Donald Trump had not held a press conference since July 27, 2016. So it was with great anticipation and expectation that the not-my-President-Elect took to the podium Wednesday in Manhattan's Trump Tower lobby to finally answer reporters' questions pertaining to his business conflicts, tax returns, the economy, Obamacare, Russian hacks and Kompromat. We can add that last one to Kleptocracy and Emoluments as big new words we now have to know thanks to Trump.
Yes, there was Trump, his top advisors, the media, a mike, chairs and TV crews. But it was nothing like a traditional press conference. In fact, it was perhaps the most bizarre, chaotic, hostile presser in United States history. It was more like an end-of-term slugfest between a frustrated media and an exhausted, combative, unpopular president than the start of a new administration. If this is what a honeymoon looks like, no one should ever get married.
A few highlights:
-It was more like a bad concert with even worse opening acts. Before he spoke, Trump summoned his henchmen to grease the wheels and neuter his anxious audience. Incoming press secretary Sean Spicer issued antagonist denials of UrineGate (the latest alleged salacious Trump scandal) and a verbal thrashing to reporters. Vice president-elect Mike Pence stroked Trump's gargantuan ego by extolling the boss's virtues while citing the media's moral bankruptcy.
-Trump articulated his positions with the grammatical deft of an attention and praise-starved 10-year-old. Everything was characterized as either big, beautiful, tremendous, great or amazing yet totally lacking substance (not a new trait for Trump). He predicted reporters would be "very proud" of what he's going to do with Obamacare. Good boy, Donnie!
-Trump essentially told the media to 'fuck off.' He accused CNN of being a "fake news" network and denied one of it's reporters, Jim Acosta, the ability to ask a question. The two then got into an unprecedented front-row heated exchange, with Trump dismissing him as "rude." It was pure theater, but chilling nonetheless in terms of a free and open press (or lack thereof).
-Trump essentially said, (cue: Alec Baldwin) 'Don't worry, I'm not gonna have anything to do with my various businesses--my genius sons Eric and Don Jr will run them--and we're never gonna talk about them. So we're good now, right?'. And (cue: Penske file) we learned that if ya ever wanna look like you've got an elaborate divestiture plan, just have your attorney speak with a mound of very important-looking documents stacked next to her even though no one will ever get to see what's in them.
-Trump essentially said, 'There's no conflict of interest with my DC hotel. No one's gonna bribe me by staying there. But if they do, I'll just give the profits to taxpayers.' If you're waiting for a plan outlining who will monitor these transactions, figure out 'profitability,' be accountable for the process and how transparent this will all be to the public and Congress, don't hold your breath. You may die.
-Trump essentially said 'you should thank me for turning down a $2-billion deal from Damac Properties.' But more importantly, he wanted to remind us he still has the unconflicted right to do billion-dollar deals. And probably will.
-Trump lied the whole time. Example: he claimed that 96-million people are looking for work. It's actually 5.5-million according to factcheck.org. Or when he claimed he doesn't have any Russian debt, when by most journalistic accounts it's believed he owes upwards of $1-billion, much of it to foreign creditors including those in Russia. But we have no real insight into his debt, or anything else pertaining to his finances, because he won't release his tax returns. And about those returns...
-Trump essentially said 'you're never gonna see 'em because no one cares about them except you asshole reporters. And besides, ya know, there's the, um, audit....'
-Trump ducked, dodged and diverted every time a reporter managed to get a tough question out. It's back to blaming the media, most of whose asses he royally kissed in his opening remarks...but whom will surely, over time, get Acosta'd (what happens to a reporter when Trump decides to publicly denigrate him/her).
-Trump, in refuting UrineGate, provided some moral clarity by sharing how he stresses to his team when traveling that...'it's ok to be sleazebags, just be careful in hotel rooms because there's cameras everywhere.' But most compelling is the 'proof' that Trump didn't have hookers pee all over his Moscow hotel room as alleged because he's a "germaphobe." But if it weren't for those damn germs!
-We learned that, according to Trump, being liked by a brutal, murderous dictator like Russia's President Vladimir Putin is an "asset."
-We learned that God put Trump on Earth to be it's "greatest jobs producer" ever. Apparently God told him to just focus on America and fuck Mexico.
-We learned that after seven years of bashing Obamacare, Trump and Republicans have no idea what to do with it. Repeal and replace now? Repeal and replace later? Repeal and don't replace....and just screw all those angry old white folks who voted for us? Maybe they should text God and see what she thinks?
-We learned that Trump's pressers will just be post-election versions of his campaign rallies, with paid staffers in the back cheering when he berates reporters.
-We learned that for the next four years, in this newly defined 'post-truth' era, the definition of "fake news" will be any news that's negative, regardless if it's true.
-Most important, we learned that there's only one Trump. There's no pivot Trump. No presidential Trump. Just the same old empty-suited bombastic bully oligarch who clearly doesn't give a shit what anyone, especially the media, thinks.