Trump Gives Himself An "A+" In Wide-Ranging Interview

President Trump sat down with Fox News's Chris Wallace on Friday for a wide-ranging interview which aired Sunday, in which he discussed a variety of topics from border security, to acting Attorney General Whitaker and the Mueller probe, to renewed rumors of discontent within the White House, and of course - his thoughts on CNN's Jim Acosta whose press pass was pulled and then restored after a contentious altercation over the Central American migrant caravan making its way north. 

While a Trump-appointed judge ruled that the White House had to restore Acosta's credentials on Fifth Amendment grounds - noting that Trump could just ignore Acosta, Trump had another idea:  

"I think one of the things we’ll do is maybe turn the camera off that faces them because then they don’t have any air time, although I’ll probably be sued for that and maybe, you know, win or lose it, who knows," said Trump. "I mean, with this stuff you never know what’s going to happen."

Calling Acosta "unbelievably rude to [White House press secretary] Sarah Huckabee, who’s a wonderful woman," Trump said his administration is currently formulating "rules and regulations" for White House reporters. "And if he misbehaves, we’ll throw him out or we’ll stop the news conference," the president added. -Fox News

Addressing calls for Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to recuse himself from the Mueller probe over past comments which were critical of its scope and legality, Trump said "I did not know he took views on the Mueller investigation as such," adding that he "would not get involved" in whether Whitaker curtails the special counsel. 

"Look he -- it’s going to be up to him," Trump said. "I think he’s very well aware politically.  I think he’s astute politically.  He’s a very smart person.  A very respected person.  He’s going to do what’s right.  I really believe he’s going to do what’s right."

The President added that he had answered several questions from Mueller's team, and that they would be submitted "very soon." Trump added that his lawyers are "writing what I tell them to write" in response to the questions. 


Trump then appeared to gloat a little over the fact that some of the top candidates Obama had backed during the midterm elections had lost. 

"I won against President Obama and Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama in a great state called Georgia for the governor," said Trump - discussing defeated Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams (who has refused to technically concede to Republican Brian Kemp, though admits that he will be the next governor). "And it was all stacked against Brian [Kemp], and I was the one that went for Brian, and Brian won," said Trump. 

"Look at Florida," Trump then said. "I went down to Florida. [GOP Senate candidate] Rick Scott won, and he won by a lotI don’t know what happened to all those votes that disappeared at the very end.  And if I didn’t put a spotlight on that election before it got down to the 12,500 votes, he would have lost that election, OK?  In my opinion he would have lost.  They would have taken that election away from him. Rick Scott won Florida." 

The results of a manual recount in the Florida Senate will be reported on Sunday, and Scott is expected to prevail over Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, following a series of lawsuits and snafus that exposed long-running issues with ballot counting in the state. In the gubernatorial race, Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded this weekend in his close fight with Republican Ron DeSantis. -Fox News

Obama's advice

Trump told Fox's Chris Wallace that former President Obama offered him some important guidance shortly after the 2016 election. 

"I think North Korea’s been very tough because you know we were very close. When I took that over -- President Obama right in those two chairs, we sat and talked and he said that’s by far the biggest problem that this country has," said Trump. "And I think we had real decision as to which way to go on North Korea and certainly at least so far I’m very happy with the way we went."


Turning to the apparent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey, Trump said that he has been briefed on an audio recording of the slaying, but that he was advised not to listen to the "suffering tape." 

"Because it’s a suffering tape, it’s a terrible tape. I’ve been fully briefed on it, there’s no reason for me to hear it," adding "I know everything that went on in the tape without having to hear it."

"You saw we put on very heavy sanctions, massive sanctions on a large group of people from Saudi Arabia," Trump said. "But at the same time we do have an ally and I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good." Trump added that it "takes two to tango" to resolve the conflict in Yemen between Iranian-backed insurgents and Saudi-backed forces, stating "I want Saudi to stop, but I want Iran to stop also."

As Trump toured fire damage in California on Saturday, reporters asked about Khashoggi's death - to which the President replied: "We’ll be having a very full report over the next two days, probably Monday or Tuesday," adding that it will include "who did it." 


Trump then defended his administration's decision to rescind hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Pakistan, which doesn't "do a damn thing for us," and helped to hide Osama Bin Lade, according to Trump. 

"You know, living – think of this – living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer," said Trump, referring to Bin Laden's compound. 

But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there... And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year . ... [bin Laden] lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year --which we don’t give them anymore, by the way, I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us. -Donald Trump

Bad weather

Trump told Wallace that he regretted not visiting Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. on Veterans Day, something President Obama did every year while in office. 

"I should have done that," said Trump. "I was extremely busy on calls for the country, we did a lot of calling, as you know. ...  I probably, you know, in retrospect I should have and I did last year and I will virtually every year.  But we had come in very late at night and I had just left, literally, the American cemetery in Paris and I really probably assumed that was fine and I was extremely busy because of affairs of state doing other things."

Explaining why he canceled a trip to visit a World War I memorial in Paris - a move widely criticized in the media, Trump said that the MSM was making a "big deal" out of the situation. 

"They said, 'Sir,' the Secret Service said, 'Sir, you cannot go. We are not prepared. You cannot go,'" Trump said. "Because it was supposed to be helicopter, but the helicopter couldn’t fly because of zero visibility." 

Kirstjen Nielsen

The President had some measured words for Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen - suggesting that he would like to see improvement on border security. 

"Well, I like her a lot. I respect her a lot," Trump said. "She’s very smart.  I want her to get much tougher and we’ll see what happens there. But I want to be extremely tough. ...  I like her very much, I respect her very much, I’d like her to be much tougher on the border -- much tougher, period." Trump added that there's a "chance" she will continue in her role.

John Kelly

Trump seemed to acknowledge reports that he and his Chief of Staff John Kelly don't get along, adding that Kelly will "move on" at some point. 

"There are certain things I love what he does," the president said. "And there are certain things that I don’t like that he does -- that aren’t his strength. It’s not that he doesn’t do -- you know he works so hard. He’s doing an excellent job in many ways. There are a couple of things where it’s just not his strength. It’s not his fault, it’s not his strength. ... But John, at some point, is going to want to move on. John will move on."

Finally, Trump gave himself high marks on his progress as president two years in.  

"I think I’m doing a great job.  We have the best economy we’ve ever had," said Trump. We’re doing really well. We would have been at war with North Korea if, let’s say, that administration continued forward."

"I would give myself, I would – look, I hate to do it, but I will do it, I would give myself an A+, is that enough?" said Trump. "Can I go higher than that?"

Watch the full interview below: