U.S. President Donald Trump strode up to the lectern and took stock of the world’s press in a five-star New York hotel.
“This is quite a gathering. Wow!” he crowed.
And so began 1 hour and 22 minutes with the world’s most powerful man, pumped by days of U.N. diplomacy and seething over Democratic opposition to his Supreme Court nominee, now fighting multiple allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior while a student.
Standing before a large row of American flags, the 45th president of the United States dealt with everything from China, Iran and the Kurds, to socialism, Justin Trudeau, women, the Supreme Court and Middle East peace.
Without notes and clearly relishing the occasion, he dished out compliments and made digs where he saw fit.
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“You do a very good job,” he told a Fox reporter who asked about NAFTA.
“Say ‘thank you, Mr. Trump,’” he mocked when a New York Times journalist said the newspaper was thriving rather than failing, with circulation figures up under the Trump presidency.
From the Lotte New York Palace on Madison Avenue, a brisk seven-minute walk from his old penthouse home and real-estate company headquarters at Trump Tower, the 72-year-old president appeared ready to go on all night.
Here is a sampling:
On Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh:
“If we brought George Washington here,” said an exasperated Trump of America’s first president and founding father, “the Democrats would vote against him, just so you understand, and he may have had a bad past, who knows.”
On sexual assault:
“I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me. Really false charges!” he said as journalists pointed out that he had been the accused of inappropriate sexual behavior in the past. “So when you say ‘does it affect me in terms of my thinking with respect to Judge Kavanaugh?’ Absolutely. Because I’ve had it many times.”
“I’ve always said, women are smarter than men.”
On the Kurds:
“They’re great people, they’re great fighters, I like them a lot,” he said, later calling on a journalist as “Yes please, Mr. Kurd.”
On U.N. laughter:
“They weren’t laughing at me, they were laughing with me,” he insisted of the laughter that broke out in the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday after Trump boasted that his administration had done more than any other in U.S. history.
On Xi Jinping:
“I will, tomorrow, make a call to him and say ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ Trump said with a smile after admitting that Xi “may not be a friend of mine anymore.
“They are doing studies on Donald Trump, they are trying to figure it all out,” he said in reference to apparent Chinese interest in an American president so different to his predecessors.
Ending on a high:
“Elton John said when you hit that last tune and it’s good, don’t go back,” he said, taking the last question and pondering on what happens when a performer doesn’t deliver a good encore after a rousing concert.
“They don’t hit it and … everyone leaves and they say ‘that wasn’t a very good concert, was it?’”