Unrepentant Trump fires back at media over Charlottesville, hints at Arpaio pardon in Phoenix
Trump also attacked Republicans and Democrats in Congress during the campaign-style rally Tuesday evening in Phoenix, Arizona.
‘Sheriff Joe can feel good’
“I'm just curious, do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe?” Trump teased approximately 19,000 supporters at the downtown Phoenix Convention Center.
The former Maricopa County sheriff, who was convicted late last month of contempt of court after targeting illegal immigrants, is set to be sentenced in October. Arpaio is a Trump supporter and was expected to be pardoned by many until early Tuesday, when the White House said it would not happen during the rally. Republicans say he was politically targeted by the Obama administration. Democrats, meanwhile, liken a pardon for Arpaio to corruption.
“So was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” Trump asked his audience. “He should've had a jury, but you know what, I'll make a prediction. I think he's going to be just fine, OK?”
“But I'm not going to do it tonight,” Trump teased again, alluding to a pardon. “Because I don't want to cause any controversies, all right? But Sheriff Joe can feel good.”
‘Those cameras are going off’
Trump mocked the reporters in the back of the hall as well as the mainstream media more widely, singling out the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and ABC News, as he rehashed the recent history of his response to the August 12 fatal tragedy in Charlottesville.
“This entire arena stands united in forceful condemnation of the thugs that perpetrated hatred and violence,” Trump said, after he repeated word-for-word portions of his statements from the day of and the days immediately following the Charlottesville alt-right rally that ended with one woman dead and 19 injured when a “Unite the Right” supporter rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.
Trump said that some people in the media were “bad people” and “sick” and didn’t like America.
“Those cameras are going off,” he said, looking towards the back. “Why don't you just fold them up and take them home?”
‘Speak to your senator, please!’
Trump hit Democrats and certain Republicans as well, as he moved onto his legislative agenda of funding a border wall and repealing Obamacare.
Trump lamented that the Obamacare repeal effort failed in the Senate by “one vote!”
“Speak to your senator, please!” he begged, alluding to Senator John McCain, who was the sole Republican to vote against Obamacare repeal in the most recent vote.
Without naming them, Trump was clearly ripping into the Arizona crowd’s US senators, McCain and Jeff Flake.
“Your other senator, who's weak on borders, weak on crime,” Trump said. “No one wants me to talk about him. No one knows who the hell he is!”
Trump’s foreign policy remarks were not extensive, and two lines in particular did not seem scripted.
The president referred to Afghanistan as “a place where our country has failed,” referring to the 16-year war there, which Trump vowed to indefinitely continue Monday evening.
Trump also touched on North Korea, but without belligerence, saying of the country’s leader Kim Jong-un: “I respect that fact that he's starting to respect us.”