President Donald Trump on Wednesday night said he plans to announce a replacement for the departing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley over the “next week or two,” and responded to criticism for holding a rally the same day Hurricane Michael barreled through the Florida panhandle.
Trump told Shannon Bream, the host of 'Fox News @Night' that he has a list of five or six 'fantastic' people who would all do a 'great job' to replace Haley.
“I don’t expect to be adding anybody to the list. We have some really talented, brilliant people that will do a great job. Probably over the next week or two I will announce it,” he said.
Haley’s departure is just the latest in a series of cabinet shakeups since Trump took office, and it might not be the last – as Trump remained coy when asked about the fate of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, telling Fox News “we will see what happens.”
“Well, we’re going to see what happens. Let’s all see,” Trump said about Sessions, who he has expressed disdain for in recent months. “The nice part is everyone is working together. I really have a great cabinet. Everybody is working hard, they’re all working together.”
Trump alluded to potentially more upheavals, saying, “We will see what happens with some other positions.”
The president also weighed in on the administration’s response to Hurricane Michael and the critics who called him out for hosting a rally in Pennsylvania the same night the Category 4 storm made landfall.
Trump told Bream he “was in total communication” with the governors of Alabama and Georgia and Florida Gov. Rick Scott, and added that canceling the rally would have been “unfair” to the thousands of supporters who had lined up since yesterday.
“These people were waiting for many hours,” he said. “If I didn’t go it would have been the wrong thing, too.”
Trump said the extent of the damage isn’t currently known because “it’s so dark and all the electric is out.” He said officials have heard there’s been “tremendous wind damage.”
Fox News Chief Meteorologist Rick Reichmuth said Michael was the fourth-most-powerful storm to ever make landfall in the U.S. in terms of wind, and the third most powerful in terms of pressure. As of late Wednesday night, the storm – which is forecasted to turn into a tropical storm by Thursday morning -- continued its track across southern Georgia toward the Carolinas as a Category 1 storm, Reichmuth said.
In the wide-ranging interview, Trump also addressed Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist feared to be dead after visiting his country’s consulate in Turkey, as well as the pivotal midterm elections less than a month away.
Top Turkish officials fear Khashoggi -- who disappeared last week after visiting the Saudi consulate in Turkey -- was murdered and that his dismembered body was flown out of the country.
There have been conversations between Senators from both sides of the aisle to potentially block any further arms sales with Saudi Arabia, if in fact, it turns out the Kingdom was responsible for the disappearance of Khashoggi – a decision Trump said would be a “very tough pill to swallow.”
“I think that would be hurting us. We have jobs. We have a lot of things happening in this country. We have a country that’s probably doing better economically than its ever done before,” Trump said. “A part of that is what we’re doing with our defense system and everybody’s wanting them, and frankly, I think that would be a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country.”
Last year, the White House and Saudi Arabia inked a nearly $110 billion arms deal to help the Persian Gulf ally with its military-defense system. In April, Trump agreed to sell more than $1.3 billion in artillery to Saudi Arabia.
Trump said that it is “too early” to commit to “what recourse we would take,” noting that the U.S. “will get to the bottom of it.”
With the midterms less than a month away, Trump remained confident in the GOP’s chances to keep control of Congress come November despite Democrats leading across the board in generic congressional polling data.
“The fact is I think we are doing really well,” Trump said. “Many of the Senate races that we didn’t think we were going to be contesting, we are now leading. We have some great candidates. And, very importantly, we are finding the same thing now with the House.”
A new round of Fox News battleground polls released last week shows a Republican trend in the fight for the U.S. Senate, with an uptick in GOP interest in all five states surveyed.
One of the most vulnerable Senate races up for grabs is in North Dakota with Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, along with Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill and Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly.
Additionally, Trump weighed in on the healthcare debate, as well as the reason behind the DOW tumbling more than 800 points – which critics have attributed to the trade war with China.
Trump seemingly took a jab at the late Arizona Sen. John McCain for voting “no” in Senate Republicans efforts last year to repeal and replace Obamacare.
“We had it beat other than one senator, or you could put it differently … one Senator late in the evening happened to vote against it shockingly, even though he campaigned for eight years against it,” Trump said. “We had it done, it was repeal and replace. But, we’re coming up with alternatives that are just as good and in some cases maybe even better.”
The Republican Senator died in August at the age of 81 after being diagnosed with brain cancer in July 2017.
The president also blamed the Federal Reserve, not tariffs with China as the reason U.S. stocks plunged on Wednesday.
“The problem that I have is with the Fed [Federal Reserve]. The fed is going wild,” Trump said, while adding that he does not think tariffs with China played a factor. “I mean I don’t know what their problem is but their raising interest rates and it’s ridiculous.”