If the bold actions President Donald Trump took on Wednesday were any indication, the 2018 election results put him in a fighting mood.
In the span of one day, Trump congratulated himself for a “very Big Win” in the midterms (despite Democrats taking control of the House), threatened war with the Democrats, engaged in a war of words with reporters and took actions to take back control of the special counsel’s Russia investigation into his 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump forced Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign.
After months of publicly fuming over Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ inaction on the special counsel’s ongoing Russia investigation, Trump forced Sessions to resign.
When Trump announced Sessions’ resignation on Wednesday, he also identified Matt Whitaker as his pick for acting attorney general, effectively putting Whitaker in charge of overseeing Robert Mueller’s investigation. Whitaker, a former federal prosecutor, has openly criticized Mueller’s probe, suggesting in an op-ed for CNN that it could be a “witch hunt.”
Sessions was one of Trump’s earliest supporters, but he drew the ire of Trump early in his presidency when Sessions decided to recuse himself from the investigation. As tensions between the two former allies continued to flare, Trump slammed Sessions on “Fox & Friends” and Twitter, claiming Sessions “never took control” of the Justice Department.
After Sessions’ ousting was announced, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned that the timing of the news was “very suspect.”
“Our paramount view is that any attorney general, whether this one or another one, should not be able to interfere with the Mueller investigation in any way,” Schumer told reporters.
Trump threw a tantrum at a White House press conference.
At a post-midterms press conference at the White House, Trump lashed out at reporters after CNN’s Jim Acosta challenged him over a racist, anti-immigration ad that was paid for by his re-election campaign.
“I think you should let me run the country. You run CNN,” Trump told Acosta.
When Acosta continued to push Trump with questions about the federal investigation into Russia’s involvement in the Trump campaign, the president called the reporter a “rude, terrible person” and, later, identified him as “the enemy of the people.”
“CNN should be ashamed of itself having you work for them,” Trump said.
Trump also jabbed at NBC News reporter Peter Alexander after he defended Acosta as a “diligent reporter.”
“Well, I’m not a big fan of yours either,” Trump told Alexander.
In another heated exchange, PBS News Hour’s Yamiche Alcindor asked Trump whether he thought his use of the term “nationalist” emboldened “white nationalists.”
Trump dismissed her question as “racist.”
“What you just said is so insulting to me,” Trump said. “It’s a very terrible thing that you said.”
The White House revoked CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press credentials.
Hours after sparring with CNN’s chief White House correspondent, the White House confiscated Acosta’s press credentials, barring him from future press events.
“As a result of today’s incident, the White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.
Sanders also claimed in a series of tweets that Acosta had placed “his hands on a young woman” during the press conference, despite video that showed Acosta turning away from the female intern when she tried to take his microphone.
Acosta rebuked Sanders claim:
In an official statement, CNN said it fully supported Acosta despite the White House’s “unprecedented decision.”
“It was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today’s press conference,” the statement read. “In an explanation, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lied. She provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened.”
Trump threatened war against the Democrats if they use their majority in the House to challenge him.
Trump warned House Democrats against pursuing more investigations into him and threatened to fight back using his majority in the Senate if they had the temerity to do so. During his post-election press conference, Trump even laid out his plan of attack, which included counter-investigations into Democrats.
“If that happens, then we’re going to do the same thing, and government comes to a halt. And I would blame them,” Trump told reporters.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, promised to pursue Trump’s tax returns for the sake of transparency and to reveal any potential corruption.
“The American people will see his tax returns, not because of any voyeuristic interest, but because they should know if he is corrupt,” Swalwell told NBC News’ “Today Show.” “We will look at the cashing in of access to the Oval Office and that has been concerning and his financial entanglements overseas.”