After three days at the United Nations meetings in New York City, President Donald Trump held a news conference Wednesday night. It was only the fourth solo press conference of his presidency and was, reportedly, his idea. The goal, ostensibly, was to fight back hard against the allegations made by three women against his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
But, like almost everything that Trump touches, the 81-minute extravaganza turned into the Trump Show. And what a show it was.
Below, the most quotable lines from the President.
1. “This is quite a gathering. Wow, that’s a lot of people, a lot of media.”
And away we go! (Also, never forget this: Trump is always aware of how much media coverage he draws because he understands the more media coverage, the more relevant he is.)
2. “They would like to see me lose an election because they’ve never been challenged like this.”
Who’s Trump talking about here? The Democrats? No! China.
3. “It’s had no impact on our — absolutely, by the way, no impact on our economy, which I said it wouldn’t.”
The CEO of Ford said on Wednesday that the steel and aluminum tariffs will cost his company $1 billion. So….
4. “Steel is like the hottest industry there is.”
5. “They were going to choke the economy, as it was already choking, but it would’ve been worse, and they were going to raise your taxes.”
One of several times in this press conference where Trump claims that had he not been elected, things would have been bad. Like, really bad. Later he says that if he hadn’t won the election the US would be at war with North Korea right now.
6. “And they know it’s a big, fat con job.”
No biggie. Just the President of the United States saying that Democrats are purposely lying about Brett Kavanaugh to win a political argument — and to thwart his pick for the court.
7. “They go in to a room, and I guarantee you, they laugh like hell on what they pulled off on you and on the public, they laugh like hell.”
More Trump on Senate Democrats — all aimed at the message he knows works for his base: None of these people are on the level. They are all trying to screw you. And I’m the only one telling you the truth.
8. “These are false accusations in certain cases, and certain cases even the media agrees with that.”
Not true. What can be said is that three women are making accusations that Kavanaugh either assaulted them or behaved inappropriately with them. Kavanaugh denies this in each of the three situations. No responsible member of the media has said these are false accusations — because it’s impossible to know that based on the available facts.
9. “I have a 145 judges I will be picking by the end of a fairly short period of time, because President Obama wasn’t big on picking judges.”
Er, I think the number of judicial openings is more about the blockade Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) led against Obama’s judicial picks than the result of a lack of interest in nominating judges by the 44th president.
10. “And I would love to be in the room with the Democrats, close the door, you guys are all away, outside waiting and Schumer and his buddies are in there laughing. How they fooled you all. ‘Let’s just stop them.’ A big, fat con.”
Again, this is all about Trump playing to his base. They believe they have been purposely duped by elites (of both parties). Those people are laughing at you. They think you’re stupid. But we’ll show them.
11. “They’re going to have to believe what they believe.”
Look, at the end of the day, it is what it is.
12. “I wouldn’t say that socialism has been working really well around the world, OK?”
“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” — Margaret Thatcher
13. “Well first of all, I wasn’t happy with Roy Moore, let’s get that straight.”
“We need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, border wall, military, pro-life, VA, judges, Second Amendment and more.” — Donald Trump, December 4, 2017
14. “Luther Strange had a lot of things going against him as far as women — whether it’s a man or a woman, these are, you know, it can happen the other way.”
Uhhhhhhh. I read this over a bunch. I think Trump means that Moore had a bunch of things “going against him as far as women,” and then quickly transitions to how men can be sexually assaulted by women too. I think.
15. “I could pick, as an example, hopefully I won’t have to do it as a replacement, because hopefully this is going to go very well on Thursday.”
In which Trump brings up — unasked — the possibility of replacing Kavanaugh if he fails to do well in Thursday’s hearing.
16. “I could pick a woman and she could have charges made from many years ago also.”
Amazing. In one sentence Trump suggests he could replace Kavanaugh with a woman (presumably Amy Coney Barrett) and that she could have some of the same issues Kavanaugh has.
17. “Now it’s possible I’ll hear that and I’ll say, ‘Hey, I’m changing my mind.’ That is possible.”
Another remarkable admission by Trump here — that he is leaving the possibility open that he hears something in testimony from Christine Blasey Ford — or Kavanaugh — that changes his mind about the whole thing.
18. “And you know what? I can be persuaded also.”
In case you missed it, Trump reiterates that he is open to persuasion on whether Kavanaugh did what Ford said he did. Which is stunning.
19. “I can’t tell you, I have to watch tomorrow, I have to read.”
When asked whether he believed the three women accusing Kavanaugh of wrongdoing, this is how Trump responded. What does he have to read? I honestly have no idea.
20. “I don’t know what happened today because I’ve been very busy with Japan, with South Korea, with China and about seven other countries, as you know, and I chaired the Security Council.”
Look, I’ve been very busy doing extremely important thing. Chairing this, ruling on that. Can’t be bothered with regular people news. You wouldn’t understand. Not important enough.
21. “So as far as the other women are concerned, I’m going to see what happens tomorrow. I’m going to be watching.”
It’s not at all clear to me that Trump knows that only Ford will be testifying on Thursday.
22. “I hope I can watch. I’m meeting with a lot of countries tomorrow.”
“This is a very complicated case…You know, a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-you’s.” — Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski
23. “If we brought George Washington here and we said, we have George Washington, the Democrats would vote against him.”
[Donald Trump walks into a room filled with Democratic Senators] “We have George Washington.”
[Democratic senators] No.
24. “He may have had a bad past. Who knows, you know? He may have had some, I think, accusations made. Didn’t he have a couple things in his past?”
The 45th president reflects on the 1st president.
25. “I’ve known them for a long time and a lot of these people. A lot of people. And some I’ve been disappointed with. I have been disappointed with some others like — you know, there are charges that are pretty weak. But I’ve known people for a long time.”
This is Trump’s verbatim response to this question from NBC’s Hallie Jackson: “Has there ever been an instance when you’ve given the benefit of the doubt to a woman?” I mean….
26. “And there’s some that probably I agree. I can tell you there’s some that I — I’ve been watching for a long time. And in a couple of cases they weren’t Republicans, and a lot of cases they were not. They were exactly the opposite.”
Again, this is more of Trump’s response to Hallie Jackson’s question that was, to remind you, this: “Has there ever been an instance when you’ve given the benefit of the doubt to a woman?” This is a word salad of epic proportions.
27. “It doesn’t mean they had to report it, because in some instances people keep it quiet. It’s a very tough situation for a woman, there’s no question about it. And in some cases, they do report it.”
Donald Trump on how women handle the reporting of sexual assault. So, yeah.
28. “Frankly, had they reported it, it would have been pretty amazing, wouldn’t it?”
OK. So, to follow Trump’s logic here: If Ford had told her parents about the alleged sexual assault by Kavanaugh when they were in high school in the 1980s, and then they had told the authorities, that would have been “pretty amazing.” [shakes head confusedly]
29. “We could have heard from her last week. We could have heard from her for a long time.”
Ford emerged in public when she granted an interview to The Washington Post on September 16. That was 11 days ago.
30. “And I was accused by — I believe it was four women. You can check with Sean Hannity, you can check with Fox because they covered it very strongly.”
Ah yes — the noted fact-checking powers of Sean Hannity.
31. “I was accused by four or five women who got paid a lot of money to make up stories about me.”
As best I can tell, Trump is referring to reporting that attorney Lisa Bloom was actively seeking women to come forward to tell about their own experiences with Trump. Trump’s claim here is kind of, sort of true-ish. Read more here.
32. “We caught them and the mainstream media refused to put it on television. They refused to even write about it.”
The New York Times wrote about the Lisa Bloom episode on December 31, 2017. Here’s what the piece said: “[Bloom] told [donors] that she was working with ‘a few other women’ who might ‘find the courage to speak out’ against Mr. Trump if the donors would provide funds for security, relocation and possibly a ‘safe house.'”
33. “I’m a very famous person, unfortunately.”
My biggest burden? My immense fame.
34. “I’ve been a famous person for a long time.”
35. “It’s happened to me many times. I’ve had many false charges.”
Reminder: During the course of the 2016 campaign, more than a dozen women came forward and said Trump had either assaulted them or behaved inappropriately to them. He denied every charge. He said he was going to sue each and every women for defamation when the campaign ended. He has launched a total of zero of those suits.
36. “When I heard that they caught these four people, I said wow, that’s a big story. And it was, for Fox.”
37. “We have evidence, we have evidence — it’ll come out. Yeah, I can’t tell you now, but it came — it didn’t come out of nowhere, that I can tell you.”
This incredibly vague answer came after Trump was asked to back up his claim from earlier Wednesday that the Chinese were actively interfering in US elections. Does he have actual evidence? Will it “come out?” Count me as skeptical.
38. “He was on a good show, I won’t mention the name of the show, recently, and he was saying that China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump’s very, very large brain.”
No words. I am not sure my normal-sized brain can grasp what is going on here.
39. “I would certainly prefer not doing that, there was no collusion, there was no obstruction.”
This is Trump’s answer on whether he was planning top fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in their planned meeting tomorrow. And, no, I didn’t edit this. He really said those words in this order. NO COLLUSION.
40. “Unless you call obstruction the fact that I fight back — I do fight back, I really fight back. I mean, if you call that obstruction that’s fine. But there’s no obstruction, there’s no collusion — I’m going to meet with him tomorrow.”
This is all totally fine! Nothing to see here, folks!
41. “You know, I call it a ‘witch hunt,’ and it is a witch hunt.”
Look, at the end of the day, it is what it is.
42. “Many people say I have the right to, absolutely, fire him.”
“Many people say” is Trump code for “I could do it if I wanted to, you know that, right?”
43. “I was saying things that nobody in the room even understood, and I said them a long time ago. And I was right. He said, ‘That’s not the 25th Amendment that I’m looking at.’ I think I can say that from Mike.”
Trump is talking to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo here. Beyond that, um, [vacant stare].
44. “Now I must say. I know many of the Democrats. They’ll say things and then wink at me.”
45. “The reason they don’t want me is because they want to run the show. They want it. It’s power, it’s whatever you want to call it. But what they’ve done here is a disgrace, a total disgrace, and what they do — I know it’s sort of interesting.”
These are four consecutive sentences from the commander in chief. The question he was asked, in case you may be wondering, was whether anyone in his administration had ever discussed invoking the 25th Amendment.
46. “You were going to have a war — if I wasn’t elected, you’d be in a war.”
As I noted above, Trump declares here that had he not won in 2016, the United States would be at war with North Korea right now.
47. “This is an incredible — this is a historic letter. And it is a historic letter. It’s a beautiful — it’s a beautiful piece of art.”
Stay with me here: This is Trump paraphrasing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s reaction when Trump showed him one of the letters North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un had sent to the White House. Also, this.
48. “You know, North Korea’s very mountainous. Beautiful land, beautiful.”
Very mountainous. But beautiful. Beautifully mountainous.
49. “And millions of people — not — you know, I — I — they say oh, thousands of people — no, no, not thousands. Millions of people would have been killed.”
So, not only would the US be at war with North Korea if Trump wasn’t President, but the body count from that war would number in the millions. How does Trump know this? I think you probably already know the answer to that one.
50. “I mean con job — it is. It’s a con job. You know confidence. It’s a confidence job, but they — it’s a con job by the Democrats.”
You’re saying “con job” is short for “confidence job” [nods head knowingly]
51. “But I’ll tell you this, the people that have complained to me about it the most about what’s happening are women. Women are very angry.”
Yes, yes they are.
52. “You know I got 52% with women. Everyone said this couldn’t happen — 52%.”
[narrator voice] He got 41% of the female vote in 2016. He got 52% of the WHITE female vote.
53. “I love Canada by the way, I have so many friends.”
[Justin Bieber nods approvingly]
54. “Where’s General Kelly? He likes that USMC, which would be US, Mexico, Canada.”
See, it’s an acronym — both for the United States Marine Corps and for this nonexistent new trade agreement that Donald Trump thinks can happen. It works on so many different levels. Well, just actually two levels.
55. “This whole room would be filled up with hundred dollar bills.”
Admittedly, I would like to see that.
56. “And I heard smiles — and I said, oh, I didn’t know that’s be like a — they weren’t laughing at me. They were laughing with me. We had fun. That was not laughing at me.”
57. “He’s a tremendous man. He’s a tremendous genius. He’s a great intellect. He was, I believe, number one at Yale. Is that a correct statement? Number one in his class at Yale.”
On Kavanaugh and everyone else in his life, Trump is obsessed with intelligence. Always has been. Also: Kavanaugh wasn’t #1 in his law school class, although he was on the Yale Law Journal.
58. “And it’s open and it’s beautiful by the way, Jerusalem stone, one of my favorite stones.”
Of all of Trump’s favorite stones, the Jerusalem stone is right up there.
59. “All my life I’ve had very few stories, but I’ve had some on the front page of The New York Times. Now I think I average about three or four a day, right? And of the three or four they’re all negative, no matter what I do they’re negative, but you know what? That’s OK, I still love the paper.”
Yes, he does. Never forget that Trump is obsessed with the Times and how it covers him. It’s his hometown paper. For all of his attacks on it, he cares more what the Times writes about him than any other media outlet in the country.
60. “Elton John said when you hit that last tune and it’s good, don’t go back.”
“Showmanship, George. When you hit that high note, you say goodnight and walk off.” — Jerry Seinfeld
61. “I’ve seen — have you ever seen? They do great. They’re great. They hit the last tune and everyone goes crazy. Then they go back for an encore, right? And they don’t hit it. And they leave, everyone leaves. And they say that wasn’t a very good concert was it?”
I don’t know who the “they” is here. And I’m not sure Trump does either. BUT he is totally right that encores are overrated. Play the tunes you want to play, say goodnight, the end.
62. “I could conceivably imagine going to one of them and saying it’s too bad what happened to this wonderful man, but I’m going to choose you, number two. I want you to go.”
Trump, AGAIN, floats the possibility of getting rid of Kavanaugh. But that’s nothing compared to his theoretical pitch to the potential replacement: “I’m going to choose you, number two.” Who would not be convinced to take the job with a pitch like that?
63. “There’s nothing beyond Supreme Court. This is beyond Supreme Court.”
This feels like a good place to end. There’s nothing beyond the Supreme Court, after all. Not one damn thing.