Trump lauds his presidency's successes

WASHINGTON • Seemingly energised by his landmark meeting last week with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, United States President Donald Trump depicted his presidency as a string of unvarnished successes despite the unfair and even criminal forces arrayed against him.

He mounted withering attacks on a variety of targets, including congressional Democrats, his predecessor Barack Obama, special counsel Robert Mueller, Canada's Prime Minister, professional football players and the news media.

At the same time, he extolled his warm relations with the leaders of North Korea, China and Russia.

The President's assessment came during a quintessentially Trumpian discourse on current affairs, first on Fox & Friends, then with reporters who surrounded him on the White House driveway.

"We've done more - I don't say this in a bragging way, actually some of the haters actually say this - we've done more in 500 days, so now it's 510 days, than any 500-day president, first term, by far," Mr Trump said at one point.

"And that's what I want to do, I want to really - you know, I got elected to make America great again. Very simple."

A LOT DONE

We've done more - I don't say this in a bragging way, actually some of the haters actually say this - we've done more in 500 days, so now it's 510 days, than any 500-day president, first term, by far.

US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

Indeed, Mr Trump used the words "great" or "greatest" 48 times. He dismissed contrary information and blamed any setbacks on Mr Obama or the Democratic minorities in Congress.

"When it's my fault," he said, "I'll tell you."

Mr Trump misstated or distorted a variety of facts over the course of the television appearance and subsequent conversation with reporters.

For example, on bias in the special counsel's office, which is investigating alleged Russian intervention in the 2016 presidential election, Mr Trump said: "They have no Republicans." (Not true. Mr Mueller is a lifelong Republican.)

On distancing himself from Paul Manafort, his indicted former campaign chairman who was sent to jail last Friday: "He worked for me, what, for 49 days or something?" (Not true. It was 144 days.)

Mr Trump suggested that the vague 391-word statement he signed with Mr Kim during their meeting in Singapore ended the nuclear standoff with North Korea.

"I signed an agreement where we get everything," he said.

He praised Mr Kim, brushing aside questions about the repressive government and gulags in North Korea. "He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same," he joked.

Mr Trump confirmed that he wants to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin this summer, brushing off Moscow's annexation of Crimea in 2014, which he blamed on Mr Obama rather than Mr Putin. "President Obama lost Crimea because President Putin didn't respect President Obama," he said.

Likewise, he faulted Democrats in Congress for the federal authorities separating children from parents trying to cross the border from Mexico under a "zero tolerance" policy announced by Attorney-General Jeff Sessions.

Mr Trump also mocked National Football League players for protesting against racism when they are "making US$15 million (S$20 million) a year".

He again assailed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for saying he would not "be pushed around" over tariffs.

And he dismissed the importance of a misleading statement he dictated last year about a Trump Tower meeting with Russians during the 2016 campaign, a statement that his lawyer and spokesman at first denied he had dictated, even though his legal team later admitted that he had. "It's irrelevant," Mr Trump said. "That's not a statement to a high tribunal of judges. That's a statement to the phony New York Times."

Mr Trump even suggested that his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a retired three-star general, did not actually lie to investigators even though he has pleaded guilty to doing so and the President himself previously said he fired Mr Flynn for lying.

"I feel badly for General Flynn," he said. "He's lost his house, he's lost his life. And some people say he lied and some people say he didn't lie. I mean really it turned out maybe he didn't lie."

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 17, 2018, with the headline 'Trump lauds his presidency's successes'. Print Edition | Subscribe