On Wednesday U.S. President Donald Trump held is second formal news conference - his first in 587 days. During the exchanged, which ranged from humorous to outright bizarre, Trump quoted Elton John, said he "loved" the New York Times, accused Democrats of a "con job" and slammed the women accusing his Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault.
For more than an hour and 20 minutes Wednesday, Trump held court with reporters in a sweltering hotel ballroom in New York City, where he’s been attending the annual United Nations General Assembly. Trump had met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier in the day, and a good chunk of the press conference dealt with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Here are some of the highlights:
Nobody was laughing
Trump insisted he was never ridiculed by leaders on the world stage, dismissing reports that he was laughed at during his address to the U.N. General Assembly as “fake news.”
- Whatever His Intentions, Trump’s Endorsement of Two-state Solution Changes Reality
- Nikki Haley to Fox News: World Leaders Laughed at Trump at the UN Out of 'Respect'
Trump allowed that he’d heard “a little rustle” as he began reciting U.S. economic gains under his watch, but he insisted: “They weren’t laughing at me. They were laughing with me.”
Trump had appeared briefly flustered by the reaction Tuesday morning. He smiled and said, “I didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s OK.”
As Trump tells it: “People had a good time with me. We were doing it together. We had a good time. They respect what I’ve done.”
I could go all day
Trump, who has long loved sparring with the media, seemed especially engaged on Wednesday, bashing the “fake news” with one breath and praising reporters with another - he even told the New York Time reported he "loves" the paper he calls "the failing New York Times."
He peppered his questioners with commentary, addressing one reporter he assumed to be Kurdish as “Mr. Kurd.”
“I could be doing this all day long,” Trump remarked, polling the crowd and asking whether he should continue taking questions. “It doesn’t matter to me. A couple more, I don’t care.”
After delivering an answer he seemed especially pleased with, Trump paid tribute to one of his favorite artists and some advice he’d taken to heart.
“I always like to finish with a good one,” he said. “Elton John said when you hit that last tune and it’s good, don’t go back.”
Full remarks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Trump: Well I’d love to be able to make a deal with the Israelis and the Palestinians. You know, my whole life I was told that’s the toughest deal. And I disagree, I think health care is probably tougher, OK, you want to know the truth.
But it is tough, but we’re going to take care of that too. That’s going to get taken care of. We’ve already taken care of a lot of it. But the whole — my life I’ve always heard the deal between, as you know, Israel and the Palestinians, that’s like the toughest deal.
Every possible thing is tough about that. I think we’re going to make a deal. I think we’re going to make a deal. So at one of our many meetings today, I was with Bibi Netanyahu, a man who I have a lot of respect for.
A man who’s been extremely nice to me, very happy that I did the whole thing with Jerusalem and the embassy, which by the way we got open in four months for less than $500,000 and the budget was over a billion dollars.
So we saved let’s say a billion dollars, that’s not so bad. And it’s open and it’s beautiful by the way, Jerusalem stone, one of my favorite stones. I will tell you the question somebody said today well this is the first news conference in a long time.
I said what do you mean? I did like five today. Every time I sit I take a lot of questions from people that are screaming like maniacs in the back of the room, meaning reporters. And one of the reporters, I won’t say that it was John Roberts that said that, our issues (ph).
But one of the — it was, but that’s OK, don’t feel guilty John. But one of the reporters that was screaming asked about the one state two state, and I said I think the two state will happen, I think it’s one way more difficult because it’s a real estate deal, because you need meets and bounds and you need lots of carve outs and lots of everything.
It’s actually a little tougher deal, but another way it works better because you have people governing themselves and — so they asked me about that. I said well I think the two state will happen, I think we’re going to go down the two state road.
And I’m glad I got it out and Jared, who’s so involved, he loves Israel. He loves Israel. But he’s also going to be very fair with the Palestinians. He understands it takes two people to be happy, two groups of people to be happy.
Everybody’s got to be happy and that’s why it’s so tough, because there’s been so much hatred and anger for so many years, that’s what probably the number one ingredient of toughness is.
TRUMP: But they asked me, I said I think it’s going to be a two state. And you know what I did today? By saying that, I put it out there. And if you ask most of the people in Israel, they agree with that.
But nobody wanted to say it. It’s a big thing to put it out, it’s a very big thing to put it out. Now bottom line, if the Israelis and the Palestinians want one state — that’s OK with me. If they want two states, that’s OK with me. I’m happy if they’re happy. I’m a facilitator, I want to see if I can get a deal done so that people don’t get killed anymore.
When we had — in Saudi Arabia, we had one of the great conferences in history. Many of you were there, probably all of you were there. It’s one of the most beautiful two days — that and China — two of the most incredible events I’ve ever seen, saw yet — I’ve never seen anything like it.
And we had, I believe 58 Muslim countries — their leaders, the kings, the Emirs, the absolute leaders from every — there was nobody in second place, they were the leaders of the whole thing.
And unbeknownst to anybody else people would come up to me individual — it wasn’t a setup, they’d come up to me and say, “sir, you can’t have peace in the Middle East without peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” I said why, what difference — why does that matter so much?
They said, “it just is impossible to make peace in the Middle East unless you have between the Israelis –” so I heard that from one, the King of Saudi Arabia whose a great guy, King Salman. And then, somebody else came up and he wasn’t told, “oh go up and say it,” I know where they’re coming from.
And I must have had 12 leaders say it, and they just said it. And I started to realize that peace between Israel and the Palestinians for the Middle East is a very important thing and we’re trying very hard to get it. I think probably two state is more likely, but you know, if they do a single, if they do a double — I’m OK with it if they’re both happy. If they’re both happy, I’m OK with either. I think the two state is more likely.