Trump administration calls his Fox News interview 'a core government function'


Donald Trump used the Fox News interview to complain about the media and attack Democratic governors.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt claimed Donald Trump's Fox News interview at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday was a critical government function during the coronavirus crisis — and lifted the ban on such events to allow it to happen.

"Given the extraordinary crisis that the American people have endured, and the need for the President to exercise a core governmental function to address the Nation about an ongoing public-health crisis, I am exercising my authority to facilitate the opportunity for the President to conduct this address within the Lincoln Memorial," Bernhardt wrote in a Friday order to the National Park Service.

Trump's interview "will illuminate and reflect the values of our Nation during an unprecedented public-health crisis," Bernhardt added.

Trump used much of his interview seated beside the statue of Abraham Lincoln to recount his standard grievances about the media and Democratic politicians.

"I am greeted with a hostile press the likes of which no president has ever seen," Trump said Sunday. "They always said nobody got treated worse than Lincoln. I believe I am treated worse," Trump added without acknowledging that Lincoln was assassinated.

Bernhardt wrote in his order that Trump would use the occasion to "remind all of us that we can knit our often-divided Nation together in a time of trial."

Instead, Trump attacked the work of Democratic governors.

"She ought to get back to running her state properly," Trump said about Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. Sixty-three percent of Michigan residents approve of Whitmer's handling of the coronavirus crisis, while only 36% approve of Trump.

"We had one governor, Inslee, who is always wanting something," Trump said about Washington's Jay Inslee. "And, frankly, he didn't do a very good job on nursing homes, as far as I'm concerned, the state of Washington."

Trump also insisted that his handling of the pandemic has been successful, agreeing with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who said earlier in the week that it was a "great success story."

Asked about his decision to hold the virtual town hall at the Lincoln Memorial, Trump said nothing about the importance of addressing the nation during a time of crisis but instead praised the artwork.

"I think it's great for the American people to see. This is a great work of art," Trump said. "Aside from the fact that that was a great man, this a great work of art.  That's one of the greatest sculptures, one of the greatest statues, to me, anywhere in the world."

This wasn't the first time Trump held what seemed to be nothing more than a photo-op in the middle of the current health crisis.

On April 16, Trump violated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to hold a photo-op honoring truck drivers. Despite his own guidance from his own task force, Trump did not maintain a six-foot distance from those at the event, standing close to drivers from companies such as UPS, FedEX, and DHL as he handed them golden keys for their service.

Before the crisis, Trump's desire for photo-ops included a taxpayer-funded trip to the U.S.-Mexico border wall and a photo-op with a military service dog.

When the Philadelphia Eagles refused to come to the White House after their 2018 Super Bowl win, the White House attacked the team and revoked their invitation. But Trump went ahead with a photo-op, despite no football team, in what he called a "Celebration of America" including the Marine Corps band playing patriotic music.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.