Posted: 2:11 pm Thursday, February 16th, 2017
By Jamie Dupree
In a wide ranging White House news conference, President Donald Trump defended the work in the first four weeks of his administration, as he repeatedly accused the news media of doing all they can to fight against his plans.
“To be honest, I inherited a mess, it’s a mess,” the President said of the problems facing America.
“In other words, the media is trying to attack our administration because they know we are following through on pledges that we made – and we’re not happy about it,” the President said.
“I turn on the TV, open the newspapers and see stories of chaos – chaos,” Mr. Trump said with a frustrated tone. “And yet, it is the exact opposite.”
“The press has become so dishonest, that if we don’t talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people,” Mr. Trump added, as he said his administration was running like a “fine-tuned machine.”
BREAKING: Dismissing scandals and setbacks as media fiction, Trump says his administration is 'running like a fine-tuned machine'
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) February 16, 2017
“The press honestly is out of control,” the President added.
Trump was pressed repeatedly by reporters on whether his campaign had direct contacts with Russia before the election; after not really answering those questions directly, he finally said not “to the best of my knowledge.”
“Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia,” the President said.
Asked about why he fired his National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, the President defended Flynn, saying he had done nothing wrong – other than not tell the truth to Vice President Mike Pence.
“The leaks are real,” Mr. Trump said. “The news is fake,” as he complained about leaks regarding Flynn.
“You can talk all you want about Russia, which was a fake news, fabricated deal to make up for the loss of the Democrats,” the President said.
Asked directly about recent provocations by the Russians, which include the appearance of a spy ship off the East Coast, and the buzzing of a U.S. naval vessel by Russian jets, the President all but said that bad press brought on the Putin challenges.
“All of the things that you mentioned are very recent, because probably Putin assumes that he not going to able to make a deal with me, because it’s politically not popular to make a deal,” as Mr. Trump again brought up Hillary Clinton’s name, and criticized the press for focusing on his ties to Russia.
“The false, horrible, fake reporting makes it much harder to make a deal with Russia,” the President said.
Even though no one asked about her, Mr. Trump brought up the name of Hillary Clinton multiple times in response to questions from reporters, repeatedly veering back to some of his favorite lines from the campaign trail about her.
The full news conference is available here:
In other news nuggets from the news conference:
+ The President said he would issue a new executive order next week on his travel ban, which has been held up in the courts. Mr. Trump indicated that he would also continue with his legal challenge to court rulings which have kept his immigration restrictions on hold.
+ Mr. Trump said he was reluctant to crack down on “Dreamers,” younger immigrants brought illegally to the United States, many of whom were given a quasi-legal status in the Obama Administration. The President said, “it is a difficult subject,” adding, “because I love those kids.” Many Republicans have wanted him to end the program immediately, with some wanting those people deported.
+ Lost in the over one hour news conference was the news that the President named a new choice for Labor Secretary, picking Florida International University law school dean Alexander Acosta for the job, to replace Andrew Puzder, who withdrew his nomination yesterday.
+ Mr. Trump was asked why he keeps wrongly referring to his Electoral College vote victory as the largest margin since Ronald Reagan. “I was given that information,” the President said.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.