In his first public remarks after Tuesday’s midterm elections, President Donald Trump appeared notably despondent, at times sparring with reporters over a range of questions, including Democrats’ new power in the Lower Chamber to investigate his administration.
Though he made a point of expressing a desire to work across the aisle legislatively, Trump also directly threatened Democrats with retaliatory measures if they opened investigations into his doings. “They can play that game, but we can play it better,” he said.
The threat came as Democrats, once they take control of the House of Representatives, are likely to launch probes into a wide range of scandals they have long sought information about—topics might include Trump’s personal finances, his much-maligned Puerto Rico hurricane response, and nepotism in the White House.
Trump also repeatedly asserted on Wednesday that Republican candidates who lost on Tuesday were at fault, at least in part, because they had declined to publicly “embrace” him. This suggestion was a continuation of Trump’s long-held framing of the midterms as a referendum on him personally. In one particularly strange part of his speech, Trump read from a list of losing GOP candidates.
“Too bad Mike,” he said referring to Rep. Mike Coffman’s failed reelection bid.
Speaking on Rep. Mia Love’s loss, Trump claimed the Utah congressman “gave me no love.” “Too bad.”
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 7, 2018
Rep. Ryan Costello, who announced in March that he would not run for reelection, slammed Trump for blaming Republicans who, like him, chose to retire or distance themselves from the president.
To deal w harassment & filth spewed at GOP MOC’s in tough seats every day for 2 yrs, bc of POTUS; to bite ur lip more times you’d care to; to disagree & separate from POTUS on principle & civility in ur campaign; to lose bc of POTUS & have him piss on u. Angers me to my core.
— Ryan Costello (@RyanCostello) November 7, 2018
In other tense moments, Trump attacked reporters in the room, labeling the media with his signature motto, “the enemy of the people.” When one reporter asked about Trump’s self-identification as a “nationalist,” the president cut her off and labeled her question “racist.”
“That’s a racist question, it’s so insulting to me,” Trump tells a reporter for asking about him referring to himself as a nationalist pic.twitter.com/fD6LkF0qKJ
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) November 7, 2018
Listen to our journalists explain all the twists and turns of Election Day, and what comes next for America, on this special episode of the Mother Jones Podcast: