While speaking to reporters for nearly 25 minutes on the White House lawn Friday morning, President Trump didn’t pull any punches.
In a series of rambling, scathing tirades ahead of his departure for Paris for the World War I commemoration services on Armistice Day, Trump defended his new acting attorney general, revived his attacks on the mainstream media, and apparently forgot one very important person in the process.
Here are the six most shocking moments:
Whittaker Is ‘Very Very Highly Thought Of’
Trump reiterated his support for new Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who was brought in Wednesday to replace the ousted Jeff Sessions and is now overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
Trump said Whitaker is “very very highly thought of” and a “very highly respected man.” (Not so, say some investors.)
“It’s a shame that no matter who I put in they go after them. It’s very sad,” he added, noting that “You didn’t have any problems with Matt Whitaker when he worked for Jeff Sessions.” Prior to his promotion, Whitaker worked as the Justice Department’s chief of staff.
However, when asked if Whitaker should recuse himself from the Mueller probe because of his past criticism of the investigation, Trump distanced himself.
“I didn’t speak to Matt Whitaker at all, I don’t know Matt Whitaker,” he said. “Matt Whitaker had a great reputation and that’s what I wanted.”
“I think he’s gonna do a great job,” the president said.
George Conway, a.k.a ‘Mr. Kellyanne Conway’
Trump also went after George Conway—husband of top White House counselor Kellyanne Conway—for writing a New York Times op-ed claiming that his decision to promote Whitaker is unconstitutional.
Conway, who the president would only refer to as “Mr. Kellyanne Conway,” is “just trying to get publicity for himself,” Trump said.
He then invited reporters to ask Kellyanne herself about the op-ed, because “I really don’t know the guy.”
Mueller vs. the World
While he had high praise for Whitaker, Trump tore into special counsel Robert Mueller. When an unidentified reporter said Whitaker has not gone through a Senate confirmation process, Trump furiously responded that Mueller hadn’t either.
“Neither had Mueller!” the president yelled. “Excuse me, you’re talking about the Senate process. Mueller is doing a report, and he hasn’t gone through the Senate process.”
“Mueller was not Senate confirmed. Why didn’t they get him Senate confirmed? He should have been Senate confirmed. But because of all the conflicts, they didn’t want to bring him before the Senate. Because he’s very conflicted [...] So don’t tell me about Whitaker, because Mueller was not Senate confirmed.”
Mueller was director of the FBI from 2001 to 2013, and was confirmed for that post by the Senate in the summer of 2001.
But when asked by a reporter if he has decided against a sit-down interview with Mueller—which his lawyers have repeatedly resisted—Trump refused to provide a concrete answer.
“I haven’t ruled out anything. I haven’t even thought about it,” Trump said. “I’m thinking about the world.”
He’ll ‘Never Forgive’ Barack Obama
When asked about former first lady Michelle Obama’s statement in her new memoir that the 2011 “birther” movement against her husband—the often-repeated false claim by Trump that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii—was “crazy and mean-spirited,” and that she’ll “never forgive” him for jeopardizing her family with his “reckless innuendos,” Trump pivoted to attack her husband.
“I’ll never forgive him for what he did to our U.S. military for not funding it properly,” Trump said. “It was depleted, everything was old and tired and I came in and I had to fix it. And I’m in the process of spending tremendous amounts of money. So I’ll never forgive him for what he did to our military.”
“What he did made this country unsafe for you, and you, and you,” Trump added.
Trump Might Pull Other Press Passes, Too
The president also returned to his favorite punching bag: “the liberal media.” Referencing his bizarre Wednesday spat with CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta—in which Trump called the reporter “a rude, terrible person”—Trump told reporters that Acosta is “an unprofessional guy.”
“I don’t think he’s a very smart person,” Trump added, “but he’s got a loud voice.”
When asked how long he planned to withhold Acosta’s White House press pass—a nearly unprecedented move, decried by reporters across the country and around the world—Trump obfuscated.
“As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t made that decision. But it could be others also.”
“When you’re in the White House, it is a very sacred place to be,” he added. “It’s a very special place. You have to treat the White House with respect. You have to treat the presidency with respect. If you’ve ever seen him dealing with Sarah Huckabee Sanders, it’s a disgrace.”
Trump then turned his fire to CNN contributor and Urban Radio Networks correspondent April Ryan, who he chastised Wednesday for interrupting another reporter to ask her question about voter suppression.
“You talk about somebody that’s a loser,” he said. “She doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing. She gets publicity, and then she gets a pay raise, and then she gets a contract with, I think, CNN. But she’s very nasty, and she shouldn’t be.”
Wait… Where’s Melania?
By the end of this tirade, Trump was so worked up that he forgot one very important thing: his wife.
“Trump took our questions for 25 minutes in a cold windy drizzle,” tweeted Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Jacobs. “Got annoyed with us on questions about whether he wants to rein Mueller. Snapped his coat lapels, walked toward helicopter and realized he’d forgotten wife, under a White House door canopy. Came back to get her.”