7 eyebrow-raising moments from Trump’s Rose Garden speech
The big news out of President Trump’s remarks Friday morning was that he will declare a national emergency to secure funding for his border wall. But along the way, as is his wont, his speech ranged across a number of topics. Here are some of the more unusual things he said:
■ The Republican president said he was thinking that he might involve Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer in trade negotiations with China.
Trump said even if the Chinese agreed to “give me 50 percent of their land and every ship that they’ve built over the last two years, which is a lot, and they give them to me free, the Democrats will say, ‘What a lousy deal, that’s a terrible deal.’ ”
To prevent that, he said, he was pondering inviting Pelosi and Schumer and “two or three of their brilliant representatives” to the talks and “I’ll put them in the room and let them speak up.”
He said he didn’t want to be second-guessed, but then he observed, “That’s not even second-guess, that’s called politics.”
“Sadly, I’d probably do the same thing to them, OK?” he mused.
■ Trump said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan had told him that he had nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize.
“In fact, I think I can say this, Prime Minister Abe of Japan gave me the most beautiful copy of a letter that he sent to the people who give out a thing called the Nobel Prize. . . . He said, ‘I have nominated you respectfully on behalf of Japan. I am asking them to give you the Nobel Peace Prize.’ ”
“It’s the most beautiful five-page letter. Nobel Prize — he sent it to them. You know why? Because he had rocket ships and he had missiles flying over Japan. and they had alarms going off. Now all of a sudden they feel good, they feel safe. I did that,” he said, saying he had made progress in reducing tensions with North Korea.
■ Trump took credit for possibly saving 3 million lives in Syria.
“If you look at Idlib province in Syria, I stopped the slaughter of perhaps 3 million people,” he said, saying it was something that nobody talks about.
“Russia and Iran and Syria were going to go in and perhaps destroy 3 million people in order to get 45,000 terrorists,” he said.
He said he “heard about it from a woman who had her parents and her brothers living there” and then “I read a certain paper where the story was there that they were actually forming to really, to really do big destruction.”
“I put out a statement that you better not do it,” he said. “In all fairness to Russia, and Iran and Syria, they didn’t attack or they’re doing it surgically at least. Saved a lot of people.”
■ Trump got into a back-and-forth with reporters about why government statistics don’t back up his case that there is a wave of immigrants charging the border.
“Your own government’s stats are wrong, are you saying?” one reporter said.
“No, no, I use many stats,” he said. “I use many stats. Let me tell you, you have stats that are far worse than the ones that I use. I use many stats, but I also use Homeland Security [Department stats].”
In another exchange, he was asked about statistics that show undocumented immigrants committing crime at lower levels than people born in the United States.
“You don’t really believe that stat, do you?” Trump asked the reporter.
At another point, Trump also read out a statistic on the number of drug deaths in the country, but commented that he felt it was “ridiculously low.”
■ He gave hearty shout-outs to his favorite conservative media figures.
He said Sean Hannity was a “terrific, terrific supporter of what I do.”
He said Rush Limbaugh was “a great guy” and marveled at how he could speak for three hours without taking phone calls. “Try doing that sometime,” he said. He said Limbaugh had “one of the biggest audiences in the history of the world. I mean, this guy is unbelievable.”
“He goes for three hours and he’s got an audience that’s fantastic,” he said.
He also gave a shout-out to Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson. But he distanced himself slightly from Ann Coulter, whom some have seen as being an influence. Coulter suggested Trump was “the biggest wimp” ever to be president after he allowed the government shutdown to end last month.
“I don’t know her. I hardly know her. I haven’t spoken to her in way more than a year,” he said. “Probably, if I did speak to her, she’d be very nice. I just don’t have time to speak to her.”
■ Trump spoke admiringly of the Chinese government’s death penalty for drug trafficking, recounting a talk with President Xi Jinping.
“When I asked President Xi, I said, ‘Do you have a drug problem?’ — ‘No, no, no.’ — I said, ‘You have 1.4 billion people, what do you mean, you don’t have a drug problem?’ — ‘No, we don’t have drug problem.’ — I said, ‘Why?’ — ‘Death penalty. We give death penalty to people that sell drugs.’ End of problem,” Trump said.
“What do we do? We set up blue ribbon commissions, lovely men and women. They sit around a table, they eat, they dine, and they waste a lot of time,” said Trump, who created a commission to combat drug addiction and the opioid crisis in 2017.
■ Trump made a variety of statements that are likely to keep fact-checkers busy. In one of the stranger ones, he repeated the widely debunked idea that kidnapped women and girls with tape on their mouths are being transported over the border.
“You can’t take human traffic, women and girls — you can’t take them through ports of entry. You can’t have them tied up in the back seat of a car or a truck or a van. They open the door, they look. They can’t see women with tape on their mouth or three women whose hands are tied. They go through areas where you have no wall,” he said.
Experts have said the claims are “divorced from reality,” The Washington Post has reported.