Trump's White House: Five takeaways from his impromptu news conference

Trump's White House: Five takeaways from his impromptu news conference
Trump during a meeting with county sheriffs at the White House in Washington, Feb 7, 2017.
PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON - Donald Trump stunned the political world Thursday with an impromptu White House news conference at which he vented at his critics and virulently defended the record of his tumultuous first weeks in power.

But Trump also made headlines by promising to press on with an amended version of his embattled immigration decree, while his top diplomat held a cautious first face-to-face with Russia's foreign minister.

Meanwhile, his administration seemed to temper his explosive break with decades of support for the two-state solution in the Mideast.

Here are five takeaways from the day, from Washington, the United Nations and Bonn: .

Declaring that there is "zero chaos" in his crisis-hit administration, Trump railed against enemies in the media, politics and the courts in a meandering, out of the ordinary White House news conference.

In a remarkable one hour, 16 minute ask-me-anything appearance the 70-year-old president vented frustrations, wondered out loud about a "nuclear holocaust" and insisted he is "not a bad person." Trump vehemently rejected reports probing his team's connections to Russia as "fake news" as he aired a litany of grievances.

Complaining he had "inherited a mess," Trump insisted his administration "is running like a fine-tuned machine" and accused the "dishonest" media of stirring-up crises that have sent his approval rating plummeting.

In just four weeks, Trump has seen his national security advisor resign, a cabinet nominee withdraw, a centerpiece immigration policy fail in the courts and a tidal wave of damaging leaks.

While variously telling members of the "dishonest" media to "sit down" and be "quiet," Trump sought to pre-empt coverage of his first solo news conference.

"I'm not ranting and raving," he said, "I am having a good time.".

Redditors unleash photoshop magic on Trump-Trudeau handshake

With his much-criticised travel ban caught up in court, Trump said he will announce a "new and very comprehensive" executive order on immigration next week in a bid to work around the hurdles blocking the initial decree, challenged as unconstitutional.

The Justice Department announced soon after that it plans to drop an appeal against a court ruling suspending a travel ban targeting nationals from seven mainly Muslim countries as well as all refugees.

The ban's stated goal is to keep out potential terrorists. But the January 27 order was widely criticised as amounting to a ban on travellers from mostly-Muslim nations, and for being rolled out with virtually no warning to the public or preparation of the agencies tasked with enforcing it.

Trump insisted the travel ban's "rollout was perfect" but the order triggered worldwide outrage as well as protests in America as people arriving at US airports from targeted countries were detained and sometimes sent back where they came from.

A day after Trump dropped a diplomatic bombshell by saying the United States would not insist on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the US ambassador to the United Nations appeared to temper his stance.

on SPH Brightcove

Nikki Haley rejected suggestions that Washington was abandoning the two-state solution, saying Washington "absolutely" supports the policy but wants fresh ideas on how to move forward.

"Anybody that wants to say the United States does not support the two-state solution, that would be an error," she told reporters at the United Nations.

"We absolutely support a two-state solution, but we are thinking out-of-the-box as well," Haley said following a Security Council meeting on the conflict.

In Washington, meanwhile, Trump's nominee to become US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, said he was sceptical that a two-state solution was feasible but he did not rule it out.

"I have expressed my skepticism about the two-state solution solely on the basis of what I have perceived as unwillingness to renounce terror and accept Israel as a Jewish state," he told a Senate confirmation hearing.

Trump's secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, was also in the spotlight as he made his diplomatic debut in Europe, meeting his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in the new administration's first high-level face-to-face with Moscow.

In the closely-watched encounter, Tillerson said his country will work with Russia if doing so benefits Americans, as Moscow pressed the Trump administration to live up to its promises of improving ties.

"The United States will consider working with Russia when we can find areas of practical co-operation that will benefit the American people," Tillerson said.

"Where we do not see eye-to-eye, the United States will stand up for the interests and values of America and her allies." Taking place on the sidelines of a G20 gathering in the German city of Bonn, the meeting came as Washington reels from the shock resignation of top Trump aide Michael Flynn over his contacts with Moscow, against a backdrop of allegations of Russian meddling in Trump's election last year.

on SPH Brightcove

Once more pressing his attacks on US intelligence agencies, Trump vowed to catch the "low-life leakers" responsible for a drip-drop of reports on his team's contacts with Russia that led to Flynn's ouster this week.

The latest flurry of presidential salvoes came amid reports that Trump plans to name a New York billionaire, Stephen Feinberg, to lead a sweeping review of the US intelligence agencies, raising fears of a bid to curtail their independence.

"The spotlight has finally been put on the low-life leakers! They will be caught!" Trump declared in an early morning tweet Thursday.

"Leaking, and even illegal classified leaking, has been a big problem in Washington for years. Failing @nytimes (and others) must apologise!" Trump has repeatedly decried Flynn's treatment, despite having fired the retired general on Monday for deceiving Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to Washington.

The president's stance on leaks has flipped since last year's campaign when he dismissed as a "joke" charges that Russia was behind damaging leaks of hacked Clinton campaign emails.

[embed]https://studio.brightcove.com/products/videocloud/media/videos/5326518661001[/embed

More about

DONALD TRUMP
Purchase this article for republication.

BRANDINSIDER

SPONSORED

Most Read

Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.