President Donald Trump’s first press conference addressing the midterm election wasn’t quite the victory lap that he’d perhaps hoped for.
Not only did he have to comment on losing the House to Democrats, he also found himself fielding questions from reporters about racism, hate crimes and white nationalism.
In one exchange, Yamiche Alcindor, a black PBS reporter, asked Trump about his recent self-avowal as a “nationalist,” and whether he was concerned that using that language could further embolden white nationalists. Before she could finish, Trump cut her off.
“That’s such a racist question,” Trump interjected. “What you just said is so insulting to me.”
He was also asked about his administration’s decision not to move forward with an Obama-era grant aimed at researching far-right terrorism and hate groups.
Trump seemed confused by the question. “I gave funding,” he said.
The reporter continued, and asked him more directly whether he thinks white supremacists are a problem. “I believe all hate is a problem,” said Trump. “It’s a problem we want to solve. It’s a problem I don’t like even a little bit.”
A reporter from Yahoo News asked Trump about his former lawyer Michael Cohen’s assertion that he called black voters “stupid.”
“That’s false,” Trump said.
“Omarosa has accused you of using the N-word,” the reporter continued.
“That’s false,” Trump replied.
“The rapper Lil Jon has said you called him ‘Uncle Tom’,” he said.
“I don’t know who Little Jon is,” Trump said. “I really don’t.”
“He was on 'The Apprentice,'” the reporter said.
“I’ve never used racist remarks. And even if I did, all you people, you would have known about it. I’ve been hearing there are ‘tapes’ for years and years,” said Trump. “I’m not worried about it because I’ve never used racist remarks.”
He was also asked about hate crimes, in light of the recent mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and what he thought was driving them.
“It’s very sad to see. I hate to see it,” Trump said, before pointing out that he has a good relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and that he has done things like move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem (a controversial move that was criticized by U.S. allies across the world).
Jon Snow, a reporter from the UK’s Channel 4, asked Trump, generally, if he thought there was a way to bring down the political temperature that ratcheted up ahead of the midterms.
“It’s been a very challenging campaign,” Snow asked. “It has involved quite a lot of abuse and quite a lot of violence. People have died in the course of this campaign. Is there any way you think the temperature could be lowered, perhaps peace could break out with the media?”
“I would love to see unity and peace and love, and any other word you want to use,” Trump replied. “I would love unity, including with the media, and I’ll be honest, I think the media is a very divisive thing for our country.”
Cover: President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)