President Donald Trump tore down former FBI and Justice Department officials, expressed unabashed support for Saudi Arabia and took credit for plans to send immigrants into sanctuary cities in an unrestrained rally in Wisconsin on Saturday night.
The nearly hour-and-a-half-long campaign rally was scheduled at the same time the 2019 White House Correspondents dinner, which the Trump administration boycotted.
Trump opened the rally with condolences to the deadly synagogue shooting in California from earlier in the day. Then he quickly went into his usual insults of his Democratic opponents, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and former Vice President Joe Biden, whom he called “Pocahontas,” “Crazy Bernie” and “Sleepy Joe” respectively.
Trump also appeared to take aim at the federal intelligence community, calling the ousted FBI and Justice Department officials “scum.”
The rally, which took place in Green Bay, was the first rally Trump has held since the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the president, Russia and the Trump campaign were made public.
Wow — Trump refers to the FBI and DOJ leaders he's purged from government as "scum" pic.twitter.com/mkjiWZ68cp
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 28, 2019
“If you look at what’s happened with the scum that’s leaving the very top of government, people that others used to say, oh, that’s one — these were dirty cops. These were dirty players,” Trump said in an apparent reference to intelligence officials who resigned or were forced out.
He made similar remarks in June 2018, calling top FBI officials of the time “scum.”
In front of a cheering crowd, Trump highlighted his usual anti-immigration policies and again took credit for a controversial plan to send detained immigrants to so-called sanctuary cities revealed earlier this month.
Trump called it his “sick idea” while bragging about it.
“We’re sending many of them to sanctuary cities, thank you very much,” he said. “They’re not too happy about it. I’m proud to tell you that was actually my sick idea.”
Two weeks earlier, the Department of Homeland Security said it had rejected a suggestion from Trump to release detained immigrants into cities who refuse to enforce the Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy. One day later, Trump said he was giving the plans “strong considerations.”
In a tweet, the Democratic National Committee called Trump’s remarks on the plan “disgusting.”
“Trump gleefully admits it was his ‘sick idea’ to use immigrants as pawns in his games of political retribution.”
Trump gleefully admits it was his "sick idea" to use immigrants as pawns in his games of political retribution. Disgusting pic.twitter.com/xQHq3s76xC
— DNC War Room (@DNCWarRoom) April 28, 2019
While talking about foreign policy on Saturday, Trump defended his support for Saudi Arabia, whose Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is believed to have ordered for the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“Look, Saudi Arabia, very rich country,” the president said.
“They buy a lot from us, $450 billion they bought,” he added. “You know, you had people wanting to cut off Saudi Arabia. They bought $450 billion. I don’t want to lose them!”
The White House Correspondents’ annual dinner, which also took place Saturday night at the Washington Hilton, was much more subdued compared to Trump’s rallies. It was also more reserved than the event has been in previous years.
Historian Ron Chernow, who penned the famed 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton, was the featured speaker. He offered a strong yet tame rebuke of the White House’s treatment of the press.
“The thing that worries me most is the sustained assault on truth,” Chernow said. “What is happening today is even more insidious, a relentless campaign against the very credibility of the news media.”
Trump’s rally briefly recalled the previous White House Correspondents’ dinner on Saturday when he brought press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on stage.
“Last year, this night, I was at a slightly different event, not quite the best welcome, so this is an amazing honor,” Sanders said in a nod to her appearance at last year’s White House Correspondents Dinner, where she and other Trump officials were roasted by comedian Michelle Wolf.