'Beautiful' paper towels, 'really smart' Vegas attacker: Trump's most bizarre interview yet?
In a conversation on a Christian network, Trump said a number of bizarre statements including a defense of the “beautiful, soft towels” he threw in Puerto Rico.
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U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out Saturday at the “fake” journalists who criticized him for throwing rolls of paper towel to Puerto Rican hurricane victims.
The paper towels, he said, were beautiful. And soft.
“They had these beautiful, soft towels. Very good towels,” Trump said in a conversation that aired on Christian television network Trinity Broadcasting. “And I came in and there was a crowd of a lot of people. And they were screaming and they were loving everything. I was having fun, they were having fun. They said, ‘Throw ‘em to me! Throw ‘em to me, Mr. President!’”
“So next day they said, ‘Oh it was so disrespectful to the people.’ It was just a made-up thing. And also when I walked in, the cheering was incredible,” he said.
Trump’s impassioned defence of his Tuesday towel-tossing, an act that insulted many Puerto Ricans, came during a quasi-interview with an ardent supporter and television host Mike Huckabee, the father of his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Huckabee lobbed Trump questions that softball players would be insulted to hear called softballs. His first question: “Tell me, how good is your press secretary?”
But Trump still made a number of noteworthy, unusual and inaccurate statements in response.
1. He attacked San Juan’s mayor again
When Trump visited Puerto Rico on Tuesday, he took a break from his extraordinary personal criticism of San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who has been sharply critical of the federal response to Hurricane Maria.
Trump resumed his onslaught in speaking with Huckabee, saying Cruz “really did not do a very good job — in fact, did a very poor job.”
“And she was the lone voice (of criticism) that we saw,” he said, ignoring the vociferous criticism from thousands of other Puerto Ricans. “And of course that’s the only voice the media wanted to talk to. And she’s running for governor. Big surprise.”
He continued: “But she’s not a capable person. And my people were telling me that to start off with.”
2. He took credit for inventing the word ‘fake’
Trump, as so often, called the media “fake.” And then he, it seemed, took credit for coining the word “fake.”
“I think one of the greatest of all terms I’ve come up with is ‘fake.’ I guess other people have used it, perhaps, over the years, but I’ve never noticed it,” he said.
Trump would not have even been correct if he meant to refer specifically to the phrase “fake news.
3. He said Las Vegas mass murderer Stephen Paddock was “probably smart”
Trump has been calling Paddock “sick” and “demented.” This time, he added a descriptor rarely heard from presidents talking about the perpetrators of mass slaughters.
While praising police officers for their response to the shooting, Trump noted Paddock had set up cameras to allow himself to observe officers as they tried to apprehend him.
“This was a sick person — but probably smart,” Trump said.
4. He accused Iran of working with North Korea
Trump offered his regular criticism of Iran, saying Iran was violating the “spirit” of their nuclear agreement and “causing trouble” in the Middle East. But he added a new set of accusations this time.
“I believe they’re funding North Korea,” he said. “I believe they’re trading with North Korea. I believe they’re doing things with North Korea that is totally inappropriate. And that doesn’t pertain to the deal – but in my opinion it does. It’s called the spirit of a deal.”
He did not provide evidence.
5. He offered a bizarre explanation for his latest favourite health-care plan
The Republican health-care bill that failed in late September, known as Graham-Cassidy, would have sent states money and instructed them to design their own health systems.
Trump said the downward transfer of power is a good idea because it would allow him to stop personally taking care of people’s health problems.
“I want to focus on North Korea. I want to focus on Iran. I want to focus on other things. I don’t want to focus on fixing somebody’s back. Or their knee. Or something. Let the states do that,” he said.
Perhaps he meant he wanted to be free of having to deal with health policy at all, but the Republican bill would not come close to ending the federal role in the system.
6. He said his post-hurricane consoling makes him feel good
Huckabee asked Trump how he has taken to the role of post-tragedy consoler of the nation. Trump said he has mixed feelings.
“In one sense, you hate to see it,” he said. “In another sense, you feel you can do a good job. You’re really helping people. So it makes you feel good.”
7. He took another step away from his campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
Trump already postponed the controversial embassy move he had once promised to make on the first day of his presidency. This time, he explained why he’s dallying: he wants to try to make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“I want to give that a shot before I even think about moving the embassy to Jerusalem,” he said.
Trump’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, sounded much more convinced a move was coming during an interview on the same network earlier in the week, saying, “The embassy will move. It’s not if, but when.”
8. He backed off his claim that his tax plan doesn’t help the rich
In September, Trump falsely claimed that his plan for tax cuts, which would predominantly help rich people, would not help the rich at all. His language was significantly different this time.
He said the focus of tax reform was the middle class. But he did not deny that rich people would get help too.
“This is not a tax (cut) for the rich. Now, everybody’s going to benefit,” he said.
9. He made false claims
It is not a Trump interview without some wrongness.
He said, again, that the Coast Guard “saved 16,000 lives” – “16,000 lives,” he emphasized — during the response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas. The Coast Guard says it conducted 11,022 rescues.
He said, again, that the U.S. is “the highest-taxed nation in the world.” It is below-average for developed countries.
He said, again, that “everybody was shocked” by the 3.1 per cent economic growth in the second quarter of this year. Several prominent analysts predicted such growth.
And he said, again, that Daesh, also known as the Islamic State, was created in the “vacuum” left in Iraq when former U.S. president Barack Obama presided over a withdrawal of troops in 2011. The group, which has origins back to 1999, adopted the name Islamic State in 2006, more than two years before Obama took office.