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Donald Trump doesn't give news conferences very often.

When he does, they can be wild, unscripted and lengthy.

His performance in the ballroom of the Lotte New York Palace hotel was no exception.

Despite being a president under some serious political pressure over the entanglement of his Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh in sexual assault allegations, the president was on fiery, ebullient form.

He ranged – sometimes without prompt or obvious logic – between topics as varied as trade with China, irritation with Canada, his own experience with assault allegations, the Russia investigation, "fake news", his former love for The New York Times, the limits of the #metoo movement, his reception at the UN General Assembly and more.

:: Highlights from Donald Trump's news conference

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Video: 'China meddling in the midterms'

"I could be doing this all day long," he exclaimed at one point, genuinely seeming to enjoy himself.

He polled the assembled media on whether he should take a few more questions (we said yes): "It doesn't matter to me. A couple more, I don't care."

Towards the end he even drew in a pop star reference: "I always like to finish with a good one.

"Elton John said when you hit that last tune and it's good, don't go back."

Amid this verbal mayhem, I managed to ask a question.

Trump and Hannah Thomas-Peter
Image: Hannah Thomas-Peter asked Mr Trump a question during the news conference

Having never addressed the president before, I was slightly anxious that he might not respond clearly.

Initially, this turned out to be well founded.

First, he remarked that I was the one who had been nodding at his answers.

True – I often nod when I'm listening.

He mused about whether I would ask a killer question.

Then, after checking which organisation I worked for, he congratulated me on the Comcast takeover deal for Sky plc, the owner of Sky News, and said he hoped I had benefitted.

I wanted to know if we was at all concerned at the message he was sending to women around the world by using language like "con job" in relation to sexual assault allegations.

Before I fully finished my question, he was answering.

In short order, he moved on to his election victory in Wisconsin before railing against the Russia investigation and a Democratic Party stitch up, and then finally answering the question. Kind of.

"This is a horrible precedent," he said.

He might have to appoint other justices, he remarked, and "I don't want to be in a position where people say 'no thanks'. We have a country to run."

Then he was on to the next question.

Laughter as Trump touted his administration's progress in past 2 years at UNGA: 'Didn't expect that reaction, but that's OK.' 0:40
Video: UN laughs at Trump's boasting

The jumbled breadth of the response was hard to take in.

It is the kind of response that dedicated journalists who cover Washington DC and the White House have to deal with all the time.

I imagine it is the kind of response that his aides, advisers and administration officials have come to expect.

Is he a president who doesn't mean what he says? Or a president who always says what he means and we are just not used to it?

Donald Trump sometimes defies both description and comprehension.

As one senior diplomat at the UN said to me: "Anyone who tells you they know what he is going to do, or going to say, or going to mean, isn't telling you the truth."

More from US

Observing the president in close quarters for the first time since his election, it seemed to me to be entirely constructed that way.

What a luxury, in these pressurised, fractured times, to keep people guessing, and to always have some room to wriggle.

Original Article

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