President Trump had been ranting for 2 minutes and 52 seconds about former FBI director James B. Comey, “fake news CNN” and the Justice Department when “Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy interjected.
“It's your Justice Department!” Doocy exclaimed while interviewing Trump by phone on Fox News's morning show on Thursday. “Mr. President, Mr. President, you're the Republican in charge. You've got a Republican running it.”
Even Doocy, an ardent Trump apologist, seemed flabbergasted by the logical fallacy of Trump's deep-state conspiracy theory.
But Trump was undeterred.
“I answer this all the time,” Trump replied. “Because of the fact that they have this witch hunt going on with people in the Justice Department that shouldn't be there, they have a witch hunt against the president of the United States going on, I've taken the position — and I don't have to take this position, maybe I'll change — that I will not be involved with the Justice Department. I will wait till this is over. It's a total — it's all lies, and it's a horrible thing that's going on, a horrible thing.”
Trump was, of course, venting his frustration at special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, a probe Mueller took over upon appointment by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. Trump has repeatedly criticized Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from the investigation because of his role in Trump's campaign.
Sessions, Rosenstein and Mueller are all Republicans.
As Trump went on, increasingly irate, Doocy and co-hosts Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade appeared uncomfortable, looking down and exchanging glances. They tried to move Trump along to another subject.
“Okay,” Doocy said, after Trump had raged for an additional 37 seconds.
The president continued.
“All right,” Earhardt said.
On and on Trump fumed about being “very disappointed in my Justice Department.” He spoke for 34 more seconds. “Fox & Friends” cut away from the hosts' facial reactions, showing a wall bearing Trump's photograph and a live shot of the White House.
“All right,” Kilmeade said, taking a turn.
The president would not be stopped.
“By the way,” he said, elevating his volume just a bit, as he beat back attempts to cut him off, “the only collusion is the collusion with the Democrats and the Russians.”
For 40 more seconds, Trump extended his monologue.
At last, Kilmeade managed to redirect Trump with this: “All right, let's talk about Michael Cohen.”
The episode was reminiscent of the way Trump bulldozed through a February phone interview on Jeanine Pirro's Fox News show. The president appears to favor phone interviews because he can more easily talk over his questioners than he could if faced with nonverbal cues in person or on camera.
What is striking is that Doocy, Earhardt, Kilmeade and Pirro are Trump sympathizers. And in the interview on Thursday, the “Fox & Friends” hosts seemed to be trying to save Trump from spiraling as much as attempting to regain control of the conversation.
By ignoring them, Trump showed again that his impulses cannot be curbed, even by those looking out for his interests.