In announcing Tuesday that he had raised less for veterans groups than he had originally claimed, Donald Trump teed off on the the assembled political press, expresssed anger over the scrutiny, and at one point referred to a reporter as a “sleaze.”
“What I don’t want is when I raise millions of dollars, have people say this sleazy guy right over here from ABC, he’s a sleaze in my book — you’re a sleaze because you know the facts and you know the facts well,” said Trump.
ABC News’ Tom Llama claimed credit as the target of Trump’s ire:
Trump just called me a “sleaze.” Should be an interesting week.
— Tom Llamas (@TomLlamasABC) May 31, 2016
During the Trump Tower press conference, Trump announced that he raised $5.6 million for veterans groups, down from the $6 million he originally said that he raised for veterans group at the January fundraiser he held in lieu of attending a Fox News debate. But since his initial claim, it’s been unclear just how much Trump raised, how much he personally donated to veterans groups, and which groups received donations as a result of the fundraiser. Trump on Tuesday characterized the number as “almost $6 million.”
Throughout the press conference, Trump railed against the press for looking into the details of his fundraiser.
“The press should be ashamed of themselves,” he said, telling reporters, “You make me look very bad.”
Trump said that he wanted the donations to veterans groups to be “private” and that he didn’t want “credit” for the money he raised, and said he was forced to reveal details about the fundraiser because of the press. He also said that it took time for him to send donations to veterans groups because he had to vet the groups.
“The press is so dishonest and so unfair,” he lamented.
After Trump complained that the press was “questioning” him over his fundraiser, reporters pressed Trump on his tendency to spew hate at journalists.
CNN’s Jim Acosta told Trump, “You keep calling us the dishonest press, the disgusting press…”
“Generally speaking that’s 100 percent true,” Trump jumped in to say.
“I disagree with that, sir,” Acosta responded. “If I can ask you this question, it seems like you’re resistant to scrutiny, the kind of scrutiny that comes with running for President of the United States.”
“I like scrutiny, but you know what?” Trump then said.
When Acosta tried to cut in again, Trump said, “Excuse me. I have watched you on television. You’re a real beauty.”
Trump added, “I don’t want the credit for it but I shouldn’t be lambasted.”
“Why do you continue to attack the press though, Mr. Trump?” Acosta then asked, but Trump turned to another reporter without responding.
Later, Fox News reporter Carl Cameron asked Trump, “Is a question an attack?”
“I have been dealing with the press a long time. I think the political press is among the most dishonest people that I have ever met,” Trump replied. “I have to tell you that, okay? Of course, you’re excluded, Carl.”
Another reporter asked Trump if he needed a “thicker skin” given how much he is bothered by questions about his fundraising activities.
“I think that it’s bothersome because I love the vets,” Trump said, noting that he worked hard to raise money for veterans. “I think when the press portrays it differently, the press is being very dishonest, so I don’t like that. I don’t like dishonesty.”
Trump ended the contentious press conference by confirming that he would continue to attack the press if elected president.
“I think you’ve set a new bar today for being contentious with the press corps, kind of calling us losers to our faces and all that,” one reporter told Trump.
The Republican presidential candidate responded by saying that he wasn’t referring to “all of you, just many of you.”
“Is this what it’s going to be like covering you if you’re president?” the reporter then asked. “We’re going to have this kind of confrontation in the press room?”
“Yeah, it is going to be like this,” Trump replied, noting he will continue to criticize reporters “if the press writes false stories like they did with this.”
“When I raise $5.6 million as of today — more is coming in, and this is going to phenomenal groups and I have many of these people vetting the people that are getting the money and working hard —and then we have to read probably libelous stories — or certainly close — in the newspapers and the people know the stories are false, I’m going to continue to attack the press,” Trump continued. “Look, I find the press to be extremely dishonest. I find the political press to be unbelievably dishonest. I will say that.”
Watch a clip from the press conference: