WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The day after his party lost its lock on the Congress, U.S. President Donald Trump walked into a White House press conference with combative words, name-checking Republicans who he blamed for losing their seats and lashing out at reporters who challenged his assertions.
Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives to Democrats, but Trump shrugged that off.
During a raucous news conference that lasted close to 90 minutes, he cast Tuesday’s congressional election results as “very close to complete victory” for Republicans and said he could negotiate easier on some issues with Democrats, anyway.
Some reporters pushed him on whether his campaign rhetoric on migrants from central America was divisive – and on developments in a federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and any coordination between Moscow and the Trump campaign.
Trump aggressively pushed back.
“CNN should be ashamed of itself, having you working for them,” Trump told CNN correspondent Jim Acosta. “You are a rude, terrible person.”
A White House staffer grabbed and pulled the microphone while Acosta held it in his hands.
To PBS NewsHour’s Yamiche Alcindor, who asked him about white nationalists emboldened by Trump labeling himself a “nationalist,” Trump said he was insulted.
“That’s such a racist question,” Trump said.
Trump took the rare step of mocking Republican candidates who kept their distance from him during the campaign because of concerns that his divisive messages on immigration would turn off voters.
“Carlos Curbelo, Mike Coffman – too bad, Mike,” he said, referring to losing Republican congressmen in Florida and Colorado contests.
He scorned Utah’s Mia Love and Virginia’s Barbara Comstock. “Mia Love gave me no love,” he said. “And Barbara Comstock was another one. I mean, I think she could have won that race, but she didn’t want to have any embrace.”
Reporting by Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton; editing by Grant McCool