WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump went into defensive mode on Wednesday against his “critics” and the media, while the Senate increased pressure on the White House to obtain responses about the president’s controversial relationship with former FBI Director James Comey and the investigation he was leading into Russian involvement in the November election.
Trump did not refer all day long to the controversy surrounding his abrupt firing of Comey last week, or to the report that he had asked the then-FBI chief to end his investigation of one of the mogul’s former advisers, or to his own decision to share with top Russian officials secret information about the Islamic State.
The president tried, in contrast, to put the focus on the media, with whom he has been in an ongoing battle since last year’s election campaign.
“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately especially by the media. No politician in history – and I say this with great surety – has been treated worse or more unfairly,” the president said in a speech he gave at the US Coast Guard Academy graduation ceremony in New London, Connecticut, on Wednesday.
“You can’t let them get you down. You can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams,” Trump told the assembled cadets.
The president insisted that he had “accomplished a tremendous amount in a very short time” since his Jan. 20 inauguration.
“And the people understand what I’m doing, and that’s the most important thing. I didn’t get elected to serve the Washington media or special interests. I got elected to serve the forgotten men and women of our country, and that’s what I’m doing,” he said to applause from the cadets.
The president thus criticized the media, which over the past week has uncovered a series of scandals, including the apparent fact that in February Trump asked then-FBI chief Comey to end the investigation the latter was conducting into the links between former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Russia.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Wednesday said only that the New York Times article reporting the conversation between Trump and Comey was not a precise description of what happened or was said at that meeting, adding that he would not be commenting any further on the matter.
Another report that has shaken Washington this week is that Trump shared classified information with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about an IS plan to use laptop computers to hide explosives with an eye toward blowing up passenger planes in flight.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, said Wednesday that if the White House would OK it, he would be ready to give Congress what he said was the transcript of last week’s Oval Office meeting between Trump and Lavrov.
When asked about that during a brief press conference, Spicer refused to respond to Putin’s offer, saying only that he did not know if the Russians had recorded the meeting or simply taken notes.