Donald Trump speaks to reporters, White House, December 25, 2018
Donald Trump issues a Christmas message, “It’s a disgrace”, as he rails against former FBI director James Comey, promises a Government shutdown until he gets $5.7 billion for his wall with Mexico, and continues to assail the Federal Reserve.
Trump followed up a barrage of Christmas Eve tweets — including renewed criticism of the Federal Reserve which fed a further sharp drop in the stock market — with his remarks to camera on Tuesday.
Despite concern over his reported threat to fire Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell — as the stock market faces its sharply monthly decline since 1929 with a 2.7% fall on Monday — Trump began with the jab, “They’re raising interest rates too fast.” He continued, “I think they will get it pretty soon.”
Trump said a “normalized interest rate” was good for some people who “get interest on their money”. He did not refer to his reported concern that a gradual rate increase, ordered by the Fed to hedge against inflation, would increase the payments on his business’s $340 million variable-rate loans.
Trump’s Incoherent Wall Statement
Asked about the Government shutdown that began midnight Friday over his insistence on the first tranche of money for the $25 billion wall, Trump said, “I can tell you it’s not going to be open until we have the Wall, the fence — whatever they like to call it.” In a rambling statement, he insisted that the barrier is needed to stop drug dealers and human traffickers.
Trump repeated that “yesterday I gave out [contracts for construction of] 115 miles of Wall in Texas” to “different people, highly big”. White House officials would not confirm the claim, which would appear to have been a violation of the Government’s tender process for contracts.
Trump said he would go to Texas at the end of January for “the start of construction”. He then made nonsensical comments about “renovation of parts of the Wall that were in very bad shape” and “we built a lot of new Wall”.
He concluded, “The Wall is beautiful” as he attempted an analogy with Israel’s border fence across Palestinian territory: “99.99% of the people were stopped from coming in, and we’ll have the exact same thing”. He said only an “Olympic champion” could claim a 30-foot high barrier.
Trump put out the unsupported claim over many of those sent home or working without pay by the shutdown: “These Federal workers want the Wall.”
Trump closed with a verbal assault on former FBI Director Comey, whom he fired in May 2017 in a failed attempt to shut down the Trump-Russia investigation.
“Everyone wanted him fired,” Trump asserted, “until I fired him. As soon as I fired him, they said, “What did you fire him for? That was a terrible thing to do.”
He signed off with his best wishes, “It’s a disgrace, what’s happening in our country. But other than that, I wish everybody a very merry Christmas.”
And he added the postscript about the Trump-Russia inquiry closing on him, “No Collusion”.