The president still seems obsessed with Obama, Clinton crowd size, Russia and fake news.
BY KURTIS LEE
LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS
He’s been in office for more than six months, but it often seems he’s still campaigning.
For President Donald Trump, who in recent weeks has used speeches before the Boy Scouts of America and police officers to deliver overtly political remarks at nonpolitical events, continues to be consumed by the same issues.
On social media, during interviews, while speaking before Cabinet members, Trump homes in — obsessively — on a handful of topics and people.
Will that change? It seems unlikely.
Here are seven topics and his remarks in recent months.
Even before Trump entered the presidential race, he regularly castigated Obama’s leadership and floated falsehoods about Obama’s background.
In 2011, Trump was a vocal spokesman for the fringe conservative “birther” movement, raising questions in television interviews and on social media about whether the nation’s first Black president was born in Kenya. Many viewed Trump’s rhetoric as racially charged.
Now, in office, Trump has jabbed the former president for, among other things, health care and trade. He’s also alleged that Obama tapped his Trump Tower phones last year.
In his words: “How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process,” Trump tweeted in March. “This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
It’s what Trump commanded as a businessman and a reality television star, and has now transferred to his administration. When he views people as disloyal, it’s simple: They’re fired.
In May, Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey because, he said, Comey was not doing a good job.
But weeks later, Comey offered written testimony to a Senate panel, which noted that Trump had asked him for loyalty — something Comey, as head of the law enforcement agency, said he could not give the president.
“I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,” Trump told Comey, according to written testimony penned by the former FBI director. Trump has denied he asked Comey for loyalty.
In his words: “As scout law says, a scout is trustworthy, loyal,” Trump said in a speech before the Boy Scouts of America last month. “We could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.”
Indeed, as many political observers have said, Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton was remarkable. He appealed widely to working-class white voters with a populist message focused on trade, jobs and immigration.
States such as Wisconsin and Ohio — which Obama won in 2008 and 2012 — flipped for Trump.
(Even though Trump won the Electoral College, he lost the popular vote to Clinton by about 3 million votes.)
In recent months, while talking to lawmakers and during interviews, he’s brought up his Electoral College victory.
In his words: “We won and won. … They said, there is no way to victory; there is no way to 270,” Trump said before the Boy Scouts. “But then Wisconsin came in. … Michigan came in.”
Trump has denied his campaign colluded with Russians during the 2016 election. In May, the Department of Justice appointed Robert S. Mueller to head an independent investigation into Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Even with the investigation underway, Trump regularly talks about Russia, sometimes unprompted by questions.
In his words: “Again, the story that there was collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election,” Trump tweeted in May.
If Trump does not like a story, he’ll usually label it “fake news.”
Trump’s Cabinet members and allies outside the White House have regularly called critical stories “fake news,” taking a page from the president’s playbook.
For Trump, questions surrounding his campaign’s possible collusion with Russians during last year’s election are “fake news.”
Some of his favorite targets when assailing so-called “fake news” media have been The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN. Check Trump’s Twitter feed every couple of days, and you’ll likely see the phrase.
In his words: “Only the Fake News Media and Trump enemies want me to stop using Social Media (110 million people). Only way for me to get the truth out!” the president tweeted last week.
Throughout the campaign Trump and Clinton traded vitriolic barbs that, at times, became extremely personal. But for Trump, the emails Clinton deleted from a personal server while secretary of State has been his main focus.
He would talk about them at great length, eliciting booming shouts of “lock her up” from supporters at his rallies. After the election, Trump said he did not want his administration to investigate Clinton.
However, in recent weeks, Trump has changed his rhetoric as questions about his campaign’s potential ties with Russia continue to cloud his administration.
In his words: “My son Donald openly gave his e-mails to the media & authorities whereas Crooked Hillary Clinton deleted (& acid washed) her 33,000 e-mails!” Trump tweeted last month.
On the campaign trail, Trump often boasted about the size of his crowds. He’d also assail the “fake news” media for not panning cameras to show the full size of the crowds.
Days after Trump’s inauguration, his then-press secretary, Sean Spicer, said it “was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period.” (PolitiFact gave the comment a “pants on fire,” and labeled it as false.)
Although Trump has been in the Oval Office about six months, he’s already preparing for the 2020 election. He’s held several rallies — funded by his campaign — in recent months, most of the time reminiscing about his 2016 election win.
In those speeches, similar to the campaign, he’s also castigated the media for not showing his crowds.
In his words: “I’m waving to people back there so small I can’t even see them. Man, this is a lot of people. Turn those cameras back there, please. That is so incredible,” he said while speaking to the Boy Scouts at their annual jamboree, which often draws thousands.
“By the way, what do you think the chances are that this incredible massive crowd, record setting, is going to be shown on television tonight? One percent or zero?”