Media critic

Before a meeting with military officials on Monday afternoon, President Trump didn’t need a question from the media to free-associate about the news of the day. “So I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys — a good man,” said Trump, referring to reports that the FBI had raided various addresses associated with his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen. The actions were part of an investigation referred from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. “And it’s a disgraceful situation. It’s a total witch hunt. I’ve been saying it for a long time.”

Yet perhaps the most newsworthy moment of the session did come from an exchange with the media.

Question: Why don’t you just fire Mueller?

Trump: Why don’t I just fire Mueller?

Question: Yeah, just fire the guy.

Trump: Well, I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on. We’ll see what happens. But I think it’s really a sad situation when you look at what happened. And many people have said, “You should fire him.” Again, they found nothing. And in finding nothing, that’s a big statement. If you know the person who’s in charge of the investigation, you know about that. Deputy [Attorney General Rod J.] Rosenstein — Rod Rosenstein — he wrote the letter, very critical, of [former FBI director James B.] Comey.

One of the things they said: “I fired Comey.” Well, I turned out to do the right thing, because if you look at all of the things that he’s done and the lies, and you look at what’s gone on at the FBI with the insurance policy and all of the things that happened — turned out I did the right thing.

But he signed — as you know, he also signed the FISA warrant. So Rod Rosenstein, who’s in charge of this, signed a FISA warrant, and he also signed a letter that was essentially saying to fire James Comey. And he was right about that. He was absolutely right.

So we’ll see what happens. I think it’s disgraceful, and so does a lot of other people. This is a pure and simple witch hunt.

Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank all very much.

Bolding inserted to highlight the moments about which some people want to know more:

The person who asked that question is Jon Decker, a White House correspondent with Fox News Radio who also serves as the secretary of the White House Correspondents’ Association.

In a chat with radio host Kevin Miller of Idaho’s KIDO, Decker opened up about his experience shouting questions at the president.

Jon Decker: It was quite a day yesterday. I happened to be, luckily, the pool reporter yesterday, so I was in two very important meetings the president had yesterday in the Cabinet Room. One was with his Cabinet and one later in the afternoon with military leaders who are contemplating military action against Syria. And as you know, in that second meeting in the Cabinet Room, that’s when the president spoke about the Mueller investigation. And I don’t know if you know this, Kevin, but it was me who actually asked the question to the president, ‘Why don’t you just fire Mueller?’ And the president responded to that, which was pretty remarkable in terms of what he was telling us and obviously telling the rest of the American public. He is not happy with the Mueller investigation. He tweeted this morning that it’s a ‘A TOTAL WITCH HUNT’; that’s the way he described it yesterday, that it’s disgraceful. And he seemed to be contemplating actually firing Bob Mueller.

Kevin Miller: What was that like, I mean, Jon, you’re paid to write stories and ask the questions but here you are, at the epicenter, the president focused on Syria but obviously very, very concerned about what happened to Gary Cohn and others and then boom: You ask the question and he responds by looking right at you.

Jon Decker: Oh, he does. . . . Yesterday was a remarkable day for me, Kevin. He answered four of my questions yesterday over the course of the full day . . . And when we were leaving the room, the president mouthed to me, ‘Thank you.’ I think he wanted to get that off his chest and he wanted the question that I posed to him yesterday. And so, that’s the reason why you see this answer being rerun constantly on 24-hour cable. It is news that the president is contemplating — it sounds like — possibly removing Bob Mueller from his position as special counsel.

In a separate radio interview, Decker told Mark McGill of NewsTalk 95.3 in Michigan, “Obviously it’s something the president has been considering, it’s something the president has been talking about. Because I tapped into something when I asked that question of the president,” said Decker. And in a chat with Bill Edwards and Laura Anderson of NewsRadio WTKS in Savannah, Decker said the president was “very appreciative of my question that I asked of him. He liked the way he answered it.” That’s one way of looking at things. Another:

An important consideration: Decker was participating in what’s known as a “pool spray,” in which representatives of the Beltway media are allowed in to presidential meetings to capture audio, video, photographs and scene. In what’s always a chaotic ritual, reporters shout out questions in hopes that the president will bite. This president often does.

Does Decker bear responsibility for “normalizing” extreme forms of government with his slightly trolling question? No, the president of the United States did that last June, when he ordered an aide to fire Mueller (and then backed off).

Read more from Erik Wemple:

The ‘horror’ of President Trump’s dependence on ‘Fox & Friends’

If Scott Pruitt thought Fox News would play softball, someone forgot to tell Ed Henry

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