Today Trump held a press conference. I think he likes press conferences. They are great!
This one was less great, however. This one was so absurd it bordered on forcing the questions of “are we sure this is reality? What is reality? Has the universe finally gone off the rails?” You can read the full transcript here, but I’ve pulled together a highlight reel to really get you a sample of the flavor.
The whole point was to do some kind of…EVERYTHING IS FINE WE PROMISE damage control on the heels of Andrew Puzder’s withdrawal as the nominee for the Secretary of the Department of Labor? I think that was the original point, anyway.
Trump gave a sort of…highlight real about newbie, Alex Acosta. Alex Acosta is tremendous! Tremendous career.
But then he had to go back and revisit how he won the election by talking about Paul Singer(?) who no one really knows about, who was formerly anti-Trump but now is on-board (but is some billionaire GOP donor so ok, whatever). Then Trump talks about airplane contracts (?). I don’t even know. Point was “we’ve done some really good work.”
Then he starts to spiral. Like a top that’s almost at the end of its cycle and it’s wobbling around drunkenly and without direction. It helps to think of Trump as a directionless top for the duration of the conference.
- Insults the media! Again. Just because. But does it weirdly. First he brings up a Rasmussen poll (known right-leaning polling organization) in order to put himself and The People on the same side, but against the media. Then he says the media “doesn’t get it” (we don’t know what “it” is at this point). But immediately backs up and says they do get it, but they don’t write it. [WHAT IS “IT?!”] Turns out “it” is Trump’s approval rating being at 55% and also excellent stock market conditions which no longer means “oh, that’s good,” but rather “that’s good for jobs.” Trump says that’s “very different.” (?)
- Keeps insulting the media. Accuses the media in D.C., New York, and Los Angeles, in particular, of “profiting off a very, very obviously broken system.” [Now, don’t get me wrong. I have a HUGE number of issues with mainstream news – they do have agendas and almost all are owned by large private interests, but this isn’t what Trump is talking about. He’s talking about the publication of facts that he just doesn’t like.] He goes on to say “the level of dishonesty is out of control.”
- But wait! Some of the media is fantastic! Honest and fantastic! [Fox and Friends!!!]
- Bitches about the “mess he inherited.” [Nothing on the mess he’s currently creating, of course.] Trump doesn’t have anything to say about HOW it’ll get fixed though. Just “we’ll take care of it folks; we’re going to take care of it all. I just want to let you know, I inherited a mess.” [Translation: none of the shittiness of anything is my fault. If it gets worse, it’s probably the fault of the original shittiness, not mine.]
- Complains that ISIS is “another mess [he] inherited.” [Manages to avoid alluding to the fact that the travel ban was heralded by ISIS as a win and something to celebrate in terms of attracting more recruits.]
- MASSIVE REBUILDING OF THE UNITED STATES MILITARY. Trump hopes we’ll never have to use it, but by God, he’s got great support from Congress, and even though we should definitely never have to use it, “our country will never have had a military like the military we’re about to build and rebuild.”
- ALSO STRONG LAW ENFORCEMENT. The strongest. Because the strong law enforcement is going to bring us “peace through strength.” Trump is also going to “return the government back to the people on a scale not seen in many, many years.” [Without explicitly saying “war is peace” there are definitely some seriously Orwellian overtones throughout this whole speech. As an aside, returning the government to the people and pumping up military and police are not…great bedfellows.]
- Borders! [Again, no word on how this border control is actually helping ISIS quite a bit.]
- More talk of how he won. [Trump just cannot get off the 2016 campaign. Instead of focusing on his JOB, he is literally standing around rehashing how he won. He did it during his press conference with Benjamin Netanyahu, too] “I wasn’t supposed to get 222 [electoral college votes]. They said there’s no way to get 222, 230’s impossible. 270, which you need, that was laughable. We got 306 because people came out and voted like they’ve never seen before so that’s the way it goes. [Note: actually, not really. Voter turnout was actually at a 20 year low.]
- “This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine, despite the fact that I can’t get my Cabinet approved.” [I guess not knowing where light switches in the White House are, losing your National Security Advisor because he was consorting with Russia, having a cabinet nominee withdraw, throwing the country into chaos by closing its borders and not telling anyone about it, having a leaky White House, AND SO MUCH MORE, is absolutely indicative of a “fine-tuned machine.” Alternative facts, you guys!]
- Goes through a really weird summary of regulation, that is deeply confusing to someone who did well in Administrative Law and familiarized herself with the Administrative Procedure Act. Also says:“We’ve issued a game-changing new rule that says for each one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated. Makes sense. Nobody’s ever seen regulations like we have. You go to other countries and you look at indexes they have and you say ‘let me see your regulations’ and they’re fraction, just a tiny fraction of what we have.’” [Wrong. But also, that’s an absurdly limited way of thinking. Maybe he knows this, because he backtracks again and is like, “wait, no, we do need regulations because safety is important but we don’t need five regulations that do the same thing.” …Not how regulations work, bro.]
- Back to police crackdowns, closed borders, CRIMINAL ALIENS BEING HARBORED BY SANCTUARY CITIES. [I’m sure this all sounds great to people who aren’t well-informed and don’t look for sources for their sources, but he’s just bonkers.] Also: “Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars.”
- THE WALL!!!!!! “And the wall is going to be a great wall and it’s going to be a wall negotiated by me. The price is going to come down just like it has on everything else I’ve negotiated for the government.” [wtf wtf wtf wtf.]
- Ah yes, of course, the attacks on the court system. Just a weird, non-sequitur, allusion to this before…
- Back to immigration and the creation of “a new office in Homeland Security dedicated to the forgotten American victims of illegal immigrant violence, which there are many.” But wait, the courts!
- Clearly Trump got sidetracked. Back on topic! He said a sentence that doesn’t make much sense: “No parts are necessary and constitutional actions were blocked by judges’, in my opinion, incorrect and unsafe ruling.” Followed by a sentence that was completely unrelated to ANYTHING previously stated: “Our administration is working night and day to keep you safe, including reporters safe.” [Trying to get chummy with all the reporters he’d just been insulting, no doubt.] But then Trump has to hammer home his dislike of the courts, the 9th Circuit, specifically, “I think that circuit is – that circuit is in chaos and that circuit is frankly in turmoil. But we are appealing that, we are going further.” [I think he underestimates how much courts dislike being told they don’t have authority when they very clearly do. I think he REALLY underestimates how the Supreme Court will respond to that.]
- He’s issuing “a new executive action next week that will comprehensively protect our country.” [Brace yourselves. Can’t wait to see what Bannon’s written this time.] “So we’ll be going along the one path and hopefully winning that [appealing the 9th Circuit ruling], at the same time we will be issuing a new and very comprehensive order to protect our people.” [Apparently this is happening next week “toward the beginning or middle at the latest part.” …]
- Weird patriotism about the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines: “In other words, they build a pipeline in this country, and we use the powers of government to make that pipeline happen, we want them to use American steel.” Then, of course, Trump has to talk himself up again, because it’s been, what, like a minute since the last time? “And they are willing to do that, but nobody ever asked before I came along.”
- Basically goes on to ADMIT that he didn’t write the executive memo on the pipelines: “And I’m reading the order, I’m saying, why aren’t we using American steel? And they said, that’s a good idea, we put it in.”
- Repealing Obamacare, that tired old horse. Something about “they fill up our alleys with people that you wonder how they get there, but they are not the Republican people that our representatives are representing.” [I literally have no idea what the fuck this means.]
- More history being made! Everything happening right now is literally the greatest! The cabinet, for example, “That will be one of the great Cabinets ever assembled in American history.”
- ALL THE COUNTRIES ARE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF US AND IT WON’T HAPPEN ANY LONGER. ALL THE JOBS ARE GOING TO BE RIGHT HERE. [But we’re also trying to deregulate everything, so they’ll probably be sweatshops, but hey, jobs!]
- Weird, veiled threat about getting Neil Gorsuch onto the Supreme Court: “But he’ll get [onto the Court] one way or the other. But he should get there the old-fashioned way, and he should get those votes.”
- God bless America.
Then followed the Q&A session which was a shit show to say the least. Some highlights:
Trump: FAKE NEWS. But also some highly irregular equivocating in which he admits that ok, maybe some minor people may spoke to Russia? But he doesn’t know! Just low level people. But he might have walked into a room where a Russian person was. But he didn’t actually meet him. Or talk to him. Also Manafort, but he’s a pretty nbd person. [Except, you know, his ties to Viktor Yanukovych, who was the Prime Minister of Ukraine and pals with Putin.] Also Trump had a nice chat with Putin after he won the election. And again after the inauguration. But it was just congratulatory! [Honestly, Trump goes on and on and on and on answering this question, blaming fake news, the Obama administration for leaks, etc., etc., etc.]
NBC Journalist: Calls out Trump on his claim that he won the election by the biggest margin since Reagan. It wasn’t.
Trump: Tries to correct and says that it was the biggest margin for a REPUBLICAN since Reagan.
NBC Journalist: Nope. Since Reagan, only G.W. Bush has won by less.
Trump: Blames his bad information of the fact that he was “given that information.”
CNN Journalist: “I just want to get you to clarify this very important point. Can you say definitively that nobody on your campaign had any contacts with the Russians during the campaign? And on the leaks, is it fake news or are these real leaks?”
Trump: “Well the leaks are real. You’re the one that wrote about them and reported them, I mean, the leaks are real. You know what they said, you saw it and the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.” [uhhhhhhh…..?]
Journalist: “You said that the leaks are real, but the news is fake. I guess I don’t understand. It seems that there’s a disconnect there. If the information coming from those leaks is real, then how can the stories be fake?”
Trump: “The reporting is fake. Look, look… Here’s the thing. The public isn’t — you know, they read newspapers, they see television, they watch. They don’t know if it’s true or false because they’re not involved. I’m involved. I’ve been involved with this stuff all my life. But I’m involved. So I know when you’re telling the truth or when you’re not. I just see many, many untruthful things.” [Goes back to talking about winning after this. Always winning. Also insulting the public, so that’s cool.]
I’m pooped from summarizing, but you should read the whole thing. Most of it is unintelligible and confusing, but there’s a lot jammed in. Especially in the last part covering questions from reporters.