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TrumpWatch, Day 40: Trump Gives a Speech

TrumpWatch, Day 40: Trump Gives a Speech
March 01
08:27 2017

Trump speech to Congress less confrontational in tone but leaves questions with vagueness, distortions and falsehoods, and maintenance of controversial and divisive policies


Developments on Day 40 of the Trump Presidency:

Trump’s Speech to Congress

Trying to overcome the turmoil that has beset his Administration in its opening weeks, Donald Trump gives a speech to Congress with a markedly different tone from his statements during the 2016 campaign and after his inauguration.

Delivering remarks written for him — and, indeed, that could have been written for a Ronald Reagan — Trump replaced his confrontational style with invocation of optimism and an appeal to end “trivial fights” in an effort to “raise the American spirit”. He avoided any reference at all to Russia, whose possible links with the Trump campaign have unsettled the President amid investigations and the media’s coverage of the issue.

Read transcript

However, the speech was vague over major policies such as the repeal of ObamaCare and economic initiatives. It was filled with exaggerations and even falsehoods: from the “highest murder rate in 47 years” — the rate is actually at its lowest since the 1960s — to leading companies bringing jobs and plants back to the US because of Trump, when the moves had been planned before his election. He even tried to declare his commitment to clean water and air, having just signed orders lifting environmental provisions and planned to cut the Environmental Protection Agency, putting an anti-EPA politician in as head.

In a headline moment of the speech, Trump tried to defend a bungled raid in Yemen by introducing the widow of the US commando who died in the operation and insisted it had been a success, even though officials and the father of the slain US SEAL have said the operation was a failure due in large part to the President and his advisors.

Though the approach was not as provocative as that of recent weeks, the statement held to controversial — and divisive — efforts such as the crackdown on undocumented immigrants, supported by further distorted claims that immigrants increased the US crime rate and depressed wages. Trump insisted again that he will build the “great Wall” along the border with Mexico. H

He also put forth the economic line and inward vision of chief strategist Steve Bannon, blaming other countries for America’s challenges and ending with Trump’s proclamation: “My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America.”

Trump’s See-Saw Over Immigration

Trump’s speech is part of confusion over whether he has changed his position over a crackdown on undocumented immigrants, with almost all of the 11 million at risk of deportation.

Hours before the speech, Trump told a group of TV anchors, “The time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides.”

He described a proposal that would allow some undocumented immigrants to live and work in the US without fear of deportation, but would stop short of offering them a pathway to citizenship.

That does not go as far as the Obama Administration’s DREAM Act, long blocked by Republicans in Congress, but would step back from the aggressive detention and deportation approach set out in the first weeks of the Administration, with hundreds already affected.

But Trump never referred to the initiative in his speech, instead reverting back to his statements about the need for “strong borders” against immigrants whom he falsely accused of raising US crime rates and depressing wages.

Attorney General Pulls Back from Lawsuits v. Police over Civil Rights

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the Justice Department will limit lawsuits against police departments for violations of the civil rights of minorities.

“We need, so far as we can, to help police departments get better, not diminish their effectiveness. And I’m afraid we’ve done some of that,” Sessions told State attorneys general. “So we’re going to try to pull back on this.”

He insisted that this would not be “wrong or insensitive to civil rights or human rights”. Instead, he said people in poor and minority communities must feel free from the threat of violent crime, requiring more effective policing with help from the federal government.

Administration: We’ll Cut 37% in State Department & Foreign Aid

The Trump Administration proposes a 37% cut in US diplomatic and foreign-aid funding as it plans to raises defense expenditures by $60 billion.

The State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development currently receive about $50.1 billion.

One US official said that the Trump Administration is also looking at deep slashes to American development assistance to other countries.

Both GOP and Democratic legislators indicated that they would oppose the cuts, even before the Administration’s first draft of its budget in mid-March.

“That is definitely dead on arrival,” Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on state and foreign operations, told reporters. He said the proposed budget “destroys soft power” and puts diplomats at risk.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (said he didn’t believe that a 37% cut would make it through Congress: “The diplomatic portion of the federal budget is very important and you get results a lot cheaper frequently” than through military spending.

Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senator Foreign Relations Committee, said cutting the State Department budget by more than a third would “have serious and detrimental effects on our national-security posture”.

Trump: I’m Not Filling 100s of Jobs Because They’re “Unnecessary”

Trump defends massive vacancies across Government agencies, saying this is not because of mismanagement and chaos within the Administration but because the posts are “unnecessary”:

Trump: The Generals “Lost Ryan”

Hours before using a slain US commando’s widow as a central point in his speech to Congress, Donald Trump appears to blame the Obama Administration and generals — even while maintained that a botched raid in Yemen was a success.

Trump said in a Fox interview of the operation in which US SEAL Ryan Owens and dozens of Yemenis, including women and children, were killed:

This was a mission that was started before I got here. This was something they wanted to do,” he said. “They came to me, they explained what they wanted to do ― the generals ― who are very respected, my generals are the most respected that we’ve had in many decades, I believe. And they lost Ryan.

Owens’ father Bill has demanded an investigation after refusing to meet Trump at the airport as his son’s casket was carried off a military plane last month.

Trump insisted, “According to [Defense Secretary James] Mattis it was a very successful mission. They got tremendous amounts of information.”

But US officials said on Monday that the raid yielded no significant intelligence.

Did Trump Say Anti-Semitic Vandalism is “False Flag” Attacks?

Under pressure over claims that he responded slowly to a wave of attacks on Jewish community centers and cemeteries, Donald Trump opens his address by condemning them.

But hours earlier, Trump appeared to suggest that the attacks are staged by opponents of his Administration.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, among a group of state attorneys general who met with Trump at the White House, said the President declared, “Sometimes it’s the reverse, to make people, or to make others, look bad.”

Shapiro claimed Trump used the word reverse “two or three times”: “It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.”

A White House spokesperson insisted, “This is not what [Trump] said or meant. He…was referring to protesters.”

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About Author

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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29 Comments

  1. Vlad
    Vlad March 01, 16:31

    awesome speech, awesome man

    Reply to this comment
  2. Eron
    Eron March 01, 16:35

    Is it the job of the world to find the meaning of a presidential speech? How much time do we waiste to make sense of what he want to say, plus the time to correct and keep the sane line for all Reps talking BS machines who spread lies, and orange manure pretending their fake news is reality? This can happen with the crazy president from Phillipines, which he feels very close to Trump. Two crazy presidents find the attraction and connections beween them! But this is America folks, where DT and his 16% base together with Reps make America DEPLORABLE! US became the laugh of the world! Lies, fake reality, and praisal of a fraud who did not pay taxes is addressing from the Congress, once a respectable office.

    Reply to this comment
    • Vlad
      Vlad March 01, 16:55

      He paid taxes. Free your mind.

      Reply to this comment
      • Eron
        Eron March 01, 17:25

        When? Where is the link to his tax-returns release in the last 20 years? He said he was proud that he did not pay taxes because he is “smart”. He was adviced not to release his taxes, so please enlighten us when did he paid taxes? Where is the link to his tax-returns release including the overview of his businesses revenues outside the US, like the Muslim countries which are not on the muslim ban?

        Reply to this comment
        • Barbar
          Barbar March 01, 19:10

          That’s private information, hence none of your beeswax, disloyal one!

          Reply to this comment
          • Eron
            Eron March 01, 23:18

            Why is it private information? Tax returns release is a duty for every American citizen. Why would someone refuse to show his/her tax returns especially in the highest position, this is an honour, how can responsible citizens would a allow a fraud to run the country like his miss Universe contents, casino, and tramp universities?

            Reply to this comment
            • Barbar
              Barbar March 01, 23:37

              1. Why is it private information? — For the same reason that medical records are.
              .
              .
              2. Tax returns release is a duty for every American citizen. — Er, no. Nobody is obliged to publish their private information.
              .
              .
              3, Why would someone refuse to show his/her tax returns especially in the highest position? — A wild guess here but maybe because they value their privacy regardless of their job?
              .
              .
              4. how can responsible citizens would a allow a fraud to run the country? — Der Trumpenführer was elected on the strength of his program to MAGA, and his radiant natural hair, not his tax returns.

              Reply to this comment
              • Eron
                Eron March 02, 21:48

                Yes, it is a requirement to release tax returns. Paying taxes is a huge responsibility for all Americans friends and i remember IRS was verifying tax declarations. He was adviced not to release taxes indicating he did not pay taxes and the lack of transparency reduces the trust in him. I honestly believe he is a hoax with a lot of schemes and frauds run by a team of corrupt lawyers (the ‘Sheri’ type) and business friends of his type. I have read the case of a person i trust how he was cheated by Trump by not paying the initial amount and then threaten him to sue him – for a smal business this is putting them aside so this man was forced to accept the new deal. They are plenty of declarations similar to this – so now reflect for a second what kind of American values are these? Second, it is beyond imagination that IRS and authorities allow this mafia type of running over other businesses. This is the level and value of the orange manure! They lives on the expenses of American people covering his frauds! The businesses abroad and money pouring from skies through Russians and Chineses players are snother reason to request tax release. Why do you deny the right of American people to demand this request? How does it bother you to be sure he paid taxes?

        • Mike
          Mike March 01, 22:51

          The amount of real estate taxes paid is outlined in tax returns. Being an owner of real estate I’m sure he paid thousands in RE taxes.
          .
          Obviously his losses outweighed his income. I’ve had that happen to me. I made a certain amount of income but claimed more in loses after the sale of stock.
          .
          People threaten to boycott Trump’s hotels and other properties. Funny thing is any loses he has from boycotts will offset his income. In fact, loses will allow him to renegotiate a lower rate with banks! Boycotts could actually work in his favor!
          .

          Reply to this comment
    • Barbar
      Barbar March 01, 17:30

      … the Congress, once a respectable office.” — Er, when was that exactly?
      .
      Also, aside from the serial recidivist Yanki warcrims who populate the place, you do know Netanyahu’s been there to have his colon irrigated with sycophantic applause a few times, right?

      Reply to this comment
      • Eron
        Eron March 01, 19:43

        It is just upsetting to see a clown in the highest position, and I am afraid that this will give free light to others that it is OK to lie, to brag shamesless about failures painting them as successes and virtues. How could so many around him bend to the ground and applause a fraud when no one force them? US is under ideological attack, but it is still free to choose to act with dignity or as a servant.

        Reply to this comment
  3. Vlad
    Vlad March 01, 16:49

    I was going to vote for Hillary, but after reading RT I decided to vote for Trump. But it goes beyond that. I then convinced my wife, who was going to vote for Hillary, to vote for Trump. Obvious Russian meddling in our election.

    Reply to this comment
    • Barbar
      Barbar March 01, 17:31

      Well done!
      .
      [The wife part is the bit that slays me every time …]

      Reply to this comment
    • Eron
      Eron March 01, 17:44

      Vladut, you are American as I am the Pope :) No real American will have the image of Trump’s friend and miss Universe partner in crime and showers :) Nice try, though! This is an audience somewhat more informed than Trump’s base :) You forgot to mention emails hack and electronic voting systems. There is not way DT could have been won the election with a support from 16% of the votes and almost 3 mil. votes difference if there were no interference from outside. We should look at the countries who benefit from this mess to see who were involved, Russia by extenting its aggressive agenda on EU & Eastern Europe counries, and Bibi, who now can keep stealing and buidling homes on others land to maintain the conflict.

      The fabric of US has change with this core team (Bannon, Trump, Miller) – they are so UN-AMERICAN, riding on American values with corrupt and almost out of function institutions of FBI, CIA and IRS, and up to Reps with no moral and civic values. This is sad for a country like US where civil liberties were protected and trust in the righteous of people and institutions. It was a unique place, it simply sad is it over. Canada hopefully will continue the keep the light of good, honesty and dignity in the world.

      Reply to this comment
      • Barbar
        Barbar March 01, 19:17

        No true Scotsman …

        Reply to this comment
      • Mike
        Mike March 01, 23:05

        I’m an American. Born and raised.
        .
        Popular vote is irrelevant. We are individual sovereign states. Electoral College is here to stay. Without the electoral college NY and CA, the states with the highest number of illegal aliens, would choose the POTUS.
        .
        Right now I see Trump getting reelected in 2020. He just needs to win one of the three Rust Belt states (MI, WI, PA) that went his way in 2016. Accomplishing that will get him to 270.
        .
        He’s got to keep the independents happy. Do that and he’s a lock for 2020. But, the dem candidate will still win the popular vote.

        Reply to this comment
        • Bill Anderson
          Bill Anderson March 01, 23:34

          Re: I’m an American. Born and raised.
          .
          Horseshit, if you really are an American get rid of that stupid avatar which most Americans would find offensive, unless you just want to piss people off.
          You seem to spend a lot of time convincing people that your an American. I’m a American and I don’t feel the need to convince others, why would I? I am what I am.

          Reply to this comment
          • Vlad
            Vlad March 02, 20:30

            Billy, I’m not trying to convince people I’m American. You never know, I could be a Russian spy.
            .
            Dasvidaniya!!

            Reply to this comment
          • Vlad
            Vlad March 02, 20:42

            “THEY” lost Ryan……….. Man, you guys are desperate.

            Reply to this comment
        • Eron
          Eron March 01, 23:35

          OK, Vlad or Mike. Whatever! And the picture shows the love for your country! :) :) There is a US country to run until 2020. There shall be some work to be done not only hoaxes. The amount of sniffing drugs during campaign, debates and first conferences combined with calming pills might not work well for the orange manure. I really see this sh** impeached because of incompetence and conflict of interests. There is first US casualty in the first week as a president, and the father of the soldier will seek the truth in spite of Trump/Reps surrogates and deep sleep of American people. Poor Russians, when the history give them the chance to play as responsible factors they support Assad and bomb peasants farms in Eastern Ukraine. You guys have learned nothing valuables in this world!

          Reply to this comment
      • Mike
        Mike March 01, 23:12

        Though American you should see me go through an airport. My anti war, anti govt stance gives me the full treatment. I’m that important. I wear it proudly.

        Reply to this comment
    • Kevin
      Kevin March 01, 20:49

      Good to know that some are so simpleminded that they vote for whomever Russian propaganda tells them to. LMAO

      Reply to this comment
  4. Barbar
    Barbar March 01, 17:20

    Der Trumpenführer be like sooo amazing, he knoweth The Best Words®.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Bill Anderson
    Bill Anderson March 01, 20:09

    Trump’s speech was presidential and he appeared relaxed and confident and was well received by the majority of Americans. However the sore losers and bottom feeders are still frantically searching the dumpster for any morsel or crumb to bring down a great president.

    Reply to this comment
    • Eron
      Eron March 02, 00:00

      Good for you to stand up for being American! But the speech was not presidential, look at Obama, Bush, and all others presidents. Trump speech is abhorrent in terms of limited vocabulary, message, nonsense, tone, delivery, body language, everything speaks of a bragging fraud and nothing of value. It is an insult to human beings! Read the speech of JFK (part of the university course material), read MLK speaches, you must remember the inspirational words of every president until now, listen to Tillerson and you will find the maturity, composure, inspirational and intelligent messages.

      Let me give you an example of Trump speach: “This was a mission that was started before I got here,” Trump said. “This was something that was, you know, just — they wanted to do. They came to see me and they explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected. My generals are the most respected that we’ve had in many decades, I would — I believe. And they lost Ryan.”

      I will not say much about the fact that he cannot put a sentence that makes sense, and speaks as a 4 years old toddler. Far more worst than that, he takes not responsibilties. This is what happens when you refuse to release your taxes and visit naked pageants during miss contents.

      I have never seen a president (maybe North Coreea) to blame his generals in public for the result of a mission that ended in human casualties, including children, and destruction of plane (75 mil). Well, he lost a casino business, what is a plane for him! Because for the the human lives the generals are there to take the blame. And the Americans talk ecstatically that he was giving a presidential speech. Who is insane?

      This is the link to the article and read carefully, at your own pace, what the father of the US soldier have to say. I am sure that he will find justice.

      http://thehill.com/policy/defense/321614-trump-appears-to-place-blame-on-generals-for-seal-killed-in-yemen-raid

      Reply to this comment
    • Barbar
      Barbar March 02, 13:53

      No, he appeared low-energy as he listlessly recited whatever surprisingly scrolled up on the prompter. Full of meaningless platitudes interspersed with poorly-coded pleas for mercy before a largely regicidal crowd, this was not one Der Trumpenführer enjoyed making. I’d say it was written by the Priebus/RNC faction and forced upon The Don in a last-ditch effort to forestall all out war.
      .
      Interestingly, though not shown in the video here, in the obligatory glad-handing afterwards, Der Trumpenführer made a deliberately wide arc around Traitor Tillerson, indicating the ‘ceasefire’ will last about as long as a typical Syrian one and this clueless scapegoat will soon be following Flynn out the door, after which the hostilities can commence in earnest.
      .
      People have been worried Tillerson had gone MIIA [missing in inaction] as President Bannon’s deconstruction of the State Department proceeds apace:
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/03/01/where-in-the-world-is-secretary-of-state-rex-tillerson/
      [the comments section is priceless]
      .
      This piece also brings a warm glow to the nether regions of all ‘Murrika-haters:
      https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/03/state-department-trump/517965/

      Reply to this comment
  6. Mike
    Mike March 01, 23:20

    Regarding the false flags, there’s been many of them. In fact, almost all of them proven to be hoaxes.
    .
    The cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia? Not a lot of Trump supporters in that part of town. ‘
    ,
    Those turning over the gravestones expected more from it. They were hoping for outrage against Trump. It didn’t happen. I would bet my house it was done by left wing dems.

    Reply to this comment

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