We’re calling it: Donald Trump gave the most insane press conference of his presidency, possibly in political history, on February 16, 2017.
The president had already set the bar high but he outdid even himself when he blustered for more than an hour and insisted his chaotic administration was actually a “fine-tuned machine”.
He goaded journalists, called Obamacare “a disaster”, said the 9th Circuit Court that upheld the stay on his Muslim ban was “in turmoil”, and argued with a CNN journalist about whether it was “fake news”.
He also contended he would sign a new executive order on security, while still fighting the courts that halted the Muslim ban.
The president also said the media were “out of control” and said he would take his message “straight to the people”.
“I’m making this presentation directly to the American people with the media present... because many of our nation’s reporters and folks will not tell you the truth and will not treat the wonderful people of our country with the respect they deserve,” he told journalists.
And his message consisted of the following points:
1. Muslim ban shows how ‘smooth’ the White House is
The executive order banning travel to the US from seven Muslim countries caused chaos at US airports and even saw Green Card holders held for interrogatation, despite being permanent legal residents of the US.
But Trump said the ban showed how “fine-tuned” his administration was.
The BBC’s North America Editor Jon Sopel suggested it wasn’t and Trump snapped: “Wait, wait, wait. I know who you are, just wait... We had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban but we had a bad court, a bad decision.”
2. The BBC is ‘a beauty... like CNN’
Trump didn’t appear to recognise Sopel, so asked where he was from and this exchange followed:
Trump: “Where you from?”
Trump: “Here’s another beauty.”
Sopel: “Good line. Impartial, free and fair.”
Trump: “Just like CNN.”
Sopel: “We could banter back and forth.”
3. ‘I am the least anti-Semitic person’
Trump was questioned for the second time in two days on claims his rhetoric had fuelled a rise in anti-Semitism in America.
“Here’s the story folks,” he said. “Number one, I am the least anti-semitic person you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism, the least racist person.”
When he tried to say something about how well he had done in the election and someone shouted over him, Trump said: “Quiet, quiet, quiet.”
4. Says drugs are ‘cheaper than candy bars’
“Drugs have become cheaper than candy bars,” said the President of the United States of America. The social media response was as beautiful as expected.
5. Falsely claimed his election victory was the biggest since Reagan
Trump put forward that his 306 electoral college votes was the “biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan”. As everyone on Twitter pointed out, Obama twice had a bigger share of the college vote. His mistruth - amid repeated rants about the ‘fake news’ media - was seized upon later in the press conference:
6. Asked a black journalist if she knew black politicians he wanted to meet with
Trump was asked by journalist April D. Ryan if he would set up a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss his inner-city agenda.
The President’s response when she explained to him what “CBC” referred to was quite something.
Trump: “I’ll tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting?”
Ryan: “No, no, no, I’m just a reporter.”
Trump: “Are they friends of yours? So set up the meeting.”
Ryan: “I know some of them, but I’m sure they’re watching right now.”
Trump: “I would love to meet with the black caucus. I think it’s great.”
7. Says he’d have been given ‘electric chair’ for seeing debate questions in advance
Trump defended unlikely allies Wikileaks for leaking information that suggested his rival for the presidency received questions in advance of the election debates.
“Nobody mentions that Hillary received the questions to the debates,” he said.
“Can you imagine, seriously, can you imagine if I received the questions? It would be the electric chair.”
8. Explained uranium causes ‘bad things’
The full quotation bears repeating in full: “You know what uranium is, right? It’s this thing called nuclear weapons. And other things. Like lots of things are done with uranium. Including some bad things.”
9. Insisted he wasn’t ‘ranting and raving’
Trump argued that he was “not ranting and raving” - despite all the evidence to the contrary. At one point, he said “story after story is bad. I won! I won!” Definitely not a rant.”
10. Said the court he hates has 80% of its decisions overturned
The 9th Circuit Appeals Court infuriated the president by being the latest court to stay his Muslim ban.
He said 80% of their decisions were overturned by the Supreme Court. “I’ve heard 80%...It’s just a number I heard. That circuit is in chaos.”
The truth is the Supreme Court overturns around 80% of the tiny fraction of 9th Circuit decisions it agrees to hear, which is not even the highest of all the circuit courts in the US.
11. Says fake news makes it harder to make a deal with Russia
Trump was grilled on recent Russian provocations of the US, including “buzzing” a US Navy ship with its jets. “The false, horrible, fake reporting makes it much harder to make a deal with Russia,” the president said, returning to a favourite theme.