Last week, the Wall Street Journal interviewed President Donald Trump in the Oval Office for 45 minutes, but only published some excerpts from the conversation.
However, Politico got a hold of the transcript and on Tuesday published the entire 45-minute conversation, which was led primarily by the Journal's editor-in-chief, Gerard Baker. The remarks had circulated around the Journal's newsroom and others in New York and Washington, according to Politico.
When asked why the paper did not print the interview in full, a spokesperson told Politico that they "published the noteworthy excerpts from the interview. We saw no reason to publish the crosstalk that inevitably accompanies any conversation."
In it, the president called his son-in-law a "good boy," said the Boy Scouts called and told him his speech was the greatest "ever made to them," and that he was amazed when he found out how many people live in other countries like Indonesia and Malaysia.
There was a lot going on in the interview, so we highlighted the most ~interesting~ parts.
On his politicized Boy Scouts speech:
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Biggest crowd they’ve ever had. What did you think?
WSJ: I thought it was an interesting speech in the context of the Boy Scouts.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Right.
WSJ: They seemed to get a lot of feedback from former scouts and –
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Did they like it?
WSJ: It seemed mixed.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: They loved it. (Laughter.) It wasn’t – it was no mix. That was a standing –
WSJ: In the – you got a good – you got a good reaction in –
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I mean, you know, he writes mostly negative stuff. But that was a standing ovation –
WSJ: You got a good reaction inside the arena, that’s right.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: – from the time I walked out on the stage – because I know. And by the way, I’d be the first to admit mixed. I’m a guy that will tell you mixed. There was no mix there. That was a standing ovation from the time I walked out to the time I left, and for five minutes after I had already gone. There was no mix.
And I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful. So there was – there was no mix.
In fact, an official with the organization told BuzzFeed News they were unaware of any such phone call to the president.
Not long after the speech, the chief of the Boy Scouts of America apologized to the Scouts for the president's "political rhetoric" that spurred backlash from some the scouting community.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News on Tuesday, the Boy Scouts of America said that "the Chief Scout Executive’s message to the Scouting community speaks for itself."
On his role in the ongoing, flailing efforts to pass Republicans' health care reform, in which he brings up his Boy Scouts speech (again):
MR. BAKER: What have you been doing, Mr. President, sort of behind the scenes?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: A lot. A lot.
MR. BAKER: I mean, what do you think the crucial conversations have been?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Many conversations. I just had one with a certain senator that was very convincing to that senator. So I’ve done a lot. I mean, last night – last night it was amazing. I was at the – you know, I was in West Virginia doing certain things and making a speech to the Boy Scouts, and that was some crowd. That was an incredible crowd.
But I’ve been working hard, trying to get the senators to go along with it. And I – you know, I think I – you know, look, just don’t quote me on this unless it happens, but I think we have a pretty good shot. And that vote’s taking place at about 2:00 today, right? 2:00?
Trump, however, had his critics, including those who thought he wasn't engaged enough in selling the repeal-and-replace effort to the American public. His mixed messages on how the Senate should go about replacing Obamacare also contributed to political confusion.
On what he's done in his first six months:
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Because people were saying, Trump has not produced. I honestly believe for six months I have done more than just about any president when you look at all of the bills that were passed, 42, 43.
MR. BAKER: What are you most proud of in the first six months?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: A lot of things. I think I’m proud of the Supreme Court choice. And that’s not just a nomination, that’s getting him through.
I’m very proud of opening up regulations. One of the reasons you see optimism is because people can actually use their land. They can farm their land. I’ve had tremendous and tremendous [he then pivots back to the size of the Boy Scouts crowd] – look, I had 45,000 people there yesterday. It’s the biggest crowd they’ve ever had, and they were – they were going wild yesterday in West Virginia.
But people can actually use their land and they can build.
When asked about taxes, the president pivoted to talking about his relationships with foreign leaders and discovering the size of other countries:
PRESIDENT TRUMP: 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 or 8 percent, and they have a billion-five, right? So we should do really well.
On job creation, Trump touted that Apple CEO Tim Cook is building "three big beautiful plants." But he wouldn't give any details and told the WSJ to call Cook and find out:
PRESIDENT TRUMP: But one of the things we’re doing that, so Gary and I are working – because I said, you know, Gary, we’re going to have Foxconn come in. We’re going to have a lot of companies that are coming in. Foxconn’s coming in with a big plan. We have Tim Cook I spoke to, and he’s promised me three big plants – big, big, big. I said, you know, Tim, unless –
WSJ: Really? Where?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’ll have to see. You can call him. But I said, Tim, unless you start building your plants in this country, I won’t consider my administration an economic success, OK? And he’s called me and he says, you know, they’re going forward, three big, beautiful plants. You’ll have to call him. I mean, maybe he won’t tell you what he tells me, but I believe he will do that. I really believe it.
But when Cook was asked by an analyst on Tuesday about Trump's claim, the CEO managed to completely avoid a hard answer.
"We have created 2 million jobs in the US, and we're incredibly proud of that," Cook said during an earnings call. "We do view that we have a responsibility in the US to increase economic activity, including increasing jobs."
As for the manufacturing plants, Cook neither addressed Trump's claim nor refuted it, BuzzFeed News reported.
When discussing job creation, the president said people in New York can't get jobs, so they should move:
PRESIDENT TRUMP: ... Where do we have the people? You know where we have the people? In New York state that can’t get jobs, in many other places that can’t get jobs. And people are going to have to start moving. They’re going to move to Colorado and they’re going to move to Iowa and Wisconsin and places where – like if Foxconn goes to Wisconsin, which is one of the places they’re very strongly considering – but if Foxconn goes to Wisconsin and they have a very low rate and the governor’s done an excellent job, you’re going to have a situation where you got to get the people.
But they’re going to start moving. And I’m going to start explaining to people when you have an area that just isn’t working – like upper New York state, where people are getting very badly hurt – and then you’ll have another area 500 miles away where you can’t – you can’t get people, I’m going to explain you can leave, it’s OK, don’t worry about your house.
You know, a lot of them don’t leave because of their house. Because they say, "Gee, my house, I thought it was worth 70,000 (dollars) and now it’s worth nothing." It’s OK. Go, cut your losses, right?
Trump then wondered if Scotland will vote to break from Britain over Brexit, which he said would be terrible because, well, the British Open.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Is Scotland going to go for the vote, by the way? You don’t see it. It would be terrible. They just went through hell.
MR. BAKER: (Inaudible) – but they’re going to be –
PRESIDENT TRUMP: They just went through hell.
MR. BAKER: Besides, the first minister’s already made it clear she –
PRESIDENT TRUMP: What do you think? You don’t think so, right?
MR. BAKER: I don’t.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: One little thing, what would they do with the British Open if they ever got out? They’d no longer have the British Open.
MR. BAKER: (Inaudible.)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Scotland. Keep it in Scotland.
FYI, the golf tournament was played last year at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland.
When Trump was asked about a possible agriculture deal with the UK, he delved into trying to get US cows into China. And the Boy Scouts. Again:
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I’ll tell you, you know, I did – I did a thing that nobody even wrote about – although, you did. (Laughter.) But when I was with President Xi, who I have a very good relationship with, I said: 'Do me a favor. Would you allow cattle, please, to come in?'"
I was last night in West Virginia, and I had farmers coming up to me and hugging me and kissing me because of the cattle stuff. They actually weren’t from West Virginia; they were from other places. (Laughter.)
But, you know, it was the Boy Scouts, so they came from all over the country, but –
When asked about the Justice Department, Trump said it should go after leakers, not the people fighting over who loves him the most:
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Number one, they should go after the leakers in intelligence. I don’t mean the White House stuff where they’re fighting over who loves me the most, OK? (Laughter.)
It’s just stupid people doing that.
The Trump White House has been a near-constant state of turmoil as inner feuding spills into the public arena, most recently with the ousting of Anthony Scaramucci just 10 days after he started as White House communications director. The move came after Scaramucci last week gave an expletive-laced tirade against other top White House aides to a writer for the New Yorker.
When Baker inquired about Russian investigation, Trump lied and said no one from his campaign "saw anybody from Russia":
WSJ: He’s the Russian guy. So Sessions has recused himself, but is Bob Mueller’s job safe? There is speculation –
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, we’re going to see. I mean, I have no comment yet, because it’s too early. But we’ll see. We’re going to see.
Here’s the good news: I was never involved with Russia. There was nobody in the campaign. I’ve got 200 people that will say that they’ve never seen anybody on the campaign.
Here’s another – he was involved early. There’s nobody on the campaign that saw anybody from Russia. We had nothing to do with Russia. They lost an election and they came up with this as an excuse. And the only ones that are laughing are the Democrats and the Russians. They’re the only ones that are laughing.
And if Jeff Sessions didn’t recuse himself, we wouldn’t even be talking about this subject.
In fact, Trump's own son, along with campaign manager Paul Manafort and a top adviser, agreed to a meeting with a Kremlin-linked attorney on the premise that she had dirt on Hillary Clinton. The White House also said the president later "weighed in" on his son's initial misleading statement about the meeting.
And the finale: When asked about his new (and since ousted) director of communications, Anthony Scaramucci:
PRESIDENT TRUMP: But I’m very happy with Anthony. I think Anthony is going to do amazing.
Scaramucci, as we all now know, was ousted after just 10 days at the White House — a move taken by new Chief of Staff John Kelly just minutes after he was sworn in.
Brianna Sacks is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Brianna Sacks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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