On the second foreign trip of his presidency — and a day before he has a face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Hamburg, Germany — Donald Trump held a press conference this morning in Warsaw, alongside Polish President Andrzej Duda. After addressing reporters on U.S. relations with Poland, Trump was asked a two-pronged question that segued from whether he would launch military action against North Korea, to his thoughts about what has happened since he posted the now infamous CNN-bashing GIF on Sunday. Trump took the second part first.
“I think what CNN did was unfortunate for them,” POTUS said, ostensibly referring to its decision not to identify a Redditor who apologized for creating the GIF in question. “As you know now, they have some pretty serious problems. They have been fake news for a long time. They’ve been covering me in a very dishonest way.”
He leaned aside and asked Duda, “Do you have that also by the way, Mr President?” (For the record, Duda later said he did.)
But Trump’s scorn was equal opportunity today. “CNN and others — I mean NBC is equally as bad despite the fact that I made them a fortune with The Apprentice, but they forgot that… But I will say that CNN has really taken it too seriously and I think they’ve hurt themselves very, very badly.”
He later called on Hallie Jackson, the chief White House Correspondent for NBC, who asked whether he would “once and for all definitively say yes or no that it was Russia” who interfered in the 2016 election. Trump returned to familiar terrain. “Well I think it was Russia and I think it could have been other people in other countries, could have been a lot of people interfered.”
POTUS then used the forum to add, “The thing I have to mention is that Barack Obama when he was president found out about this, in terms of if it were Russia, found out about it in August. Now, the election was in November. That’s a lot of time he did nothing about it. Why did he do nothing about it?… They say he choked. Well, I don’t think he choked, I think he thought Hillary Clinton was going to win the election and he said ‘Let’s not do anything about it.'”
He followed up, “I agree, I think it was Russia but I think it was probably other people and or countries and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows, nobody really knows for sure.”
He then equated the situation to the roots of the Iraq War. “Everybody was 100% sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Guess what, that led to one big mess, they were wrong.”
Jackson tried to ask a follow-up as to why Trump, who demonstrates such anger towards Obama, hasn’t shown that same anger towards Putin. But an aide cut her off and Trump didn’t get the chance to answer (from the room, The New York Times reports Trump looked “surprised” and appeared ready to respond).
But it was time for he and Duda to be ushered off stage and head to another speech, about which Trump had earlier remarked to his counterpart, “I hear we have a very big crowd.”