US President Donald Trump has gone head to head with reporters at a wide-ranging news conference in which he denied having any dealings in Russia and hammered the news media for being negative and dishonest.
The president came out swinging against the media from one topic to another but especially for its reporting on leaks based on anonymous sources about people close to him having had contact with Russians during the campaign.
He said those reports were "fake news" and said he would look into investigating the leaks, which he said were "criminal".
He attempted to tamp down suspicions the leaks raised about his administration's ties to Russia by saying he has no holdings, loans or deals in Russia.
"Russia is a ruse," he said.
President Donald Trump slams the press again in 77-minute press conference. Source: Reuters
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"I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does."
The only calls he has had with Vladimir Putin were calls the Russian president made to congratulate him "extremely nicely" on his election and his inauguration, he said.
He also said the ouster earlier this week of his national security advisor followed Michael Flynn's misleading statements to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russia during the presidential transition.
Trump again slammed several news stories as 'fake'. Source: Getty
He repeated that he believes it would be much better if Russia and the United States "got together and got along".
Trump also denied news reports about "chaos" reigning in the White House as he builds his cabinet.
"This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine," he said, saying he's achieved that despite the difficulty some of his cabinet choices have had getting confirmed by the Senate.
The 77-minute news conference came one day after the president gave the cold shoulder to reporters from major news media at a briefing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling only on two reporters from news organizations friendly to the president.
He struck a far different tone at Thursday's news conference, which was scheduled just a few hours earlier to announce the president's new nominee for labour secretary one day after his first choice withdrew.
After announcing the nomination, Trump went into a lengthy statement listing the changes he has implemented since he took office.
The president denied his administration was in disarray. Source: Getty
Trump then complained that he "inherited a mess" both at home and abroad and pledged to fix all the problems. He admitted some of the actions he has taken have been unpopular, but said they were necessary for security.
He pledged to respond to a ruling against his executive order on immigration by next week, but provided no further details. The administration has been in a legal fight over the order, which temporarily suspended the US refugee programme and barred visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries.
But he spent the most time excoriating the media for "dishonest" reporting and even downgraded CNN from merely "fake news" to the more extreme "very fake news".
"There is such hatred," Trump complained, saying he is taking "constant hits" from some news organisations.
The president said he can "handle a bad story better than anybody as long as it's true," but the treatment he's received by the media was beyond anything he expected.
In an exchange with a CNN reporter he complained bitterly about "hatred and venom" coming from one of the network's morning programs.
Trump's press briefing lasted 77 minutes. Source: Getty
"You would do much better by being different," he says.
He said the public "gets it" and has punished the news network and other US media by tuning out. Trump also said he enjoyed the banter even though he expected headlines to say that he was "ranting and raving". He said he was just telling the media they were "dishonest people".
- With AAP