April 15, 2024

Trump: ‘No politician in history has been treated more unfairly’

TAP | Updated: May 18, 2017

Washington, May 18: No politician in history has been treated as unfairly as Donald Trump, the president claimed as he struggled under the weight of a series of major controversies.
“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media,” Trump said on Wednesday during a speech to the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut. “No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.”
He told the coast guard graduates: “You can’t let them get you down.” Responding to their cheers, he commented: “I guess that’s why we won.”
On Capitol Hill, the House speaker, Paul Ryan, the most senior Republican in Congress, said he still had confidence in the president after a week of stunning revelations that sent shockwaves through Washington.
But Justin Amash, a conservative from Michigan, became the first Republican legislator to publicly concede that if the new allegations against Trump were true, the president could be impeached.
Ryan warned about rushing to conclusions in the wake of a New York Times report that Trump had asked Comey to stop an investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. That news came a day after a Washington Post report that Trump had revealed highly classified informationduring a meeting with Russian officials. The two controversies came in the wake of Trump’s equally contentious firing last week of the FBI director, James Comey, who was leading the agency’s investigation into Russia’s reported meddling in the US election.
“Our job is to get the facts,” Ryan told reporters. The Wisconsin Republican said the House oversight and government reform committee had “appropriately” requested that the FBI hand over any memos and documentation Comey kept on his meetings with the president and said lawmakers would remain “sober” in their search for “the facts”.
“It is obvious there are some people out there that want to harm the president, but we have an obligation to carry out our oversight regardless of which party is in the White House,” Ryan said. “And that means, before rushing to judgment, we get all the pertinent information.”
On Wednesday, the Senate intelligence committee joined the House oversight committee in asking the acting FBI chief, Andrew McCabe, to hand over any notes or memos from Comey on such meetings. The Senate committee also wrote to Comey asking him to appear before it in both open and closed sessions.
Asked if he still had confidence in Trump, Ryan replied: “I do.”
Ryan spoke after a closed-door meeting with Republicans, the first caucus-wide meeting since the House returned from a 10-day recess.
For weeks, Republicans have carefully avoided casting criticism on the president, but by Wednesday, that loyalty was being tested.
After the House meeting, Justin Amash told reporters that if Trump had tried to quash an FBI investigation, it would merit impeachment.
“Yes,” the congressman replied when asked whether the report would qualify as an impeachable offense, according to a report in the Hill. He added: “But everybody gets a fair trial in this country.”
On the whole, however, Republicans and Democrats have refused to say whether they believe the accusations, if true, would lead to impeachment.
“I’ve been through an impeachment hearing. They’re not good for the country, let alone the individual,” said Senator Diane Feinstein, a California Democrat and the ranking member of the judiciary committee. “I think until we know more this should remain where it is ... off the table.”
Meanwhile, Republican Adam Kinzinger, who was previously opposed to appointing a special prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation into links between Trump’s team and Russia, said he was open to one.
“It is time we look at the idea of an independent commission or special prosecutor,” the Illinois congressman told CNN.
House Democrats on Wednesday planned to use procedural maneuvers to force a vote on a bill that would establish an independent commission to investigate Russian interference in the US presidential election. The discharge petition would need at least 218 signatures in order to force the vote.
“It’s unacceptable that we continue ignoring these scandals,” Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat and the petition’s co-sponsor, told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.
The Republican Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who has been relatively tight-lipped despite the White House controversies casting a long shadow over his legislative agenda, told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday he would like Comey to testify publicly and “as soon as possible”.
“I think we need to hear from him about whatever he has to say about the events of recent days, as soon as possible, before the Senate intelligence committee, in public,” McConnell told the Journal.
The Senate will be briefed on Thursday by the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, on the firing of Comey. Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat and the ranking member of the Senate intelligence committee, said he expected to hear from Comey early next week about whether he would testify.
“We’ve got questions about the president’s comments about tapes – secret tapes – we have questions about transcripts from the meetings with the Russians, and we have questions about obtaining former director Comey’s memo, and that’s just Wednesday,” Warner said.
The Republican senator John McCain, a frequent critic of Trump, said that the various scandals surrounding Trump had reached “Watergate size and scale”.
The Republican senator Lindsey Graham, another thorn in the president’s side, said in a statement on Wednesday that he would like Comey to testify publicly. “I do not believe in trial by newspaper article or investigations based on anonymous sources,” Graham said in the statement.
“However, it is important that Congress call the former FBI director James Comeybefore the judiciary committee to obtain a full understanding of what President Trump may or may not have done regarding the Russian investigation, including General Michael Flynn.”
In his speech in Connecticut, Trump claimed his administration was in the process of delivering on three key domestic promises: tax reform, healthcare reform and the construction of a border wall with Mexico.
“We’ve begun plans and preparations for the border wall, which is going very, very well,” Trump said. “We are working on major tax cuts for all … we are going to give you major tax reform.”
He added: “The people understand what I’m doing, and that’s the most important thing.” PTI