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President Donald Trump touted his administration’s economic achievements during a rally in Las Vegas on Thursday. The President pointed out the nation’s GDP and low unemployment rates among various groups including women and African-Americans. (Sept. 21)
AP

NEW YORK – President Donald Trump arrived at the United Nations on Monday to discuss urgent global crises, but wound up focused mostly on his own.

As he was whisked through Manhattan for meetings with world leaders, events in Washington yanked the president back into domestic concerns – facing questions about the future of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and new sexual misconduct allegations against his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

“There’s a chance that this could be one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate for anything,” Trump said of the new allegations of assault leveled against Kavanaugh. “In my opinion, it’s totally political.”

Trump came to New York prepared to reaffirm his “America first” foreign policy, condemn Iran’s nuclear ambitions and sign a landmark trade agreement with South Korea. He focused on the global drug trade during his first speech Monday morning, imploring other nations to do more to “defeat drug addiction.”

More: Trump: Sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh ‘totally political’

More: Rod Rosenstein considered resigning, meets at White House with John Kelly

But less than two hours after he delivered that brief address, the president’s message was overtaken by the Russia probe as cable television carried live images from the White House, where Rosenstein had been called to a meeting.

Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Russia probe, was expecting to be removed from his post days after reports emerged that he talked about wearing a wire while meeting with Trump and possibly invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggested Monday that Rosenstein’s fate would be determined on Thursday when the president returns from the UN meetings.

“Because the President is at the United Nations General Assembly and has a full schedule with leaders from around the world, they will meet on Thursday when the President returns to Washington, D.C.” 

As senior diplomats in Trump’s administration on Monday briefed reporters about the U.S. agenda, they were peppered with questions about what they knew about Rosenstein and whether they had ever been involved in a conversation about the 25th Amendment.

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Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said she had “never once” been in a conversation about removing the president from office. Haley described it as “completely and totally absurd.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the question as “ludicrous.”

“I’ve never heard anyone talk about it, joke about it or whisper about it in any way,” Pompeo said.

Neither spoke directly on reports of Rosenstein leaving the administration.

Trump had a limited morning schedule, but was expected to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the afternoon to sign a trade deal. He also had meetings scheduled with French President Emmanuel Macron and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

All of those meetings will give Trump an opportunity to answer reporters’ questions.

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