Trump-Russia: president says he has answered Mueller's questions – as it happened

Last modified: 09: 31 PM GMT+0

Closing summary

  • Jim Acosta’s access to the White House has been restored after a federal judge ruled in his favor today.
  • Donald Trump says he has answered questions from special counsel Robert Mueller but has not submitted his response yet.
  • Andrew Wheeler, the acting head of the EPA, will be formally nominated to lead the agency.
  • Seven people were honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom today including Babe Ruth, Elvis Presley and Miriam Adelson.


There has been other White House personnel news today.

Hogan Gidley has been promoted to be principal deputy press secretary, No 2 to Sarah Sanders in the White House press shop. The current holder of that title, Raj Shah, is expected to leave the White House soon.


Democrats have won another race from last week’s midterms.

In Arizona, Katie Hobbs won a tight race to be secretary of state. The position not only have oversight over elections in the Grand Canyon state but the officeholder is second in line to be governor as Arizona does not have a lieutenant governor.

.@dougducey just told reporters after an event that he called @katiehobbs earlier today to congratulate her on becoming Arizona’s new Secretary of State.

I’m pretty sure that means the #AZSOS race is over, folks.

— Carmen Forman (@CarmenMForman) November 16, 2018


House Republicans are taking advantage of their few remaining weeks in the majority.

They have issued subpoenas to both Jim Comey and Loretta Lynch to testify after Thanksgiving.

NEWS: House Judiciary Committee chairman has initiated the process to subpoena JAMES COMEY and LORETTA LYNCH to appear before the committee the week after Thanksgiving.

— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) November 16, 2018

One possible opponent to Nancy Pelosi, Marsha Fudge of Ohio, met with the minority leader today.

Fudge says she’ll make a decision about a possible bid for the speaker’s gavel after Thanksgiving.


The current whip count on Democratic opposition to Nancy Pelosi as speaker appears to be 18 right now.

It appears there are 18 ‘no’ votes on Pelosi on floor. Rep.-elect Abigail Spanberger left Pelosi meeting but said she would vote against Pelosi on the floor. She said she would not sign any letter - including one by 17 Dems.

“I will be voting but I will not be voting for her.”

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 16, 2018


Adam Kredo at the Washington Free Beacon reports that the Trump administration will declare Iran is not complying with international chemical weapons bans, a formal escalation of the administration efforts to pressure the Iranian regime.

BREAKING SCOOP: Trump admin to declare Iran in breach of chemical weapons bans, going much further than Obama admin -- Sources tell me Trump admin will announce Iran in breach for first time

— Adam Kredo (@Kredo0) November 16, 2018


Trump made a rare admission of error in his forthcoming interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, saying he should visited Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day.

Trump on going to Arlington National Cemetery on Veteran's Day:

"I should have done that," but says he was busy.

— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) November 16, 2018

The state of Maryland is appealing a lower court decision that its congressional map is unconstitutional to the United States Supreme Court.

State attorney general Brian Frosh is appealing a ruling that the state’s sixth congressional district is unconstitutional because it is specifically gerrymandered to disenfranchise Republicans.

Trump sat for an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. In the first excerpt to be released, he talks about the new rules he says the White House is writing for press in the aftermath of the judge’s decision in the Jim Acosta case.

“We’re writing them now,” said Trump.

“We’ll have rules of decorum you know you can’t keep asking questions. We had a lot of reporters in that room, many many reporters in that room and they were unable to ask questions because this guy gets up and starts you know doing what he’s supposed to be doing for him and for CNN and you know just shouting out questions and making statements too. But I will say this look, nobody believes in the First Amendment more than I do and if I think somebody is acting out of sorts I will leave I will say thank you very much everybody I appreciate you coming and I’ll leave. And those reporters will not be too friendly to whoever it is that’s acting up.”

George Conway, the prominent Republican lawyer and husband of top White House aide Kellyanne Conway, does not have positive things to say about Trump in a new interview with Yahoo.

George Conway (@gtconway3d), Kellyanne Conway's husband: "I’m watching this thing, and it’s like the administration is like a s***show in a dumpster fire. And I’m like, ‘I don’t want to do that. I don’t know" via @Isikoff, @dklaidman

— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) November 16, 2018

The President is now tweeting about media coverage of the midterm elections which he apparently feels was “an epic victory.”

People are not being told that the Republican Party is on track to pick up two seats in the U.S. Senate, and epic victory: 53 to 47. The Fake News Media only wants to speak of the House, were the Midterm results were better than other sitting Presidents.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2018

Mark Meadows, the powerful chair of hard right House Freedom Caucus, has been issued a formal reproach by the House Ethics Committee over the actions of his former chief of staff.

The House ethics committee has issued a letter of reproval to Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who violated House rules and failed "to take prompt and decisive action to deal with the alleged sexual harassment" committed by his then-chief of staff, Kenny West.

— Steven Shepard (@POLITICO_Steve) November 16, 2018

Even though Fox News submitted a brief in support of Jim Acosta, one personality in the Fox orbit is unhappy with the decision.

Lou Dobbs, who hosts a show on Fox Business Network, condemned the decision on Twitter today. Dobbs spent nearly three decades at CNN

Outrageously puerile reasoning and ruling: Our district courts are filled with farcical excuses for judges: Judge orders White House to return press pass to CNN's Jim Acosta #FoxNews #MAGA #AmericaFirst #Dobbs

— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) November 16, 2018

Turnout in the midterm elections is now estimated at 116.2 million, making it the first midterm in American history where over 100 million people voted.

Turnout update: Now at estimated 116.2 million votes cast in the 2018 general election or a turnout rate of 49.3%. This is the highest midterm turnout rate since 1914's 50.4% and the first midterm election to top 100 million votes

— Michael McDonald (@ElectProject) November 16, 2018

Trump now reminisces about when he once saw Elvis Presley perform live in Las Vegas at the Hilton there

As the ceremony goes on for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Trump gets to Elvis Presley, the last honoree and pauses as a clip of Elvis singing fills the East Room.

Trump then says “that was my idea.”

As Trump honors Miriam Adelson, philanthropist and wife of GOP mega donor Sheldon Adelson, he makes a joke at Adelson’s expense.

"Where is Sheldon," Trump says, as he recognizes the GOP donor's wife, Miriam.
"You didn't make the front row. He's probably angry."

— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) November 16, 2018

Trump welcomes the attending Supreme Court justices as he pays tribute to Scalia. When he sees Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who recently broke her ribs, Trump says “glad to see you’re feeling great.”

Andrew Wheeler to be nominated to replace Scott Pruitt at EPA

Trump just casually announced that Andrew Wheeler, the acting EPA Administrator, will be formally nominated to replace Scott Pruitt to run the Environmental Protection Agency.


Interesting update here on the House leadership election where Nancy Pelosi continues to woo members to support her bid to be Speaker.

I am outside @NancyPelosi’s ofc as she meets with Ds

Most every frosh d signals some openness to voting for her. Even ones who previously said no. Haley Stevens said she hasn’t said no. Sherril said nothing. Houlahan says she’s very much open to it

Still no “rebel” letter.....

— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) November 16, 2018

The ceremony for the Presidential Medal of Freedom is beginning at the White House.

One of the honorees is the late Antonin Scalia so six Supreme Court Justices are attending.

Quite a sighting at the White House — six Supreme Court justices.

— Shannon Pettypiece (@spettypi) November 16, 2018

The New York Times is reporting that Trump is asking people “Is Mike Pence loyal?”

Only last week he pledged that Pence would be on the ticket in 2020.

Trump is insisting he answering the questions from Mueller.

“My lawyers aren’t working on it. I’m working on it. My lawyers don’t write the answers. I write the answers” said Trump. He added “The questions were answered by me.” Trump went on to describe what he was asked as “not very difficult questions.”

However, he did say “I haven’t submitted them yet. As you know, I’ve been a bit busy.”

White House Correspondents Association President Olivier Knox has issued a statement on the Acosta ruling

Statement from @whca.

— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) November 16, 2018

Trump says he answered Mueller's questions

More news from White House pool reporter Tarini Parti:

Trump said he’s answered the questions sent by Mueller’s team. “I’ve answered them very easily. I’m working on them,” he said, stressing his lawyers aren’t the ones writing.

“You always have to be careful answering questions for people who have bad intentions.” “ I haven’t submitted them. I just finished them.”


Trump comments on Acosta ruling

Per White House pool reporter Tarini Parti:

“We’re writing up rules and regulations.”

“We have to practice decorum. We want total freedom of the press … we’re setting up a certain standard which is what the court is requesting.”


This is an interesting data point between the Democratic freshmen elected in the wave of 2006 and those elected last wee.

Genuinely wild to compare the demographics of Democrats who flipped seats in the 2006 wave vs. the 2018 wave. 2006
- 3% POC
- 13% Women
- 23% Under 45
- 83% White men 2018
- 21% POC
- 68% Women
- 53% Under 45
- 24% White Men

— Will Jordan (@williamjordann) November 16, 2018

Jim Acosta is back inside the White House. He was greeted by a scrum of reporters.

.@Acosta. "I would like to get back to work." #acostaisback

— Todd J. Gillman (@toddgillman) November 16, 2018

New Age guru Marianne Williamson is throwing her hat into the ring.

The New York Times best selling author announced she is forming an exploratory committee for the Democratic nomination in 2020. Williamson has been making trips to Iowa.

The Guardian scooped her first trip to the state in August when she was still considering a bid.

President Donald Trump had a long interview with the Daily Caller this week where he made unusual comments like “If you buy, you know, a box of cereal, if you do anything, you have a voter ID.”

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler has fact checked the interview here.

Another inside the White House memoir is coming.

Cliff Sims, a former Trump communications aide both on the campaign and in the administration, is writing a book.

It will reportedly be modeled on George Stephanopoulos’ book All Too Human about his stint in the Clinton Administration.

White House to return Acosta's hard pass

The White House issued a statement on the court ruling today and says it will allow Jim Acosta to return to work.

“Today, the court made clear that there is no absolute First Amendment right to access the White House. In response to the court, we will temporarily reinstate the reporter’s hard pass. We will also further develop rules and processes to ensure fair and orderly press conferences in the future.

There must be decorum at the White House.”


Turnout set records for a midterm across the country last week including in Polk County, Iowa which is the biggest jurisdiction in that swing state. Turnout almost reached 70% there. Polk County includes the state capitol of Des Moines and much of the city’s suburbs.

The official turnout percentage for the 2018 General Election for Polk County is 66.95%.

Polk had 207,423 voters which is the 4th largest turnout ever - and the highest non-presidential turnout.

— Jamie Fitzgerald (@Polkauditorfitz) November 16, 2018

In both 2018 and 2020 news, Kamala Harris, considered a likely Democratic presidential contender, will be in Mississippi this weekend to campaign for Mike Espy in the special election runoff for the Senate.

Inbox: @KamalaHarris to campaign with Mike Espy in Jackson, Miss., on Saturday ahead of the Nov. 27 runoff. #MSSen

— Ken Thomas (@KThomasDC) November 16, 2018

Lindsey Graham will likely be the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The current chairman, Chuck Grassley, will step down to lead the Senate Finance Committee. Graham is the next in line to succeed him on the Judiciary Committee.

New — Grassley says he will leave Judiciary, chair Finance

— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) November 16, 2018

CNN expects that Jim Acosta will be back reporting from the White House this afternoon.

CNN has formally requested the return of Jim @Acosta's press pass from the White House and expects he will be reporting from the W.H. this afternoon, DC bureau chief @SamFeistCNN says.

— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 16, 2018

After Mira Ricardel was pushed out as deputy national security advisor by Melania Trump, she was offered a consolation prize.

Bloomberg reports that Ricardel was offered the post of Ambassador to Estonia. She turned it down.

Another House election was finally decided, albeit one that’s not terribly important as congressional elections go.

Democrat Susan Wild won the special election to fill the seat vacated by Republican Charlie Dent’s resignation in May, edging Republican Marty Nothstein by 759 votes.

The election is not that important because it’s for a district that no longer exists after a court redrew Pennsylvania’s congressional districts due to gerrymandering. Wild beat Nothstein in the 15th Congressional District in the special election. However, the two also ran against each other for a full term in the new 7th Congressional District which includes much of the 15th. In that race, Wild won by nearly 10 points.

Her win in the special election means a slightly reduced Republican majority in the House in the remaining weeks of the lame duck sessions. It also gives Wild a major boost in seniority. She’ll have a six week head start over the rest of the freshman class which will be over 80 strong in a chamber with 435 members.

The Senate Leadership Fund has a new ad out in the Mississippi special election runoff.

The super-PAC closely tied to Mitch McConnell attacks Democrat Mike Espy as a liberal with ties to the Clintons and for his support for gun control and opposition to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh.

CNN: 'Our thanks … to those who support a free, strong, independent press'

CNN has a statement on the judge’s ruling.

Statement from CNN and @Acosta on today’s ruling: “We are gratified with this result and we look forward to a full resolution in the coming days. Our sincere thanks to all who have supported not just CNN, but a free, strong and independent American press.”

— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 16, 2018


In the Democratic leadership fight, Jim Clyburn, who is running to be whip, the number three position in the caucus, has locked down the votes he needs.

I just informed @Clyburn that our whip team has secured more than enough commitments from Democratic members of the next Congress to elect him the House Majority Whip! We will continue to press for support to earn every vote.

— G. K. Butterfield (@GKButterfield) November 16, 2018

The most significant drama left is for Speaker where Nancy Pelosi needs to be elected by a majority of the whole House, not just the Democratic caucus.


Acosta: 'Thank you … Now let's get back to work'

Jim Acosta just spoke briefly to reporters outside the courthouse:

“I just want to say something very briefly and I want to thank all of my colleagues in the press who supported us this week and I want to thank the judge for the decision he made today and let’s get back to work.”


New member orientation is ongoing on Capitol Hill where, for the first time, there was anti-sexual harassment training.

NEW: Members-Elect just received anti-sexual harassment training at orientation. It’s the first time this training has been done for new members of Congress.

— Alex Moe (@AlexNBCNews) November 16, 2018

In the courtroom, Kelly said “I want to emphasize the very limited nature of today’s ruling.” This doesn’t end the legal battle over Acosta’s access to the White House, it simply means that it is restored for now.

Acosta’s White House hard pass must be immediately restored according to Judge Kelly.

BREAKING: Judge says White House must immediately return press credentials of CNN’s Jim Acosta

— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) November 16, 2018

Kelly was nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate in 2017. Prior to that, Kelly was a lawyer for Chuck Grassley on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Federal judge orders Jim Acosta's White House pass to be restored

Judge Timothy Kelly has ruled in favor of CNN and Jim Acosta and against the Trump administration.

And here it is! Kelly says plaintiffs have shown likelihood fifth amendment rights were violated, and there is irreparable harm.

Judge Kelly orders the White House to reinstate Jim Acosta’s hard pass.

— Paul McLeod (@pdmcleod) November 16, 2018


The judge is currently speaking in the courtroom in CNN’s lawsuit about Jim Acosta’s White House pass. He has already said Acosta was denied due process but still waiting on a full ruling.

BREAKING: Judge says the White House “must provide due process if they are to revoke Mr. Acosta’s hard pass."
On Acosta "laying hands" on WH intern, judge says that's "likely untrue."

h/t @CharlieGileNBC

— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) November 16, 2018

If you’re already over the midterms, Cook Political Report has its first rankings for the 2020 Senate elections. As of now, no seats are tossups.

It seems Broward County has already completed its hand recount in Florida for the United States Senate race and it doesn’t appear that Bill Nelson has picked up many votes. The Democrat was hoping that thousands of ballots where voters skipped the Senate race was a machine error and not an undervote (likely because of a flawed ballot design). It turns out it may just be an undervote.

Breaking: Broward County just finished its hand recount in the Senate race. Waaaaay ahead of schedule. This is bad news for Nelson/Democrats

— Pema Levy (@pemalevy) November 16, 2018

Stacey Abrams considers legal action to force election re-run

In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams is reportedly contemplating legal action in a Hail Mary attempt to force a new election.

Her campaign is gathering complaints from Georgia voters who say they were disenfranchised in contemplation of legal action under a state law which allows results to challenged “misconduct, fraud or irregularities ... sufficient to change or place in doubt the results.”

There is no precedent for this in modern history. A re-run was held of a United States Senate election in New Hampshire in 1975 because there was no clear winner.

However, in Georgia, Republican Brian Kemp has a clear lead over Abrams. Currently, before results are certified, he is 18,000 votes over the majority threshold needed to avoid a runoff election in the state.


Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith seemed to praise voter suppression in remarks that her campaign insisted were a joke two weeks ago.

Hyde-Smith, the appointed incumbent who is running in Mississippi’s special election runoff for U.S. Senate on November 27th, said at an event in Starkville, Mississippi: “There’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who maybe we don’t want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.”

Mississippi has a long history of voter suppression and Jim Crow effectively disenfranchised African Americans in the Magnolia State until the 1960s. The state was covered by the Voting Rights Act which required all changes to election law to be approved by the federal government until a 2013 Supreme Court decision.

In a statement, Hyde Smith’s campaign said: Obviously Sen. Hyde-Smith was making a joke and clearly the video was selectively edited. Now the liberal media wants to talk about anything other than Mike Espy’s record of corruption and taking $750,000 - and lying about it - from an African dictator now charged with war crimes, including murder, rape and torture.”

Seven Americans will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom today, which is the highest civilian honor in the United States.

  • Miriam Adelson
  • Orrin Hatch
  • Alan Page
  • Elvis Presley
  • Babe Ruth
  • Antonin Scalia
  • Roger Staubach

However, the first choice is prompting some controversy as Adelson and her husband Sheldon are major Republican donors. Miriam Adelson is being honored for her philanthropy and efforts to fight narcotic addiction.

Alec MacGillis has a piece in the New York Times about a Democratic state house candidate in southeast Ohio who failed to get any support from his party and organized labor despite being one of a handful of candidates endorsed by Barack Obama.

It’s a stark view of Democratic struggles both in rural America and in Ohio as the party picks up seats in prosperous suburbs nationally.

Democrats picked up another seat in Congress last night.

Katie Porter officially beat two-term incumbent Mimi Walters in California’s 45th Congressional District. Porter is a law professor who studied under Elizabeth Warren at Harvard Law.

Her win is the 36th seat picked up by Democrats in last week’s midterms. It also represents a political sea change in California politics. She will represent a district in the heart of traditionally conservative Orange County which had long been a Republican bastion not just in California politics but nationally. Hillary Clinton was the first Democrat to win Orange County since FDR and, after the midterms, it’s likely that its entire congressional delegation will be Democratic. (There is still one uncalled congressional race in the county where Democrat Gil Cisneros currently has a narrow lead.)

BREAKING: Democrat Katie Porter wins election to U.S. House in California's 45th congressional district. #APracecall at 5:33 p.m. PST. @AP election coverage: #Election2018 #CAelection

— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) November 16, 2018

Florida is hand counting ballots, Democrats are still gaining seats in the House of Representatives and the President of the United States is giving a medal to the King of Rock and Roll.

It’s Friday in American politics.


Ben Jacobs in Washington

The GuardianTramp

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