The 10 Most Dumbfounding Moments From Trump's Post-Election Press Conference

The day after the midterm elections, the president mocked candidates who didn’t embrace him and went after the media.

Trump and CNN's Jim Acosta at press conference after midterms
A White House staff member reaches for the microphone held by CNN's Jim Acosta as he questions President Donald Trump during a news conference at the White House following Tuesday's midterm elections. (Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

During a news conference from the White House, President Donald Trump struck a combative tone after the midterm elections Tuesday, mocking candidates who distanced themselves from him and placing blame on the media for dividing the country.

Here are some of the most noteworthy moments:

1. Trump mocks candidates who distanced themselves from him.

Trump: For the most part I didn’t campaign for the House, but I did actually make a special trip for Andy Barr because he was in a very tough race in Kentucky—and he won. That was a very tough race. The polls were all showing that he was down, and down substantially, and he won. And that one I did do. Pete Stauber of Minnesota, great guy, he’s new and ran a fantastic race. On the other hand, you had some that decided to stay away. “Let’s stay away.” They did very poorly. I’m not sure that I should be happy or sad, but I feel just fine about it.

Carlos Curbelo, Mike Coffman—too bad, Mike. Mia Love—I saw Mia Love. She called me all the time to help her with a hostage situation. Being held hostage in Venezuela, but Mia Love gave me no love, and she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia. Barbara Comstock was another one. I think she could have won that one but she didn’t want to have any embrace. For that I don’t blame her. But she lost, substantially lost. Peter Roskam didn’t want the embrace. Erik Paulsen didn’t want the embrace. And in New Jersey, I think he could have done well, but didn’t work out too good, Bob Hugin. I feel badly because I feel that is something that could have been won, that’s a race that could have been won. John Faso. Those are some of the people who, you know, decided for their own reason not to embrace, whether it’s me, or what we stand for, but what we stand for meant a lot to most people.

2. Trump shows support for Nancy Pelosi.

Trump: I want to send my warmest appreciation and regards to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. We really worked very well together. We have been working very well together. We actually have a great relationship; people just don’t understand that, which is fine. And also to perhaps—it looks like, I would think, Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And I give her a lot of credit. She works very hard and she’s worked long and hard. I give her a great deal of credit for what she’s done and what she’s accomplished. Hopefully we can all work together next year to continue delivering for the American people, including on economic growth, infrastructure, trade, lowering the cost of prescription drugs—these are some of the things that the Democrats do want to work on, and I really believe we will be able to do that.

3. A heated exchange with CNN’s Jim Acosta

Acosta: Your campaign had an ad showing migrants climbing over walls and so on—

Trump: Well that’s true. They weren’t actors. They weren’t actors. Well, no, it’s true. Do you think they were actors? They weren’t actors. They didn’t come from Hollywood. These were people—this was an actual, you know, it happened a few days ago and—

Acosta: They are hundreds of miles away, though. They are hundreds and hundreds of miles away. That is not an invasion.

Trump: Honestly, I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN, and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better. That’s enough. That’s enough.

Acosta: One more question—

Trump: That’s enough. That’s enough.

Acosta: If I may go ahead, on the Russia investigation, are you concerned that you may have indictments—

Trump: I am not concerned about anything with the Russia investigation because it’s a hoax. That’s enough. Put down the mic.

Acosta: Are you worried about indictments coming down in this investigation?

Trump: I’ll tell you what, CNN should be ashamed of itself, having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person and should not be working for CNN. Go ahead.

Acosta: I think that’s unfair.

Trump: You are very rude. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible and the way you treat other people are horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.

4. Trump refuses to answer questions on voter suppression.

Reporter: Mr. President, if it is unfair to the country and is costing millions of dollars, why don’t you just—

Trump: Give him the mic, please. I’ve answered the question.

Reporters: [inaudible]

Trump: I’ll give you, I will give you voter suppression. You just have to—sit down, please. Sit down. I didn’t call you. I didn’t call you. I didn’t call you. I’ll give you voter suppression. Take a look at the CNN polls, how inaccurate they were. That’s called voter suppression. Go ahead, please.

Reporter 1: Thank you, Mr. President—

Reporter 2: In Georgia, sir—

Trump: I am not responding. I am responding—

Reporter 2: In Georgia, sir, in Georgia—

Trump: Excuse me, I am not responding to you. I am talking to this gentleman. Would you please sit down?

Reporter 2: [inaudible]

Trump: Excuse me, excuse me, would you please sit down? Please go ahead.

Reporter 1: Thank you, Mr. President. Now that the House of Representatives—

Trump: Very hostile—it’s such a hostile media. A very hostile media. It’s so sad. You ask me about—no. You rudely interrupted him. You rudely interrupted him.

5. Trump says he’ll meet with Kim Jong Un next year.

Trump: The sanctions are on. The missiles have stopped. The rockets have stopped. The hostages are home. The great heroes have been coming home. Mike Pence was in Hawaii, where the … one of the most beautiful ceremonies that anyone’s seen for the fallen, these are great heroes.

Very important when I was running a lot of people, as many years ago as it was, in many cases grandchildren, but they were asking about that—they’re coming home, and they are being provided to us as we speak. But I’m in no rush, I’m in no  rush. The sanctions are on. I read a couple of times and I’ve seen a few times where they say, “He has done so much.” What have I done? I have met … Now, I would love to take the sanctions off. But they have to be responsive, too. It’s a two-way street. But we’re not in any rush at all, there’s no rush whatsoever. You know, before I got here, they were dealing with this for over 70 years. I guess on a nuclear front for 25 years. That is a long time.

I have been there. I probably left Singapore four or five months ago. And we made more progress in that four or five months than they made in 70 years. And nobody else could have done what I have done. I’ll say this very simply. We are in no rush. The sanctions are on, and whenever that is. But that meeting is going to be rescheduled.

6. Trump on anti-Semitic incidents: “It’s very sad to see it; I hate to see it.”

Reporter: We’ve been talking about division and the division that exists in this country right now. Some of the statistics are disturbing, I think to just about everyone. Anti-Semitic incidents have increased by 57 percent since 2016. Hate crimes are on the rise. Why do you think that is? And what will you do about it as president?

Trump: It’s very sad to see it; I hate to see it. And as you know I’ve done more, in fact if you were with us the last time we met, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that this president has done more for Israel than any other president. Those words. Those exact words. Jerusalem, protection, working together. So many different things. But the big thing is Jerusalem. You know many, many presidents have said they are going to build the embassy in Jerusalem. Never happened. Make it the capital of Israel. Never happened. Never happened. But it happened with me. And quickly. And not only did it happen; we built the embassy. That would have taken another 15 or 20 years and cost probably billions of dollars. And we did it for a tiny amount of money. It is open. Nobody has done more for Israel than Donald Trump. And the nice part is that it is not me saying it. That is Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Reporter: But what about the divides in this country? What about healing the divides in this country?

Trump: Well, we want to see it healed. And one of the things I think can help heal is the success of our country. We are really successful now. We’ve gone up $11.7 trillion in worth.

7. Trump calls a question “racist.”

Reporter: On the campaign trail, you called yourself a nationalist. Some people saw that as emboldening white nationalists. Now people are also saying—

Trump: I don’t know why you’d say that, it’s such a racist question.

Reporter: There are some people that say that now the Republican Party is seen as supporting white nationalists because of your rhetoric. What do you make of that?

Trump: I don’t believe that, I don’t believe that. I just don’t believe—well, I don’t know, why do I have my highest poll numbers ever with African Americans? Why do I have among the highest poll numbers with African Americans? I mean, why do I have my highest poll numbers? That is such a racist question. Honestly, I mean, I know you have it written down and you’re gonna tell me. Let me tell you—that is a racist question.

Reporter: [inaudible]

Trump: You know what the word is. I love our country. I do. You have nationalists and you have globalists. I also love the world. I don’t mind helping the world. But we have to straighten out our country first. We have a lot of problems. Excuse me, but to say that, what you said, is so insulting to me. It is a very terrible thing that you said.

8. Trump claims Obama allowed “a very large portion [of] Crimea to be taken.”

Reporter: What do you intend to say, sir, to President Xi and to President Putin when you meet with them later this month?

Trump: Well, I have a good relationship with both. I know President Xi better, but I think I have a very good relationship with both. I actually had a very good meeting in Russia that you people didn’t agree with, but that’s okay, it doesn’t much matter obviously, because here I am.

Reporter: You mean Helsinki?

Trump: But the fact is that I had a very, very good meeting, a very, very good meeting with President Putin. And a lot was discussed about security, about Syria, about Ukraine. About the fact that President Obama allowed a very large part of Ukraine to be taken. And right now, you have submarines off that particular parcel that we’re talking about.

Reporter: That was President Putin who annexed Crimea, sir.

Trump: That was President Obama’s regime. That was during President Obama, right? That was not during me.

Reporter: But it was President Putin, sir, who did the annexation—

Trump: No, no, it was President Obama that allowed it to happen. Had nothing to do with me.

9. Trump says he’ll use executive power to get through his immigration agenda.

Reporter: Former President Barack Obama famously said that he had a pen and phone to use executive power on issues like immigration. Do you see yourself using executive power to get some of your immigration agenda done?

Trump: I do. I do. I think that some of it, I can use executive power on some. Not all. I mean, he certainly used it. He used it on DACA. He said something to the effect of “I am not allowed to do this, it’ll never hold up, but I’m doing it anyway.” And he did it, and they found judges who approved it. We also found judges that didn’t approve it, so it is obviously going to be determined in the Supreme Court. And if the Court rules in favor of what President Obama thinks they should rule, which is what they said, then I will probably have a deal with the Democrats in a very short period of time. We were very close to having a deal until we got that very strange ruling.

Reporter: You also made promises about immigration during the campaign. And I want to know if you’re going to follow through with them.

Trump: Which one are you talking about?

Reporter: Birthright citizenship. Are you going to sign an executive order to ban—

Trump: Well, we are looking at it very seriously.

Reporter: Yes or no—

Trump: And I believe we have the absolute right, but that is another case that will be determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Reporter: Are you going to send 15,000 troops to the border?

Trump: You’ve been reading the same documents as I have, you know exactly what I’m doing. You know exactly what I’m doing.

10. Trump says he won’t release his tax returns—for now.

Reporter: So, point-blank, Democrats go after your tax returns—will you try to block that, or will you allow them to have it?

Trump: Well, look, as I’ve told you, they’re under audit. They have been for a long time. They’re extremely complex. People wouldn’t understand them. They’re done by among the biggest and best law firms in the country. Same thing with the accounting firms. The accountants are a very, very large, powerful firm from the standpoint of respect—they’re highly respected. Big firm. A great law firm; you know it very well. They do these things, they put them in. But people don’t understand tax returns. Now, I did do a filing of over 100 pages, I believe, which is in the offices. And when people went and saw that filing and they saw the magnitude of it, they were very disappointed, and they saw, you know, the detail. You get far more from that, and I guess we filed that now three times. But you get far more from that than you could ever get from a tax return. But when you are under audit—and I’m on a very continuous audit because there are so many companies and it is a very big company, far bigger than you would even understand, but it’s a great company. But it’s big and it’s complex, and it’s probably feet high. It is a very complex instrument. And I think that people wouldn’t understand it, but if I were finished with the audit, I would have an open mind to it, I would say that. But I don’t want to do it during the audit. And really, no lawyer, even from the other side, they say often—not always, but when you are under audit, you don’t have, you don’t subject it to that. You get it done and then you release it. When that happens, if that happens, I would certainly have an open mind to it.

Reporter: So if the audit is still on, you will not turn over the tax returns?

Trump: When it’s under audit, no. Nobody would. Nobody turns over a return when it is under audit.