In a 45-minute Oval Office interview with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, President Trump said he hopes to tackle tax reform after health care, however that turns out, and then infrastructure; said he expects to declare Iran noncompliant with the nuclear deal in September, even if his advisers object; took aim again at Attorney General Jeff Sessions; and named his economic adviser Gary Cohn as a candidate for Federal Reserve chairman next year.
"He doesn't know this, but yes, he is," Trump said of Cohn, who was sitting in on the interview along with Ivanka Trump, White House Chief of Staff Renice Priebus, strategic communications director Hope Hicks, and new communications director Anthony Scaramucci. Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen is also "in the running to stay," he added. Trump said that Scaramucci would help quash the infighting and melodrama in the West Wing, which he characterized, apparently jokingly, as "White House stuff, where they're fighting over who loves me the most."
On tax reform, Trump said his priority is to focus on lowering the corporate tax rate to 15 percent and helping "the middle-income people in this country, who have gotten screwed." If any taxes are raised, "it's going to be on high-income people," he said, though, the Journal notes, Trump and his team have been "vague on significant middle-class provisions" in the tax overhaul, "while promising specific benefits for high-income households such as the repeal of the estate tax and alternative minimum tax."
Trump has been increasingly critical of Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia election-meddling and collusion investigation, and he argued to the Journal that this recusal was the reason Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel. He declined to say if he planned to fire Mueller, which would be very controversial and which he cannot do directly, telling the Journal: "I have no comment yet, because it's too early. But we'll see. We're going to see." He also did not express much confidence in Sessions, saying that the former senator's early endorsement of him was because Trump was popular in Sessions' home state, Alabama, "so it's not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement."
Below, Associated Press White House reporter Jonathan Lemire recaps Trump's mounting public and private abuse of Sessions, reminds why it is so unusual, and runs down what Trump may do next, assuming Sessions refuses to step down voluntarily. Peter Weber