Facing the prospect of bruising electoral defeat in congressional elections, President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he won’t accept the blame if his party loses control of the House in November, arguing his campaigning and endorsements have helped Republican candidates.
In a wide-ranging interview three weeks before Election Day, Trump told The Associated Press he senses voter enthusiasm rivaling 2016 and he expressed cautious optimism that his most loyal supporters will vote even when he is not on the ballot.
“No, I think I’m helping people,” Trump said. “I don’t believe anybody has ever had this kind of impact.”
Trump spoke on a range of subjects, defending Saudi Arabia from growing condemnation over the case of a missing journalist, accusing his longtime attorney Michael Cohen of lying under oath and flashing defiance when asked about the insult — “Horseface” — he hurled at Stormy Daniels, the porn actress who accuses him of lying about an affair.
Asked if it was appropriate to insult a woman’s appearance, Trump responded, “You can take it any way you want.”
Throughout much of the nearly 40-minute interview, he sat, arms crossed, in the Oval Office behind the Resolute Desk, flanked by top aides, including White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and communications director Bill Shine. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway listened from a nearby sofa.
The interview came as Trump’s administration was being urged to pressure Saudi Arabia to account for the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Instead, Trump offered a defense for the U.S. ally, warning against a rush to judgment, like with what happened with his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault.
“Well, I think we have to find out what happened first,” Trump said. “Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh. And he was innocent all the way.”
Weeks away from the midterms, Democrats are hopeful about their chances to recapture the House, while Republicans are increasingly confident they can hold control of the Senate.
Trump on Tuesday declared the allegation “totally false.” But in entering a plea deal with Cohen in August, federal prosecutors signaled that they accepted his recitation of facts and account of what occurred.
Trump again cast doubt on climate change, suggesting, incorrectly, that the scientific community was evenly split on the existence of climate change and its causes. There are “scientists on both sides of the issue,” Trump said.
“But what I’m not willing to do is sacrifice the economic well-being of our country for something that nobody really knows,” Trump said.
He added: “I have a natural instinct for science and I will say that you have scientists on both sides of the picture.”