There were already some pretty choice quotes shared by Bloomberg Politics’ Kevin Cirilli, Michael C. Bender and Jennifer Jacobs from their piece on Monday on a phone call that took place between Donald Trump and some of his key supporters over how to talk with the press about U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel.
Curiel is the Hoosier native who is presiding over the lawsuit brought against Trump by former students of Trump University, alleging he provided a worthless education at great expense. And we bring up the judge’s place of birth only because Trump got it very wrong when he called the judge a “hater of Donald Trump. A hater. He’s a hater,” who “happens to be, we believe, Mexican.”
The reason for the call was because there appeared to be some confusion in Trumpland over how, or whether, to back Trump in his noble crusade. As Trump doubled down on his comments, supporters were apparently told to stay out of it, based on a memo that had been sent to them. Wrong.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
This is why Trump got on the phone himself: to clarify. According to the piece:
Told the memo was sent by Erica Freeman, a staffer who circulates information to surrogates, Trump said he didn’t know her. He openly questioned how the campaign could defend itself if supporters weren’t allowed to talk.
“Are there any other stupid letters that were sent to you folks?” Trump said. “That’s one of the reasons I want to have this call, because you guys are getting sometimes stupid information from people that aren’t so smart.”
This quote gave John Heilemann pause Monday evening on With All Due Respect as he and co-host Mark Halperin engaged in a post-piece analysis with Jacobs.
“When he says this thing about, he says this is a stupid memo that was sent to them, telling him not to talk about it,” asks Heilemann, “and then he says, ‘people that aren’t so smart,’ he’s referring to the people that work for him when he says people that aren’t so smart, right? He’s attacking his own staff with his surrogates, right?”
“Yes, he was talking about his own aides who instructed these surrogates that they are not authorized to talk about Trump University and the lawsuit,” says Jacobs.
Jacobs and her co-authors received their information thanks to unnamed sources who were on the call. Asked by Halperin about the “tone of the call,” Jacobs said, “The sources said it was a little bit chaotic, people were interrupting each other. From their description it sounds like … [Trump] was a little bit irritated, he was trying to act as moderator on this call and trying to get everyone going on the same page, so it sounded like it was a very interesting phone call.”
Interesting indeed, with Trump using the phrase “we will overcome” to describe his campaign’s struggle against being portrayed as racist. But just because, in the world according to Trump, he isn’t racist, does not mean that there are not racists among us. According to Trump, “the people asking the questions—those are the racists. I would go at ’em.”
So there’s the attack part of the strategy. And if you’re wondering what happened to the bloviate component, Jacobs shared some information on that part of the strategy, which didn’t make it into the original piece. “He was urging his surrogates to fight back against interviewers who ask them about this lawsuit and to ask their media interviewer if they’ve actually read these 19,000 pages of comments—positive feedback about Trump University.”
Watch the full clip below.