Mar 2, 2019

Trump calls Russia probes "bullshit" at CPAC 2019

Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump called the Justice Department's Russia investigation "a phony witch hunt" at the Conservative Political Action Conference Saturday, suggesting the probes are "trying to take me out with bullshit."

The big picture: Trump's comments come as Democrats ramp up their probes and the Mueller investigation is reportedly winding down. The investigation has already resulted in 199 criminal charges, 37 indictments or guilty pleas and 4 prison sentences.

Driving the news: Trump dedicated a sizable chunk of his CPAC speech to ongoing tariff negotiations with China, disparaging trade between the 2 countries after announcing this week that the U.S. will not increase tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, as was previously suggested. In the latter stretch of his speech, he announced plans to sign an executive order that will require colleges and universities to "support free speech if they want federal research dollars."

Catch up quick: Trump also gave a mini history lesson about the Great Tariff Debate of 1888, ridiculed the House Intelligence committee's planned investigations into his finances, and scorned claims of his administration's collusion with Russia. He asked for his old friends to call him "Don," and sarcastically endorsed the Green New Deal (again).

"The Green New Deal, I encourage it, I think it's really something they should promote. ... No planes, no energy. When the wind stops blowing, that's the end of your electric. Darling, is the wind blowing today, I'd like to watch television."

More from his speech:

  • On California Gov. Gavin Newsom: "He called me up the other day, let's say four weeks ago. He said 'I just wanna tell you you're a great president, and you're one of the smartest people I've ever met.' That's what he said. Will he ever admit it? No, I doubt it."
  • On spending the holidays in the White House: "I figured it would look good. I was in the White House for a long time, months. If you've gotta have cabin fever, that's the place to do it."
  • On Syria: "And by the way, as of probably today or tomorrow, we will actually have 100% of the caliphate in Syria."
  • On Medicare for All bill: "Democrat lawmakers are now embracing socialism. Just this week, more than 100 Dems in Congress signed up for a socialist takeover of American healthcare." He said it "would lead to colossal tax increases, take away private coverage for over 180 million Americans."
  • More on the Green New Deal: "I think the auto industry isn't gonna do too well with this plan. ... I think maybe you're gonna see some bad stock prices. It would end air travel."
  • On the national emergency: "A lot of people talk about precedent. If we do this, the Democrats will use national emergency powers for something that we don't want. They're gonna do that anyway, folks."
  • On Ron DeSantis, the new governor of Florida: "Ron's been great to me on the witch hunt. He's been a defender of me against these phony charges of Russia."
  • On Otto Warmbier: “And I’m in such a horrible position, because in one way I have to negotiate. In the other way, I love Mr. and Mrs. Warmbier, and I love Otto."
  • On dealing with North Korea: "North Korea has an incredible, brilliant economic future if they make a deal. But they don't have any economic future if they have nuclear weapons."

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Driving the news: Trump’s comments came Friday during a televised portion of a meeting he hosted with industry CEOs to discuss ways to help the sector. It’s reeling from a historic drop-off in demand with the world shutting down to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 1,083,084 — Total deaths: 58,243 — Total recoveries: 225,422Map.
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  4. Oil latest: The amount of gasoline American drivers are consuming dropped to levels not seen in more than 25 years, government data shows.
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America's small business bailout is off to a bad start

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Websites have crashed, phones are jammed and confusion reigns as businesses rushed at today's kickoff to get their chunk of the $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program.

Why it matters: This is a race to save jobs in the present and the future, and to ensure that as many workers as possible keep their benefits and paychecks during the coronavirus lockdown.

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