Trump kicked off a solo press conference Wednesday evening by saying that even George Washington may have had some embarrassing indiscretions in his past.
“Who knows?” he asked.
It pretty much unraveled from there.
Veering manically from one tangent to another, Trump suggested that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had been on the verge of launching a war against North Korea that would’ve killed “millions of people,” casually announced that he doesn’t plan to fire the official in charge of the spiraling Russia investigation anytime soon, and drew on his own experience of sexual assault allegations when defending Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Facing a widening political crisis over the mounting accusations against Kavanaugh, who polls suggest is hemorrhaging public support, Trump appeared at times to revel in the free-flowing conference, fielding one question after another with little rhyme or reason.
“Big, fat con job”
Trump came to the defense of his embattled Supreme Court nominee, describing the mounting charges against Kavanaugh as an “evil” conspiracy, and a “con job.”
And he should know, he insisted, because he’s had “fake accusations” of sexual misconduct leveled against him, too.
“It’s happened to me, many times, where false statements are made,” Trump said. “And honestly, nobody knows who to believe.”
More than 16 women have accused Trump of sexual assault, harassment or inappropriate behavior. Trump has repeatedly denied the accusations.
Trump said famous men around the country are at risk of being considered “guilty until proven innocent” when it comes to accusations of sexual assault. And some women he’s spoken to, whom he didn’t name, are angry about it.
Despite the robust defense, Trump also said he might drop Kavanaugh if he finds the accusers’ statements believable.
“I could be persuaded also,” Trump said. “It’s possible that they will be convincing.”
“I may call Rod tonight or tomorrow.”
On the question of firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a move that has captivated political circles in Washington this week and sparked talk of a potential constitutional crisis, Trump pulled back from the brink.
“My preference would be to keep him,” Trump said. “I may call Rod tonight or tomorrow, and ask for a little bit of a delay in the meeting, because I don’t want to do anything that gets in the way of this very important Supreme Court pick.”
Trump said Rosenstein denied press reports that he’d discussed invoking the 25th Amendment — or wearing a wire to record Trump.
Kim Jong-un’s letter was “a beautiful piece of art”
Trump praised his own administration for reducing tensions with North Korea.
And we’re all lucky he did — because his predecessor, Barack Obama, had told him he was on the brink of launching World War III against the Hermit Kingdom, Trump claimed.
“We were a country going to war,” Trump said. “He [Obama] said to me that he was very close to going into war…. Not thousands, millions of people would have been killed. That could have been a world war, very easily.”
But through his diplomacy with Kim, including their summit in Singapore last summer, Trump had patched things up with North Korea, he said.
“We now have a good relationship,” Trump said.
Donald Trump: “very, very large brain”
In light of escalating tensions with China, Trump boasted that China has enormous respect for him and his “very, very large brain.”
Earlier in the day, Trump accused China of interfering in the U.S. elections because they’re angry over his trade tariffs.
Trump fielded a couple of questions from Kurdish journalists who asked for a clear articulation of U.S. policy in Iraq.
Trump demurred, opting for vague promises of continued support and friendship to Kurdish allies. At one point he called Kurdish journalist Rahim Rashidi of Kurdistan TV, simply, “Mr. Kurd.”
Trump said he rejected a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau because he doesn’t like Canada’s trade representatives nor their current offers.
He also threatened to tax cars coming in to America from Canada. But he stopped short of saying whether his tough talk toward Canada would spell the demise of NAFTA.
Trump raised the idea of spurning Canada and pressing forward with Mexico, and pursuing a revamped version of NAFTA that could be named “USM.”
“People had a good time with me”
Trump denied that dignitaries and foreign leaders had laughed at him during his United Nations General Assembly speech the day before, despite video — and even an official White House transcript of the event — showing they did.
“People had a good time with me,” Trump said, rejecting the idea that his own boasting about his achievements had been mocked. “The United States is respected again.”
That’s not exactly how diplomats viewed Tuesday’s events.
Always close with a hit
In wrapping up his press conference, Trump cited Elton John, who he claimed had once said something about ending a performance on a high note.
Everyone hates it when the encore disappoints, Trump said.
“Then they go back for an encore, right? And they don’t hit it. And everyone leaves,” Trump said. “And they say, ‘That wasn’t a very good concert.’”
Cover image: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a news conference on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria