- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2019

President Trump says conservative pundits such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter haven’t forced his hand on the border wall.

“They don’t decide policy,” Mr. Trump said at a press conference Friday at the White House. “Look, Sean Hannity has been a terrific, terrific supporter of what I do. Not of me. If I changed my views, he wouldn’t be with me.”

Critics of the president have accused him of buckling to pressure from influential conservative commentators and forcing the government shutdown in December instead of agreeing to a watered-down deal with Democrats on border security. Mr. Trump signed a spending bill Friday to avoid another shutdown, and declared a national emergency on the border to secure more money for a wall.

Asked if conservative media personalities influenced him, Mr. Trump disagreed, saying only that “I would talk about it” with them.

“Rush Limbaugh — I think he’s a great guy,” Mr. Trump said. “Here’s a guy who can speak for three hours without a phone call. Try doing that sometime. He’s got one of the biggest audiences in the history of the world. He goes for three hours, and he’s got an audience that’s fantastic.”

Ms. Coulter has been the president’s harshest critic of the group. On Friday, she tweeted, “THANK YOU, Mr. President for admitting that your total capitulation on campaign promises has nothing to do with me.”

The president said he likes Ms. Coulter because she predicted he would win the presidency in 2016 when few others believed he would.

“I hardly know her,” Mr. Trump said. “I haven’t spoken to her in way over a year. So I like her, but she’s off the reservation.”

He said Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson have been “great” to him. And he noted that he reached a 52-percent job approval rating this week in the Rasmussen daily tracking poll.

“It’s my highest poll number. And people get what we’re doing,” he said. “And I’m honored by it.”

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