U.S. president Donald Trump went head-to-head with members of the media in his first press conference after the midterm elections.
The president started the press conference by taking credit for Republican victories in the Senate and governor races. He blamed those GOP candidates that didn’t “embrace” his support for their own losses: “I feel just fine,” he said. Mocking unseated Utah congresswoman Mia Love, he joked “Mia Love gave me no love, but then she lost.”
Trump praised the House minority leader, and likely future House speaker Nancy Pelosi, a woman he has previously called “High Crime Nancy Pelosi”. The president endorsed her for speaker, later tweeting: “She has earned this great honor [sic]”
Pelosi last night vowed a future of “bipartisanship and common ground”.
However, incase the Democrats were thinking of using their newfound access to powerful House committees to launch investigations into Trump or his administration, he threatened there would be no bipartisan collaboration if they did so.
Turning his attention to those in the room, Trump began an onslaught of attacks against the press.
The main recipient of his wrath was CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta. After Acosta posed a question about his rhetoric in relation to the migrant caravan travelling through Mexico, he called the reporter a “rude, terrible person”. He also said CNN ought to be “ashamed of itself” for employing him.
After NBC News’ Peter Alexander came to Acosta’s defence, calling him a “diligent reporter”, Trump hit back at Alexander: “Well I’m not a big fan of yours either”
“You’re not the best.”
He then got into a dispute with National Urban Radio Network’s April Ryan, repeatedly shouting her down and telling her to “sit down”.
“You rudely interrupted him,” Trump told Ryan.
Speaking to a Japanese reporter, the president told him to “Say hello to Shinzo”, referring to Shinzo Abe – Japan’s prime minister.
“I’m sure he’s happy about tariffs on his cars,” he said.
Trump was criticised for failing to understand a number of foreign journalists’ accents: “I really don’t understand you”, he told one.
When PBS’ Yamiche Alcindor posed the question to Trump that by referring to himself as a “nationalist” he emboldened “white nationalists”, Trump attacked her line of questioning calling it a “racist question”.
“It’s a very terrible thing that you said,” Trump told Alcindor.
Moments after the press conference drew to an end, CNN released a statement calling the president’s treatment of the press “disturbingly un-American”.
Just over an hour after wrapping up the press conference, news broke of the resignation of attorney general Jeff Sessions at the president’s request.
Trump and Sessions have shared a vitriolic relationship for much of their time in government together. This despite Sessions being one of the biggest advocates of the president’s election campaign.
Their relationship soured after Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. Trump remarked that had he known he would do so he might not have appointed him as attorney general.
Matthew Whitaker has been named acting attorney general and will now oversee the Mueller probe into possible collusion between President Trump and the Russian government in relation to the 2016 presidential election.