Shortly after President Trump caught wind of an anonymous senior official criticizing his administration, the president fired back against the New York Times and other “phony media outlets.”
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump predicted Thursday that the author of the anonymous New York Times op-ed that described him as reckless and amoral was “fairly low level” and reiterated his contention that the essay was “treason.”
Speaking at a rally in Montana, Trump also dismissed a central and stunning argument of the essay, that members of his administration had witnessed “instability” in the White House and considered invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
“‘Is he competent?'” Trump said, mocking media coverage to the roaring crowd at an arena in Billings. “I think I’m pretty competent; do you think so?”
Discussing the essay in an interview with Fox News that was played for the audience before the rally, Trump said that he watched as members of his cabinet and other senior officials on Thursday offered a series of denials that they had written the piece.
“Virtually, you know, it’s treason,” Trump said.
“So they take one person out of thousands,” Trump said in the interview. “It’s very unfair to our country and to the millions of people who voted for us – they voted for us.”
Trump also addressed the looming deadline to fund the federal government. After issuing repeated threats in recent weeks to shutter federal agencies unless a proposed spending package includes significantly more money for border security, the president said he didn’t plan to do so.
The crowd roared for a shutdown.
“If it was up to me, I’d shut down the government over border security,” Trump said.
He then said he doesn’t plan to do so because he had secured commitments from Republican leaders to fund the wall after the election.
Few in the crowd seemed concerned about the Times essay.
Debbie Robbins, 67, said she ignores negative news and said people opposing Trump are making fools of themselves. She voted for the first time in 2016. When her registration didn’t go through, she drove 60 miles to same-day register so she could support Trump.
Robbins said even old clips of Trump that were broadcast to the crowd waiting for the president made her teary. She said she expected to be in tears for most of the rally.
“He’s somebody working for the American people,” she said. “He cares about the American people not his own agenda and that’s why I’m here.”
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