Trump slams Russia claims, bashes media at news conference
Washington, Feb 17 (IANS) US President Donald Trump launched an extraordinary condemnation of his critics, complaining he inherited a “mess” and slamming media reports that his campaign was constantly in contact with Russia as “fake news”.
Trump held a news conference on Thursday that lasted an hour and 15 minutes, where he displayed a sense of anger and grievance rarely vented by a President in public, CNN reported.
“I have never seen more dishonest media, frankly than the political media,” Trump said, later slamming leaks to the press from the intelligence community — some of which led to the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“The leaks are real. The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.”
Trump was repeatedly pressed on whether his campaign staff had been in contact with Russia, as a widening drama over his alleged connections with Moscow dominates news coverage.
“Nobody that I know of. How many times do I have to answer this question? Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years,” Trump said.
“I own nothing in Russia, I have no loans in Russia, I don’t have any deals in Russia,” Trump said. “Russia is fake news”.
The President went on to say: I’m here again to take my message straight to the people. As you know, our administration inherited many problems across government and across the economy. To be honest, I inherited a mess. It’s a mess. At home and abroad, a mess.”
Trump in fact predicted how this “animated and unorthodox” news conference will be interpreted in the press.
“Tomorrow (Friday), they will say: ‘Donald Trump rants and raves at the press’,” Trump said.
“I’m not ranting and raving. I’m just telling you. You know, you’re dishonest people. But… but I’m not ranting and raving. I love this. I’m having a good time doing it.”
The news conference was not scheduled until Thursday morning, but aides said Trump was “itching to get out and defend himself”.
A senior administration official told CNN that Trump walked into the Oval Office on Thursday morning and said: “Let’s do a press conference today”.
The news conference was “the President’s idea, 100 per cent”, the official said.
“I’m here today to update the American people on the incredible progress that has been made in the last four weeks since my inauguration,” Trump continued addressing the conference, after quickly announcing his new pick for labour secretary, Alexander Acosta.
“We have made incredible progress. I don’t think there’s ever been a president elected who in this short period of time has done what we’ve done,” Trump said.
And saying he resented picking up newspapers and turning on the television to hear reports that his White House was in chaos, Trump said, “This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine”.
He complained much of what was reported about his administration was unfair, but said: “I don’t mind a bad story if it’s true”.
He also lashed out at a coverage of his temporary travel ban on nationals of seven mostly Muslim nations that caused a weekend of chaos at the nation’s airports before being suspended by a federal court.
“We had a very smooth roll out of the travel ban. But we had a bad court,” Trump said, adding “We had a bad decision, that is the only thing that is wrong with the travel ban.”
But the President also said a new executive order would be tailored to the court’s ruling to ensure that it could legally go into force.