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Trump Doubles Down On His Defense Of Saudi Arabia

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Before heading to his Mar-a-Lago resort for thanksgiving today, President Trump took questions from reporters on the lawn of the White House as his helicopter waited. The topics included his statement on Saudi Arabia, a legal setback on his new asylum restrictions and his daughter Ivanka's use of a personal email address.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

He spoke out against the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appeals court for the Western U.S. That's where a judge yesterday temporarily halted the administration's new restrictions on asylum-seekers. Trump suggested the court was biased.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No matter what you do, no matter how good your case is - and the 9th Circuit is really something we have to take a look at 'cause it's - because it's not fair.

SHAPIRO: In response to news stories about his daughter Ivanka Trump's use of a personal email server for some government business, the president said there could be no comparison to his criticism of Hillary Clinton.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: So what Ivanka did - it's all in the presidential records. Everything is there. There was no deletion. There was no nothing. What it is is a false story. Hillary Clinton deleted 33,000 emails. She had a server in the basement. That's the real story.

SHAPIRO: As a reminder, the FBI decided against prosecuting Hillary Clinton over her handling of those emails.

CORNISH: President Trump also defended his unusual statement today about Saudi Arabia and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: If we abandon Saudi Arabia, it would be a terrible mistake.

CORNISH: Despite a CIA assessment that Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, personally approved the killing, the president in his statement today wrote, quote, "the United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia." He doubled down on that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: I'm not going to destroy the world economy, and I'm not going to destroy the economy for our country by being foolish with Saudi Arabia, so... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.