• President Donald Trump calls on members of the press during a news conference, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Donald Trump responded to reporters' questions for almost an hour.
By
Ben Winsor

17 Feb 2017 - 1:33 PM  UPDATED 17 Feb 2017 - 7:38 PM

Thursday evening US time, President Donald Trump concluded a lengthy, hastily arranged press conference which covered his campaign’s links to Russia, the resignation of his National Security Advisor and the events of his presidency so far.

For almost an hour the president responded to questions from reporters, while also slamming the media for "dishonest" coverage of his presidency.

The press conference, available in full above, produced many outstanding moments.

Challenged on the size of his election victory

Trump: They said I wasn’t supposed to get 222 – 230’s impossible – 270 which you need, that was laughable. We got 306. Because people came out and voted like they’ve never seen before. So that’s the way it goes. It was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Regan.

Later in the press conference.

Journalist: You said today that you had the biggest electoral margin since Ronald Reagan – 304… 306 electoral votes. In fact, President Obama got 365 in 2008.

Trump: Well, I'm talking about Republicans.

Journalist: President Obama 332 [2012], George HW Bush 426 when he won. So why should Americans trust when you’re misrepresenting information -

Trump: I was given that information, I was just given it. We had a very big margin.

Journalist: The question is, why should Americans trust you when you accuse the information they receive as being fake when you're providing information that’s not accurate?

Trump: Well, I was given that information. I was, actually, I've seen that information around. But it was a very substantial victory. Do you agree with that?

Journalist: You're the president.

Trump: Okay thank you, that’s a good answer.

Interaction with Jewish reporter Jake Turx

Turx: Despite what some of my colleagues are reporting, I haven't seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. We understand that you have Jewish grandchildren — you are their zayde. However, what we are concerned about and what we haven't heard being addressed is an uptick in attacks [and] how the government is planning to take care of it. There been reports [of] 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centres across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to —

Trump: So he said he was going to ask a very simple, easy question and it’s not, not a simple question, not a fair question. Okay, sit down. I understand the rest of your question. So here’s the story, folks. Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you have seen in your entire life. Number two, racism. The least racist person. In fact we did very well, relative to other people running as a Republican ...

[Interjection by Turx]

Trump: Quiet, quiet, quiet. See he lied about, he was going to be a very straight, simple question. So, you know, welcome to the world of the media. But let me just tell you something, that I hate the charge. I find it repulsive. I hate even the question because people that know me, and you heard the Prime Minister, you heard Netanyahu yesterday. Did you hear him? Bibi, he said, ‘I've known Donald Trump for a long time’, and he said, ‘forget it’, so you should take that instead of getting up and asking a very insulting question like that.

An exchange with reporter April Ryan, Washington Bureau Chief for American Urban Radio Networks

Ryan: Are you going to include the CBC, Mr President, in your conversations with your urban agenda, your inner city agenda, as well as…

Trump: Am I going to include who?

Ryan: Are you going to include the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus?

Trump: Well, I would. I tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting?

Ryan: No, no, no.

Trump: Are they friends of yours?

Ryan: I'm just a reporter.

Trump: Set up the meeting.

Ryan: I know some of them, but...

Trump: Let’s go set up the meeting. I would love to meet with the Black Caucus. I think it's great, the Congressional Black Caucus. I think it's great.

Trump asks black journalist if Congressional Black Caucus are 'friends of yours'
Amid the confusion of Thursday's press conference, President Donald Trump tried to have one black reporter set up a meeting with a group of African American legislators.

On the ‘dishonest media’ portraying a chaotic White House

Trump: Look, I want to see an honest press...But if you were straight, I would be your biggest booster. I would be your biggest fan in the world, including bad stories about me.

But if you go, as an example, you're CNN, I mean it's story after story after story is bad. I won. I won. And the other thing, chaos because zero chaos.

We are running, this is a fine-tuned machine and [chief of staff] Reince [Priebus] happens to be doing a good job, but half of his job is putting out lies by the press.

On his presidency so far

Trump: We have made incredible progress. I don't think there's ever been a president elected who in this short period of time has done what we've done…One promise after another, after years of politicians lying to you to get elected.

Leaks are real, news is fake

Journalist: I just want to get you to clarify this very important point. Can you say definitively that nobody on your campaign had any contacts with the Russians during the campaign? And on the leaks, is it fake news or are these real leaks?

Trump: Well, the leaks are real. You’re the one that wrote about them and reported them. I mean, the leaks are real. You know what they said, you saw it, and the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.

On Russia

Trump: If Russia and the United States actually got together and got along, and don't forget, we're a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. There's no up-side. We're a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. I have been briefed. And I can tell you one thing about a briefing that we're allowed to say because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it, a nuclear holocaust would be like no other.

On Michael Flynn

Trump: I fired him because of what he said to Mike Pence. Very simple. Mike was doing his job. He was calling countries and his counterparts. So, it certainly would have been okay with me if he did it. I would have directed him to do it if I thought he wasn't doing it. I didn't direct him, but I would have directed him because that's his job.

…What was wrong was the way that other people, including yourselves in this room, were given that information, because that was classified information that was given illegally. That's the real problem.

‘I inherited a mess’

Trump: As you know, our administration inherited many problems across government and across the economy. To be honest, I inherited a mess. It's a mess. At home and abroad. A mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country; you see what's going on with all of the companies leaving our country, going to Mexico and other places, low pay, low wages, mass instability overseas, no matter where you look. The Middle East is a disaster. North Korea, we'll take care of it, folks, we're going to take care of it all. I just want to let you know, I inherited a mess.

On the press conference

Trump: Tomorrow, they will say: 'Donald Trump rants and raves at the press'.

I'm not ranting and raving. I'm just telling you. You know, you're dishonest people. But I'm not ranting and raving. I love this. I'm having a good time doing it.

- With Reuters, AP

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