Apr 21, 2019

Behind the scenes of Trump's infamous Lester Holt interview

Unending gold is buried in the Mueller report. As the Washington Post's book critic Carlos Lozada writes, "the Mueller report is the best book by far on the workings of the Trump presidency ... special counsel Robert Mueller has it all under oath, on the record, along with interviews and contemporaneous notes backing it up."

Here's one remarkable tidbit, from page 285 of the report:

"The next day, on May 11, 2017, the President participated in an interview with Lester Holt. The President told White House Counsel's Office attorneys in advance of the interview that the communications team could not get the story right, so he was going on Lester Holt to say what really happened."

Flashback: The Lester Holt interview became infamous because Trump told the NBC anchor that when he fired FBI Director James Comey, "I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story."

  • Far from helping himself, the interview gave prosecutors another reason to think he had sought to obstruct justice.

Behind the scenes: This scene in the Mueller report brought back memories for one of my sources who was in the Oval Office with Trump shortly before the Holt interview.

  • "He was full of righteous indignation," the source said of Trump. "He said something like, 'Never forget, no one speaks for me but me. These people [Trump's communications team] don't know what they're talking about. But I do, believe me.'"
Go deeper