The New York Times published the full transcript of the conversation between the President-elect and its publisher, senior editors, columnist and political reporters that took place this week. Goodness, it is fascinating when one hears Trump witter on, weaving his way across the ideological landscape and then getting lost in a maze of silliness and self-absorption worthy of someone with a narcissistic personality disorder.
One amusing section involves Nigel Farage and the Bantering Boys of Brexit, the Farage supporters who travelled with him to Trump Tower. On this side of the Atlantic the spin is that the BBB are in “constant contact” with the Trump team, as though they are latter day Henry Kissingers. In this conversation they come up in passing in relation to wind farms.
A question from the NYT reporter also demonstrates once again the extent of the American media misunderstanding in which Farage is presented as the leader of Brexit, when actually he leads a tiny party on 10% of the vote with one MP. Sad.
From there, Trump spins off on wind power and conflicts of interest. Deep in there is a valid point about the wind industry, but it is sacrificed to a riff about birds. Golf courses figure quite a bit too.
MICHAEL BARBARO, political reporter: Mr. President-elect, can I press you a little further on what structures you would put in place to keep the presidency and the company separate and to avoid things that, for example, were reported in The Times in the past 24 hours about meeting with leaders of Brexit about wind farms …
TRUMP: About meeting with who?
Sign up for our FREE Reaction Weekend Email
Read the week's best-read articles on politics, business and geopolitics
Receive offers and exclusive invites
Plus uplifting cultural commentary
BARBARO: Leaders of Brexit about wind farms that might interfere with the views of your golf course and how to keep, what structures, can you talk about that meeting, by the way?
TRUMP: Was I involved with the wind farms recently? Or, not that I know of. I mean, I have a problem with wind …
BARBARO: But you brought it up in the meeting, didn’t you?
TRUMP: Which meeting? I don’t know. I might have.
BARBARO: With leaders of Brexit.
MANY VOICES: With Farage.
TRUMP: Oh, I see. I might have brought it up. But not having to do with me, just I mean, the wind is a very deceiving thing. First of all, we don’t make the windmills in the United States. They’re made in Germany and Japan. They’re made out of massive amounts of steel, which goes into the atmosphere, whether it’s in our country or not, it goes into the atmosphere. The windmills kill birds and the windmills need massive subsidies. In other words, we’re subsidizing wind mills all over this country. I mean, for the most part they don’t work. I don’t think they work at all without subsidy, and that bothers me, and they kill all the birds. You go to a windmill, you know in California they have the, what is it? The golden eagle? And they’re like, if you shoot a golden eagle, they go to jail for five years and yet they kill them by, they actually have to get permits that they’re only allowed to kill 30 or something in one year. The windmills are devastating to the bird population, O.K. With that being said, there’s a place for them. But they do need subsidy. So, if I talk negatively. I’ve been saying the same thing for years about you know, the wind industry. I wouldn’t want to subsidize it. Some environmentalists agree with me very much because of all of the things I just said, including the birds, and some don’t. But it’s hard to explain. I don’t care about anything having to do with anything having to do with anything other than the country.
BARBARO: But the structures, just to be clear, that’s the question. How do you formalize the separation of these things so that there is not a question of whether or not you as president …
BARBARO: … are trying to influence something, like wind farms?
TRUMP: O.K., I don’t want to influence anything, because it’s not that, it’s not that important to me. It’s hard to explain.”
It’s hard to explain…
Elsewhere, it becomes clear that Trump is growing in confidence. His lack of understanding of the norms of office and etiqutte is being replaced with an assumption that it doesn’t matter, or doesn’t seem to. This is extremely dangerous, especially if an emergency arises in which the President has extensive power via executive orders and being Commander in Chief. Against that, he is making some astute appointments. Nikki Haley is a potentially sensible pick for UN Ambassador and Mike Pompeo is extremely robust but makes sense at the CIA.
Anyway, the whole New York Times transcript is worth reading.