Battered by a series of damaging revelations this week, President Trump will face questions from reporters at the White House on Thursday afternoon amid a deepening political crisis that has threatened to derail his administration’s agenda four months into his tenure.
Trump and President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia are scheduled to appear at a joint news conference at 3:45 p.m. in the East Room. But the bilateral relationship is expected to take a back seat to questions about the burgeoning investigation into possible collusion between Trump associates and the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump lashed out in the morning on Twitter at the news that the Justice Department appointed a special prosecutor, former FBI director Robert Mueller, to oversee the investigation, calling the move a politically motivated “witch hunt” by his Democratic rivals. The president’s anger belied a more measured written statement released by the White House on Wednesday evening, when he declared that a thorough investigation would find “no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity.”
The president’s frustration has been building since he abruptly fired FBI director James B. Comey last week. Trump said he acted because Comey, who had been overseeing the Russia investigation, “wasn’t doing a good job” leading the agency, calling him a “showboat” and a “grandstander.”
But a report in the New York Times this week that Trump allegedly asked Comey to end the investigation undercut the president’s rational and has led to accusations from some in Congress that the president was attempting to obstruct justice. Another report, in the Washington Post, that Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian diplomats in a meeting in the Oval Office last week has amplified concerns about the president’s dealings with Moscow.
During a speech at the Coast Guard Academy commencement Wednesday, an aggrieved Trump aired his mounting frustrations, declaring that “no politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly. You can’t let them get you down, can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams.”
Trump is scheduled to leave Washington on Friday on his first foreign trip, a nine-day sojourn with stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy and Belgium, as well as a visit to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis