Donald Trump on Tuesday took a few minutes away from castigating critics on Twitter to speak to reporters from Mar-a-Lago or, as he calls it, “the winter White House”.
Despite having been impeached a week before Christmas, Trump is arguably having a better holiday than he suffered in 2018.
This time last year, the market had clearly lost faith in the president’s purportedly “legendary” business acumen. Stocks were on their way to the worst December since the Depression, and the public was beginning to wonder whether the border wall crusade was really worth it if it meant shutting down the government.
At the same time, the Mueller probe was still unfolding, and while being impeached for bribing Ukraine with $400 million in taxpayer money isn’t a good look, it’s better than being charged with high treason.
And so, the president appeared to be in reasonably good spirits on Christmas Eve day. The China deal, he said, is “done”. “We will be having a signing ceremony, yes”, he added, in response to a question. The two sides are still working on some “paperwork”, but everybody is “getting along”, he insists.
As far as North Korea goes, Trump said he’ll “deal with it” if there’s an ICBM test. “I handle them as they come along”, he remarked.
Asked if he planned to pardon Roger Stone, Trump ludicrously said “I don’t understand the question”.
Once it was clarified (“Roger Stone. Are you going to pardon him, sir? He’s been convicted of felonies”), he proceeded to suggest that Stone was never involved with the campaign and that he and Michael Flynn have been treated too “tough”.
“I think it’s very tough what they did to Roger Stone, compared to what they do to other people, on their side”, Trump mused.
It wasn’t clear who “they” is. Stone was convicted by a jury of seven felonies in connection with obstructing a congressional inquiry, lying to investigators under oath and trying to impede the testimony of a witness. He asked Trump for a pardon using Alex Jones as a messenger (and no, we are not kidding), to no avail – so far.
Pressed on the North Korea threat (Pyongyang suggested Kim might have a “Christmas present” for the US and its allies), Trump said this:
Maybe it’s a nice present. Maybe it’s a present where he sends me a beautiful vase as opposed to a missile test, right? I may get a vase. I may get a nice present from him. You don’t know. You never know.