Transcript of President Trump’s Interview with Chris Wallace

President Trump, speaking Fox News’ Chris Wallace in an exclusive, wide-ranging interview, defended Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker against Democrats’ calls for his recusal in Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, and said that he probably would not sit down for an interview with Mueller … The president said he was unaware that Whitaker previously had been critical of Mueller’s probe and had written in 2017 that it was at risk of becoming a “political fishing expedition.” Trump added that he “would not get involved” in Whitaker’s decisions as he oversees Mueller’s probe in his new role as head of the Justice Department and was confident Whitaker is “going to do what’s right.” The president added that he has personally responded to Mueller’s written questions in the Russia probe and that they would be submitted “very soon.” Trump said his team is “writing what I tell them to write” in response to the inquiries.

Trump emphasized, however, that he probably would not sit for an in-person interview with Mueller, amid fears voiced by his attorneys that he could be tricked into a so-called “perjury trap.”

The president also addressed several other topics, including:

  • His war of words with CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta: “If he misbehaves, we’ll throw him out or we’ll stop the news conference.”
  • On rumored upcoming changes in his administration: Trump said Chief of Staff John Kelly “will want to move on” and suggested he is considering potential changes in “three or four or five positions.”

Trump Threatens to Retaliate Against Reporters Who Don’t Show ‘Respect’

President Trump said on Friday that he might revoke the credentials of additional White House reporters if they did not “treat the White House with respect,” lobbing another threat at the news media two days after his administration effectively blacklisted the CNN correspondent Jim Acosta.

.. “When you’re in the White House, this is a very sacred place for me, a very special place,” Mr. Trump said as he left Washington for a brief jaunt to Paris. “You have to treat the White House with respect. You have to treat the presidency with respect.”

.. Aides to Mr. Trump said that he was most bothered by reporters who, in his view, spoke to him in a belligerent manner, and that his willingness to take questions — he did so for about 25 minutes on Friday — made him more open to scrutiny than past presidents.

.. But Mr. Trump’s retaliation against Mr. Acosta, buttressed by a false claim that the correspondent had handled a female White House intern roughly during the news conference on Wednesday, has little precedent in the modern White House.

On Friday, the president lashed out at Mr. Acosta again, calling him “a very unprofessional guy.” He went on to insult other members of the White House press corps, including April D. Ryan, the correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks and one of a small number of African-American reporters who cover the administration.

.. “You talk about somebody that’s a loser; she doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing,” Mr. Trump said of Ms. Ryan, in an unprompted diatribe. “She gets publicity, and then she gets a pay raise or a contract with, I think, CNN. But she’s very nasty. And she shouldn’t be. She shouldn’t be. You’ve got to treat the White House and the office of the presidency with respect.”

.. In traveling to Paris, Mr. Trump may escape the Washington press corps for a few days. But he will be reunited with Mr. Acosta, who is scheduled to cover the trip for CNN.