- Joint Congressional Inauguration Committee (Wikimedia Commons)
President Donald Trump attacked the US media again Thursday at his first solo press conference, dismissing news outlets as dishonest.
Trump said the US news media serve special interests and people profiting off what he called "a very, very obviously broken system."
"The press has become so dishonest that if we don't talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people," Trump said.
The conference was combative and lengthy. It's worth watching the whole thing:
Trump vehemently dismissed the uproar over his administration's and election campaign's alleged ties with Russia, saying there is nothing to the allegations.
"Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven't made a phone call to Russia in years. Don’t speak to people from Russia," Trump said at a rambling press conference, his first on his own since taking office.
Trump attacked the media mercilessly and decried press leaks that led to the ouster of his national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Flynn stepped down after it was revealed he misled the administration over pre-inauguration talks he held with the Russian ambassador about sanctions imposed by Barack Obama against Moscow.
Trump defended Flynn, even though he accepted his resignation Monday night, saying he had done nothing wrong in talking to the diplomat.
"He's doing the job. He was just doing his job," Trump said.
Trump said he had asked the Justice Department to investigate intelligence leaks that led to Flynn's fall.
Calling them "criminal leaks," Trump said they were put out by "people in the agencies."
"We're looking at them very serious. I've gone to all of the folks in charge of the various agencies, and we're — I've actually called the Justice Department to look into the leaks."
A new cabinet nominee
President Trump also announced Thursday he has nominated Alexander Acosta to be the US secretary of labor, the first Hispanic American chosen for his cabinet.
Acosta is a former federal prosecutor in Florida and now the dean of the law school at Florida International University (FIU). He has also served on the National Labor Relations Board and led the Justice Department's civil rights division.
Acosta was tapped one day after Trump's first nominee for the post, Andrew Puzder, withdrew under pressure over his business record and other past controversies in his personal life.
"I think he'll be a tremendous secretary of labor," Trump said of Acosta at a White House news conference. "He has had a tremendous career."
A Harvard Law graduate, Acosta clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, before working as a corporate attorney in Washington where he specialized in labor issues.
Acosta served as federal prosecutor in Florida for nearly a decade, departing in 2009 after prosecuting high-profile cases involving former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the Liberian torturer known as Chuckie Taylor and Colombian drug cartel members.
Trump had faced criticism for not nominating any member of the Latino or Hispanic community to his inner circle, despite the nation's Hispanic population topping 17 percent.
Cabinet members require confirmation by the US Senate. Puzder, a fast-food executive who faced intense criticism for his labor policies including opposition to minimum-wage increases, withdrew after it became clear he did not have sufficient votes.
By nominating Acosta, considered a more mainstream pick than Puzder, Trump was seen as seeking to ease some of the turmoil that has gripped his White House in his first month in office.
He has already been confirmed three times by the Senate for various posts, suggesting he should have a smoother ride than the previous nominee.
In March 2011, as the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks neared, Acosta testified before a Senate judiciary panel about protecting the civil rights of American Muslims.
"These efforts following 9/11 were important. They set a tone," he told Congress. "They reminded those who might be tempted to take out their anger on an entire community that such actions were wrong."