President Donald Trump spoke to a crowd of supporters in Michigan on Saturday night, delivering wide-ranging remarks on topics including his role in denuclearizing North Korea; the treatment received by his Veterans Affairs pick, Adm. Ronny Jackson, which Trump termed “a disgrace”; and his decision to again skip the annual White House Correspondents’ dinner.
“You may have heard, I was invited to another event tonight, the White House Correspondents’ dinner,” Trump said as the crowd booed in response. “But I’d much rather be in Washington, Michigan, than in Washington, D.C., right now.”
Trump, who touted his victory in the state during the 2016 presidential election, soon launched into a discussion of national border security. “We believe that a strong nation must have strong borders,” he said, reiterating calls for a wall at the southern border.
“Are you watching that mess that’s going on right now with the caravan coming up?” Trump said, referring to a Central American caravan of immigrants near the U.S.-Mexico border. “And our laws are so weak, they’re so pathetic, given to us by Democrats, they’re so pathetic.”
Moving on to another global topic, he spoke about North Korea and said that “a lot of good things are happening there.” He was speaking about progress toward denuclearization by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
Trump said that while it’s not clear what will happen on that front, the U.S. was “not playing games.”
“If we would’ve said where we are today from three or four months ago, remember they were saying, ‘He’s going to get us into nuclear war,’ they said,” Trump recalled. “No, no, no. … Strength is going to keep us out of nuclear war, not gonna get us in.”
He added that “a very important meeting’ would likely happen in the coming weeks.
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“We’ll see how it goes,” Trump said. “Whatever happens, happens. Look, I may go in, may not work out, I leave. I’m not going to be a John Kerry who makes that horrible Iran deal.”
He continued to call the 2015 Iran deal, a nuclear agreement made in the Obama era, “one of the worst deals.”
Shifting back to domestic topics, Trump then brought up Dr. Ronny Jackson, his former pick to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, whom he dubbed “a truly high-quality human being.”
Trump accused U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., of “throwing out things that he’s heard” about Jackson, who subsequently withdrew his name from consideration Thursday.
“Well, I know things about Tester that I could say, too,” Trump said. “If I said them, he’d never be elected again.” He did not elaborate.
“What Jon Tester did to this man is a disgrace,” Trump continued, adding that Jackson “started getting hit with vicious rumors.”
A similar thing was happening to his own team, Trump told the crowd
“So they try and destroy a man. … Well they’re doing it with us, they’re trying their damnest,” the president said, alluding to an ongoing investigation of alleged collusion between Moscow and the Trump presidential campaign in the 2016 election.
“I want to thank, by the way, the House Intelligence Committee … they do it with us, too,” he continued. “Russian collusion.”
The committee he’s referring to released its heavily redacted final report on Friday of its investigation findings, which said there was “no evidence” of collusion.
The president also made a jab at former FBI Director James Comey, calling him “a liar and a leaker.” The Comey memos detailed his conversations with the president.
“But you watch Comey and you watch the way he lies. And then he’s got the memos, I wonder when he wrote the memos, right?,” Trump said. “Then he’s got the memos and he puts them up. Watch the way he lies, it’s the most incredible thing.”
“I did you a great favor when I fired this guy,” he continued.