Washington: US President Donald Trump, speaking at a campaign rally on Tuesday, threatened to shut down the federal government to force congress to fund his border wall, accusing the media of creating tensions in the aftermath of the Charlottesville race-driven clashes.
Speaking at Phoenix, Arizona — a state with a 626 km border with Mexico, Trump said: “If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall… The American people voted for immigration control. We’re going to get that wall.”
Trump got only $1.6 billion for the wall in the last federal budget — experts say it will cost around $22 billion and take three years to complete —and he is threatening to refuse to sign the expenditure if it does not pay for the wall.
But in Phoenix, Trump also seemed angry by the controversy surrounding his equivocation on the Charlottesville clashes and he plunged into yet another attempt to prove he was clear in decrying racists.
“I spoke out forcefully against hatred and bigotry and violence,” he said. “You know where my heart is. I’m only doing this to show you how damned dishonest these people are.” With that, he pulled out a wad of papers with quotes from his earlier remarks.
“They don’t report it,” he complained. “They said ‘he wasn’t specific enough’.” He went on to read out the quotes that were a selective collection, omitting words and phrases that had shown him trying to spread the blame evenly between the white nationalists and the counter-protestors.
He also targeted media house, ridiculing the “failing” New York Times, The Washington Post — which he called the lobbying arm of Amazon — and CNN, eliciting loud chants of “CNN sucks”.
“The media can attack me. But where I draw the line is where they attack you, which is what they do,” he said.
“The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media.”
Trump also hinted he was planning to grant a presidential pardon to a controversial Arizona state mayor convicted recently of ignoring a court order ordering him not to detain people on mere suspicion of being undocumented immigrants. And he attacked the state’s two Republican senators, John McCain — who is battling brain cancer — and Jeff Flake, who is up for re-election in 2018.