President Donald Trump told Fox New’s Chris Wallace, in an exclusive interview Sunday, that he occasionally likes calling on CNN reporter Jim Acosta, who got his permanent White House press pass returned this week.
Trump admitted to Wallace that, while he’s no fan of Acosta (or, for that matter, his network), he does occasionally enjoy the back and forth.
“Actually I like to do it, but in many cases I don’t,” Trump said.
The White House revoked Acosta’s press pass last week after Acosta refused to relinquish control of a press conference microphone, badgering the president with additional questions and finally pushing away a White House aide who attempted to take back the mic.
CNN subsequently sued the White House, claiming that depriving Acosta of his permanent press pass was a violation of the First and Fifth Amendments. Late last week, a judge forced the White House to return Acosta’s press pass — at least temporarily — while litigation proceeds.
But if Trump can’t rid himself of Acosta through the press pass system, he may try other ways of keeping White House reporters from showboating for their home networks.
“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,” Trump added. “I mean, with this stuff you never know what’s going to happen.”
The judge who returned Acosta’s press pass suggested that Trump and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders could avoid calling on Acosta altogether, shutting him out of the press conference process. The judge also suggested that the White House could lay out and follow a clear procedure for revoking press passes, so that the rules are easy to understand.
Trump seems to have taken at least the last suggestion to heart.
Acosta has been “”unbelievably rude to Sarah Huckabee, who’s a wonderful woman,” Trump said. And if he misbehaves, we’ll throw him out or we’ll stop the news conference.”
The wide-ranging Fox News interview also saw the president comment openly on his new acting attorney general, Matt Whitaker, whom Democrats are insisting recuse himself from his role overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Russian officials inappropriately collaborated with members of the Trump campaign to alter the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Whitaker has been openly critical of Mueller, having argued that “Mueller’s authority and funding could justifiably be limited.”
“I did not know that,” Trump said, in reference to Whitaker’s writings, noting that any recusal would be up to Whitaker.
Trump refused to comment on other rumors swirling around the White House, particularly those about several high-level departures, including Department of Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, and Chief of Staff John Kelly. Trump would only say that he expects many members of his staff will eventually “move on.”