Jun 15, 2018

What he's saying: Trump goes off on Comey, North Korea, Pruitt

Photo: Ministry of Communications and Information, Singapore / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

President Trump gave a semi-surprise interview on Fox & Friends on Friday morning, where he claimed former FBI Director James Comey had acted criminally, called the Justice Department's IG report "wrong" and praised Kim Jong-un's leadership.

Why it matters: Yet again, Trump proves that he is his best and favorite spokesperson.

Jim Comey:
  • "I think Comey was the ringleader of this… den of thieves.”
  • When asked if Comey should be locked up, Trump said “What [Comey] did was criminal. What he did was a terrible thing to the people. What he did was so bad in terms of our Constitution, in terms of the well-being of our country. What he did was horrible. Should he be locked up? Let somebody make the determination.”
  • Be smart: The report didn't accuse Comey of criminal behavior.
Justice Department report:
  • "The end result was wrong. There was total bias. Look at Peter Strzok."
  • "What they did during the election was a disgrance… You look at what happened, they were plotting against my election. I'm actually proud because I beat the Clinton Dynasty, I beat Bush Dynasty, Now, I guess, hopefully I'm in the process of beating very dishonest intelligence."
North Korea:
  • Trump said that he and Kim Jong-un had "great chemistry" and that he respects that Kim is a "strong" leader who “wants to make his country great.”
  • "He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same." When pressed on that line, he later said, "I'm kidding, you don't understand sarcasm."
  • "I want to have a good relationship with North Korea... When I came in, people thought we were probably going to war with North Korea. If we did, millions of people would have been killed."
  • When asked why he doesn't confront Kim Jong-un's human rights record: “Because I don’t want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family.”
  • He claimed that "war games" was his term for the military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea, again citing that he saved a lot of money by ending them. He said he never liked them.
  • Trump said that he gave Kim Jong-un a "very direct" number.
Other:
  • Drudge: "Drudge is great, by the way. Matt Drudge is a great gentlemen who really... he's got an ability to capture the stories people want to see."
  • On pardons: "I want people to be treated fairly."
  • Michael Cohen: "He is not my lawyer... I haven't spoken to Michael in a long time." Trump said he's not worried that he will cooperate with the Mueller investigation because, "I've done nothing wrong."
  • Michael Flynn: "I feel badly for General Flynn. He's lost his house, he's lost his life. And some people say he lied and some people say he didn't lie. I mean really it turned out maybe he didn't lie."
  • Scott Pruitt: "I'm looking at Scott. He's done a fantastic job at the EPA. I'm not happy with certain things, I'll be honest."
  • Separation of families: "I hate the children being taken away....I hate it. I hate to see separation of children and their parents." He then blamed Democrats for not cooperating in changing the "law."
  • Russia annexation of Crimea: "President Obama lost Crimea... President Obama gave away Crimea."
Go deeper

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World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to less than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 5,401,701 — Total deaths: 345,060 — Total recoveries — 2,149,407Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 1,643,238 — Total deaths: 97,720 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 57 mins ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

President Trump doubled down on his push to reopen schools, tweeting late Sunday: "Schools in our country should be opened ASAP."

Zoom in: Trump pushed back on NIAD Director Anthony Fauci cautioning against the move earlier this month, calling his concerns "not an acceptable answer."