WASHINGTON — Despite Democrats’ strong performance in the midterm elections, President Donald Trump still claims it was a “tremendous victory” for him and the Republican Party.
Trump touted the fact that Republicans gained seats in the Senate, a rare feat by the party occupying the White House during a midterm, when asked about the election during an interview on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace.
“But this was a historically big defeat in the House,” Wallace said. “You lost in traditionally Republican suburbs, not only around liberal cities like Philadelphia and D.C. but also red-state big cities like Houston and Oklahoma City. You lost among suburban women. You lost among independents.”
In California, the lone remaining undecided House seat was won by a Democrat, Gil Cisneros, who beat the incumbent, Young Kim. R-California. In total, Democrats snapped up six House seats from the GOP in the state, including a sweep of four seats in Orange County, which had been a Republican stronghold.
“I won the Senate, and that’s historic too,” Trump replied. “That’s a tremendous victory. Nobody talks about that. That’s a far greater victory than it is for the other side.”
Trump also focused on the Senate wins on Twitter the morning after the election.
The president said the Democrats did well because “I wasn’t on the ballot.”
Wallace pointed out that Trump had told voters to make the midterm election about him and to “pretend I’m on the ballot.”
“I have people that won’t vote unless I’m on the ballot, OK?” Trump said. “And I wasn’t on the ballot.”
The president said that Republicans won in states where he campaigned and held rallies, particularly touting Republican victories in Florida, Georgia and Ohio.
“I won against President Obama and Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama in a great state called Georgia for the governor,” he said. Trump said “it was all stacked against” Republican Brian Kemp in that race, despite the fact that the state has not elected a Democratic governor since 1998 and that he was running against an African-American woman in a state that has never elected an African-American governor.
According to CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller, it was the 40th interview Trump has done with Fox News since taking office compared to three with ABC, four with CBS, 5 with NBC and none with CNN.
The Trump interview aired today was his 40th with @FoxNews. Compares to other networks:
ABC – 3
CBS – 4
CNN – 0
NBC/CNBC – 5
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) November 18, 2018
Other highlights from the extensive Wallace-Trump interview (which was taped Friday but aired in full on Sunday):
Where does Trump rank his presidency?
“I would give myself an A+. Is that enough? Can I go higher than that?”
On reports that North Korea is building new missile testing sites:
“Maybe they are, maybe they’re not. I don’t believe that, I don’t.”
Does he ‘agonize’ and ‘second guess’ over tough presidential calls?
“I don’t think about it,” he said. “I don’t think about, you know, how I make them. I make what I consider the right decision,”
Did he know Matthew Whittaker was a critic of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation when he appointed him acting attorney general?
“I did not know that. I did not know he took views on the Mueller investigation as such.”
The president said Whitaker’s past statements – including that the Russians did not meddle in the 2016 election, that the Trump campaign did not collude with any Russians and that Mueller’s investigation could be killed by cutting off its funds – “really can be viewed either way,” although he did not elaborate on how else they can be interpreted.
Would he stop Whitaker from intefering in Mueller’s work?
“It’s going to be up to him, Trump said. “I think he’s astute politically. He’s a very smart person. A very respected person. He’s going to do what’s right. I really believe he’s going to do what’s right.”
If Whitaker did limit or curtail Mueller’s investigation Trump said he “would not get involved.”
Will he do a sit-down interview with Mueller?
“I think we’ve wasted enough time on this witch hunt and the answer is probably, we’re finished,” he said.
On the tape recording of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder
“I don’t want to hear the tape, no reason for me to hear the tape,” he said. “Because it’s a suffering tape, it’s a terrible tape. I’ve been fully briefed on it, there’s no reason for me to hear it.”
Did Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman lie to Trump about Khashoggi’s murder?
“Well, he told me that he had nothing to do with it,” Trump said.”Will anybody really know?”
Will John Kelly be on through 2020?
In July, Trump indicated White House Chief of Staff John Kelly would stay on the job through his first term. Now, the president seemed less certain, telling Wallace “it could happen” but that there “are certain things that I don’t like that he does.” He did not specify what he was referring to.
On Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen:
“I’d like her to be much tougher on the border. Much tougher. Period.”