'Fox & Friends' exclusive: President Trump speaks out on the Michael Cohen plea deal, Paul Manafort guilty charges, his frustrations with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Trump's war against the press.
"Is the press the enemy of the people?" Fox host Ainsley Earhardt asked.
"No, not at all," Trump said. "But the fake news is. And the fake news is comprised of -- it's a lot. It's a big chunk, OK? Somebody said, 'What's the chunk?' I said, '80 percent.' It's a lot. It's a lot."
If I do something well, it's not reported, other than in the 20 percent. I mean, the New York Times cannot write a good story about me. They're crazed. They're like lunatics," Trump said.
"I didn't know Manafort well," he also said. "He wasn't with the campaign long. They got him on things totally unrelated to the campaign. And by the way, they got Cohen on totally unrelated to the campaign. I'm not involved. I wasn't charged with anything. You know, people don't like to say that, but I wasn't charged."
"But when you look at the -- the corruption on the other side and they refuse to look at anything. When you don't -- look at Strzok, when he said, basically, "We're going to take out the president," the insurance policy and everything else, you look at Lisa Page, the two lovers back and forth with these horrible -- these horrible texts, you look at the kind of talk going on about -- it's really subversion, and our Justice Department doesn't do anything about it," he said.
Related Clip: Trump: Obama Had "Massive" Campaign Finance Violation, But He Had A Different Attorney General
Related Clip: Trump: Media Make It Sound Like I Couldn't Live Without Michael Cohen
EARHARDT: Mr. President, thank you much for sitting down with me. How are you doing?
TRUMP: I'm doing great.
We had an incredible rally last night in West Virginia. It was beautiful. A tremendous crowd. And I think we're going to win a race, big race, over there. And I guess you say that our numbers in winning, whether it's for the Senate or for Congress or for governor, has been very good.
EARHARDT: How is our countries first lady doing? And how are your children?
TRUMP: She's doing great. She's a terrific woman. She goes through a lot with all this publicity, but she's a terrific woman, she's doing great.
EARHARDT: How do you handle all of that?
TRUMP: Well, it's part of my life. I guess my whole life has been this way. Somebody said, "Oh gee, this is always such controversy," and, I don't know, I've always had controversy in my life and I've always succeeded, I've always won. I've always won. It was controversial when I ran and I won.
And now the country's doing better than it's ever done. You know, we have the best economy we've ever had, in the history of our country. And more jobs today -- literally today, we have more jobs, more people working in the United States than ever before in the history of our country. Black unemployment, Asian unemployment, women unemployment, Hispanic unemployment, historic lows. It's been an amazing thing.
And, you know, unfortunately, the media never covers that. They don't like to cover that kind of thing. They like to cover nonsense.
TRUMP: But it's one of those things.
EARHARDT: Well, speaking of yesterday, huge news day. There's a lot breaking today as well. Michael Cohen: Tell me about your relationship with him.
TRUMP: Well, he was a lawyer for me for -- one of many. You know, they always say "the lawyer" and then they like to add "the fixer." Well, I don't know of him as a fixer. I don't know where that term came from.
But he's been a lawyer for me. Didn't do big deals; did small deals. Not somebody that was with me that much. You know, they make it sound like I didn't live with -- without him.
I understood Michael Cohen very well. He -- well, it turned out he wasn't a very good lawyer, frankly. But he was somebody that was probably with me for about 10 years. And I would see him sometimes. But when I had deals and big deals, I had outside lawyers and I have a lot of inside lawyers too, in addition to Michael. I always found him to be a nice guy.
EARHARDT: He said -- one story said you didn't know anything about the payments.
EARHARDT: And now he's saying that you directed him to make these payments. Did you direct him to make the payments?
TRUMP: He made the deal. He made the deals.
And, by the way, he pled to two counts that aren't a crime, which nobody understands. I watched a number of shows; sometimes you get some pretty good information by watching shows. Those two counts aren't even a crime. They weren't campaign finance.
EARHARDT: Did -- did you know about the payments?
TRUMP: Later on I knew. Later on.
But you have to understand, Ainsley, what he did -- and they weren't taken out of campaign finance; that's a big thing. That's a much bigger thing. Did they come out of the campaign? They didn't come out of the campaign, they came from me and I tweeted about it. You know, I put -- I don't know if you know, but I tweeted about the payments.
But they didn't come out of campaign.
In fact, my first question when I heard about it was, "Did they come out of the campaign?" because that could be a little dicey. And they didn't come out of the campaign and that's fake. TRUMP: But they weren't -- that's not a -- it's not even a campaign violation. If you look at President Obama, he had a massive campaign violation, but he had a different attorney general and they viewed it a lot differently. You know, we have somebody that they seem to like to go after lot of Republicans.
But he settled his very easy easily. In fact, I put that out fairly recently.
So Obama had it. Other people have it. Almost everybody that runs for office has campaign violations. But what Michael Cohen pled to weren't even campaign-related. They weren't crimes.
EARHARDT: Why -- why is -- why is he doing this? Why -- he is your attorney.
TRUMP: Because he's -- because he made a great deal. Because he was in another business, totally unrelated to me, where, I guess, there was fraud involved and loans and taxicabs and all sorts of things -- nothing to do with me. Because he had an outside business. He worked for me you could really say it was more or less part time. He had other businesses. He had other clients. I'm not his only client.
And Michael Cohen had, I guess, a taxi business, and somebody reported him for some things in his taxi business, and that's how this started. And they put the two counts of campaign violations in there, but a lot of lawyers on television, and also lawyers that I have, say that they're not even crimes.
EARHARDT: If you're saying the payments, if they're not illegal, then why would he even -- why would he use that information for a plea deal?
TRUMP: Because he -- because he makes a better deal when he uses me, like everybody else.
And one of the reasons I respect Paul Manafort so much is he went through that trial.
You know, they make up stories. People make up stories. This whole thing about flipping, they call it, I know all about flipping. For 30, 40 years I've been watching flippers. Everything's wonderful, and then they get 10 years in jail, and they -- they flip on whoever the next highest one is, or as high as you can go. It -- it almost ought to be outlawed. It's not fair, because if somebody's going to give -- spend five years, like Michael Cohen, or 10 years or 15 years in jail because of a taxicab industry, or because he defrauded some bank -- the last two were the tiny ones. You know, campaign violations are considered not a big deal, frankly.
But if somebody defrauded a bank and he's going to get 10 years in jail or 20 years in jail, but if you can say something bad about Donald Trump and you'll go down to two years or three years -- which is the deal he made -- in all fairness to him, most people are going to do that. And I've seen it many times. I've had many friends involved in this stuff. It's called flipping, and it almost ought to be illegal.
You get 10 years in jail, but if you say bad things about somebody -- in other words, make up stories if you don't know -- make up stories. They just make up lies. Alan Dershowitz said "compose," right? They make up lies. I've seen it many times. They make up things, and now they go from 10 years to they're a national hero. They have a statue erected in their honor.
It's not -- it's not a fair thing, but that's why he did it. He made a very good deal. I mean, for what he did.
But I'll tell you, there's somebody made a better deal: Awan, the I.T. guy for Schultz -- Congresswoman Schultz. He had all the information on Democrats. He had all the information on everybody. He went to jail holding the hands of the Justice Department and the FBI. They sat there together, they were smiling and laughing. And he got nothing.
TRUMP: And he stole money, and he had more information on corruption of the Democrats than anybody. And they don't even have his computers and his servers. They just gave him -- you saw that. It was on your show. They gave him nothing. Nothing.
EARHARDT: Double standard?
TRUMP: Double standard? I mean, he was worse than anybody, in my opinion. He got nothing. He's a Democrat. He got nothing.
The reason he got nothing: because the Dems are very strong in the Justice Department. I put in an attorney general that never took control of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions. Never took control of the Justice Department. And it's a -- sort of an incredible thing.
We have this country going so well. Mike Pompeo is doing incredibly. All of my people, they're doing incredibly. But the whole thing with -- going on with the Justice and FBI -- when you see Strzok and his lover, Lisa Page, when you see Comey with all the lies that he's told, when you see Mueller with the conflicts. He's -- he's so conflicted. Comey's his best friend. He had a really nasty business transaction with me, which he never reported. I've been talking about it; he never reports it. I mean, you look at the bad things. He wanted the FBI job that Christopher Wray has. Now, Christopher Wray was recommended by Rosenstein.
The FBI -- I'll tell you what, if you took a poll in the FBI, I guarantee you one thing: I'd do very well.
EARHARDT: Are you considering pardoning Paul Manafort?TRUMP: I have great respect for what he's done in terms of what he's gone through.
You know, he worked for Ronald Reagan for years. He worked for Bob Dole. He worked -- I guess his firm worked for McCain. He worked for many, many people, many, many years. And I would say what he did, some of the charges they threw against him, every consultant, every lobbyist in Washington probably does.
If you look at Hillary Clinton's person, you take a look at the people that work for Hillary Clinton, and look at the crimes that Clinton did with the e-mails and she deletes 33,000 e-mails after she gets a subpoena from Congress, and this Justice Department does nothing about it. And all of the other crimes that they've done. And they -- look at Podesta, Podesta was supposed to be Manafort on steroids. They made him close up his firm. He was going to be indicted the next day, we heard. Never happened. Instead they go after Manafort.
So, look, I didn't know Manafort well. He wasn't with the campaign long. They got him on things totally unrelated to the campaign. And by the way, they got Cohen on totally unrelated to the campaign.
I'm not involved. I wasn't charged with anything. You know, people don't like to say that, but I wasn't charged.
But when you look at the -- the corruption on the other side and they refuse to look at anything. When you don't -- look at Strzok, when he said, basically, "We're going to take out the president," the insurance policy and everything else, you look at Lisa Page, the two lovers back and forth with these horrible -- these horrible texts, you look at the kind of talk going on about -- it's really subversion, and our Justice Department doesn't do anything about it.
People would say, "Oh, but you appointed Jeff Sessions." I said, "I did." But I really feel, as long as this is going out, I don't have to do this, but I will stay uninvolved and maybe that's the best thing to do.
EARHARDT: Mr. President, a lot of people are frustrated, a lot you supporters are frustrated with the DOJ, with Jeff Sessions. There are rumors that you're going to fire him after the midterms and Rosenstein. They also want these documents. They're wondering if you will use your power to get these documents released.
TRUMP: Yeah. At the right time, I think I'm going to have to do the documents. I didn't want to, but I think I'm going to have to.
There's such corruption, before I got here. It's from before I got here. It's the Obama administration.
And you look at what happened. They surveilled my campaign. It's very simple. The FISA report, the phony...
EARHARDT: Rosenstein signed the last FISA report.
TRUMP: It bothers me. It's always bothered me.
EARHARDT: Will you fire him? Will you fire Sessions?
TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you what, as I've said, I wanted to stay uninvolved. But when everybody sees what's going on in the Justice Department -- I always put "Justice" now with quotes -- it's a very, very sad day.
Jeff Sessions recused himself, which he shouldn't have done or he should have told me. Even my enemies say that, "Jeff Sessions should have told you that we was going to recuse himself and then you wouldn't have put him in."
He took the job and then he said, "I'm going to recuse myself." I said, "What kind of a man is this?"
And by the way, he was on the campaign. You know, the only reason I gave him the job is because I felt loyalty. He was an original supporter. He was on the campaign. He knows there was no collusion.
Now, what's come out of Manafort? No collusion. What's come out of Michael Cohen? No collusion. This is stuff that they got.
TRUMP: How about with Michael Cohen, in all fairness to him? They raid his office at 6 o'clock in the morning. And how about with Manafort? They raid his home at, like, 5:00 in the morning, I think, on a weekend, and his wife is in bed and they go in with guns.EARHARDT: Yes.
TRUMP: This isn't Al Capone.
EARHARDT: The press -- is the press the enemy of the people?
TRUMP: No, not at all. But the fake news is.
And the fake news is comprised of -- it's a lot. It's a big chunk, OK? Somebody said, "What's the chunk?" I said, "80 percent." It's a lot. It's a lot.
If I do something well, it's not reported, other than in the 20 percent. I mean, the New York Times cannot write a good story about me. They're crazed. They're like lunatics.
If I do something well -- I often joke, I'll do some great thing like meeting with Kim Jong-un. That was a great success. Hey, they've been working on this for so many years, and they got nothing. I just got -- I just left, what, three months ago or less? I left Singapore. You had no missiles shot, you have no rockets shot, you have no nuclear testing, and we got back our hostages. And I have a good relationship with him. You know, we have a good chemistry together. I don't know if that's good or bad. We have a good chemistry.
I -- I spoke with Prime Minister Abe of Japan this morning. He started the call by saying, "I want to thank you for the great job that you've done with North Korea." He said, "We haven't had missiles shot over Japan in so long." He said, "The people of Japan feel safe. And, Mr. President, I want to thank you for the great job you've done with North Korea." They don't feel that hostility.
When I took over, President Obama thought we would have to go to war with North Korea. And I asked him, "Did you ever speak to Kim Jong-un?" "No." I said, "Wouldn't it be maybe a good thing to give it a shot?"
And if you remember, the only thing they got me on, they said, "He spoke. He met."
Look, I didn't give him anything. Him -- nothing except sanctions, OK? We have, you know, very heavy sanctions on North Korea. We actually put some more on yesterday, because we'd like it to move faster.
But we have a good relationship. But I didn't give him anything.
And I'll never forget. You talk about the fake news. They said, "Donald Trump met." The first day, it was incredible. Nobody could believe I was able to do it. Obama couldn't get a meeting. Clinton couldn't get a meeting. Bush couldn't get a meeting, you know, with the family.
TRUMP: Bush couldn't get a meeting. Nobody could get a meeting.
And this one's tougher than the father. I say that with respect, but he's tougher than the father and tougher than the grandfather.
They couldn't even get a meeting. I got a meeting.
So the first day, it was, like, unbelievable. Even fake news CNN said it was unbelievable.
Then about, you know, five or six hours went by, and they had to get their narrative straight. And they said -- very interesting -- "Donald Trump agreed to meet." I meet and that was supposed to be, like, a loss. It was a great success.
My meeting with Putin was a tremendous success. I got killed by the fake news. They wanted me to go up and punch him in the face. I said, "I want to get along with Russia." I want to get along with everybody.
They said I was too rough on North Korea, remember that? Too rough. But with Putin, they said I was too soft.
My -- my meeting with Putin was a tremendous success; included Syria, Ukraine. And if you look at Crimea, that was given away by President Obama. Has nothing to do with me. Nobody wants to mention that.
So we've had tremendous success. And just to finish, NATO -- I raised hundreds of billions of dollars from these countries that weren't paying. They were delinquent. They weren't paying their bills. The press doesn't like to talk about that.
The press talks about the fact that I insulted a lot of the leaders, because I was strong on the fact that they had to pay. I said, "No, the United States is not going to be paying your bills."
With that, I'm having a good time.
EARHARDT: What grade do you give yourself so far?
TRUMP: So, I give myself an A-plus. I don't think any president has ever done what I've done in this short -- we haven't even been two years. Biggest tax cuts in history, soon to be two unbelievable Supreme Court justices. I'm sure that Justice Kavanaugh will be approved. Justice Gorsuch has been a star. You look at all of the things we've done with regulations. The economy is the best it's ever been in history.
The only thing I'm -- I'm doing badly in is the press doesn't cover me fairly. I thought after I won -- you know, they killed me during the campaign, just killed me. I said, "Well, one good thing about winning: I've showed them. So now I'm going to get fair press." Guess what? It got worse. It's worse. So the press does this.
I would say I would honestly give myself an A-plus, and so would many other people.
You go to the -- you go to the people of West Virginia -- you saw them last night. That went to a state that was down and out, and now it's flourishing. You go to some of these states that were down and out, and now they are doing fantastically well.
And when I finish the trade deals, you watch what happens for our farmers, which have been going down for 15 years. You watch what happens. They're going to be very, very happy. They are going to be very wealthy.
EARHARDT: Let's talk about immigration. Mollie Tibbetts, another American killed...
EARHARDT: ... by an illegal -- an illegal alien. It's just adding fuel to this already controversial immigration subject that you've been outspoken about. What do you say to those who disagree with your immigration plan?
TRUMP: Mollie is this beautiful young girl who the father -- I watched the father. He kept saying -- I sort of doubted it was going to happen -- "She's coming back. She just left, but she's coming back." And I'd say, "That's called hope." And it's a beautiful thing, in a way. It's hope. But now there's no hope.
She was killed by a horrible person that came in from Mexico, illegally here, found by ICE -- our great ICE, who's abused by the Democrats and the left. And without them, you might not be sitting here so comfortably right now.
I just think it's so sad.
We're building the wall. It's already started. We've spent $3.2 billion on it. We're asking for $5 billion for this year's funding. The wall is going up. A lot of people don't know it. I'd like to build it even faster, but dealing with the Democrats is very tough.
The immigration laws are horrible. We're doing incredible job. We're doing record-breaking job, but we have bad laws. You know, when you have bad laws, you can do good, but you can do better if you had good laws. So they'll all get changed, but we have to elect more Republicans.
EARHARDT: The Nazi prison guard living here in New York, living in Queens. ICE officials deported him. Why was that so important for you? Because I know that was on your agenda. It has been since the beginning.
TRUMP: I had a lot of Jewish friends who said to me, about this man living in Queens -- I grew up in Queens. That's where I grew up. And he was a man that -- not just a prison guard. He was a prison guard that supervised the killing of many, many Jews -- many, many Jews. And he's lived here for decades, and he walks the street of Jackson Heights. I know Jackson Heights very well. I walked the same streets. And he -- I don't know.
People came up to me, and they -- from the beginning of the campaign, they told me about this Nazi who lived in Queens who walks the street like he owns the place.
Now he's an old man. He's 95 years old. And the Obama administration was unable to pull it off. And, frankly, the Bush administration was unable to pull it off.
Dov Hikind, who's a very Democrat assemblyman from New York, heavy Democrat. I mean, this is a guy that never heard of a Republican, OK? He was giving me such praise. It was so nice. He said, "Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you." It was so nice to watch, actually, because -- because of the fact he's a Democrat. He was so -- he said, "I don't care whether he's a Republican or a Democrat. What he did is something that nobody else was able to do."
But I've been done many things like that. They don't get reported. They don't get reported.
What we're doing for health care is incredible. We're even keeping the remnants of Obamacare. You know, we've mostly got it killed, and we got rid of the individual mandate, but we're getting the remnants of Obamacare -- the increase is much less than people thought. That's because of us. And we're getting rid of it slowly. We're putting in new health care systems, which is a beautiful thing.
EARHARDT: Seventy-six days away from the mid-terms; hard to believe. If the Democrats take back power, do you believe they will try to impeach you?
TRUMP: Well, you know, I guess it says something like "high crimes" and all. I don't -- I don't know how you can impeach somebody who's done a great job.
I'll tell you what: If I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash, I think everybody would be very poor. Because without this thinking, you would see -- you would see numbers that you wouldn't believe, in reverse.
If Hillary Clinton got elected, instead of 4.1 up -- and each point is $3.5 trillion and 10 million jobs. When I took it over, it was at 1, and it was going to be down -- it was going down.
I freed up -- I got rid of regulations. The tax cut was a tremendous thing. But even before the tax cut, right from first day, I got rid of regulation. I approved the pipeline: 48,000 jobs. But I did a lot of things.
Had Hillary and the Democrats gotten in, had she been president, you would have had negative growth.
We've picked up $10 trillion in worth.
China, by the way, has gone down $15 trillion, OK? You know, when I came in, China was a dominant force. Now they like me very much. I get along great with President Xi. But I said, "We can no longer give you $500 billion a year on bad trade deals." And you see what's happened over the last 90 days.
And the reason I even waited was because of North Korea, because I wanted China's help on North Korea. Otherwise I would have done it sooner. And China's been a big help on North Korea. I hope they continue to be, because eventually, I had to say, "Look, I have to get going now on trade."
But last year, China made $507- -- we had a deficit with China, $517 billion. Not going to happen anymore.