Trump biographer David Cay Johnston said on MSNBC Thursday that the president’s “salad brain” got overwhelmed during his “cartoonishly ridiculous” interview with The New York Times.
Trump gave a rare 30-minute impromptu interview to Times reporter Michael Schmidt at Mar-a-Lago without any aides present.
Trump bragged about all of the accomplishments he thinks he has but actually doesn’t, and made it a point to insist that there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia 16 times.
“There’s no focusing on any issue and knowing anything in-depth. It thoroughly establishes how Donald makes things up,” Johnston said on MSNBC after the interview was published. “He doesn’t know Jack about taxes. His own accountant, Jack Mitnick, told me that. I had lunch with Donald. He couldn’t follow the tax advice I was giving him. He just makes stuff up.”
Johnston noted that on the campaign trail Trump “used what were massively inflated numbers to describe the trade deficit with China, the imbalance.” In the Times interview, Trump claims $300 billion in annual losses from intellectual property theft. He just made that number up, Johnston said.
Fellow panelist John Harwood, the CNBC host, said the interview was “profoundly disturbing” in terms of how the president talks about himself.
“I think this interview is profoundly disturbing,” he said. “If you read it and think about it. The way the president speaks in such grandiose terms about himself suggests a level of delusion. ‘I saved coal.’ ‘I was treated better than anyone in the history of China.’ ‘I did things that Ronald Reagan couldn’t do.’ ‘The news media has to keep me president because the entire media system would fall apart without me.’”
“This suggests a level of mental functioning which is not particularly acute and when he starts talking about the Russia investigation and he says 16 times ‘there’s been no collusion, absolutely no collusion, everyone agrees there’s no collusion,’” he added. “And some point you’re just kind of babbling and this is the president of the United States and it cannot be reassuring to even people who support his policies to hear him speak in this way.”
Harwood noted that Trump doesn’t seem to realize how the things he says sound.
“Anyone who speaks about himself in the kind of terms that he does, ‘absolute right to control the Justice Department, ‘I know more than the greatest CPA.’ These are statements that are obviously cartoonishly ridiculous. And the fact that the president would feel free to say them to The New York Times suggests that he is not perceiving his own best interests or the interests of the White House,” he said.
“Well, Donald lives in this world where he creates his own reality and if he says it that means it’s true,” Johnston said. “And he’s delusional. John is exactly right about this. Donald is delusional. I know — I’m attacked by all sorts of people for saying this but he is. He is delusional and you are seeing this, you know, this manifestation of his belief. Donald, remember, believes and he’s actually said at times he’s superior to the rest of us. That, of course, he should be president. And you’re seeing in this interview ridiculous and John had the right phrase: cartoonish statements about himself.”
Johnston added that the interview shows that Trump is scared of what special counsel Bob Mueller may find.
“His comments about [special counsel Bob] Mueller and the implication that if I don’t think he’s fair to me I’ll get rid of Mueller one way or another goes to the heart of power unto himself,” he said.
Watch the clip below: