President Donald Trump is now going after the members of his own administration.
Taking a break from incessant tweeting, the commander-in-chief sat down with the New York Times for an interview and made a number of shocking revelations, ranting about his top officials and former associates.
Here are some of the most significant things we learned from Trump’s utterly bizarre interview:
1. He Regrets Hiring Jeff Sessions
Had Trump known his pick for the attorney general would recuse himself from the Russia investigation, he probably would have picked someone else to fill the position.
“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,” Trump said began. “Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president.”
The former Alabama senator recused himself after admitting meeting Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.
“How do you take a job and then recuse yourself?” Trump asked. “If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”
Trump also accused Sessions of giving “some bad answers” to “simple questions” at his confirmation hearing, possibly referring to the instance where Minnesota Sen. Al Franken asked Sessions about his course of action if he found evidence that someone affiliated with Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government and Sessions responded with this:
“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” he had said at the time. “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”
2. He Suggested James Comey Tried To Blackmail Him
Doubling down on his attacks on former FBI Director James Comey, whom he abruptly fired, Trump implied the agency chief tried to blackmail him with the infamous dossier that contained a number of allegations about Trumps ties with Russia.
“Mr. Trump recalled that a little more than two weeks before his inauguration, Mr. Comey and other intelligence officials briefed him at Trump Tower on Russian meddling,” wrote the New York Times. “Mr. Comey afterward pulled Mr. Trump aside and told him about a dossier that had been assembled by a former British spy filled with salacious allegations against the incoming president, including supposed sexual escapades in Moscow. The F.B.I. has not corroborated the most sensational assertions in the dossier. In the interview, Mr. Trump said he believed Mr. Comey told him about the dossier to implicitly make clear he had something to hold over the president.”
Meanwhile, in his testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey said the agency first informed Trump of the dossier in January over concerns that media might publish the alleged details before they had a chance to brief him. The president reportedly denied the allegations and urged the then-director to investigate the matter.
3. He Warned Robert Mueller Not To Investigate His Personal Finances
When asked if Special Counsel Robert Mueller would be crossing a “red line” by investigating the Trump family’s personal finances, the president replied with a “yes.”
“I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia," Trump said.
He also talked about Mueller’s alleged conflicts of interests.
“He was up here and he wanted the job,” Trump recalled the time Mueller was named the special counsel. “I said, ‘What the hell is this all about?’ Talk about conflicts. But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point.”
4. The Undisclosed Second Meeting With Vladimir Putin
Trump insisted his second, previously undisclosed meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at G20 summit earlier this month lasted about 15 minutes and consisted of “pleasantries more than anything else.”
“The meal was going toward dessert. I went down just to say hello to Melania, and while I was there I said hello to Putin,” Trump told the Times. “Really, pleasantries more than anything else. It was not a long conversation, but it was, you know, could be 15 minutes. Just talked about things. Actually, it was very interesting, we talked about adoption.”
The meeting took place without a U.S. translator or any other U.S. official.
Thumbnail Credits: Reuters/Carlos Barria