Tags: donald trump | nra | russia | robert mueller

Trump to NRA on Russia Probe: 'I Love Fighting These Battles'

Trump to NRA on Russia Probe: 'I Love Fighting These Battles'
President Donald Trump speaks at the National Rifle Association annual convention in Dallas. (AP/Susan Walsh)

By    |   Friday, 04 May 2018 05:07 PM

President Donald Trump on Friday cited a federal judge's attack of the case against former his campaign manager Paul Manafort as evidence of a "witch hunt" by Russia special counsel Robert Mueller.

"We are all fighting battles, but I love fighting these battles," he said to a packed auditorium at the annual convention of the National Rifle Association. "I've been saying that for a long time. It's a witch hunt.”

Trump read from a CNN report that said U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III in Virginia scolded Mueller's investigators for prosecuting Manafort to get him "to sing" about Trump.

"None of that information has to do with information related to the Russian government during the election and the campaign of Donald Trump," the president told 7,500 people inside the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in downtown Dallas.

"It doesn't have anything to do with it," Trump said. "It's from years before.”

Trump's speech was his fourth consecutive appearance at the NRA's annual convention. The group spent $30 million backing his presidential quest, endorsing him early on in the campaign.

Trump was introduced by Vice President Mike Pence, and he endorsed such Republicans seeking re-election this fall as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and state Attorney General Ken Paxton.

It was the first time a president and vice president have appeared jointly at the NRA conference.

"Thanks to your activism and dedication, you have an administration fighting to protect your Second Amendment," Trump said. "We will protect your Second Amendment. Your Second Amendment rights are under siege, but they will never ever be under siege as long as I'm your president."

Campaign Mode

Trump's comments also touched on various accomplishments of his administration — the $1.5 trillion tax plan and the record-low unemployment data released earlier Friday — as well as the November midterm elections, illegal immigration, North Korea and Iran.

"We are really doing well with North Korea," Trump said. "They were actually saying three months ago when the rhetoric was rather sharp. Do we agree?

"I won't use the rhetoric now," the president said. "Now, I'm trying to calm it down a little bit.

"With respect to North Korea," he later added, "remember how strong it was and they were saying this is going to be nuclear war?

"No. You know what gets you nuclear war?" Trump asked. Weakness gets you nuclear war.

"Being weak gets you nuclear war. That's what gets you nuclear war."

Returning to the subject of guns, Trump linked the Second Amendment to the midterm elections, calling on NRA conventioneers to not become complacent because the Democrats are "fighting like hell and you're complacent.

"We can't get complacent," he said. "We have to win the midterms.

"We're here today because we recognize a simple fact: The one thing that has always stood between the American people and the elimination of our Second Amendment rights has been conservatives in Congress willing to fight for those rights.

"We're fighting to defend our freedom, we need the people in Washington to support our freedom," he said.

"We need Republicans to do it right, to get the kind of things we want.

"We've got to get Republicans elected," Trump continued. "We've got to do great in 2018.

"Democrats and liberals in Congress want to disarm law-abiding Americans while at the same time they are releasing dangerous illegal aliens and savage gang members unto our streets.

"Illegal immigration must end," he continued. "We are going to have strong borders."

President Trump also called for stronger school safety measures — after the February mass school shootings in Florida — including trained teachers and security officers and "hardened" buildings.

"We strongly believe in allowing highly trained teachers to carry concealed weapons," Trump said to applause from the crowd. We want highly trained security guards.

"There is no stronger deterrent for a sick individual than the knowledge that their attack will end their life and will end in total failure.

"We support the Second Amendment," the president said. "Not only because we believe in freedom, but also because we trust in everyday talented, wonderful people.

"These teachers, they love their students. They understand their students.

"They love their students — and they are not going to let anybody hurt their students.

"But you have to give them a chance.

"In America, we trust the people to be wise and to be good," Trump said. "We trust them to take responsibility for themselves, their families and their communities.

"That is why, in America, we have always trusted the people to keep and bear arms."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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President Donald Trump on Friday cited a federal judge's attack of the case against former his campaign manager Paul Manafort as evidence of a "witch hunt" by Russia special counsel Robert Mueller.
donald trump, nra, russia, robert mueller
Friday, 04 May 2018 05:07 PM
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