'Fox & Friends' Presses Trump on Michael Cohen, Somewhat Begrudgingly

Co-host Ainsley Earhardt was granted the first interview with the president following Cohen's guilty plea.

The Fox News morning show Fox & Friends is known as a "safe space" for President Trump, a frequent viewer. But, in an interview conducted on Wednesday at the White House and aired on Thursday morning, co-host Ainsley Earhardt asked largely the right questions and followed up, though somewhat tepidly at times.

On Tuesday, Trump's longtime attorney and "fixer," Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to tax evasion and bank fraud, and admitted that he committed campaign violations by coordinating payoffs to silence women who claimed to have had sexual relationships with his boss.

"Did you direct him to make these payments?" Earhardt asked Trump. She then followed up, and asked, "Did you know about the payments?"

She asked Trump to explain Cohen's actions, which he did by saying that he "made a good deal" for himself and took the opportunity to "flip" and reduce a lesser sentence.

"He makes a better deal when he uses me, like everyone else," Trump said. "People make up stories. ... In all fairness to him, most people are going to do that. It's called 'flipping,' and it almost ought to be illegal. ... They make up things, and now they go from 10 years to they're a national hero."

But she entertained his somewhat unfounded accusation that Cohen's treatment can be compared to that of Imran Awan, a former Democratic congressional aide who pleaded guilty to making false statements on a loan application but will not serve jail time, unlike Cohen.

"Double standard?" Earhardt asked. While sympathetic, Earhardt's question wasn't sympathetic enough for the president. "Double standard? He was worse than anybody," Trump responded.

Earhardt also set up the president for a slam dunk when she told him that "a lot of people are frustrated" with Jeff Sessions' Justice Department, giving him an opening to attack Sessions as unloyal and weak.

Earhardt asked the president whether he's considering pardoning Paul Manafort, who was found guilty on Tuesday on eight counts of misconduct, and also asked him about a potential Democratic effort in Congress to impeach him.

But whether for President Trump, who was likely watching the broadcast, or for the show's other viewers, Earhardt framed the rationale for the interview in a positive light for the president.

"I was so grateful that he sat down with us after such a crazy news day, so we could hear his side of the story," she told her co-hosts, Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade, who have both interviewed the president in the last few months.

Doocy seemed pleased by his co-host's questions. "Good job, Ainsley," he said.

Asked about his war on the press, Trump said the media is not the "enemy of the people." But he said that 80 percent of the media is "fake news."