After months of using Twitter as his bullhorn, and repeated delays of press conferences and promised announcements, Donald Trump gave his first media briefing since July on Wednesday morning. The press event came one day after Buzzfeed News published an explosive—and unverified—intelligence report filled with salacious and compromising financial and sexual information reportedly held by Russia against the president-elect. Considering that Trump has steadfastly refused to conform to presidential conventions of meeting with the press regularly (or releasing his tax returns) for a staggering six months, the event left little time for media to ask questions about anything but the most pressing issues. It seems safe to assume that’s precisely how Team Trump wanted it.
The conference opened with a lie. Stepping to the podium first, Trump mouthpiece Sean Spicer contested Buzzfeed's contention that, among others, former adviser Carter Page had served as a liaison between the team and Russia. “Carter Page is an individual who the president-elect does not know and was put on notice months ago by the campaign,” Spicer stated. Yet just a few months ago, Trump was directly quoted by the Washington Post's editorial board as referencing one “Carter Page, PhD” as a member of his foreign policy team. So they were off to a shaky start. Before he left the stage, Spicer referred to the coverage as a “political witch hunt.” And if that sounds familiar, it's because Trump used the phrase just yesterday, meaning everyone got the memo.
There were brief remarks by Mike Pence, who called himself a “supporter of a free and independent press,” which must be a point where Trump—who wants to be able to sue news outlets to ensure it’s anything but—and he differ. Pence mostly made adulatory remarks about Trump, who was up next. Trying to play down the absurd amount of time it’s been since he held a formal press conference while making it the media’s fault, Trump opened by stating, "It's very familiar territory, news conferences, because we used to give them on an almost daily basis. I think we probably maybe won the nomination because of news conferences.” Read full post here