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Trump speaks after Labor Secretary Acosta resigns
By Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN
President Trump announced Alex Acosta's resignation as secretary of labor from the White House lawn — but the conversation quickly turned to a number of unrelated topics.
Here's how it unfolded: President Trump, standing next to Acosta, announced that the labor secretary was stepping down. He insisted it was Acosta's decision — saying, "I just want to let you know, this was him, not me, because I’m with him" — before Acosta spoke.
Acosta addressed the renewed scrutiny over his previous handling of a plea deal with Jeffrey Epstein (you can read more about that here), saying he wanted to step down so the controversy doesn't become the focus of the Labor Department.
Then, Trump took questions from reporters — and they asked him about a lot of things not related to Acosta.
Here are the key things Trump said on the White House lawn:
- On Acosta, and his deal with Epstein: “He made a deal that people were happy with, and then 12 years later they’re not happy with it. You’ll have to figure all of that out. But the fact is, he has been a fantastic secretary of labor."
- On this weekend's ICE raids: "It starts on Sunday, and they're going to take people out and they're going to bring them back to their countries ... We're focused on criminals as much as we can, before we do anything else."
- On Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi: "I’ll tell you something about Nancy Pelosi that you know better than I do, she is not a racist. OK? She is not a racist."
- On former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan: "Paul Ryan let us down. Paul Ryan was a terrible speaker. Frankly, he was a baby. He didn't know what the hell he was doing."
- On Joe Biden's 2020 campaign: "President Xi, Putin all of these guys go to bed at night and they pray that Joe Biden or somebody like him becomes president so they can continue to rip off our country."
President Trump continued to defend his decision to back away from the census citizenship question telling reporters Friday, “I think we will have it in the end where it is actually more accurate than the census.”
Trump was then asked if he was “backing down” Trump responded, “No, no. Not only didn’t I back down, I backed up.”
In response to a question on whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross “let down” the president, Trump responded simply: “No, no he didn’t.”
“I think we will have it in the end where it is actually more accurate than the Census,” Trump said. “Because we have information gathered through other means when you look at social security and other places, we have, including loan applications. We have information that’s probably more accurate than the information we would get from going in and asking someone are you a citizen, because a lot of people aren’t going to tell the truth.”
President Trump announced this morning that Alex Acosta has resigned as Secretary of Labor.
Acosta, speaking alongside Trump at the White House moments ago, said he decided to step aside because he didn't want his previous handling of a plea deal with Jeffrey Epstein to become the focus of the Labor Department.
Trump also insisted that the resignation was Acosta's decision: "I just want to let you know, this was him, not me, because I’m with him. He was — he’s a tremendous talent."
Here's the resignation letter Acosta sent the President:
President Trump called Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden “weak” and “ineffective."
Trump said foreign leaders, including President Xi of China and President Putin of Russia, “go to bed at night and they pray” that Biden becomes president “so they can continue to rip off our country.”
Trump made the comments when responding to a question on the potential trade deal with China.
“When I see a guy like Biden, who’s weak and ineffective and everybody that knows him knows, he’s a weak man. He’s an ineffective man. President Xi laughs at guys like that.”
“With that being said, I would say this: President Xi, Putin all of these guys go to bed at night and they pray that Joe Biden or somebody like him becomes president so they can continue to rip off our country." Trump said on the White House lawn.
Trump also repeated his “sleepy Joe Biden” nickname saying neither Biden nor the other Democratic candidates at “his heels” have what it takes to be president.
Watch the moment:
President Trump continued to slam former House Speaker Paul Ryan this morning, calling him a “terrible speaker” and a “baby," moments before he left the White House for Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin.
“Paul Ryan let us down. Paul Ryan was a terrible speaker. Frankly, he was a baby. He didn't know what the hell he was doing. The wall let us down."
Some background: Trump has been on a tear against Ryan since the former speaker’s interview with Tim Alberta this week. Ryan accused Trump in the interview of not knowing “anything” about the government.
President Trump defended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi amid her dispute with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other freshman female Democrats.
He said Democrats have been “very disrespectful to Pelosi,” adding that the Speaker “is not a racist.”
Trump strongly defended Speaker Pelosi, saying, “I’ll tell you something about Nancy Pelosi that you know better than I do, she is not a racist. OK? She is not a racist. For them to call her a racist is a disgrace.”
Trump mostly pointed the finger at Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, saying, “She should not be doing what she’s doing.” He added that she's being “very disrespectful to somebody that’s been there a long time.”
What happened this week: Rep. Ocasio-Cortez suggested that Pelosi has been "singling out" freshman congresswomen of color — the latest charge in a growing rift between the leader of the party in the chamber and the high-profile progressive freshman.
Asked if she thinks Pelosi has racial animus or is racist, Ocasio-Cortez said unequivocally, "No, no, absolutely not, absolutely not."
Moments after speaking about Alex Acosta's resignation as labor secretary, President Trump moved on to upcoming ICE raids this weekend.
He confirmed that the raids will start on Sunday, telling reporters, “They're going to take people out and they're going to bring them back to their countries."
"It starts on Sunday, and they're going to take people out and they're going to bring them back to their countries,” Trump said adding, “We're focused on criminals as much as we can, before we do anything else."
“They came in illegally. They have to go out,” Trump added.
CNN’s Joe Johns also asked Trump about mayors who are against the raids, Trump then railed against New York Mayor Bill De Blasio, calling him the worst mayor in America.
President Trump confirmed reports that he threw Jeffrey Epstein out of his Mar-a-Lago club years ago, adding, "I was not a fan of Jeffrey Epstein."
"Jeffrey Epstein was not somebody that I respected. I threw him out. In fact I think the great James Patterson, who’s a member of Mar-a-Lago, made a statement yesterday, that many years ago I threw him out. I’m not a fan of Jeffrey Epstein."
Trump continued: “I didn’t want anything to do with him. That was many, many years ago. It shows you one thing -- that I have good taste."
Trump added that reporters should look into the people who went to Epstein’s private island.
Why Trump is talking about Epstein now: Labor Secretary Alex Acosta's resignation comes amid renewed fury over his handling of a plea deal with Epstein.
More on his connection with Mar-a-Lago: One woman says she was 15 years old when she was approached by an associate of Epstein's while she worked at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, and was offered the opportunity to make "a great deal of money" learning about massage therapy. She originally filed a suit anonymously with allegations of sexual abuse against Epstein, but later went public.
Watch the moment: