Trump Today: President says he hasn’t spoken to Whitaker about Russia probe, signs proclamation limiting asylum

  




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President Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing on Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday.

President Donald Trump on Friday ripped a decision to block work on the Keystone XL pipeline, as he told reporters he hadn’t spoken to Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker about the Russia investigation and signed a proclamation limiting asylum.

WHITAKER AND MUELLER

Speaking to reporters before leaving for Paris, Trump said he hadn’t spoken with Whitaker 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.

Also see: New acting attorney general Whitaker wanted limits on Mueller’s Trump probe.

The president is expected to name a permanent replacement for Jeff Sessions, who 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.”

See: Video of Acosta incident posted by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders contains extra frames.

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. 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 doing that 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.

Also read: Trump threatens more reporters’ credentials as he slams ‘stupid’ questioning.

HINTS AT FEDERAL INTERVENTION IN FLORIDA

With Florida’s Senate race in dispute and appearing to head for a recount, Trump suggested federal authorities could get involved.

Trump said Republican Gov. Rick Scott defeated incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson “by a comfortable margin.” Scott’s lead was reduced to just 15,000 votes as of Friday, setting up the possibility of a recount. Nelson hired a lawyer after election night, and Trump said on Twitter that he was sending “much better lawyers to expose the FRAUD!” He didn’t cite evidence of fraud, however.

See: Florida’s Rick Scott accuses ‘unethical liberals’ of trying to ‘steal this election.’

ASYLUM LIMITED

Trump signed a proclamation that will bar migrants who cross into the U.S. illegally from the southern border from seeking asylum. “They’re flooding our country, we’re not letting them in,” Trump told reporters.

Legal challenges are expected against the move, Trump’s latest crackdown on immigration.

Read: Trump moves to deny asylum to most migrants who cross border illegally.

KEYSTONE ‘DISGRACE’

On Thursday, a federal judge in Montana blocked the administration’s permit allowing the pipeline and barred any construction of the project until completion of a supplemental environmental review. Trump called the Keystone decision a “disgrace,” saying it was a political move.

Read: Federal judge blocks long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline permit for environmental review.

Trump revived Keystone XL after it had been blocked by President Barack Obama. The pipeline expansion by TransCanada Corp.














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 aims to take oil from Alberta to Nebraska.

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