President Donald Trump shot back at former First Lady Michelle Obama over an excerpt of her new book in which she said she would never forgive him for his birther conspiracy about her husband and the impact it had on her family.
“I guess she wrote a book. She got paid a lot of money to write a book. And they always insist you come up with controversial,” Trump snarked on the White House lawn, as he was heading to Paris.
“Well, I’ll give you a little controversy back: I’ll never forgive [President Obama] for what he did to our United States military. By not funding properly, it was depleted. Everything was old and tired. And I came in and I had to fix it,” Trump added.
“So I’ll never forgive him for what he did to our military. I’ll never forgive him for what he did in many other ways — which I’ll talk to you about in the future.”
In her new book, the former First Lady called Trump’s birther conspiracy theory about her husband “crazy” and “mean spirited” and having ill-concealed “bigotry and xenophobia.”
“[I]t was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks,” Michelle Obama wrote. “What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this I’d never forgive him.”
Multiple times Trump told the gaggle of reporters that he does not know Matt Whitaker, the man he named Acting Attorney General when he sacked AG Jeff Sessions the morning after the midterm elections. This as Trump’s controversial pick is coming under scrutiny for his lack of Senate confirmation, and remarks in print and on-air trashing the Robert Mueller probe he now oversees.
“I don’t know Matt Whitaker; Matt Whitaker worked for Jeff Sessions,” Trump insisted, distancing himself from his controversial pick. “He was very, very highly thought of — still is.”
Washington Post reports Trump took several meeting with Whitaker in the White House before the appointment. CNN this morning reported Trump picked Whitaker after seeing him denounce the Mueller probe on its air and elsewhere. Whitaker was Sessions’ chief of staff, but had been put there by White House to keep an eye on Sessions, who had incurred Trump’s ire after recusing himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
But when CNN’s Abby Phillip asked this morning, on the White House lawn, if he intended Whitaker to “rein in” Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Trump shot back, “What a stupid question that is,” adding, “But I watch you a lot. You ask a lot of stupid questions.”
Moments earlier, Trump had insisted “You’ve got to treat the White House and the office of the presidency with respect.”
In the course of his pop-up presser, Trump also called CNN contributor April Ryan “a loser.”
The White House this week pulled the credentials of CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta; Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders used doctored video to argue Acosta has put his hand on a White House intern.
“I think Jim Acosta’s a very unprofessional man,” Trump said, when asked about the incident at the pop-up presser. “He does this with everybody. He gets paid to do that – you know he gets paid to burst in. He’s a very unprofessional guy. Whether it’s me or Ronald Reagan or anybody else, he would’ve done the same thing. I don’t think he’s a smart person, but he’s got a loud voice.”
Trump said he has not decided if Acosta will be permanently banned, threatening “there could be others” that lose their access.
When one member of the gaggle asked Trump about the manipulated video, which appears to have originated with InfoWars, Trump shot back, “nobody manipulated it! Give me a break. That’s just dishonest reporting…. It showed it close up and he was not nice to that young woman. It wasn’t overly horrible, when you say ‘doctored’ you’re a dishonest guy. They gave a close-up view. That’s not doctoring.”
Trump said she wishes Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg a complete recovery, but could not resist adding, “She said something inappropriate during the campaign” for which she apologized, adding, I wouldn’t say she’s exactly on my side, but I hope she gets well and hope she serves on the Supreme Court for many years.”
Meanwhile, Acosta was already in Paris, waiting for the President.