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Trump spars with press in post-election press conference

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump offered outward optimism Wednesday at his party’s electoral successes, a cheeriness that was later belied by surly, combative exchanges with reporters over the dark tone he adopted in the midterms’ closing days.

In a post-election news conference, a weary-seeming President ticked through his party’s wins, characterizing an expanded majority in the Senate as a history-defying feat of political prowess. He shrugged off new threats from Democrats, who will assume control of the House and with new investigative power.

But when the questions started coming, the President’s sunny outlook melted away. He lashed out at questions about his fear-mongering and race-baiting rhetoric against immigrants, and demanded a reporter inquiring about voter suppression take her seat.

Republicans, Trump said, “dramatically outperformed historical precedents,” despite what he called a “very dramatic fundraising disadvantage” and “very hostile media coverage, to put it mildly.”

He then rattled off a list of historical midterm statistics and specific races.

Republicans held onto seats in the Senate but saw their House majority slip away, setting up the likelihood the White House will be dogged by investigations as Trump prepares to fight for his own re-election.

Even as he warned against the incoming Democratic House leadership from being too aggressive in their investigations of his administration, he said he was optimistic about the opportunity for bipartisanship

“I’d like to see bipartisanship, I’d like to see unity,” Trump said.

Trump had already cast the results as a victory, tweeting earlier Wednesday that candidates who followed his lead during a dark and divisive campaign “did very well.”

And he warned that rampant investigations launched by Democrats would be met by his own probes into unspecified leaks of classified information.

“Two can play that game!” he wrote.

Trump’s three most recent predecessors all lost House majorities in the course of their tenures. In post-election news conferences, all three took some form of responsibility.

President George W. Bush called a 2006 rout a “thumping.” President Barack Obama deemed 2010 losses a “shellacking.”

Trump and his aides have projected a different attitude, shrugging off the possibility the next two years could be pocked by subpoenas or oversight hearings.

“The President is not nervous about anything,” counselor Kellyanne Conway said on CNN. “I was with him all night last night. And this morning he is going to address the nation. What he’s excited about is that his political engagement in these key races made history again.”