False­hoods, jabs and bravado: Trump de­liv­ers jaw-drop­pers

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - ALEXAN­DER PANETTA

WASH­ING­TON — Don­ald Trump held his first lengthy press con­fer­ence as U.S. pres­i­dent and it was the stuff of po­lit­i­cal leg­end.

There were jaw-drop­ping mo­ments: Nuggets of news, false­hoods, swings at the me­dia, feel­ings of per­sonal griev­ance, blasts at his for­mer cam­paign ri­val and one gasp-in­duc­ing ref­er­ence to the po­lit­i­cal up­side of war.


How po­ten­tially start­ing a war would be great for ap­proval rat­ings: “The great­est thing I could do is shoot that (Rus­sian) ship that’s 30 miles off shore right out of the wa­ter. Every­one in this coun­try’s go­ing to say, ‘Oh, it’s so great.’ That’s not great. That’s not great. I would love to be able to get along with Rus­sia.” Asked later what he ac­tu­ally will do with that ship: “I’m not go­ing to tell you. But hope­fully, I

won’t have to do any­thing.”

Makes up eas­ily dis­proven facts: ‘(Mine) was the big­gest elec­toral col­lege win since Ron­ald Rea­gan.” In fact, the win­ners of 1988, 1992, 1996, 2008, and 2012 won more elec­toral col­lege votes than him. When asked later about the false­hood, Trump said: “I don’t know, I was given that in­for­ma­tion.”

He also said the coun­try was in a mess when he took over, with in­se­cu­rity about the econ­omy and jobs be­ing lost. The coun­try had notched a record 75 con­sec­u­tive months of job gains when Trump took of­fice.

New travel ban com­ing. Trump said he’s about to roll out a new ver­sion of his con­tro­ver­sial ex­ec­u­tive or­der on travel, af­ter the first ver­sion was carved up in court: “We’re go­ing to put in a new ex­ec­u­tive or­der next week some time. But we had a bad (court) de­ci­sion.”

Long-awaited re­place­ment plan for Barack Obama health re­form com­ing too: “We’re do­ing Oba­macare. We’re in fi­nal stages. We should be sub­mit­ting the ini­tial plan in March, early March.”

Blasts the me­dia. “To­mor­row, they will say, ‘Don­ald Trump rants and raves at the press.’ I’m not rant­ing and rav­ing. I’m just telling you — you know, you’re dis­hon­est peo­ple. But I’m not rant­ing and rav­ing. I love this.”

The Justin Trudeau meet­ing. He says it went well. Trump also saluted the cre­ation of a women’s busi­ness group, in­volv­ing Canada and his daugh­ter: “It’s very im­por­tant to me, very im­por­tant to my daugh­ter Ivanka.”

He’s a good per­son and wants the me­dia to say so: “I just see many, many un­truth­ful things. And I’ll tell you what else I see. I see tone. You know the word ‘tone’? The tone is such ha­tred. I’m re­ally not a bad per­son.”

He’s great for TV rat­ings. Trump men­tioned this sev­eral times. He even sug­gested a way TV could get bet­ter rat­ings — more pos­i­tive sto­ries about him: “I do get good rat­ings, you have to ad­mit that,” he told a CNN ques­tioner. He added, “Your rat­ings aren’t as good as some of the other peo­ple (here).” At an­other point, he said: “I know how good ev­ery­body’s rat­ings are right now but I think that ac­tu­ally — I think that’d ac­tu­ally be bet­ter (if you were less crit­i­cal).”

He men­tioned Hil­lary Clin­ton by name about 10 times, in­clud­ing when he ridiculed her failed ef­fort to im­prove re­la­tions with Rus­sia: “Hil­lary Clin­ton did a re­set, re­mem­ber? With the stupid plas­tic but­ton that made us all look like a bunch of jerks? ‘Here, (she said to her Rus­sian coun­ter­part), take a look.’ He looked at her like, ‘What the hell is she do­ing with that cheap plas­tic but­ton?’”

A tale of two Acostas. Trump called the news con­fer­ence os­ten­si­bly to an­nounce his new pick for labour sec­re­tary, Alexan­der Acosta. He wound up spend­ing more time spar­ring with CNN’s Jim Acosta. Trump joked that he’d done a back­ground check to make sure they were un­re­lated: “I said, ‘Wait a minute, is there any re­la­tion there?’... I checked it — they said, ‘No, sir.’ I said, ‘Do me a favour, go back and check the fam­ily tree.’”

He’s asked the Jus­tice Depart­ment to in­ves­ti­gate leaks from his ad­min­is­tra­tion, in­clud­ing the ones that ended Michael Flynn’s brief cabi­net stint: “Those are crim­i­nal leaks.”

Made an im­por­tant state­ment about Rus­sia. Amid re­ports that his cam­paign’s deal­ings with Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties were be­ing in­ves­ti­gated, Trump was asked whether he was aware of any con­tacts. He replied: “I have noth­ing to do with Rus­sia. To the best of my knowl­edge no per­son that I deal with does . ... No­body that I know of.”

Says his ad­min­is­tra­tion is off to a great start: “This is a fine-tuned ma­chine.”

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