Update: New York prosecutors moved quickly on Thursday morning and cited Trump's Fox & Friends comments about his relationship with attorney Michael Cohen as a reason to "expedite review" of material seized from the recent raid on Cohen's offices, according to CNN's Jim Sciutto.
Original post below.
President Trump called into Fox & Friends early Thursday morning for a freewheeling, truculent interview that touched on the Stormy Daniels case, former FBI director James Comey, alleged corruption in the Justice Department and the possibility of collusion with Russia (among other topics).
The reason for the president's phone call was benign, in theory – he suggested he wanted to do a Fox & Friends interview because it was his wife's birthday. When the show's hosts politely asked the president what he got his wife, Melania, he responded, "I didn't get her so much. I got her a beautiful card."
Maybe that's because he had other things on his mind: Trump used his time on Fox & Friends to hit back at several of his perceived adversaries. But as he did so, he also appeared to undercut himself by contradicting his own previous statements.
For example, Trump took care to distance himself from his attorney, Michael Cohen, whose offices were recently raided by FBI agents reportedly hunting for evidence of bank fraud and campaign finance violations. "This has nothing to do with me," the president said. "As a percentage of my legal work, [he handled] a tiny, tiny fraction."
But moments later, he added, "Michael represents me on some things … Like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me." Earlier this month, Trump had denied any knowledge of Cohen's dealings with Daniels during a press conference on Air Force One. In particular, the president said he didn't know that Cohen had paid Daniels $130,000 as part of a nondisclosure agreement.
When Trump pivoted to address Comey – calling him "a leaker" and a "liar" who wrote "phony memos" – he somehow ended up bizarrely assuring his interviewers that he stayed in Moscow in 2013, the night of the infamous "golden shower" allegations. "I went to Russia for a day or two because I own the Miss Universe Pageant," Trump explained. "[Comey] said I didn't stay there at night. Of course I stayed there. His memo said, I left immediately. I never said that!"
This contradicted Comey's recently released memos, which noted that on two separate occasions, Trump had denied staying overnight in Moscow on that date.
Towards the end of his interview, Trump's anger at Comey seemed to build to the point where the president suggested that he might go after the entire Justice Department. "You look at the corruption at the top of the FBI, it's a disgrace," he said. "Our Justice Department, which I try to stay away from, but at some point I won't … should be looking at that kind of stuff, not this nonsense of collusion with me and Russia."
Elsewhere, Trump also declared that, "Nobody’s been tougher to Russia than I am ... You can ask President Putin about that," he added, before ticking off supposed evidence of his "tough" stance: "The military, the oil, the aluminum tax – they send us a lot of aluminum – … the 60 [diplomats] we sent out …. Nobody's been close to as tough [on Russia] as me."
Even the Fox & Friends hosts appeared surprised by Trump's ferocity and topical zigzags as they struggled to get their questions in. At one point, Trump started railing about CNN, and host Brian Kilmeade managed to interject some friendly advice. "I'm not your doctor, Mr. President," Kilmeade told Trump. "But I would recommend you watch less of them," referring to Fox's rival network.