Sunday 28 May 2017

Trump takes fresh aim at the media as he calls for end to anonymous sources

Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up as he arrives to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (AP/Alex Brandon)
Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up as he arrives to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (AP/Alex Brandon)

Donald Trump has used his first presidential appearance before the largest gathering of conservative activists in the US to sharply escalate his criticisms of the news media.

Taking direct aim at the use of anonymous sources, Mr Trump said r eporters "shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody's name".

His comments came just hours after members of his own staff held a press briefing and refused to allow their names to be used.

"A source says that Donald Trump is a horrible, horrible human being, let them say it to my face," Mr Trump told the Conservative Political Action Committee. "Let there be no more sources."

Members of Mr Trump's White House team regularly demand anonymity when talking to reporters. Mr Trump said he was not against all the press, just "the fake news media or press".

"I'm against the people that make up stories and make up sources," he said. "They shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody's name."

It was a triumphal return to CPAC for Mr Trump, who was warmly welcomed by a crowd that gave him a more wary reception on his first appearance.

Six years ago he stepped on to the stage as the "money, money, money, money" chorus of his reality TV show theme song blared. The crowd was less than adoring, occasionally laughing and booing the former Democrat.

Although Mr Trump returned in ensuing years, he was notably absent last year. American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp said the presidential candidates were asked to participate in a question-and-answer session, but Mr Trump had wanted to make a speech.

He did show up in 2015, however, a few months before he announced his candidacy.

"I am really inclined. I want to do it so badly," Mr Trump said about the likelihood he would run.

During his speech on Friday, Mr Trump once again vowed to deport immigrants in the US illegally who have committed crimes.

He said that "as we speak today, immigration officers are finding gang members, drug dealers and criminal aliens and throwing them the hell out".

His declaration comes the day after he and one of his cabinet secretaries offered clashing takes on the nature of the deportation push.

Homeland security secretary John Kelly pledged in Mexico that the United States will not enlist its military to enforce immigration laws and that there will be "no mass deportations".

But only hours earlier Mr Trump suggested the opposite, saying it would be a "military operation".

Press secretary Sean Spicer later said Mr Trump used "military" as an adjective and was stressing "precision".

Mr Trump also said he inherited a "failed health care law" in his address. He claimed it threatens the nation's medical system with "total catastrophe".

He reiterated his promise to repeal and replace the sweeping health care law signed into law by former president Barack Obama.

Mr Trump said that Obamacare does not work and it covers "very few people", even though the 2010 health law has provided medical insurance to 20 million Americans.

The president said he and the GOP-led Congress will "make it much better" and "less expensive".

He also signalled more reforms are ahead for the nation's welfare system. He said that "it's time for all Americans to get off welfare and get back to work". He added: "You're going to love it."

The nation's welfare laws were overhauled under former president Bill Clinton in the 1990s. The changes provided states with grants in exchange for greater flexibility in how they can use the funds.

There has been a steady decline in the number of needy families participating in the nation's welfare programme since the mid-1990s.

Mr Trump said that "jobs are already starting to pour back" and pointed to pledges for more manufacturing jobs in states such as Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

The president also pledged that "in a matter of days" his administration will take "a brand new action" to prevent potential terrorists from entering the US.

Though Mr Trump did not specify what is coming, White House officials have said a new immigration ban will be released shortly.

The original ban was knocked down by a federal court. Mr Trump said on Friday that "we will not be deterred from this course".

He vowed that he would "never apologise" for protecting the safety of American people and promised that "we are going to keep radical Islamic terrorism the hell out of the country".

The original order sparked widespread protest.

AP

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