39 thoughts on the Trump press conference

by John English

Video of the full press conference is at the bottom.

1. You gotta love how Trump cites the Rasmussen poll for his approval rating. They have him at 55%. Of course, if you average Ras, Gallup, Econ/YouGov, Fox News, Reuters, Pew, and the others, his approval rating is at 44.7%.

2. Not many presidents would use their opening remarks of a press conference to repeatedly slam the media. Says the media won’t tell folks the truth and won’t treat them with the respect they deserve. Says the media of DC, NY, and LA speak not for the people but for special interests profiting off of a broken system.

3. Words he’s used repeatedly so far: “incredible”, “tremendous”, “terrible”, “out of control”, “fantastic.” “Catastrophic” only used once so far.

4. “I inherited a mess.” Once again paints America as a dystopian hellscape that he alone can fix. Stronger when he points out the current messy instability of the Middle East.

5. Says he’s had productive conversations with leaders from China, Canada, etc. “I would say far more productive than you would understand.” He just can’t allow for a reality where other people might be smarter than him.

6. “Massive rebuilding of the military.” “Peace through strength.” I am reminded that CEO’s are natural authoritarians because they expect everyone to just do what they say.

7. Says other politicians lie to get elected, but he’s keeping his promises. (He’s doing some amazing trolling in these opening remarks. I can see why Rush Limbaugh loved it.)

8. Brags about his 306 electoral votes: “biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.” (False.) Says his administration is running like a fine-tuned machine. Uh huh.

9. Calls TPP a “job-killing disaster.” We’ll do one-on-one trade deals. Okay.

10. Says he wants regulations, but he’s also said for every one regulation, two will be eliminated.

11. “Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars.” So we should end the war on drugs or invest more in the DEA to drive prices back up?

12. We’re still building a wall and it will be a great wall, and it will be negotiated by me. It will be the biggest, most beautiful wall, the walliest wall that ever walled.

13. Says the judges who stopped his executive order on the extreme vetting made an incorrect and unsafe ruling. Says “in my opinion” almost sarcastically. Reminds reporters he’s trying to keep them safe too. Says the 9th circuit have their decision reversed 80% of the time. (Of the cases that get reviewed by the Supreme Court, yes. But perspective, few of their cases are reviewed by the Supreme Court.)

14. Says his Cabinet will be one of the greatest assembled in American history. He’s always selling.

15. Says Neil Gorsuch should get the votes from Democrats but that Gorsuch will join SCOTUS one way or the other. “He should get in the old-fashioned way.” Basically telling Mitch to use the nuclear option if Democrats unite to block his nomination. (Waves cheerily at Harry Reid. Elbows and grins at Chuck Schumer. “Real pity you voted to make that nuclear option an option, ain’t it, fellas?”)

16. Mara Liasson of NPR has the first question, asks if he fired Mike Flynn.

Trump: “Mike Flynn is a fine person, and I asked for his resignation. He respectfully gave it. He is a man who there was a certain amount of information given to Vice President Pence, who is with us today. And I was not happy with the way that information was given.

“He didn’t have to do that, because what he did wasn’t wrong — what he did in terms of the information he saw. What was wrong was the way that other people, including yourselves in this room, were given that information, because that was classified information that was given illegally. That’s the real problem.

“And, you know, you can talk all you want about Russia, which was all, you know, fake news, fabricated deal, to try and make up for the loss of the Democrats and the press plays right into it. In fact, I saw a couple of the people that were supposedly involved with all of this — that they know nothing about it; they weren’t in Russia; they never made a phone call to Russia; they never received a phone call.

“It’s all fake news. It’s all fake news. The nice thing is, I see it starting to turn, where people are now looking at the illegal — I think it’s very important — the illegal, giving out classified information. It was — and let me just tell you, it was given out like so much.”

… So if Flynn did nothing wrong, why did you ask for his resignation?

17. Her follow-up: Why did you keep Mike Pence in the dark for two weeks?

Trump: “Because when I looked at the information, I said, “I don’t think he did anything wrong; if anything, he did something right.” He was coming into office. He looked at the information. He said, “Huh, that’s fine.” That’s what they’re supposed to do. They’re supposed to — he didn’t just call Russia. He called and spoke to both ways, I think there were 30-some-odd countries. He’s doing the job. You know, he was doing his job. The thing is, he didn’t tell our vice president properly, and then he said he didn’t remember. So either way, it wasn’t very satisfactory to me. And I have somebody that I think will be outstanding for the position. And that also helps, I think, in the making of my decision. But he didn’t tell the vice president of the United States the facts. And then he didn’t remember. And that just wasn’t acceptable to me.”

The guy he had in line for the position (Harward) turned it down shortly after the press conference.

18. When asked about possible communications between him or his staff and Russian government or Russian intelligence, Trump blasts the “failing New York Times” for their reporting on this, then beams when he shares how Putin called to congratulate him on the election. Says fake news a couple more times. Russia still feels like the key in shortening a Trump presidency.

19. He reminds everyone about all of the women who accused him of sexual assault/harassment, says they totally misrepresented him. Yeah. Put that back in news stories. Remind them that happened.

20. Next question points out how wrong he is about repeating the “biggest electoral college win since Reagan” lie. Trump says he was given that information and finally concedes the point by saying it was still a big win.

21. Asked again about Flynn, still sounds like the only thing he thinks Flynn did wrong was misrepresent to VP Pence, and the only reason Flynn’s gone is because it went public.

22. Asked again about the leaks and Russia…

Trump: “Well the leaks are real. You’re the one that wrote about them and reported them, I mean the leaks are real. You know what they said, you saw it and the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.”

23. Later he says he can “handle a bad story better than anybody.” He’s always saying he’s better than everyone, doesn’t matter what it is.

24. Still mad that Hillary getting questions to a debate wasn’t a bigger story.

25. CNN’s Jim Acosta asks Trump for follow-up about WikiLeaks, Trump says the WikiLeaks leaks weren’t classified material. Trump says the RNC guarding against hacking was his idea (hey, coulda been). Trump says if he’d been hacked, it’d be the biggest story in history. AGAIN, hammers Hillary on being fed debate questions. You won, Donald. Let it go.

26. Acosta asks him how the leaks can be real but the news is fake. Trump says the public doesn’t know what’s true because they’re not involved. He’s involved. Says he doesn’t like networks’ tone. Loves Fox & Friends. Says CNN’s 10 pm show (Don Lemon) is almost exclusively anti-Trump. Trump says he’s having a good time during this press conference.

27. “I’m not ranting and raving.”

28. Says he’d be Acosta’s biggest fan in the world if he’d be honest.

29. This happened: “We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country. You know what uranium is, right? This thing called nuclear weapons like lots of things are done with uranium including some bad things.”

30. And later this: “If Russia and the United States actually got together and got along — and don’t forget, we’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. There’s no upside. We’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. I have been briefed. And I can tell you one thing about a briefing that we’re allowed to say because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it, nuclear holocaust would be like no other.”

31. Says he doesn’t have to tell people what his plans are with North Korea and Iran.

32. “We had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban, but we had a bad court.” Hoo-boy. Did Fox & Friends call the travel ban a smooth rollout? Says it was Gen. Kelly’s idea to do the travel ban immediately.

33. He gets impatient when someone asks him about Russia again. Insists Paul Manafort is a good man.

34. Wants to find a friendly reporter. Calls on a Jewish reporter who asks about the rise of anti-Semitism and cites increased bomb threats against Jewish centers. Trump says he is the least anti-Semitic person you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Also, says he is the least racist person. See? He cannot comprehend other people. And Trump never answered the guy’s question. Calls the reporter dishonest for not asking an easier question.

35. Asked about DACA, he said they’ll deal with it with heart, says the law is rough. As tough as he likes to talk about illegal immigration, he gets soft when the topic of children come up.

36. He gets asked about Melania Trump, and he lights up. Says that’s a great question. The 19-year-old reporter is from WUNFNews, which I’ve never heard of. And when I look at their crappy website, I’m thinking I need WH Press Credentials to get into the next one.

37. He calls on April Ryan, says it’ll be a bad question. She asks her question about his urban agenda and says “See, it wasn’t bad, was it?” Trump brags that he did much better among African-Americans, Hispanics and women in the election than people thought. Says people in inner cities are terrified of all the crime. Compares parts of Chicago to the Middle East. When she asks if he’ll be working with the Congressional Black Caucus, he asks her if she’s friends with them, if she’ll set up the meeting. Cuz April Ryan’s black. So, you know… Anyway, he said he was going to meet with Elijah Cummings but then Cummings backed out.

38. Someone asks him against about anti-Semitism. Trump brings up hate hoaxes, says it won’t be my people. Says “I didn’t come along and divide this country. This country was seriously divided before I got here.”

39. And then it’s over. Jake Tapper likened it to Festivus, and boy did Trump have some grievances to air. Trump was in his element. Bashing the press, taking questions, saying whatever popped into his head. His other element is campaign rallies, so he’s holding one this weekend. Already begun the re-election campaign. Anything surprising in the press conference? Not really. The only thing that would be surprising if Trump acted presidential instead of like Candidate Trump.

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