Full Measure: May 24, 2020 – Interview with the President
President Trump: ‘We’re doing the right thing by getting it going, we have to open’
Transcript of interview
Sharyl: Can you take us to the moment when you remember first hearing about the highest projections? We’re talking millions, and we had not been told that yet in the public, but I assume you were told that first. Were you thinking, how is this to be believed? Was it startling and frightening?
President Trump: So I was hearing millions of people, and it would have been millions of people if we didn’t shut down. Now, would I shut it down again? No, because we understand it now much better. We didn’t know anything about it, it was new, it was fresh.
Sharyl: You mean you would not have, in retrospect, shut down the-
President Trump: I would have done exactly. We’ve done the exact moves that I would have done. And I did it early. Tony Fauci, Dr. Birx, they all said what I did was incredible. In retrospect, Tony, as you know, never thought he was going to be as severe as it was. And we’re talking about months later, a long time after I did the ban. I did a ban and nobody thought I should do it. I mean, literally I don’t think anybody thought I should do it. I made that decision by myself and it turned out to be a great decision. Hundreds of thousands of lives are saved.
Sharyl: About four months ago, almost to the day, the first coronavirus victim in the United States was officially diagnosed.
President Trump: Right.
Sharyl: How has the country changed since then?
President Trump: Well, there’s been a big change. Number one, we had to save millions of lives, which we’ve done with the shutdown. So, we had the greatest economy in our history. We had the greatest economy in world history. No country has ever done better than what we were doing just a number of months ago. And we had to turn it off to save a lot of lives, which we’ve done, and now we’re opening it up again. And I think we’re going to get our economy back fast. We had the best unemployment numbers. We had the best financial numbers, best stock market numbers, the best of everything. And we had to turn it off one day, just like magic. It turned off, a horrible thing, the toughest decision of my life. But if we didn’t do it, you see what’s happening to countries that tried to go the other way. They’re losing numbers that are incredible. And we did the right thing and now we’re doing the right thing by getting it going, getting it open, we have to open.
Sharyl: A Columbia University analysis said that had the lockdown or social distancing happened sooner, the analysis said almost all of the lives that have been lost could have been saved. And then, a New York Times reporter issued a tweet that implied you are culpable for those deaths.
President Trump: You know It’s a disgrace what I watch from this fake news media and from some of these liberal institutions. Columbia is a liberal, disgraceful institution to write that because all the people that they cater to were months after me, they said we shouldn’t close it. I took tremendous heat, you know this. When I ban China from coming in, first time anything like that ever happened, I took tremendous heat. Tremendous, like a level that I’ve never seen anything like it. And that went on for months. They were criticizing me, sleepy Joe Biden said I’m xenophobic meaning I don’t like people, certain people. And other people said as bad as that or worse. And that was in January. And I saw that report. It’s a disgrace that Columbia University would do it, playing right to their little group of people that tell them what to do.
Sharyl: Talking about reopening, there are churches and religious leaders in New Jersey, Chicago, California, who have said, they’re going to defy, if necessary, state orders and they’re going to open back up. Should they do that?
President Trump: I think they’re going to be in great shape. We’re coming out with CDC probably today. In fact, right after this particular magnificent interview that you’re doing, I’m going someplace else. I’m going to be reading an order from CDC, but we’re going to be requesting that they open. I think they’re going to be calling it an essential service. And it is an essential service and we want to get our churches back open. Everything, we’ve had such support from, and the churches have supported, but it is an essential service. When you look at some of the things that they consider an essential service, but they don’t consider religious freedom, essential service? Now, the ministers, the pastors, the rabbis, the anybody you want to say, the religious leaders, all religious leaders, they want to keep their people safe too. But when you see that they’re arresting people and they’re in parking lots in cars with windows closed and the people are being arrested, it’s a disgrace. Honestly, it’s a disgrace. So, I think CDC is going to be out with a ruling. I’ve been working on that one specifically. And I think it’s going to take place very soon. In fact, very, very soon after this interview.
Sharyl: Many people are taking the government guidance on the anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine to basically ward them off of using it and trying it. On the other hand, there are current experiments going on by National Institutes of Health and academic institutions, including for preventive uses possibly, you’re finishing your two-week course of hydroxychloroquine, correct?
President Trump: Finished, just finished, yeah.
President Trump: And by the way, I’m still here.
Sharyl: Yes you are.
President Trump: To the best of my knowledge, here I am.
Sharyl: But is that mixed messages when even scientists say they feel that the government is telling them, or telling people at least, to be very careful and not use this while the President of the United States is using it, and while researchers are studying it actively?
President Trump: Well, I’ve heard tremendous reports about it. Frankly, I’ve heard tremendous reports. Many people think it saved their lives. Doctors come out with reports. You had a study in France, you had a study in Italy that were incredible studies. Look, if somebody else were promoting it other than me, call it a promotion because I want people to get better. I don’t get anything. I don’t gain anything other than if it’s something that helps, that’s a good thing. That’s what I want. That’s all I want. I believe in it enough that I took a program because I had two people in the White House that tested positive. I figured maybe it’s a good thing to take a program. You know, we take a little bit of a period of time, I think it was two weeks. But hydroxy has had tremendous, if you look at it, tremendous, rave reviews.
Sharyl: I did a little calculation from March 13th to April 23rd, it’s slightly less than six weeks. I counted about 41 and a half hours of you talking to the media, talking to the public, taking questions.
President Trump: Yeah.
Sharyl: And at least in recent times, modern history, I can’t think of a president that has had the opportunity or taken the opportunity to do such a thing. Why did you decide to do that and was that time well spent?
President Trump: Well, I think it was. I certainly got the highest ratings on cable television by a lot. I mean, you saw that. And I get to the public. Look, the news is very corrupt. It’s very, very dishonest. I’ve never seen anything like it. I always knew it, but I never knew to this extent. Anything I say, anything I do is never good enough. We’ve done ventilators. They were going after me for ventilators. They thought they had us. Number one, the states are supposed to get their own ventilators. There are states that could have bought ventilators. They didn’t do it. So, they got in trouble. I have made a lot of doctors look very good, but I’ve made a lot of, more than anything else, I have taken governors who have done a lousy job and made them look great. And they’re very popular within their state.
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Sharyl: A lot of alleged wrongdoing has been uncovered by FBI and intelligence officials, particularly lately. Until Richard Grenell was made the Acting Director of National Intelligence by you, reporters, members of Congress, members of the public had asked to see a lot of this information really for three years, but it was kept hidden. What do you make of that? Because it was kept hidden by people working for your administration.
President Trump: Richard Grenell is a superstar. He had guts, he had courage to do what he did. We have another superstar going in as you know, John Ratcliffe. He just got approved yesterday and he’ll be taken over as of Tuesday. Richard Grenell has done one of the best jobs I’ve ever seen. I mean, in a short period of time, he exposed them as being corrupt. Look, they were trying to do a takedown of the president of the United States illegally. It’s all illegal. Now, I don’t know what happens. We hope Bill Barr is going to be as good as we think because Bill, he’s a great gentleman, a great man. He’s got to hopefully use that information and do what’s right. And he’ll do what’s right. Bill Barr will do what’s right, but what Richard Grenell has done for this country is incredible.
Sharyl: But why did it take Richard Grenell? You had other people who work, serve this administration.
President Trump: I did. Because they didn’t do their job. They didn’t do their job. Dan Coats should have never let that happen. Dan Coats sat there for two years, didn’t do his job. He then had a replacement. There was a nice gentleman from the military, but he was only there for a short period of time. But I’m so disappointed that Dan Coats didn’t do his job. Jeff Sessions was a disaster as attorney general. Should have never been attorney general, was not qualified. He’s not mentally qualified to be attorney general. He was the biggest problem. I mean, look Jeff Sessions put people in place that were a disaster. They took over. They’ve always had the Department of Justice, but they kept it under Jeff Sessions. And the whole thing, the Russian thing is a total hoax. Think of it. They spent 40, 45 million dollars investigating. We took two and a half years. They found nothing. No collusion. Friend of mine called a very smart, great businessman. He said, you must be the most honest person in the world. You went through years and years. They interviewed people that I haven’t seen in many years, millions of phone calls, not one to Russia. Look, some of the people. And I say this, I say it proudly. I came to Washington. I was only here 17 times in my whole life. I came, the 18th time, I was President of the United States. I had a great life. I did really well. A lot of good things that happened. Now what’s happened, but I didn’t know people in Washington and whether it’s Sessions, which was a mistake or Dan Coats was a big mistake, but Sessions was a big one. Coats, he sat there. He didn’t do anything. When you look at what Richard Grenell has done in eight weeks, these people didn’t do anything for two and a half years. They should have been exposing this. So I’m very disappointed in certain people. And some people have done a phenomenal job, but what am I doing? I’m fighting the deep state. I’m fighting the swamp. And I said I was doing it. And I’m exposing the swamp. I think if it keeps going the way I’m going, and Ratcliffe is fantastic. If it keeps going the way it’s going, I have a chance to break the deep state. It’s a vicious group of people. It’s very bad for our country. And that’s never happened before. You happen to be a victim of the deep state. I hate to tell you, whether you know it or not, but they’ve treated you horribly over the years. And so have they treated many other people. They never thought I was going to win, and then I won. And then they tried to get me out. That was the insurance policy. She’s going to win, but just in case she doesn’t win we have an insurance policy. And now I beat them on the insurance policy, and now they’re being exposed. Comey is a dirty cop, McCabe, bad guy. These are all bad guys. Lisa Page and Strzok. These are the two lovers, right? And they use public servers. They put it out public, because they didn’t want anybody to see, like spouses, et cetera, to see that they were having an affair. And because they did that, they got caught. Tremendous things have happened. They forged documents. We caught them. They had people that had forged documents. I would like to see it move much faster. I’ll be honest with you. To me, I don’t need any more information. I know, and I purposely stayed out of it. Other than I appoint people. I purposely stayed out of it. But I’ll tell you what, what they’ve done, if this were president Obama, if this were a Democrat instead of a Republican, people would have been in jail for two years, many people would have been in jail for two years already with a 50 year term. Okay? 50 years, but we caught them. Now, hopefully Bill Barr is going to do something about it. And you know what? Other things are going to come out too. And a lot of other things are going to come out, but you don’t even need other things. What they’ve done is so corrupt, they’ve tried to take down a duly elected president of the United States, happens to be in this case, me, but we can never allow it to happen again.
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Sharyl: How important do you think it is to pursue allegations about Joe Biden and improper things happening in Ukraine without making it look like you’re doing the very same thing they did to you?
President Trump: No, I’m not doing. All I’m doing is exposing corruption. In their case, there was no corruption. They found nothing. They came, hey, Mueller and Andrew Weissmann and all these terrible people, okay. Mueller lied to Congress. He said he didn’t interview for the FBI job. He did. And we have that down definitely. Mueller lied to Congress, even Mueller, Comey lied to Congress. Strzok, Page, all of these people at a minimum. Now General Flynn, the FBI said, didn’t lie. And Mueller said he did lie. And he went through hell. They ruined him. They ruined other people, good people. And we’re going to be helping a lot of good people. They’ve been destroyed, and they didn’t do anything wrong. The difference is we caught them. These are corrupt people. And I want to take my hat off to Ron Johnson. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. The job he’s doing is incredible. Hopefully now Lindsey is kicked into gear with Judiciary because I see that a lot of subpoenas out. So it’s a much different thing. We caught them in a very corrupt, you could call it treasonous, because it is, it’s treasonous. We caught them in a very corrupt act. They’re dirty cops and we caught them.
Sharyl: What do you think is Joe Biden’s strongest feature, as a competitor in politics?
President Trump: Well, I would have said experience, but he doesn’t really have experience because I don’t think he remembers what he did yesterday. So how is that experience? He’s been there a long time. He was never known as a smart person.
Sharyl: Pick one good thing.
President Trump: Ah.
Sharyl: Okay. What is his weakest point do you think?
President Trump: I can’t tell you. I mean, I’m really serious. He’s got many. I can talk about weak points all day long. First of all, he’s not mentally sharp enough to be president. He’s got China and he’s got all these countries. Russia. I’ve been the worst thing that ever happened to Russia. Putin understands that. I get along with Putin, but he understands that. He probably doesn’t want me to win. I can tell you right now, except I think he likes me, but I’m sure he doesn’t want me to win. China doesn’t want me to win, but Biden doesn’t know, I mean, he doesn’t know he’s alive. I’m against somebody. Think of it. I’m against somebody that can’t answer simple questions. I’ve never seen anything like it, but here’s what I am against. I’m against a very powerful party, the Democrats, and they can take this glass of water and say that’s your candidate. I’m against a very powerful and very corrupt party. It’s a very corrupt party, the Democrats, and we caught them, but I’m against a very powerful party. And I’m against the real obstructionist, which is the media, because the media is corrupt in this country. It’s totally corrupt. Whether it’s a poll or a story, I do a good thing and I get a bad story. I do another good thing, I get a bad story, or I get no stories. Ventilators, I did such a good job. I get no stories. The economy, I never got. When did you see me get good stories, prior to the plague coming in from China? When did you see me get a good story in the great job I’ve done with the economy? They never gave me a good and yet I was setting records. 142 times I had a new stock market record and you know what, I’m not so far from that again believe it or not. But if Biden gets in the market will crash.
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Sharyl: I wanted to ask you a question that I asked you before you got elected, when we were interviewed. I asked if you got elected president, would you have somebody review your tweets, do you think, or would you continue to do them unfiltered? And I thought you said, probably, that you might. What do you do now?
President Trump: If I didn’t have social media, I don’t call them tweets, cause it’s Facebook, you know, I’m very big on Facebook.
Sharyl: I know.
President Trump: Zuckerberg told me like I’m the biggest.
Sharyl: But does someone look at your stuff before you put it out?
President Trump: No, I don’t. Sometimes I dictate. I do it two ways. I do it myself sometimes, like in the night or in the early morning. During the day I’m too busy and I’ll dictate something out and they’ll put it out. I have one gentleman who’s excellent.
Sharyl: Who puts it out? Dan?
President Trump: Dan is great. Dan’s doing a great job. So, what I have, so I’ll sometimes do that just so I don’t have time. Look, I’m 44 and 0 in endorsements this year, 44 and 0. Think of it. Kevin McCarthy came over and he said that, “It’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. You’re 44 and 0 on endorsements, congressional endorsements.” I think I’m like 178 and a tiny little number overall. Just so you understand. Sure. Every once every 500 tweets, you might have a mistake. Remember when they got me, when I said wiretapping, meaning “wiretapping” in quotes or spying, but it was in quotes because I’m talking about the modern day version. I said, “They’re wiretapping. They’re spying on me.” Remember how you thought that was such a terrible tweet, right? I was right. They’re spying on me. They spied on me. And that’s not being paranoid. That’s being fact. It’s now known that they spied on me. They spied on Flynn. Now it’s up to Bill Barr and Bull Durham. Hopefully. Bull Durham has got an incredible reputation. I never met him. Never talked to him. I never met him purposely because if I did, they’ll say, Oh, Trump told them what to do. I’m not telling anybody what to do. It’s up to Bill Barr and Bull Durham. I can tell you from my standpoint, they’re guilty on so many different things, but they’re really guilty. You could call it treason. You could call it. There are a lot of names for it, but it’s an overthrow of our government. This is for third world countries. So it’ll be very interesting to see, but I give Rick Grenell a lot of credit for it. And I think that, I think that John will do a fantastic job. I wish I had them there at the beginning. But again, I now know everybody in Washington. When I first came here, I didn’t. And I made some very good appointments, but I also made some that were not so good.
Sharyl: Sports fans have said that one of the surest signs we’re going to be getting back to normal is when sports resume.
President Trump: Right.
Sharyl: After 9/11, President Bush threw out a first pitch at Yankee Stadium. Would you like to do something symbolic like that?
President Trump: Well, I’ve done it already. I’ve thrown it at Yankee Stadium. I’ve thrown it at Boston. I’ve thrown it in Chicago before I was even president. I don’t care about throwing the first. The first pitch doesn’t mean anything to me. What does mean something to me is getting sports back. So you know, I’ve done the throw out the first pitch many times. What means to me is getting sports back. I think it’s a good thing, and it’s going to happen. It’s going to happen fairly soon. I see golf is starting now. I see that football is definitely… I’ve spoken to Roger Goodell, the commissioner. Football is looking real good. I know it’s going to start, baseball. I wish they could have started earlier, but baseball’s starting. And no, we’re going to have our sports back.
Sharyl: Can we walk with you to your next appointment?
President Trump: Yes, let’s go real fast.
Sharyl: So we walked from our interview down the White House halls. That next appointment a Memorial Day tradition with the group Rolling Thunder.