President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before departing for France on Friday. | Evan Vucci/AP Photo
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP spoke at length to reporters this morning before departing for Paris to attend a World War I commemoration. The president continued to weigh in on an array of topics on Twitter after takeoff for the hours-long flight just before 10 a.m.
ON ACTING AG MATT WHITAKER, Trump claimed “I don’t know Whitaker,” adding that he is “highly thought of” and a “highly respected man.”
-- MAGGIE HABERMAN (@maggieNYT): “Interesting for him to do ‘I hardly know the guy’ this quickly. He does know him, from repeated Oval Office visits. (This doesn’t bode well for Whitaker becoming permanent).”
-- THE PRESIDENT said he did not speak to Whitaker about special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation. He also lamented that Mueller had not been confirmed by the Senate. In 2001, Mueller was confirmed as FBI director 98-0, with two not voting. And special counsels are not subject to Senate confirmation.
BLOOMBERG’S JENNIFER JACOBS (@JenniferJJacobs): “QUESTION (from @abbydphillip): Do you want acting AG Matt Whitaker to rein in Mueller? TRUMP: ‘What a stupid question.’”
-- NOT ONLY IS THIS NOT STUPID, it’s probably one of the most crucial questions facing this administration.
-- TRUMP also said that he had not spoken to Chris Christie about becoming attorney general. “I did not see Chris Christie yesterday, I heard he was in the White House,” he said. “I like Chris Christie, but I have not talked to him about it.”
ON THE FLORIDA RECOUNT: Trump called the delayed vote counting a “disgrace” and said “bad things are happening” in Broward County before casting doubt on the results still coming in. “We’ve been to court, had a lot of drama. We won. I say this: We easily won. But every hour it seems to be going down. I think that people have to look at it very, very cautiously.”
-- THE PRESIDENT TWEETS -- @realDonaldTrump at 10:55 a.m.: “[email protected] ran a great race in Georgia – he won. It is time to move on!”
… at 10:58 a.m.: “You mean they are just now finding votes in Florida and Georgia – but the Election was on Tuesday? Let’s blame the Russians and demand an immediate apology from President Putin!”
… at 11:52 a.m.: “As soon as Democrats sent their best Election stealing lawyer, Marc Elias, to Broward County they miraculously started finding Democrat votes. Don’t worry, Florida -- I am sending much better lawyers to expose the FRAUD!”
FACT-CHECK -- From
MARC CAPUTO and
MATT DIXON’s Florida Playbook this morning: “TIMING ISSUE — Few would dispute that Broward’s elections office is plagued by rank incompetence, and such incompetence could create the atmosphere for fraudsters to operate. But there’s just no evidence right now that anything illegal has happened. The vote totals are simply changing as more ballots from Democratic counties are being uploaded. There’s a reason Saturday (and not Wednesday, Thursday or Friday) is the deadline to upload results.” POLITICO
WHAT ELSE IS ON THE PRESIDENT’S MIND -- @realDonaldTrump at 12:10 p.m.: “Jeff Flake(y) doesn’t want to protect the Non-Senate confirmed Special Counsel, he wants to protect his future after being unelectable in Arizona for the ‘crime’ of doing a terrible job! A weak and ineffective guy!”
ON JIM ACOSTA AND OTHER REPORTERS: Asked how long CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s White House ban would last, Trump said, “I haven’t made that decision, but it could be others also.” He then turned his ire to April Ryan. “You talk about somebody who’s a loser. She doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing … She gets a pay raise, and she gets a contract with, I think, CNN. But she’s very nasty.”
-- TRUMP also rejected reports that press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had shared on Twitter an altered video of Acosta’s interaction with a White House aide. “No one manipulated it. Give me a break, see that’s just dishonest reporting. … They made it close up, they showed it close up.”
Good Friday afternoon. RBG UPDATE -- STATEMENT FROM SUPREME COURT SPOX: “Justice Ginsburg has been discharged from the hospital. She is doing well and plans to work from home today.”
-- TRUMP told reporters he hopes Ginsburg serves on the court “for many years.”>
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MORE ABOUT MATT WHITAKER … AP’S RYAN FOLEY: “Acting AG faced criticism for case against gay Iowa Democrat”: “In 2007, Matt McCoy was a rising star in the Democratic Party, Iowa’s first openly gay senator and a leading champion for the party’s causes. But then, his allies say, McCoy’s promising career was stalled by a politically motivated federal prosecution brought by a Republican U.S. attorney, Matthew G. Whitaker …
“The case against McCoy fell apart in court amid allegations of political bias and prosecutorial misconduct. A jury quickly acquitted McCoy of the criminal charge, deciding that he had not attempted to extort money from a former business partner. … When he was considering a run for Congress last year in a seat a Democrat captured in Tuesday’s election, a national publication brought his indictment back up in what he called a damaging story.” AP
THE INVESTIGATIONS …
THE INVESTIGATIONS …
DARREN SAMUELSOHN: “Judges order Mueller to explain impact of Sessions-Whitaker DOJ shakeup”: “A federal appellate court panel on Friday ordered Robert Mueller as well as attorneys trying to knock the special counsel out of his job to file new legal briefs that explain how this week’s shakeup atop the Justice Department could influence their case.
“In a one-paragraph order, the three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit told Mueller and lawyers for a former aide to Roger Stone that they have until Nov. 19 to turn in briefs that sift through Wednesday’s firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the legal reaction it may have created.” POLITICO