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Trump calls into 'Fox & Friends' to talk about Hurricane Michael. Then he keeps talking.

Hartford Courant 2018-10-11 16:30:00

It seemed likely to be one of those brief television moments when the president calls in to boast about the response to a massive hurricane. President Trump, who has been getting less air time for his prime-time rallies on Fox News lately, had other ideas.

The president held court on “Fox & Friends,” his favorite show, for 47 minutes Thursday about a range of topics, including criticism that he’d gone ahead with a rally in Pennsylvania the night before as Hurricane Michael devastated the Southeast. Hundreds of thousands of people in its path were without power, and probably unable to watch Trump’s comments.

After promising that the hurricane recovery would “go fast,” Trump talked about Saudi Arabia, the midterm elections, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s undocumented claims of Native American heritage, Kanye West’s visit to the White House on Thursday, prison reform, the Federal Reserve, new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and more, before finally letting go.

“Go run the country,” host Steve Doocy said.

It was Trump’s second interview with Fox in less than a day. He also spoke with the network before Wednesday night’s rally in Erie, Pa. The Thursday morning session competed with a highly promoted interview with former First Lady Michelle Obama on NBC’s “Today” show.

Trump even found time to heap some over-the-top praise on congressional allies who are working to protect him from the Russia investigation. "If this turns out as everyone thinks it will, Devin Nunes should get the Medal of Honor," Trump said of the Republican representative from Tulare, Calif., who has been among his foremost congressional fighters against the probe headed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military recognition, reserved for valor in combat rather than political fealty.

The morning after a steep slide in the stock markets, Trump again criticized the Federal Reserve, blaming rising interest rates and thereby continuing to break with presidents’ longstanding practice of respecting the independence of the central bank.

Trump is scheduled to have lunch with West and Jim Brown, the legendary NFL running back, at the White House . Trump used the scheduled visit to tout what he calls tremendous support among African Americans, though in fact his approval rating among black Americans has stayed well below 20% in most polls.

The men plan to discuss prison reform, according to the president. Trump, yet again undercutting Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, said that if Sessions tries to stand in his way, “he gets overruled by me, because I make the decision, he doesn’t.”

Asked if he’d fire Sessions and Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general overseeing the Russia investigation, immediately after the midterms, Trump replied, "Well, I actually get along well with Rod."

The interview came amid Trump’s campaign blitz ahead of next month’s congressional elections. The president has been holding rallies at the rate of four times a week around the country. Trump said he believed “the spirit that the Republicans have” would bring success, but he allowed that Democrats could take the House majority.

Though Trump has at other times called the election a referendum on his presidency, he told the Fox trio otherwise: “It’s not about me right now, it’s about individual races.”

He predicted partisan discord if Democrats win control, saying the sides would have to “fight it out,” and noted that some Democrats have already threatened to impeach Kavanaugh, just days after he was sworn in.

The one glimmer of opportunity for bipartisan action he noted was infrastructure spending, an issue that both sides have long talked about though congressional Republicans remain mostly unenthusiastic. Trump made similar comments after his election yet has not made sustained efforts to court Democrats on the issue since then. Now, hatred for the president among liberals has made many Democratic lawmakers reluctant to work with him.

“Can we get along? Maybe,” Trump said. “There’s something that can bring us together.”

Trump also repeated that he would confront Democrats after the election over the contentious issue of a southern border wall.

Follow the latest news of the Trump administration on Essential Washington »

Twitter: @noahbierman