Trump Hits Cooperative -- and Feisty -- Post-Midterm Notes
President Trump kicked off the post-midterm new world order with a raucous press conference Wednesday, addressing the new Democratic majority in the House, immigration policies, assertions of voter suppression, and what he labeled as the GOP’s “tremendous success” in strengthening its control of the Senate.
The president had campaigned vigorously for Republican candidates, largely in Senate races, telling supporters that a vote for Republicans was a vote for him. Though his party couldn’t hang on to its majority in the House, Trump expressed an openness to work across the aisle in the new year.
“Hopefully we can all work together next year to deliver for the American people,” he told reporters in the White House East Room. He referred to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s willingness to work together in her remarks Tuesday after the election results were clear. “I really respected what Nancy said last night about bipartisanship.”
That collegial sentiment was at odds with the often-pugnacious tone of the press conference, as the president sparred with reporters repeatedly, telling several of them to “sit down” when they rose and asked questions without being recognized. His exchange with CNN’s Jim Acosta -- a frequent antagonist – was especially sharp, with Trump calling him a “rude, terrible person.”
Shortly after the press conference ended, the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions was announced, further underscoring the changed environment following the elections. Sessions has been one of Trump's frequent whipping boys throughout the president's first two years in office.
The potential to work amicably with Democrats, on the other hand, was highlighted by the president several times, and followed a series of tweets he sent Wednesday morning that even suggested he could persuade his fellow Republicans in Congress to work with Democrats.
“In all fairness, Nancy Pelosi deserves to be chosen speaker of the House by the Democrats. If they give her a hard time, perhaps we will add some Republican votes. She has earned this great honor!” Trump tweeted.
During the press conference and on Twitter, he also called out those Republican House candidates who did not embrace his message and attributed that decision to their downfall.
“Those that worked with me in this incredible Midterm Election, embracing certain policies and principles, did very well,” tweeted Trump. “Those that did not, say goodbye! Yesterday was such a very Big Win, and all under the pressure of a Nasty and Hostile Media!”
Democrats are projected to have a net gain of at least 28 seats in the House — more than the 23 they needed to capture the majority. It wasn’t a total wipeout for Republicans, however, who picked up at least two (and likely three) seats in the Senate, which Trump said should help the party shepherd more judicial appointments to confirmation.
Pelosi has long said that if Democrats did retake the lower chamber, the caucus would work with the White House to achieve shared legislative goals. She also has sought to tamp down calls from within her party for impeachment investigations of the president and reiterated her commitment to moving forward towards unity. She said Tuesday night that any move toward impeachment would have to be bipartisan and based on evidence that is “so conclusive.”
The legislative goals Democrats have already put forth include health care, stricter gun laws, and infrastructure spending. The president specifically mentioned the latter during his press conference comments as an area where he believes common ground can be found.
“Now we have a much easier path because Democrats will come to us with a plan for infrastructure [and] and a plan for health care,” said Trump. He said negotiating with Democrats could be simpler because they will have a clear idea of what they want and he can find a way to cut a deal with them.
Democratic leaders seem to agree that infrastructure would be a good starting point. “I believe we can work through a bipartisan infrastructure bill that can put people to work,” Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, told MSNBC Tuesday night.
Apart from legislative victories, oversight is another goal for the new Democratic majority. Adam Schiff, the California congressman who is slated to take over as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, slammed Republicans for failing to uphold this responsibility.
“It was really worse than abdicating the responsibility of the committee,” he said Tuesday night. “The majority went further by being complicit in the president’s attacks on the independence of the Justice Department, on the men and women of the FBI, on our intelligence community.”
Trump seemed to indicate that any such investigations or possible subpoenas would hinder his administration’s willingness to work with Democrats. He also suggested possible retaliation on the Senate side.
“If that happens then we’re going to do the same thing,” he told reporters Wednesday.