Trump assails media, denies chaos
Obama handed him ‘a mess,’ he declares
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.”
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.”
The Oceti Sakowin camp in Cannon Ball, N.D., was the site of demonstrations against the Dakota Access pipeline.