In a sweltering hotel ballroom, President Trump holds a freewheeling news conference
President Trump dismissed as “fake news” reports that he was laughed at during his speech to the U.N. General Assembly, said he wanted Rod Rosenstein to remain in his Justice Department job, said he rejected a one-on-one meeting with the Canadian prime minister, and accused China of interfering in the 2018 midterm election in a freewheeling news conference in New York on Wednesday.
Wading into the conversations about the #MeToo movement, an agitated Trump acknowledged that past accusations of sexual misconduct against him have influenced the way he views similar charges against other men, including his Supreme Court nominee.
Trump said he viewed such accusations “differently” because he’s “had a lot of false charges made against me.” He made the comments a day before Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser are set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee amid multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.
While Trump pledged to listen to the testimony of Kavanaugh’s accuser and even said he was open to changing his mind about his nominee, he made clear that he was deeply skeptical of these types of accusations.
“It’s happened to me many times,” Trump said, claiming he’d been falsely accused by “four or five women.”
In fact, more than a dozen women came forward during the 2016 campaign, claiming they were assaulted, groped or kissed without consent by Trump. Trump was also caught on tape in 2005 boasting of grabbing women by their genitals and kissing them without permission.
During the news conference, Trump continued to lash out at Democrats and label the allegations against Kavanaugh politically motivated. He also expressed frustrations with the delays in the process guided by Republicans and took a shot at attorney Michael Avenatti, who is representing the latest accuser.
Trump said reports that he was laughed at during the opening moments of his speech before the General Assembly are “fake news.” The laughter was clearly audible.
Trump said the heads of states and delegates in the audience “weren’t laughing at me. They were laughing with me.”
Trump opened Tuesday’s speech by boasting about an American economy that he says is “booming like never before.” He also claimed his administration had accomplished more in the less than two years he’s held office than any other administration at the same point.
The boast elicited laughter.
Trump insisted that “they did not laugh at me. People had a good time with me.”
Two days after Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein appeared to be on the verge of getting fired, Trump said he would like to keep him as the Justice Department’s second-in-command.
“My preference would be to keep him and let him finish up,” Trump said.
The president also told the hundreds of reporters gathered at the New York Lotte Hotel that he had evidence that China was attempting to meddle in the U.S. midterm election.
A reporter asked Trump what evidence he had to back up the accusation, which China has denied.
He said he couldn’t disclose what evidence he had, but that it would come out. He said his allegation did not come “out of nowhere.”
The Trump administration said China is stepping up covert and overt activities to stifle free speech, punish those who support the president’s tough trade stance against China and interfere in the U.S. political system.
The administration said China is hurting farmers and workers in pro-Trump states and districts.
According to Trump, China has “actually admitted that they’re going after farmers.”
Trump said he rejected a one-on-one meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the tariff dispute involving the two countries. He’s also threatening to place tariffs on cars imported from Canada as trade talks between the two neighbors drag on.
Trump said Canada has treated the U.S. “very badly” during the trade talks.
Canada was left out when the United States and Mexico reached an agreement last month to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement. The U.S. and Canada are under pressure to reach a deal by Sept. 30.
Trump suggested he may go forward with a revamped NAFTA without Canada, saying the agreement would be called “USM,” for the U.S. and Mexico, instead of “USMC.”
Trump later claimed credit for saving the rebel-held Syrian stronghold of Idlib from a Russian-backed offensive that could have resulted in thousands of deaths and a humanitarian crisis.
Trump said in Wednesday’s news conference that he instructed his national security team to warn Russia about the operation after he heard about it from a supporter at a rally and read a news story.
He also recalled that he used his Twitter account to warn of consequences in the event that chemical weapons were used there by Syrian forces who were poised to enter the province with Iranian proxy fighters and Russian air support.
The offensive was postponed indefinitely this month after the leaders of Russia and Turkey reached a deal declaring a demilitarized zone around Idlib, which is home to 3 million residents and around 60,000 fighters, including some of the world’s most radical.
Some estimates put the number of radical fighters at about 10,000. The deal aims to end their presence in Idlib.
The news conference prompted real time reaction on Twitter.
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