‘I Inherited a Mess,’ Trump Says, Defending His Performance
WASHINGTON — President Trump dismissed reports about contacts between his advisers and Russia on Thursday and defended his performance in his first four weeks in office in a contentious news conference that showcased his unconventional and unconstrained presidency.
At a hastily organized White House event ostensibly intended to announce a new labor secretary, Mr. Trump engaged in an extended attack on the news media and boasted that his new administration was a “fine-tuned machine,” not the chaotic operation perceived by many in Washington.
The challenges, he said, were a result of his predecessors. “To be honest, I inherited a mess, a mess, at home and abroad, a mess,” he said.
Over the course of about an hour and a half, the president revealed that he had asked the Justice Department to investigate leaks, said he would sign a new executive order next week restricting travel to the United States and promised to produce in March a plan to repeal and replace his predecessor’s health care system, followed by another plan to overhaul the tax system.
But the session was marked by an extraordinarily raw and angry defense the likes of which has never been seen in a modern White House. At times abrupt, often rambling, characteristically boastful yet seemingly pained at the portrayals of him, Mr. Trump seemed intent on reproducing the energy and excitement of his campaign after a month of grinding governance. He returned repeatedly to his contest with Hillary Clinton and at one point plaintively pleaded for understanding.
“The tone is such hatred,” he said, referring to the commentary about him on cable television. “I’m really not a bad person.”
Mr. Trump disputed any contention that the White House was out of control or not fully functional. “There has never been a presidency that has done so much in such a short period of time,” he said. “And we haven’t even started the big work that starts early next week.”
“Jobs are pouring out of the country,” he said. “ See what’s going on with all of the companies leaving the country, going to Mexico and other places.” Overseas, he said, he found “disaster.”
“We’re going to take care of it all,” he said. “I just want you to know I inherited a mess.”
Mr. Trump offered his first extended description of his decision to fire Michael T. Flynn, his national security adviser, for misleading Vice President Mike Pence and others in the White House about the contents of a conversation with Russia’s ambassador in December.
特朗普首次进一步谈到他辞退自己任命的国家安全顾问迈克尔·T·弗林(Michael T. Flynn)的决定——原因是他在12月与俄罗斯大使进行的一次谈话的内容上，误导了副总统迈克·彭斯(Mike Pence)及其他白宫工作人员。
Mr. Trump said he was not bothered that Mr. Flynn had talked with the ambassador before even arriving at the White House. “When I looked at the information, I said, I don’t think he did anything wrong,” Mr. Trump said. “In fact, I think he did something right.”
The problem, he said, was that Mr. Flynn had told Mr. Pence that sanctions did not come up during the conversation, an assertion belied by a transcript of the call, which had been monitored by American intelligence agencies.
“The thing is he didn’t tell our vice president properly and then he said he didn’t remember,” Mr. Trump said. “So either way, it wasn’t very satisfactory to me.”
But reports about contacts between his campaign aides, other associates and Russia were “fake news put out by the media,” he said. In response to questions, he said he had no contact with Russia during the campaign but did not directly respond to questions about whether some of his advisers had. The New York Times reported this week that phone records and intercepted calls showed that some of his associates had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.
Mr. Trump said he would sign a new executive order next week or perhaps later that would “comprehensively protect our country” while still defending his original travel ban in court. Last week, he said he would take action as early as Monday of this week.
His expansive review of his accomplishments, though, included some misinformation.
He asserted that his victory in the Electoral College was the largest since Ronald Reagan. But he won fewer Electoral College votes than three of the four presidents since Reagan: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush.
他坚称自己取得了自罗纳德·里根(Ronald Reagan)以来最大的选举团(Electoral College)胜利。但他在选举团获得的选票比自里根以来的四位总统中的三位都要少：巴拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)、比尔·克林顿(Bill Clinton)和乔治·布什(George Bush)。
When a reporter pointed that out, Mr. Trump brushed it off. “I was given that information,” he said.