President Donald Trump on Thursday turned a roundtable event on taxes into a campaign speech, rambling on about a range of issues, many of which he’d raised during his 2016 campaign, which ended 17 months ago.
In his opening remarks at the event in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, the president briefly touched on taxes and the opioid epidemic, which has ravaged that state. But for the most part, he chose to air his grievances on a variety of topics and regurgitate a string of false claims.
At one point, he physically threw away his notes, saying that his prepared remarks “would have been a little boring.”
NOT GONNA BE BORING!
Trump tosses his prepared remarks into the air in White Sulphur Springs, WV. pic.twitter.com/Vl0hys2jnL
— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) April 5, 2018
Here is a summary of the president’s other head-spinning remarks.
He attacked West Virginia’s Democratic senator, Joe Manchin.
The roundtable was officially a policy event and not a campaign stop, yet Trump used the opportunity to lay into Manchin, who is up for re-election this year. He criticized the senator for not voting for the GOP tax overhaul.
“Your senator, he voted against, Joe, he votes against everything, and he voted against our tax cuts,” Trump said. “You’re going to have a chance to get a senator that’s going to vote [for] our program.”
He ranted about immigration, bringing up a series of false or exaggerated claims.
Riffing on this week’s announcement that he plans to deploy National Guard troops to the southern border ― a move that was likely inspired in part by a Fox News segment ― Trump made several spurious claims about the U.S. immigration system.
He falsely stated that the U.S. does not have merit-based immigration and exaggerated the scope of the diversity visa lottery system, complaining that the U.S. does not receive enough “good ones.”
He regurgitated some other classic lines from his campaign, such as his assertion that Immigration Customs and Enforcement agents detain undocumented immigrants by “throwing” them into “the paddy wagon.” He also suggested that the U.S. should reconsider the concept of birthright citizenship, an issue he first raised in 2015.
He suggested that because of illegal immigration, “women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before.”
Bringing up his infamous 2015 campaign announcement speech, when he referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” Trump claimed without evidence that migrants who have been traveling through Mexico in a large group this week are responsible for rampant amounts of rape.
“I used the word ‘rape.’ And yesterday it came out where, this journey coming up, women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before,” he said. “They don’t want to mention that.”
He repeated his unfounded and unsubstantiated claim that “millions and millions of people” voted illegally in 2016.
“In many places, like California, the same person votes many times,” Trump said, again without evidence. “They always like to say that’s a conspiracy theory. It’s not a conspiracy theory, folks.”
Yes, it is.
He invited roundtable participants to publicly praise him.
As he often does, the president called on other people seated at the table to lavish compliments on him.
Rep. Evan Jenkins (.), one of the GOP Senate candidates hoping to challenge Manchin this fall, described Trump as “a man keeping your promises” and told him that “I was a proud, early supporter of your candidacy.”
Another Senate candidate, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R), lauded Trump for several achievements, including “focusing on the opioid epidemic with a laser beam.” Trump and his administration have actually provided few specifics on how they plan to address the crisis.
“The Trump administration is delivering,” Morrisey said.
We’ve seen this movie before.