WASHINGTON – From North Korea and China to Fox News hosts and conservative commentator Ann Coulter, President Donald Trump did not stick to the script on Friday when he outlined his plans to declare a national emergency for a wall along the southern U.S. border.
The president started his nearly hour-long remarks, all done without the help of a teleprompter, with the latest on trade deals with China. Using one of the biggest moments in his presidency to quickly segue into discussing tariffs, the United Kingdom and North Korea.
It wasn’t long before he was talking about Fox News host Sean Hannity and other conservative commentators, such as Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh.
What was missing from Trump’s remarks were specifics on what exact actions Trump was taking and planning, where the money would come from and what effect pulling these funds would have on the federal agencies.
Here are all the things Trump did discuss in his address about his national emergency that didn’t have to do with the construction of a wall along the southern border:
‘The unfairness’ with China
As the president walked up to the podium in the Rose Garden at the White House, most thought he would spend his time explaining the reasoning behind his decision to use his executive powers.
Instead, Trump started off talking about China.
“Before we begin, I’d like to just say that we have a large team of very talented people in China. We’ve had a negotiation going on for about two days,” the president said. “It’s going extremely well. Who knows what that means because it only matters if we get it done but we’re very much working very closely with China and President Xi, who I respect a lot.”
The president trailed off, talking about the history of deals with China and that the U.S. is working toward “leveling the playing field” when it comes to trading with the country. He suggested he might delay a deadline for hiking tariffs on China.
“We’re covering everything, all of the points that people have been talking about for years that said couldn’t be done, whether it was theft or anything,” Trump said. “The unfairness. We’ve been losing on average $375 billion a year with China.”
Conservative media, Fox News ‘don’t decide policy’
After the president announced he would be signing off on declaring a national emergency, he was asked whether the intense pressure and criticism from conservatives in the news media played into his decision making.
“Look, Sean Hannity has been a terrific, terrific supporter of what I do, not of me,” Trump said. “If I change my views he wouldn’t be with me.”
Hannity, a Fox News host who has been known to frequently talk to the president on the phone, was one of many Republicans who constantly called for the president to declare a national emergency to get the wall built.
Trump then segued into some of the other big names in conservative media.
“Rush Limbaugh, I think he’s a great guy,” Trump said. “He can speak for three hours without a phone call, try doing that sometime. Three hours he speaks. He’s got one of the biggest audiences in the history of the world. I mean this guy is unbelievable.”
Reporters noticed that instead of answering whether these media personalities played into his decision-making process, he simply boasted about them.
Pressed by a reporter, Trump said. “They don’t decide policy.”
Ann Coulter is ‘off the reservation’
Trump stuck on this media tangent, using the moment of his to give shoutouts to how great other Fox News personalities are, such as Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson.
The president even pointed to coverage he enjoyed on CNN and MSNBC, who he normally rails against as “fake news.”
He also went into detail about his relationship with conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who as of late has been heavily criticizing him during the negotiations for a border wall.
She, also called Trump the “biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States”.
“Ann Coulter. I don’t know her. I hardly know her. I haven’t spoken to her in way over a year but the press loves saying Ann Coulter, probably if I did speak to her, she would be very nice,” the president said. “I just don’t have the time to speak to her. I would speak to her but I have nothing against her. In fact, I like her for one reason: When they asked her like right at the beginning, who is going to win the election, she said Donald Trump.”
He continued, saying that while he does like her “she’s off the reservation.”
“But anybody who knows her understands that. But I haven’t spoken to her. I don’t follow her. I don’t talk to her. But the press loves to bring up the name Ann Coulter.”
Obama was on the brink of ‘a big war’ with North Korea
Trump went back to his roots during the announcement, using the nationally televised press conference to talk about North Korea, the history of relations between the U.S. and the country and what comes next.
He brought up the nickname “Little Rocketman” that he gave North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and boasted about his success in negotiations with the regime, along with how planning is going for his second summit with the leader, which is scheduled this month in Vietnam.
Trump faced immediate blowback after asserting that his predecessor, Barack Obama, was on the brink of starting “a big war” with North Korea.
The president said Obama told him North Korea’s nuclear weapons program presented the greatest threat to the United States during a 2016 meeting in the White House just after Trump won the presidential election.
“He told me he was so close to starting a big war with North Korea,” Trump recounted.
A number of Obama advisor spoke up and called the claim a complete farce.
“It is absolutely ridiculous to suggest that the Obama administration was considering anything like that,” said Michael Fuchs, who served as Obama’s deputy assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs. He said Trump was simply “lying” about that exchange.