Republican President-elect Donald Trump just wrapped up his first press conference in months, and it’s not an exaggeration to suggest that most of the slice of America who was tuned in has yet to pick our jaws up off the floor. NYT:
President-elect Trump conceded for the first time that Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic institutions during the presidential election, saying at a news conference that, “I think it was Russia” — though a few minutes later he said perhaps it was another country…
President-elect Trump angrily accused CNN of being “fake news” as he repeatedly refused to take a question from Jim Acosta, the network’s reporter at his news conference.
In a testy exchange between the two men, Mr. Acosta repeatedly asked for a question in order to respond to the president-elect’s accusations against the network. Mr. Trump angrily said, “I am not going to give you a question. You are fake news.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta was asking about new reports, hotly disputed by Trump and his surrogates, that Trump’s campaign engaged with Russian sources of hacked information–and also an unverified report about Trump supposedly hiring Russian prostitutes to do something unmentionable to a bed President Barack Obama had slept in. Politico:
“I do have to say that, and I must say that I want to thank a lot of the news organizations here today because they looked at that nonsense that was released by maybe the intelligence agencies, who knows, but maybe the intelligence agencies, which would be a tremendous blot on their record if they in fact did that, a tremendous blot,” Trump said in his introductory remarks. “Because a thing like that should have never been written, it should never been had and it should certainly never have been released.”
News media, intelligence agencies, whatever. They all appear to be Trump’s enemies:
“I think it was disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake” to get out, Trump says. Just like Nazi Germany, he says.
“As far as Buzzfeed, which is a failing pile of garbage writing it, I think they’re going to suffer the consequences, and they already are.”
Trump’s press conference today consisted of a restatement of his campaign promises to repeal Obamacare and build a wall on the Mexican border, bitter denial of the latest press reports with a special jab at the nation’s intelligence agencies, and wholesale evasion of the growing questions about his and his campaign’s interactions with the Russian government during the recent election. When asked about Sen. Lindsey Graham’s bill to tighten sanctions on Russia, Trump responded by dissing Graham and avoiding the question entirely.
We honestly don’t know who could have watched the press conference with the understanding that Trump will be President next week and not come away deeply dismayed about the nation’s immediate and long-term future. To say that Trump was not presidential is a gross understatement. It’s difficult to say which is worse: Trump’s ad hominem disrespect for anyone who crosses him, or what became painfully obvious as Trump’s willful avoidance of a very serious question about collusion with a hostile foreign power to win the presidency.
We can’t tell you what happens next, but we’re pretty confident nothing quite like this has happened before in American history. The lack of precedent makes this all very difficult to put into words that are accurate without being overly alarmist in tone.
It’s bad though. Very, very bad.