WASHINGTON — President Trump said Thursday that he would leave it up to Attorney General William Barr to decide whether Robert Mueller, the special counsel, may testify before Congress on the Russia investigation.
His comments were a seeming reversal, since Trump wrote over the weekend on Twitter that Mueller should not be allowed to appear before Congress. Barr has told lawmakers that he has no objection to letting Mueller talk to them.
Trump’s comments came in a surprise, 45-minute news conference in the Roosevelt Room, his first since the release of the special counsel’s report.
New York Times
Coauthor says Trump memoir should be fiction
Decorated in eye-catching gold lettering, President Trump’s 1987 memoir — a self-described ‘‘common sense guide to personal finance’’ — is touted as ‘‘a firsthand account of the rise of America’s foremost deal-maker.’’
But following news this week that Trump reported more than $1 billion in financial losses to the IRS during a perceived high point in his business career, the ghostwriter of ‘‘The Art of the Deal,’’ once called an ‘‘unguarded look at the mind of a brilliant entrepreneur,’’ has another description for the book: fiction.
‘‘I’d be fine if Random House simply took the book out of print,’’ Tony Schwartz, a vocal critic of the president, tweeted on Wednesday. ‘‘Or recategorized it as fiction.’’
Schwartz’s tweet comes after The New York Times found that Trump reported staggering losses between 1985 and 1994 — a period of time in which the president, largely due to the success of his book, had achieved widespread fame for appearing to be a self-made billionaire gifted with seemingly unrivaled business acumen. The Times report, however, painted a starkly different picture.
‘‘In fact, year after year, Mr. Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer,’’ the Times wrote, pointing out that by the time the best-selling memoir was released, Trump was already in ‘‘deep financial distress.’’
On Wednesday, the book’s portrayal of Trump’s business prowess once again came under fierce scrutiny from Schwartz, who has openly expressed remorse for ghostwriting it.
In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, Schwartz reiterated that if he were to rename the book he would call it ‘‘The Sociopath.’’
‘‘He has no guilt,’’ Schwartz said of Trump. ‘‘All he wants to do is make the case that he would like to be true. While I do think he’s probably aware that more walls are closing around him than ever before, he does not experience the world in a way that an ordinary human being would.’’
Crowd at Trump rally cheers violent suggestion
A roar rose from the crowd of thousands of Trump supporters in Panama City Beach, Fla., on Wednesday night as President Trump noted yet again that Border Patrol agents can’t use weapons to deter migrants. ‘‘How do you stop these people?’’ he asked.
‘‘Shoot them!’’ someone yelled from the crowd, according to reporters on the scene and attendees.
The audience cheered. Supporters seated behind Trump and clad in white baseball caps bearing the letters ‘‘USA’’ laughed and applauded.
‘‘That’s only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement,’’ Trump replied, smiling and shaking his head. ‘‘Only in the Panhandle.’’
Though Trump didn’t explicitly endorse the suggestion to shoot migrants, his joking response raised concerns that he was tacitly encouraging extrajudicial killings and brutality against asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants. The president has long been accused of endorsing acts of violence through his incendiary rhetoric and allusions to the potential for violence at his rallies, a charge that members of his administration deny.
Reached for comment by The Washington Post on Trump’s reaction at the Florida rally, Matt Wolking, deputy communications director for the Trump campaign, pointed to a response he had given to many critics on Twitter. The president, he noted in his tweet, had said specifically that Border Patrol wouldn’t use firearms to stop migrants from entering the country.
The incendiary remark from the crowd came as Trump, standing before roughly 7,000 people who had gathered at an outdoor amphitheater in the hurricane-damaged Gulf Coast town, railed against what he described as an ‘‘invasion’’ of migrants attempting to enter the United States. Often, he claimed, only ‘‘two or three’’ border agents will contend with the arrival of ‘‘hundreds and hundreds of people.’’
‘‘And don’t forget, we don’t let them and we can’t let them use weapons,’’ Trump said of the border agents. ‘‘We can’t. Other countries do. We can’t. I would never do that. But how do you stop these people?’’