President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE held a freewheeling press conference on Thursday that was dominated by his anger with a news media he says covers him unfairly.
Much of the press conference was must-watch television, and there were a number of memorable moments — including several barbs at the media.
Here are the most memorable statements from Trump during the 77-minutes presser, Trump's first full solo session with the news media.
“ISIS has spread like cancer — another mess I inherited.”
Trump argues he inherited a mess from President Obama, and he specifically lamented that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — once “a small group” — has now grown and spread to other parts of the world. Many presidents blame their predecessors for leaving them with difficult problems. President Obama often complained of the economy he inherited from President George W. Bush.
“I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.”
Trump falsely claimed that he had the biggest electoral victory since President Reagan. In fact, former Presidents Obama, Clinton and George H.W. Bush outpaced him. When pressed by a reporter on the inaccuracy, Trump replied, “I was given that information.”
“This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.”
It's been a tough week for Trump, with national security adviser Michael Flynn resigning and a nominee at the Labor Department withdrawing his nomination amid GOP Senate objections. Trump sought to tamp down stories framing his administration as chaotic. He insisted that his presidency is running smoothly, though with the caveat that he’s having pushback on confirming his Cabinet nominees.
“Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars.”
Trump has taken a hard-line response to drug cartels, lamenting that drugs have poured into the U.S. from other countries. Calling the country a “drug-infested nation,” he said he has directed the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department to combat the cartels.
“What [Flynn] did wasn't wrong.”
Trump defended his ousted national security adviser, reiterating that he is a “fine man.” He said that while Flynn’s conversation with the Russian ambassador during the transition wasn’t wrong, it was “unacceptable” that he misled Vice President Pence about the context of the conversation.
“I must say that I never get phone calls from the media.”
Trump decried the “dishonest” media, specifically pointing to a Wall Street Journal report that intelligence officials have withheld certain information from the president out of fears of leaks. He questioned how media outlets like the Journal and The New York Times can write stories without directly talking to him.
”The leaks are real, but the news is fake.”
In perhaps his most memorable comment, Trump appeared to say the leaks coming out about his administration were real, even though the news about them was wrong. Trump for days has been ripping leaks believed to be coming from the intelligence community, which directly led to Flynn’s resignation. Reports emerged Thursday that Trump was about to launch a review of the intelligence community.
"When WikiLeaks, which I had nothing to do with, comes out and happens to give, they are not giving classified information.”
Trump, who praised WikiLeaks’s publishing of Democratic emails during the presidential campaign, said leaks coming from intelligence officials are different because they involve classified information. While its 2016 campaign leaks were not classified, WikiLeaks has in the past published classified information stolen from the U.S. government.
“ ‘Fox and Friends’ is the most honest morning show.”
While he railed on the media for its dishonesty for the majority of the press conference, Trump heaped praise on Fox News’s morning show. Roger Ailes, the former chairman of the right-leaning network, had previously served as an adviser on his campaign. In contrast, Trump chided CNN about its ratings during his exchange with CNN reporter Jim Acosta. The reference to "Fox and Friends," a show Trump regularly appeared on before he was a presidential candidate, was also interesting given perceptions that he is an avid viewer of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," which has been critical of him in recent weeks.
“I’m not ranting and raving. I’m just telling you, you’re dishonest people.”
Trump repeatedly attacked the media during the press conference, predicting at one point that press reports would portray him negatively the next day — even though he professed to be having a good time.
“Nuclear holocaust would be like no other. [Russia's] a very powerful nuclear country and so are we."
Trump repeatedly sought to distance himself from Russia, saying that he has no deals with the country. But he said the U.S. should try to work together with the nation — specifically in trying to combat ISIS — especially since both are “powerful” nuclear countries.
“Does anybody really think Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE would be tougher on Russia than Donald Trump?”
During the campaign, Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, frequently sought to link Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin and called him Putin’s “puppet” at a presidential debate. But Trump insisted she would be softer on Russia than him and criticized her for her “failed” Russian reset as secretary of State in 2009.
“Lots of things are done with uranium, including some bad things.”
Trump defended his belief that the U.S. should work with Russia when there’s a shared goal. He continued to attack Clinton’s past policy on Russia, claiming Clinton gave “20 percent” of the country’s uranium to Russia.
“I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism, the least racist person."
Trump got in a heated exchange with a Jewish reporter after asking for a journalist who wouldn’t ask a tough question. When asked how his administration would combat acts of anti-Semitism, Trump said the question was “very insulting.” The combative exchange came after Trump took flak for the White House not mentioning Jewish victims in a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“Some of the cases, they’re having DACA, and they’re gang members and they’re drug dealers, too.”
Trump said that Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is “a very difficult subject” and noted that the majority of children are “incredible kids.” But he also suggested that some of the people who remain in the country through DACA are “drug dealers” and “gang members.” On how he’ll handle DACA going forward, he said the administration will deal with it “with heart.”
“I've known her for a long time. The things they say are so unfair.”
Trump defended his wife, Melania, and admonished the media for treating her unfairly. He thanked the reporter for asking the question and said her role as a first lady will be focused on women’s issues, along with his elder daughter, Ivanka Trump.