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President Trump started his Friday with an impromptu flurry of interviews on the White House lawn. To reporters, the president defended his friendly interaction with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, claimed complete vindication in the report on the Hillary Clinton email probe and threw GOP immigration efforts into a tailspin -- later clarified by the White House. Yamiche Alcindor reports.
From North Korea to immigration to yesterday's report on the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe, President Trump had a lot to say this morning.
"NewsHour" White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor reports.
President Trump started his day with an impromptu walk across the White House lawn, where he gave a flurry of interviews to reporters.
First up, FOX News. When questioned if North Korea's Kim Jong Un would be visiting the White House, the president said it could happen.
President Donald Trump:
He's the head of a country. And, I mean, he is the strong head. Don't let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.
Later, the president said he was joking, but continued to praise Kim, highlighting their new relationship that flourished during the June 12 Singapore summit.
I have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un. I gave him a very direct number. He can now call me if he has any difficulty. I can call him. We have communication. It's a very good thing.
Mr. Trump defended his friendly interaction with the North Korean leader as a way to keep Americans safe.
I don't want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family. I want to have a good relationship with North Korea.
Another topic that he touched on? The Department of Justice. Mr. Trump claimed complete vindication by yesterday's inspector general's report on the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe.
It totally exonerates me. There was no collusion, there was no obstruction.
In fact, the report offered no such conclusion about Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election.
The 500-page report recommended possible disciplinary actions for five current or former DOJ staffers because of anti-Trump bias during the Clinton investigation.
The findings also faulted former FBI Director James Comey for his handling of the Clinton e-mail probe, but it found no evidence of political bias in his decision to not charge Clinton. Earlier, Mr. Trump objected to that conclusion.
That wasn't the correct opinion, and that was ridiculous.
Later, at the impromptu gaggle:
No, I hate it. I hate the children being taken away.
The president doubled down on blaming Democrats for separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Democrats forced that law upon our nation. And they can change the whole border security. We need a wall. We need border security. We have got to get rid of catch and release.
But it was Mr. Trump's attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who enacted the policy.
Yes, we are pursing a zero-tolerance prosecution policy at the border.
As of last month, it mandates everyone caught illegally entering the United States will be prosecuted, and children accompanying their parents will be separated and placed in a government facility or foster care while they wait for their day in court.
Today, federal officials said almost 2,000 children were separated from adults between April 19 and May 31.
In Scranton, Pennsylvania, Sessions once again defended the policy as necessary.
We're going to restore rule of law in our immigration system. That's a commitment that we made.
But, back in Washington, the Democrats pushed back.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.:
There's no policy justification for this. It's all political. The president is throwing red meat to his base when he does that.
Meanwhile, the president threw Republican immigration efforts into a tailspin today after he said he won't back a GOP compromise bill in the House.
I'm looking at both of them. I certainly wouldn't sign the more moderate one.
Republican leaders reached an agreement to hold two votes next week on a pair of immigration bills, including a more moderate version. Now the White House says the president supports both bills.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Yamiche Alcindor.
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