All of that said, it has been some week for Trump — even by his standards.
On Sunday, he tweeted nearly two dozen times about one “Fox & Friends” interview in which he took exception to interviewer Ed Henry’s questioning of conservative radio host Mark Levin. The tweetstorm included 19 retweets of sometimes-random users, including one account devoted to inserting the word “shark” into tweets.
The same day, Trump paraphrased a quote from pastor Robert Jeffress that suggested a “Civil War like fracture” could be coming if Trump is removed from office.
Trump began by tweeting that the impeachment effort was “BULLSHIT,” which was the second time he has tweeted such a vulgarity as president. (The first came the day after the Mueller report was released.)
Then came an informal Q&A before he met with the president of Finland, Sauli Niinisto, at which Trump positively went off. He suggested the whistleblower wasn’t worthy of the protections that Republicans said the person was entitled to under the law.
“I don’t care,” Trump said, specifying: “I think a whistleblower should be protected if the whistleblower is legitimate.”
He said Schiff couldn’t carry Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “blank strap” — apparently he meant “jock strap” — and also repeated the treason allegation.
Trump attacked a story that said he wanted a moat along the border wall with alligators and snakes by saying The Washington Post publishes only fake news. Except the story was from the New York Times.
Trump explained at length that he was now calling the “fake news” the “corrupt news” because “fake" wasn’t harsh enough. As reporters were leaving the room, he implored them to “go write a Schiff-like story.”
Then came Trump’s news conference at the White House after his meeting with the Finnish leader, which would also end on an angry note.
After John Roberts of Fox News tried to ask a second question of Trump, the president repeatedly told him he needed to move on and ask Niinisto a question. Roberts told Trump that he would want to answer the question, and eventually Trump relented. It turned out Trump did like it — it was about a New York Times report that Schiff received an early account of what the whistleblower was alleging. But then Trump Trump-ified it.
“I’ll go a step further; I think he probably helped write it,” Trump said of Schiff. There is absolutely no evidence for this, and Trump even seemed unfamiliar with the Times report when it was first brought up.
The second U.S. journalist to question Trump was Reuters’s Jeff Mason, who asked Trump why he had urged Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate specific things on their July 25 phone call. After Trump launched into a lengthy diatribe on the “witch hunt” and the “hoax” — but didn’t answer the question — Mason tried again.
“Are you talking to me?” Trump asked plaintively.
Trump then urged Mason to question Niinisto, while Mason calmly explained that he just wanted to give Trump a chance to answer the question.
Trump added: “It’s a whole hoax, and you know who’s playing into it? People like you,” pointing at Mason, “and the fake news media.”
Trump then demanded Mason direct a question to the Finnish president, which Mason did — about the World Trade Organization.
But Trump, who had just implored Mason to ask the other president a question, quickly cut in. “That was a big win for the United States, right?” Trump said, pretty visibly angry and gesturing at Mason and the media. “You never had wins with other presidents, did you?”
Trump later ended the news conference by decrying “the CNNs of the world, who are corrupt people,” and quickly and abruptly walking off.
Throughout the news conference, Niinisto made a number of references to U.S. democracy.
“You have a great democracy,” Niinisto said in his opening statement. “Keep it going on.”
It was not clear whether he was responding to the scenes he was witnessing.