Speaking at his first solo news conference at the White House on Thursday, US President Donald Trump accused reporters of ignoring a poll showing him with a 55 per cent approval rating – a figure at odds with most other surveys. From there, his criticism of the media went from barbed to personal in a cutting assessment of what he viewed as unfair coverage of his first few weeks in office.
After his original pick withdrew under congressional pressure, Trump also announced that dean of the Florida International University law school and former US attorney in Florida, Alexander Acosta will be his nominee for Labor secretary. In his conference, the US president insisted that his new administration had made “significant progress” and took credit for an optimistic business climate and a rising stock market.
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Here is a look at the five things he said in his conference:
1. On US-Russia ties: Trump dismissed a growing controversy about ties between his aides and Russia as a “ruse” and a “scam” perpetrated by a hostile news media, and denied any of his associates had contacts with Moscow before last year’s election.
2. On travel ban: Donald Trump said he will issue a new executive order to replace his controversial directive suspending travel to the United States by citizens of seven mostly Muslim countries. He said he wants a pause in the legal fight over the ban, so it can issue a replacement ban as it strives to protect the nation from terrorism.
3. Administration picks: Donald Trump announced his new choice to lead the Department of Labor, former National Labor Relations Board member Alexander Acosta. His choice for national security adviser, retired Vice-Admiral Robert Harward, has turned down the offer, a senior White House official says.
4. On US-Israel: The US ambassador to the United Nations said the US still supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a day after Trump suggested he was open to new ways to achieve peace. “I’m looking at two states and one state, and I like the one both parties like,” Trump told a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I can live with either one.” Trump said that the United States would work toward peace but said he was leaving it up to the parties themselves ultimately to decide on the terms of any agreement. He said such a deal would require compromises from both Israelis and Palestinians.
5. On healthcare: Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress said they will soon unveil plans to repeal and replace Obamacare, providing a timeframe for a legislative goal they have struggled with for weeks.
Donald Trump taunted reporters and waved away their attempts to fact-check him in real time. Trump said, “The press – the public doesn’t believe you people anymore. Now, maybe I had something to do with that. I don’t know. But they don’t believe you. But you’ve got to be at least a little bit fair, and that’s why the public sees it. They see it. They see it’s not fair. You take a look at some of your shows and you see the bias and the hatred.”