It has been more than a year since Donald Trump held his one and only full-fledged news conference as president. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders emerges occasionally to not-answer questions. It is past time, though, to hear from the president himself, at length — not just answering shouted questions or taking a few queries at a joint event with a foreign leader.
Exhibit A: Friday’s exasperating session with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, at which President Trump took two questions, both from friendly news outlets, neither of which asked about the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, even though Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman was entering a guilty plea at that very time.
Here is a partial list of questions for Trump:
Mr. President, you said the indictment handed down by the special counsel shows there was no collusion. But the indictment alleges that Russia intervened with the intent of helping you get elected. Do you agree with that assessment? What is your basis for saying Russia’s actions had no effect on the outcome?
You said in November about Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.” Is that still your position? If so, why do you believe Putin? Why did you believe him previously?
Please outline what steps you have taken to prevent Russia from repeating in 2018 or 2020 what it did in 2016. What meetings have you held on this subject with your intelligence chiefs or the National Security Council?
Last year, you tried to persuade Congress not to enact new sanctions on Russia over its election interference. And recently, you declined to identify new targets of sanctions. In light of the Mueller indictment, what do you say to critics who believe you have been too soft on Russia?
In the aftermath of the recent indictments against 13 Russians and three companies, you expressed anger at various people and institutions — the FBI, Democrats and President Barack Obama, among others. But you do not seem angry at Russia — at least judging from your public statements. Can you explain?
Last weekend, you tweeted that “the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter” and suggested this was because “they are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.” Do you really believe the two are related? How would you feel about that tweet if you were one of the victims’ parents?
Also given those latest indictments, would you still describe the Mueller investigation as “the single greatest witch hunt in American history”? Why?
When did you become aware that former national security adviser Michael Flynn had spoken to former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak about lifting sanctions? When did you become aware that Flynn had lied to the FBI about those conversations? What did you do in response? Why did you describe Flynn as a “good guy” and ask FBI Director James B. Comey to “let this go,” referring to the investigation of Flynn?
Please outline what role you played in drafting your son Donald Trump Jr.’s statement about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting? Did you say that the statement should describe the meeting as being “primarily” about adoption? What was your basis for saying that? When did you become aware of the meeting?
Do you believe it is appropriate for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt to fly first-class at taxpayers’ expense?
Do you believe that your Veterans Affairs secretary, David Shulkin, should resign after an inspector general’s investigation found that he went on a 10-day junket to Copenhagen and London, including accepting free Wimbledon tickets?
Was it appropriate for Rob Porter to remain on the White House staff after officials there learned about allegations that he had abused his former wives? If not, why was no action taken against him until the information became public? Why did you say you hope that Porter “has a great career ahead of him”? Why did it take you nine days to speak out against domestic abuse?
Without delving into details of your personal life, did you know that your lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged for the payment of $130,000 to Stormy Daniels to prevent her from speaking publicly about her assertion that she had an affair with you? When did you become aware of that payment? Did you approve it? Was it proper? Did any of the money come from you? If not, what do you know about where it came from?
You said during the campaign that all the women who accused you of harassing or assaulting them were liars and would be sued. Do you still claim they were lying? Where are the lawsuits?
Are your taxes still being audited?
Mr. President, we have a lot of other questions on issues of substance, from the deficits the United States faces as a result of new tax cuts and spending increases, to your policies on guns.
Your predecessors regularly made themselves available for news conferences, which serve a different function than answering shouted questions. Will you come back?