- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Editor’s note: The following are excerpts from “Still Winning: Why America Went All In on Donald Trump — And Why We Must Do It Again,” by Charles Hurt, opinion editor of The Washington Times. It is based on an exclusive interview with Mr. Trump in a chapter that focuses on his reelection prospects.

Donald Trump certainly likes to test people. He says something and watches your face for a reaction. He is always pushing, looking for those soft spots in people. And the hard spines that do not budge. He can be belittling, but also highly complimentary.

When not testing people, Trump likes to review his record — whether it is his accomplishments, his epic public fights or the slights people have committed against him. In this case, he wanted to linger a little longer on his announcement speech back in June 2015.

“You know, it’s funny,” he said. “They gave me great marks for a great speech.”

“And then, about three days later, remember?” he asks. “It was like a delay. They said, did he use the word ‘rape’?”



He was talking, obviously, about his line about the Mexican rapists that caused such a firestorm.

“Okay, so I did,” he confessed. “You know, the ‘rape’ word you don’t use. But I used it.”

It really doesn’t matter how many millions of times the media has chewed this over, Trump talks about it with great interest and vigor — as if it just happened yesterday and he is talking about it for the first time.

Now, he said, we have had a couple of years to evaluate his comment about rapists illegally crossing the border into the United States.

“OK, now we have a few years behind us, right? But the only thing I was wrong about: that it was mild compared to what is going on,” he said, drawing out the word “mild.” “That speech was tame by comparison to what is happening.”

He said he was astonished when he learned from Border Patrol agents that mothers were giving their young daughters birth control pills before their treks north across the border so that they would not become pregnant if they were raped along the way.

Whether you love Trump or hate him, you have to admit that the guy has stuck with the issues that got him elected like a dog with a bone.

That is not to say he has successfully solved all the problems he vowed to fix. Illegal immigration is a good example. Even as the problem has gotten worse, Trump has doubled and redoubled his efforts to solve the crisis at the border once and for all — in the face of constant opposition from Democrats and even some Republicans in Congress.

Democrats’ Russia hoax

During the first two years of his presidency, as Trump has remained unswervingly focused on the issues that got him elected, Democrats in Congress have been focused on something entirely different. Instead of debating Trump about the issues, Democrats have painstakingly woven this ludicrous web of lies about some supposed “collusion” between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.

Anyone who was following Trump’s campaign knew that the campaign had a hard enough time colluding with itself on most day-to-day matters. The idea that they were colluding with a foreign government that speaks a different language was laughable on the spot. But, of course, the media took every bit of it totally seriously — hook, line and sinker. And they ran with it, clucking ceaselessly like so many Chicken Littles.

Imagine what must have been going through President Trump’s mind the first time he heard all the lurid, disgusting and entirely fabricated claims contained in the so-called Steele Dossier that we now know was nothing but a crude political hit job. These claims were shared directly with him by his top U.S. intelligence officials.

I asked Trump what had been the lowest, hardest moments of his presidency. When he dismissed the question several times, I could not tell if he simply did not think it mattered or maybe he did not care to dwell on anything that hinted of weakness on his part.

Finally, he answered, sort of.

“The biggest moments are when I found out how totally dishonest the press is,” Trump said. “Where a story should have been good on the Russia delusion — you know, the whole thing with Russia — and it would end up being horrible.” …

Given the madness of the entire Russia “collusion” investigation, I asked how close he came to firing Bob Mueller.

“I never came close to firing him,” Trump said.

Why?

“I am a student of history in a true sense,” he said. “Certainly, I watched what happened to Richard Nixon when he fired everybody. That didn’t work out too well. So, I didn’t.”

Obama’s abuse of intelligence

For anyone who actually cares about the Constitution and relies on our free press to hold government officials accountable, these are incredibly frustrating times. While most of the media have been on a two-year drunken bender over the phantom Russia “collusion” crusade, they have entirely missed the very real and far more important story.

Under Barack Obama’s previous administration, America’s intelligence services were turned over to political partisans who spied on domestic political enemies and used the product of that illegal domestic espionage to punish them.

This actually happened. In America. In 2016. And yet, if you were a devoted consumer of most of the media in America the past two years, you very well may have never heard a word about it.

The notion that an administration would spy on its political enemies at the height of a presidential campaign is absolutely terrifying. It is the sort of thing that happens in North Korea or Russia. Not in a constitutional republic.

Even more terrifying is that you have a supposedly free press that has almost entirely ignored the scandal. And we are talking about a scandal that is way worse than Watergate and every bit as bad as the Pentagon Papers. And hardly a peep out of the press.

At least President Trump is clear-eyed about the seriousness of the true constitutional crisis, however ignored it may be by the press. “This is something that should never be allowed to happen to another president,” he told me.

And it was not just the spying on his campaign during the election that raises seriously alarming questions. All the hyper-partisan actions inside the Department of Justice that we now know about should horrify any red-blooded American, no matter their partisan stripe.

Rogue agents inside the FBI were lustily pursuing a political candidate that they clearly loathed. All the while, you had the same agents working overtime to squelch a legitimate investigation into another political candidate, Hillary Clinton, whom they clearly favored and fully expected to become the next president — and their next ultimate boss.

This level of clandestine corruption at the highest levels of the federal government is supposed to be why good reporters become reporters in the first place. It is the kind of story we dream about uncovering. Yet, for the vast majority of Washington political reporters, it was virtually ignored.

“I don’t think it was ever like this,” President Trump said. “I don’t think that there has ever been a time — whether it’s politics or not — like the corruption [that’s been] uncovered.”

“Hopefully that’s going to be pursued,” he adds, almost wistfully. “By reporters, too.”

‘A poor man’s J. Edgar Hoover’

Few people come in for a greater beating in this whole scandal than former FBI Director Jim Comey, who was one of the top ringleaders of the Russia charade.

“I think Comey was a poor man’s J. Edgar Hoover,” said Trump, referring to the corrupt former FBI director who collected dirt on political figures so that he could control them. “What he did with that [Steele Dossier] report, I think, was [an effort] to sort of gain influence over the president of the United States.”
Then he offered an incredulous smile.

“It didn’t work out too good for him,” he said, citing his refusal to be intimidated by the lurid and outlandish accusations. “It worked out because I had the opposite reaction.”

“But Hoover made a living off doing that for many years,” Trump added. “He was there for many, many years.”

Trump then came about as close as he ever does to chiding or correcting himself.

“I didn’t see it at the time,” he half-shrugged. “But, in retrospect, that had something to do with what was happening.”

Even in this, however, President Trump takes pride.

“You know, it’s very interesting. A lot of things have been exposed in my administration that never would have been exposed in a more typical administration,” he said of the FBI’s clear vendetta against him, exposed in the aftermath of Comey’s firing.

“I am very proud of it. Now you can keep your guard up, at least. You can do what you have to do.

“It is amazing that I won in light of what we found out,” he added.

“When you talk about collusion, the collusion is with Google and Facebook and all of these different platforms — all of these different companies — with the Democrats. And beyond those, it’s the New York Times, the Washington Post.” …

Gifted with terrible opponents

Throughout Donald J. Trump’s short, triumphant political career, he has been truly blessed with the greatest gift every politician prays for: terrible opponents. Whether it is Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponents have been, to use a favorite term of Trump‘s, “real beauties.”

Looking towards 2020, those beauties get more and more beautiful every day. He is looking at everything from fake Indians to fired porn star lawyers to open-border fanatics. The most sensible among them are the full-blown socialists.

If Donald Trump’s 2016 election was the barbarians storming the gates of Washington, this Democratic field looks more like the lunatics trying to take over the asylum. …

Trump can barely conceal his glee over the opportunity to face such a bunch in the election. “We have 350 million people living in America and this is the best we can do?” he asks, smiling. …

Nothing animates the president more than when he talks about his supporters and how horribly they get maligned by the media. It is why he prefers to talk directly to them, instead of trying to trust the political press to accurately convey his messages to them.

“You know, you almost know your enemies when they start saying, ‘Don’t use Twitter, don’t use Twitter.’”

“I had a beautiful woman in Ohio a few weeks ago,” he smiled.

“Please, please don’t give up Twitter. Please! Please! It is so important,” he quoted the beautiful woman in Ohio as telling him.

He called out for [Dan] Scavino [the president’s director of social media], asking for the very latest totals on the number of followers he has across all the social media platforms that he controls: 168 million followers, according to Scavino’s latest tally. …

The people who matter to President Trump — and the whole reason I endorsed him the day he announced and have pretty much stuck up for him ever since — are the regular working Americans for whom he speaks.

I asked him how he handles the constant, vicious and often dishonest vitriol directed at him. He waved it off like it doesn’t really matter but acknowledged, “Nobody’s ever had to do this.”

And then he answered, “I always say, ‘Do I have a choice? You know, really, do I have a choice?’”

“A lot of guys would have sat in the corner, put their thumb in their mouth and said, ‘Mommy, take me home.’ It’s true.”

I asked why he doesn’t just give it all up and walk away, go back to his very full and enjoyable life of luxury.

“I couldn’t do that,” he said flatly. “I would never do that. I just couldn’t do that.”

“I really feel an obligation,” he said earnestly. “You know, we have millions of people out there that are counting on me. I really feel that strongly.”

Published by Center Street. 288 pages.

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