White House surprised, frustrated by Trump’s New York Times interview: report
Various White House officials were taken off guard and frustrated by President Trump’s impromptu Florida interview with The New York Times, according to a Friday report from The Washington Post.
The Post said that Times reporter Michael Schmidt gained access to the president at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Thursday, after club member Christopher Ruddy introduced the president and the reporter. No aides were present during the on-the-record session.
The newspaper quoted one official who was not aware of the interview, which was posted on Thursday evening, as asking, “What interview? Today?”
Another official was reportedly irked the sit-down took place and referred to it as “embarrassing.”
The wide-ranging Times interview with the president covered various areas such as his strained relationship with the news media and special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Trump told the Times he has the “absolute right” to do whatever he wants regarding the Department of Justice and that he believes Mueller would be fair to him in the probe.
The president also denied collusion between his campaign and Russia but said even if there was collusion, it would not be a crime.
White House communications director Hope Hicks reportedly checked in on the interview “from afar” after word began to circulate that the president was speaking with the press.
The Post reported the president as being enthusiastic about the interview and happy that it was largely covered on television Friday.