U.S. President Donald Trump used his appearance today before the largest gathering of conservatives in the U.S. to sharply escalate his criticisms of the news media and take direct aim at the use of anonymous sources.
Reporters “shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name,” he said Friday, hours after members of his own staff held a press briefing and refused to allow their names to be used.
“A source says that Donald Trump is a horrible, horrible human being, let them say it to my face,” Trump told the Conservative Political Action Committee, which is meeting in Oxon Hill, Md., this week. “Let there be no more sources.”
Members of Trump’s White House team regularly demand anonymity when talking to reporters. Trump said he wasn’t against all the press, just “the fake news media or press.”
“I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources,” he said. “They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name.”
The president has chafed at a number of anonymously sourced stories, including numerous reports describing contacts between his campaign officials and the Russians that the White House has sharply disputed. White House officials spoke with reporters Friday on the condition that no names be used.
“The fake news doesn’t tell the truth,” Trump insisted. “It doesn’t represent the people. It will never represent the people and we’re going to do something about it.”
Trump promises action on health care, trade
It was a triumphal return to CPAC for Trump, who received a warm welcome.
After his broadside on the press, Trump turned to a recitation of his agenda, promising bold action on health care, trade, energy policy and more.
“One by one, we’re checking off the promises we made to the American people,” he said. “I will not disappoint you.”
Trump told the conservatives that the health care law he inherited from former president Barack Obama threatens to bring about “total catastrophe,” and reiterated his promise to repeal and replace it. He highlighted his efforts to get tough on illegal immigration, saying that “as we speak today, immigration officers are finding gang members, drug dealers and criminal aliens and throwing them the hell out.”
He promised changes to the welfare system, saying, “It’s time for all Americans to get off welfare and get back to work” and,”You’re going to love it.”
“How good it feels to have somebody lead our country who knows how to fight,” American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp told the crowd in introducing Trump.
Schlapp said Trump was the first president to address the group during his first year in office since Ronald Reagan in 1981. He called that a “huge sign of respect.”
In his first appearance, Trump tried to burnish his conservative credentials with assertions that he is pro-life and anti-gun control, while heaping praise on himself and his business acumen.
He appeared to test drive the “make America great again” phrase that became his 2016 presidential campaign slogan.
“Our country will be great again,” he said. He trademarked that phrase in 2012, just after Mitt Romney lost to Obama.
An angry audience member shouted: “You have zero chance of getting elected.”
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