President Donald Trump had a combative interview with Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace that aired on Sunday in which he downplayed the coronavirus death toll, defended his past misstatements on the virus, and attacked former Vice President Joe Biden. There are plenty of noteworthy moments in the sit-down that marked the president’s first Sunday morning show interview in more than a year. Here are some of the moments that stood out.
Wallace fact-checks Trump
At one point of the interview, Wallace fact-checked Trump after he falsely claimed the United States has the lowest mortality rate in the world for the coronavirus. Trump was making the point as he dismissed the importance of the statistic that the United States has the highest number of confirmed cases in the world, attributing it to increased testing. As Wallace and Trump argued over figures, Trump called on his press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, for the statistics. “I heard we have one of the lowest, maybe the lowest, mortality rate anywhere in the world,” Trump said. McEnany ended up handing Trump a chart from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The chart showed “Italy and Spain doing worse,” Wallace explains to viewers. “But countries like Brazil and South Korea doing better. Other countries doing better, like Russia, aren’t included in the White House chart.”
In another portion of the interview, which had been released on Friday, Wallace challenged Trump’s assertion that Biden wants to defund the police. It came during a conversation about violence in cities run by Democratic mayors. “They’ve run them poorly,” Trump said. “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.” That’s when Wallace stepped in: “Sir, he does not.” Trump stood by his claim.
“I’ll be right eventually”
Wallace dedicated a portion of his interview to misstatements by Trump, including his many statements early in the pandemic in which he predicted that the coronavirus would soon cease to be a problem. Wallace also highlighted how Trump insisted earlier this month that the virus was “going to sort of disappear” at some point. Trump defended his claim, suggesting that his statements may have been early but he’ll be proved right at some point. “I will be right eventually,” Trump responded. “You know I said, ‘It’s going to disappear.’ I’ll say it again: It’s going to disappear. And I’ll be right.” The president then went on to claim, “I’ve been right probably more than anybody else.”
Trump also played down the severity of the coronavirus, saying many of those who contract the virus would heal quickly. “Many of those cases are young people that would heal in a day,” Trump said. “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.”
Trump dismisses Fox News poll as “fake”
Trump was optimistic about his prospects of reelection in November despite the recent polls that show Biden with a commanding lead. When Wallace mentioned a Fox News poll showing the president trailing Biden by 8 points, Trump dismissed it as irrelevant. “I’m not losing, because those are fake polls. They were fake in 2016, and now they’re even more fake,” Trump said. “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.”
“I don’t care what the military says”
At one point of the interview, Wallace mentioned Trump’s threat to veto the National Defense Authorization Act because it would include a plan to rename Army bases named for Confederate generals. When Trump defended the move, Wallace interjected, “But the military says they’re for this.” Trump was not too happy about being interrupted. “Excuse me, excuse me. I don’t care what the military says,” Trump said. “I’m supposed to make the decision.” Trump then went on to specifically focus on Fort Bragg. “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 Rev. Al Sharpton? What are you going to name it, Chris? Tell me what you’re going to name it.”
Trump declines to say if he’ll accept election results
Trump refused to commit to accepting the results of the election in November if he loses to Joe Biden. Asked about the possibility he would lose, Trump said he doesn’t handle losing very well and said that mail-in voting “is going to rig the election.” When Wallace asked whether that meant he would not accept the results, Trump said, “I have to see.” When pressed on the issue, he continued to refuse to give a straight answer. “No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.”
“It’s not the hardest test”
What was perhaps the most bizarre exchange of the whole interview came when Wallace asked Trump if Biden was “senile” after the president claimed that “Biden can’t put two sentences together.” Trump refused to answer the question. “I don’t want to say that,” Trump said. “I’d say he’s not competent to be president. … He doesn’t even know he’s alive.” Wallace then pointed out that a Fox poll had found that more people believe Biden is more mentally sound than Trump. “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,” Trump said. The president had previously boasted that he “aced” a cognitive test. “Incidentally, I took the test too when I heard that you passed it,” Wallace said. When Trump asked how he did, Wallace answered: “Well, it’s not the hardest test. They have a picture and it says, ‘What’s that?’ and it’s an elephant.” Trump took offense at what he said was a “misrepresentation,” insisting that while “the first few questions are easy,” they get harder. “I’ll bet you couldn’t even answer the last five questions.” Wallace then said, “Well, one of them was count back from 100 by seven.”