This was no press conference. Not by any conventional standard.
It was a rambling, bizarre show starring President-elect Donald Trump and his ever unchained ego. It featured guest appearances by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, piles of manila folders, and a lawyer who explained it was impossible for Trump to set up a blind trust “because he can’t un-know he owns Trump Tower.” It ended with words familiar to Trump’s reality TV fans – “You’re fired.” That’s what the president-elect said he will tell his two sons if they do a bad job managing the business empire he said he is handing over to them to address conflict of interest issues as he enters the White House.
Trump’s America will love the wackiness of the first formal session their hero has held with the press since last July. The rest of the country will despondently note there’s still no serious pivot to substance from their next commander-in-chief.
There’s just more of the usual stream-of-consciousness thought – although “thought” is too generous a description of the puerile utterances that flow regularly from his mouth. Trump will be “the greatest jobs producer that God has ever created.” His inauguration will be “a beautiful thing . . . a very, very elegant day” showcasing “tremendous talent.”
Close as he is to Inaugural Day, Trump’s still in campaign attack mode, calling out the Democratic National Committee for its vulnerability to hacking by the Russians.
About that hacking. Trump now admits it happened. But he’s more outraged about unsubstantiated reports involving himself, prostitutes, and a Moscow hotel room that were presented by US intelligence agencies to President Obama and the president-elect. “I think it’s a disgrace that that information would be let out . . . it’s all fake news. It’s phony stuff. It didn’t happen,” griped Trump. His opponents “put that crap together,” he complained. And, why should Americans believe it’s fake? Because Russian President Vladimir Putin says so.
As for his potential vulnerability to being coopted by foreign governments, given the salacious allegations, Trump said because he is a high-profile person he’s always extremely careful about what he does in foreign hotel rooms. He said he tells others who travel with him to beware of “cameras that are so small you can’t see them. You better be careful, or you’ll watching yourself on television.” However, as that “Access Hollywood” tape showed back during the campaign, Trump was less than cautious with cameras he could actually see.
It took more than an hour into his news conference show for Trump to address the hacking issue with any of the gravity it deserves. And he didn’t offer much, beyond a pledge that within 90 days of taking office, his administration will present “a major report on hacking defense.”
For those Americans worried about their future health care coverage, given Trump’s vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act, rest assured: “You’re gonna be very, very proud of what we put forth.” Repeating the campaign lines that Obamacare is a “complete and total disaster,” Trump said he will put forth a plan that will repeal and replace it, “most likely the same day” or even maybe “the same hour.” But it’s very complicated stuff. Now, he could just sit back and let Obamacare collapse, but generous soul that he is, Trump plans to rescue the Democrats who “own” it, and come up with something. Just don’t ask him what.
Don’t ask for his tax returns, either. According to Trump, only the press cares them about them.
By the way, our next president just turned down a $2 billion deal with a “great guy” from Dubai. Not that he had to. According to Trump’s personal reading of law and ethics, “I can actually run my business . . . and run the country at the same time.”
Case closed, show over. That’s entertainment.
Joan Vennochi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Joan_Vennochi.