Trump vilifies ‘dishonest’ press at Michigan rally
For the second consecutive year, President Donald Trump vilified the American press at a campaign-style rally orchestrated to effectively counter-program an annual dinner in Washington, D.C., celebrating the work of White House journalists.
“These are very dishonest people, many of them. They are very, very dishonest people,” Trump said at a boisterous event in Washington, Mich., speaking in front of a blue banner emblazoned with the president’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
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“Fake news. Very dishonest,” he added. “They don’t have sources. The sources don’t exist in many cases.”
There was little doubt Trump would again assail members of the media after his performance at last year’s rally in Harrisburg, Pa., where the new president denigrated the “Hollywood actors and Washington media” who were “consoling each other” at the concurrent White House Correspondents’ Association’s dinner.
“Is this better than that phony Washington White House correspondents thing? Is this more fun?” Trump said to resounding applause.
“I could be up there tonight smiling like I love when they’re hitting you, shot after shot. These people, they hate your guts,” he added. “And you know, you got to smile. And if you don’t smile, they say, ‘He was terrible. He couldn’t take it.’ And if you do smile, they’ll say, ‘What was he smiling about?’ You know, there’s no win.”
Trump’s roughly 90-minute speech in Michigan — peppered with red meat and reliable targets including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and California sanctuary cities — capped a week of outbursts from the president over a series of scandals involving his Cabinet and an intensifying federal investigation into his longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
In the hours leading up to Saturday evening’s rally, Trump seethed on Twitter over allegations leveled against Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician who withdrew his nomination to lead the Veterans Affairs Department on Thursday after lawmakers received a series of damaging reports on his actions while serving in the federal government.
Trump demanded the resignation of Montana Sen. Jon Tester, the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, who led the charge against Jackson’s nomination.
The president also wrote online that “Tester’s statements on Admiral Jackson” were as baseless as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election — a probe he derided as “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!” earlier this month.
“A horrible thing that we in D.C. must live with, just like phony Russian Collusion,” Trump tweeted on Saturday. “Tester should lose race in Montana. Very dishonest and sick!”
In his speech Saturday night, Trump compared Tester’s actions to those of the media: “We have to be very careful with the press, because they do the same damn thing.”
Trump claimed Secret Service officials had already discredited the “vicious rumors” Tester spread about Jackson.
“Tester started throwing out things that he’s heard. Well I know things about Tester that I could say too, and if I said them, he’d never be elected again,” Trump said, adding that he had narrowed his list of potential nominees to become Veterans Affairs secretary to five candidates.
The president also disparaged Mueller’s probe at the rally and suggested the American intelligence community was steeped in corruption.