U.S. President Donald Trump turned a Thursday press conference originally meant to announce his nominee for labour secretary into a two-hour unwieldy open mic set roasting Hillary Clinton and institutions designed to keep politicians in check.
Trump's labour secretary nominee, former U.S attorney Alexander Acosta, received a brief mention before the president accused specific news outlets of being “dishonest,” and praised unnamed organizations of being “honest and fantastic.”
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference announcing Alexander Acosta as the new labour secretary nominee in the East Room at the White House on Feb. 16 in Washington, D.C.. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Trump made 11 references to Clinton, the former Democratic presidential candidate who won the popular vote. The president presented a hypothetical situation if his campaign were given previews of debate questions last year to suggest a double standard.
“Can you imagine — seriously — can you imagine if I received the questions? It would be the electric chair. OK, he should be put in the electric — you would even call for the re-institution of the death penalty.”
President makes two false claims
Trump also used his time to brag about his victory — four weeks into his presidency and more than three months after the election.
“I wasn't supposed to get 222. They said there's no way to get 222, 230's impossible. 270 which you need, that was laughable,” he said.
“We got 306 because people came out and voted like they've never seen before so that's the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.”
Trump actually received 304 electoral votes, not 306 as stated. His claim his electoral college win was the biggest since Reagan is also not true.
“I guess it was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.”
— President Donald Trump making claim later debunked
Records show Barack Obama and Bill Clinton received higher electoral votes in each of their elections than the number Trump won last year.
It’s the third time in a week the president has brought up November’s election results at news conferences.
A day earlier, Trump was asked to comment about a possible connection between his administration's perceived xenophobic and “maybe racist tones” to a spike in anti-Semitic incidents.
Standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the president responded by talking about the electoral college victory months earlier.
And during a joint news conference with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday, Trump was asked to comment on the difference between how Canada and the U.S. treat Syrian refugees. He responded by boasting about how he won a “very, very large electoral college vote.”
Trump ‘don’t speak to people from Russia’
On the subject of Russia, Trump denied Thursday that his campaign had contacts with Russian officials during the course of the election, dismissing the story and the allegations as a “ruse.”
“Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven't made a phone call to Russia in years. Don't speak to people from Russia. Not that I wouldn't. I just have nobody to speak to.” said Trump.
Trump then repeated an earlier remark, acknowledging that he’s spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin twice in recent months.
“We had a very good talk, especially the second one, lasted for a pretty long period of time,” he said.