Jan 19, 2019

Trump praises Mueller for putting out BuzzFeed statement

Photo: Pete Marovich via Getty Images

Speaking to reporters Saturday morning, President Trump offered praise to special counsel Robert Mueller for putting out a statement that disputed parts of an explosive report from BuzzFeed News.

"Yes, I thought that the BuzzFeed piece and maybe equally as bad, the coverage of the BuzzFeed phony story. It was a total phony story, and I appreciate the special counsel coming out with a statement last night. I think it was very appropriate that they did so, I very much appreciate that."

Why it matters: Trump has unleashed countless Twitter tirades decrying the Mueller investigation as a "witch hunt" over the past year and a half, but Mueller's decision to take the rare step of going on the record to dispute the BuzzFeed story — and Trump's subsequent praise of that decision — may make it more difficult for the president to condemn future moves as politically motivated.

Go deeper: Mueller's BuzzFeed statement is a reckoning for Trump-era journalism

Go deeper

Coronavirus spreads to more countries, and U.S. ups its case count

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. Meanwhile, Italy reported its first virus-related death on Friday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,359 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 hours ago - Health

Wells Fargo agrees to pay $3 billion to settle consumer abuse charges

Clients use an ATM at a Wells Fargo Bank in Los Angeles, Calif. Photo: Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Wells Fargo agreed to a pay a combined $3 billion to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday for opening millions of fake customer accounts between 2002 and 2016, the SEC said in a press release.

The big picture: The fine "is among the largest corporate penalties reached during the Trump administration," the Washington Post reports.