Donald Trump tells rally the ‘media will never get away with lies’ and they are 'part of corrupt system'

Rally event used as a chance to savage networks and journalists

Rachael Revesz
New York
Sunday 19 February 2017 01:02 GMT
Trump attacks media during rally

After four weeks at the White House, Donald Trump was back in familiar territory.

“I wanna be among my friends and among the people,” the President announced at his first campaign-style rally since taking office.

He listed off the executive orders he had already signed and re-iterated campaign-style pledges, such as fighting Isis and investing in infrastructure.

As per the formula, he started off by attacking the media, which he said had become "part of the problem" and "part of the corrupt system".

"Many of our greatest Presidents fought with the media and called them out on their lies," he said. "When the media lies to the people I will never let them get away with it."

The new President has signed more executive actions, within two weeks of office, than any of his predecessors since Franklin Roosevelt. They include building the Dakota Access pipeline, investing authority in the police, ordering the construction of the border wall and building up the military.

At the event, he promised clean coal, that the miners would go back to work, and announced that an Obamacare replacement plan would be ready "in a few weeks".

"The White House is running so smoothly," he said. "So smoothly. Believe me, I and we inherited one big mess."

Donald Trump signs 3 executive orders giving police more authority

He praised Department of Homeland Security secretary John Kelly, who wrote a draft 11-page memo which proposed using the National Guard to round up undocumented immigrants.

"For the most part, get them [immigrant criminals] the hell out of here and get them back to where they came from," he said.

Mr Trump tried to ban travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries but it was blocked by a federal court in early February. Rather red-faced and sweaty by this point on the stage, Mr Trump took out a sheet of paper and read out the ban's statute to the crowds, again insisting even a "bad high school student could understand it".

He promised further action next week.

"We don’t give up. We will never give up. We have a court we disagree with," he said, making similar remarks about the judiciary that his supreme court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, had called "disheartening" and "demoralising" only a week before.

The rally on Saturday was the first since he had taken office, but only four weeks into his first term. Critics suggested Mr Trump, who has been holed up at the White House despite five golfing trips, has lacked the validation from his supporters and it would give a shot in the arm for a flailing leader.

His term so far has not lacked controversy. His former national security adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign this week when reporters revealed he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his phone calls to the Russian ambassador.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the venue and along the nearby roads, and hundreds more marched in Los Angeles against his Muslim ban executive order and his threats to use the National Guard to round up undocumented migrants. Mr Trump again attacked the media for failing to show the size of the crowd in the hangar, and pulled up a supporter up onto the stage who said he had been there since 4am.

"What a great guy," said the President, clapping. "A star is born."

Before the President took to the stage, the audience was asked to swear allegiance to the American flag. A guest sang the national anthem.

Florida attorney general Pam Bondi was the last to speak before the President appeared. She declared Mr Trump had taken away political power, and replaced it with "people power".

Ms Bondi was accused of dropping a lawsuit against the now defunct Trump University following a donation of $25,000 from the Trump Foundation for her political campaign. Charities are banned from making political donations under US tax law.

The President and First Lady Melania Trump then emerged from the Air Force One plane and descended the steps. He held his red, Make America Great Again baseball cap scrunched up in one hand. Unlike campaign rallies, he never wore it.

The President and First Lady emerge from the plane
The President and First Lady emerge from the plane

Ms Trump recited a slightly breathless prayer as Mr Trump circulated the podium, waving to supporters who were holding signs that read "Hillary for Prison".

"[We are] A nation committed to a greater civility and unity between people from all sides of the political divide." his wife said. "I will always stay true to myself and be truthful to you no matter what the opposition is saying about me."

Her brief comments came shortly after she had re-filed her lawsuit against the Daily Mail, adding that she wanted multi-million dollar endorsements as First Lady.

As Mr Trump spoke in Florida, Vice President Pence was rubbing shoulders with foreign leaders at a summit in Munich, where he promised the US would be "unwavering" in its support for Europe, Nato and Ukraine.

His visit, dubbed a "reassurance tour", provided a stark contrast to his boss who recently said Nato was "obsolete" and that he said it was in Americans’ interest to have a good relationship with Russia.

The campaign-style rally left many unanswered questions. They include how the President will force Mexico to reimburse the US for billions of dollars to build the wall along the border, or how his healthcare replacement plan will ensure coverage for millions of Americans who benefitted under former President Barack Obama.

His rallying cry of "drain the swamp" also looks doubtful, given his cabinet is richer than a third of American households. It contains three Goldman Sachs alumni, as well as several billionaire anti-LGBT and anti-choice lobbyists.

Mr Trump has already registered his paperwork to campaign for the 2020 race.

It is yet to be seen whether such rallies, for all their claps and cheers in an airport hangar, will keep his spirits up during the next decade.

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