The Note: Breaking Down the Trump Press Conference

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference, Feb. 16, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington.PlayPablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo
WATCH Trump spars with media at news conference

Trump’s First 100 Days with SHUSHANNAH WALSHE

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Day No. 29

THE BIG STORY: The president’s first solo press conference yesterday was an almost 80-minute look inside the president’s mind four weeks into his term. President Trump relished in unleashing on the press and stressed that his administration is not in “chaos,” but being run like “a fine-tuned machine,” refusing to take any responsibility for the missteps and upheaval that have plagued the first month of his presidency. There was news too: a new immigration executive order will be unveiled next week; former national security adviser Michael Flynn was “just doing his job” and the president repeatedly claimed that he has “nothing to do with Russia,” calling assertions to the contrary “fake news” and insisting “leaks” are the real problem. Besides laying into the press in a performance he truly seemed to enjoy, Trump also revealed he has asked the Department of Justice to investigate those leaks and he’s working on both plans for tax reform and repealing and replacing Obamacare. Trump’s most loyal supporters will like his still-in-campaign mode battle stance and love the president’s taking on of the media, but how will yesterday’s performance play with his voters who didn’t necessarily cast their ballot for him, but against his opponent? It’s something we will be watching, but so will the president. We know he loves those approval numbers…and ratings, of course.

THE SLEEPER STORY: Is the Trump administration back to the drawing board when it comes to finding a national security adviser? It’s unlikely they are starting from scratch, but their number one choice after Gen. Michael Flynn’s firing earlier this week is out. Retired Admiral and former Navy SEAL Robert Harward was offered the job, but has passed, citing personal reasons. The White House needs a national security adviser, but with the week they have had they need one right now and this bump in the hiring road could add more turmoil to an administration that does not need it. Harward, an ABC News contributor, did not turn down the job because of the chaos in the West Wing, telling ABC News “Not at all.” So, who is next on the list? Other names under consideration as possible replacements for Flynn, according to administration officials: retired Gen. David Petraeus, former Ambassador Bob Kimmitt, and retired Gen. Keith Kellogg - who is currently serving as the acting NSA – are all possible choices. It’s a selection they will want to make quite quickly, even if they have to move past their first choice.

THE SHINY STORY: One of the most cringe-worthy moments from yesterday’s press conference is that exchange between the president and an African-American reporter, April Ryan from American Urban Radio Networks. Ryan, a longtime White House correspondent, asked Trump about his campaign pledge to revitalize inner city America, something he spoke about often on the campaign trail, and was criticized for his tone and language on the issue. Ryan asked Trump if he planned to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus or the CBC to discuss his plan, when the president had an odd response. “Do you want to set up the meeting?" Trump asked Ryan. “Are they friends of yours? Set up a meeting. Set up the meeting. I would love to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus, I think it's great.” Why it would be Ryan’s job to set up the meeting immediately raised eyebrows and the story is still being buzzed about. Last night, both the CBC and the White House said they are setting up a meeting between the president and Congressional Black Caucus members.

TLDR: In the president’s first solo press conference yesterday he launched a lengthy attack on the media, as well as an angry defense of his administration less than four weeks into his presidency.

PHOTO OF THE DAY: Restaurants and businesses across the country yesterday were shuttered or working at less than full capacity because of a "Day Without Immigrants" protest. Here's a photograph of one closed restaurant in Las Vegas. (Credit: John Locher/AP Photo)

PHOTO: A sign alerts customers that restaurant VegeNation is closed in support of the Day Without Immigrants protest, Feb. 16, 2017, in Las Vegas. John Locher/AP Photo
A sign alerts customers that restaurant VegeNation is closed in support of the Day Without Immigrants protest, Feb. 16, 2017, in Las Vegas.


--PRESIDENT TRUMP TO REPLACE HALTED TRAVEL BAN WITH NEW EXECUTIVE ORDER: President Donald Trump is planning to issue a new executive order related to his earlier action barring entry into the U.S. to citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries, according to court documents filed Thursday by U.S. Department of Justice. Trump’s previous order was halted by a federal court judge in Washington state who issued a nationwide temporary restraining order on February 3. The Trump administration quickly appealed the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco but that court's three-judge panel handed down a unanimous decision that left the restraining order in place. ABC’s JAMES HILL, LAUREN PEARLE and ADAM KELSEY have more:

--PRESIDENT TRUMP SAYS HE HAS ASKED THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO INVESTIGATE LEAKS: President Trump said Thursday he has directed the Department of Justice to look into the leaks that have been happening during his administration. The news comes amid a presidential news conference where he said that the leaks are "very serious." "I've actually called the Justice Department to look into the leaks. Those are criminal leaks," Trump said yesterday afternoon, note ABC’s MEGHAN KENEALLY and JORDYN PHELPS.

--ANALYSIS: TRUMP REVELS IN BATTLE WITH PRESS: President Trump’s first solo press conference in office was a free-wheeling, lengthy look inside the mind of the president less than four weeks into his administration.Beyond the headlines of the day, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE writes, Thursday's press conference shed more light on the attitude and motivations of the 45th president and how he will govern the nation the next four years.

--FACT-CHECKING THE TRUMP PRESS CONFERENCE: President Donald Trump held a press conference at the White House Thursday to announce his new pick for labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, but once he began taking questions from reporters, the focus shifted away from Acosta to a slew of other topics: Allegations of his campaign's contact with Russians, General Flynn's resignation, anti-Semitism in the U.S., and a popular go-to topic for the president, his disdain for the mainstream media. ABC’s MARYALICE PARKS, RYAN STRUYK and RILEY BEGGIN fact check more than a dozen false, questionable or misleading claims Trump made over the course of the 75-minute press conference -- as well as a few that are backed up by the facts.


PRESIDENT TRUMP SAYS HIS ADMINISTRATION IS 'RUNNING LIKE A FINE-TUNED MACHINE.' President Trump told reporters today his administration is working "like a fine-tuned machine," in the wake of this week’s resignation of his national security adviser and the withdrawal of his nominee for labor secretary, reports ABC’s RYAN STRUYK. "This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine," Trump said. "Despite the fact that I can't get my Cabinet approved, and they are outstanding people." Ten of his 22 Cabinet-level nominees have yet to be approved, the most in U.S. history four weeks into a new presidency.

PRESIDENT TRUMP CALLS REPORTS THAT CAMPAIGN HAD CONTACT WITH RUSSIA 'FAKE NEWS.' President Donald Trump said reports that members of his campaign team had multiple contacts with Russian officials during his presidential campaign are "fake news" and called the storyline "fabricated" by those bitter over Hillary Clinton's election loss. “It's all fake news,” Trump told reporters at a press conference in the East Room of the White House on Thursday, calling the matter a “fabricated deal to make up for the loss of the Democrats,” writes ABC’s JORDYN PHELPS.

TRUMP NOMINATES ALEXANDER ACOSTA AS LABOR SECRETARY. President Donald Trump has nominated Alexander Acosta as his labor secretary. "He has had a tremendous career," Trump said of Acosta. "He's a member and has been a member of the National Labor Relations Board and has been through Senate confirmation three times." Acosta is the first Hispanic to be selected for Trump's Cabinet, notes ABC’s MEGHAN KENEALLY, RYAN STRUYK, JONATHAN KARL and SHUSHANNAH WALSHE. The announcement comes after Trump’s first nominee for secretary of labor, Andrew Puzder, formally withdrew from consideration for the position Wednesday. EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ACOSTA:

ROBERT HARWARD TURNS DOWN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER POSITION. Retired admiral and former Navy SEAL Robert Harward was offered the job of national security adviser to President Donald Trump, but has turned down the position for personal reasons, a senior administration official tells ABC News. Harward, 60, had been the leading candidate to replace Gen. Michael Flynn, who was fired Monday, sources said. Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence about whether he discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador ahead of the inauguration. ABC’s JONATHAN KARL, MARTHA RADDATZ, KATHERINE FAULDERS and JUSTIN FISHEL have more:

TRUMP ASKS BLACK REPORTER TO SCHEDULE MEETING WITH CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS. “Do you want to set up the meeting?" President Trump asked April Ryan, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks. “Are they friends of yours? Set up a meeting. Set up the meeting. I would love to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus, I think it's great.” ABC’s MARY BRUCE, JOHN PARKINSON, KATHERINE FAULDERS and BENJAMIN SIEGEL have more.

NO, BILL GATES DIDN'T TWEET DONALD TRUMP WILL BE 'ONE OF THE GREATEST PRESIDENTS.' This fake news story isn't much of a story at all -- it hangs on just one fake tweet. The false post from a website called Departed Media features this headline: "Bill Gates: 'I think Donald Trump will go down to history as one of the greatest presidents, just like Reagan.'" On a page littered with advertisements, an image of a fake tweet they claim is from Microsoft founder Bill Gates says, "After 17 minutes [sic] phone call with President Trump, I think he will go down to history as one of the greatest presidents just like Reagan." A detailed search of Twitter shows that Bill Gates has never tweeted about Donald Trump -- or Ronald Reagan, ABC’s RYAN STRUYK reports.


@AprilDRyan: BREAKING: The White House has reached out to the @OfficialCBC to set up a date for a meeting with @POTUS. Not date or time set yet.

@SariHorwitz: Flynn in FBI interview denied discussing sanctions with Russian ambassador

@AriFleischer: Ystrdy's news conference reminds me of Election Day. Reporters/people w college degrees think it was awful. I suspect many others loved it.

@RyanLizza: House GOP aide, echoing many others, on Trump press conference: "bizarre and borderline unhinged."

@maggieNYT: This is Trump's version of the Christie "Bridgegate" press conference from Jan 2014 - stand there and take every question.