Trump launches all-out attack on the press
NEW YORK, N.Y. — Donald Trump on Tuesday went on a sustained frontal assault against the media Tuesday during a contentious news conference.
The billionaire had called the press conference to announce an accounting of his at least $5.6 million in fundraising for veterans groups, but spent most of the 40 minutes criticizing and insulting reporters — collectively and at times individually — as “dishonest,” “not good people,” sleazy, and among the worst human beings he has ever met.
And he vowed the White House briefing room would be just as combative as the Trump Tower lobby, where he addressed reporters Tuesday, should he ascend to the Oval Office.
“Yeah, it is going to be like this,” Trump said when asked if this is how he would behave with the press as president. “You think I’m gonna change? I’m not gonna change.”
At one point, Trump fumed: “I’m the only one in the world who can raise almost $6 million for the veterans, have uniform applause by the veterans groups and end up being criticized by press…I think the political press is among the most dishonest people that I have ever met, I have to tell you. I see the stories and I see the way they’re couched.”
He added, “I find the press to be extremely dishonest. I find the political press to be unbelievably dishonest.”
After the press conference, Jesse Ferguson, a Clinton spokesman, tweeted: “EVERYONE STOP. Close your eyes for a moment. Think about the press conference you just watched. Now try to imagine him as President. Thanks.”
The news conference came four months after Trump claimed to have raised $6 million for veterans groups, but then dodged reporters’ unrelenting questions about which groups had received the donations.
Trump kicked off his litany of attacks by accusing reporters of turning what should have been a positive story about his charity into a negative one.
Reporters had repeatedly asked Trump to provide an accounting of the donations, requests that were frequently rebuffed or side-stepped by Trump and his campaign staff.
Trump said he didn’t “want the credit” for his fundraising, “but I shouldn’t be lambasted” — that despite Trump repeatedly touting the donations himself on the campaign trail since the January fundraiser, which was televised in what some at the time dubbed a PR stunt.
But the subject of the news conference quickly turned away from the veterans donations as Trump accused reporters of writing stories they “know” are false, and of spinning the truth.
He also lashed out at individual reporters, calling ABC’s Tom Llamas a “sleaze,” referring sarcastically to CNN’s Jim Acosta’s live reports as a “beauty,” and refusing at one point to call on CBS’s Major Garrett.
Trump repeatedly blasted the media for the way it has covered his fundraising for vets.
“All of the money has been paid out,” Trump said. “The press should be ashamed of themselves, and on behalf of the veterans, the press should be ashamed of themselves.”
“There are so many people who are so thankful for what we did,” Trump said, adding that the final figure could top $6 million once all the donations are in.
Trump listed the vets groups — there were more than 40 — that he said had received money and the amounts that had been given to each. He said there were no administrative costs deducted from the donations.
Trump revised that figure recently to $5.5 million following months of questions from reporters struggling to track the funds and dodging on the exact amount from the Trump campaign.
Trump himself disbursed his $1 million pledge last week to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, a charity that helps support the families of fallen Marines and law enforcement officers to which Trump’s foundation has previously donated.
Amid reporters’ questions, Trump and his campaign have repeatedly offered conflicting accounts of how much money was raised and declined multiple requests to provide a full accounting. The campaign has insisted it was working on disbursing the funds, but said it was waiting on some donors to make good on their pledges and also needed to properly vet the charities in the running to receive the funds.
Three veterans groups earlier Tuesday confirmed donations from the Trump Foundation. The Bob Woodruff Foundation and the Boston Wounded Vets Run each confirmed donations of $75,000 apiece. The Racing For Heroes Foundation also received what the group’s president described as a “large” donation.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign on Tuesday morning fired off a statement tweaking Trump over his accounting of the donations amid a multi-pronged push to counter Trump’s news conference.