President Trump faced a very antagonistic media on the day after the midterm elections, offering a soft tone about his desire to work across the aisle with Nancy Pelosi and Democrats in the House. He said he understands that Pelosi loves the country and he hopes compromise can be possible.
The president began the wide-ranging press conference with a focus on the election results, but it soon devolved into brazen and shocking media attacks that appeared designed to frustrate and enrage the president.
CNN‘s Jim Acosta stood defiantly on the front row, badgering the president over and over about the caravan and the Russia election, refusing to release the microphone, standing right in front of the president in a shocking confrontation.
The president told him his time was done, telling him to sit down and to stop being a “rude, terrible person.” Eventually, Trump had to walk away from the microphone because Acosta wouldn’t stop creating a spectacle.
Near the end of the hour-long event, the president circled back to the issue saying he hopes the tone in America can get better if the media will tone down their attacks.
Then more members of the media hurled loud questions at him about whether it’s his job to change the tone. He said it’s because of rude and unfair media attacks that he’s taken such a confrontational approach. “I’m fighting back not.
At another point, a reporter repeatedly questioned Trump about whether or not he’s a racist and whether he has ever made racist comments. Trump said he’s not. Another reporter also asked if Trump was a racist because of support from white nationalists. He turned the question against the reporter, saying it was a racist question, that he loves America and that he has delivered many jobs for African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans.
While much of the media criticized him for sparring with journalists, Trump says he has to be aggressive because he’s not treated fairly by the media.
“My issue with the media’s treatment of Trump is less that they are critical of him, and more that they aren’t equal opportunity critics,” The Washington Examiner’s Tiana Lowe told CBN News. “They took an eight-year break during the Obama Administration and as we saw with every glowing profile of Beto O’Rourke, of Andrew Gillum, they are only hard on one party and its all determined by what letter you have after your name. So, should Trump be as critical of the media asking legitimate questions about his presidency? I don’t think so. Clearly, it resonates with his base. However, he’s not wrong when he says that there is clearly a bias not only in coverage but also in tone and tenure. ”
One of the few productive and peaceful moments of the event came when a Jewish reporter asked the president about God’s place in his administration.
“God plays a very big role in my life,” Trump said. He pointed out that God’s place is apparent in the lives of many members of his administration, including the vice president.
When asked about congressional action for the rest of the year, the president said he could not imagine taking up the issue of immigration and recognized the new Democratic House and the Republican Senate may go in different directions when it comes to legislation.
“Areas for legislative agreement will be more limited,” he said.
“The one issue that Leader Pelosi and I discussed this morning where there could be a possible bipartisan agreement would be something on infrastructure, but there could be a lot of other things.”
The president also said he would consider raising other tax rates to pay for a middle-class tax cut. He had proposed another 10 percent tax cut while campaigning for the midterms.
But he said if Democrats offer an idea for tax cuts he would work with them, even if it would require “some adjustment” to other rates.
“I would certainly be willing to do a little bit,” Trump told the room full of reporters.
The president said Democrats would need to propose a plan, and that he would need bipartisan support on the legislation in the Senate.
Lowe told CBN News the next Speaker of the House needs to tone down the angry rhetoric in her base to efficiently partner with Republicans to pass legislation.
“I think that if Nancy Pelosi wants to remain, Speaker of the House, she knows that appealing to the most emotional and angriest portion of her base is not going to get much done for her or her agenda, ” she said. “Perhaps she will realize this is an opportunity.”
In one of the lighter moments of the news conference, a reporter asked the president if he would choose Vice President Mike Pence to be his running mate in the 2020 election.
“Well, I haven’t asked him, but I hope so,” Trump responded. “Where are you? Mike, Will you be my running mate?” Some of the media in the room responded with laughter.
Then the president told Pence to stand up and raise his right hand. Pence stood in front of his chair located at the side of the room.
“No, I’m only kidding,” Trump said. “Will you?”
Pence nodded his acceptance and Trump said: “Thank you. The answer is yes.”
White House Suspends CNN Correspondent’s Press Pass
Later on Wednesday, the White House announced it had suspended Acosta’s press pass after he and President Trump got into a heated exchange during the news conference earlier that afternoon.
According to The Associated Press, journalists assigned to cover the White House apply for passes that allow them daily access to press areas in the West Wing. White House staff decide whether journalists are eligible, though the Secret Service determines whether their applications are approved.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement accusing Acosta of “placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern,” calling it “absolutely unacceptable.”
Responding to the White House through their Twitter account, CNN said: “A free press is vital to democracy, and we stand behind Jim Acosta and his fellow journalists everywhere.”
In announcing Acosta’s suspension, Sanders said, “The fact that CNN is proud of the way their employee behaved is not only disgusting, it is an example of their outrageous disregard for everyone, including young women, who work in this administration.”