Donald Trump attempted to rally Republicans after a week of setbacks with another rambling speech that praised Kanye Westand Kim Kardashian while ignoring the plight of terminally ill senator John McCain
The president did not mention the convictions of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and lawyer Michael Cohen at a party fundraising dinner in Ohio and focused most of his fire on the Democratic opponents and illegal immigrants.
His only reference to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections came with a brief attack on FBI officials including former director James Comey, former deputy director Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok.
After calling Mr Comey “a liar and a leaker”, the president said: ‘Is this guy being looked at? It’s the most incredible thing people have ever seen what’s going on, but we’re gonna straighten it out. It’s gonna get straightened out.”
During the relatively subdued speech to donors who paid upwards of $250 for tickets, he complained that the Democratic party was “negative” and “nasty” and wanted to abolish the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
This prompted a long rant about illegal immigration, including references to the murder of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, the killing of an elderly homeless woman in New York and the rape of a child in Philadelphia.
Mistakenly referring to the MS-13 gang as MS-3, he said: “They [the Democrats] want to abolish the agency that is removing violent predators, drug dealers and murderers, MS-3 monster gang members and even just recently a Nazi criminal who nobody could get out for 40 years.
“When I call them animals Nancy Pelosi [Democratic leader of the House] got very angry and she said you shouldn’t talk about human beings like that. These are people that don’t shoot they like using knives because it’s more painful.
”The only thing the other side understands is tough. They don’t understand kindness. They don’t understand niceness. They don’t understand high test scores.”
Mr Trump added: “Democrat immigration policies are destroying innocent lives and spilling very innocent blood. We believe that any party that puts criminal aliens before American citizens should be voted out of office, not into office.”
Most of the rest of the speech involved shout-outs to his supporters, boasts about the state of the economy and attempted comedy routines about the state of the roof tiles on the White House and New York governor Andrew Cuomo‘s plan to sue the Trump administration – “if you go to New York you get sued, people are afraid to go to new York.”
He also praised Ohio congressman Jim Jordan, whose bid to replace House speaker Paul Ryan has been damaged by allegations that he ignored reports of sexual abuse while working as a wrestling coach at Ohio State University.
“Don’t ever wrestle him. Even if you’re bigger than him don’t arrest him. You know people don’t know this about Jim. He was one of the best wrestlers ever in college wrestler.
“And when you see the way he fights every time I watch I said in my wife I said, look at that guy. That is tough. He lost one match in three years of college. One match you lost and you had to see what happened to the guy that beat him. He was not in good shape that night.”
Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian were both singled out by the president for praise.
“Now we’re doing great and Kanye West liked me,” he said.
“And that really lifted my (numbers). Kanye West has some real power!”
Referring to Kardashian West’s work lobbying for the freedom of prisoner Alice Marie Johnson in June, Mr Trump said: “And he’s got a good wife too in Kim, I’ll tell ya. She really is. She did a great thing, a great thing.”