Trump: ‘No politician in history . . . has been treated more unfairly’
Paul Ryan backs president as Putin offers to hand over transcript of Lavrov meeting
US president Donald Trump has accused the media of unfairly targeting him and has vowed to continue his agenda as president, in his first public comments following reports that he asked FBI director James Comey to halt an investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn.
Speaking at a commencement ceremony for the US coast guard in Connecticut, a defiant Mr Trump said that “no politician in history . . . has been treated worse or more unfairly” than he had, adding that he had accomplished more than any previous president in American history.
“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media. No politician in history . . . has been treated worse or more unfairly. You can’t let them get you down. You can’t let the critics and the naysers get in the way of your dreams,” he said to applause.
“Adversity makes you stronger. Never stop doing what you know is right,” he said, adding that he had not been elected by the Washington media, but by the ordinary men and women of America.
Mr Trump spoke hours after Paul Ryan, the most senior Republican in Congress, warned against “rushing to judgment” on the latest scandal to engulf the president. The comments were seen as a sign that the Republican Party is standing by the president.
In a scheduled press conference on Wednesday, the speaker of the House of Representatives said it was important to focus on facts.
“Our response is to be responsible, sober and to focus only on getting the facts,” he said.
“We are not going to try to play to the crowd, or meet time lines,” he added, noting that “there is clearly a lot of politics being played”.
He continued: “There’s been a lot of reporting lately, I think that requires close examination. We need the facts. It is obvious that there are some people out there who want to harm the president.”
Mr Ryan also implied that Mr Comey had questions to answer over why he had delayed informing authorities about his concerns surrounding Mr Trump.
A memo dating from February 14th and publicised by the New York Times on Tuesday outlines a transcript by Mr Comey of a conversation he had with the US president in the Oval Office.
Speculation and innuendo
Mr Ryan said it was important to ascertain “why, if this happened as Comey allegedly describes, didn’t he take action at the time”.
Asked if Mr Comey should testify at two congressional inquiries into Russia, he said it was up to the committees to decide. “We can’t deal with speculation and innuendo and there is clearly a lot of politics being played. Our job is to get the facts and to be sober about doing that.”
The comments are the latest sign that the Republican party is maintaining its support despite a series of explosive revelations in the last 24 hours that have led to calls from some Democrats for the president’s impeachment.
Earlier, the Republican National Committee sent a tweet highlighting the fact that acting FBI director Andrew McCabe testified last week that the agency’s work was not obstructed at any point.
The New York Times report, which has also been carried by other media outlets, cites a memo written by Mr Comey documenting a meeting with Mr Trump in the Oval Office in February, which records that Mr Trump appears to ask the FBI director to drop the investigation into Mr Flynn.
“I hope you can let this go,” he said, according to the memo.
Earlier, in a sign that some Republicans could be reassessing their support for the US president, Jason Chaffetz, the Republican head of the House oversight and government reform committee, said he had written to the FBI demanding all “memoranda, notes, summaries and recordings” related to Mr Trump and Mr Comey’s communications.
The committee has the power to subpoena the material if necessary.
Speaking on Wednesday, Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings said he and 30 Democrats had written to Mr Chaffetz calling for an investigation.
“Given the gravity of the events that have occurred over the last few week . . . it is unacceptable that we continue ignoring these scandals. We are deeply concerned of the repeated failure of the House Republicans to take action in the face of these onslaught of allegations,” he said.
“Speaker Ryan has shown that he has zero, zero, zero appetite for any investigation into President Trump.”