Evan Vucci / AP

Surprise! President Trump announced an impromptu press conference during a meeting with some of his biggest congressional supporters this morning. It was expected that he'd introduce his new pick for Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, but it turned into a stream of consciousness speech: tearing into the "dishonest media" and "the mess" he inherited as president, denying his campaign had contacts with Russia, and announcing he'll issue a new executive order on the travel ban next week.

  • Russia: "This is fake news put out by the media." He said that nobody that he knew of during the campaign had any contacts with Russia. And when pressed on how he'd respond to Russian aggression: "I don't have to tell you anything!"
  • The firing of Michael Flynn: Trump stated that he did not direct Flynn to discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador, but said he would have "because that's his job." He added that he doesn't think Flynn did anything wrong, "If anything he did something right...He was just doing his job," and reiterated that misleading VP Mike Pence was the main reason for his firing.
  • On leaks: "The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake." When asked about encouraging Russian hacks of Hillary Clinton during the campaign: "In one case you're talking about highly classified information. On the other, you're talking about John Podesta's emails... who by the way I would have fired."
  • The media: "The press is honestly out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control." He also had an extended riff on his favorite cable news shows. On CNN, "the tone is such hatred." But he does really like "honorable" Fox & Friends.
  • Travel ban: "We had a very smooth rollout. We had a bad court." Trump stated that a revamped executive order is coming sometime next week that will be tailored to the decision from the Ninth Circuit.
  • Change of heart on immigration? "It's a very difficult subject for me." Trump said about DACA. He'll address it "with heart" because he "find[s] it hard to do what the law says."
  • Outreach to minorities: Trump told a Jewish reporter that "I'm the least anti-Semitic person you've ever seen" in response to a question on rising anti-Semitic threats in the U.S. The reporter had made pains to say he and his group did not think Trump, who has Jewish grandchildren, is anti-Semitic. Trump also took a question from April Ryan, a black journalist, on how he'd help urban issues. Trump at first seemed unfamiliar when asked about the CBC (Congressional Black Caucus), then told Ryan he'd be happy to meet with them, asking her: "Are they friends of yours?"

Remember Alexander Acosta? In case you needed a refresher.

Go deeper

27 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's China plan: Bring allies

Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Joe Biden is planning to confront China across the globe, embracing some of President Trump's goals but rejecting his means.

The big picture: By starting a trade war with China, Trump has fundamentally altered the U.S.- China relationship — and forced both Republicans and Democrats to accept a more confrontational approach towards Beijing.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022 — Trump's testing czar: Surge "is real" and not just caused by more tests
  2. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases
  3. Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave France imposes lockdown Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  4. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.

In pictures: Storm Zeta churns inland after lashing Louisiana

Debris on the streets as then-Hurricane Zeta passes over in Arabi, Louisiana, on Oct. 28. It's the third hurricane to hit Louisiana in about two months, after Laura and Delta. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Tropical Storm Zeta has killed at least two people, triggered flooding, downed powerlines and caused widespread outages since making landfall in Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday.

The big picture: A record 11 named storms have made landfall in the U.S. this year. Zeta is the fifth named storm to do so in Louisiana in 2020, the most ever recorded. It weakened t0 a tropical storm early Thursday, as it continued to lash parts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle with heavy rains and strong winds.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!