Donald Trump claims his victory was 'rebellion of the people' in first address to Congress

It was the 70-year-old's first address to the joint houses

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Wednesday 01 March 2017 03:23
Trump refers to his election victory as a 'rebellion'

Almost precisely five weeks after Donald Trump was inaugurated, the New York tycoon has delivered his first address to Congress, promising to lead a new chapter of “American greatness”.

Claiming that last year's election victory that delivered him the White House was a “rebellion” of the people, Mr Trump said he wanted to deliver a message of unity and strength. He began by saying that in the light of attacks on two Indian engineers in Kansas, and threats to synagogues across the nation, Mr Trump said though people disagreed on policies, they were "united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms”.

“I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart,” said Mr Trump, as he outlined a populist manifesto that included a promise to build along the Mexican border, dismantle Obamacare and provide cheaper medicines. “A new chapter of American greatness is now beginning. A new national pride is sweeping across our nation.

The First Lady, along with Mr Trump's eldest daughter, Ivanka, were among those watching

"And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.”

Mr Trump adopted a tone that was markedly more measured and less rabble-rousing than in many of his recent speeches - including the one he delivered on January 20 from the steps of Congress, when he had just been sworn in an president.

And he also covered a lot of ground in his first speech - technically not a State of the Union address. In what may have been an indication of the influence of his elder daughter, Ivanka, Mr Trump spoke of the need to provide affordable child care. He also vowed to invest in women's health, and to promote clean air and clear water, and to rebuild our military and infrastructure.

“Education is the civil rights issue of our time,” he added. "Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job. But to create this future, we must work with - not against - the men and women of law enforcement."

Ahead of the speech, Mr Trump had told journalists that he might be prepared to change his though stance on immigration, and was open to the court of overhaul that many Republicans consider an “amnesty”

“The time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides,” the president told TV anchors at the White House.

Audible groans as Trump announces agency solely to report immigrant crime

But in his address on Tuesday night, Mr Trump doubled down on his strident language about immigrants who have committed crimes - language that has left him to be accused of tarring all undocumented migrants as killers or criminals.

In the House of Representatives, Mr Trump introduced four Americans “whose government failed them” - Jamiel Shaw, Susan Oliver, Jenna Oliver, and Jessica Davis.

He said Mr Shaw’s son was murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member, who had just been released from prison. He said the husbands of Ms Oliver and Ms Davis, were police officers gunned down by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record and two prior deportations. Jenna was Ms Oliver’s daughter.

"To Jamiel, Jenna, Susan and Jessica: I want you to know - we will never stop fighting for justice. Your loved ones will never be forgotten, we will always honour their memory," said Mr Trump

He said he was setting up a new office, dedicated to serve victims of immigrant crime - the Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement. “We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests,” he said.

Commentators said Mr Trump, who for once made few diversions from the teleprompter, was very much focused on America’s domestic issues, rather than foreign issues.

While he talked of his wish to invest heavily in the military, and take care of veterans, he had little to say about Afghanistan, Iraq, or indeed Syria, where has previously vowed to defeat Isis.

Mr Trump finished with a Reaganesque passage in which he urged Americans to come to work together - something he has previously not appeared to consider a priority.

“And when we fulfill this vision; when we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began,” he concluded.

“The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us.

"We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts.”

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