President Donald Trump speaks to the media before boarding Marine One to depart from the White House on Friday.
President Donald Trump on Friday freshly attacked the Russia investigation as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office was expected to release details about former Trump associates, and said he’s nominating William Barr as attorney general and Heather Nauert as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
TRUMP SUGGESTS ROSENSTEIN CONFLICTED
In a barrage of tweets, Trump asked if Mueller’s “big time conflicts of interest” would be listed in his forthcoming report. The president also lashed out at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who previously supervised the Mueller probe. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker now oversees it.
Mueller is set to reveal more details about his probe, as he faces a Friday deadline for detailing the cooperation of Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen. Mueller’s team will also disclose what they say Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, lied about when his plea deal fell apart.
Trump vowed to release a “counter report” to Mueller’s findings, and said 87 pages of it are already written. Trump has previously railed against donations by members of Mueller’s team to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Last month, the president retweeted an image showing Rosenstein, among others, in jail, asking when “the trials for treason begin.” Trump said in October he had no plans to fire Rosenstein, following a report the deputy attorney general had discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Rosenstein denied the report.
Trump also singled out Mueller-team member Andrew Weissmann, and asked if his “horrible and vicious prosecutorial past” would be listed in Mueller’s report. Trump said Weissmann “took down great companies,” but was overturned in the Supreme Court. That appears to be a reference to the high court’s overturning the criminal conviction of Enron Corp.’s accounting firm Arthur Andersen LLP in 2005. Weissmann helped lead the federal task force investigating Enron.
NAUERT, BARR TAPPED FOR POSTS
Trump told reporters he’s picked Barr to head the Justice Department, and Nauert for the U.N. post. Barr served in the same post under President George H.W. Bush, and Nauert is the State Department spokeswoman and a former Fox News host.
Nauert may face a difficult confirmation hearing, with Democrats questioning her credentials. Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN Nauert is “clearly not qualified for this job.”
CHINA TWEET AND BILL SIGNING
Trump said in a one-line tweet that trade talks with China are “going well,” offering optimism after a week in which stocks see-sawed in part over worries about striking a deal. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -1.48% dropped more than 400 points Friday morning as trade concerns again weighed on investors.
The president also signed a bill to keep the government funded through Dec. 21.
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