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Posted July 31, 2020

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX ANCHOR:  And hello again from Fox News in Washington. Today from the White House, we're on the president's patio just outside the Oval Office.

President Trump, you've agreed to answer all manner of questions, no subject off-limits. Thank you and welcome back to "FOX NEWS SUNDAY."


And I’ve agreed to type my comments in bold into this transcript, because when you hear that Trump did an interview on Fox News where they actually called him on his lies and his failures, you pop the popcorn and grab a front row seat.

The following transcript is from Chris Wallace’s July 19th interview with Donald Trump. Any ellipsis refers to dialogue omitted for the sake of either brevity or clarity, but in no way is used to take answers or statements out of context. Any text in brackets has been inserted by the author to describe on-camera events happening at any given moment, and text in bold has been inserted to comment on the perpetual train wreck that is Donald Trump’s thought process.

WALLACE:  Let's start with the surge of the coronavirus across the country in recent months. You still talk about it as, quote, "burning embers." But I want to put up a chart that shows where we are with the illness over the last four months. As you can see, we hit a peak here in April, 36,000 cases...

TRUMP:  Cases.


WALLACE:  ... a day.


TRUMP:  Yes, cases.


WALLACE:  Then -- then it went down and now since June, it has gone up more than double. One day this week 75,000 new cases. More than double...


Gosh. Looks like we’ll be skipping any foreplay and diving straight in.

TRUMP:  Chris, that's because we have great testing, because we have the best testing in the world. If we didn't test, you wouldn't be able to show that chart. If we tested half as much, those numbers would be down.


Interesting perspective. I suppose we could just test a tenth as much and then we might almost be done with this thing.

WALLACE:  But -- but this isn't burning embers, sir. This is a forest fire.


TRUMP:  No, no. But I don't say -- I say flames, we'll put out the flames. And we'll put out in some cases just burning embers. We also have burning embers. We have embers and we do have flames. Florida became more flame like, but it's -- it's going to be under control.


Became more flame-like? Perhaps it would be better if Trump didn’t deal in metaphors.

And, you know, it's not just this country, it’s many countries. We don't talk about it in the news. They don't talk about Mexico and Brazil and still parts of Europe, which actually got hit sooner than us, so it's a little ahead of us in that sense.


But you take a look, why don't they talk about Mexico? 


Well, in America, the news is primarily focused on… America. But you are correct, Brazil (whose president initially downplayed the coronavirus) and Mexico (whose president initially downplayed the coronavirus) are, like us, in terrible shape. It’s just too bad there’s nothing we can take away from these observations about how we could be doing better.

WALLACE:  But, sir, we have the seventh highest mortality rate in the world. Our mortality rate is higher than Brazil, it's higher than Russia

TRUMP:  When you talk about mortality rates, I think it's the opposite. I think we have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.


WALLACE:  That’s not true, sir. We, we, we have a -- we had 900 deaths on a single day...


Fair counter point.


TRUMP:  We will take a look...


WALLACE:  ... just this week...


TRUMP:  Ready?


WALLACE:  You, you can check it out.


TRUMP:  [Calling to an off-camera aide for documentation of our sterling mortality rate] Can you please get me the mortality rate?

TRUMP:  [Back to Chris] Kayleigh's right here. I heard we have one of the lowest, maybe the lowest mortality rate anywhere in the world.


TRUMP: [Again calling off-camera] Do you have the numbers, please? Because I heard we had the best mortality rate.


A thousand people are dying a day and you think our mortality rate is a strength?

[Trump receives a document from a staffer, scans it quickly, then declares…]


TRUMP: Number, number one low mortality rate. I hope you show the scenario because it shows what fake news is all about. Ok, go ahead.



WALLACE VOICE OVER: It’s a little complicated. But bear with us. We went with numbers from Johns Hopkins University which charted the mortality rate for 20 countries hit by the virus. The US ranked 7th, better than the United Kingdom but worse than Brazil and Russia.


The White House went with this chart from the European CDC which shows Italy and Spain doing worse. But countries like Brazil and South Korea doing better. Other countries doing better like Russia aren’t included in the White House chart.


One of so many disturbing things about Trump is the fact that he can look at a chart saying we are struggling, and be so convinced that it says we are the best in the world that he waves it in front of someone on camera as proof that he’s right. I have spent much of the Trump presidency believing that he’s intentionally lying, but more recently I have started to feel that he just truly believes his own bullshit. And I’m not sure which is worse.

WALLACE: California locking down again. Florida, deadliest day of the entire pandemic. Hospitals at capacity at a number of places around the country. Shortages of testing, shortages of personal protective equipment for nurses and doctors.


A lot of people say this is because we don't have a national plan. You talk about states. We don't have a national plan. Do you take responsibility for that?


TRUMP:  Look, I take responsibility always for everything because it's ultimately my job, too. I have to get everybody in line.


Yes, I have always thought Trump’s ability to take responsibility for things was a hallmark of his presidency.


Some governors have done well, some governors have done poorly.


Well, that taking responsibility for everything lasted all of one sentence.

They're supposed to have supplies they didn't have. I supplied everybody.


Now we have somewhat of a surge in certain areas. And other areas we're doing great. But we have a surge in certain areas. But you don't hear people complaining about ventilators. We've got all the ventilators we can use. We're supplying them to other countries.


No, we’re now mostly just complaining about the widespread death you’ve enabled.


We go out into parking lots and everything, everybody gets a test. We find -- if we did half the testing -- with all of that being said, I'm glad we did it. This is the right way to do it. I'm glad we did what we're doing. But we have more tests by far than any country in the world.


WALLACE:  But, sir, testing is up 37 percent.


TRUMP:  Well, that's good.


WALLACE:  I understand. Cases are up 194 percent. It isn't just that testing has gone up, it's that the virus has spread.



TRUMP:  Many of those cases are young people that would heal in a day. They have the sniffles and we put it down as a test. Many of them -- don't forget, I guess it's like 99.7 percent, people are going to get better and in many cases they're going to get better very quickly.


We go out and we look and then on the news -- look if you go back to the news, all of your -- even your wonderful competitors, you'll see cases are up. Cases are up -- many of those cases shouldn't even be cases. Cases are up because we have the best testing in the world and we have the most testing.


I’m just going to leave this link right here to a story where the Trump staffer in charge of coronavirus testing says it’s taking too long to get back results, but please continue about how we have the best testing in the world:


No country has ever done what we've done in terms of testing. We are the envy of the world.


He acknowledges that a test that would ideally take 1 day to yield results takes, on average, 4.27.

They call and they say the most incredible job anybody's done is our job on testing,


Said the doctor, “The delays that most people talk about are at the large commercial labs that perform about half the testing in our country.”

because we're going to very shortly be up to 50 million tests.


25 million of which may even get back to people the same week they took them.

You look at other countries; they don't even do tests. They do tests if somebody walks into the hospital, they're sick, they're really sick, they test them then, or they'll test them in a doctor's office. But they don't go around have massive areas of testing and we do. And I'm glad we do, but it really skews the numbers.


WALLACE: I’m, I'm going to do you a favor, because I'm sure a lot of people listening right now are going to say, "Trump, he tries to play it down, he tries to make it not being as serious as it is."

TRUMP:  I don't play it -- I'm not playing -- no, this is very serious.


WALLACE:  75,000 cases a day.


TRUMP:  Show me the death chart.


Why do I have a feeling he’s about to play this down?

WALLACE:  Well, I don't have the death chart.


TRUMP:  Well, the death chart is much more important.


WALLACE:  But I can tell you, the death chart is a thousand cases a day.


TRUMP:  Excuse me, it's all too much, it shouldn't be one case. It came from China. They should've never let it escape. They should've never let it out.


Really nailing that taking responsibility thing.

But it is what it is. Take a look at Europe, take a look at the numbers in Europe. And by the way, they're having cases.


WALLACE: I can tell you cases are 6,000 in the whole European Union.


TRUMP:  They don't test. They don't test.


WALLACE:  Is it possible that they don't have the virus as badly as we do?


TRUMP:  It's possible that they don't test, that's what's possible. We find cases and many of those cases heal automatically. We're finding -- in a way, we're creating trouble. Certainly, we are creating trouble for the fake news to come along and say, "Oh, we have more cases."


Europe has over twice as many people as the US. Yesterday, as a continent, they experienced 374 new deaths. We had 1,237. But please, go on about how most of the cases are people with the sniffles.

Look, we do something that nobody's ever done. Not only the ventilators, where we're supplying them all over the world. We did a testing program the likes of which nobody's ever done before.

WALLACE: Why on earth would your administration be involved in a campaign at this point to discredit Dr. Fauci, who is the nation's top infectious disease expert.


TRUMP:  Because we're not.


Oh, for some reason, I had thought you were trying to discredit him. But if you say you’re not, then I suppose this is really a tough one to prove. A lot of the criticisms coming out about Fauci that are supposedly from your administration are from unnamed sources and leaked documents. So, it’s not like we can definitively state that you or others on your team are saying negative things about…

If one man from my administration doesn't like him because he made a few mistakes -- look, Dr. Fauci said, "Don't wear a mask." Dr. Fauci told me not to ban China, it would be a big mistake. I did it over and above his recommendation.


Never mind.


Dr. Fauci's made some mistakes. But I have a very good -- I spoke to him yesterday at length. I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci.


WALLACE:  But -- but, sir, this week -- this weekend, your White House put out a series of statements, so-called mistakes that Dr. Fauci had made… Why would you do that?



TRUMP:  Let me just say. Dr. Fauci at the beginning – and again, I have a great relationship with him. I spoke with him at length yesterday. Dr. Fauci at the beginning said, “This will pass. Don’t worry about it. This will pass.” He was wrong. Dr. Fauci said, “Don’t ban China. Don’t ban China.” I did. He then admitted that I was right.


So… I’ll put you in the “Actually, I am discrediting Fauci” column?

WALLACE:  But you made mistakes, too.


TRUMP:  I guess everybody makes mistakes.


Jesus Christ. Your employee gets something wrong and you issue a press release documenting every misstep he’s ever made. You get something wrong and what’s your response? Everybody makes mistakes.

WALLACE: I was going to say, you said at one point…


[Wallace rolls tape of what have now become famous Trump proclamations downplaying the virus.]

TAPE: January 22, 2020

TRUMP: It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.


TAPE: February 26, 2020

TRUMP: When you have 15 people. And the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.


TAPE: July 1, 2020

TRUMP: I think we're gonna be very good with the coronavirus. I think that at some point that's going to sort of just disappear. I hope.


TRUMP: I'll be right eventually. I will be right eventually. You know I said, "It's going to disappear." I'll say it again.

I’ll be right… eventually?! I mean, given enough time, everything ends eventually. The Hundred Years’ War ended eventually. But we’re kind of looking for leaders who can speed up the process.

WALLACE: But does that – does that discredit you?


TRUMP: It's going to disappear and I'll be right. I don’t think so.




TRUMP:  I don't think so. I don't think so. You know why? Because I've been right probably more than anybody else.


So true.

WALLACE: Then there are masks. From the first day that the CDC said that people should wear masks on April 3rd, you said you weren’t going to. You wore a mask for the first time in public at Walter Reed this weekend. Question: The CDC says if everybody wore a mask for 4-6 weeks, we could get this under control. Do you regret not wearing a mask in public from the start, and would you consider – will you consider a national mandate that people need to wear masks?


TRUMP: No, I want people to have a certain freedom, and I don’t believe in that. No, and I don’t agree with the statement that if everybody wear a mask everything could disappears. Hey, Dr. Fauci said don’t wear a mask.Our Surgeon General – terrific guy – said don’t wear a mask.

Everybody who is saying don’t wear a mask – all of sudden everybody’s got to wear a mask, and as you know masks cause problems, too. With that being said, I’m a believer in masks.


Sure sounds like it.

I think masks are good.



WALLACE: There has been a spike in violent crime in America in recent weeks. We’ve seen deaths up in New York, deaths up in Chicago, shootings. How do you explain it and what are you going to do about it?


TRUMP: I explain it very simply by saying that they’re Democrat-run cities, they are liberally run. They are stupidly run.


So much responsibility-taking.


WALLACE: Liberal Democrats have been running cities in this country for decades.


TRUMP: Poorly.


WALLACE: Why is it so bad right now?


TRUMP: They run them poorly, it was always bad but now it’s gotten totally out of control, and it’s really because they want to defund the police. And Biden wants to defund the police.


WALLACE: No he, sir, he does not.


TRUMP: Look. He signed a charter with Bernie Sanders; I will get that one just like I was right on the mortality rate.


I believe you mean just like you were wrong on the mortality rate.

Did you read the charter that he agreed to?


Did you?

WALLACE: It says nothing about defunding the police.

TRUMP: Oh really? It says abolish, it says -- let’s go. [Again, calling off camera to a staffer] Get me the charter, please.

WALLACE: All right.


TRUMP: Chris, you’ve got to start studying for these.


WALLACE: He says defund the police?


TRUMP: He says defund the police. They talk about abolishing the police. They talk about illegal aliens pouring …


WALLACE: I look, I look forward – I look forward to seeing that.



TRUMP: [Trump receives the documents he called for and begins listing things in the Biden plan that astute observers will note are not calls to defund the police] What this says here: Prosecutions, sanctuary cities, incentivize illegal aliens, expand asylum, abolish immigration detention –


WALLACE: That’s not –


TRUMP: No. I, I – we’ll find it.


I remember one time growing up, when my math teacher was collecting everyone’s homework. For some reason, rather than admit I hadn’t done it, I thought that if I just started rummaging through my backpack as though it were there, and I couldn't find it, she would give me the benefit of the doubt.

What I’m trying to say is that when I was a child, I employed the same approach Trump is currently using as president of the United States.



TRUMP: This thing is many pages long.


Don’t worry, no one thinks you can read that much.

TRUMP: End prosecution of illegal border crossers. Support deathly -- and these are the worse things, sanctuary cities –


It didn’t work when I did it in math class either.

WALLACE: Sir, I’m not, I’m not, I’m not disagreeing with you on any of those. I’m disagreeing about defund police –

(WALLACE VOICE OVER: The White House never sent us evidence the Bernie-Biden platform calls for defunding or abolishing police—because there is none.)



[Wallace asked the president about a new bill that would, among other things, rename army bases named after confederate generals.]


TRUMP: Fort Bragg is a big deal. We won two World Wars, nobody even knows General Bragg. We won two World Wars. Go to that community where Fort Bragg is, in a great state, I love that state, go to the community, say how do you like the idea of renaming Fort Bragg, and then what are we going to name it? We’re going to name it after the Reverend Al Sharpton? What are you going to name it, Chris, tell me what you’re going to name it?


This obsession our country has with honoring confederate soldiers is deeply disturbing, but even if you don’t care at all about the symbolic racism it entails, if you love our troops and our country as much as you always say you do, then can’t you at least agree we shouldn’t name bases after people who committed treason, fought a war against our country, and killed more US soldiers than any enemy combatant in the history of our nation? For crying out loud, you named a military installation after a guy who wasn’t even a good general. Here’s a quote from his Wikipedia page, “Bragg is generally considered among the worst generals of the Civil War. Most of the battles in which he engaged ended in defeat. Bragg was extremely unpopular with both the men and the officers of his command, who criticized him for numerous perceived faults, including poor battlefield strategy, a quick temper, and overzealous discipline.” Actually, I think I see why Trump likes the guy so much.

So there’s a whole thing here. We won two World Wars, two World Wars, beautiful World Wars that were vicious and horrible, and we won them out of Fort Bragg, we won out of all of these forts that now they want to throw those names away.


“Beautiful World Wars that were vicious and horrible?” What exactly do you think “beautiful” means?


WALLACE:  Fox News has a new poll out today and you're going to be the very first person to hear about it. In the national horse race, Joe Biden leads you by 8 points, 49 percent to 41. That's 3, 4 points slimmer than it was a month ago. And on the issues, people trust Biden more to handle the coronavirus by 17 points, on race relations by 21 points, and even on the economy they trust Biden more by 1 point. I understand you still have more than a hundred days to this election, but at this point you're losing.

According to Americans, Trump’s bad on coronavirus, bad on race, bad on the economy. And a recent pew poll said people prefer Biden’s approach on foreign policy too. At some point you have to wonder what else is left for Trump to be better at? Spray tans?

TRUMP:  First of all, I'm not losing, because those are fake polls. They were fake in 2016 and now they're even more fake. The polls were much worse in 2016. They interviewed 22 percent Republicans. Well, how do you do 22 percent Republican? You see what's going on. I have other polls that put me leading, and we have polls where I'm leading. I have a poll where we're leading in every swing state. And I don't believe that your -- first of all, the Fox polls, whoever does your Fox polls, they're among the worst. They got it all wrong in 2016. They've been wrong on every poll I've ever seen.


WALLACE:  I -- I must tell you...


TRUMP:  No, I'm just telling you. And let me ask you this, so on the economy -- so I've always led on the economy by a lot.


Ah, so that part of the polling you trust.

WALLACE:  I know, which is why I was surprised by this number.


TRUMP:  Biden can't put two sentences together. They wheel him out. He goes up -- he repeats -- they ask him questions. He reads a teleprompter and then he goes back into his basement. You tell me the American people want to have that in an age where we're in trouble with other nations that are looking to do numbers on us.


Um… yes, that’s exactly what he’s telling you. He just read a statistic explaining that 49 percent of Americans would rather have that than you.

WALLACE:  So let me ask you a direct question.


TRUMP:  No, no...


WALLACE:  No, I'm going to ask you a direct question about Joe Biden. Is Joe Biden senile?


TRUMP:  I don't want to say that.


You don’t want to say that? Or you do want to say that?

I'd say he's not competent to be president. To be president, you have to be sharp and tough and so many other things. He doesn't even come out of his basement. They think, "Oh this is a great campaign." So he goes in, I'll then make a speech, it'll be a great speech, and some young guy, starts writing, "Vice President Biden said this, this, this, this." He didn't say it. Joe doesn't know he's alive, OK? He doesn't know he's alive.


That’s what I thought.

Do the American people want that, number one. Number two, I built the greatest economy ever built anywhere in the world; not only of this country, anywhere in the world. Until we got hit with the China virus. We got hit with the virus, shouldn't have happened, and we had to close up, we saved millions of lives. Now we've opened it up, got to go back to school. We're open. We've got to do things. We had the best job numbers we've ever had last month. We should have good ones coming up in two weeks. Look, I built the greatest economy in history, I'm now doing it again. You see the numbers; the numbers are through the roof.


The unemployment numbers are.

The Democrats are purposely keeping their schools closed,


It’s July.

keeping their states closed. I called Michigan, I want to have a big rally in Michigan. Do you know we're not allowed to have a rally in Michigan? Do you know we're not allowed to have a rally in Minnesota? Do you know we're not allowed to have a rally in Nevada? We're not allowed to have rallies.


For those keeping track at home, the guy arguing Joe doesn’t know what he’s saying anymore just finished his answer to a question about Biden’s mental state with “the democrats are purposely keeping their schools closed” and “We’re not allowed to have rallies.”

WALLACE: Well, some people would say it’s a health...

TRUMP:  In these Democrat-run states...


WALLACE:  But, wait a minute, some people would say that it's a health risk, sir.


TRUMP: Some people would say fine


WALLACE:  I mean we had some issues after Tulsa.


TRUMP:  But I guarantee you, if everything was gone 100 percent, they still wouldn't allow it. They're not allowing me to do it. So they're not -- they're not allowing me to have rallies.


WALLACE:  But I've got to tell you, if I may, sir, respectfully, in the Fox poll, they asked people, who is more competent? Who's got -- whose mind is sounder? Biden beats you in that.


So… better on coronavirus, race, economy and just being of sound mental mind. Some campaigns might consider this to be a red flag.

TRUMP:  Well, I'll tell you what, let's take a test. Let's take a test right now. Let's go down, Joe and I will take a test. Let him take the same test that I took.


WALLACE:  Incidentally, I took the test too when I heard that you passed it.


TRUMP:  Yeah, how did you do?


WALLACE:  It's not – well it's not the hardest test. They have a picture and it says “what’s that?” and it’s an elephant.


No seriously, part of the exam is naming animals. Here’s an excerpt. Those brackets are for the proctor to place a check next to each animal correctly identified by the test taker.


moma test.png

TRUMP:  No no no... You see, that's all misrepresentation.

WALLACE:  Well, that's what it was on the web.


TRUMP:  It's all misrepresentation. Because, yes, the first few questions are easy, but I'll bet you couldn't even answer the last five questions. I'll bet you couldn't, they get very hard, the last five questions.


The test is a basic brain function test to make sure you’re not experiencing mental deterioration from things like dementia or head trauma. In other words, if you want people to be impressed by your cognitive state, maybe don’t complain about how hard the last five questions were.

WALLACE:  Well, one of them was count back from 100 by seven.


TRUMP:  Let me tell you...


WALLACE:  Ninety-three.

TRUMP: ... you couldn't answer -- you couldn't answer many of the questions.


WALLACE:  Ok, what's the question?


TRUMP:  I'll get you the test, I'd like to give it. I'll guarantee you that Joe Biden could not answer those questions.





TRUMP: If Joe Biden got in, first of all, he won't call the shots. The people -- the radical left people that's around him will call. Religion will be gone, OK? Life, you could forget about that, the whole question of life. Supreme Court...


WALLACE:  When you say life, you mean abortion?


TRUMP:  Absolutely. 100 percent. That whole question, which is a very -- you know, it's always been a 50-50 thing.


WALLACE:  I understand.


TRUMP:  It's actually trending a little bit more towards one side now.


Did you hear that in a… poll?


[And finally, we finish on Wallace asking Trump about the upcoming election and how he handles losing…]


WALLACE: In general, not talking about November, are you a good loser?


TRUMP: I’m not a good loser. I don’t like to lose. I don’t lose too often. I don’t like to lose.


WALLACE: But are you gracious?


TRUMP: You don’t know until you see.


Oh, we know.

It depends. I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election. I really do.


Here’s a good way to tell whether or not you’re gracious: If you’re already laying the groundwork before the election even occurs for why your loss should be considered illegitimate if it happens, then no, you are not gracious.

WALLACE: Are you suggesting that you might not accept the results of the election?


TRUMP: No. I have to see. 


It’s possible he might not accept the results. Personally, I think it’s more likely he’ll be handed a document by a staffer saying he lost, read it, and wave it in front of the camera as proof that he won.


The original transcript of this interview was obtained from the Fox News website and can be read here, while the full conversation can be watched here.

I've never been a journalist like Chris Wallace, but I was once hired by a website to chronicle my disastrous attempts to do hot yoga. To read that story as well as ones about the time I tried out for a game show, was a bouncer at a night club, and had to pose as one half of conjoined twins at a convention, check out my book Odd Jobs by clicking here.

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