Trump mentioned Clinton over and over at his news conference. Did he forget he won?

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

President Donald Trump's impromptu Thursday news conference at the White House was supposed to be about his new nominee to head up the Department of Labor.

But instead of focusing on labor nominee Alexander Acosta, Trump was hellbent on relitigating the 2016 presidential campaign — mentioning his vanquished opponent Hillary Clinton multiple times throughout the news conference.

Trump, clearly, has not moved past the election. And he seems to be looking for someone to shoulder some of the heat he's been feeling from his botched executive order on immigration, as well as the latest scandal his administration is facing over its alleged Russia ties. 

The first mention of Clinton came when Trump was asked why he was OK with WikiLeaks leaking emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign, but is not OK with leaks about his own administration.

Trump went on to say the WikiLeaks leaks were OK because they were not giving out classified information — only emails stolen from a cyberattack that the U.S. intelligence community blamed the Russians for.

He then went on to question why the media wasn't still covering one of the revelations in those leaks, which showed that the Clinton campaign received a tip from a Democratic National Committee official that there would be a question about the Flint water crisis at a Democratic primary debate being held in Flint, Mich.

"WikiLeaks, which I have nothing to do with, comes out and happens to give, they're not giving classified information, they're giving stuff what was said in an office about Hillary cheating on the debates, which, by the way, nobody mentions," Trump said. "Nobody mentions that Hillary received the questions to the debates. Can you imagine?"

"They gave her the questions to a debate and she should have reported herself," Trump said.

The reason the press is no longer covering the debate snafu should be obvious: that Democratic primary debate was on March 6, 2016 — almost a full year ago.

Clinton handily won the primary then lost the general election, which went down more than three months ago. Trump should know that better than anyone, since he reminds people about it almost every time he is at a microphone. 

Next, Trump went on a tear against Clinton as he tried to fend off attacks that his administration is close to Russia.

"One of the reasons I'm here today is to tell you the whole Russian thing is a ruse," Trump said.

He said he merely wants the United States to get along better with Russia, then accused Clinton of trying to do the same thing — repeating the lie that she gave Russia a fifth of the U.S.'s uranium.

"We had Hillary Clinton trying to do a reset. We had Hillary clinton give Russia 20% of the uranium in our country. You know what uranium is?" Trump asked, before things went really off the rails: "This thing called nuclear weapons and other things, like lots of things, are done with uranium, including some bad things. Nobody talks about that."

He continued, "I didn't do anything for Russia. I've done nothing for Russia. Hillary Clinton gave them 20% of our uranium. Hillary Clinton did a reset with the stupid, plastic button that made us all look like a bunch of jerks here. He looked at her like, 'What the hell is she doing with that cheap, plastic button?' Hillary Clinton — that was the reset. It said reset."

Trump was talking about an incident from March 6, 2009, almost eight full years ago, when then-secretary of state Clinton gave Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov a gift of a plastic button meant to symbolize a reset between the U.S. and Russia.

Still not ready to let it go, Trump said he is going to be tougher on Russia than Clinton.

"Maybe I'm not going to be able to do a deal with Russia, but at least I tried," Trump said. "Does anybody really think Hillary Clinton would be tougher on Russia than Donald Trump? Does anybody in this room really believe that?" Trump said. "She tried to make a deal, had that reset, gave all that valuable uranium. She's close to Russia. You know what I gave the Russians? Nothing."

Trump's continued focus on Clinton was mercilessly mocked on Twitter.

There were those who pointed out Trump focused more on his former foe during his press conference than he did on outlining his own administration's policy agenda — which will be an important part in determining his own party's success at the ballot box in the 2018 midterm elections.

Others weren't buying his claim that he would have been tougher on Russia, given the glowing praise Trump has heaped on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

And after Trump mentioned Clinton so much in his news conference, some questioned if he was having some Clinton withdrawals.

"Trump really misses Hillary Clinton," Ryan Lizza, a reporter at the New Yorker, tweeted.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Emily C. Singer

Emily C. Singer, née Cahn, is a senior writer for Mic covering politics. She is based in New York and can be reached at esinger@mic.com

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