MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
In a surprise meeting with reporters tonight, President Trump said this about the prospect of being interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of the Russia investigation.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Oh, I would do it under oath.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You would.
KELLY: He added that he’s, quote, “looking forward to it.” The president also held forth on immigration and what kind of an immigration bill he might be willing to sign. NPR’s Mara Liasson was in the room there at the White House. Hey, Mara.
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi there.
KELLY: Hey. So set the stage. Was the president expected to come out and…
LIASSON: Absolutely not.
KELLY: …Take questions?
LIASSON: This was…
KELLY: What happened?
LIASSON: What happened was a senior White House official arranged for a background/off-the-record briefing with reporters about immigration. He was beginning that briefing, and in walked President Trump in his overcoat. Presumably he’s on his way to the plane to go to Davos. And he began talking about DACA.
And he made two big pieces of news. First of all, as you just said, he said that he would speak under oath to Robert Mueller. He said, I would love to do it. Of course he said that he would be listening to the advice of his lawyers. President’s gone back and forth on this. At one point in the spring, he said, a hundred percent I would go under oath. Later he seemed to walk that back. But now he’s saying, I would do it under oath. He said, I would love to do it. He – and then he went on to say that Hillary Clinton didn’t talk under oath when she spoke to the FBI.
KELLY: Right, OK because this has been this big question. Would he testify? If so, would it be in written form?
KELLY: You know, how much could his lawyers protect him, which is their job. He’s now saying he not only would do it. He’s looking forward to it.
LIASSON: Yes, he’s looking forward to it. And he was also asked whether he asked Andrew McCabe, who he voted for, the…
KELLY: The FBI…
LIASSON: …Who at the time was the acting FBI official. And he said, I don’t think I did; I don’t remember asking him.
KELLY: Interesting. This of course doesn’t mean that President Trump will actually be interviewed. We don’t know yet, and we don’t know whether any of that will be public.
KELLY: Is that right?
LIASSON: But one other thing he did say – he kept on saying no collusion. Of course he’s said that many times before. But he said – and he said, no collusion, no obstruction. He said, now, did – the question is, did he fight back? Did I fight back? I fought back, but there was no conclusion. In other words, I think he’s trying to describe his efforts to ask for loyalty from FBI officials as fighting back and protecting himself but not obstructing.
KELLY: OK, let me turn you to immigration because you said he appeared in his coat to weigh in on DACA…
KELLY: …The bill that has protected young immigrants who were brought to the country, some of them illegally. What did he say…
LIASSON: He was…
KELLY: …About immigration, where he wants it to go?
LIASSON: He was very clear. This is the first time the president has clearly laid down what he wants in a DACA deal. The White House had promised that his framework was going up to the Hill. The president himself laid it out for us today. He said he wants a pathway to citizenship for the DACA recipients. It would take 10 to 12 years.
KELLY: That’s news.
LIASSON: And – yes, that’s news. And later, senior White House officials said that they would be given legal status immediately. And the actual period of time is a discussion point with the Hill.
KELLY: And real quick, Mara, what about the wall? Did he weigh in on that?
LIASSON: Yes, he wants the wall. He says he wants $25 billion for a wall. He says he’s looking for a new standard for chain migration. He said wives, husbands, sons and daughters OK, but you shouldn’t be able to bring in everyone you’ve ever met. And then he talked about ending the diversity lottery or replacing it with something else – so a lot of specifics from the president.
KELLY: And now he heads off, as you alluded to there, to Davos, Switzerland. And we’ll see what he gets up to there. Thanks very much, Mara.
LIASSON: Thank you.
KELLY: NPR White House correspondent Mara Liasson.
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