Trump: New AG doesn’t have to recuse himself
Donald Trump said his new acting attorney general should not recuse himself from supervising the Russia investigation, and refused to say whether he wants him to rein in the probe.
Trump fired Jeff Sessions and picked Matt Whitaker, who has publicly expressed disdain for special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, to take over the job on a permanent basis.
Because of his past comments disparaging the investigation, Whitaker has faced calls to recuse himself and allow deputy AG Rod Rosenstein to remain in control of the probe.
“I see everybody on television, all these lawyers, all these law enforcement people making comments after comment. They never ask to get recused,” Trump told reporters Friday before departing on a trip to Paris. “All the time I’m watching many different people go on many different shows saying many different things. That doesn’t mean they’re unqualified.”
When asked whether he wants Whitaker to rein in the probe, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and the possibility of collusion with the Trump campaign, Trump did not answer and instead attacked the reporter. “What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question,” he said.
Trump said he has not yet discussed the Mueller investigation with Whitaker.
“I didn’t speak to Matt Whitaker about it. I don’t know Matt Whitaker. Matt Whitaker has a great reputation, and that’s what I wanted,” he said.
Trump went on to repeat his attacks on Mueller and the Russia investigation. “The Russian investigation is a hoax. It’s a phony hoax,” he said.
Donald Trump lashed out at former First Lady Michelle Obama over a new book where she says she will never forgive him for spreading the false allegation her husband was not born in the United States.
“She got paid a lot of money to write a book and they always expect a little controversy,” Trump said Friday, according to CNN.
“I’ll give you a little controversy back, I’ll never forgive [Barack Obama] for what he did to our US military. It was depleted, and I had to fix it…What he did to our military made this country very unsafe for you and you and you.”
Trump, before running for president, was instrumental in pushing the “birther” conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. He was born in Hawaii.
Trump threatens to take more reporters’ press credentials
Donald Trump threatened to yank the press credentials of more reporters who don’t treat him with “respect.”
The comments come after the White House took the credentials of CNN’s Jim Acosta, falsely accusing him of putting his hands on a female intern during a contentious press conference. Video shows it was the staffer who initiated physical contact, attempting to remove a microphone from Acosta’s hands.
“I think Jim Acosta is a very unprofessional man,” Trump said Friday, the Hill reported. He said he didn’t know how long Acosta’s credentials would be stripped for, and added: “It could be others also.”
Trump also singled out April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks. He called her a “loser” and said she “doesn’t know what the hell she is doing.”
Donald Trump signed the proclamation Friday morning prohibiting people who cross the border illegally from applying for asylum.
As he departed the White House for a trip to Paris, Trump told reporters he had “just signed” the order, according to CNN.
Legal challenges are expected.
Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has now taken a narrow lead in the Arizona Senate race, as votes continue to be counted.
The Washington Post reports that the latest numbers show Sinema leading Martha McSally 49.1% to 48.6%. It’s a reversal of the lead McSally had held since election night.
There were still 400,000 votes yet to be counted as of Thursday night, so stay tuned.
Meanwhile, there will be a runoff in the Mississippi Senate race on Nov. 27. Democrat Mike Espy and Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith have agreed to a debate before the new vote, according to the Clarion Ledger. Tuesday’s election was a non-partisan special election with multiple candidates on the ballot, so no one received the majority of the vote required to secure an outright victory.
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says she will give “long, hard thought” to running for president in 2020.
Gillibrand’s comments on Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” that she was considering a run, just days after being re-elected to the Senate, came with an opening campaign pitch of sorts where she said she felt compelled to right the “moral compass” of the country after the damage done by Donald Trump.
But if she does run, the New York Democrat would be breaking a pledge she made during a debate just two weeks ago, where she promised to serve her full six year term.
“I believe it is a moral question for me, and I believe in right versus wrong,” Gillibrand told Colbert when asked about the 2020 race.
“I’ve seen the hatred and the division that President Trump has put out into our country, and it has called me to fight as hard as I possibly can to restore the moral compass of this country. Our country was founded on the principle that we should care about one another, that we believe in the golden rule” she said. “I believe right now that every one of us should figure out how we can do whatever we can with our time, with our talents, to restore that moral decency, that moral compass.”
Gillibrand also said in the “Late Show” appearance that she believes Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general is unconstitutional because he was not approved by the Senate. Under legal guidelines, Jeff Sessions should have been replaced by his deputy Rod Rosenstein, who has Senate confirmation, she said.
She said Whitaker should recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation but there is no chance that he will do so.
“He’s a lackey of the president. He’s been chosen because he is a political pawn,” Gillibrand said.
Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton says newly elected House Democrats don’t want Nancy Pelosi back as speaker.
Moulton is staunch Pelosi critic and “is about to get some serious reinforcements” in his quest for new leadership, the Boston Globe reports.
Eight military and CIA veterans endorsed by a PAC formed by Moulton, who is a Marine veteran, won election and six of them pledged to oppose Pelosi. They include Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania and Max Rose in New York.
“The candidates who said that they will vote for new leadership are going to uphold that promise,” Moulton told the Globe. “They’re not going to go along with what the party wants them to do if it’s not the right thing for the district or country.”
Supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is “up and working” after being hospitalized for fractured ribs, her nephew said.
The 85-year-old justice fell in her office and went to the hospital Thursday with three broken ribs.
Her nephew Daniel Stiepleman told Reuters she is “doing great”.
“The last I heard she was up and working, of course, because what else would she be doing, and cracking jokes,” he said. “I can’t promise they were good jokes but they were jokes.”
The nephew spoke at the premier of a new movie he wrote the script for about Ginsburg’s early career, called On the Basis of Sex.
Good morning and welcome back to our live politics coverage.
It turns out the midterm elections aren’t over just yet, as candidates in Florida are now preparing for a likely recount.
As of this morning, only 0.44% of the vote separates Republican Ron DeSantis, who is leading, from Democrat Andrew Gillum in the race for governor, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. That’s gotten even tighter since Thursday, and is close enough to trigger a machine recount.
The margin has gotten tighter this morning in the Senate race as well – Rick Scott leads incumbent Bill Nelson by just 0.18%, according to the News-Press. That’s close enough to trigger a lengthier hand recount.
Scott, the Republican outgoing governor, on Thursday night filed a lawsuit to force counties to release records related to the vote count, Local 10 News reports.
Meanwhile in Georgia, the governor’s race also remains unsettled – at least it does if you ask Democrat Stacey Abrams, who says enough votes are outstanding that a runoff could be triggered. But Republican Brian Kemp says he has won the race and is proceeding with his transition. The Associated Press has not called the race.