I would like to share with you my interview with the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, that never actually took place. The imaginary interview focused on the recent Paul Manafort convictions and some other issues. Reminiscent of the O.J. Simpson book “If I Did It,” this interview with Trump, while it never actually happened, if it had, this is how it would likely have gone.
As you are most likely aware by now, Paul Manafort served for several months as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman and was chosen to serve in that capacity during the critical period of the campaign in which delegates were collected. On August 21st, Mr. Manafort was convicted in a Virginia court of tax fraud and bank fraud. The charges were brought against Mr. Manafort as part of the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian tampering in our 2016 presidential election.
Me: Mr. President, what is your reaction to hearing that Paul Manafort was convicted of eight counts of, primarily, tax fraud and bank fraud?
Trump: Yeah, it’s too bad. I feel badly for both. I must tell you that Paul Manafort is a good man. He was with Ronald Reagan. He was with a lot of different people over the years. And I feel very sad about that. It doesn’t involve me but I still feel – you know, it’s a very sad thing that happened. This has nothing to do with Russian collusion. This started as Russian collusion. This has absolutely nothing to do – this is a witch hunt, and it’s a disgrace. But this has nothing to do what they started out – looking for Russians involved in our campaign; there were none. I feel very badly for Paul Manafort. Again, he worked for Bob Dole. He worked for Ronald Reagan. He worked for many, many people. And this is the way it ends up. And it was not the original mission, believe me. It was something very much different. So – had nothing to do with Russian collusion. We continue the witch hunt. Thank you very much.
Me: Well, sir, are you saying, then, that since the initial purpose of the investigation was to look at Russian meddling in the election and since the conviction of Manafort dealt with tax fraud and bank fraud and not directly tied to collusion with the Russians to benefit your campaign, are you saying that either:
1. The Mueller team should not have brought charges against Manafort after uncovering the violation of both tax laws and banking laws, or
2. The tax laws and the banking laws of which the jury found Manafort guilty of violating ARE NOT illegal, or
3. The tax laws and the banking laws of which the jury found Manafort guilty of violating SHOULD NOT be illegal?
4. If you are convinced that Manafort was treated unfairly even though the jury found him guilty of violating eight counts of tax and bank fraud, are you planning to pardon him as you did Sheriff Joe Arpaio for violating court orders?
Trump: Now you are trying to put words in my mouth. I am not saying that. The whole thing was a “witch hunt” and should never have gotten this far. Paul Manafort is a very good person. He was treated very unfairly, very unfairly. The whole thing started with a phony dossier by the Democrats. They colluded. The Democrats.
Me: But what about the tax and bank laws he violated? Do you think they should go unpunished regardless of the initial focus of the investigation and the fact that you think he is a very good person? Do you think what he did was just a wise business decision? Is that why you never released your own tax returns?
Trump: Everyone does it. Every lobbyist does it. They only went after him to get to me. This is all fake news. Fake, Fake, Fake, disgusting news. Who do you work for, again? Are you undercover for CNN? This has nothing to do with Russian collusion…this is a witch hunt that ends in disgrace. But this has nothing to do what they started out, looking for Russians involved in our campaign. There were none…It was not the original mission, believe me. It was something very much different. So, had nothing to do with Russian collusion. We continue the witch hunt.
Me: So let’s talk about Don McGahn. You indicated that White House Counsel Don McGahn is not a John Dean-like “rat.” The term “rat” usually refers to someone who “snitches” on another individual. However, you can only “snitch” on someone if that individual did something improper. What is it that you did that you are concerned might be brought to light by someone you describe as a “rat?” If the so-called “rat” is telling the truth, would you, then, expect that individual to not tell the truth under oath to protect you? Is your former attorney, Michael Cohen, a “rat?” If so, was he telling the truth by “ratting” on you?
Trump: Not following. Is that an actual question? A rat is a rat and John Dean is a rat and Don McGahn isn’t.
Me: Mr. President, do you agree with your personal attorney, Mr. Giuliani, when he indicates that truth could vary by individual? During a swearing in, do you think this understanding of the truth could make it confusing for anyone to swear to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God” unless they are aware of whose truth they are swearing to?
Trump: You’ll have to speak to my personal attorney on that. It’s a legal matter.
Me: All right, let’s jump to another topic. Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulis, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, all closely associated with your campaign or presidency, have either pleaded guilty to or were found guilty of felony crimes. Regarding Michael Cohen, before a judge and under oath, Cohen stated that he made payments “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office” in knowing violation of campaign finance law. This officially makes you an un-indicted co-conspirator to the crime committed by Cohen. Do you find any irony that, with all of the calls by your campaign to “lock HER up”, that it is the members of your own team and, possibly yourself, that are facing considerable jail time?
Trump: Crooked Hillary! Why isn’t my Attorney General looking into her crimes?
Me: Maybe because the Justice Department did and no crimes, other than careless use of email, were uncovered. Are you sure your renewed call for an investigation of your political opponent is nothing more than an attempt to distract the public’s attention from your own legal mess?
Trump: Interview over! You are fake news. Fake. Fake. Fake.
Me: Just one more question, Mr. President. Did it ever cross your mind when you decided to run for president that, as a candidate and especially if you became president, you might, just might, be subjected to some degree of scrutiny?
Trump: (Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence” plays in the background)