Donald Trump press conference: president offers olive branch to Nancy Pelosi, but talks of war with Democrats
- Trump says Republicans ‘defied history’ to expand their majority in the Senate, even as he attacked some in his party who rejected ‘what we stand for’
- He said he would adopt a ‘warlike posture’ if majority House Democrats tried to investigate him
US President Donald Trump vowed Wednesday to work with the new Democratic House majority in a bipartisan manner on infrastructure, trade and health care, but warned that he would go to war if Democrats use their subpoena power to investigate corruption in the administration as well as the president’s personal finances and conduct in office.
Addressing reporters at a freewheeling, sometimes fiery, 90-minute White House news conference, Trump repeatedly praised House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is poised to reclaim the speaker’s gavel she lost eight years ago, and said he looked forward to working with her on “a beautiful bipartisan-type situation”.
Trump said he saw opportunities to work with Democrats to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, lower the costs of prescription drugs and refashion trade policy.
“Now we have a much easier path because the Democrats will come to us with a plan for infrastructure, a plan for health care, a plan for whatever they’re looking at, and we’ll negotiate,” Trump said.
But the president said he would react aggressively to any attempt to probe his administration, predicting a “warlike posture” if they investigate him.
“They can play that game, but we can play it better, because we have a thing called the United States Senate,” Trump said, referring to the enlarged GOP Senate majority following Tuesday’s midterm elections.
“I could see it being extremely good for me politically because I think I’m better at that game than they are, actually, but we’ll find out.”
Trump also claimed he has the power to immediately end special counsel Robert Mueller’s expansive investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, but that he wants to “let it go on”.
“I could fire everybody right now, but I don’t want to stop it because politically I don’t like stopping it,” Trump said. “It’s a disgrace. It should never have been started, because there is no crime.”
Holding a rare formal news conference in the East Room of the White House, Trump repeatedly lost his cool as reporters peppered him with questions. He attacked CNN’s Jim Acosta, calling him “a rude, terrible person” and saying his network should be “ashamed” of him, and then snapped at Peter Alexander of NBC News and directed April Ryan of American Urban Radio to “sit down”,
Trump claimed credit for helping grow the GOP’s Senate majority, which he said “defied history”, and claimed that his party beat expectations “significantly” in the House.
He claimed that his “vigorous campaigning stopped the blue wave,” and he relished Republican victories in places where Democrats attracted celebrity surrogates, including Oprah Winfrey and former president Barack Obama.
“I thought it was very close to complete victory,” Trump said.
Trump tried to put a positive spin on the mixed verdict, at best, that voters delivered in the first national referendum on his presidency.
Trump was cutting in his criticism of some individual House Republicans who lost re-election, name-checking them as he attributed their losses to their failure to “embrace” him and “what we stand for”.
He cited Representatives Carlos Curbelo in South Florida, Mike Coffman in the Denver area and Mia Love in Utah, among others.
“Mia Love gave me no love, and she lost,” Trump said. In a mocking tone, he continued, “Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia.”
If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
Democrats captured the House in Tuesday’s elections by leveraging voter fury with Trump, especially in the nation’s suburbs and among women and minority voters. That ensures a change in power on Capitol Hill, dividing government in Washington for the first time in Trump’s presidency.
Pelosi said her party’s victory was about “restoring the Constitution’s checks and balances to the Trump administration”.
In a morning tweet, Trump warned House Democrats not to “waste Taxpayer Money” on probes of his administration and said Senate Republicans would respond by investigating Democratic lawmakers for their alleged infractions.
“If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level,” Trump said on Twitter. “Two can play that game!”
Trump declared a “Big Victory” in the midterm elections, despite the Democratic takeover of the House, and showed none of the humility his predecessors had conveyed at similar junctures. Obama called his 2010 midterm losses a “shellacking,” while president George W. Bush called his party’s 2006 defeat a “thumpin’.”
Trump wrote in a Wednesday morning tweet: “Received so many Congratulations from so many on our Big Victory last night, including from foreign nations (friends) that were waiting me out, and hoping, on Trade Deals. Now we can all get back to work and get things done!”
In a later tweet, Trump continued his with-me-or-against-me political posture from the campaign. “Those that worked with me in this incredible Midterm Election, embracing certain policies and principles, did very well. Those that did not, say goodbye!”