President Donald Trump went after George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton and contemplated seizing power for life in wide-ranging and generally cheerful remarks to Republican donors at a lunch and fundraiser at his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, on Saturday.
The President said of China’s President Xi Jinping, “He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday,” the President said.
Xi, President since 2013, recently announced that the abolishing of term limits, ensuring he will remain leader of China for the foreseeable future. His consolidation of power is seen as dangerous by many who are wary of tying China’s fortunes to the renown of one or two men. It’s a move that harkens back to the tumultuous rule of Mao Zedong the former chairman of the Communist Party, and his Cultural Revolution, where hundreds of thousands of lives were destroyed in order to rid the communist party of, as he called is, impure thought and “counter-revolutionaries.”
The President also heavily criticized former President George W. Bush and his decision to invade Iraq in 2003, comparing it to throwing a brick at a hornet’s nest. Trump called the invasion “the single worst decision ever made.”
“Here we are, like the dummies of the world, because we had bad politicians running our country for a long time,” he said. “That was Bush. Another real genius. That was Bush,” the President said sarcastically.
“Is Hillary a happy person? Do you think she’s happy?” the President asked, turning his ire to his former political opponent. “When she goes home at night, does she say, ‘What a great life?’ I don’t think so. You never know. I hope she’s happy.”
The comments, punctuated with a lot jokes, and mainly sarcastic, also touched on a subject causing the President significant resentment. He lamented the fact that his campaign was still under investigation for actions some of his advisers may have taken during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“I’m telling you, it’s a rigged system folks,” Trump said. “I’ve been saying that for a long time. It’s a rigged system. And we don’t have the right people in there yet. We have a lot of great people, but certain things, we don’t have the right people.”
The President has been highly critical of his attorney general Jeff Sessions, for example, for only recently directing DOJ investigators to look into improper actions by the FBI in obtaining FISA warrants to spy on members of the Trump campaign. Sessions announced that he was opening an inquiry into the actions recently, but that left the President dissatisfied as Sessions indicated that the probe would be left to the purview of the DOJ’s inspector general’s office.
“Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!” the President wrote on Twitter, after the announcement.
The statement prompted Sessions to fire back in a statement saying that the inquiry would be conducted according to DOJ regulations, and as long as he was attorney general he would “continue to discharge [his] duties with integrity and honor, and this Department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution.”
“We have initiated the appropriate process that will ensure complaints against this Department will be fully and fairly acted upon if necessary,” Sessions added.
In an added show of defiance, Sessions also released a picture of he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein dining together in Washington, D.C., last Wednesday. The dinner, many believe, was meant to show solidarity with DOJ officials in the wake of relentless criticism by President Trump. Rosenstein has also been the target of the President’s anger in the past.
The President reportedly saw the move as a deliberate sign of disloyalty and “seethed” the photo. It was that same night that President Trump announced, unexpectedly that he would implement steel and aluminum tariffs against foreign importers the next morning, leaving top administration aides scrambling.
The last several weeks have been described as some of the most chaotic of the President’s short term so far, with volatility in the markets flaring, close, valued aides leaving the President’s side, and a trade war with international allies looming.