President Donald Trump categorically denied that he had any doubts about loyalty from Vice President Mike Pence when he spoke to reporters outside the White House on Saturday.
The president stopped to take questions on a range of issues before he departed Washington for California and was asked about a New York Times story that asserts Trump has lost confidence in his second in command.
“No, I don’t question his loyalty at all, he is 100 percent loyal,” Trump said. “It was a phony story. I doubt they had any sources, a typical New York Times phony story. Mike Pence is a hundred percent, not even a doubt about it in my mind.”
The Times story, which was published Friday, said ofTrump, “In one conversation after another he has asked aides and advisers a pointed question: Is Mike Pence loyal?
“Mr. Trump has repeated the question so many times that he has alarmed some of his advisers.”
The article also insinuated that the president might be looking to drop Pence and find another running mate for his 2020 re-election campaign.
The story was based on information from unnamed sources — “nearly a dozen White House aides and others close to Mr. Trump” — which the president said he considered to be highly suspect.
“That was a phony story written by The New York Times, who by the way never called me for a comment,” he said. “How do you do a story like that? See, it’s fake news, and that’s what breaks up a country: fake news.”
President Trump talks to reporters before leaving for California and trashes “phony” New York Times story about Mike Pence. “How do you do a story like that and you don’t call” me or Sarah Sanders for a quote? pic.twitter.com/4EEovhYYMs
— TheBlaze (@theblaze) November 17, 2018
The Times article went on to discuss the possible ramifications of a change in the Trump/Pence ticket and other presidents who have considered such a move.
Included in that list was former President Barack Obama, who, according to The Times, briefly pondered removing former Vice President Joe Biden from his 2012 re-election effort and replacing him with former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The article dissected issues where Pence had publicly come to the defense of the president, and other times when he had remained silent.
The Times also addressed the portion of Trump’s base that most favors Pence: evangelicals.
The article quoted Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, as saying, “Mike Pence is an invaluable asset to President Trump politically, on shaping policy and personnel, and in cementing the epoxy-like bond with evangelicals.
“He is also fiercely loyal, which is the coin of Trump’s realm. The president has said he plans to keep Pence, and that is an infinitely wise decision.”
The person that the Times didn’t solicit a quote from, according to the president, was himself.
The New York Times did a phony story, as usual, about my relationship with @VP Mike Pence. They made up sources and refused to ask me, the only one that would know, for a quote….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2018
“How do you do a story like that and you don’t call the principal? I would give them a quote, I would say, ‘It’s not true,’ and that’s the end of their story,” he said.
“But they don’t do that. They write, and then they make up sources. They might speak to one person, but they make up phony sources. …
“That’s the way a lot of the news stories are written. That’s why I call it fake news. It’s fake. And it’s a very bad thing for our country, it’s very dangerous.
“Mike Pence is a hundred percent, they should retract that story. But you can’t do that story without calling me for a quote, or you could call Sarah Huckabee (Sanders) and say, ‘Could I get a quote?’ — and here she is,” he said, indicating Sanders. “‘Could I get a quote from the president?’ And I would be happy to give a quote.”
The president finished by telling reporters exactly what he would have said had the Times done what he considered to be its due diligence:
“I would be happy. And you know what the quote would be? ‘Mike Pence is 100 percent.’ Now you can’t do your story.”
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