President Donald Trump sat down for a wide-ranging interview in the Oval Office with The Daily Caller Wednesday evening.
Major topics broached include late-term abortion comments by Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, the Las Vegas shooting, a recent FBI raid on Roger Stone’s house, congressional negotiations over border wall funding, the upcoming State of the Union address, potential Supreme Court nominees, special counsel Robert Mueller’s upcoming report and Super Bowl LIII.
Trump harshly criticized Gov. Ralph Northam and Democratic Virginia Delegate Kathy Tran’s recent advocacy of late-term abortion in the interview.
“I’m surprised that he did that. I’ve met him a number of times,” Trump said of Northam, noting that he saw a video of Tran discussing the bill — which would effectively allow women to terminate a pregnancy up until the moment of birth — earlier that morning, but hadn’t heard Northam’s remarks by that time. (RELATED: Trump Rips Virginia Democrats’ Abortion Comments)
“I thought it was terrible,” Trump said of Tran’s statements. “Do you remember when I said Hillary Clinton was willing to rip the baby out of the womb? That’s what it is — that’s what they’re doing. It’s terrible.”
Trump then weighed in on the recent FBI raid of conservative operative Roger Stone’s house in Florida after he was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
The president expressed concern at the treatment of Stone, saying he was “speaking for a lot of people that were very disappointed to see [the arrest] go down that way. To see it happen where it was on camera, on top of it. That was a very, very disappointing scene.” (RELATED: Trump Considers Reviewing FBI Policies After Stone Raid)
He added that he would “think about” asking the FBI to review its use of force.
In terms of how to handle the Mueller report, Trump noted that he will leave decisions to the Justice Department.
Asked explicitly whether he would sign off on the report, the president said, “They’ll have to make their decision within the Justice Department. They will make the decision as to what they do.”
Mueller is expected to issue a report on his findings to the DOJ, during which time it will undergo review. A recommendation will then be issued by the DOJ to the president on how the report should be handled. (RELATED: Trump Says He Will Leave Mueller Report Decision To DOJ)
Trump also said he had not spoken to Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker about the impending end of the Mueller investigation, declaring flatly, “I never spoke to him about that … I would say that after almost two years, it certainly should be.”
Whitaker suggested at a recent press conference that the Mueller investigation was near its conclusion.
Trump told TheDC he was a “little surprised” by recent news that the FBI closed its investigation into the motives of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock and determined no motive.
“They were unable to find a real reason other than, obviously, he was sick, and they didn’t know it. So, I was a little surprised and a lot disappointed that they weren’t able to find the reason because you’d like to find a reason for [mass shootings] and stop it,” the president said. (RELATED: Trump Considers Reviewing FBI Policies After Stone Raid)
Trump also said that it was “very interesting” to compare the FBI’s investigation of the 2017 Las Vegas shooting to the resources expended on the Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Trump discussed ongoing congressional negotiations on Capitol Hill, telling TheDC he’s likely not willing to offer up concessions on the DACA program in exchange for border wall funding in his ongoing dispute with Congress. (RELATED: Trump Says DACA For Wall Deal ‘Highly Unlikely’)
“I could see myself doing something for DACA, but I want to find out what the Supreme Court is going to do first,” Trump said, noting that “it’s highly unlikely” that he would be willing to discuss the program during current negotiations over funding for a border wall.
Trump also responded to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s suggestion that Democrats did not want The White House involved in the three-week negotiations on Capitol Hill, saying, “I don’t blame him,” but noted that “without our involvement, a deal is not going to get done.”
STATE OF THE UNION:
The president offered a preview of the upcoming State of the Union address to TheDC, saying of his potential guests, “I will say that some of them will be border-related, some of them will be people who have suffered very badly because we didn’t do what we should’ve done in a very dangerous part of our country, and so that’s going to be a part of it, absolutely.”
Trump said of the address that while some of it will focus on the border crisis, other parts will touch on economic progress in the United States. (RELATED: Trump’s State Of The Union Guests Will Be ‘Border-Related’)
“The world is not doing well, and we’re going great. You look at the numbers — we’re hitting highs. I get no credit for it. It’s like, when do you ever hear them talking about — [the Dow Jones Industrial Average] just hit 25,000 [for the third time], and you won’t even hear a thing about it,” he said.
When asked about ailing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Trump wished her well, saying, “I hope that she’s healthy … I hope she’s happy … I hope she lives for a long time.”
Ginsburg has not been seen in public for over a month after recovering from lung surgery and a bout with cancer. (RELATED: Trump Wishes Ginsburg Long Life, Hints Will Stick To List For Court Picks)
The president would not commit to nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the case of a Ginsburg vacancy, but said of his previously released list of potential Supreme Court nominees, “I have very much confined myself to that list as you know … that list has great people on it … and I’d say it’s highly likely I would say.”
Trump released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees as a candidate for president in May 2016 and expanded the list to include five additional judges in November 2017.
The interview ended with the president offering his praise to the New England Patriots organization ahead of their upcoming Superbowl appearance and even offered a vote of confidence for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. (RELATED: Trump Praises Brady, Kraft, Belichick And Goodell Ahead Of SuperBowl)
Asked why he believed that Brady, Kraft and Belichick have made so many appearances in the Super Bowl in recent years, the president riffed, “So, it’s talent, it’s chemistry — they have a great chemistry with each other — I mean, I like all three of them. As you know, I’m a very good friend with them. Coach Belichick endorsed me — you remember that?”
Trump noted that Goodell called him to thank him for including a Super Bowl provision in a new trade agreement with Canada: “Commissioner Goodell called me and he thanked me, you know — they were working on that thing for years. It was having to do with the advertisements for the Super Bowl, it was a long-term problem, and I got it solved.”
Asked explicitly whether he thought Goodell should be dismissed, Trump said, “I was very pleased that he called me to thank me for helping him with Canada and, yeah, it looks good. And their games have really been good, other than one call.”