WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing an electoral defeat that could imperil his presidency, President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he won't accept the blame if Republicans lose the House in November, arguing that he is "helping people" in the midterms.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, Trump also accused his longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen of "lying" under oath, defended his use of the derisive nickname "Horseface" for porn actress Stormy Daniels and argued that the widespread condemnation of the Saudis in the disappearance of a Washington Post columnist was a rush to judgment.
Of his efforts on the campaign trail, Trump said: "I don't believe anybody has ever had this kind of impact." He resisted comparisons to former President Barack Obama, who took responsibility for the Democrats' defeat in 2010 by acknowledging that his party got "shellacked."
Democrats are hopeful about their chances to recapture the House, while Republicans are increasingly confident they can hold the Senate. If Democrats take the House and pursue impeachment or investigations — including seeking his long-hidden tax returns— Trump said he will "handle it very well."
Trump also declared that Cohen's testimony was "totally false" in his August plea deal to campaign finance violations alleging he coordinated with Trump on a hush-money scheme to buy the silence of Daniels and a Playboy model who alleged affairs. But in entering the deal with Cohen, prosecutors signaled that they accepted his recitation of facts and account of what occurred.
He derided Cohen, who worked for Trump for a decade, as "a PR person who did small legal work," and said it was "very sad" that Cohen had struck a deal to "achieve a lighter sentence."
And Trump did not back down from derisively nicknaming Daniels "Horseface" in a tweet hours earlier.
Asked by the AP if it was appropriate to insult a woman's appearance, Trump responded, "You can take it any way you want."
Trump said that Washington lawyer Pat Cipollone will serve as his next White House counsel and that he hoped to announce a replacement for U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley in the next week or two. He again repeated his frustration with Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the special counsel investigation, saying, "I can fire him whenever I want to fire him."
On the ongoing Russia investigation, Trump defended his son Donald Trump Jr. for a Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer offering damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump called his son a "good young guy" and said he did what any political aide would have done.
Trump also touted the successful confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh as helping to motivate GOP voters. Trump said he spoke to former President George W. Bush about Kavanaugh but, when asked by the AP, said he did not thank him for the calls he made to lobby GOP senators.