President Donald Trump went on a rambling two-hour speech—the longest of his presidency to date —at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he went on the offensive while also portraying himself as a victim of politically motivated attacks. “You know, I’m totally off script right now,” Trump said early on in his address. “This is how I got elected, by being off script.” The crowd went wild and gave him a standing ovation. While Trump spoke, the crowd periodically broke into chants of “Trump is our Man” and “We Love You.”
Trump dedicated some of his speech to attacking the “collusion delusion,” referring to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. He told the raucous crowd that he was being “sarcastic” and “having fun” when he called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails during the campaign. “I’ve learned with the fake news, if you tell a joke, if you are sarcastic, if you’re having fun with the audience, if you are on live television with millions of people and 25,000 people in an arena, and if you say something like ‘Russia, please, if you can, get us Hillary Clinton’s emails! Please, Russia, please! Please get us the emails! Please!’” Trump said.
During the speech, Trump mocked both former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and former FBI Director James Comey, who he descried as Mueller’s “best friend.” “We’re waiting for a report by people who weren’t elected,” Trump said. “All of a sudden, they’re trying to take you out with bullshit.”
Trump also used the speech to attack Democrats, and focused some of his energy in mocking the Green New Deal. “Nothing is more extreme than the Democrats’ plan to completely take over American energy and completely destroy America’s economy through their new $100 trillion Green New Deal,” Trump said, characterizing the plan as a “high school term paper written by a poor student.” It wasn’t just Democrats who were on the receiving end of scorn though. Trump also complained about Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and how he likes raising interest rates and a “very strong dollar” and criticized Republicans who have opposed his tariffs. “Where did these people come from?” Trump asked.
In another part of his address, Trump vowed to issue an executive order that would guarantee free speech at colleges and universities, warning that institutions would risk federal money if they did not comply. Trump didn’t go into detail about what the order would entail but he made the announcement as he invited Hayden Williams, the conservative activist who was punched on the University of California at Berkeley’s campus last month. “If they want our dollars, and we give it to them by the billions, they’ve got to allow people like Hayden and many great young people, and oil people, to speak,” Trump said. The crowd broke into chant: “USA! USA! USA!”
On Sunday morning, Trump was back on the attack against the special counsel, saying he had been the victim of “Presidential Harassment” for more than two years. “I am an innocent man being persecuted by some very bad, conflicted & corrupt people in a Witch Hunt that is illegal & should never have been allowed to start,” Trump wrote on Twitter.