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Analysis: Trump at war with all sides in his news conference

Cathleen Decker, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

Donald Trump on Wednesday displayed his essential political character: He is a man apart, rebelling against both the political party he defeated and the one he ostensibly leads.

That positioning, and its appeal to disgruntled voters, helped to secure him the presidency. The question now is whether playing by his own rules will work as well in the White House.

In his first full news conference in almost six months, Trump put his independence and refusal to follow Washington convention on vivid display.

He deepened his public war with the intelligence agencies that in nine days will be among his most important national security guides.

He gratuitously insulted a Republican senator who could prove to be a daunting enemy when it comes to Trump's own goals.

He laid down demands on replacing Obamacare that his party's House and Senate leaders have indicated they can't attain and refused to take steps even many Republicans have said are necessary to limit conflicts between the interests of his business and the United States.

All that comes as Trump wraps up a transition that has achieved some goals but has conspicuously not expanded the political support that was only barely enough to allow him to defeat a polarizing Democratic nominee.

He stands to begin his presidency with the lowest poll ratings ever for a newly elected president. Far from using the pre-inauguration honeymoon period to consolidate support, Trump has diminished his standing by some measures.

But if his news conference demonstrated anything, it is that Trump at this point sees no need to change his course.

Most striking was his treatment of the intelligence community, which has aroused Trump's ire with its unanimous declaration that Russia sought to interfere in the November election in order to damage Democrat Hillary Clinton and assist him.

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