President Trump held a press conference Wednesday to address Tuesday night’s midterm election results. Though Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, the president was quick to declare victory. “Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!” he tweeted late Tuesday, following it up Wednesday morning with a mix of self-adulation and mob-like threats directed toward Democrats, who for the first time since he took office will have the numbers to check his power. Though Trump seemed fired up at the prospect of appearing before reporters to defend his party’s performance, he appeared drowsy and disinterested as he assessed the previous night’s outcome.
When Trump opened the floor for questions, he grew defensive. A particularly tense exchange played out when CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Trump about his decision to characterize the caravan of Central American migrants making their way to the United States as an invasion. “You should let me run the country,” Trump ultimately said. “You run CNN.” When Acosta pressed Trump for an additional question, all hell broke loose.
“CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them,” Trump said after Acosta finally sat down. “You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN. You’re a very rude person. The way you treat [Press Secretary] Sarah Huckabee [Sanders] is horrible. The way you treat other people is horrible.”
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 7, 2018
Trump then called on NBC’s Peter Alexander. When Alexander attempted to defend Acosta, Trump wasn’t having it. “I’m not a big fan of yours, either, to be honest,” he said. This prompted Acosta to stand back up and continue to grill the president. “You report fake news, which CNN does a lot,” Trump said to Acosta. “You are the enemy of the people.”
The combative tone with reporters continued throughout the press conference. When PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor asked Trump about white nationalism in the Republican Party, the president aggressively accused her of asking a racist question.
.@Yamiche asks Pres. Trump about referring to himself as a "nationalist" on the campaign trail, and how some perceived the label as one that emboldened white nationalists; "that's such a racist question," Pres. Trump says. https://t.co/ov63X55UM0 pic.twitter.com/LvPvd198dZ
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) November 7, 2018
“I come in here as a nice person and I have people jumping out of their seats screaming questions at me,” Trump said later.
Outside of attacks against the “hostile” media, Trump spouted his usually litany of lies and deflections, while continuing to threaten the Democrats should they use their new majority in the House of Representatives to investigate the president. “If that happens, we’re going to do the same thing, and government comes to a halt, and I would blame them,” he said, implying that he will co-opt the Senate to investigate Democrats for “leaking” and other unspecified offenses.
One of the ways Democrats may use their subpoena power against the president is to force him to release his tax returns. Trump doesn’t see the point. “Well, look, as I have told you, they’re under audit,” he said. “They have been for a long time. Complex. People wouldn’t understand them. People don’t understand tax returns.”
Trump says "nobody would" turn over their tax returns when they're "under audit." (The law says Democrats are now able to obtain them no matter their alleged status.)
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) November 7, 2018
What Trump did make clear on Wednesday was that now that Democrats are in control of the House of Representatives, he is ready and willing to blame them for whatever havoc he or Republicans wreak on the government. “Being the majority, I’m just going to blame them,” he said. “They are in the majority, I’m just going to blame them.”
For now, though, the president would like everyone to quit being so hostile and enjoy the results of the midterms. “The election is over,” he said. “Now everybody is in love.”