WASHINGTON — Speaking for over 30 minutes in the hot sun on Friday morning, President Trump lashed out at his critics in no particular order, heaping vitriol on everyone from Democrats running for president to the former Republican House speaker, not to mention a foreign ambassador and the press.
The president conducted his impromptu news conference after announcing the resignation of R. Alexander Acosta, the secretary of labor. Mr. Trump spoke over the loud roar of Marine One idling on the South Lawn of the White House, with Mr. Acosta smiling awkwardly at his side.
The thing that bound Mr. Trump’s disparate group of targets together was their recent public airing — intended or not — of something negative about Mr. Trump, or what he viewed as a critical portrayal of his policies.
Paul D. Ryan, the former Republican speaker of the House who left Congress in January, recently unloaded on Mr. Trump in a new book by Tim Alberta, describing him as a leader who “didn’t know anything about government” and saying he “wanted to scold him all the time.” Mr. Ryan described leaving government as an “escape hatch” he used to avoid two more years of working with Mr. Trump.
Mr. Ryan’s comments appeared almost to be designed to illicit a rejoinder from a reactive president, and Mr. Trump dutifully engaged, calling Mr. Ryan a politician who was “not a talent,” “unable to raise money” or get subpoenas, “when Nancy Pelosi hands them out like they’re cookies.”
Mr. Trump, always sensitive to the idea of former political allies making money off their onetime association with him, also implied that Mr. Ryan was getting paid for talking to Mr. Alberta and said that “the only success Paul Ryan had was the time he was with me.”
Moving on to other targets, Mr. Trump said former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has been trying to sell himself to Democrats as the levelheaded antidote to Mr. Trump, is “weak and ineffective,” adding, “President Xi laughs at guys like that.” He said that Mr. Xi, the president of China, and other foreign leaders “go to bed at night and they pray that Joe Biden, or somebody like him, becomes president.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, who is also running for president and has coined the term “Con Don” for his onetime constituent, “doesn’t work very hard,” Mr. Trump said. “Nobody knows what the hell he does.”
When it came to Kim Darroch, the British ambassador who resigned on Monday after the leak of a confidential email in which he described the Trump administration as “clumsy and inept,” Mr. Trump said he wished him well. That was only after berating him on Twitter as a “very stupid guy” and a “pompous fool.” Mr. Trump’s change of tone came, he said, because he was told that Mr. Darroch “actually said very good things about me” and “was sort of referring to other people” in the leaked cable.
“But they’ve got to stop their leaking problems,” Mr. Trump warned the British embassy.
Mr. Trump condemned two freshman congresswomen who are frequent critics of the administration, Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, capitalizing on an intraparty feud that has gripped the House majority. The freshman Democrats have accused Ms. Pelosi of singling them out for criticism because they are women of color.
[Read about the tensions between Ms. Pelosi and progressive Democrats.]
Ms. Omar “shouldn’t even be in office” Mr. Trump said, noting that the Muslim congresswoman is part of a group of freshman Democrats who “I don’t even know where they come from.” He also dinged Ms. Ocasio-Cortez for her chilly relationship with Ms. Pelosi, the speaker of the House. “I think Cortez is being very disrespectful to somebody that’s been there a long time,” he said.
Mr. Trump also offered an unusual defense of Ms. Pelosi, whom in the past he has called “Crazy Nancy,” noting that “she is not a racist. For them to call her a racist is a disgrace.”
But he saved perhaps the greatest ad hominem attack of the morning for his perpetual foil, The New York Times, a newspaper that Mr. Trump singled out for a report on the conditions in Border Patrol detention centers.
“They have phony sources,” he said. “I almost cried about that phony story,” he said, calling The Times a “very dishonest newspaper. What they do is a tremendous disservice to this country. They are truly the enemy of the people.” The Times, in a statement last week, said it was “confident in the accuracy of our reporting on the U.S. Border Patrol’s detention centers.”
[Read about conditions inside the detention center in Clint, Tex.]
Mr. Trump said that Vice President Mike Pence would be visiting detention centers to view the conditions there firsthand. “And that was my idea,” he said. “I’d love to be there.”
Then, finally he sent Mr. Acosta off with a handshake and a backslap, sending him back into the White House, before trudging across the lawn and finally boarding his helicopter.