Monday 10 December 2018

Trump promises to rid Justice Department of ‘lingering stench’

The White House has this week been battered by a number of potentially damaging stories.

Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein says the story is ‘inaccurate and factually incorrect’ (Evan Vucci/AP)
Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein says the story is ‘inaccurate and factually incorrect’ (Evan Vucci/AP)
Donald Trump speaking at a rally in Missouri (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

By Jonathan Lemire, Associated Press

US President Donald Trump has issued an ominous warning about the Justice Department and the FBI, promising further firings to get rid of a “lingering stench” following reports that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein discussed secretly recording him.

Trump, speaking at a rally in Missouri on Friday, did not explicitly mention the Rosenstein furore, which was first reported by The New York Times and confirmed by The Associated Press.

But Trump lashed out against what he sees as anti-Trump bias in the Justice Department, touting the firings he has orchestrated, unnerving many in federal law enforcement and sparking fears about the future of the special counsel’s Russia probe, which Rosenstein oversees.

“You’ve seen what happened in the FBI and the Department of Justice. The bad ones, they’re all gone. They’re all gone,” Trump said.

“But there is a lingering stench and we’re going to get rid of that, too.”

One person present during Rosenstein’s remarks said he was being sarcastic.

The Times also said he raised the idea of using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump as unfit for office.

Rosenstein said the story is “inaccurate and factually incorrect”.

It was the latest storm to buffet the White House, which this week was battered by a number of potentially damaging stories.

Beyond the speculation about Rosenstein, it was revealed that Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, is co-operating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

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Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein says the story is ‘inaccurate and factually incorrect’ (Evan Vucci/AP)

The president also backed off his plan to declassify documents related to the ongoing probe, and the fate of his Supreme Court nominee remained uncertain.

Negotiations continued about a possible appearance by Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s nominee, of sexual assault at a high school party more than three decades ago.

Trump made the future of Kavanaugh and the federal judiciary a centrepiece of his rally in Springfield, which was designed to support the state’s Republican Senate candidate, Missouri attorney general Josh Hawley, in his race against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.

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Supporters cheered as Donald Trump arrived to speak in Missouri (Evan Vucci/AP)

“I don’t know who she is with but she is not with the state of Missouri,” Trump said.

“(Kavanaugh) is a fantastic man, a fantastic man. She won’t vote for him.”

But Trump, who used Twitter earlier Friday to cast doubt on Ford’s claim, preached optimism on Kavanaugh, saying “he was born for the US Supreme Court” and reassuring the crowd that “it’s going to happen. It’s going to happen”.

He added: “We have to fight for him, not worry about the other side. And by the way, women are for that more than anybody would understand.”

When Hawley praised Trump’s judicial picks, the crowd began chanting Kavanaugh’s name.

And the president, drawing energy from a packed, raucous crowd, dished out plenty of red meat, pledging to build his signature border wall, telegraphing that he is willing to escalate trade conflicts with both China and Western allies and suggesting he was “willing to wait” to make a peace deal with North Korea.

Press Association

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