President Trump kicked off his re-election fundraising Wednesday night at a private event for Republican donors at his D.C. hotel. With no press present, attendees had the opportunity to pay $35,000 to hear the president rail against CNN and threaten the network with lawsuits on top of his usual bluster about his (lack of) presidential accomplishments, according to audio of the speech obtained by The Intercept. Let’s set the scene a bit:
Trump drew loud applause with his suggestion that he was prevailing in his campaign against the cable news network. “Boy, did CNN get killed over the last few days,” he said. Last week, CNN retracted a story about a Trump ally’s tied to a Russian bank; three of the network’s journalists resigned in the wake of the flap.
On top of getting applause for attacking an independent media organization, Trump focused on Van Jones being recorded (saying the Trump-Russia connection was a “nothing burger,” a video which CNN found hilarious) as well as network president Jeff Zucker. And he whipped out a “fun” lawsuit threat:
“These are really dishonest people. Should I sue them? I mean, they’re phonies. Jeff Zucker, I hear he’s going to resign at some point pretty soon. I mean, these are horrible human beings.”
“It’s a shame what they’ve done to the name CNN, that I can tell you,” Trump went on, riffing on taking the network to court. “But as far as I’m concerned, I love it. If anybody’s a lawyer in the house and thinks I have a good lawsuit — I feel like we do. Wouldn’t that be fun?”
Trump actually took some time to discuss domestic policy and actual election issues, amazingly. Though he was fairly unenthusiastic about the Republican efforts to repeal and replace the ACA, he mentioned the Congressional special election victories. “I don’t think anybody as president has done as much in the first five months,” he claimed.
Trump ended the speech by showing his foreign policy acumen while making fun of the pronunciation of the country Qatar and saying that he would “prefer that they don’t fund terrorism.” Trump sold Qatar $12 billion worth of weapons two weeks ago.