President Donald Trump has been in the news a lot lately. Yes, that’s kind of like saying “people have been breathing oxygen lately.” But on Friday there were a few different-but-overlapping Trump-related stories going on. So we’ve decided to break them down for you.
“I just fired … a real nut job”
The New York Times is reporting the official White House summary of last week’s meeting with Russian diplomats shows the president telling them that his firing of FBI Director James Comey had taken pressure off of him.
Here’s the quote that was read to the Times by one U.S. official and confirmed by another one: “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
The meeting occurred the day after Comey’s dismissal.
The quote could fuel arguments from those who maintain Comey was fired for investigating a possible connection between the Trump campaign and alleged Russian interference in the presidential election.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told the Times what Trump was instead referring to was “unnecessary pressure” Comey had put on the president’s ability to conduct diplomacy with Russia, saying Comey had been grandstanding and politicizing the investigation.
Report: A senior White House adviser is under scrutiny
As the investigation continues, the Washington Post reported Friday that it has reached President Trump’s inner circle.
The Post cites “people familiar with the matter” in reporting that investigators have identified a senior White House adviser as a significant person of interest.
It’s been widely reported that the Russian contacts of some former Trump associates are part of the investigation. But now the Post is saying a current White House official who is close to Trump is under scrutiny.
The newspaper’s sources say the intensity of the investigation is likely to accelerate in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the president crosses the ocean
Both of those stories were released soon after President Trump left the country. He flew off to the Middle East on his first overseas visit as president.
Getting ready for my big foreign trip. Will be strongly protecting American interests – that's what I like to do!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2017
The president’s trip starts in Saudi Arabia this weekend and CNN reports the capital city, Riyadh, is ready to welcome him with open arms.
The network says the excitement was palpable as organizers and volunteers prepared the city for the occasion, with one calling Trump’s visit “the biggest thing that’s happened to Saudi Arabia since its establishment.”
Trump is attending three different summit meetings in Saudi Arabia and will deliver a speech to more than 50 Muslim leaders.
Trump’s popularity in the U.S. has slipped, according to a new poll. Reuters said Friday the 38 percent approval in the new Reuters/Ipsos poll is the president’s lowest mark since his inauguration. 6 percent of respondents said they had mixed feelings about Trump, while 56 percent disapprove.