In the longest speech of his presidency to date, President Donald Trump riled up the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday, letting loose on topics ranging from the Russia investigation and the Democratic presidential field to free speech on college campuses.
Trump, still reeling from a blistering week both at home and abroad, claimed he was being “sarcastic” and “having fun with the audience” when during the 2016 campaign he urged Russia to hack Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails.
“I’ve learned with the fake news, if you tell a joke, if you are sarcastic, if you’re having fun with the audience, if you are on live television with millions of people and 25,000 people in an arena, and if you say something like ‘Russia, please, if you can, get us Hillary Clinton’s emails! Please, Russia, please! Please get us the emails! Please!’” Trump said in a mocking tone.
Trump was referring to a press conference in July 2016 during which he said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens, that’ll be next.”
According to an indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller, Russians made their first attempt to hack Clinton’s personal servers that same day.
But for the most part, Trump kept the focus on domestic issues and the national political fray.
Trump also attacked 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, lamenting that he should not have referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as “Pocahontas” so early on in the election cycle.