EXCLUSIVE: Top 5 takeaways of President Trump’s interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos JOHN PARKINSON•Trump responds to answering questions about obstruction EXCLUSIVE: Top 5 takeaways of President Trump’s interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos originally appeared on abcnews.go.com ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos embedded with President Donald Trump for a wide-ranging exclusive interview over the course of two days this week, generating a bevy of newsy headlines over the course of their unprecedented discussion.Here are the top five moments from the interview.
Trump says he’d listen to foreign intelligence on political opponents This was the biggest headline of them all. After Trump told Stephanopoulos that he may not alert the FBI if foreign governments offered damaging information against his 2020 rivals during the upcoming presidential race, the president faced a wave of criticism from Republicans and Democrats.Despite the deluge of investigations stemming from his campaign’s interactions with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign, when Stephanopoulos asked Trump Wednesday in the Oval Office whether his reelection campaign would accept such information from foreigners – such as China or Russia – or hand it over the FBI, Trump answered, „I think maybe you do both.”(MORE: ABC News’ Oval Office interview with President Trump)„I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” Trump continued. „If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent’ – oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”Trump disputed the idea that if a foreign government provided information on a political opponent, it would be considered interference in our election process.”It’s not an interference, they have information – I think I’d take it,” Trump said. „If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI – if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, ‘oh let’s call the FBI.’ The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressmen, they all do it, they always have, and that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.”House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned on Thursday that Trump is giving Russia “the green light” to again interfere in a U.S. presidential election.“Everybody in the country should be totally appalled by what the president said last night,” Pelosi said.While Pelosi called Trump’s comments „cavalier” and an “assault on democracy” she indicated it’s not enough to sway her to prematurely launch an impeachment inquiry.“What we want to do is have a methodical approach to the path that we are on, and this will be included in that, but not any one issue is going to trigger, ‘Oh, now we’ll go do [impeachment].’ Because it’s about investigating, it’s about litigating, it’s about getting the truth to hold everyone accountable and no one is above the law,” she said.Even one of the president’s closest allies on Capitol Hill did not come to his defense. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said the president’s response was “not the right answer.”“If a foreign government comes to you as a public official, and offers to help your campaign giving you anything of value, whether it be money or information on your opponent, the right answer is no,” he said.By Friday, the president worked to walk his comments back, telling Fox News that he would notify the FBI or the attorney general if the information was “incorrect or badly stated.”“Of course you have to look at it because if you don’t look at it you won’t know it’s bad,” Trump said on „Fox and Friends” Friday morning. „But, of course, you give it to the FBI or report it to the attorney general or somebody like that.”(MORE: ‘I think I’d take it’: In exclusive interview, Trump says he would listen if foreigners offered dirt on opponents)
Trump says internal polling shows he’s ‘winning everywhere’ Trump told Stephanopoulos that his campaign’s internal polling showed that he is “winning everywhere.”When Stephanopoulos mentioned reports of polls commissioned by the Trump campaign that showed former Vice President Joe Biden ahead in several key states, the president said: “those polls don’t exist.””Nobody showed you those polls because those polls don’t exist, George. Those polls don’t exist. I’m losing in 15 out of 17 states? Those polls don’t exist,” Trump said.”I just was given a meeting with my pollster who I frankly don’t even believe in pollsters if you want to know the truth, you just run a campaign and whatever it is, it is, but I just had a meeting with somebody that’s a pollster and I’m winning everywhere, so I don’t know what you’re talking about.”But data from the first internal poll conducted by the campaign in March, obtained exclusively Friday by ABC News, showed Trump losing a matchup by wide margins to Biden in key battleground states, including double-digit leads for Biden in Pennsylvania 55-39 and Wisconsin 51-41, and Biden leading by seven points in Florida. In Texas, a traditionally Republican stronghold, the numbers showed the president only leading by two points.When presented by ABC News with these numbers Friday, the Trump campaign confirmed the data saying in a statement that the numbers were old and that they have seen huge swings in Trump’s favor.(MORE: President Trump’s internal polling data from March showed him far behind Joe Biden in key battleground states)
Trump says it ‘doesn’t matter’ what former White House Counsel Don McGahn told Mueller Stephanopoulos quizzed Trump about the Russia investigation at length. The president directly disputed the account of a key witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible obstruction of justice during the course of the Russia probe saying that it „doesn’t matter” what his former White House counsel Don McGahn testified.Trump said McGahn „may have been confused” when he told Mueller that Trump instructed him multiple times to have the acting attorney general remove the special counsel because of perceived conflicts of interest.”The story on that very simply, No. 1, I was never going to fire Mueller. I never suggested firing Mueller,” Trump told Stephanopoulos.At the president’s instruction, McGahn is currently fighting a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee to testify publicly about those conversations with Trump, among other things. McGahn spent nearly 30 hours with the special counsel’s investigators testifying under oath and was one of most quoted aides to the president to appear in the report.When Stephanopoulos pushed back and referenced McGahn’s testimony, Trump was defiant.”I don’t care what [McGahn] says, it doesn’t matter,” Trump said.”Why would [McGahn] lie under oath?” Stephanopoulos later asked.”Because he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer,” Trump said. „Or he believed it because I would constantly tell anybody that would listen – including you, including the media – that Robert Mueller was conflicted. Robert Mueller had a total conflict of interest.””And has to go?” Stephanopoulos followed up.”I didn’t say that,” Trump insisted.(MORE: EXCLUSIVE: President Donald Trump says it ‘doesn’t matter’ what former White House counsel Don McGahn told Mueller)
Trump reveals historic redesign of Air Force One Less than a year after announcing a $3.9 billion makeover for America’s most famous aircraft, Trump shared never-before-seen renderings of Air Force One’s prospective redesign.”George, take a look at this,” Trump boasted to Stephanopoulos, flashing mock-ups of his vision for the next generation of the presidential aircraft. „Here’s your new Air Force One.”Trump showed his plan to swap the iconic sky blue-and-white paint job for a patriotic red, white and blue.”We had different choices, here,” Trump said, pointing to images he said he designed himself. „These are all slightly different.”The new fleet won’t be ready for takeoff until 2024. In spite of the president’s willingness to share the preliminary sketches, Trump is still holding some details close to the vest.”There are a couple of secrets,” Trump teased. „You know what, there are a couple of secrets I don’t think we’re supposed to be talking about.”(MORE: Trump reveals historic redesign of Air Force One: EXCLUSIVE)
Trump says of Fed Reserve chairman: ‘I’ve waited long enough’ Trump slammed Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, insisting that Powell’s actions have prevented the economy from soaring even higher and declaring he’s out of patience with the person he picked to lead the nation’s central bank.Inviting Stephanopoulos along for a trip to Council Bluffs, Iowa on Tuesday, Trump said that the financial market would be stronger „if we had a different person in the Federal Reserve who wouldn’t have raised interest rates so much.”(MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Trump says of Fed Reserve chairman: ‘I’ve waited long enough’)Trump told Stephanopoulos he believes the Dow Jones Industrial Average could be 10,000 points higher if the Federal Reserve hadn’t hiked rates last year. Stephanopoulos pointed out that Powell wouldn’t be in the job if it weren’t for Trump.“He’s my pick,” Trump acknowledged. “And I disagree with him entirely.”Stephanopoulos asked Trump whether he has concerns that his repeated commentary on the Federal Reserve puts Powell “in a box.”“Yes, I do,” Trump responded. “But I’m gonna do it anyway because I’ve waited long enough.”
Trump to Stephanopoulos: ‘I Like the Truth,’ I Didn’t Sit for Mueller Interview Because He’d ‘Get Us for Lies’By Justin Baragona•Trump keeps returning to Mueller report during Stephanopoulos interview President Trump appeared to be obsessed with the Mueller report during his wide-ranging interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, insisting that he read the special counsel’s report while repeatedly claiming it says there was “no collusion” despite Robert Mueller stating specifically that no determination was reached on the concept of collusion.While speaking to Stephanopoulos in the back of the president’s limousine, the president was asked what his pitch to swing voters “on the fence” would be, prompting Trump to quickly pivot to the Russia investigation, which he called a “phony witch hunt.”“Mueller comes out—there’s no collusion,” the president declared. “And essentially a ruling that no obstruction. And they keep going with it. You know what? People are angry about i.”The ABC News host pushed back, stating that he didn’t think that’s what Mueller found, causing Trump to repeat his “no collusion” mantra while adding that the probe “didn’t find anything having to do with obstruction because they made a ruling based on his findings and they said no obstruction.”“They didn’t examine collusion,” Stephanopoulos countered. “He laid out evidence of obstruction.”The two then went back and forth over the issue of collusion, leading to Stephanopulous bluntly asking the president if he’d actually read the report.“Uh, yes I did, and you should read it, too,” Trump huffed as Stephanopoulos revealed he read “every word” of the report. The president reacted by cutting off Stephanopoulos and swiftly leaving the limo.The This Week anchor noted that Trump kept coming back to the Mueller report unprompted, such as when he angrily lashed out at unfavorable 2020 polling. Asked by Stephanopoulos why it bothered him so much, Trump claimed it was because of his inherent honesty.“Because it’s untrue—I like the truth,” the president, who has told over 10,000 lies while in office, said. “You know, I’m actually a very honest guy. If I thought they were correct, I wouldn’t be complaining at all. I understand that. It’s like the witch hunt that goes on. No collusion with Russia, there was no collusion.”Stephanopoulos, again, attempted to point out that the report did not say there was no collusion, to no avail.Elsewhere in the interview, Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on his refusal to sit down for an interview with the special counsel under oath, asking why he only provided written answers to Mueller.“Because they were looking to get us for lies, for slight misstatements,’ Trump replied. “I looked at what happened to people, and it was very unfair. Very, very unfair. Very unfair.”Stephanopoulos, meanwhile, noted that even in his written responses, Trump didn’t answer on the subject of obstruction, wondering aloud if the president was concerned about being prosecuted once he leaves office. After claiming he “answered a lotta questions,” Trump took issue with the anchor for stating that he didn’t address obstruction.“Look, George, you’re being a little wise guy, okay, which is, you know, typical for you,” Trump sneered before falling back to his familiar “no collusion” retort.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Iran has vowed to scale back its nuclear commitments as regional tensions flared over last week’s tanker attack, with both the US and UK pointing the finger at Tehran.
The semi-official Tasneem news agency said Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation would on Monday announce the measures Tehran has taken to dial back its international obligations under the terms of the now-crumbling 2015 nuclear deal.
Those measures include moves to increase both stocks of enriched uranium and the production of heavy water at the Arak nuclear complex, a site Iran has barred international watchdogs from visiting since 2008.
Both measures would nullify some of the key tenets of the nuclear accord, which offered economic incentives in exchange for the cessation of activities that might lead Tehran to build a nuclear weapons capability.
The announcement was foreshadowed last month when Iran threatened to walk back its nuclear commitments if the international community failed to contain the impact of US sanctions applied by Washington after it pulled out of the deal.
But the accelerated timing appears to be a consequence of last Thursday’s tanker attack and its fallout.
Tehran denies any role in the explosions that ripped through two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, damaging the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous and the Norwegian-operated Front Altair.
The US military on Friday released video footage it said showed an Iranian patrol boat removing an „unexploded limpet mine” from the Kokuka Courageous, which was carrying highly flammable methanol when it was hit by two blasts.
According to the ship’s owner, crew on board noticed a “flying object” before the second blast.
Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, blamed Iran, citing “intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.”
US President Donald Trump said the attack had “Iran written all over it”.
The speaker of Iran’s parliament hit back on Sunday, saying that Washington could be to blame for the “suspicious” attacks.
Meanwhile the US’s top Middle East ally Saudi Arabia used an op-ed column to call on the international community to take a “decisive stance” against what Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman termed “expansionism” by his regional arch-rival.
“We will not hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our sovereignty and our vital interests,” the crown prince and kingdom’s day-to-day leader wrote.
But Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was in Iran meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei when the tankers were attacked, is understood to want more evidence.
Mr Abe was in Tehran on an unprecedented goodwill mission, aimed at defusing tensions between Washington and the Islamic Republic.
An official with Japan’s Foreign Ministry said the prime minister disputed Mr Pompeo’s assessment that only Iran could have carried out the attack, noting that the US and Israel also possessed the required capabilities.
“Japan adamantly condemns the act that threatened a Japanese ship, no matter who attacked,” Mr Abe said, reiterating that Japan urged “all related countries” to avoid an accidental confrontation in the region.
But yesterday’s announcement from Iran’s nuclear agency has raised both the tensions and the stakes of regional confrontation.
Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, warned there was a „great risk” of escalation in the region. „Both sides in this dispute think that the other side wouldn’t want a war,” he said.
Saudi crown prince accuses rival Iran of tanker attacksAYA BATRAWY•DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in remarks published Sunday that the kingdom will not hesitate to confront Iranian threats to its security. He joined the U.S. in accusing its bitter rival Iran of being behind the attacks on two oil tankers traveling near the Strait of Hormuz, a vital trade route for Arabian energy exports. Tensions in the Persian Gulf have escalated since the U.S. sent an aircraft carrier strike group and other military assets to the region in what it says is defensive posturing against alleged Iranian threats. The crisis takes root in the Trump Administration’s decision to re-impose punishing economic sanctions on Tehran and its oil exports, after unilaterally withdrawing the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.The U.S. alleges Iran used limpet mines to target the tankers on Thursday, pointing to black-and-white footage it captured that American officials describe as an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel removing an unexploded mine from the Japanese-operated tanker Kokuka Courageous.The Japanese tanker’s crewmembers appeared to contradict the assertion that mines were used. They described „flying objects” as having targeted the vessel.In his first public comments regarding the attacks, the powerful Saudi prince, who is also defense minister and oversees all major levers of power in the country, said the incident „confirms the importance of our demands of the international community to take a decisive stance” against Iran’s behavior.”The kingdom does not seek war in the region,” the prince said, speaking with the Arabic-language newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. „But we will not hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, sovereignty and vital interests.”The prince claimed Iran had planned the attack’s timing to undercut the Japanese prime minister’s diplomatic efforts, during his visit to Tehran last week, to reduce regional tensions.He did not offer any evidence to back up the allegation.”The problem is in Tehran and not anywhere else,” he added. „Iran is always the party that’s escalating in the region, carrying out terrorist attacks and criminal attacks either directly or through its militias.”Prince Mohammed touted U.S.-Saudi relations as „essential to achieving regional security and stability.”Speaking on „Fox News Sunday,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated the U.S. official position. He claimed that intelligence officials have „lots of data, lots of evidence” tying Iran to the attacks, though he did not provide any specifics. He called the alleged shipping attacks „an international challenge, important to the entire globe.”He said Trump was following an „economic pressure campaign” against Iran but „we do not want war.” He added that the „unambiguous” object of U.S. actions was that Iran would not get nuclear weapons.Iran rejects accusations it was responsible for Thursday’s attacks, saying it stands ready to play an active and constructive role in ensuring the security of maritime passages. It said the massive U.S. military presence in the region and U.S. sanctions are the main sources of insecurity and instability in the Persian Gulf.Thursday’s incidents forced the evacuation of all 44 sailors aboard the two vessels. On Saturday, Associated Press journalists saw the crew members of the Norwegian-owned oil tanker MT Front Altair arrive at Dubai International Airport, after spending two days in Iran.The Front Altair, which caught fire after the apparent attack, limped into anchorage Sunday off the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates, near the port city of Khorfakkan.Similar to the recent attacks, four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates were apparently targeted in acts of sabotage last month, which U.S. officials have also blamed on Iran. Two of those vessels belonged to Saudi Arabia.Iranian-allied Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis, have also claimed they were behind a missile strike on a Saudi airport in the city of Abha that the kingdom said wounded 26 passengers. The Houthis also carried out a drone strike last month on a key Saudi oil pipeline
Greek PM says may seek sanctions against Turkey in gas row