President Donald Trump spent a considerable chunk of his lengthy, chum-filled address to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday addressing, yet again, the crowd size at his inaugural address.
The President’s rambling speech didn’t spend much time on the biggest issues of the day. Over two hours, he spent just a few sentences on his recent unsuccessful meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and only mentioned in passing some Republican senators’ hesitations about the emergency he declared in order to secure more money to build a border wall.
But Trump was determined to make sure the conservative gathering knew the truth about that fateful day in January 2017.
“I saw pictures that– There were no people!” Trump said, more than two years after the fact. “Those pictures were taken hours before.”
Trump said he’s “constantly” told White House press aides to “show them the pictures” of his inaugural crowd size.
“And remember this also,” the President continued. “We had fencing all the way down to the Washington Monument, and it was raining, and it was wet, and the grass was wet.”
Attendees, Trump reminded his audience, “had to walk all the way down — with high heels in many cases — to the Washington Monument, and then back!”
LOL Trump is still attacking the media for its coverage of his inauguration crowd (or lack thereof)
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 2, 2019
He separately attacked Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel for mistakenly tweeting a picture of the crowd at a Trump rally before Trump took to the stage. Trump attacked Weigel on Twitter for the error more than a year ago; Weigel apologized.
“From the day we came down the escalator, I really don’t believe we’ve had an empty seat at any arena, at any stadium,” Trump said, falsely.
Per the Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale and the Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng, Trump’s pattern of incorrect crowd estimates continued on Saturday.
Oh man. I was just watching dozens of people walk out of the room as they sensed Trump was a minute or two from concluding…then Trump said that he’s been watching the doors and not one person has left.
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) March 2, 2019
Trump just started bragging that nobody had left early during his two hour speech at #CPAC2019 literally as a fairly long procession of people and students in the audience had been filing out very clearly. Attendees behind press area started laughing because they all could see
— Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) March 2, 2019
Perhaps the largest cheer of the speech came in response to Trump’s announcement that he would “very soon” sign an executive order “requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research dollars.”
But the bulk of Trump’s speech referred not to his policies or executive orders, but to him personally; that included a a recounting of the 2018 midterm elections, split between Republican candidates who advertised their Trump loyalties, and those who didn’t.
Trump even returned to the 2016 election, attempting to cast his call on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails — a call Russian hackers may have heeded — as a joke.
The media, Trump asserted, would misinterpret his remarks even if “you tell a joke, if you’re sarcastic, if you’re having fun with the audience, if you’re 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!”
Trump goads the crowd into booing “the fake news,” then suggests he was just being sarcastic when he called for Russian hackers to go after Hillary Clinton’s emails during a 2016 news conference.
The crowd responds with “lock her up!” chants pic.twitter.com/kuCu61UgMr
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 2, 2019