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Trump defends his performance.
WASHINGTON – President Trump on Thursday dismissed reports about his associates’ contacts with Russia last year and vigorously defended his performance in his first four weeks in office, in a contentious news conference that showcased his unconventional and unconstrained presidency.
At a hastily organized White House event – ostensibly to announce a new nominee for labor secretary, R. Alexander Acosta – Mr. Trump engaged in an extended attack on the news media and insisted that his new administration was not a chaotic operation but a “fine-tuned machine.” Any challenges, he said, were not his fault. “To be honest, I inherited a mess,” he said.
In addition to his cabinet announcement, the president revealed that he had asked the Justice Department to investigate government leaks and said he would sign an executive order next week restricting travel to the United States. He promised to produce by March a plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, followed by another plan to overhaul the tax system.
But his 77-minute news conference was dominated by an extraordinarily raw and angry defense of both his administration and his character. At times abrupt, often rambling, characteristically boastful yet seemingly pained at the portrayals of him, Mr. Trump kept summoning the spirit of his successful campaign after a month of grinding governance to remind his audience, again, that he won.
For a president who has already lost a court battle, fired an acting attorney general and a national security adviser, and lost a cabinet nomination fight, Mr. Trump was eager to demonstrate that he was still in command. He attacked judges for blocking his original travel order and Democrats for obstructing his nominations.
He denied being anti-Semitic even when no one accused him of it. With the latest Pew Research Center poll showing that just 39 percent of Americans approve of the job he is doing, Mr. Trump at one point plaintively pleaded for understanding.
“The tone is such hatred,” he said, referring to the commentary about him on cable television. “I’m really not a bad person.” (THE NEW YORK TIMES)