In a meandering telephone interview on Fox and Friends on Thursday morning, President Donald Trump insisted that his first year in the White House has been an unprecedented success, despite what he described as a widespread conspiracy to discredit him.
“I would give myself an A+,” Trump told the show, which often makes appearances in his early-morning tweets. “No one has been able to do what I’m able to do, and I’ve done it despite the fact that I have a cloud hanging over my head that doesn’t exist.”
“I’m fighting a battle against a horrible group of deep-seated people,” he said. “Drain the swamp. They’re bringing up all sorts of phony charges against me. The message, as everyone knows, is a witch hunt.”
Trump joined the show minutes after Fox News reported that his nominee for chief of the Department of Veterans Affairs, White House physician Ronny Jackson, had withdrawn his name from consideration in the face of allegations of professional misconduct. Reports allege that Jackson regularly drank on the job, at one point crashing a government vehicle while under the influence, and gratuitously prescribed drugs like Ambien — charges, Trump said, that suggest little more than an anti-Trump conspiracy.
“He would have done a great job… and they’re trying to destroy a guy,” Trump said. “There’s no proof of this. There’s no proof of this.”
Jackson, a U.S. Navy Rear Admiral who has served three presidents, has denied any allegation of wrongdoing
The president returned several times to his record of achievement over his first fifteen months in office, celebrating his rolling back of regulations and the appointment of conservative justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. “Even the enemies and the haters admit that: We have accomplished more than any president in the first year, if you look at the regulations and the tax cuts and Judge Gorsuch,” he said. “No one has done what we’ve done.”
Trump also seemed cavalier about Wednesday’s news that his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, had chosen to invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination in the lawsuit brought against him by adult film star Stormy Daniels, who says she was paid a large sum to not disclose a reported affair with Trump a decade ago.
“Michael is really a businessman. I don’t know his business. That doesn’t have to do with me,” Trump said. “They’re looking at something having to do with his businesses. He’s a good guy — but, just so you understand, I have many attorneys. I have so many attorneys you wouldn’t believe it.”
He also addressed recent comments from hip-hop superstar Kanye West, who on Wednesday tweeted that Trump was “his brother,” followed by a photo of himself in a red Make America Great Again cap.
“I have known Kanye a little bit,” Trump said. “I get along with Kanye. I get along with a lot of people.”