In a wide-ranging series of interviews with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that aired Sunday, President Trump suggested he had unchecked executive power under Article II of the Constitution, railed against his chosen leader of the Federal Reserve, and asserted that no president, including Abraham Lincoln, was treated as “badly” by the media.
ABC released a short clip from the interview earlier this week that included Trump saying “I think I’d take it,” when Stephanopoulos asked if would accept incriminating information about a campaign opponent from foreign adversaries like Russia. Trump added that he saw no reason to call the FBI if contacted by a foreign campaign offering campaign help. That statement caught blowblack from Democrats and Republicans alike, who rebuked the president for his willingness to accept foreign help. Trump backed off the statement somewhat Friday.
The ABC News clip on foreign election help aired as a part of the complete interview Sunday, and in addition, the president remarked on a few other topics. Here are three of the most notable moments.
On firing Robert Mueller: “I watched Richard Nixon go around firing everybody, and that didn’t work out too well.”
In a discussion about special counsel Robert Mueller, Trump said he would have been allowed to fire Mueller via Article II of the US Constitution, which outlines the powers of the executive branch.
“Article II allows me to do whatever I want,” Trump said. “Article II would have allowed me to fire [Mueller].”
But he appeared to allude to the “Saturday Night Massacre” firings of Richard Nixon’s administration as a reason why he did not dismiss the special counsel, suggesting they didn’t work well for Nixon, who eventually resigned under threat of impeachment. Mueller concluded in his report that the president does not hold unlimited power under Article II and although they hold “unique and powerful” influence, the president may be prosecuted, by Congress, for obstructing justice.
On the Federal Reserve: “He’s my pick. And I disagree with him entirely.”
Although Stephanopoulos and Trump did not mention Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell by name, the president continued his criticism of America’s central bank chief. Trump elevated Powell, a board member originally appointed by Barack Obama, to chair in 2018 but since has expressed frustration at the Fed’s independence and the bank’s decision to raise interest rates.
When asked by Stephanopolous if publicly berating the Fed chair was “putting him in a box,” Trump responded bluntly.
“I’m going to do it anyway,” Trump said. “Because I’ve waited long enough.”
Financial experts have expressed fears that the president’s ongoing attacks on Powell and the Fed could destabilize the economy.
On the presidency: “If you can believe it, Abraham Lincoln was treated supposedly very badly. But nobody’s been treated badly like me.”
Trump has remarked several times on the standard of Abraham Lincoln, suggesting in 2017 that he was second to Lincoln among the most “presidential” occupants of the Oval Office.
In his interview with Stephanopoulos, Trump suggested that “nobody,” including Lincoln, who was assassinated in the fifth year of his presidency, received worse treatment at the hands of the press.
According to historians at the University of Michigan, Lincoln once received while in office a newspaper clipping from Mississippi that included a reward of $100,000 for his “miserable traitorous head.”