A White House media appearance on Tuesday by President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in grew tense when one reporter brought up Trump’s ongoing feud with his administration’s Department of Justice.
The inquiry came less than two days after Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein agreed to task the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General with looking into “whether there was any impropriety or political motivation” behind reports that an FBI informant met with Trump campaign aides.
Rosenstein’s decision was itself a response to a tweet from the president just hours earlier in which he demanded an investigation.
“I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!” he wrote.
I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018
As the Washington Examiner reported, one journalist this week attempted to seek further insight into the fledgling inquiry in light of Trump’s long history of criticizing Rosenstein and others in the Justice Department.
Trump is asked whether he has confidence in Rod Rosenstein: "What is your next question, please … I have the president of South Korea here. He doesn't want to hear these questions, if you don't mind." pic.twitter.com/aGD3wO1kIS
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) May 22, 2018
Despite the timeliness of the question, Trump made it clear that he had no interest in providing an answer — at least in that setting.
“Do you have confidence in Rod Rosenstein?” the reporter asked.
Trump initially disregarded the question entirely.
“What is your next question, please,” he said, turning to another reporter.
Before hearing that question, though, Trump chided the previous journalist.
“I have the president of South Korea here, OK?” Trump said. “He doesn’t want to hear these questions, if you don’t mind.”
The president, who has also maintained a longstanding feud with the media, has not shied away from belittling reporters in the past for asking what he considered inappropriate questions.
In April, Trump abruptly dismissed another reporter who asked whether he had considered issuing a presidential pardon to his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, following a series of raids on Cohen’s property by federal agents earlier in the month.
Trump, who began exercising his pardoning power earlier than most of his predecessors, shot back that the reporter had asked a “stupid question.”
Many of the questions during Tuesday’s joint conference at the White House dealt with the tenuous nature of a planned summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“North Korea has a chance, really, to be a great country and I think they should seize the opportunity,” Trump said at one point. “And we will soon find out whether or not they want to do that.”
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