Ground Game

So what did Trump talk about in that interview other than Russia?

President Trump said plenty of things that had nothing to do with Attorney General Jeff Sessions or the investigations into Russia and his 2016 presidential campaign.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
President Trump said plenty of things that had nothing to do with Attorney General Jeff Sessions or the investigations into Russia and his 2016 presidential campaign.

President Trump’s interview with the New York Times on Wednesday was full of news and displayed his personality. He said he wished he never appointed Jeff Sessions to be US attorney general. He also didn’t like sitting next to the first lady of Japan at a G-20 dinner because she didn’t know English. “Zero,” he said. It was part of the reason he went over to talk with his wife and President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

The Times has posted the transcript of the lengthy interview. There are some pretty notable Trump lines. Here are the best ones that had nothing to do with Sessions or the investigations into Russia and his 2016 presidential campaign.

“I mean, ended up giving away the state of Nebraska. They owned the state of Nebraska. Right. Gave it away.”

What that was about: Out of context, the quote can be a bit amusing, but in this part of the interview, Trump was talking about how hard it is to pass a health care bill through Congress.


Trump noted that it took well over a year to pass the Affordable Care Act in the Obama administration and one of the deals they had to make to pass it was the so-called “Cornhusker kickback.” The deal got its name because it involved earmarking extra money to Nebraska in order to ensure a vote from a moderate Democratic senator from that state.

He mentions Hillary Clinton 13 times

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What that was about: No, this was not a direct quote, but it was a notable point. It only took Trump 21 words into an interview with the New York Times marking the six-month anniversary of his presidency to mention the opponent he defeated more than eight months ago. In that first question, Trump wasn’t even asked about the campaign or Russia. He was asked about health care, and he said that in the eight years when the Clintons were in the White House Hillary Clinton was unable to pass “Hillarycare.”

But it went on from there. Trump managed to reference Clinton a dozen other times.

“We don’t have bad people. I know the bad people. Believe me, do I know bad people.”

What that was about: Trump really wanted the Times interviewers to know that he knows the difference between good people and bad people and that the current group of Republican senators are “good” people. He had just met with nearly the entire group of them for lunch before the interview took place.

“I hope we don’t have any grandstanders. I don’t think we do.”

What that was about: Trump said any future health care bill could be derailed by just one more Republican senator who wanted to vote no to get attention somehow. He said he hopes this doesn’t happen so some Republican version of an Obamacare replacement could pass. He didn’t apparently get the irony that he could be accused of being the grandstander-in-chief.

“People don’t realize he loves holding my hand. And that’s good, as far as that goes.”


What that was about: The seemingly neverending handshakes between Trump and French president Emmanuel Macron have been the subject of Internet memes. The pair did not disappoint with another long handshake last week when Trump visited Paris for two days. Trump said Macron likes to press the flesh with him. According to the second part of the above quote, apparently the feeling is mutual.

Trump: “I mean, unless somebody said that she shot somebody in the back, there wasn’t much I could add to my repertoire.”

Times reporter Maggie Haberman: “On Fifth Avenue — ”

What that was about: Few people caught the joke from Haberman, including Trump, who just kept talking.

Trump was saying that had plenty of opposition research on Clinton and didn’t need Russia’s help. He said he wasn’t sure what much more he could accuse Clinton of, so he suggested that maybe he if someone said Clinton shot someone in the back maybe that would up the ante.

This is where Haberman recalled a speech Trump made in Iowa when he said that his supporters love him so much that he could probably shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York and still lead Republican primary polls.

“My granddaughter Arabella, who speaks — say hello to them in Chinese.”

What that was about: One of the weirder moments of the interview was when Trump’s daughter Ivanka walked in with her daughter Arabella. It was a brief appearance, and many on social media mocked it as staged.


The next thing Trump asked Arabella to say in Chinese? “Say, like, ‘I love you, Grandpa.’ ”

James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell orsubscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics.