The White House continued its string of off-camera briefings on Thursday, the day after President Donald Trump criticized his own attorney general for recusing himself from the ongoing Russia investigation.
Trump said in an interview with the New York Times that he never would have hired Jeff Sessions, one of his staunchest campaign supporters, as attorney general had he known he would recuse himself in the Russia investigation. He also warned special counsel Robert Mueller against investigating the Trump family’s finances.
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The White House has not given an on-camera briefing since June 29.
Here are the key moments from principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ briefing.
• Sessions would not have his job if Trump wasn’t confident in him, Sanders said in response to the day’s first question.
“As the president said yesterday, he was disappointed in Attorney General Sessions’ decision to recuse himself. But clearly he has confidence in him or he would not be the attorney general,” Sanders said.
Asked if the attorney general serves the president or the constitution, Sanders replied, “Both.”
Trump has not spoken with Sessions in the past 24 hours, Sanders said. Asked if he should resign, she said: “I think you know this president well enough to know that if he wanted somebody to take an action, he would make that clear.”
• Sanders said she didn’t know whether Mueller is probing the Trump family’s finances.
Asked about Trump’s comment that Mueller should avoid looking at his family’s finances, Sanders said Trump wants the probe to stay focused on Russia.
• The president has “no intention” of firing Mueller, Sanders said.
• Sanders said she was not sure if Trump regretted disparaging Republican Sen. John McCain during the 2016 campaign for having been captured in Vietnam.
Earlier in the briefing, Sanders had offered the administration’s prayers for McCain, who announced Wednesday he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.
• Two screens behind the podium showed the phrase “MAGANOMICS,” a play on Trump’s slogan Make America Great Again. Sanders introduced Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, joking that his birthday is tomorrow and that the Congressional Budget Office, a target of Republican ire, estimates he will be turning 75. Mulvaney will turn 50.
Maganomics is a “unifying theme of just about everything that we do,” Mulvaney said, with the aim of achieving 3 percent economic growth.
“Some people don’t want you to remember what 3 percent growth looked like,” Mulvaney said.
• Trump’s administration has eliminated 16 major regulations while only introducing one, Mulvaney said.
He claimed the Obama administration had a “secret list” of regulations that were not released to the public, though he gave no details. He said the White House would be releasing the list.
• Increasing the federal deficit in the “short-term” is okay if it leads to growth, Mulvaney said of tax reform plans.
He said tax reform will be easier after the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Republican efforts to undo the law have floundered in Congress.