President Trump Holds Press Conference With Prime Minister Of Norway

Jan 10, 2018
Originally published on January 11, 2018 12:55 am
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

One of the big questions going around Washington this week is whether special counsel Robert Mueller is pursuing an interview with President Trump as part of his investigation. Today, Trump addressed the question - would he agree to such an interview. He was talking to reporters alongside the prime minister of Norway, who was at the White House to meet with him. NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson was at the news conference, and she's with us now. Hi, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Kelly.

MCEVERS: What did the president say?

LIASSON: Before we hear the president, let's go back to June when, in a press conference with the president of Romania, the president was asked if he would testify under oath about his firing of FBI Director James Comey. And Trump was very definitive back then. He said he was, quote, "100 percent" willing to speak under oath. That, of course, was in regard to him being questioned about whether there was any obstruction of justice because of that firing. Today, didn't talk about 100 percent - maybe no percent.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING))

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We'll see what happens. I mean, certainly, I'll see what happens. But when they have no collusion and nobody's found any collusion at any level, it seems unlikely that you'd even have an interview.

LIASSON: So he was talking about collusion there, which he repeatedly denies. What the special counsel is also looking at, in addition to some kind of unlawful cooperation with the Russians, is obstruction of justice in the president's firing of Comey, which he has said publicly was done to get the cloud of the Russia investigation off of him and in his drafting of a misleading statement about the meeting that his son had with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in June of 2016.

MCEVERS: The president also had this pretty extraordinary meeting yesterday at the White House with Republican and Democratic lawmakers. They're essentially negotiating in front of TV cameras. And he said in that meeting he would sign anything the lawmakers agree to. This was about immigration. I mean, did he mean it - anything?

LIASSON: No, not anything. He was asked today whether he meant when he said he'd sign anything Congress sent him, did he mean that he would sign a DACA bill, an immigration bill, without funding for a wall?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: No.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No.

TRUMP: It's got to include the wall. We need the wall for security. We need the wall for safety. We need the wall for stopping the drugs from pouring in. I would imagine that the people in the room, both Democrat or Republican, I really believe they're going to come up with a solution to the DACA problem, which has been going on for a long time.

LIASSON: So that said, the president's idea of the wall is still pretty flexible. It could be some fencing. He said it doesn't have to be 2,000 miles of concrete. My understanding of the Senate negotiations is that in the part of the meeting yesterday that wasn't on camera, Trump said that coming out of the deal he would be able to say he got something on border security, the Democrats would say they did something for the DREAMers, something would be done about the visa lottery program.

And in terms of the issue of chain migration, the DREAMers themselves would not be able to bring in family members. Chain migration is sometimes called family reunification. But what the president wasn't asked about today was whether he would sign a bill that included the most basic ingredient of the DREAM Act, which is a path to citizenship for the DREAMers. And many of his most ardent supporters consider that amnesty and find it completely objectionable.

MCEVERS: So we'll see how that goes. About that meeting with lawmakers yesterday that the president had, I understand he was still talking about it today.

LIASSON: Yes. And this has happened before. He generally gets a lot of positive reinforcement when he does something bipartisan, and he loves to talk about that response in a Cabinet meeting today. He said he got great reviews of his performance, claimed that many anchors had written him letters praising him. You know, this has happened before. He made a tentative deal on immigration with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and then it fell apart. It evaporated. So in the president's favorite phrase, we'll see what happens.

MCEVERS: NPR's Mara Liasson, thank you so much.

LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.