HANNITY: Yesterday, as you know, we traveled to Florida to interview the King of Talk Radio, one of the conservative thought leaders in the country for the last 30 years, Rush Limbaugh. Here is part two of the exclusive interview.
HANNITY: I talked to friends that I know. They’ll sit in closed-door meetings with the Senate.
HANNITY: And you got a bunch of senators in there — I’ll name names: Ben Sasse, John McCain, others — openly hostile towards the president, which raises a question. I’ve always kind of viewed myself as a Reagan conservative. I remember you teaching people about Reagan and taxes and Kennedy and taxes and playing old clips of these things. And I remember it worked. You just mentioned Reagan. It worked. What do they stand for if they’re not gonna stand for repeal and replace and this economic plan? And do you believe they really want this plan to go through, or are they setting the country up for yet another failure?
RUSH: Well, intelligence guided by experience. They’ve introduced it just like they did Obamacare. Let’s see how tough, how far they take this, how much they fight for it — or whether they just want to try to get the credit for proposing it. But to answer your question, it goes back to election night. They didn’t expect Trump to win, and they weren’t prepared for Trump to win, and they’re still unhappy that Trump won.
And I think the real answer to your question is: The Washington establishment — both parties — it’s a small club. It’s elite. You can’t get in it because you want to get in it. They don’t have a clubhouse. But Trump would never be admitted in this club no matter what he did. These guys have been running the country. It’s donors; it’s think tanks. It’s the whole Washington media, the whole establishment. Trump’s an outsider.
They have been managing the country, ruling the country for however many decades. They can’t afford for an outsider neophyte to come in and redo everything — fix things in three months, fix things in a year — show that it can be done, show that an outsider can do it, show that what they say can’t be done can be done. I think they’re petrified. And they’re all united, Republicans and Democrats — it’s not just the Senate — in making sure that Trump, the outsider, doesn’t succeed with his agenda.
HANNITY: Don’t they pay a price? They made these promises themselves.
RUSH: Well, it goes back… Here’s the thing. You tell me.
RUSH: I mean, you’re closer to these people on a daily basis than I am. Who are they loyal to? Their donors! The donors matter more than their voters. Obviously! This Obamacare thing? Who doesn’t want Obamacare gotten rid of? The insurance companies, probably the Chamber of Commerce, any number of usual big donors and the people who really write the legislation in Washington on K Street. They don’t want it done away with.
HANNITY: But Rush Limbaugh fans that have been dedicated to you for all these years — what, you’re 30 years now on the radio?
RUSH: Twenty-nine and counting.
HANNITY: All right, 29 and counting. They’re listening to this. They got everything they want: House, Senate, and a president that wants to do these things.
HANNITY: I’m deflated at times. I’m deflated they couldn’t get health care done. I’m like, “Seriously? After seven years, you can’t get this done?”
RUSH: Well, look, I’m deflated too but I’m more angry about it. But I think I understand it. Look at Alabama. The answer to this is what happened in Alabama, in terms of the voters. Everybody is saying that that vote in Alabama was an indication that Trump’s base is leaving him. That’s what they want. Everybody is trying to make sure that Trump’s base leaves him, ’cause they can’t cause it. They’ve been trying to do that since before he was inaugurated. Only Trump can destroy that relationship. But they’re trying.
So Trump endorses the wrong guy as far as his voters are concerned.
What do they did?
They elect the right guy, but they don’t abandon Trump. They had his back on that vote. They are so invested in Trump because he’s the only way what they believe can happen. They’re not gonna abandon Trump. Even when he makes a mistake, they’re gonna have his back. All these stories, “Trump was livid; Trump was angry.” Maybe so, but he should be very thankful that his voters are sophisticated enough to understand that they’re gonna do everything they can to help him move his agenda forward. That’s what that Alabama vote was about.
HANNITY: I think more than any other person in America, you define conservatism, Reagan conservatism. Now we keep hearing, “Well, this is nationalism, populism.” I look at the president’s agenda. I have some disagreements. Not many. I think he’s got a strong agenda of growth that would be good for the — originalists on the court, securing the border. You talk about national populism versus conservatism a lot. Do you see his agenda as conservative, national populism, is there a conflict?
RUSH: I don’t think the president is ideological. And I’ve said this a number of times. When he sees Chuck Schumer he doesn’t see the guy we see. He just sees a typical New Yorker, may be dumb and stupid, but he doesn’t see leftist SOB, he doesn’t see that.
HANNITY: (laughing) We see it that way.
RUSH: He doesn’t see that. That’s not a criticism. I mean, not everybody’s ideological. The best definition of populism versus conservatism, this tax plan. This tax plan is pure populism. It is put together on the belief, which is a Democrat Party belief, that a majority of Americans want the rich punished or that a majority of Americans want the rich not to benefit when they do. That’s the Democrat Party class envy argument. If what I’m told is true and if the president is the reason upper brackets are not gonna get any relief, then it’s pure populism.
He’s simply saying, where is the majority of people that I can get the most support from, and he’s making a calculation that there are far more people in the middle class than there are in the 1%, which is an easy calculation to make. The conservative — and I don’t even mean pure — the conservative philosophy is across the board no class envy, talk about how great America is, talk about how this will spur economic growth, which will benefit everybody. You don’t make victims out of some and demons out of others.
You look at the country as one giant economic engine that you have to ignite. But, if you’re gonna leave people out of your primary effort to cause growth, then that’s populism. That’s not conservative. Individual policies, immigration, he’s instinctively conservative on a lot of things. Whether he sits in his office and says, “I’m gonna go conservative on this” — I don’t think that happens. His instincts, his heart, 95% right there.
HANNITY: I agree. So you go seven brackets to three, you simplify the tax code, 15, 20% corporate rate, repatriation, I love his energy plan, energy independence. That’s gonna create a lot of jobs, in my opinion. And so the real missing ingredient is he’s just bought into, well, we can’t — we have to still tax the rich more; they’ve got enough. That’s the missing part of, say, the Reagan formula.
RUSH: Right. But, see, that’s a liberal argument, that they’ve got enough. Whose business is it to decide who has enough? When especially you’re gonna say we have to find a way to pay for this. Who’s “we,” government? Why can’t government do with a dollar less next year? When they demand more from us, they can’t say, no, no, we can’t afford it, outta here. They demand it, they take it, they got a giant collection agency. They never do without.
Sean, however many years that you and I have been doing this, the budget’s never gotten smaller, the deficit over time has been up and down, but the national debt keeps growing, doesn’t matter which party’s in power. Five-hundred-and-thirty-five people and however many people in the bureaucracy are ruining this country. Not us. We’re doing our best, we’re doing everything we can. We elect the people we think, based on what they say to us, are honest and agree with us, but, at the end of the day, all of this rhetoric about reducing the deficit, reducing the national debt, making government smaller, more efficient, it never happens.
HANNITY: You’re a student of history. You’re a student of politics. You live, eat, and breathe this. Have you ever seen deep state leaks, about one a day? The Democrats hate the president, Republicans are weak, and many of them — as you point out — I think they want him to fail. You’ve got this Never Trumper crowd, and then the media, all aligned against him. Ever seen it this bad?
RUSH: Never. Never have. People say that Nixon was the object of hatred and derision, and he was. But I have never seen… Trump is really exposing the people that do run or think they run this country, and they are scared to death. They’re angry. They feel betrayed by the election, and what they’re demonstrating is they are perfectly willing — perfectly willing — to get rid of Trump any way they can and overturn the results of an election simply because they don’t like it.
What do you think the Mueller investigation is? It’s a prelude to finding a crime or a misdemeanor that might be impeachable — or creating a process crime. You know what’s funny about the Mueller investigation? From what I hear, they can’t find a crime. There wasn’t a crime to start with, as there should have been. What they’re finding (laughing) is crimes on the Democrat side that they’re trying to sweep aside. Hillary and the rigged primary against Crazy Bernie? That would… Never forget, folks: Trump runs the Department of Justice right now. So nothing’s over until Trump does something with it.
So chin up about that.
HANNITY: I’ve never seen… Look at the powerful tools of intelligence, which we need to keep the country safe. Then you got surveillance; you got unmasking. You don’t have minimization. Then look at the case of General Flynn leaking intelligence, a violation of the Espionage Act. A leak a day the president has.
HANNITY: That… I’ve never seen that in my life.
RUSH: No. But what happens when liberalism…? Everything’s been politicized. Intelligence is politicized, no matter what they want to tell us. There’s not a thing that the left doesn’t try to take control over or influence that does not become politicized. And when that happens, it becomes corrupted. Liberalism corrupts, and the intelligence community, look at what they’re doing. They’re actually now using whatever they can. Making things up like the Trump dossier, whatever they can do to force the president out of office or to dwindle support among his voters and supporters.
And I just think it’s corruption on display, and most of it is coming from Big Government-liberal types. But beyond that, it also, the establishment itself… I know that’s a word that’s thrown around, but it is the people that run the country, and you don’t know them. We don’t know who the leader is. They’re not elected. The elected members are part of it but they’re not the power base. The elected people are told what to do. They’re given the money, the donations and so forth. All this is being exposed, I think.
HANNITY: You said about the president in his speech at the U.N., never before has anybody ever spoken this way to the U.N. It’s never happened by an American president. You got North Korea — I think, a real threat. This guy’s nuts. You got Iran. The Iranian deal will probably be there in 5 or 10 years, dealing with the same issues of, you know, radical mullahs armed with nuclear weapons and ICBMs. “Peace through strength.” You believe it; I believe it. How do you view his foreign policy?
RUSH: I think his foreign policy, like most everything else he’s doing, I like it because it’s unique, it’s different, and it’s common-sensical. I laughed myself silly. I saw a news story that this little potbellied dictator, Kim Jong-un —
RUSH: — is so confused —
HANNITY: (laughing) Yeah.
RUSH: — by what Trump’s saying, he’s calling —
RUSH: — Americans in Washington to help them understand: What’s Trump saying?
HANNITY: Yep. (laughing)
RUSH: “You keep it up, and you’re not gonna exist. You keep it up and you’re gonna regret it.” So this guy calls, “What does he mean? What does he mean?” And the people he’s calling, people who don’t know how to analyze Trump, either. Trump is a foreign object to these people. Politics is, in one way, so phony. It’s the art of not saying what you really mean. Trump comes along, says what he means, and then doubles down on it. And that’s why people around the country are cheering and standing up.
He talks the way they do, not in diplospeak or political-speak. He just gets in, gets it, and gets out. And all of that is intimidating, I think, ’cause it upsets the natural order of things the way politics is talked about and communicated. Foreign policy especially. I love it when I think about all these people at the State Department. Trump says to the North Korean guy, “You keep it up, and you don’t exist.” “Ooo! Ooo!” Just shivering.
RUSH: This is the way people talk to each other — and the guy, apparently, has gotten the message if he’s calling here trying to figure out what Trump means. It means he’s got the message. “Does he really mean what he said?” Yes, he does in this case.
HANNITY: I think he does. I work in the media, and I honestly feel — at least on cable TV — I’m like an island unto myself right now, me and some of my colleagues at Fox. Radio, you’re more popular than ever, with all the means and devices people can listen to now. You watch media. You’ve turned over to CNN. You’ve turned over to MSNBC. The president has taken them on — and I watch it — and, Rush?
They never talk about the forgotten men and women and people in poverty on food stamps that need jobs — what the election, in my mind, was about. It’s Russia, Russia, Russia. Conspiracies. Outright lies. Calling the president a liar. If you said on your radio show half of what is said daily about then-President Obama, the whole left wing in the country would have tried to fire you.
RUSH: Right. And it would have been front page above the fold for a week.
HANNITY: A week?
RUSH: This is a good point. The media isn’t media. When you think of media, you think they’ve got people out there looking at things where you’re not and they tell you what happened. That’s the news. They don’t do the the news. There is no news. There is the advancement of the Democrat Party agenda, which is get rid of Trump. They’re totally devoted to it. The media has been corrupted by liberalism. Sean, I don’t watch CNN, MSNBC. I used to for show prep. I’ve banned all content from MSNBC on my show. Why promote that garbage? It just makes me mad. I don’t watch it. My life is actually, mood-wise, attitude-wise, a huge increase for the better by turning off left-wing so-called news at night. I decided to pay people to watch.
HANNITY: I hope you’ll watch occasionally.
RUSH: I turn on Fox, that’s the point. But they’re not news. They’re media. They’re agents of — and not just the Democrat Party. I think the media is the force and the power of the left. And the Democrat Party is just an arm of it now. The media is running the agenda and promoting it.
HANNITY: My last question. You’re gonna hate this question, so I’m giving you the heads-up. You’re not gonna like this question. Your TV show was a big hit. When you come on TV, people want to hear from you. You have the highest rated nationally syndicated radio show in the country. Huge audiences with people who could listen all sorts of ways. I think people would like to see you on TV. Maybe an hour a week. Would you ever — see, I told you you’d hate it.
RUSH: There’s something going on. Everybody is telling me. I had a couple of callers this week. Did they call you and you tell them to call me?
HANNITY: I’m here as an emissary for Fox.
RUSH: You need to be on TV —
HANNITY: One hour a week.
RUSH: One hour a week.
HANNITY: Maybe two.
RUSH: I’ll give you a short answer. I’m totally satisfied with radio. I’m so blessed, I can’t — every day I pinch myself over the great things the American people have made possible for me by being in the audience. My TV show was collaborative — I don’t collaborate. I don’t know how you do your radio show, but I never had one meeting. I don’t tell anybody what I’m going to do —
RUSH: — beforehand. Television you have to have three hours of meetings for a 22-minute show. You have to put everything in order, floor manager, stage manager.
HANNITY: Rush, we’ve changed. I don’t have meetings. I have one phone call that lasts 20 minutes. That’s it.
RUSH: And what happens in that phone call? You tell them what you’re gonna do and put it in in order or do they tell you what they want you to do?
HANNITY: With all due respect to my producers, I’m telling them where we’re going.
RUSH: Okay. Do you have to stick with it once it’s there?
HANNITY: No, we change it up to the last second.
RUSH: You’ve got improv ability?
HANNITY: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.
RUSH: Well, then.
HANNITY: Is that a sign of hope? (laughing) I told you you wouldn’t like the question. But I know — I do know — I think people would love it.
RUSH: You flatter me. I appreciate that very much. I really do.
HANNITY: Listen, I know you don’t do a lot of interviews. Thank you for being on.
HANNITY: Love your success. The country’s learned a lot from you over the years, and, as a radio guy, you paved the path. I have not had as many slings and arrows because you paved a pretty wide path, and you had to take all of those early on. I remember when you went out there, I remember the Pat Sajak fill in.
RUSH: Yeah, they stacked the audience.
HANNITY: You got hit hard and you never stopped and you kept pushing through and it made it easier for guys like me.
RUSH: Thank you very much. But it’s grown. It’s amazing how it’s grown. That’s why we’re winning. Everywhere except in Washington. We’re winning. The Democrats can’t win an election.
HANNITY: I know.
RUSH: They’re losing elections. They’ve lost over a thousand seats. This is so, so frustrating. We’ve got an opportunity that we’re never gonna have —
HANNITY: Three months.
RUSH: All it would take.
HANNITY: That’s all it would take.
RUSH: Three months, pass the agenda.
HANNITY: McConnell’s the worst, Rush. He can’t…? How do you not get 50 votes on health care after seven and a half years?
RUSH: You gotta find out who actually influences him that doesn’t want them.