Trump attacks ‘out of control’ media in rambling address
US president confirms new immigration measures and labour secretary nominee
US president Donald Trump confirmed his intention to unveil new measures on immigration next week, as he lashed out at the “out of control” media in an impromptu press conference at the White House.
In a rambling address that lasted more than one hour and fifteen minutes, Mr Trump jumped from topic to topic, criticising a number of media channels for their low audience ratings and highlighting his victory in the election.
Noting that 80 per cent of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal’s decisions are overturned, Mr Trump criticised last week’s decision by an appeals court to uphold a temporary ban on his executive order restricting travel into the US from seven Muslim-majority nations and suspending the US’s refugee resettlement programme.
He pledged to announce a new order which would be “very much tailored to what I consider to be a very bad decision”.
The press conference, which was scheduled an hour in advance, was ostensibly organised to announce Mr Trump’s new nominee for US labour secretary, R Alexander Acosta, following Andrew Puzder’s withdrawal from the nomination process on Wednesday.
However, Mr Trump, who appeared on his own without press advisers or officials, used the opportunity to lambast the media several times, singling out the “failing New York Times” in particular for criticism.
He said that he had “inherited a mess” at the White House and accused the media of carrying biased stories about his presidency, arguing that “no one believes the media anymore.
“I turn on the TV, open the newspapers and I see stories of chaos - chaos,” he said.
“Yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine, despite the fact that I can’t get my cabinet approved.”
“The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about it we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people,” he said, adding: “The press are out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.”
Mr Trump, who took questions from numerous reporters, denied claims that he has close ties to Russia, saying: “I have nothing to do with Russia.”
Asked if members of his administration had frequent contact with Russian intelligence officials, as claimed in media reports earlier this week, Mr Trump replied: “Nobody that I know of.”
He also repeated his belief that former national security adviser Michael Flynn, whom he fired on Monday night, was a “fine man”, clarifying that he had dismissed Mr Flynn because he had misrepresented his conversation with the Russian ambassador to vice-president Mike Pence.
The press conference came as restaurants and other businesses across the US shut their doors and thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in its cities in a walkout aimed at protesting Mr Trump’s immigration policies.
Activists called on immigrants to stay home from work, avoid shopping and skip classes in “A Day Without Immigrants”, in an effort to highlight the vital role they play in American society.
Earlier, Mr Trump’s nominee to become the next US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, was heckled in the Senate during his confirmation hearing.
Mr Freidman, the son of an Orthodox Rabbi who is in favour of Israeli settlements, apologised for his previous incendiary comments, including his criticism of liberal American Jews. Five former US ambassadors to Israel have written to the Senate urging senators to reject Mr Trump’s nominee, saying that he holds “extreme, radical positions” on issues such as Jewish settlements and the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Nonetheless, Mr Friedman is expected to be passed in the Senate, where Republicans have a majority.
As controversy continued over the Trump administration’s links with Russia, US defence secretary James Mattis appeared to play down any suggestion of closer military ties between Washington and Moscow following a meeting at Nato headquarters in Brussels.
“We are not in a position right now to collaborate on a military level. But our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground,” he said.
He also said he accepted that Russia had interfered in democratic elections.
Asked about Russian interference in the US presidential elections, Mr Mattis said: “Right now, I would just say there’s very little doubt that they have either interfered or they have attempted to interfere in a number of elections in the democracies.”
Additional reporting: Reuters