While most Americans spent Thanksgiving with family and friends reflecting on the things that made them grateful, President Trump, in a press availability surrounding a brief call with several members of the armed services from his Floridian residence in Mar-a-Lago, spent his time attacking judges, Mexico, military technology, and people seeing asylum.
He also said he was thankful for his “great family and for having made a tremendous difference in this country,” before going on about how he thought America “is so much stronger now than it was when I took office that you wouldn’t believe it.”
But most of Trump’s sentiment was the opposite. Here are some of the things that attracted the president’s wrath on Thanksgiving Day 2018.
The border and immigration was a favorite topic of the president during the call with U.S. servicemembers and reporters’ questions afterward. Trump threatened Mexico with closing the U.S. southern border if “they lose control of the border on the Mexico side.”
“We’ve closed it up,” Trump said. “Actually, two days ago we closed the border, we actually just closed it, we said nobody’s going in because it’s out of control.”
A reporter asked what he meant, since while he has threatened to close the border before, actually doing so would cost America billions of dollars a day. Trump replied: “If we find that it’s uncontrollable, Josh, if we find that it gets to a level where we are going to lose control or our people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control.” The reporter asked, “the entire border?” and Trump confirmed, “the whole border, I mean the whole border, and Mexico will not be able to sell their cars into the United States…”
“When they lose control of the border on the Mexico side, we just close the border, and we have a very powerful border, we built a very strong border in a very short period of time.”
Trump also confirmed that a government shutdown over the wall in December “could happen, over border security.”
People seeking asylum
Trump chose Thanksgiving, a holiday in which, per Trump’s proclamation, “we recall the courageous and inspiring journey of the Pilgrims who, nearly four centuries ago, ventured across the vast ocean to flee religious persecution and establish a home in the New World,” to attack people seeking asylum in the United States.
He assailed the “large numbers of people, in many cases we have no idea who they are, and in many cases they are not good people, they’re bad people.”
Before sitting down to a sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner at Mar-a-Lago, the president again characterized the Central Americans fleeing violence and privation as “tremendously dangerous people in those caravans and we do not want them coming into the United States and we’re not going to let them.”
“Many of those people are criminals,” he said, without a firm basis in fact. “These are people you talk to them and they start a fist fight.”
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
Trump attacked judges who have ruled against his administration during the call, turning to his least-favorite district court in a conversation with one brigadier general after a tangent about the U.S. southern border.
“We’ve got a lot of bad court decisions from the 9th Circuit, which has become a big thorn in our side — always lose, and then you lose again and again and then you hopefully win at the Supreme Court, which we’ve done. But it’s a terrible thing when judges take over your protective services, when they tell you how to protect your border, so it’s a disgrace.”
The 9th Circuit issued a temporary restraining order against the Trump administration’s effort to bar asylum seekers from entering the United States earlier this week.
Trump later told reporters that the 9th Circuit’s decisions were often overturned, and it was “a shame and a disgrace.” He said “everybody knows it’s totally out of control and what they’re doing and what they’re saying, the opinions are very unfair to law enforcement, they’re very unfair to our military, and they’re very unfair most importantly to the people of our country because I’m keeping them safe.”
Trump alleged that because “everyone” files in the 9th Circuit, “I think we’re going to have to stop that somehow.”
“Hopefully we’ve shone some light on the 9th Circuit,” Trump said. “I know Chief Justice John Roberts has been speaking a little bit about it.”
The CIA recently concluded with “high confidence” that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to news outlets like the Washington Post and NBC News. Trump dismissed the reports.
“They didn’t conclude … they did not come to a conclusion,” he said. “They have feelings certain ways, but they didn’t, I have the report, and you can ask Mike, they have not concluded, I don’t know if anyone’s going to be able to conclude that the crown prince did it, but whether he did or whether he didn’t, he denies it vehemently, his father denies it, the king, vehemently, the CIA doesn’t say they did it. They do point out certain things, and in pointing out certain things, you can conclude that maybe he did or maybe he didn’t.”
Trump framed it as a question of whether murdering a journalist was cause to raise oil prices or threaten the economic relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States.
“Maybe the world should be held accountable because the world is a very vicious place.”
Trump asked Coast Guard Lieutenant Nick Hartmann what he was seeing in his patrolling of the Straits of Hormuz when it came to trade, which Trump said was important to him because “we don’t have any good trade deals.”
Hartmann said he was seeing “an abundance of trade” and “we don’t see any issues in terms of trade right now.” Trump replied that “we want to have good free trade and we also want to have good fair deals where we can do well too, not just everybody else.”
Trump asked Captain Pat Hannifin, commander of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, about the catapults used to launch planes from the ship’s deck. Trump has long been a critic of the technological upgrade — he wants ships to use steam-powered catapults instead of the newer digital electromagnetic launching system being implemented on newer ships.
“On the Gerald Ford they don’t use steam,” Trump told the aircraft carrier commander. “The steam system is tried and true for many, many years, as long as we’ve had aircraft carriers. How do you find steam vs. what they’re doing on the Gerald Ford, which is electronic and digital if you can believe it?”
Hannifin explained that the electromagnetic catapults offered many benefits and that the Navy could handle any bugs in the net system easily.
Later, Trump alleged he was the best president for the military and veterans in history.
“Nobody’s done more for the military than I have,” he said. “I’ve also done more for the vets than anybody’s ever done.”