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The unpresidential President

The unpresidential President

President Donald Trump was anything but presidential in his first news conference since the Mid Term elections late last night (IST). The Republicans had lost the House to the Democrats but just managed to hold on to the Senate. He offered outward optimism, a cheeriness that was later belied by surly, combative exchanges with reporters over the dark tone he adopted in the midterms' closing days. He shrugged off new threats from Democrats, who will assume control of the House with new investigative power. But when the questions started coming, the President's sunny outlook melted away. He lashed out at questions about his fear-mongering and race-baiting rhetoric against immigrants and demanded a reporter inquiring about voter suppression take her seat. He went back and forth on his opinion of the newly powerful Democrats, alternately vowing to find areas of cooperation and threatening them with investigations of his own. He vowed a "warlike posture" should he find himself barraged with subpoenas. Republicans held onto seats in the Senate but saw their House majority slip away, setting up the likelihood the White House will be dogged by investigations as Trump prepares to fight for his own re-election. Even as he warned against the incoming Democratic House leadership from being too aggressive in their investigations of his administration, Trump said he was optimistic about the opportunity for bipartisanship. "I'd like to see bipartisanship, I'd like to see unity," he said, repeatedly praising House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who he effectively endorsed as the next House speaker. Trump had already cast the results as a victory, tweeting earlier that candidates who followed his lead during a dark and divisive campaign "did very well." But Trump's verbal assaults on reporters revealed a stormier mood. He lambasted CNN's Jim Acosta as "a rude, terrible person," told American Urban Radio Network correspondent April Ryan repeatedly to "sit down," and deemed a query about white nationalism, posed by PBS Newshour reporter Yamiche Alcindor, a "such a racist question." Trump's three most recent predecessors all lost House majorities in the course of their tenures. In post-election news conferences, all three took some form of responsibility. Trump and his aides have projected a different attitude, shrugging off the possibility the next two years could be pocked by subpoenas or oversight hearings. Trump refused to speculate on an upcoming cabinet shuffle, even as it later transpired he had already fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. So he did claim he had the power to short-circuit Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling, which is expected to ramp up now that the midterms have concluded. "I could fire everybody right now," Trump said. "It's a disgrace, it should have never been started because there was no crime."

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