Trump says he's thankful for making a 'tremendous difference in this country'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCoast Guard chief: 'Unacceptable' that service members must rely on food pantries, donations amid shutdown Dem lawmaker apologizes after saying it's never been legal in US to force people to work for free Grassley to hold drug pricing hearing MORE said Thursday that he is thankful "for having a great family and for having made a tremendous difference in this country."

Trump made the comment when asked by reporters what he is grateful for on Thanksgiving shortly after holding a phone call with troops overseas.

“I’ve made a tremendous difference in the country,” Trump said. “This country’s so much stronger than it was when I took office and you wouldn’t believe it.”

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“I mean you see it, but [it's] so much stronger that people can’t even believe it,” Trump said. “When I see foreign leaders, they say, ‘We cannot believe the difference in strength between the United States now and the United States two years ago.'” 

The country “made a lot of progress,” he added.

The president also used his appearance to heap praise on his acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who was appointed to the role earlier this month after Trump asked former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsNadler sends Whitaker questions on possible contacts with Trump over Mueller probe Graham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Martin, Bobby and the will to change MORE to resign.

"Matt WhitakerMatthew G WhitakerWilliam Barr's only 'flaw' is that he was nominated by Trump Rosenstein, DOJ exploring ways to more easily spy on journalists Pelosi takes power and sets high bar for Trump impeachment MORE is a highly respected person ... you know, once I choose somebody they always go through hell ... but Matt Whitaker is a highly respected man," Trump said.

"The Justice Department respects him tremendously," he continued. "I've spoken to a lot of people and you know, the press has been nasty to Matt Whitaker, but I can tell you that he is a highly respected, strong person and he's doing a great job. Everybody tells me that. He's doing a really great job."