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Trump on Whether He's Uncivil: 'I Went to an Ivy League College... I'm a Very Intelligent Person'

President Trump talks to reporters before boarding Marine One to depart from the White House on Oct. 25, 2017. (Olivier Douliery/ Abaca Press/Sipa via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — President Trump told reporters outside the White House today that “the press makes me more uncivil than I am” after Tuesday’s comments from Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) that Trump’s incivility and other qualities were “debasing” the office of the president.

“You know, people don’t understand — I went to an Ivy League college, I was a nice student, I did very well, I’m a very intelligent person,” Trump said. “The fact is, I think — I really believe — I think the press creates a different image of Donald Trump than the real person.”

Trump began his college career at Fordham University before transferring two years later to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, which is Ivy League.

He added that he thinks “it’s always OK, when somebody says something about you that’s false, I think it’s always OK to counterpunch or to fight back.”

Trump also elaborated on the counterterrorism mission in Niger in which four U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush earlier this month, stressing that “my generals and my military, they have decision-making ability.”

“As far as the incident that we’re talking about, I’ve been seeing it just like you’ve been seeing it. I’ve been getting reports,” he said. “They have to meet the enemy and they meet them tough, and that’s what happens.”

Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Wash., Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio, and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Ga., were killed in action.

Two days later, the body of another American who had been listed as missing after the attack was located about a mile from the attack site by Nigerien forces: Sgt. La David T. Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Fla. Widow Myeshia Johnson confirmed Rep. Frederica Wilson’s (D-Fla.) account of last week’s condolence call regarding the death of Sgt. La David Johnson in Niger.

“I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name, and that’s what hurt me the most, because if my husband is out here fighting for our country and he risked his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name?” Johnson told ABC in her first interview. “That’s what made me upset and cry even more, because my husband was an awesome soldier.”

Trump said today that he was “extremely nice to her” and “she sounds like a lovely lady.”

“I’ve never seen her. I’ve never met her, but she sounds likes a lovely lady. But I was extremely nice to her. I was extremely courteous, as I was to everyone else. You know, it’s interesting, you folks have called many people that I spoke to. Everybody has said unbelievable, good thing about me, but you never report that,” he added.

“I can only say this: I was really nice to her. I respect her. I respect her family. I certainly respect La David, who — I, by the way, called La David right from the beginning. Just so you understand, they put a chart in front — ‘La David.’ It says, La David Johnson,” Trump continued. “So I called right from the beginning. There’s no hesitation. One of the great memories of all time. There was no hesitation. I think she’s a fantastic woman. I was extremely nice to her, extremely respectful.”

Trump was also asked if he supports a solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, covering certain illegal immigrants brought to the country as children, in the budget plan.

“We’re looking at DACA. We have to get something for it, but we are looking at DACA,” he replied. “And we’ll see what happens. I would love to do a DACA deal, but we have to get something very substantial for it, including the wall, including security, including a strong border. We have to be able to stop drugs from pouring into our nation.”