By Robert Schroeder, MarketWatch
President Donald Trump on Friday tried to distance himself from the person he named to be acting attorney general as he signed a proclamation limiting asylum.
WHITAKER AND MUELLER
Speaking to reporters before leaving for Paris, Trump said he hadn’t spoken with Matthew Whitaker, the acting attorney general, about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and added he didn’t know Whitaker personally. But Trump said Whitaker, who some say doesn’t have the necessary Senate clearance to be acting attorney general, was “highly thought of.”
Whitaker was critical of Mueller’s probe before joining the Justice Department.
The president is expected to name a permanent replacement for Jeff Sessions, whom he ousted as attorney general earlier this week. He said “I like” ex–New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie but hasn’t talked to him about the role.
REPORTERS, OBAMA TARGETED
Trump again sparred with the media and suggested he could revoke more press credentials. When asked how long CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s pass would be suspended, the president said, “As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t made that decision. But it could be others also.”
He also called April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks a “loser” who “doesn’t know what the hell she is doing.” And he unloaded on Acosta’s CNN colleague, Abby Phillip, after she asked if he wanted Whitaker to “rein in” Mueller.
“What a stupid question,” Trump said, adding that he’d known her to ask other stupid questions in the past. Ryan and Phillip both defended themselves in appearances on CNN. “It’s the most important question here because there are a lot of really clear questions about whether Matt Whitaker ought to be [overseeing the Mueller investigation] given what he said publicly in the past about Mueller,” said Phillip.
Trump was asked about former first lady Michelle Obama’s forthcoming memoir, in which she said she’d “never forgive” him for his role in the movement that claimed former President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. “She got paid a lot of money to write a book and they always expect a little controversy,” he replied. Trump also said he wouldn’t forgive the ex-president for what he said was depleting the U.S. military.