President Trump sat down with reporters from one of his least favorite papers Wednesday and declared that border wall talks are a "waste of time." New York Times correspondents Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman say they interviewed Trump in the Oval Office after he invited publisher AG Sulzberger to an off-the-record dinner and Sulzberger suggested he speak to reporters on the record instead. They say the president seemed "relaxed and confident"—and gave them printed copies of tweets that were sent out in his name while they were speaking to him. Some highlights:
- The border wall. Trump apparently no longer expects funding from Congress for his proposed border wall, even though talks have two weeks left to run. He called the negotiations a "waste of time" and strongly hinted that he plans to build it without congressional support by declaring an emergency. "I've set the table," he said. "I've set the stage for doing what I'm going to do." He also said: "I’ll continue to build the wall and we’ll get the wall finished."
- Russia investigation. Trump said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had assured his lawyers that he is "not a target" of the investigation. He said he had never spoken to Roger Stone about WikiLeaks and denied that any of his tweets about Robert Mueller's investigation constituted witness tampering.
- "This is one of the great losers of all time." Trump said he's not making money from his position, even if "somebody from some country stayed at a hotel." "I lost massive amounts of money doing this job," he said. "This is not the money. This is one of the great losers of all time. You know, fortunately, I don’t need money."
- 2020. Trump said he loves his job and will definitely be running again in 2020—and he doesn't expect any Republicans to run against him. As for possible Democratic rivals, he said Kamala Harris had "the best opening act so far," though "some of the others were very flat," and Elizabeth Warren was "hurt very badly with the Pocahontas trap."
- Nancy Pelosi. "I’ve actually always gotten along with her, but now I don’t think I will anymore," Trump said. "I think she’s doing a tremendous disservice to the country. If she doesn’t approve a wall, the rest of it’s just a waste of money and time and energy because it’s desperately needed."
- Trump Tower Moscow. Trump said lawyer Rudy Giuliani was wrong when he claimed talks on the project continued up until the election. "Rudy has been wrong a little bit," he said. "But what has happened is this: I didn't care. That deal was not important. It was essentially a letter of intent or an option." He said his last conversation on the project in 2016 was in the"early to middle of the year."
(Trump also said Thursday that intelligence chiefs who contradicted him were misquoted