When I was eating lunch yesterday, I saw that Donald Trump was going to be doing some kind of press conference to announce a new cabinet nomination, and no one really knew if he was going to be taking questions. Baby Fists hadn’t had a real press conference all week, and he hadn’t answered any questions about the Michael Flynn situation, or the fact that he’s openly at war with the intelligence community, or that there’s an epidemic of reporting about his campaign and his administration’s unseemly, illegal and unethical ties to Russia.
I didn’t expect Baby Fists to do a full press conference so I ran my errands and went about my business. When I returned home, I turned on the TV and caught the last 15 minutes or so of what turned out to be the craziest f–king press conference in the history of the United States of America. Journalists said afterwards that everyone in the newsroom and everyone in the Capitol were just watching the conference with their mouths agape. I don’t even have the words to describe the performance. Dismissing Trump as “crazy” or “an ill-tempered despot” doesn’t do it justice. So here’s just a small fraction of what went down, and you can read WaPo’s excellent transcript here:
He won’t shut up about “fake news.” Fake news is whatever he claims it is. Fake news is any news he doesn’t like. Fake news is any news that he finds mean. Fake news is often honest and truthful reporting, or simple fact-checking of his and his administration’s hourly lies. His goal is to make people distrust everyone in the media. His goal is to rip apart the fourth estate with his tiny baby fists. His goal is to keep the attention on his war with the media more than anything else.
“I inherited a mess.” He kept saying that. Like Obama left the country in shambles. That’s another lie.
He won’t shut up about the election. He mentioned Hillary Clinton repeatedly. He mentioned his electoral college win repeatedly. He claimed he had “the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.” He did not. That was a flat lie. Obama had a bigger electoral college win in both 2008 and 2012. Bill Clinton also had a larger electoral college win. He was later pressed about that and he said he had the biggest electoral college win for a Republican since Reagan. He did not. George H.W. Bush also had a larger electoral college victory in 1988.
Poor April Ryan. April Ryan is an African-American woman and a journalist with the American Urban Radio Networks. She’s been part of the White House press corps for years and years. She asked Trump if he would be unveiling any plans to work on urban areas and if he planned on taking any meetings with the CBC. Trump didn’t know what CBC was. It’s the Congressional Black Caucus. Once she told him that, he said: “Well I would, tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours? Let’s go, let’s set up a meeting. I would love to meet with the Black Caucus.” Because Trump just assumes that all black folks know each other, and that a journalist can set up a meeting between the president and the CBC.
He’s going to issue a new travel ban. Through an executive order. He said it will happen next week.
Secret plans for secret wars. One of the most chilling exchanges was when he was asked if he would be doing anything about the Russian spy ship sitting off the coast of Connecticut. Trump went off, saying in part: “I’m not going to tell you anything about what I’m going to do. I’m not going to talk about military stuff… I don’t talk about military and certain other things. You were going to be surprised to hear that, by the way, my whole campaign I said that. I don’t have to tell you.” He also mentioned how he’s not going to tell us what he’s going to be doing in Mosul, Iran and North Korea. For a question about Russia.
He’s obsessed with Hillary Clinton. He made a reference to Hillary’s “stupid plastic button,” which was a gift she gave to the Russian foreign minister in 2009 as a symbol of our two nations’ “reset.” He also said: “Does anyone believe Hillary Clinton would be tougher on Russia. Does anybody in this room really believe that?” Yes. All of us believe that.
The Flynn story is ridiculous. He was trying to be clever and talk in circles without being nailed down on anything, but basically he said he “fired” Flynn because Flynn lied to Mike Pence. But Trump also claims that Flynn was supposed to be talking to Russia, especially about the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration, and if Flynn hadn’t discussed it with Russian officials, “I would have directed him to do it if I thought he wasn’t doing it. I didn’t direct him, but I would have directed him because that’s his job.” So… he fired Flynn because Flynn was doing what he intuitively knew to do on Trump’s behalf and then he lied about it to Pence? Sure. IMPEACH!
There’s a million more pieces of insanity – Politico also had a pretty good compendium here if you want to read about it. Vox also compiled some of his most unhinged quotes. I also watched some of the post-presser coverage and journalists were literally like “um… I don’t even know what to say.” Political analysts who have been working in DC for decades, people who have seen everything, they are all like “this is uncharted territory, the president is a lunatic and we’re all going to die.”
Photos courtesy of Getty, cover courtesy of Time.