President Donald Trump on Saturday railed against protesters, China and the media in an address marking America’s Independence Day — typically a non-partisan celebration of national unity.
Trump, whose address largely mimicked the tone of his stump speeches, continued his attacks on protesters he said are “lying” about American history by calling for the removal of statues and memorials celebrating slaveholders and colonial and Confederate figures.
And similar to his speech at Mount Rushmore on Friday, Trump pledged to defend American monuments and the country’s “rich heritage.”
“We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children or trample on our freedoms,” the president said, assailing protesters as “anarchist agitators” who “have absolutely no clue what they are doing.”
The Saturday speech, delivered on July 4 amid the backdrop of a pandemic, record-high unemployment and nationwide protests, marked a sea change from Trump’s Independence Day address in 2019, which largely stuck to patriotic and not political themes.
And as the president faces questions over his agenda for a potential second term, Trump hinted that his priorities will remain largely the same: low taxes, a strong military, religious freedom and law and order.
“We should all want the same thing,” Trump said.
Trump also defended his administration’s pandemic response, pinning the blame for the virus on China.
“We have the most and finest testing anywhere in the world, and we are producing gowns and masks and surgical equipment in our country, where heretofore it was almost exclusively made in foreign lands, in particular China, ironically this virus and others came from,” Trump said, blaming Chinese “deception” for allowing the virus to spread.
Trump devoted a portion of his address to rail at the media, which he claimed without evidence “falsely and consistently label their opponents as racists.”
“When you level these false charges, you not only slander me, you not only slander the American people, but you slander generations of heroes who gave their lives for America,” Trump said.
The event in Washington, D.C., featured flyovers by military aircraft and will be capped off by fireworks on the National Mall. Crowds on the Mall were light Saturday as officials urged social distancing, TV station WTOP reported.
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