Megyn Kelly interviewed former President Donald Trump on her SiriusXM show on Thursday, a sitdown in in which she challenged him a bit on one of his criminal cases and some other issues. But as would be expected, she largely kept the 60 or so minutes as friendly territory for the former Celebrity Apprentice host.
At one point, the topic turned to Kelly’s question in the first Republican presidential debate in 2015, in which Kelly, then co-moderating for Fox News, asked him, “You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.”
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“Only Rosie O’Donnell,” Trump answered.
“For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O’Donnell,” Kelly said, adding, “Does that sound like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?”
In Kelly’s SiriusXM interview, Trump said, “Frankly, if I didn’t come up with the answer only Rosie O’Donnell, I would have had a problem with that. That was a bad question.”
“It was a great question,” Kelly said.
“No, no, it was a nasty question,” Trump responded.
“It was awesome,” Kelly said.
Trump continued, “You know, there are questions that, it is not that they aren’t answerable, but if you are Winston Churchill, he was very good at that.”
Kelly then said, “You handled it well. Your poll numbers went up.”
Trump said, “I got a little bit lucky. I came up with a good answer. But there are questions that you can ask, that no matter how good you are at debating…There are questions that you can ask that no matter who it is, the answer is never a great answer. There’s never a great answer to certain questions. And I could give you 10 of those questions right now. I just don’t want to.”
Kelly and Trump had been talking about his refusal to attend debates with his Republican rivals this cycle. Kelly proposed moderating a debate just before the Iowa caucus. Trump, though, said, “no, I appreciate that.”
There was no mention of what happened after his exchange with Kelly at the 2015 debate. As the moment was replayed over and over again, Trump attacked her on social media and later told CNN, “There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” When Fox News telecast a debate just before the Iowa caucus, Trump boycotted it because Kelly was again a co-moderator.
Since then, Kelly left Fox News for an ill-fated stint at NBC. She has since veered to the right as a podcast host with a penchant for Twitter/X trolling, as when Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced to his followers in March that he tested positive for Covid and she replied, “Good lord no one cares.”
In fact, a number of her questions to Trump challenged him from the right. Some were focused on why he did not fire Anthony Fauci, who was given a prominent role in Trump-era White House press conferences during the pandemic.
Kelly at one point challenged Trump on Fauci’s tenure.
“The truth is, not only did you not fire Fauci, who was loathed by millions of Republicans in particular but also some Democrats, you made him a star,” Kelly said. She noted that Trump gave him a presidential commendation before he left office. “Wouldn’t you like a do over on that?”
Trump replied, “I don’t know who gave him the commendation. I really don’t know who gave him the commendation.”
Trump also walked a fine line between trying to claim credit for the rapid development of the Covid vaccine, while insisting that he was opposed to mandates.
“They say, ‘You save a hundred million people, because I got it done in nine months as opposed to five years to 12 years,” Trump said.
“You’re proud of it?” Kelly said.
“No, I’m not proud of it. I’m saying what Democrats think,” he said.
Kelly pressed Trump on one aspect of the classified documents case against him. She asked him about the audio recording of a 2021 meeting in which Trump is speaking to guests and seems to be referring to classified material when he says, amid the sound of shuffling papers, “This is secret information.” He told Bret Baier in a June Fox News interview that what he had were newspaper and magazine articles.
“Why would you describe a newspaper article as highly confidential and still a secret, saying as president you could have declassified it, but not you can’t?” Kelly said.
Trump then launched into what has been his defense, claiming that what he did was covered under the Presidential Records Act and that it should be handled as a civil, not a criminal, matter. “I did absolutely nothing wrong,” he said.
Trump continued to not answer the question. Kelly pressed again, “Well, you tell me, what were you waving around in that meeting?”
Trump finally said, “I’m not going to talk to you about that because that has already been, I think very substantiated, and there’s no problem with it.”
But Kelly said that it has not been substantiated. She later asked him why he didn’t comply with a subpoena to turn over the documents, even if he thought that what he was being charged with was a “fake crime.”
“If I get a subpoena, I have to comply,” Kelly said. “I used to practice law for 10 years…You got to comply.”
Trump then insisted, “I have complied with everything.”
Kelly said that she did not dispute that Trump was being charged for political reasons, but “the question is simply, your lawyers signed a certification that they turned over everything that was responsive. Then when the FBI raided Mar-A-Lago, they found documents that were responsive, that had not been produced.”
Trump said, “I don’t know what the timing is. Again, I’d have to check the timing.”
Kelly did not challenge Trump on his claim that the 2020 presidential election was rigged. “How are you going to unrig it in 2024?”
Trump then went on to make a series of unsubstantiated claims, as he does in most interviews, while claiming that his supporters will “vote in numbers that you’ve never seen before.”
Trump said he does not buy into the idea that Biden is too old to be president. Trump will be 78 on election day next year. Biden will be 81. “He’s not too old, he’s incompetent, and age is very interesting because some people are very sharp and some people lose it, but you lose it at 40 and 50 also.”
He added, “You look at some of the great world leaders, they were in their 80s, and they did…Churchill, so many people. They were phenomenal in their 80s.” Churchill was 80 when he retired as prime minister in 1955.
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