When Donald Trump joked that the next person leaving the White House could well be his wife and First Lady Melania, not everyone was laughing. The audience at a charity dinner in Washington DC could be excused for shifting a tad uncomfortably in their seats when the comment was made.
"So many people have been leaving the White House. It’s actually been really exciting and invigorating. I like turnover. I like chaos. It really is good," Trump said during the annual Gridiron press dinner in Washington on Saturday night, according to a White House pool reporter's transcript.
"Now the question everyone keeps asking is, ‘Who’s going to be the next to leave? Steve Miller or Melania?’" Trump joked.
Trump added that his wife was especially fond of his tax reforms: "Melania is even getting some major benefits from it. She can finally claim me as an adult dependent," he said.
"And the White House is actually a warm, loving, and wonderful place. I’ve heard it’s cold. It’s not cold. It’s warm. It’s loving, you meet great people, wonderful people like yourselves.
"And I just don’t understand why everyone on the internet and in the media keeps screaming, ‘Hashtag Free Melania, Free Melania'. Like a number one hashtag. 'Free Melania'. She’s actually having a great time."
The Gridiron press dinner is notoriously irreverent in its tone and punches are rarely pulled, which was good, because the President refused to water down the vitriol he reserved for his perceived arch-enemies in the media.
"We also have some of the leading lights of the media here including some folks from the failing New York Times. That sucker is failing!" he said, according to the transcript.
"After all, you the New York Times are an icon. I’m a New York icon, you’re a New York icon, and the only difference is, I still own my buildings."
And if the CNN table thought they may have stepped out of the line of fire, they were mistaken.
"CNN, it lost a tremendous amount of credibility this year, but they also lost one of their true stars, the guy who got you the most scoops, inside info ... your really very best reporter," he said. "There was nobody like him – Steve Bannon. That guy leaked more than the Titanic."
Of course Trump's favorite news show, got more than a passing nod: "I have to be up early tomorrow morning – six o'clock – to be listening to Fox and Friends."
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