Feb 20, 2019

Maggie Haberman refutes Trump's claim reporters don't ask for comment

Maggie Haberman, a New York Times' White House correspondent, called President Trump's claim that reporters don't reach out to the White House for comment "a lie" during an appearance on CNN on Wednesday. "We went through a detailed list of what we were planning on reporting. They chose not to engage," she said.

Backdrop: Haberman and a team of other journalists at the Times reported yesterday that Trump called acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker last year to ask whether a Trump-appointed attorney could "unrecuse" himself in order to lead the Southern District of New York's investigation into hush money payments during the 2016 presidential election.

Go deeper: Trump's torch-it-all strategy

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Grassley to hold up pair of nominations until Trump explains IG firings

Grassley questions Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on June 3 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said on Thursday that he will block the confirmation of two of President Trump's nominees until the White House provides "adequate explanations" for why the inspectors general for the intelligence community and State Department were ousted in the past two months.

Why it matters: It's a rare attempt by a Republican to hold Trump accountable for his recent purge of federal watchdogs. Grassley has long considered himself a defender of inspectors general.

John Kelly defends James Mattis against Trump attacks

John Kelly in the White House in July 2017. Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly defended James Mattis on Thursday after President Trump attacked the former defense secretary as "the world's most overrated general" and claimed on Twitter that he was fired.

What he's saying: “The president did not fire him. He did not ask for his resignation,” Kelly told the Washington Post in an interview. “The president has clearly forgotten how it actually happened or is confused."

Barr claims "no correlation" between removing protesters and Trump's church photo op

Attorney General Bill Barr said at a press conference Thursday that there was "no correlation" between his decision to order police to forcibly remove protesters from Lafayette Park and President Trump's subsequent visit to St. John's Episcopal Church earlier this week.

Driving the news: Barr was asked to respond to comments from Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who said Tuesday that he "did not know a photo op was happening" and that he does everything he can to "try and stay out of situations that may appear political."