How Trump Is Reacting To Sessions' Testimony

Jun 14, 2017
Originally published on June 14, 2017 8:17 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

President Trump is promising an announcement today, something to do with job training and apprenticeships, although the details are scant. The White House would much rather focus on things like that than the investigation of Russian influence or the president's recent firing of FBI Director James Comey, although it's hard to keep the focus away from those subjects. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith is here. Hi, Tam.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hi.

INSKEEP: So the president's own allies have been shifting focus back to the investigation. A friend of the president's, as we reported yesterday, suggested the president is considering firing the special counsel, Robert Mueller, the person in charge of the investigation. Is that a serious possibility?

KEITH: Well, the White House still has not disputed the idea that the president is considering it. So on Air Force One last night, we asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who's a spokesperson for the president, whether President Trump is considering firing or seeking the firing of Robert Mueller. And here's what she said.

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SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: While the president has the right to, he has no intention to do so.

INSKEEP: No intention to do so.

KEITH: That's right. Now - and we should also just point out that the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, testifying before Congress yesterday, said that he is the only one who can fire the special counsel and that, he says, it would have to be for cause. And if there is no cause, then it doesn't matter who tells him to do it, he wouldn't do it.

INSKEEP: So yesterday was another one of those days where there was, like, a huge news story that overshadowed another huge news story that overshadowed another huge news story. Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, testified before the Senate intelligence committee yesterday - took a lot of sharp questions from senators. How did the White House respond to that?

KEITH: Well, we were trying to figure out if the president was watching it on Air Force One. It took all day to find out if he had been watching it. They said he had but that - they wouldn't say how much - and that the president was quite happy with Sessions' performance, Sanders said, because he especially liked the part where Sessions pressed the idea that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

INSKEEP: Sessions also spent a lot of time not answering questions, saying that they might be subjects on which the president might claim executive privilege, immunity from being questioned. Is the president actually claiming executive privilege or saying that he will?

KEITH: No, not yet.

INSKEEP: OK. Now back to the agenda. We mentioned this. The White House has dubbed this week Workforce Development Week. What is that?

KEITH: Well, they are talking about apprenticeships and other ways of closing the skills gap, trying to match the 6 million, they say, unfilled jobs with all the millions of people who need jobs. But as for details, there weren't a lot of them. The president was in Waukesha, Wis., yesterday at a technical college, and here's what he said.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We want a future where every high school in America offers apprenticeship opportunities for young citizens and - studying things that they want to study and studying things that they're going to be great at. Under this vision, high school students could learn, and they could earn.

KEITH: Of course, apprenticeships are nothing new. The Obama administration was also trying to promote apprenticeships. And we just don't know what the president is actually proposing in terms of how he would pay for this or promote it or get other companies to do it.

INSKEEP: So Workforce Development Week coming after last week's Infrastructure Week, which was also overshadowed by the Russia investigation and other matters, wasn't it?

KEITH: Yes.

INSKEEP: OK. Tamara, thanks very much - really appreciate it.

KEITH: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Tamara Keith this morning. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.