- Trump, in declaring a national emergency, spoke at the White House on Friday without reading from a teleprompter and apparently without following a full script.
- And he took questions from reporters — including one whom he has labeled "fake news."
- "Ann Coulter — I don't know her," Trump said of the conservative commentator who has shifted from one of the president's biggest supporters to one of his loudest critics.
President Donald Trump held nothing back in a wide-ranging, impromptu and at times aggressive press conference at the White House on Friday.
At the event in the Rose Garden, the president was expected to give a speech that touched on his recent decision to declare a national emergency in order to redirect funds toward the construction of a border wall. It was revealed by the White House during that speech that Trump has already signed the declaration.
But Trump, who spoke without reading from a teleprompter and apparently without following a full script, also shared his thoughts about ongoing trade negotiations with China, the record-high national debt and even his favorite right-wing media personalities.
And in an unannounced move, the president took a handful of questions from reporters — including one whom he has labeled "fake news."
These are the most combative moments from the presser.
Trump has claimed that a border wall will stop much of the drugs flowing into the U.S. from other countries. At the news conference, he pushed back on reports — which cite U.S. Customs and Border Protection data — saying that the vast majority of illegal drugs come into the U.S. not from unsecured border areas, but from legal ports of entry.
"When you listen to politicians, in particular certain Democrats, they say, 'It all comes through the port of entry,'" Trump said.
"It's wrong, it's wrong. It's just a lie. It's all a lie."
Politicians and legal groups have already threatened to challenge Trump's national emergency declaration in the courts.
Trump appeared to recognize that his move was all but certain to be hit with lawsuits, and predicted that he would ultimately prevail while griping about the prospect of a coming legal fight.
"We will have a national emergency, and we will then be sued," Trump said, donning a disgruntled affect as he outlined what he believes will play out.
"And they will sue us in the 9th Circuit, even though it shouldn't be there, and we will possibly get a bad ruling, and then we'll get another bad ruling, and then we'll end up in the Supreme Court, and hopefully we'll get a fair shake, and we'll win in the Supreme Court, just like the [travel] ban," he said.
The legality of this national emergency will be "probably the easiest one to win," Trump claimed, "because we're declaring it for virtual invasion purposes."
An NBC News reporter asked Trump whether he would admit that the current deal crafted by bipartisan lawmakers provided less wall money than what he could have gotten prior to the 35-day government shutdown, which was sustained over disagreements about border funding.
Trump said that negotiators in Congress, who crafted a deal giving him much less money for the wall than he had demanded, "skimped" on funding new barrier.
The president added: "I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this. But I'd rather do it much faster."
He continued: "The only reason we're up here talking about this is because of the election, because they want to try and win an election which it looks like they're not going to be able to do. And this is one of the ways they think they can possibly win, is by obstruction and other nonsense."
CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta asked Trump about data from government agencies showing border crossing at historic lows, and of reports claiming illegal immigrants having lower crime rates than native-born Americans.
Trump balked: "You don't really believe that stat. You really believe that stat?"
Asked to respond to critics' claims that Trump is "concocting" a national emergency, Trump turned to women in the audience whose children had allegedly been killed by illegal immigrants, dubbed by some as "angel moms."
"You think I'm creating something? Ask these incredible women, who lost their daughters and their sons, OK? Because your question is a very political question, because you have an agenda. You're CNN, you're fake news. You have an agenda," Trump said.
The White House had previously revoked Acosta's press pass following a heated confrontation with the president. The press pass was restored after CNN sued Trump and other administration officials.
Asked about the influence of right-wing media personalities on his views, Trump praised some of his favorite talk-show hosts, but insisted "they don't decide policy."
"Sean Hannity has been a terrific, terrific supporter of what I do," Trump said. "Rush Limbaugh, I think he's a great guy."
But he claimed not to know Ann Coulter, an immigration hard-liner who has been one of Trump's biggest supporters, but has offered scathing criticism of the president amid the border wall fight.
"Ann Coulter — I don't know her," Trump said of the author of "In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!"
"I hardly know her, I haven't spoken to her in way over a year, but the press loves saying 'Ann Coulter,'" he said. "Probably if I did speak to her, she'd be very nice."
Trump added: "But she's off the reservation."