Fallon on Trump's Axios interview: 'So bad it made his briefings look good'

Adrian Horton
·3-min read

Jimmy Fallon

“Everybody is talking about this,” said Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show after clips of Trump’s more-disturbing-than-usual interview with Axios on HBO ricocheted across the internet on Monday. The 37-minute sit-down interview, released just weeks after his widely panned outing with the Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, was “so bad it made his coronavirus briefings look good”, said Fallon.

It was “such a disaster that at one point, Fema showed up and wrapped Trump in a foil blanket”, the host added. It also generated a slew of memes, as reporter Jonathan Swan reacted in confusion to Trump’s floundering attempts to defend, with print-out graphics, America’s supposed superiority in containing the coronavirus.

Swan rebutted Trump’s claim that the pandemic was under control – “How? A thousand Americans are dying every day?” he said, to which Trump replied: “They are dying, that’s true. And it is what it is.”

“‘It is what it is?’ You’re the president of the United States!” Fallon exclaimed. “You’re not Paulie Walnuts delivering bad news to Tony Soprano.

“At funerals, when everyone says ‘my condolences’, Trumps says, ‘It is what it is,’” he added.

Later in the interview, Trump riffled through what appeared to be, judging by Swan’s expression, nonsensical charts, thus resembling what Fallon recognized as “every dad looking at Ikea instructions”.

Related: Seth Meyers on Jared Kushner's failed coronavirus testing plan: '1. Have one'

Swan also asked about Trump’s feelings toward the former Epstein associate and alleged sexual abuser Ghislaine Maxwell, who was arrested last month on charges of trafficking minor girls. Just minutes after saying he didn’t know the recently deceased civil rights icon John Lewis because Lewis didn’t attend his inauguration, Trump again sent good wishes toward Maxwell, as he had two weeks prior. “Yeah, I wish her well … I do wish her well,” said Trump. I’m not looking for anything bad for her.”

“Man, for a guy who owns a bunch of casinos, you’d think he’d know when to stop doubling down,” said Fallon. “Stop wishing her well! She’s an accused sex trafficker, not a kid going off to college for the first time.”

Seth Meyers

On Late Night, Seth Meyers also unpacked Trump’s flailing interview, which offered no shortage of jaw-dropping bits. Swan asked Trump, for instance, how history would remember John Lewis; Trump said “I don’t know” because he didn’t know John Lewis – “I guess in the same way Republicans suddenly ‘won’t know’ Trump after November 4th,” Meyers deadpanned.

Trump also claimed the coronavirus pandemic – which has killed nearly 160,000 Americans to date, has gutted the economy, kept schoolchildren home and sent unemployment soaring – is “under control”.

“What? You’re not controlling it at all,” said Meyers in disbelief. “You’re handling the pandemic the same way parents handle a third child.”

As for Trump’s “it is what it is” shrug at the coronavirus death toll Meyers had few words. “God, he’s like the last resort friend you confide in during the break-up,” he said, then broke out his Trump impression: ‘Yeah it’s sad but it is what it is … can we get back to me?’”