Trump defends his national security adviser

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times EDT):

11:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is giving his stamp of approval to national security adviser H.R. McMaster after criticism in conservative media.

The White House issued a statement Friday in which Trump says, “General McMaster and I are working very well together.”

After the firing Wednesday of intelligence adviser of Ezra Cohen-Watnick — a protege of Trump’s initial national security adviser, Michael Flynn — right-wing critics said McMaster is trying to remove conservative voices from the White House national security team.

Trump also says McMaster “is a good man and very pro-Israel.” That remark is apparently in rebuttal to a widely circulated Facebook post by Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick, who called McMaster “deeply hostile to Israel.”

The president says, “I am grateful for the work he continues to do serving our country.”

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6:20 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump has discussed with France’s president ways to increase cooperation on addressing the crises in Syria and Iraq and countering the influence of Iran.

In a statement, the White House says Trump and President Emmanuel Macron of France spoke on the phone.

The two leaders also talked about forging a political resolution in Libya and countering terrorist activity in the Sahel region of Africa.

According to the White House, Trump and Macron agreed that the Maduro regime in Venezuela must restore the rights of the Venezuelan people. They also reaffirmed the importance of all sides implementing the Minsk agreements to reach a peaceful settlement in Ukraine.

They also discussed mutual interests regarding North Korea.

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10:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he hopes for a “truly honest” outcome from the Russia investigation that has consumed the opening months of his presidency.

At a boisterous rally in Trump-friendly West Virginia on Thursday, he also challenged Democrats to either continue their “obsession with a hoax” or begin serving the interests of the American people.

Trump slammed the investigation as a “fake story that is demeaning to all of us and most of all demeaning to our country and demeaning to our Constitution.” He commented hours after news broke that Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading the investigation, had empaneled a grand jury in the case.

Added Trump: “I just hope the final determination is a truly honest one.”

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