President Trump makes news in first interview since Mueller Report on Sean Hannity's FNC show
On Wednesday, March 27, Sean Hannity devoted three quarters — 45 minutes — of his prime-time Fox News channel program which was commercial-free to an exclusive telephone interview with President Donald Trump. It was the president's first interview since the completion of the Mueller Report and its delivery to the Department of Justice last Friday.
The major points arising from the interview included:
- President Trump vowing to release the FISA documents
- The president accusing FBI officials of committing "treason" and describing former FBI director James Comey as a "terrible guy" and former CIA director John Brennan as "sick"
- Mr. Trump raising doubts about the secretive airport tarmac meeting between then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton on June 27, 2016
- The president commenting on the Democrats' push for a Green New Deal
When President Trump mentioned Jeanine Pirro, who has been absent from her top-rated Fox News channel Saturday evening program for the past two weeks, Sean Hannity made news by confirming that she would be back on her show, Justice with Judge Jeanine, next Saturday, March 30 at 9 P.M. E.T./P.T. In response to comments Pirro made about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) on March 9, Fox News criticized and distanced itself from Pirro, and she has not appeared on the channel since then.
Below is a transcript of the highlights of the interview — approximately 30% of the total — between Hannity and the president, with minor editing by the author from a "rushed transcript" provided by Fox News Media Relations.
Video of part 1 of the interview can be watched here.
Video of part 2 of the interview can be watched here.
HANNITY, Fox News Channel Wednesday March 27, 2019 Live 9:15-10 PM EDT
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: All right. Joining us now exclusively on the phone, is the president of United States.
Mr. President, thank you for taking time for being with us tonight.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (via telephone): Well, thank you, Sean, very much. It's an honor.
HANNITY: I appreciate you being here.
You really have not had an opportunity to react, to respond to the Mueller report, the A.G.'s letter, that summarized the report that exonerated you. No collusion after all these years, as you have been claiming. He left the decision as it relates to obstruction to the attorney general and deputy attorney general. They quickly said, no, that does not rise to the level.
And I wanted to get your reaction.
TRUMP: Well, we are very happy about it. It's gone on for a long time, almost since the beginning of my term, and you know, if you look at it, we've done so much despite that. But it was a cloud. It was a cloud that most people didn't believe, fortunately.
They spent more than $30 million, hundreds of interviews of people, in some cases very innocent people that were put through the ringer. Millions of document pages, millions and millions of document pages, and after that, there was no collusion, there was no obstruction. It was such a ridiculous thing that happened.
On the other hand, you know, you look at, how did this start? How did it start? You had dirty cops. You had people that are about FBI folks.
I know so many. They are incredible people. But at the top, they were not clean, to put it mildly. And what they did to our country was a terrible, terrible thing.
HANNITY: Mr. President, we talked a lot on this program about the FISA abuse scandal. And this is what we know, that in August of 2016, we know Bruce Ohr warned everybody at the DOJ and the FBI that Christopher Steele hated you, that Hillary Clinton paid for the dossier, that it was not verified. But still in October, and then three renewal application warrants approved, they were told by the Grassley-Graham memo, the bulk of information came from that phony dossier. Andrew McCabe said, no dossier, no FISA warrant.
There were Russian lies disseminated to the American people before the election, but it also violated the rights of Carter Page and gave a backdoor into your campaign for spying, which I know the media made fun of at the time, when you said it happened.
TRUMP: Well, when I said there could be somebody spying on my campaign, a lot of things happened. It was like – it went wild out there. They couldn’t believe that I could say such a thing.
And as it turned out, that was small potatoes compared to what went on. When you look at what happened, and when it happened, and the money that was spent, the millions and millions on the phony dossier, and then they used the dossier to start things, and there was no truth whatsoever. It was a fraud and paid for by Hillary Clinton and paid for by the Democrats and the DNC. It's hard to believe.
If you wrote this as a novel, no one would buy it. It would be a failure because it will be too unbelievable. Nobody would believe it’s possible, the things that went on.
And we’re getting to the bottom of it, and it's got to be – I mean, you can never allow this to happen to another president. This can never, ever happen to a president again, Sean. That was a disgrace and an embarrassment our country, that they were allowed to get away with this. Hopefully, they won't get away with it.
HANNITY: Do you now feel vindicated? Was there anything that the attorney general's report – I know you have called for obviously the whole Mueller memo to be released, did anything surprise you? And what about the people that were collateral damage in all of this?
TRUMP: Well, people were hurt so badly, so badly. Their lives have been ruined and over – you know, over something that should have never taken place, an investigation that should have never happened. There was no crime, as you know.
You’re only allowed to do this legally if there is a crime. There was no crime. They've all admitted it. Comey, who is a terrible guy, Comey and McCabe and Strzok and Page, the lover, Page, and all of these people, they've admitted in testimony that there was no crime. So they'd started an investigation based on no crime.
I will say this, our new attorney general, Bill Barr, is a great gentleman. I’ve heard about him for years. He's a great man. Had he been there initially, this all would not have happened because what has gone on there is just a disgrace to our country. . .
The “insurance policy” – just in case Hillary Clinton lost, they wanted an insurance policy against me. And what we were playing out until just recently was the insurance policy. They wanted to do a subversion. It was treason. It was really treason.
If the Republican Party had done this to the Democrats, if we had done this to President Obama, you'd have 100 people in jail right now and it would be treason. It would be considered treason and they’d be in jail for the rest of their lives. . .
But I will say this, I said, you know, let's get back on, let's not think about the past, let's think about the future.
But now, I think thinking about the past is just OK because we can never let this happen again in our country or to another president. I’m not talking about me. I’m talking into the future. We can never allow this treasonous – these treasonous acts to happen to another president.
This was an attempted takeover of our government, of our country, an illegal takeover. If it were the other way around, where I was doing it to President Obama or a Democrat, it would be virtually the maximum sentence that you can find no matter where you look in whatever legal book. . .
Screen shot from Hannity, Fox News Channel March 27, 2019.
HANNITY: Mr. President, you have the ability to release the FISA applications. There was the original applications, the three subsequent renewal applications. We are told, Andrew McCabe said, no dossier, no FISA warrant. That was a backdoor to your campaign before the election.
The dossier also was leaked to The Washington Post, parts of it, and Isikoff and David Corn, to the American people, and, of course, never verified.
Do you have plans to release those FISA applications, Gang of Eight information, the 302s of Bruce Ohr and others, and the five buckets are [sic] John Solomon and Sara Carter, as they call it?
TRUMP: I do, I have plans to declassify and release. I have plans to absolutely release. But I have some very talented people working for me, lawyers. And they really didn't want me to do it early on.
Devin Nunes, by the way, and [Mark] Meadows, you look at Jim Jordan, and all of the people, they worked so hard. And a lot of people wanted me to do it a long time ago. I’m glad I didn't do it. We got a great result without having to do it but we will.
One of the reasons that my lawyers didn't want me to do it is they said, if I do it, they [my opponents] will call it a form of obstruction, so they will say, oh, you released these documents so we would make all of this information transparent. You know, and politics you always hear “transparency.” It would make it transparent. And then they call it obstruction, knowing the people we are dealing with.
So, frankly, I thought it would be better if we held it to the end. No, but at the right time, we will be absolutely releasing it. I did the right thing by not doing it so far. . .
HANNITY: I want to ask you about substantive issues. A couple of big things happened in immigration and health care this week.
The last two, we know that [James] Clapper lied under oath. I believe the statute of limitations, though, has passed. In the case of [John] Brennan, we know that there was surveillance, unmasking, leaking raw intelligence, an increase of 350 percent of unmasking.
Samantha Powers, who was working for the U.N., asking for 300 cases unmasked. She denies it.
HANNITY: But in that particular case of Brennan and Clapper, and Brennan in particular, multiple times accused you of treason.
HANNITY: Your reaction?
TRUMP: Well, I think Brennan is a sick person. I think there's something wrong for him. And I watch – for him to come out of the CIA and act that way was so disrespectful to the country and to the CIA and to the position he held.
And he was not considered good at what he did. He was never a respected guy. Tough guy but not a respected guy. But he lied to Congress.
And the other night before the report came out, he predicted horrible things. Things he said were horrible. Then today, I guess he said something – I didn't see it but I heard he said, well, I must have bad sources or bad information.
I mean, this is a man who really is either sick or there is some other problem. But the way he spoke – and as you know, Clapper lied, and perhaps the statute of limitations ran out on that one but it didn't run out on Comey, it didn't run out on Brennan or Strzok or Page or McCabe. I mean, McCabe – his wife got hundreds of thousands of dollars. He was running the FBI and running all sorts of cases, and his wife got hundreds of thousands of dollars from essentially the Clintons, from the Clintons’ closest friend. Then he ruled so favorably.
I mean, he tried to say he was not involved, I don't think too many people believe that, I did not believe that. But she got all those good rulings. It's really a scandalous situation. It is so badly that it reflects it so horribly, a guy like Ohr with his wife, Nellie Ohr, and GPS Fusion.
She wrote the report, and she goes, gives it to her husband who is at the DOJ, and then he goes and brings it to the FBI, and she's getting paid for doing it. It's incredible.
TRUMP: The things that happened are incredible, and very, very bad for our country. . .
HANNITY: Let me ask you, many presidents have promised Israel that they would move the capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. You made a tough position, you got that done. I have known the prime minister of Israel personally for well over 20 years, like I have known you for well over 20 years. I’ve always viewed Prime Minister Netanyahu as a Churchillian figure with moral clarity, that few people had on the world stage, standing alone often.
And I saw that you – I thought it was a very big announcement about the Golan Heights being Israel's territory. As you see the rise of anti-Semitism, not just – we have members of Congress that have said horrible things, but in Europe, and elsewhere, and the dangers of that small country, radical Islam, I just wanted to get your reaction to the importance of Israel as our close ally.
TRUMP: Well, you don't have to go to other countries when you see what is going on in this country – yesterday, I was very honored to do the Golan Heights. That was something that was promised by many, many presidents over many, many years, and I got it done.
Then you look at also Jerusalem, moving the embassy to Jerusalem. For years, many presidents for many decades campaigned on it. They were going to do it and they never did it because frankly, it was much tougher to do than people whatever ever understand. It was very tough.
I understand why they ultimately didn't do it, they didn't get it done, but I got it done. Not only did I get it done, I got the embassy built for a fraction, a tiny, tiny fraction of the cost of what it was supposed to cost. And now, as you know, the embassy is open. It’s not just designated, it's open in Jerusalem.
So, look, I’m very proud of what we have done for Israel. I’m very proud of my relationship with Israel, and what is going on with the Democrats, and with Jewish people and the Democrats and Israel is shocking to me. You know, I grew up in a world where people really and Democrats, they loved Israel.
And now, I’m looking at a world where many Democrats seem to hate Israel. They seem to despise Israel. It is a tremendous surprise to me. What's going on with Israel and the Democrat Party is absolutely horrific. Terrible. . .
HANNITY: Mr. President, thank you so much for your time tonight. We appreciate you staying so long and answering so many questions. We appreciate it.
TRUMP: Thank you very much, Sean.
Peter Barry Chowka writes about politics, media, popular culture, and health care for American Thinker and other publications. Peter's new website is http://peter.media. Follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.