“The judge story is an untold story. Nobody wants to talk about it,” he said. “But when you think about it, Mitch and I were saying: That has consequences 40 years out, depending on the age of the judge.”
In praising his record in naming judges to the federal bench, Mr. Trump was eager to assess quality and quantity. He claimed that “some scholars that have been studying it” have given “great reviews” to his nominees.
Saying his judicial appointments will “set records,” Mr. Trump called this “one of the big unsung things of this administration.”
‘He ran a very strong race’
Mr. Trump has plans next week to meet with Roy Moore, who won the Republican primary race in Alabama to fill the Senate seat of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Mr. Trump had campaigned against Mr. Moore and headlined a rally for the incumbent who lost, Senator Luther Strange. But even before the vote in September, the president had begun to make tepid statements supporting Mr. Moore’s candidacy, which was backed by Stephen K. Bannon, the former White House strategist. Mr. Trump was said to have been upset with members of his staff who had encouraged him to back Mr. Strange.
“We’ll be talking to him, and I can report to you then, O.K.?” Mr. Trump said of the coming meeting with Mr. Moore. “We’re going to talk to him about a lot of different things.”
“He ran a very strong race,” Mr. Trump added.
Credit J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
The Russia Investigation
‘I’d like to see it end’
Mr. Trump was asked at one point whether he had plans to fire Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating ties between his presidential campaign and Russia.
“No,” Mr. Trump said flatly. “Not at all.”
“I’d like to see it end,” Mr. Trump said of the investigation. “They ought to get to the end of it, because I think the American public is sick of it.”
The president then returned to one of his oft-repeated talking points: that attention to possible collusion between his campaign and Russia is an “excuse” from Democrats searching for reasons Mrs. Clinton lost the election in November.
Sexual Assault Allegations
‘Totally fake news’
In response to reports that his campaign had been subpoenaed for documents relating to accusations of sexual assault, Mr. Trump called the allegations “totally fake news.”
“It’s fake,” he said. “It’s made-up stuff, and it’s disgraceful what happens.”
“But,” Mr. Trump added, “that happens in the world of politics.”
Credit Ramon Espinosa/Associated Press
‘The Puerto Rico situation — it’s been outstanding’
Mr. Trump said he spoke to Gov. Jerry Brown Jr. of California about the devastating fires that ravaged Northern California last week. He also cited “an A-plus” approval rating that James Lee Witt, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Bill Clinton, gave to the Trump administration’s response in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
Mr. Trump spoke of “tremendous amounts of water” and “massive amounts of food” being distributed across Puerto Rico by FEMA workers and the military.
“You look at the governor of Puerto Rico — he himself has said we’ve done an outstanding job,” Mr. Trump said. “Most people have said we’ve done an outstanding job.”
The president has been harshly criticized for what many see as a lackluster and delayed response to the island’s devastation — especially after he lashed out at the mayor of San Juan, who questioned Mr. Trump’s leadership.
Mr. Trump has said that Puerto Rico’s poor infrastructure and debt was partly to blame for the crisis. He later reassured the island territory, where more than 80 percent of the population remains without power, that he would “always be with them.”
‘Hillary, please run’
In the final moments of the news conference, Mr. Trump said he hoped Mrs. Clinton, his opponent in the 2016 presidential campaign, would run again in 2020. It was a repeat of a tweet he posted in the morning.
“Oh, I hope Hillary runs,” he said. “Hillary, please run again.”
Asked about Mrs. Clinton’s defense of N.F.L. players kneeling during the national anthem, the president blamed her argument — that the players were protesting the criminal justice system, not the American flag or national anthem — as a reason she lost the election.
“There’s plenty of time to do knees and there’s plenty of time to do lots of other things,” Mr. Trump said. “But when you take a knee — well, that’s why she lost the election. Honestly, it’s that thinking. That is the reason she lost the election.”
“The people of our country are very angry at the N.F.L. All you have to do is look at their ratings and look at their stadiums. You see empty seats where you never saw them before,” Mr. Trump said. “A lot of people are very angry at it. It is highly disrespectful. They shouldn’t do it.”