President Trump held a supposedly impromptu news conference Wednesday that nonetheless included a prepared placard on the lectern and handouts for reporters. During the event, he declared that he would no longer work with Democrats on an infrastructure deal that probably wasn’t going to happen anyway until they stopped investigating him.
Oh, and he hailed a special election victory for Republicans in a district he had won by 36 points in 2016 (it was “a 50-50 shot,” he said with a straight face) and proclaimed himself the most transparent president in history, even as he stonewalls Democrats’ subpoenas.
It was a scene.
Below is the transcript of the news conference, with fact-checking, context and analysis.
TRUMP: Good morning.
So, I came here to do a meeting on infrastructure with Democrats, not really thinking they wanted to do infrastructure or anything else other than investigate. And I just saw that Nancy Pelosi, just before our meeting, made a statement that “We believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a coverup.”
Well, it turns I’m the most — and I think most of you would agree to this — I’m the most transparent president, probably in the history of this country.
We have given — on a witch hunt, on a hoax — the whole thing with Russia was a hoax, as it relates to the Trump administration and myself. It was a total, horrible thing that happened to our country. It hurt us in so many ways.
Despite that, we’re setting records with the economy, with jobs. We’re the most — most people employed today that we’ve ever had in the history of our country. We have the best unemployment numbers that we’ve had in the history of our country — in some cases, 51 years, but, generally, in the history of our country. Companies are moving back in. Things are going well.
And I said, “Let’s have the meeting on infrastructure. We’ll get that done easily. That’s one of the easy ones.”
And instead of walking in happily into a meeting, I walk in to look at people that have just said that I was doing a coverup.
I don't do coverups. You people know that probably better than anybody.
And I was just looking at a list of some of the things that we just did. More than 2,500 subpoenas qualified for. And I let everybody talk. I let the White House counsel speak for 30 hours — 30 hours.
I have 19 special counsel lawyers, 40 FBI agents. I said, “Open it all up. Let them have whatever they want.”
Nearly 500 search warrants. Think of that, a search warrant. Did you ever see a search warrant before? Neither did I. This was over 500 search warrants.
And of the 19 people that were heading up this investigation — or whatever you want to call it — with Bob Mueller, they were contributors to the Democrat Party, most of them, and to Hillary Clinton. They hated President Trump. They hated him with a passion. They went to her big party after the election that turned out to be a wake, not a party. It was a wake. And they were very angry.
These are the people that after two years and $40 million or $35 million — it’ll end up being a lot more than that by the time all the bills are paid — this is what happened: No collusion, no obstruction, no nothing.
They issued 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers. Think of that, though, 500 witnesses.
And then I have Nancy Pelosi go out and say that, “The president of the United States engaged in a coverup.”
Now, we’ve had a House investigation. We have Senate investigations. We have investigations like nobody’s ever had before. And there’s nothing — we did nothing wrong.
They would have loved to have said we colluded. They would have loved it. These people were out to get us, the Republican Party and President Trump. They were out to get us. This was a one-sided, horrible thing.
The bottom line is, they said there's no collusion. No collusion with Russia. You heard so much talk about phone calls that my son made to me from this meeting that was set up by GPS Fusion, it looks like. Which is the other side, for those that don't know.
And for a year, I heard about phone calls that went to a special number. Unauthorized. And it would have been my son Don, who’s a good young man who’s gone through hell. And they were calls that must have been made by him before and after the meeting, three calls.
After massive study and work, they actually found who made the calls. One was a friend of ours, a real estate developer. Great guy. Most of you know him. Nice guy. Loves our country. And the other one was the head of NASCAR, two of them.
So of the three calls that were so horrible, that he had a meeting and he called me and then he had the meeting after and he made two more calls — and they were written about like this little — little lines, couple of lines. Nobody wanted to admit it.
Even last night, we had a great election. I went there on Monday. We had an election for Fred Keller, who's a 50-50 shot and he won in a landslide. We went and we did a rally. Hardly mentioned today. And yet if he lost, it would have been the biggest story in the country, even bigger than this witch hunt stuff that you guys keep writing about.
So here's the bottom line: There was no collusion, there was no obstruction. We've been doing this since I've been president.
And actually, the crime was committed on the other side. We’ll see how that all turns out. I hope it turns out well. But to what — to my way of thinking — and I know a lot of you agree with me — the crime was committed on the other side.
This whole thing was a takedown attempt at the president of the United States. And honestly, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves for the way you report it so dishonestly. Not all of you, but many of you — the way you report it.
So I’ve said from the beginning — right from the beginning — that you probably can’t go down two tracks. You can go down the investigation track, and you can go down the investment track or the track of let’s get things done for the American people. I love the American people.
Drug prices are coming down, first time in 51 years, because of my administration. But we can get them down way lower, working with the Democrats. We can solve the problem of the border in 15 minutes if the Democrats would give us a few votes.
So, I just wanted to let you know that I walked into the room and I told Senator Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, “I want to do infrastructure. I want to do it more than you want to do it. I'd be really good at that. That's what I do. But you know what? You can't do it under these circumstances. So, get these phony investigations over with.”
The Wall Street Journal just wrote today, just a little while ago I saw it, “Mr. Mueller wasn’t obstructed in any way.” This is the Wall Street Journal editorial today. “Mr. Mueller wasn’t obstructed in any way. His copious report” — copious, 434 pages, now they want to interview all of the same people again.
They want to interview — Jerry Nadler, who’s been an enemy of mine for many years. He fought me in New York unsuccessfully, by the way. I’ve had great success against Jerry. But he was representing Manhattan, and he would fight me all the time on the West Side railroad yards many times, very unsuccessfully. He failed.
I come to Washington, I become president, and I said, “Oh no, I have Jerry Nadler again?”
So, Wall Street Journal, “Mr. Mueller wasn’t obstructed in any way. His copious report was released for all to see and there was no collusion” — this is the Wall Street Journal. “And there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.”
That's it. But they want to make this a big deal. Whether or not they carry the big I-word out, I can't imagine that, but they probably would because they do whatever they have to do.
I'll tell you there's a danger here. If someday a Democrat becomes president and you have a Republican House, they can impeach him for any reason. Or her. Any reason. We can't allow that to happen. We can't allow it to happen.
So, when you look at all of the transparency, when you look at all I’ve done — and I will tell you, my lawyers say “You don’t have to do this; you can use presidential privilege. You don’t have to let your lawyers and all of your staff testify. You can use presidential privilege, sir. Would you recommend it?”
Well, you can be transparent or you can be tight. If you’ve done nothing wrong, being transparent is better. So, I said “I did nothing wrong. Let’s be transparent.”
So, that’s what you have. All of these things — look at that. All of these things. 500 witnesses that I allowed to testify. It’s a disgrace.
So, when they get everything done, I’m all set to — let’s get infrastructure, let’s get drug prices down.
In the meantime, we're doing tremendous work without them. We're doing tremendous executive orders, a lot of work. We've had a great success. Most successful economy perhaps in our country's history. We've cut regulations at a level that nobody else has cut them before. The largest tax cut in the history of the country.
So, we're doing a lot of work.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Nancy Pelosi gave you any assurances that they won’t — the House won’t (inaudible)?
TRUMP: This is very sad (ph). Because this meeting was set up a number of days ago at 11 o'clock. All of a sudden, I hear last night, they're going to have a meeting right before this meeting to talk about the I-word. The I-word. Can you imagine?
I don’t speak to Russians about campaigns. When I went to Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania, I don’t say “Oh, let’s call Russia. Maybe they can” — it’s a hoax. The greatest hoax in history.
Yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.
Do you view Congress as a coequal branch of government? And do you respect their power of oversight?
TRUMP: I respect the courts, I respect Congress, I respect right here where we're standing.
But what they've done is abuse. This is investigation number four on the same thing. Probably five. And it really started, I think, pretty much from the time we came down the escalator in Trump Tower.
So I say to you that we're going to get everything done. We're doing a lot without them. Let them play their games. We're going to go down one track at a time. Let them finish up, and we'll be all set.
Thank you, everybody.