KEY POINTS

  • “They are dying, that's true. And you have – it is what it is"
  • "You know why they’re unmarked? These anarchists … when they see a name on a uniform they find out where that person lives and then they scare the hell out of the person’s family”
  • “I read a lot. I comprehend extraordinarily well, probably better than anybody that you’ve interviewed in a long time.”

President Trump tried to deflect criticism in a wide-ranging interview with Axios on everything from his handling of the coronavirus pandemic to his reaction to the social justice demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, to his denial of intelligence indicating Russia paid Taliban insurgents to kill American troops.

In the half-hour interview aired Monday, Trump repeated his fears mail-in voting would lead to massive fraud in the November election and again declined to say whether he would accept the results of an election in the event he loses.

Here are some of his words:

On the pandemic

“They are dying, that's true. And you have – it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague.”

“You know there are those that say you can test too much.”

“This has never happened before. 1917, but it was totally different. It was a flu in that case. If you watch the fake news on television, they don’t even talk about it, but there are 188 other countries right now that are suffering. Some, proportionately, far greater than we are.”

“You test, some kid has even just a little runny nose, it’s a case. And then you report many cases.”

Displaying his own charts: “If you look at death, take a look at some of these charts. Right here, the U.S. is lowest in numerous categories. Lower than the world, lower than Europe.

Trump insisted on looking at deaths as a proportion of cases rather than as a percentage of population “You have to go by the cases” (suggesting South Korea, which has among the lowest death rates, faked its statistics).

On social justice demonstrations in Portland

“You’re trying to put the blame law enforcement, not on Antifa. It’s Antifa. If we didn’t have people there, you would have your federal courthouse burned to the ground.”

Talking about why federal agents wore unmarked uniforms and drove unmarked vans: “They’re elite units. You know why they’re unmarked? These anarchists … when they see a name on a uniform they find out where that person lives and then they scare the hell out of the person’s family.”

“[Acting Homeland Security Secretary] Chad Wolf has pickets outside his house. If you have the names on the uniforms, you’ll have these maniacs outside their houses.”

“I think Antifa should be investigated not the law enforcement.”

“These are Democrat-run cities and they’re doing it for political reasons.”

“Black Lives Matter started off to me very badly because it was ‘pigs in a blanket, burn them like bacon.’ … I got off to a very bad start.”

Asked if he’d meet with Black Lives Matter representatives, “Nobody ever has asked me for a meeting.”

On Russia, Afghanistan and the Middle East

“We did not discuss [the bounties issue],” Trump said of his recent phone call with Vladimir Putin. “It never reached my desk, because intelligence [officials] didn’t think it was real. If it had reached my desk, I would have done something about it.”

“I read a lot. I comprehend extraordinarily well, probably better than anybody that you’ve interviewed in a long time.”

“We’re going down to 4,000 [troops in Afghanistan]. We’re negotiating right now. I don’t want to tell you [when]. But I’ve always said we will get largely out.”

What about Russia supplying weapons to the Taliban? “We supplied weapons when they were fighting Russia, too.”

“Russia doesn’t want anything to do with Afghanistan. They went bankrupt. They used to be called the Soviet Union. Now, they’re Russia.”

“I’ve done things that no other president has done. We should have never been in the Middle East. To get into the Middle East was the single biggest mistake made in the history of our country.”

“We took out ISIS in Syria. When I took over, it was totally rampant, ISIS was all over the place. We took them out, we captured them, we killed them.”

On the November election

"You know, you could have a case where this election won't be decided on the evening of Nov. 3. This election could be decided two months later" as a result of mail-in voting. “Lots of things can happen when you have tight margins.”

“We have a new phenomenon. It’s called mail-in voting. The kinds of millions and millions of ballots. Not bigger, massively bigger.”

“There’s no way you can go with a mail by vote without mail in fraud.”

 “So they’re going to send tens of millions of ballots to California, all over the place. Who’s going to get them? Somebody got a ballot for a dog. Somebody got a ballot for something else. You got millions of ballots going. Nobody even knows where they’re going.” (California is planning to send ballot applications, not ballots.)

On John Lewis

Asked about Rep. John Lewis contributions to the nation: “I don’t know. I don’t know John Lewis. He chose not to come to my inauguration.”

“I can’t say one way or another. Nobody has done more for Black Americans than I have. He should have come [to my inauguration]. I think he made a big mistake.”

“He was a person that devoted a lot of time and a lot of heart to civil rights. But there were many others, also.”

On his comments that he wished Ghislaine Maxwell well

“Her friend or boyfriend Epstein was either killed or committed suicide in jail. She’s now in jail. Yeah, I wish her well.”

You can watch the full interview below: