Whenever Donald Trump calls into Fox for a telephone interview early in the morning, you know America is about to be treated to an incoherent, rambling stream of high-octane insanity.
That is not hyperbole. Some of the president’s most spectacular diatribes have come during call-in interviews with Fox anchors, who, until recently anyway, Trump could depend on to pitch him softballs and never push back.
Well, on Wednesday, the president called Maria Bartiromo. It was quite something.
On the Fed, Trump tore into Jerome Powell for the high crime of meekly pushing back on the president’s encroachments during remarks on Tuesday. Trump accused Powell of “trying to prove how tough he is”, and that’s not all. Listen to this:
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Powell was not, for the record, “trying to prove how tough he is”. What the Fed chair actually said on Tuesday is that the central bank’s independence is an “important institutional feature”. He also said “bad things happen when central banks lack independence”.
After lambasting Beijing for what seemed like an hour, Trump turned on Vietnam, whose exports to the US have surged thanks to the tariffs on China. Trump called Vietnam “almost the single worst abuser of everybody”, prompting a visibly bemused Bartiromo to ask “Are you going to put tariffs on Vietnam?”
Trump also said the US needs to sue America’s tech giants. “Look, we should be suing Google and Facebook and all that, which, perhaps we will”, he said, reiterating the points he made during a similarly unhinged CNBC interview from earlier this month.
Speaking of tech, Trump alleged a vast conspiracy against him orchestrated by Twitter. “What they’re doing to me is incredible”, he said. Bartiromo (who has herself complained of “shadow banning”) was clearly angling to rile him up, and she succeeded.
On Mueller, Bartiromo managed to get Trump so angry that he began to literally shout into the phone about the special counsel having “terminated the emails”. “They’re gone. And that’s illegal”, the president said. “That’s a crime”.
All jokes aside, parts of this “interview” (which wasn’t an “interview” in any traditional sense of the word), were wholly incoherent. The following clip – which finds Trump expounding on the relative merits of tariffs – is almost unintelligible.
If this is indicative of the president’s state of mind headed into the G20, one has to feel sorry for the bevy of world leaders who will be forced to entertain him.
It’s probably not a stretch to suggest that Trump’s vent-a-thon with Bartiromo was at least partly inspired by the president’s desire to blow off some steam after Tuesday evening’s news that Mueller will be testifying in open session on July 17.