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Donald Trump has attacked the media, the Democrats and Mexico in a rambling speech described as a ‘public meltdown’ by his critics.
The US president tore into his opponents in a controversial speech at a ‘Make America Great Again’ rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on Tuesday.
His speech was greeted with cheers from his supporters inside the conference centre, but anti-Trump protesters clashed with police outside the venue, and tear gas was deployed.
Despite starting and ending his speech by asking the American people to come together, Mr Trump went on a tirade against his opponents.
He warned that he will close down the US government if necessary to build a wall along the Mexico border, and accused Democrats of being ‘obstructionist’ over the issue.
Mr Trump also used the rally to deride the media in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a woman was killed after clashes between white supremacists and anti-racism protesters.
Speaking about his pre-election promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico, he said: ‘If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.
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‘We’re going to have our wall. The American people voted for immigration control. We’re going to get that wall.’
He accused Democrats of jeopardising the security of Americans by not supporting the plan, which faces a budget battle for approval in the Senate.
Mr Trump had previously promised that Mexico would pay for the wall, but it has refused, forcing him to ask for $1.6 billion in funding to begin construction.
During a speech that lasted for 80 minutes, Mr Trump said the media had given far-right groups ‘a platform’ with its reporting in Charlottesville.
He then quoted his initial response to the violence, but left out his controversial claim that ‘many sides’ were to blame.
He said: ‘This is what I said on Saturday: “We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia,” – this is me speaking. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence.” That’s me speaking on Saturday, right after the event.’
But, in fact, what he said on August 12 was: ‘We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.’
He criticised the ‘very dishonest media’ and accused news organisations of misrepresenting his previous remarks over Charlottesville. Becoming increasingly angry, Mr Trump claimed his initial ‘words were perfect’.
Mr Trump also addressed recent tensions with North Korea, saying of Kim Jong-un: ‘I respect the fact that he is starting to respect us’.
He added: ‘And maybe – probably not, but maybe – something positive can come about.’
James Clapper, the former US director of national intelligence, described Mr Trump’s speech as ‘downright scary and disturbing’.
He added: ‘I question his fitness to be in this office and I also wonder if he is looking for a way out.’