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Combative Trump: ‘How Does The Press Get This Information?’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The first gripe came three minutes into President Donald Trump’s first solo press conference on Thursday, when he accused reporters of ignoring a poll showing him with a 55 percent approval rating – a figure at odds with most other surveys.

From there, the president’s criticism of the media went from barbed to personal in a cutting assessment of what he viewed as unfair coverage of his first few weeks in office – a period that has seen a succession of crises.

On a day when he ceded a loss over a signature policy in a federal appeals court, had to replace his labor secretary pick and faced questions over the resignation of his national security adviser, Trump chose to make the media a central focus of an unusually long and combative presidential news conference.

When asked by journalists of contacts between his presidential campaign and Russian operatives, he deflected the questions and put the focus instead on what he described as “illegal” government leaks and “dishonest” media coverage.

“The press is out of control,” he said. “The level of dishonesty is out of control,”

After weeks of disclosures in newspapers over turmoil in his administration, he told one reporter to “sit down” for a rambling question.

“Tomorrow, 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 I’m not ranting and raving. I love this. I’m having a good time

doing it.”

Trump’s message in the 77-minute session appeared aimed at the same voters who elected him president last November, a large number of whom feel Washington has left them behind and who like his image as an outsider trying to shake up the establishment.

He sought to cast problems buffeting the White House as “the mess” he inherited from former Democratic President Barack Obama, and boasted about the “fine-tuned administration” he is running.

In one unusual exchange near the end of the news conference, Trump called on a questioner, asking if he was “a friendly reporter.”

When the journalist asked about recent threats to 48 Jewish centers across the country and signs of rising anti-Semitism, Trump appeared to take the question personally, replying: “I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.”

He added he was also the “least racist person,” told the reporter to be “quiet,” accused him of lying, and then dismissed the question as “insulting.”

Most opinion polls show Trump struggling with low approval numbers less than a month into his presidency. A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted February 10 to 14 gave Trump a 46 percent approval rating.

While many presidencies have started off on rocky ground, Trump’s administration has been particularly marked by controversies, fights with the media, and a legal battle over an executive order to ban people temporarily from seven Muslim-majority countries.

“I turn on the TV and open the newspapers and I see stories of chaos, chaos. And yet, it is the exact opposite,” Trump said.

Trump waved away questions about a New York Times report that members of his campaign team had frequent contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials last year.

His main complaint was that the news media had uncovered leaks about intercepted communications between Michael Flynn, ousted this week as national security adviser and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kisylak, and leaks about his own conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia.

“The first thing I thought of, how does the press get this information?” he asked.

(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton and Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Jason Szep and Peter Cooney)

IMAGE: President Donald Trump holds a news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 16, 2017.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

10 Most Scathingly True Takedowns Of Trump’s Press Conference

Trump took the opportunity to attack the “dishonest media,” and especially the “failing” Buzzfeed site for releasing salacious and damning documents about his activities in Russia. And he suddenly was all about praising the New York Times, his new best friend, for not jumping on the bandwagon. Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted that, “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

Yes, he went there.

Trump bragged about selflessly turning down a $2 billion deal with Dubai and being the “greatest jobs creator god ever created,” and he seemed to be still campaigning by describing his “movement like we have never seen before” and attacking Hillary Clinton and the Democrats for allowing themselves to be hacked.

To a question about releasing his tax returns, he held to his lie of not being able to release them because of an ongoing audit, and said no one is interested in his taxes except the press. After repeated attacks on Buzzfeed and CNN, he bullied a CNN reporter into silence and accused him of propagating fake news rather than letting him finish a question about whether Trump can work with the U.S. intelligence community. Asked about his specific plans for Obamacare, he simply repeated the words “repeal and replace,” called it the biggest disaster in the history of mankind and gave zero specifics.

The internet and commentators immediately got busy. Here are some of the most scathing reactions on Trump’s favorite medium.

1.

2.

After , it’s clear that we’re facing a new era of dictatorship with @realDonaldTrump. He’s not a democratic leader.

3.

 

Donald Trump isn’t even president yet and he’s already losing his shit at press conferences http://bit.ly/2idCQID 

4.

“You are fake news!” says the guy who spent 8 years birthering Obama, and said Ted Cruz’s father helped kill JFK…..

5.

Trump spent ages insisting Obama born in Kenya citing “extremely credible source” and now he’s crying about fake news.

6.

7.

Trump is right about one thing. Watching him bully reporters who disagree with him is a lot like Nazi Germany.

8.

I’m not gonna release my taxes. There’s nothing bad in them, but it’d be boring television, and I care about ratings.

9.

Trump refused to confirm no one in his campaign was in contact with Russian officials, after being directly asked.

10.

My assessment of .
“… it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” – (Macbeth)

Veterans Protest Trump As He Bashes Press Over Veterans Fundraising Stories

A handful of protesters gathered outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue this morning to protest the Republican nominee’s politically motivated concern for veterans, and his divisive rhetoric. Meanwhile, Donald Trump fielded questions from a charged press gallery, whom he repeatedly insulted, including calling an ABC journalist “a sleaze.”

“I’m protesting the hate speech he stands for,” said Peter Bronson, an 81-year-old Korean War veteran who served on a French air base in Morocco, to The National Memo. “We all served with Muslims. Most of us served in the Middle East.”

“I married a woman from Morocco and I feel that our enemies aren’t Muslims. This isn’t a religious war,” he said.

The veterans were part of the “Vets VS Hate” movement, a group of military veterans opposed to Trump’s hate speech. While there were only a handful of veterans out in front of Trump Tower, today’s protest was the latest in a series by veterans opposed to the most overly militaristic presidential candidate of the 2016 race.

“I think for many of us, its outrageous that Trump would malign Muslims, women, Latinos, many of whom have donned the uniform and served their country, unlike Mr. Trump,” said Perry O’Brien, who served in the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan. “It’s very clear that Donald Trump is not cut from the same moral fabric of the veterans he’s trying to use to advance his own agenda.”

Inside Trump Tower, there was little of the same grounded, rational thinking taking place. In an unusually antagonistic — even for him — press conference, Trump made it clear he was unhappy that the media had called him out on the donations he promised to veterans. “The money has all been sent. I wanted to keep it private,” said the man who basked in the attention he received when he decided to skip the Republican debate in Iowa for his veterans fundraising event, “because I don’t think its anybody’s business if I want to send money to the vets.”

“I will say the press should be ashamed of themselves. And on behalf of the vets, the press should be ashamed of themselves,” he said, trying to flip the script. “Instead of being like ‘Thank you very much Mr. Trump,’ or ‘Trump did a good job,’ everyone is saying ‘Who got it? Who got it? Who got it?’ and you make me look very bad. I have never received such bad publicity for doing such a good job.”

Trump read from a list of organizations who had received money from him, after weeks of intense pressure by the media following reports that he had neither raised nor handed out the amounts he had claimed. The updated list consists of 40 organizations, rather than the 22 he had originally announced during the January fundraiser

“I have to say this, I raised close to $6 million. It’ll probably be over that amount when its all said and done. But as of this moment it is $5.6 million,” he said.

“It went up from $1 million to $2 million to $3 million and it now ends up to be almost $6 million,” he said.

He also accused the veterans protesting outside the tower of being sent there by Hillary Clinton, yet in interviews with them, not one protestor mentioned the Democratic frontrunner.

Following a general attack on the press, Trump specifically went after ABC News reporter Tom Llamas, who previously asked Trump if he had a problem with being honest.

“What I don’t want is when I raise millions of dollars, have people say– like this sleazy guy right over here from ABC, he’s a sleaze in my book,” said Trump.

“Why am I a sleaze?” said Llamas from the audience.

“You’re a sleaze because you know the facts and you know the facts well,” Trump responded.

However, the facts are that the Trump campaign attempted to bury the veterans fundraiser publicity stunt as soon as the debate in Des Moines wrapped up. The fact is that $5.6 million is not $6 million, and that the press had every right, especially given the lack of transparency surrounding the donations and their disbursement to the 24 veterans organizations the proceeds were promised to, to call Trump to account and ask where those millions went. The latest release by the Trump campaign shows nearly double the number of veterans organizations and a $400,000 shortfall in the amount claimed to have been raised. But Trump saved his best line for last.

“I find the press to be dishonest, I find the political press to be very dishonest,” said Trump, after which he ended the press conference. If there was ever a preview of the contempt with which a Trump administration would view the press, it manifested itself in today’s press conference.

#EndorseThis: Trump Yells At Journalists For An Hour, Previews Presidential Press Conferences

When Donald Trump announced that he would be giving a press conference today to discuss his misdealings with veterans’ groups, members of the media covering his remarks should have known they were in for a wild ride. Trump had lied about his donations to veterans’ groups for months: After skipping a Fox News debate because he was afraid of Megyn Kelly because, apparently, the network had treated him unfairly, Trump put together his own Celebrate-The-Troops fundraising spectacular, after which he claimed to have raised $6 million for various veterans’ groups, through an account maintained by his campaign.

Weeks later, many of the veterans’ groups he had claimed would receive money from him hadn’t even heard from Donald Trump at all. Investigations by various outlets into how much money Trump had cumulatively given to the groups all came up with figures in the $3-4 million range, nothing close to what Trump promised. There was also no evidence — until only a week ago — that Trump had given the $1 million he had promised to veterans’ groups.

All of that to say: The relentless investigations of the news media forced Trump to give the $1 million he promised, and they forced him to call up his rich friend who he had claimed donated a cumulative $6 million… to actually raise $6 million.

Donald Trump rarely holds press conferences to “clear the air” about anything, and to do so about millions of missing dollars that were supposedly donated to veterans’ groups cut especially deep, as Trump has painted himself as a champion of veterans causes.

I’ve included the entire press conference below to highlight to consistency and relentlessness of Donald Trump’s demonization of the press — the same press that exposed widespread problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The same press that dutifully reported Trump’s claims of having donated — to Trump’s great benefit — $6 million to veterans’ groups, including $1 million of his own money. The same press that, doing their job, badgered Trump for proof that such donations had been made, and the same press that, ultimately, pressured Trump into doing the right thing.

After Donald Trump lists some of the groups he’s given money to — the exact thing the press has asked for and failed to receive for months — he takes questions from journalists in attendance, starting at 13:54.

Photo and video: MSNBC.