President Donald Trump insisted there was “zero chaos” in his crisis-buffeted White House and railed against enemies in the media, politics and the courts Thursday, in a meandering first solo news conference.
The 70-year-old US president vented frustrations, insisted he is “not a bad person” and wondered out loud about a “nuclear holocaust,” in a remarkable one hour, 16 minute ask-me-anything appearance.
Standing in the East Room of the White House — beneath the painted gaze of George Washington and where Abraham Lincoln’s body once lay in repose — the 45th commander-in-chief jettisoned any semblance of presidential decorum.
“I inherited a mess. It’s a mess. At home and abroad, a mess,” Trump said in an 23 minute opening monologue that bore little resemblance to presidential press conferences past.
Claiming his administration “is running like a fine-tuned machine” Trump accused the “dishonest” media of stirring-up crises that have sent his approval rating plummeting.
“The tone is such hatred. I’m really not a bad person, by the way,” he said. “I do get good ratings, you have to admit that.”
A recent Pew poll showed only 39 percent of Americans believe Trump is doing a good job, a lower number than any modern administration at the end of its first month.
In four tumultuous weeks, Trump has seen his national security advisor ousted, a cabinet nominee withdraw, a centerpiece immigration policy fail in the courts and a tidal wave of damaging leaks.
“There is zero chaos,” Trump insisted, as he aired a litany of grievances.
“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.”
“This is a fine-tuned machine,” he said.
The real opposition
Again and again, Trump came back to his own portrayal in the media.
“The press honestly is out of control,” he said, while vowing to hunt down the culprits of “criminal leaks” that have exposed questionable ties between key aides and the Russian government.
“The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people,” he said, while variously telling reporters to “sit down” and be “quiet.”
“The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake,” he said.
Between questions about Russia, inaccurate statements and his wife, Trump pondered how future media coverage of such an event would look.
“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. I’m having a good time doing it.”
Trump also defended his executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, which caused chaos at airports across the United States and has been suspended by a circuit court.
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