President Donald Trump never thought he would win the Republican nomination and believed Jeb Bush would win instead, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said on Monday, adding that Trump is using the White House to enrich himself.
The "Morning Joe" panel discussed a Washington Post report that, even while Trump was running for president in late 2015 and early 2016, his company was pursuing a deal for a new Trump Tower in Moscow:
Nevertheless, the details of the deal, which have not previously been disclosed, provide evidence that Trump’s business was actively pursuing significant commercial interests in Russia at the same time he was campaigning to be president — and in a position to determine U.S.-Russia relations. The new details from the emails, which are scheduled to be turned over to congressional investigators soon, also point to the likelihood of additional contacts between Russia-connected individuals and Trump associates during his presidential bid.
The Post‘s revelation has added meaning due to the already reported contacts between Russians and Trump's campaign, as well as Trump's potential business conflicts of interest that fall under the current Special Counsel investigation.
Scarborough recalled the 2015 interview on "Morning Joe" during which Trump defended Russian President Vladimir Putin and said it always comes back to money with Trump.
"We always try to figure this out and try to crack the code," Scarborough said. "It's always money. It's always business. It's always vulgar."
Scarborough declared Trump is "using his presidency to make money."
"This is how he thinks, and when it's all over, whether it's two years, four years, or eight years … This is all about Donald Trump making money," he said. "He's leveraging this position to make money for future deals."
Panelist Mike Barnicle said only Trump knew in that time period whether his heart was truly in the campaign or if he was interested in promoting his businesses.
"He didn't think he was going to win the nomination. He never did. It was a branding exercise," Scarborough said. "He never thought he was going to win the nomination. He thought Jeb Bush was going to win the nomination."
Trump became the GOP frontrunner in the fall of 2015 and, other than a second-place finish in Iowa, steamrolled the rest of the large field en route to the nomination. Bush, who entered the race as a well-funded favorite to be the Republican nominee, dropped out of the race in February of 2016.
It was not clear if Scarborough was simply guessing about Trump's opinion on Bush or if he had inside knowledge, although it should be noted he and co-host Mika Brzezinski had a personal relationship with the president before he ran for the office.
Scarborough was particularly friendly with Trump during much of the primary process and even offered him debate advice, although Scarborough has bristled at the notion that he was too cozy with the candidate, pointing to his criticisms of his policies. Since he became president, the show's coverage has been fiercely anti-Trump.