump sees it, or wants it to be seen, before his peace talks began we were headed towards a conflict. Since he fixed the problem, it can't be his fault, so it must be Obama's. Whether he's fooling himself or just trying to full us is basically moot. It doesn't matter.
So, Donald Trump told his children not to trust anybody in this life, not even him. It's a lesson he learned one way or another from his own father. And here he is saying "Of course I do trust Kim, but if I didn't, I wouldn't tell you."
The thing we need to understand here is that Trump neither trusts nor distrusts Kim. His agenda doesn't require trust. His personal agenda, separate from any goals of the state department or Mike Pompeo or the United States. Trump's goal is to have a steady stream of "wins".
And if tomorrow, Kim Jong-Un announced he was not only destroying his arsenal but beginning reunification and then turning himself in to the Hague, that would be a huge win, but it would also be over. Trump would talk about it forever... but it would be a one time thing.
Whereas the way things are going now, but Trump and Kim can tell their people about all these little incremental steps they can sell as wins, and it can last basically forever.
Trump doesn't need to trust Kim because up to the point that it affects him, he doesn't care what Kim is doing. It's the Trump Doctrine, that he laid out at the UN and is displaying with the Saudis: if it doesn't affect us (meaning, him personally), he doesn't care.
So right up until the point that nuclear missiles are launched against the United States, Trump doesn't care... and at that point, he gets to use his nukes and he's pretty sure he can take North Korea, so it's not even a loss if some states that didn't even vote for him get nuked
Here's Stahl again trying to pin him down on a matter of factual accuracy and Trump refusing to give a straightforward answer. "They're setting it up." I think is him trying to suggest that the site shutdown is in the works, in process. It's probably one of his stock answers.
Trump makes all kinds of deals he has no intention of honoring, often on the strength of promises involving other parties. Ask him where he's at with the bank financing he promised for a project? "They're setting it up."
I'm not the first person to say that Trump isn't a negotiator but a salesman. He doesn't talk, he tap dances. Notice that he doesn't say what it is that people, including him, say. The thoughts don't actually connect to anything. It's just patter. Sales patter.
Little moment as Trump puts his personal relationship with Kim on par with seismographic evidence for how he can be sure there's been no bomb tests. If a test happens at a moment Trump judges inopportune, you can bet this will come up. "He denies it every way you can imagine."
Also you can be sure that the reason Trump knows this is he asked his briefers how they could be so sure that the bomb tests were even really happening.
Trump's dismissal of easing sanctions as something the Obama Administration would have done while he has soft-pedaled sanctions for Russia and mere minutes after ruling out sanctions for Saudi Arabia is pretty classic for both Trump and for the Republican Party.
So, this is the first of two times that Trump responds to something in this interview with "I'm not a baby", as though he thinks the issue is he might be seen as naive.

In all honesty I think there's a decent chance this is a reaction to @dandrezner's President Toddler thread.
This is a Twitter thread that started in April of last year and continues to this very day, with updates several times a week, with examples of Trump's staff and/or the media "handling" him the way you would a small child
In fact, the most recent update to it is from this same interview.
If Trump had been ignorant of this thread (remember, his staff keeps him in a bubble and tries to show him only good news clippings and positive Twitter mentions), I think he likely learned about it in the fallout from the An Ominous Op-Ed, which I think boosted its visibility.
The idea that his aides see themselves as "adults in the room" and believe they "manage" him would be honestly worse to him than most of the things we think of as disloyalty. Lining their pockets, working their own angles? Everyone does that. It's good business.
Like all the penny ante corruption going on in his cabinet, a *good* mobster president, a competent con man, would see people running their side hustles as a betrayal of him because they're supposed to work for him. He doesn't. Because he doesn't trust anyone.
He doesn't trust his lieutenants to not run games on the side because he doesn't trust anyone. So there's no betrayal there. But the idea that they would baby him, and in a way that gets back to the press? That's betrayal.
I've floated this before, but I don't think Trump is *just* blowing smoke when he says he loves Kim Jong-Un. He mentions the letters. Which like the "dotard" statement would've been flowery, over the top, also translated pretty idiosyncratically, given North Korea's insularness.
So I think there's every chance that Trump, egotist that he is, could be reading North Korea's flowery, grandiose professions of a desire for peace and love and better relations, signed to Kim Jon-Un, and think, "Wow. This guy gets it. Why doesn't EVERYONE talk to me this way?"
In the same way that when Kim and Trump, two grandiose egotists backed by nuclear arsenals, get locked in a dangerous spiral when they start thumping their chests at each other, you can get a similar effect when they start in on the "No, man, *I* LOVE *you*!" stuff.
But I say Trump's not *just* blowing smoke because also, he is blowing smoke. The simplest person in the world (which may in fact be Trump) is still quite complicated. Horrible people contain horrible multitudes.

"Whatever it is to get the job done" is what Trump means, always.
Trump is, on some level, almost always saying whatever he thinks he needs to say to seal the deal and accomplish his goals. And one of the reasons he likes saying that he loves Kim is because "trigger the libs" is one of his goals.
And he has his rally crowds think there's some kind of giant goal that gets scored when they make liberals say anything against the North Korea peace process as it exists under Trump. Because we're supposed to love Communism I guess?
I know I'm the one who said, in this very thread, that there's not much point to trying to pin this guy down, but I wish she'd pressed him on the timeline and proximate cause of those horrible threats. This is Trump bragging that his love ended a problem he caused.
Important kernel of truth here: to Trump, China is President Xi. Countries are their heads. This is why Trump has said it doesn't matter what anyone else says or does with North Korea, for instance, and why he wants one on one deals.
The "Might. Might." is an example of what I meant earlier when I said how Trump uses the hypothetical case. He doesn't like to announce plans in advance when they might actually matter, when it's something he might be held to. Another reason why interviews are of limited value.
A lot of people want an interviewer to press him on the $500 billion number. I don't. I know how that'll go. He'll say he might be rounding it up but the actual number is maybe higher, people say, people say.

I want someone to press him on why it matters. Why it's bad.
I want someone to say "But calling it a deficit, this money's not coming from the United States. It's private companies and private citizens, spending their money to buy products which they then use to do business inside the US. And if it wasn't profitable, they wouldn't do it."
I want someone to say, "Is it a bad thing that we're the world's customer? Is it a bad thing that our manufacturers and consumers are getting the cheapest deals they can? You said during the debates, buying Chinese steel was good business."
Just the whole idea that we're supposed to have parity on trade is so simplistic, so juvenile, such a schoolyard understanding.

As I've said before: I have a heck of a trade deficit with Target. They never come to my house to buy Halloween decorations from me.
This interview felt a lot shorter when I was watching it and then blocking it out in my head. I'm going to take a break for lunch. I think I might push the AP one till tomorrow, but I definitely want to do both, because there are some points I need to make in parallel.
If you're getting anything out of it, please feel entirely free to give something back.
And we're back. Picking up where I left off in the Lesley Stahl interview. Donald Trump downplaying the harmful effects of his tariffs, which caused so much harm to the agricultural sector he had to give OUR GREAT FARMERS a giant bribe so they won't turn on him.
Economist after economist has pointed out that China isn't paying his tariffs, American consumers are paying them.
And he's got this so backwards. If they import less from us they're going to be hurt less by escalating tariffs. Our manufacturing base depends on cheap trade.
"Trade wars are good, and easy to win."

Remember that? As Stahl pointed out, he called it a trade war the same day this interview was taped. Trump Says A Lot Of Things. He'll say whatever he thinks will get the job done, in a given setting.
I've said this before, but Trump learned how to operate making backroom deals, where he could say one thing in one room and a completely different thing in another room, whatever he needed to say to get them to sign on the line that is dotted.
He has adjusted somewhat to the fishbowl nature of global politics but he's still stuck in the mindset that he *should* be able to say whatever he needs to say in the moment and no one will be in a position to call him on it.
I am honestly surprised that while I have seen people talking about his attacks on "the western alliance" and such, I have not seen many people zero in on this line "I mean, what's an ally?" That's a scary response to me. If I were NATO, if I were the EU, if I were anyone...
...if I were anyone who relied on an alliance with the United States and not a *deal* or understanding with President Trump Incorporated, I would be terrified to hear the so-called Leader of the Free World say "I mean, what's an ally?" on national TV.
Trump's insistence that the European Union was formed to take advantage of us on trade is as honest as anything he ever says can be. That's his genuine feeling. That the European common market lets them be competitive on the global stage is very much his idea of unfair.
That he can't call Merkel or Macron and say "Let's make a deal." and tell them whatever he thinks they want or need to hear, to him that is a nightmare situation. He feels ganged up on.
Yeah, Trump is so very much a David Mamet character. That's why I always spend the extra characters to say "Get them to sign on the line that is dotted."

Trump is basically the character written for Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross late in life, when he's in his Willy Loman phase. It's like Death of an Iceman.
If we as a people and a republic and a planet are lucky enough to long outlive Donald Trump, then ten years after he's dead the Mild Moderate Middle will be summing up his polarization of the nation by saying he was hated, but not well hated.
Anyway. So this is Trump on the EU and on NATO: we're "the stupid country". It's smart to want good relations with Russia and North Korea but we're "stupid" for wanting positive relations with Europe and for propping them up as a buffer against Russia.
I've said before that the view of Trump as getting literal marching orders from Putin, them having a grand bullet pointed deal with much more of a smoking gun than we've found, is naive. Refer back to what I said earlier about Trump and trust. Could Putin ever trust Trump?
What they have is sympatico view and goals. Not the same ones, but complementary ones. Trump as a nationalist and an egotist who believes in strongman rule thinks he and people like him should be allowed to do as they please, that's point one.
So he will not bat an eye at Putin or the Saudi royal family murdering journalists and dissidents because of course he wants that for himself. And he sees the oligarchical rule of Russia as less of a threat than the strong contract of mutualism in Europe.
Trump will dismantle the social fabric of Europe in the EU and NATO because he wants to be a big country dealing with a lot of small countries. That this serves Putin's interests doesn't hurt but Trump will do it for his own reasons.
As with the trade deficit, I wish interviewers would push back on *what this even means*. Trump increased our military spending and wants to increase it even more. We're not "paying NATO". We're spending money on our own military and stationing it in foreign countries.
This, again, is Trump's use of the hypothetical to sow doubt. What he's trying to get across here is: who knows, maybe there would have been peace without NATO. Maybe the Cold War would have been fine without help. Maybe we would have won. You literally can't prove it.
Now, this is really, truly remarkable. Not so much his evasive patter which is just normal for him but the statement that he knows more about it than Mattis does, "from the standpoint of fairness". In other words: Mattis won't agree with him that it's unfair, so Mattis knows less
Strong words from President Not A Baby.
You know that thing where someone makes a big deal out of how they're going to apologize and then afterwards they talk about how they did apologize, but there's never a part in the middle where they apologize? Trump talking about his willingness to be tough reminds me of that.
Nothing makes his reluctance to criticize Putin stand out like when it's pointed out to him. It would be so easy and so normal, both from a tactical standpoint and a normal human reflex point of view, to just say something then.
It wouldn't have to be anything that would even jeopardize his rapport with Putin, he could just offer the mildest criticism or say "I've been very firm with him on Syria." But I think in his mind, having backed Putin, saying something against him would be retreating.
For Trump to genuinely admire a man, he's got to see that man as being head and shoulders above him. Otherwise, the man is a rival, who must be destroyed and absolutely never talked up. So Putin's untouchable in his mind. Backing down a little bit would be emotionally disastrous.
Comparing this to statements Trump made on Crimea vs. statements President Obama made just underscores the point that Trump never has a hard word for Putin. He takes full credit for any sanctions/retaliation he failed to stop, though, because he'll always take credit for action.
Again, hypothetical. Trump thinks of "probably" as a thing you can get away with saying because it's not definite. He says "probably, probably" to mean "You think that and I'm not going to argue."
Again, the Trump Doctrine. Russia and Putin are useful to him, and it doesn't affect Trump or the United States, so he ultimately doesn't care. He knows he's supposed to. He's making a mighty effort to pretend he does. But he doesn't understand it enough to not tell this truth.
Trump has no scruples about lying and holds no special value for the truth, so the stuff he doesn't bother lying about is always doubly revealing. Like, the things it says about him, about his character.

"I rely on them, it's not in our country."
So, there's a lot going on here. "Why do you say China meddled?" "Because I think they did."
When he's asked point blank if he thinks Russia meddled and he says that sure, he thinks they did, and China did, too, and other countries, it never fails to remind me of this scene: "I need more than chocolate. For that matter, I need more than vanilla."

"But that's not what we're talking about."

"Ah. But that's what I'm talking about."

"But you didn't prove vanilla is the best."

"I didn't have to, I proved that you're wrong."

(The film is Thank You For Smoking.)
His followers will agree, he's not diverting from Russia because he's talking about Russia. But it saves him from having to answer further questions about specifics, about what should be done about Russia.
For all the talk in the "liberally biased mainstream media" about how the Democrats politicized the Supreme Court, almost no one talks about how nakedly political Trump has made the DOJ, even to the point of making it an election issue.
Like, he wants it to be an international scandal that a sitting president told Vladimir Putin he'd have more flexibility after an election, but Trump is outright stating that his decision to replace his own AG is pending the outcome of an election (how much support he has.)
Again, "We'll see what happens." Like "You'll have to wait and see." or "You'll find out." Trump using the hypothetical to create cliffhangers. He wants his party to vote to give him the power to block inquiries (e.g., by firing his AG and having the successor end the probe)...
...but he wants to act like it's Democratic fervor for impeachment if Democrats try to run on having the power to hold him accountable. So he won't outright say "If we get strong majorities I can get rid of Sessions and end the probe." He hides behind the hypothetical.
More strong words from President Not A Baby.

Note: Trump will promise his followers the moon and the stars and the sun because he knows they will believe him when he hands them raisins he found under the couch and says "Here they are."

But he won't promise anything here.
He pledged to build a wall and lies at every rally to say it's already begun. But he won't pledge anything to this journalist who asks him if he will because he finds it emasculating to say something at her urging and because he fears being held to it when he doesn't follow it.
Again on Trump being unintentionally revealing: this is his strongest denial to date, as he usually just repeats "No collusion. No collusion.", and it's based around the argument that it wouldn't have worked. That's his alibi.
And here is something I have been talking about since the campaign. Donald Trump cannot state a regret. In the past when he was asked if he regretted appointing Sessions, he says he regrets what Sessions did.
The political evangelicals have basically stopped trying to pretend Trump is a Christian except when sorely pressed (now they just say he's God's tool), but back when they were still trying to pretend he was Saved, he said he hadn't confessed his sins because he had none.
Which led to Christian leaders like James Dobson telling outright, obvious, deliberate lies in claiming that he had confessed his sins privately and been witnessed to appropriately.
But Trump just cannot admit to a regret or a mistake or a sin, except in the abstract. His power song, his Ally McBeal theme, "My Way" says it like this: "Regrets, I've had a few, but then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do, and saw it through without exemption."
And that's really his approach. No regrets worth mentioning. Maybe the romantic idea of regrets, but the important thing is, he did what he had to do. That makes him smart. And determined.
Donny Tightlips here.

Trump won't even say "Mistakes were made." about something his regime was involved in, because it reflects on him. The closest we get is more like "Mistakes, perhaps, have existed somewhere, at some point in time."
And it isn't that he doesn't believe he's ever made mistakes. I am sure his prickliness around these topics are in part because he's very much aware that he has. But how dare anyone try to point them out, and what kind of a man would he be if he admitted them?
But he's figured out a way to answer these questions, I guess: his only regret is he didn't do exactly what he wanted to do the moment he wanted to do it.

"I'm sorry... SORRY I'M SO AWESOME."
Trump and his followers never realize how often interviewers try to throw him a lifeline. I'm sure this reads to them as her interjecting an agenda, trying to tear him down, but she's giving him an opportunity and prompting him to express a shred of remorse.
He could have said, "It was tough, I hated doing it, but I thought it was necessary." Never occurs to him.
The dance here. "Obama did it."

"Actually you launched the zero tolerance policy."

"But the courts decided we're not doing it."

Which seems like a random interjection but it's consistent with Trump wanting credit for even actions he's forced into taking.
Like, "Why are you blaming me for this when the courts said we're not doing it anymore? And anyway we need to do it because reasons."
Laughing stock. Like "disgusting" and "disgrace/disgraceful", so much of the way Trump talks about things that touch on shame sound like something a grumpy, stodgy 1950s dad would say. Given that Trump was born in 1946, not hard to guess where he gets this.
Like the kind of guy who says "What will the neighbors think?" when what he really means is "I am deeply upset by this and I assume my perceptions are universal."
"It's really my fault for being so awesome."

So Trump's big idea on immigration is, he was going to end illegal border crossings by sending the message "We're closed." He didn't just mean that as a campaign gimmick. He screamed it in his DHS secretary's face.
And this talk about how it's because economy is so great, I think, is the face-saving answer they settled on for why they haven't been able to "close" the border.

Which I think is another one of Trump's childish worldview elements. The opposite of an open border is closed.
If the border is closed, then no one can get in. So if anyone is getting in, we have an open border. Which is the opposite of what he wants. And if he's decided this is "disgraceful" and also a danger to national security, then it's a huge problem.
Trump's unwillingness to be pinned down is as much about power politics as anything else. Saying "Yes, I'm willing to reinstitute it." isn't committing to doing so. He said everything's on the table. He could even qualify it. Or just "Yes, because no option is off the table."
But someone trying to get him to answer a yes or no question, he instinctively parses that as a trap because there's no wiggle room.
So Trump is revealing here that he never successfully saw himself as a Manhattan real estate guy, even though that was the image he peddled of himself. He's from a rougher school of business in Queens, and he'll never not know that about himself.

Also: he's not a baby, they are.
So when Trump was trying to make it in Manhattan, the toughest people in the world were his opponents.

Now that he's trying to make it in DC, the toughest people in the world are his opponents.

If all his opponents are tough, maybe he just... sucks?
But, no, it's very typically Trump for him to puff up the obstacles in his path, to make the odds he's facing sound as bad as possible. He likes to imagine he's the underdog. Again, the lyrics of "My Way" spell out a lot about his self-image.
So he talks about trying to make a deal in DC as like trying to make a deal with a table (a flat, hard, inanimate surface). And this, again, is a very revealing moment. His style of dealmaking *just doesn't WORK* in DC, or the international stage. His one skill doesn't apply.
It used to work well enough for him to get things done. "Get them to sign on the line that is dotted", then milk their commitment for everything it's worth, probably more than they agreed to give, and you're on to the next deal before it falls apart.

Like, Donald Trump never had any need to live off the proceeds of something like a successful casino because he just paid himself out of the investors' money and lived like a king as it burned down.
Anyway. So he comes to DC and he tries to make deals *his* way, and it doesn't work. It doesn't work because a Lindsey Graham can't pass a bill for him. It doesn't work because Macron or Merkel can't sign off on a trade agreement.
Donald Trump's dream of how he'd get his bills passed into law is at 12:00 he sees the Freedom Caucus then at 12:15 he sees Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and then at 12:30 he sees Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and he promises all of them contradictory things.
And he *tries* that and then they all go back to Capitol Hill and have to put it in writing so it doesn't work, and he doesn't understand why they all won't just take the deal. "It's like talking to a table."
So Trump has this moment of honesty, of accidental vulnerability, and then realizes how bad it sounds. He can't make deals in this town? "I don't wanna give you an example. Look, I'm awesome. No one has done as much as me ever. No one even tried, because they knew they couldn't."
Just look at how childish he becomes. This follows directly from that quote. Even when Stahl says she's changing the subject, he's changing it back to a previous one, to pick a fight with her about child separation and say "I'm president and you're not." President Not A Baby.
There's a skip after that so we don't know what it took to calm him down, but the rest of the interview still reads pretty contentious.

I love this bit, actually. He's trying to say President Obama polarized the country and he is bringing us together, but those dang Democrats.
Reminder that this is Trump talking about how the country *was* polarized under President Obama but *is uniting* because of his good economy.
The use of "nasty" to describe Clinton, again. People have said in all sincerity that "deplorable" might have cost her the election but no one ever worries that "nasty" will lose him votes.
Trump honestly thinks that his decision to mock Christine Blasey Ford at a rally, to push back at her testimony, is what swayed the Senate. Or at the very least, he wants the credit. Remember that as he starts to say it's not his fault if the GOP loses in November.
The dance, the dance, the dance. He wasn't making fun of her, but he can't be held responsible if he says something and his loyal followers laugh, and anyway, have you seen the polls? It worked, didn't it? So what's the problem?
Trump's words don't always connect together as thoughts, but it's hard not to read/hear this as him saying "there are some who think she shouldn't have been treated with such respect." Which is ominous, and connects to his statements on legal penalties for coming forward.
Did she lie? "It doesn't matter, we won." Like during the brief period when his advisers talked him into trying to walk back "Lock her up!", before it took off as an all-purpose attack on women, and he'd tell his crowds: "We said that during the campaign, but now we don't."
Trump trying to imply that the NYT wrote the op-ed themselves. He obviously knows how unlikely that is, probably in large part because he 100% knows there are people around him who feel that way, but he has to sow the seeds of doubt and uncertainty. His followers will pick it up.
Trump using "And I'm entitled to" as his answer to why his constant personnel changes aren't chaos, or anything bad. If it's possible, it's allowed. If it's allowed, it's fine. If it's fine, it's good. If it's good, it's great.
Again Trump not wanting to get pinned down. There are good reasons to not talk about who he's going to fire if it's not finalized, but in a smooth-running machine they would ideally be aware before he finds a replacement, because it would be smooth and not acrimonious or chaotic.
His TV show character catchphrase aside, Trump hates firing people. He hates messy confrontation and he hates the image that he's made a mistake in hiring someone. So his ideal state is: everybody's afraid of being fired, no one is fired.
Which is why he also doesn't offer any examples of who he's thrilled with. Because he's been embarrassed by people pointing out that he praised someone right before they were fired, and because even if they're not fired, he wants them to fear that they might be.
His rift with Mattis was touched on earlier. As I said before, I'm wary of him labeling people he has a conflict with "Democrats" in conjunction with his declaration that Democrats are ungovernable, violent enemies of the state. It's very autocratic in tone.
But his response that Mattis hasn't said if he's leaving... like I said, Trump hates firing. He'd rather push someone out the door.

"Everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave." might be one of the most unintentionally sad statements he's ever made.
Quick aside but when she brought up "The first lady, Melania." while talking about who Trump might fire after mid-terms, my mind went to a different place than the one she ended up at.
"Who do you trust, kids?"

"You, daddy."

"Wrong. You trust no one."
Incidentally, this week's Doctor Who involved a character who says he loved his mother more after she had him jump out of a tree as a trust exercise and stepped back to let him fall, shattering his arm and ankle.

And the Doctor herself said "We're stronger together."

I cried.
And here's the second "I'm not a baby," mixed in with another mention of how vicious DC is, people speaking behind your back. Which is at odds with his contention that the op-ed didn't come from his well-oiled machine of a White House, you know?
And the line "Not so much a wire. I'm usually guarded." It's *weird* to have a so-called president saying in an interview that he's not worried about being wiretapped because he's so careful to never say anything incriminating and it just... it passed unremarked.
The interview ends on this softball note.
That's the 60 Minutes interview. Tomorrow or possibly Friday (schedule depending) I'll tackle the AP interview, which has some important points in parallel and is if anything less guarded than this one.
Some of my deeper conclusions are going to wait for then. In the meanwhile, if you got anything meaningful out of this, feel free to give some value back if you can.…
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