After its Oval Office interview with Trump on July 25, 2017, the Wall Street Journal released highlights of what the newspaper considered the most newsworthy sections. But, as always, there was a lot more that didn’t make it to print—at first. Then, one week later, the full transcript was leaked to Politico. And, once again, Trump’s abject, know-nothing grasp of critical issues is on full display.
I have been reading the complete transcripts of these interviews since the first jaw-dropping one materialized in November 2016. They leave me speechless—unlike the president—and more frightened for the future of our country than anything else I’ve read about the empty person in a baggy suit who occupies the Oval Office. This is the man-boy unrehearsed, scriptless and spontaneous, responding to questions he doesn’t understand with “answers” he hasn’t thought about. If you want to know who this person is backstage, how his brain connects to his mouth, and what his “idea” of an “idea” is, these transcripts offer a primary, unfiltered source of information.
You can read the full transcript at Politico. If you choose not to, here are some excerpts that reveal a lot about how little Trump knows, how incoherently he speaks about things he doesn’t understand, and how a no-brainer president really sounds. No wonder the WSJ didn’t include these passages in its story and tried to suppress leaks.
I want to achieve growth. We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world, essentially, you know, of the size. But we’re the highest-taxed nation in the world. We have – nobody knows what the number is. I mean, it used to be, when we talked during the debate, 2 ½ trillion (dollars), right, when the most elegant person – right? I call him Mr. Elegant. I mean, that was a great debate. We did such a great job. But at that time I was talking $2 ½ trillion. I guess it’s 5 trillion (dollars) now. Whatever it is, it’s a lot more. So we have anywhere from 4 to 5 or even more trillions of dollars sitting offshore.
Comparing the US economy to those of other countries:
So I deal with foreign countries, and despite what you may read, I have unbelievable relationships with all of the foreign leaders. They like me. I like them. You know, it’s amazing. So I’ll call, like, major — major countries, and I’ll be dealing with the prime minister or the president. And I’ll say, how are you doing? Oh, don’t know, don’t know, not well, Mr. President, not well. I said, well, what’s the problem? Oh, GDP 9 percent, not well. And I’m saying to myself, here we are at like 1 percent, dying, and they’re at 9 percent and they’re unhappy. So, you know, and these are like countries, you know, fairly large, like 300 million people. You know, a lot of people say — they say, well, but the United States is large. And then you call places like Malaysia, Indonesia, and you say, you know, how many people do you have? And it’s pretty amazing how many people they have. So China’s going to be at 7 [percent] or 8 percent, and they have a billion-five, right? So we should do really well.
Trump is surprised by how many people there are in Malaysia and Indonesia. Note, too, how he does not understand why the fully developed US economy can’t grow at the same rate as a country like China or Indonesia, which are developing nations with more potential for rapid growth.
I’m looking for fairness… No, it means – look, our automobile industry has just left us and gone to Mexico – I mean, a big chunk of it. And it’s very unfair for them to take our companies, build their cars, and then sell the car back into our country with no tax. It’s very unfair. They fire all our people in Michigan and Ohio, and they take it, and they build a car. And now they sell the car back in with no tax. It’s not fair.
On estate and corporate taxes:
When George Steinbrenner died, like with the estate taxes, the estate paid nothing. And if he would have died like two weeks later, they would have paid 50 percent of the Yankees. That would have been the end of the team, right? He had very fine tax planners. But it hasn’t come up…
…We think we’re going to have tremendous growth. We think money’s going to come pouring into the country.
…Look, we’re losing companies. People don’t even realize how bad it is, but we’re losing companies every single day where they’re leaving because the taxes are too high. When we do this, we’ll have companies – I know companies that have left. They go to Ireland, they go to other – I own a lot of property in Ireland. They go to Ireland because of these incredible tax rates, and other places, right? We’ll have companies pouring back into our nation. I mean, it’s going to be – you know, it’s going to be beautiful.
I hope we can – I hope we can do the 15 percent, actually. By the way, 15 percent is not by any means the lowest, but at least we would go from the highest to one of the lower, lower taxes.
But those are just the “substantive” topics Trump tried to bullshit his way through. The interview also meanders to Jared Kushner [“…a really nice, smart guy…he’s a good—he’s a good boy”], the United Kingdom [“I mean, you don’t hear the word Britain anymore. It’s very interesting. It’s like, nope.”], and the infamous Boy Scout speech [“..I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them.”]
Look [to steal a word from Trump’s own limited repertoire of explanatory introductions], Trump can hire and fire communications directors and advisers until the lights go out, but he appears incapable of achieving command of the issues, is not interested in learning about them, and cannot talk about them without revealing his ignorance. And nowhere are those facts more evident than in the fact-free twilight zone of Trump’s transcribed interviews.