Trump as­sails me­dia, de­nies chaos

Obama handed him ‘a mess,’ he de­clares

USA TODAY US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Dono­van Slack @dono­vanslack USA TO­DAY WASHINGTON

Pres­i­dent Trump de­fended his weeks-old ad­min­is­tra­tion as a “fine-tuned ma­chine,” lamented the “mess” he in­her­ited from his pre­de­ces­sor and lam­basted the “fake news” me­dia in a wide-rang­ing news con­fer­ence Thurs­day.

The pres­i­dent said he asked his former na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, Michael Flynn, to re­sign be­cause he mis­led Vice Pres­i­dent Pence about his calls to the Rus­sian am­bas­sador to the United States. But Trump said he didn’t be­lieve Flynn did any­thing wrong by mak­ing those calls, and he faulted leak­ers for pro­vid­ing con­tents of the in­ter­cepted calls to the me­dia.

Trump ac­cused the me­dia of dis­tort­ing what he has done since tak­ing of­fice and fail­ing to ac­cu­rately cover his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“I see sto­ries of chaos, chaos, yet it is the ex­act op­po­site,” he said. “This ad­min­is­tra­tion is run­ning like a fine-tuned ma­chine, de­spite the fact that I can’t get my Cabi­net ap­proved.”

Trump ticked off all the ex­ec­u­tive ac­tions he has taken, in­clud­ing those freez­ing fed­eral hir­ing and rule-mak­ing, or­der­ing elim­i­na­tion of two reg­u­la­tions for ev­ery new one is­sued and ex­pe­dit­ing per­mits for con­struc-

tion of the Key­stone XL and Dakota Ac­cess pipe­lines.

He said his ad­min­is­tra­tion is prepar­ing for the re­peal and re­place­ment of the Af­ford­able Care Act and has be­gun work to start con­struc­tion of a wall along the south­ern bor­der with Mex­ico.

“I’m here fol­low­ing through on what I pledged to do — that’s all I’m do­ing,” he said.

Trump said his ad­min­is­tra­tion also has been work­ing hard to ad­dress prob­lems he in­her­ited from his pre­de­ces­sor, Pres­i­dent Obama. He cited com­pa­nies mov­ing jobs over­seas, in­sta­bil­ity in the Mid­dle East and the threat posed by North Korea.

“To be hon­est, I in­her­ited a mess,” Trump said. “It’s a mess. At home and abroad, a mess.”

IM­MI­GRA­TION

Trump sig­naled he would is­sue a new im­mi­gra­tion or­der next week and crit­i­cized the fed­eral cir­cuit court that blocked his mar­quee or­der ban­ning Syr­ian refugees and tem­po­rar­ily halt­ing travel to the U.S. from seven ma­jor­ity-Mus­lim coun­tries.

“That cir­cuit is in chaos and that cir­cuit is frankly in tur­moil,” he said. “But we are ap­peal­ing that.”

Trump did not pro­vide de­tails of the new or­der but said it would be “very much tai­lored” to avoid prob­lems judges had with his last one.

He said it was his duty to keep Amer­i­cans safe from ter­ror­ism, some­thing the first or­der was in­tended to do by block­ing ter­ror­ists from en­ter­ing the United States.

“I will not back down from de­fend­ing our coun­try,” Trump said. “I got elected on de­fense of our coun­try, and I keep my cam­paign prom­ises.”

The pres­i­dent said he was cre­at­ing a new of­fice in the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity ded­i­cated to the “for­got­ten Amer­i­can vic­tims” of crimes com­mit­ted by im­mi­grants in the coun­try il­le­gally.

When asked what he plans to do with non-crim­i­nal im­mi­grants who were brought in il­le­gally by their par­ents, Trump said his ad­min­is­tra­tion was “go­ing to show great heart,” al­though he did not say how. Obama had signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der al­low­ing those im­mi­grants to stay tem­po­rar­ily in the United States, known as De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals, or DACA.

“The DACA sit­u­a­tion is ... a very dif­fi­cult thing for me,” Trump said, adding that a lot of them are “in­cred­i­ble kids.” RUS­SIA The pres­i­dent de­clined to say what the United States might do to re­spond to re­cent Rus­sian ac­tions. A Rus­sian spy ship was spot­ted 30 miles off the coast of Con­necti­cut this week, and Rus­sian jets re­port­edly have buzzed U.S. Navy ships in the Red Sea.

Trump said the ac­tions were “not good,” but he wants to try to get along with Rus­sia. He blasted former sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton for fail­ing to do so, and he noted that she pre­sented Putin with a “stupid plas­tic but­ton” as a sym­bol of re­set­ting U.S.Rus­sia re­la­tions.

“I would love to be able to get along with Rus­sia,” Trump said, adding that if he de­cided to re­spond to the coun­try’s lat­est ac­tions, he wouldn’t an­nounce it pub­licly. “I’m not go­ing to tell you any­thing.” THE POLLS He in­sisted the Amer­i­can peo­ple sup­port him, cit­ing a Ras­mussen poll re­leased Thurs­day in which 55% of likely vot­ers ap­prove of the job he’s do­ing. He noted the stock mar­ket has hit record highs since he was elected and there is a “tremen­dous surge of op­ti­mism in the busi­ness world.”

A poll from the non-par­ti­san Pew Re­search Cen­ter also re­leased Thurs­day, how­ever, showed only 39% of those sur­veyed said Trump was do­ing a good job as pres­i­dent, and 55% dis­ap­proved of his per­for­mance. Most re­cent polls have shown that a ma­jor­ity of re­spon­dents dis­ap­proved of Trump’s per­for­mance.

Trump said he was ful­fill­ing one prom­ise after an­other, un­like other politi­cians who “lied to the Amer­i­can peo­ple in or­der to get elected.” He claimed to have had the big­gest Elec­toral Col­lege vic­tory (304 votes) since Ron­ald Rea­gan. (Obama won 332 votes in 2012.)

“This last month has rep­re­sented an un­prece­dented de­gree of ac­tion on be­half of the great cit­i­zens of our coun­try,” Trump said. “There has never been a pres­i­dency that’s done so much in such a short pe­riod of time. And we have not even started the big work yet. That starts early next week.”

“I’m here fol­low­ing through on what I pledged to do — that’s all I’m do­ing.”

TOM STROMME, AP

The Oceti Sakowin camp in Can­non Ball, N.D., was the site of demon­stra­tions against the Dakota Ac­cess pipe­line.

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