Highlights from Trump’s press conference

Highlights from Trump’s press conference
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President Trump held a freewheeling press conference on Monday, in which he showcased his relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTeacher defeats Kentucky state House majority leader in GOP primary Conservatives leery of FBI deal on informant Lobbying world MORE (R-Ky.) and held court on a variety of subjects.

For 39 minutes at the White House, Trump addressed tensions with Republicans in Congress, ObamaCare, the Russia probe, U.S. soldiers who were killed in Niger, the opioid crisis, the NFL anthem protests and his 2016 opponent, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDem targeted by party establishment loses Texas primary Penn to Hewitt: Mueller probe born out of ‘hysteria’ Trump claims a 'spy' on his campaign tried to help 'Crooked Hillary' win MORE

Here are some of the highlights.

 

Trump-McConnell relationship 

The president dismissed the notion he is at odds with McConnell, saying their relationship is “outstanding.”

“Despite what we read, we are probably now, I think — as least as far as I'm concerned — closer than ever before. And the relationship is very good,” Trump said. 

McConnell echoed those comments. 

“I want to underscore what the president said. We have the same agenda,” he said.  “We've been friends and acquaintances for a long time. We talk frequently. We don't give you a readout every time we have a conversation, but frequently we talk on the weekends about the issues that are before us.”

 

Drug czar controversy

Trump was pressed about his nominee for drug czar, Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), who helped draft a law that cracked down on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to punish drug companies that illicitly distribute opioids. 

“As far as Tom Marino, so he was a very early supporter of mine — the great state of Pennsylvania,” Trump said. “He's a great guy. I did see the report. We're going to look into the report. We're going to take it very seriously.”

Marino was the focus of a “60 Minutes” and The Washington Post report that looked at how Congress may have worsened the opioid crisis. Trump said he would be declaring opioid abuse a national emergency “probably next week.”

 

ObamaCare

Trump defended his decision to cut off payments to insurance companies to help them pay for coverage for low-income Americans.

He also expressed confidence Congress would revisit ObamaCare repeal next spring. 

“We are getting close to health care,” he said. “It'll come up in the early to mid-part of next year. We're going to have a vote. I think we already have the votes. We feel confident we have the votes. You pretty much know what the plan is.”

 

Russia probe  

Trump made no secret of his desire to see the end of the special counsel investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.

But he also sought to dismiss the notion he is thinking of firing the man running the probe, former FBI director Robert Mueller. 

“No, not at all,” he said when asked if he is considering the move. 

 

Niger 

Trump made his most controversial remarks when asked about his response to four U.S. soldiers who were killed in Niger. 

The president said he would contact their families, but bristled at criticism that he was slow to speak out about their deaths. 

“If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls,” he said. “A lot of them didn't make calls. I like to call when it's appropriate, when I think I am able to do it.”

Former Obama aides vehemently pushed back on his claim that the former president did not call the families of fallen soldiers. 

When pressed about those denials later in the press conference, Trump backtracked. 

“I was told that he didn't often, and a lot of presidents don't. They write letters. I do a combination of both,” he said. 

 

Hillary Clinton

Trump declared that he would love to face Clinton again in the 2020 election after he was asked about her comments about the NFL anthem protests. 

“I hope Hillary runs. Is she going to run? I hope,” he said. “Hillary, please run again.”

Trump said Clinton’s support of protesting players is an example of why she lost in 2016. 

“I think she's wrong,” he said. “That's why she lost the election. I mean, honestly, it's that thinking. That is the reason she lost the election. When you go down and take a knee or any other way, you're sitting, essentially, for our great national anthem. You're disrespecting our flag and you're disrespecting our country.”