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This Tuesday of Easter Week is St George’s Day — April 23, 2019.

It is time the English reclaimed their patron saint’s feast day. Other countries are proud to celebrate this special day. How wonderful, therefore, to see a trend for St George’s Day on Twitter, which includes these delightful tweets:

On a contemplative note, the following are by two Catholics from the Archdiocese of Southwark in London:

Returning to Easter, conservative commentator Chuck Woolery’s witness for the faith gives pause for thought, as does the video in the first reply he received:

I also liked this reply to America’s First Lady’s Easter greetings (click on image link to see it in full):

On Easter Sunday, the Trumps attended a morning service at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach. The Daily Caller has photos, especially of First Lady Melania Trump.

While the Trumps posed for photo ops outside the church, back in Washington, things went less well for Robert Mueller, who was accosted by a reporter outside of St John’s Episcopal Church in Washington DC after worship.

I’m hardly a Mueller fan, but this is just plain wrong:

On Easter Monday, the Trumps hosted the traditional Easter Egg Roll at the White House:

This video shows the First Couple returning to the White House from Palm Beach on Sunday. The Easter Egg Roll event begins at 12:50:

Mrs Trump read to the children (fashion notes here) …

… as did Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, mother of four:

As ever, the day was packed with activities. On April 19, the White House announced:

First Lady Melania Trump and President Donald J. Trump invite this year’s Easter Egg Roll attendees to enjoy a variety of activities, including the time-honored Egg Roll and the Trump Administration’s Cards for Troops station. New to the Egg Roll this year: musical eggs and Be Best hopscotch. In recognition of the First Lady’s Be Best campaign, children will also have the opportunity to spread kindness by mailing postcards to anyone they choose – friends, family, members of the military – directly through a United States Postal Service mailbox that will be on the South grounds.

Over 30,000 attendees are expected to walk the historic south grounds of the White House, experiencing all the tradition and fun that comes with the White House Easter Egg Roll.

There were also egg hunts, egg and cookie decorating stations, the military bands, tennis court activities, and a chance for the children to meet costumed characters, such as the Easter Bunny:

Reading stations have been a big part of the Trump Easter Egg Rolls, with members of the president’s advisory team as well as the Cabinet. Imagine hearing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, General Joseph Keith Kellogg, Jr. or Surgeon General Jerome Adams reading a book to a group of children. If past readers of previous years are anything to go by, they no doubt did exceptionally well.

Mrs Trump was delighted with the event and her many guests:

I am so pleased this went well and without incident.

Tomorrow’s post concerns a very sad subject: the attacks on Sri Lankan churches at Easter.

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On Monday, February 25, 2019, President Donald Trump left for Hanoi, where he is meeting with Chairman Kim Jong Un of North Korea:

The Governors’ Ball was held the evening before at the White House. Vice President Mike Pence, Second Lady Karen Pence, Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, US Trade Representative Ambassador Bob Lighthizer, Attorney General Bill Barr and his wife Christine Barr also attended:

President Trump made the following remarks about his trip to Vietnam to broker peace with North Korea:

He began by discussing last week’s highly successful trade talks with China, which resulted in an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding). Emphases mine below:

I see Steve Mnuchin’s here and Ambassador Lighthizer, we’ve just had a big meeting with China, we just put out a statement and we’re doing very well with China. It was a long weekend; they decided to stay for two and half more days. They’ll probably be leaving late tonight. They’re going back and if all works well, we’re going to have some very big news over the next week or two. And it’s really been terrific. I tell you that the whole relationship has been outstanding. We’ve put ourselves into a position of strength for the first time in about 35 years, or probably a lot more than that

China is everywhere and I think you’d really amazed with what you see. Maybe. Let’s see what happens. We still have a little ways to go. Would you say that’s correct, Mr Ambassador? We have a little bit. But I want thank you, Bob, you’ve been working 24 hours around the clock and I will say this publicly, when I was able to be lucky enough to win the presidency I called Bob Lighthizer because for years people have known he’s the greatest trader that we have on this type of trade – we have many different types of trade – and I really understand now why. Thank you very much. Fantastic.

Also, I was going to leave very early tomorrow, but now I’m going to do it a little bit later. I had an option to do it at six in the morning or 11 and I chose 11. I can spend a little bit of time with you tomorrow morning because you’re having a breakfast and I’ll come to the breakfast. But literally, I said what kind of an option is that, I can leave at six in the morning or 11? They said you can leave at six or anywhere between 11 and 12. I said I’ll take 11 to 12. But you’re having a breakfast so I’ll be with you at the breakfast.

Then he spoke about North Korea:

But we’ll be leaving for Hanoi, Vietnam, and we’ll be meeting with Kim Jong-un. It’s a very interesting thing to say but I’ve developed a very, very good relationship. We’ll see what that means but he’s never had a relationship with anybody from this country and hasn’t had lots of relationships anywhere.

The media sometimes will say, well, what have they given up? We’ve given up nothing. The sanctions are on, everything’s on, but we have a special feeling and I think it’s going to lead to something very good and maybe now. I think ultimately it will, but maybe not, and I’m not pushing for speed but we’re not removing the sanctions. And we’re going to have, I think, a very interesting two and half days in Vietnam and we have a chance for the total denuclearisation of an area of the world that was very dangerous.

When I first came in, or really more particularly at the end of the last administration, there were rockets going up, there were missiles going up, there were bombs going off, there were massive cannons being tested. If you ever saw the picture of the beach, I’ve never seen anything like it where you had literally thousands of cannons on the beach shooting out into the waters. And there was nuclear testing. In fact, they thought it was earthquakes. They said there are massive earthquakes and then they realised it was North Korea. They said wow, it’s maybe not an earthquake. Now there’s no testing, there’s no rockets, there’s no nuclear testing and we get along well, very well, so it will be very interesting to see.

As I tell Chairman Kim, he has a chance to have a country that is so vibrant economically. Maybe one of the most in the world. He’s got a location that’s unbelievable. As a real estate person, I’ve always done well with location, but he’s right between China, Russia and on the other side South Korea, so they can’t touch each other unless they go through North Korea. And I say, you have one of the greatest locations, they have incredible people, hardworking people, smart, energetic, and I think it could be really one of the great financial and economic countries anywhere in the world. So I tell him that but I said you can’t do that if you’re going to keep nuclear. If you do nuclear, that can’t ever happen.

And we see eye to eye, I believe, but you’ll be seeing it more and more over the next couple of days, one way or the other. What’s going to happen, I can’t tell you. I think eventually it would but I can’t tell you and I’m not in a rush, I don’t want to rush anybody, I just don’t want testing. As long as there’s no testing, we’re happy. So we’ve done really something, I think, very special with respect to North Korea and it’s a long flight and I’ll be back at the end of the week. But we have two very interesting days planned and I think it’s a very important thing.

Prime Minister Abe of Japan said he can’t believe what’s happened in such a short period of time because rockets were being fired over Japan: rockets and missiles both. And now that hasn’t happened in long time, 16 months, 17 months, no more testing, no more rockets, no more checking to see whether or not this stuff works. So you’ll be seeing it and I think it’s going to be very interesting for people but there’s a chance to do something very, very special. It’s very exciting.

And likewise, if we can do a great economic deal, it will be the largest trade deal ever made by far if you look at it, our deal with China, and we truly are very close. So those are a couple of very interesting things. But our country’s doing incredibly well economically. We’ve pick up in terms of value worth $18 trillion. Now China – I don’t want this – but China has lost about $44 trillion. So they were catching us, catching us, catching us, and now we’ve zoomed out. And I can say this: as long as I’m president, they’re not going catch us, and they’re going to do well – but I want them to do well, they’re not going to catch us.

So I just want to give a toast to the incredible people in this room and to our unbelievable country. We have a very, very special country. I want to thank our First Lady for having done – this is such a beautiful job. Melania, thank you very much. And I would like to ask Governor Bullock to come up please from a very special place that I like very much for the obvious reason. And perhaps you could give a toast, please. Thank you, governor …

Governor Steve Bullock from Montana gave the toast.

A prayer was then said.

The White House published a statement about the meeting between the two leaders:

  • On February 27 and 28, 2019, President Donald J. Trump will meet with Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Chairman Kim Jong Un for a second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.
  • This summit aims to make further progress on the commitments the two leaders made in Singapore:  transformed relations, a lasting and stable peace, and the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
  • The President has made clear that should North Korea follow through on its commitment to complete denuclearization, we will work to ensure there are economic development options.
  • The United States and partners are prepared to explore how to mobilize investment, improve infrastructure, enhance food security, and more in the DPRK.
    • Robust economic development under Chairman Kim is at the core of President Trump’s vision for a bright future for United States–DPRK relations.

I hope that Kim has started feeding his starving people in the countryside. Man cannot live on a diet of dirt and dung.

More to follow.

On Thursday, February 21, 2019, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump hosted a reception at the White House in honour of National African American History Month.

Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence were among the guests as were members of the Cabinet, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, Pastor Darrell Scott, Catherine Toney (released under the First Step Act), former civil rights leader Bob Woodson and Clarence Henderson (who sat at a segregated Woolworth’s counter in 1960).

Look at the marvellous reception President Trump received:

President Trump gave an inspiring talk, inviting his honoured guests to the podium. Excerpts from the transcript follow, emphases mine.

AUDIENCE: Trump! Trump! Trump!

THE PRESIDENT: Wow. Thank you very much. Wow, what a good group this is. This is the future. This is the future. (Applause.) True. That’s true.

The First Lady and I are thrilled to host so many friends, and pastors, and government leaders. And our stage is being filled up with a bunch of winners like you. Because I’ve known you for a long time, Bob, and I want to thank you very much. A special — a special guy, a special friend for a long time. To be at the White House to celebrate African American History Month. (Applause.) Do you like the White House? Right?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah!

THE PRESIDENT: … From the earliest days of this nation, African American leaders, pioneers, and visionaries have uplifted and inspired our country in art, in science, literature, law, film, politics, business, and every arena of national life. The depth and glory of these contributions are beyond measure. You know it. I know it. And everybody knows it.

We especially pay tribute to the African American heroes who have sacrificed in the name of freedom, equality, and dignity for all Americans. (Applause.) Thank you.

Every citizen alive today, and generations yet unborn, are forever in debt of the brave souls who stared down injustice and championed the eternal cause of civil rights. (Applause.)

We’re joined for tonight’s ceremony by many distinguished guests, including Surgeon General Jerome Adams …

Thank you all, as well, to the young African American activists who are here today. You are really and truly the leaders of the future. (Applause.) And get in there and go get them.

Since the beginning of our republic, African Americans have given their heart, their love, and their very lives to the pursuit — and you know this better than anybody; you have worked so hard. I guess when you get right down to it, we’re all working very hard — but the pursuit of liberty and justice for all.

During the Revolutionary War, African American soldiers fought at the battle of Yorktown and helped our nation gain independence.

In the next century, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and countless others risked everything to end the evil of slavery and secure the sacred blessings of freedom. (Applause.)

And here we are, all together in the White House. This is a great thing. Right? This is a great thing. And this is a very, very special place.

A century later, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, and the immortal Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. challenged our nation to fulfill its founding promise that we are all created equal by God. (Applause.)

In every moment of our history, African Americans have called our nation to greatness. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jackie Robinson. How good was Jackie Robinson? (Applause.) How good was Jackie? As a baseball fan, Jackie was special. He had to be special because that was not an easy journey for Jackie. He was a special man. His courage on the field and off the field stands as an everlasting monument to the triumph of the human spirit.

African American scientists, artists, musicians, educators, faith leaders, and countless others have lifted our nation to absolutely incredible heights.

Today, we thank God for all of the blessings the African American community continues to give our nation, and we pledge our resolve to expand opportunity for Americans of every race, religion, color, and creed. (Applause.)

Under my administration, the African American poverty rate has fallen to its lowest level. And if you think about that, that’s a special category. The poverty rate for African Americans is the best it’s ever been. The lowest level it’s ever achieved.

Nearly one million additional African Americans have found new jobs. As a — really, and I think this — we can really attribute it to regulatory cuts or as a result of our tax cuts. The largest tax cuts in the history of our country.

More than 8,700 distressed communities are now designated as Opportunity Zones. And Mike Pence was just in South Carolina and he was talking about those incredible achievements, Karen — the incredible achievements that have been made with Tim Scott and everybody on the Opportunity Zones. (Applause.)

We have Pastor Darrell Scott. Will you come up here, Darrell? Darrell. Darrell, get up here. (Applause.) He’s always defending me on television. (Laughter.) And I’ll tell you, if you want somebody to defend you, this is about as good as you can get. I want to — he is brutal. Sometimes I say, “You’re a pastor?” You’re the toughest pastor I’ve ever — (laughter) — thank you, Darrell.

This long-awaited legislation reform — and it’s really the sentencing laws that nobody thought we could get this done. We worked with conservatives and liberals, and those in the middle. We worked with a lot of people and we got it done. Nobody thought this — you know, they’ve been trying to get this done for 25 years, but we got it done — criminal justice reform. The laws are disproportionately — as you know, they harmed African American communities, and far, far greater than anybody else. And it gives former inmates a second chance at life.

We are very proud to be joined tonight by a citizen who transformed her life while in prison and is now the first woman to be released under the FIRST STEP Act, Catherine Toney. Where’s Catherine? (Applause.)

Do you want to say something? Come on.

AUDIENCE: Catherine! Catherine! Catherine!

MS. TONEY: Yes, I just want to thank the President and everybody that worked so hard — Jared — for working so hard on this prison reform FIRST STEP Act. Because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be standing before you all today — (applause) — with my daughter and my granddaughter.

I’ve been incarcerated for 16 years, and it took the President and Jared and the CAN-DO and the Cut Five [sic], and everybody else to free me. And I’m so thankful. (Applause.) I’m so thankful to them. And I’m so thankful to God for the opportunity to be standing before you all. And thank you again, Mr. President. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: That’s so nice. And I’ll tell you, as far as criminal justice reform — and other things — Jared, thank you. What a great job. (Applause.) What a great job. He doesn’t want praise. He doesn’t want praise. But it was so nice to have you come up. And, Jared, thank you. Like, you’re best friends. You probably know him a little bit, huh? (Laughter.)

MS. TONEY: Yes, I do. (Laughs.)

THE PRESIDENT: That’s incredible. He’s incredible. Does so much. Thank you, Jared. That was amazing. That was a great tribute to you.

During the State of the Union Address, I also called on Congress to pass school choice. (Applause.) No child should be trapped in a failing school that stands in the way of their dreams. Every citizen, of every background, deserves a government that puts their needs first. (Applause.) …

Here with us today is an incredible leader. Some of you know him well. I do. And I know him, really, more than anything else, as an incredible leader. That’s exactly what he is. It’s Bob Woodson. Do you know Bob Woodson? (Applause.) You will. You will. Because he’s got an incredible story.

Bob joined the Air Force in the 1950s. You don’t look that old, I’ll tell you that. (Laughter.) 1950s? Really? Wow. You’re in good shape. (Laughter.) I want to talk to him later, find out what’s going on. (Laughter.)

While he was stationed in the Deep South, he confronted discrimination firsthand. He then became a Civil Rights leader, met Dr. King, and was jailed for leading a very peaceful protest. As Bob puts it, “Even when defeat was all around us, it was not in us.” That’s beautiful, right? Huh? That was just beautiful.

Over the last 50 years, Bob helped found social enterprise movements and to restore jobs, dignity, and hope within the heart of very, very distressed communities. Bob, I want to thank you very much. You are a very special man. And having you at our place in New Jersey for a little while, and you helped me so much with making a couple of our good choices. We really appreciate you being here. Thank you, Bob. (Applause.)

MR. WOODSON: (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, please.

MR. WOODSON: I just want to thank God and also President Trump for turning the tables over in the temples — (laughter) — and attacking the status quo that is hostile to the interest of poor people. And I also want to bless you for your administration and the policies of Opportunity Zones and to giving low-income people an opportunity to help themselves. That’s all they want; they want an opportunity to achieve. And your administration is working with us to make that happen. Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Thanks, Bob. So nice.

MR. WOODSON: Thank you. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Great guy.

We’re also very proud to be joined by Clarence Henderson, who was among the first students to begin the Greensboro sit-in. You know what that is, right? In 1960, on the second day of the sit-in, Clarence was one of four students who sat at the long-segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter — very, very famous event — in Greensboro, North Carolina. He helped spark a national movement. In cities and towns all across America, students joined in the protest, and really, it was an incredible moment in the history of our country. The grave injustice of segregation was really spelled out loud and clear.

After more than 170 days of protest, the Woolworth lunch counter finally integrated. That was — doesn’t sound like such a big deal, Bob, but it was a big, big deal, right? As Clarence has said, “It doesn’t take many people to make a change. It just takes courage.” And, Clarence, you have incredible courage, and I want to thank you very much for being here. (Applause.)

MR. HENDERSON: I am delighted to be here with the President. You know, Nehemiah was told by God to build a wall. And that’s what you’re doing. (Applause.) Amen.

It is indeed a pleasure to be here with you this evening and to share this great hour and great time. I can tell you right now, with the Frederick Douglass Foundation, with the state of North Carolina, and the President, and we’re still moving forward to change America and make America great again. Thank you. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thanks, Clarence. So nice.

As we commemorate African American History Month, we remember the words of Dr. King. In 1964, he said, “When years have rolled past…children will be taught that we have a finer land, a better people, a more noble civilization — because these humble children of God were willing to suffer [for] righteousness’ sake.”

And, you know, nobody said it better than Dr. Martin Luther King. And few people had words so beautiful as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Don’t you agree? Don’t you agree, Bob? (Applause.) He made us all look maybe not quite as good. Great man.

Today, we remember the heroic legacy of African Americans who bravely battled oppression to usher in a bright new dawn of freedom. It’s exactly what you’re doing. And you are at the forefront. You know, this is a new age. This is a very exciting time. It’s very exciting time for our country …

So we pledge, in the honor of our great African American community, to build a future when every American child can live in safety, dignity, liberty, and peace.

As Americans, we all share the same dreams, the same hopes, and the same magnificent destiny. We are now, and will forever be, one people, one family, and one glorious nation under God. (Applause.)

I just want to say God bless you all and God bless America. Thank you for being at the White House. (Applause.) Thank you.

Here are four photos of this part of the evening:

And the video:

Then, it was time for a buffet and refreshments.

Young Trump supporter Joelpatrick videoed the table as best he could:

High schooler CJ Pearson, wise beyond his years, was also there. He is pictured below with Candace Owens, founder of the Blexit movement, which encourages blacks to leave the Democratic Party:

There were many other young guests who are actively engaged in politics and working to Make America Great Again:

Many of us feel badly that actor and comedian Terrence K Williams was unable to attend the White House event. He had looked forward to being there:

And he was so close to getting there, too.

He was on his way to Washington DC, when he was in a serious accident. The weather was bad, and he had taken Lyft:

Fortunately, he has been able to update his fans via Twitter. These were his first three tweets from hospital:

I hope he will make a full and swift recovery. It seemed to be taking an awfully long time for him to get a hospital room.

He had been following the Jussie Smollett hoax closely. No doubt, Terrence K Williams will make the doctors and nurses laugh with one-liners such as this one:

UPDATE — On Febraury 25, Terrence was being discharged from hospital:

Get well soon, Terrence!

On Tuesday, February 5, 2019, President Donald Trump gave his second State of the Union (SOTU) address.

His theme was ‘choose greatness’.

His able speechwriter and adviser, Stephen Miller, wrote an inspiring, fact-filled address.

Special guests

The president had an incredibly varied group of special guests, all of whom were mentioned in his speech and who sat with First Lady Melania Trump:

– a retired astronaut (Buzz Aldrin),

– three Second World War veterans (Herman Zeitchik, Joseph Reilly and Irving Locker),

– two law enforcement officers (DHS investigator Elvin Hernandez and Pittsburgh SWAT team member Timothy Matson),

– a survivor of the Holocaust as well as the Pittsburgh synagogue attack last year (Judah Samet, whose birthday it was),

– a concentration camp survivor (Joshua Kaufman),

– the father of a Navy Seaman who was killed on the USS Cole (Tom Wibberley),

– an Angel Family whose elders were murdered in their home by an illegal immigrant (Debra Bissell, Heather Armstrong, and Madison Armstrong),

– two reformed ex-convicts (Alice Johnson and Matthew Charles),

– a lumber mill manager (Roy James),

– a young mother who overcame drug addiction (Ashley Evans),

– two children (cancer survivor Grace Eline and a boy bullied for his name [no relation] Joshua Trump [please pray for this lad]).

On February 4, Big League Politics said that the guest list was Trump’s way of sending a clear message to Democrats about his priorities.

Everyone sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Judah Samet, the Holocaust survivor. What a treat that must have been for him:

Meanwhile, some of the Democrats invited illegal immigrants.

Here is the video. The speech is very long: 1 hour and 22 minutes:

That said, I highly recommend watching the video, because in urging Congress and the American people to ‘choose greatness’, President Trump showed himself to be a unifier. As one viewer at home put it:

Before I go into the speech, it is worth pointing out that not everyone attends, in the event the worst case scenario occurs. This year’s designated survivor was Energy secretary Rick Perry:

Truth v speculation

So many people expected fireworks. Some expected Trump to declare a state of emergency. Others wanted revelations on FISA:

Think about it. The greatest US president in living memory wants to be re-elected in 2020. He’s going to play the long game.

There was also speculation as to whether Trump prepared two different speeches.

Some people think that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) got the wrong speech. She did spend a lot of time perusing whatever she received during Trump’s SOTU delivery.

Recall that Pelosi did not want Trump to deliver his SOTU at all, under spurious grounds of security, when the Secret Service and Homeland Security were already well prepared, as this event is an annual one.

Interestingly, the House of Representatives, which Pelosi heads, has been historically known as ‘the People’s House’, and is not defined by political party. The leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy (R-California), wanted the SOTU to go ahead on January 29.

Technically, Trump could have forced both the House of Representatives and the Senate to convene for the SOTU:

https://media.8ch.net/file_store/ec761245326e36b6ddee5d279cfe656c5e239ea73b1a05cb3d169f1b3ff53063.jpg

Some think that Pelosi might be ill or duly influenced by an outsider.

Nonetheless, Trump remained undeterred, despite Pelosi’s attempts to control the date of the SOTU, which should have taken place on January 29.

On January 28, Pelosi wrote Trump to say that the rescheduled date was Tuesday, February 5. The US president duly accepted in writing that same day.

In the end, she won. But, was it a Pyrrhic victory?

Let us not forget that another shutdown could start on February 15.

Meanwhile, in the Republican-controlled Senate, on the morning of the SOTU, to be delivered that evening, Trump tweeted about Chuck Schumer (D-New York):

Departure for the Capitol

First Lady Melania Trump left the White House separately, as she did in 2018. Up to that time, the first ladies accompanied their husbands:

Meanwhile, the president’s limousine was waiting:

The Trump children, except for Barron, were in attendance.

Note the CIA director’s fabric pattern:

Along with a few other Supreme Court members, Justice Kavanaugh arrived:

As people took their places, Dem presidential hopeful Senator Kamala Harris (California) took it upon herself to give a ‘pre-buttal’ SOTU message on Facebook, which Dem voters did not like one bit.

Democrat identity politics

There was no rerun of last year’s kente cloth and black clothing.

This year, many of the female Democrats wore all white, in tribute to the Suffragettes.

The address

As is customary at SOTUs, the Vice President sits behind the President to his right and the Speaker of the House to his left. Mike Pence had a simple glass of water in front of him whilst Nancy Pelosi had an ornate water display:

Normally, the Speaker introduces the President, but Trump took no chances and immediately began his speech, excerpted below, emphases mine.

Trump received many standing ovations. Townhall has an article with tweets stating when the Dems did not stand, some of which are below. They definitely do not want American greatness, that’s for sure.

He was careful to introduce political and national unity at the beginning:

The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or a Democrat agenda. It is the agenda of the American people …

There is a new opportunity in American politics, if only we have the courage to seize it. Victory is not winning for our party. Victory is winning for our country.

He mentioned the 75th anniversary of D Day and mentioned his aforementioned special guests who were there on the Normandy beaches:

Here with us tonight are three of those heroes: Private First Class Joseph Reilly, Staff Sergeant Irving Locker, and Sergeant Herman Zeitchik. Gentlemen, we salute you.

He also mentioned the 50th anniversary of the moon landing:

Half a century later, we are joined by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts who planted that flag: Buzz Aldrin. This year, American astronauts will go back to space on American rockets.

The retired astronaut immediately rose to his feet to salute his Commander In Chief:

It’s obvious that Trump really wants national unity:

Together, we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make.

We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction.

Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness.

Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) — AOC — remained seated:

He went on to discuss his administration’s economic success — an incredible feat, considering where the US was in January 2017:

In just over 2 years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom — a boom that has rarely been seen before. We have created 5.3 million new jobs and importantly added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs — something which almost everyone said was impossible to do, but the fact is, we are just getting started.

Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades, and growing for blue collar workers, who I promised to fight for, faster than anyone else. Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps. The United States economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office, and we are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world. Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century. African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded. Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low. More people are working now than at any time in our history –- 157 million.

But someone broke rank. Uh oh:

Trump went on to describe tax cuts, removal of the Obamacare mandate as well as regulatory cuts.

Then he discussed energy production:

We have unleashed a revolution in American energy — the United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world. And now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) was practically the only Dem who applauded:

He spoke about criminal justice reform — the First Step Act — and discussed Alice Johnson:

Alice’s story underscores the disparities and unfairness that can exist in criminal sentencing — and the need to remedy this injustice. She served almost 22 years and had expected to be in prison for the rest of her life.

In June, I commuted Alice’s sentence — and she is here with us tonight. Alice, thank you for reminding us that we always have the power to shape our own destiny …

Inspired by stories like Alice’s, my Administration worked closely with members of both parties to sign the First Step Act into law.

Matthew Charles followed:

We are also joined tonight by Matthew Charles from Tennessee. In 1996, at age 30, Matthew was sentenced to 35 years for selling drugs and related offenses. Over the next two decades, he completed more than 30 Bible studies, became a law clerk, and mentored fellow inmates. Now, Matthew is the very first person to be released from prison under the First Step Act. Matthew, on behalf of all Americans: welcome home.

Immigration and border security came next:

Tonight, I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country.

The Dems booed.

Trump continued:

No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working class and America’s political class than illegal immigration. Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.

Meanwhile, working class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration — reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools and hospitals, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net.

Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate — it is cruel. One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north. Smugglers use migrant children as human pawns to exploit our laws and gain access to our country.

Human traffickers and sex traffickers take advantage of the wide open areas between our ports of entry to smuggle thousands of young girls and women into the United States and to sell them into prostitution and modern-day slavery.

Here’s the aforementioned Kamala Harris:

Trump then mentioned the Bissell family:

Here tonight is Debra Bissell. Just three weeks ago, Debra’s parents, Gerald and Sharon, were burglarized and shot to death in their Reno, Nevada, home by an illegal alien. They were in their eighties and are survived by four children, 11 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren. Also here tonight are Gerald and Sharon’s granddaughter, Heather, and great‑granddaughter, Madison.

Afterwards, he introduced ICE Special Agent Elvin Hernandez:

When Elvin was a boy, he and his family legally immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic. At the age of eight, Elvin told his dad he wanted to become a Special Agent. Today, he leads investigations into the scourge of international sex trafficking. Elvin says: “If I can make sure these young girls get their justice, I’ve done my job.” Thanks to his work and that of his colleagues, more than 300 women and girls have been rescued from horror and more than 1,500 sadistic traffickers have been put behind bars in the last year.

The Dems stood to applaud, although AOC remained seated:

The Dem women did get on their feet for three standing ovations when Trump mentioned females in the workforce and Congress:

No one has benefitted more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58 percent of the new jobs created in the last year. All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before — and exactly one century after the Congress passed the Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in the Congress than ever before.

He discussed trade then healthcare, introducing young Grace Eline:

Last year, Grace was diagnosed with brain cancer. Immediately, she began radiation treatment. At the same time, she rallied her community and raised more than $40,000 for the fight against cancer. When Grace completed treatment last fall, her doctors and nurses cheered with tears in their eyes as she hung up a poster that read: “Last Day of Chemo.” Grace — you are an inspiration to us all.

He briefly discussed his support of school choice, then moved on to the dignity of human life, particularly that of the unborn:

There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our Nation saw in recent days. Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world. And then, we had the case of the Governor of Virginia where he basically stated he would execute a baby after birth.

To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.

Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God.

Two days later, on February 7, Congress once again — twice now — defeated that legislation.

Trump discussed the great progress being made internationally.

In talking about Venezuela, he attacked socialism:

We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom — and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.

Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence –- not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.

Vermont senator, Bernie Sanders (who has returned to being an Independent), was the most furious. Many years ago, during the Cold War, he and his wife spent their honeymoon in Russia:

He mentioned Tom Wibberley:

Eighteen years ago, terrorists attacked the USS Cole — and last month American forces killed one of the leaders of the attack.

We are honored to be joined tonight by Tom Wibberley, whose son, Navy Seaman Craig Wibberley, was one of the 17 sailors we tragically lost. Tom: we vow to always remember the heroes of the USS Cole.

He discussed anti-Semitism and introduced Timothy Matson, Judah Samet, Joshua Kaufman and Herman Zeitchik:

Just months ago, 11 Jewish-Americans were viciously murdered in an anti-semitic attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. SWAT Officer Timothy Matson raced into the gunfire and was shot seven times chasing down the killer. Timothy has just had his 12th surgery — but he made the trip to be here with us tonight. Officer Matson: we are forever grateful for your courage in the face of evil.

Tonight, we are also joined by Pittsburgh survivor Judah Samet. He arrived at the synagogue as the massacre began. But not only did Judah narrowly escape death last fall — more than seven decades ago, he narrowly survived the Nazi concentration camps. Today is Judah’s 81st birthday. Judah says he can still remember the exact moment, nearly 75 years ago, after 10 months in a concentration camp, when he and his family were put on a train, and told they were going to another camp. Suddenly the train screeched to a halt. A soldier appeared. Judah’s family braced for the worst. Then, his father cried out with joy: “It’s the Americans.”

A second Holocaust survivor who is here tonight, Joshua Kaufman, was a prisoner at Dachau Concentration Camp. He remembers watching through a hole in the wall of a cattle car as American soldiers rolled in with tanks. “To me,” Joshua recalls, “the American soldiers were proof that God exists, and they came down from the sky.”

I began this evening by honoring three soldiers who fought on D-Day in the Second World War. One of them was Herman Zeitchik. But there is more to Herman’s story. A year after he stormed the beaches of Normandy, Herman was one of those American soldiers who helped liberate Dachau. He was one of the Americans who helped rescue Joshua from that hell on earth. Almost 75 years later, Herman and Joshua are both together in the gallery tonight — seated side-by-side, here in the home of American freedom. Herman and Joshua: your presence this evening honors and uplifts our entire Nation.

Democrat reality

The Democrats, by and large, looked sombre. It could be because of this — from over a year ago:

The Trumps say thank you

The US president tweeted a full video of his speech, then followed up with this:

I have much more to follow on this, but will continue next week.

Congratulations to President Trump on his second anniversary in the White House.

Sunday, January 20, 2019 was the big day.

The pictures in the following video are good, but I would encourage everyone to listen to what the American president said during his 2016 campaign and in his inauguration address on January 20, 2017 — ‘The American people will no longer be forgotten’:

The chairwoman of the GOP (Republican Party) tweeted a brief list of Trump’s promises kept:

There is so much more. The White House has elaborated on those promises kept in ‘The Historic Results of President Donald J. Trump’s First Two Years in Office’, which includes (emphases mine):

More than 5 million jobs have been created since President Trump’s election and the unemployment rate remains below 4 percent.

  • This is the eighth time this year that the unemployment rate has been below 4 percent.
  • Prior to this year, the unemployment rate had fallen below 4 percent only five times since 1970.
  • The unemployment rate for African Americans in May fell to 5.9 percent, which is the lowest rate on record.
  • Asian and Hispanic-American unemployment rates have reached record lows this year
  • Americans are seeing more money in their pockets thanks to the booming economy.
    • In recent months, workers have seen their largest nominal year over year wage growth in nearly a decade.
    • In 2017, real median household income rose to a post-recession high.
  • President Trump’s policies are helping to lift Americans out of poverty.
    • African-American and Hispanic-American poverty rates reached record lows of 21.2 percent and 18.3 percent, respectively, in 2017.
    • Since the election, 4.6 million Americans have been lifted off of food stamps.
  • Consumer confidence has soared under President Trump, recently reaching an 18-year high
  • Small Business optimism jumped to a record high under President Trump, according to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).
    • The NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index broke a 35-year record in August.
  • President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law, ushering in the largest package of tax cuts and reforms in American history.
  • These tax cuts are delivering real results for American families and workers.
    • More than 6 million workers received tax cut bonuses and benefits.
    • More than 100 utility companies have announced lower rates

The under-rated and under-appreciated First Lady Melania Trump, who is a beautiful person inside and out, had this to say:

Vice President Mike Pence summarised the past two years as follows:

Last Thursday, January 17, all three — and who knows how many more hundreds — dodged a highly serious domestic terror threat. The alleged perpetrator, who is from the state of Georgia, was arrested on January 16 after a year’s work between the FBI and local law enforcement.

Please continue to pray for President Trump, his family and his administration:

Yes, that hatred is pointed at ordinary Americans every day in so many ways, from harassment of Trump supporters to law enforcement officers being murdered in cold blood.

In closing, January 21 is Martin Luther King Day in the United States:

Let us pray that we may more closely emulate Dr King’s ideals of valuing personal character over identity politics.

President Donald J Trump and First Lady Melania Trump gave a Christmas message on December 25, taking turns in relating the Nativity story and how this season brings out the best in the American spirit of giving to and caring for others. They also remembered those who serve in the military.

This is a very Christian message. I applaud them for it:

President Trump also participated in his customary Christmas conference call with selected military bases:

On Christmas night, America’s first couple travelled to Iraq to meet and greet US troops serving there. Contrary to what Big — Fake — Media say, this trip would have been planned weeks, if not months, in advance.

This is a superb video of their entrance:

This is my favourite photo:

Mrs Trump is the first wife of a US president to visit Iraq since 2003, at which time Laura Bush went:

Trump gave a short speech to the troops, discussing his foreign policy decisions in the Middle East:

He also said:

In a private meeting with military officers, Trump made this revelation about the trip there:

After the Trumps left Iraq, they flew to Ramstein Air Base in Germany:

Cameras were out in force:

Neo-con national security adviser John Bolton also made the trip:

However, it does not look as if Bolton was in this particular meeting aboard Air Force One:

Then it was time to return home:

Mrs Trump is wearing leather trousers, by the way — not a miniskirt.

In closing, everyone involved put together a painstakingly involved, whistle-stop overseas tour that, thankfully, went beautifully and brought all concerned home safe and sound. For that, we can thank divine providence.

On Wednesday, November 28, 2018, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump participated in their second ceremonial lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington, DC, near the White House.

Earlier that day, the First Lady defended her choice of red Christmas trees along the main corridor — the Grand Foyer — inside the White House:

This was the president’s official schedule for the tree lighting ceremony at The Ellipse in President’s Park:

Entertainment was provided and, afterwards, the tree was lit:

President Trump then gave a six-minute address, in which he thanked everyone who decorated the tree and made the event possible:

Tonight’s ceremony is only possible because of the hard work of the many talented individuals. They were working late at night. They were working early in the morning. They were working all the time. And my sincere thanks to everyone at the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation. Thank you very much. Appreciate it. (Applause.)

He also thanked the entertainers:

There’s great talent. They’re going on to big things, many of them. I’ve seen them and they are something very special. Thank you very much. That was a great job tonight. (Applause.)

And this includes one very special group that has topped Billboard charts multiple times: the Dominican Sisters, who I met backstage, from Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Applause.)

These, by the way, are traditional Dominicans, not the ones who have gone trendy in recent years. These women are doing very well in expanding their community. This is one of the orders women want to join. May God bless them in their work.

You can read more about their 2017 Christmas album here. It was recorded in their chapel at the Ann Arbor Motherhouse:

But I digress.

President Trump retold the Christmas story beautifully — as he did last year (emphases mine):

For Christians all across our nation, around the world, this is a sacred season that begins 2,000 years ago when Jesus Christ was born. An angel declared to the shepherds tending their flocks, “Behold, I bring you good tidings, great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is a born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Applause.) There in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph held in their hands the son of God; the light of the world; and, through Him, the promise of eternal salvation.

He then went on to discuss the time that Americans selflessly give to each other and a spirit of national unity. I am certain that Stephen Miller helped to write this speech, evident in the fourth paragraph:

No matter one’s faith or beliefs, the Christmas season reflects all that is best in the American spirit. This is a time of the year for rejoicing with our family and friends, for spreading charity and goodwill in our commitment all over this country in all of our communities, and for giving thanks for all of the blessings in our lives.

We are especially thankful for the countless Americans who have given their time and passion to help those in need. Here in the audience today are a number of extraordinary foster families and guardians joined by the beautiful children they have welcomed into their homes. And beautiful children they are. Your devotion inspires us all. To every child in foster care: You are the precious loved one and gift of God. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Very, very special.

At this time of the year, we renew the bonds of affection between our fellow citizens, and we awaken the faith in our hearts that calls each of us to action. As we gather loved ones, our thoughts turn to those who are rebuilding their lives after devastating wildfires, destructive hurricanes, and terrible tragedy.

We are one American family. We hurt together, we heal together, and we will always pull through together. This is the United States of America. We are the best in the world, and there’s nobody close. (Applause.)

He ended with these words:

We ask God to watch over this nation’s heroes, and to shed his almighty grace upon our nation. And we pray that America’s light will shine more brightly and stronger than ever. And it will.

On behalf of Melania and myself and the entire Trump family — many of whom are with us tonight — I want to again wish you all a very, very Merry Christmas. May this Christmas season bring peace to your hearts, warmth to your homes, cheer to your spirit, and joy to the world. Merry Christmas, everyone. Merry Christmas and God bless you. Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Something must have been on the radar, because the Trumps left quite quickly:

The press corps moaned:

Well said.

The Trumps’ safety deserves more concern than the inconvenience a back-biting member of the press corps experiences.

One hopes that the 2019 tree lighting is free from threats, real or anticipated.

Last week, I covered President and Mrs Trump welcoming the 2018 White House Christmas tree.

Happily, gone are the days of Mao ornaments (2009) and casual Christmas tree welcomes (2016).

Last year, First Lady Melania Trump put her stamp on style with the theme ‘Time-Honored Traditions’, paying homage to two centuries of White House Christmases.

On November 26, The White House announced that this year’s theme is ‘American Treasures’, displaying a variety of aspects of Americana in a festive way (emphases mine below):

Designed by First Lady Melania Trump, the White House shines with the spirit of patriotism. This home, held in trust for all Americans, displays the many splendors found across our great Nation.

In the East Wing, the Gold Star Family tree returns. Decorated by Gold Star families, this tree honors all our troops and families who have sacrificed greatly to protect our freedoms. Gold stars and patriotic ribbon decorate the tree and visitors are encouraged to write messages to their loved ones who are on duty or abroad on the digital tablets provided.

More than 40 topiary trees line the East colonnade as guests make their way toward the East Garden Room, where the First Family Christmas card and ornament are on display. The Library remembers some of America’s most cherished authors, housing over 2,700 American classics. Four trees have been tucked away in each corner of the Library displaying the White House Historical Association’s 2018 ornament honoring President Harry S. Truman.

The Vermeil room displays two trees that sparkle in hues of blues and golds amongst the vermeil on display for all to see. Inside the China Room are three tables, all replicas from previous state dinners using pieces from the White House permanent collection. They highlight different eras of state dinners. The Theodore Roosevelt Administration, John F. Kennedy Administration, and Donald J. Trump Administration are all represented.

The East Room highlights the diversity and ingenuity of American architecture and design with four custom mantelpieces showcasing the skylines of New York City, St. Louis, Chicago, and San Francisco. 72 handmade paper ornaments representing six regions across America hang from four 14-foot Noble fir trees. For the 51st year, the White House Crèche will also be on display.

As one makes their way through the Green Room, Americans are reminded of the country’s bounty and harvest. A variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains adorn the tree centered in the room, as well as the garland on the mantel. In the Blue Room, the official White House Christmas tree measures a soaring 18 feet tall and is dressed in over 500 feet of blue velvet ribbon embroidered in gold with each State and territory. Moving into the Red Room, guests will be able to celebrate children through the décor, which displays ways in which children can excel in their own path.

The State Dining Room is a celebration of our country’s national symbols, including the bald eagle, the rose, and the oak tree. The space is also host to this year’s gingerbread house, showcasing the full expanse of the National Mall: the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, and, of course, the White House.

Crossing in to the Grand Foyer and Cross Hall, patriotism, the heart of America, takes center stage with more than 14,000 red ornaments hanging from 29 trees. The choice of red is an extension of the pales, or stripes, found in the presidential seal designed by our Founding Fathers. It’s a symbol of valor and bravery

Which is interesting, because someone latched on to another symbolism behind the red trees:

Someone else said the same thing:

I cannot think that red would have symbolised the Resurrection. White, surely.

Are people reading too much into the red trees, when the White House announcement simply says that red in the Founding Fathers’ era is the colour associated with bravery? Red trees also seem to be something of a fashion statement in the US; several retail chains sell them.

God always wins, but let’s not go overboard with the red trees.

Moving along, the First Lady wore red gloves in her photo op:

I agree with James Woods. If Melania were a Democrat, photos of her would be everywhere, all over the world.

This short video shows every room described above (also available on YouTube):

The Gateway Pundit got it right:

First Lady Melania dazzled as she walked through the different rooms of the White House; we are so blessed to have such a beautiful First Lady.

Flickr has more White House Christmas photos, which will remain at the top of the page for awhile.

The Daily Mail also has a beautiful photo spread and accompanying article.

It’s beginning to look — and feel — a lot like Christmas!

On Monday, November 19, 2018, President and Mrs Trump welcomed the arrival of a 19 1/2 foot Christmas tree to the White House:

The First Lady looked stunning in a plaid Michael Kors cape (photos at the link).

The Trumps look great, despite the daily pressure and harassment they receive:

The grower and his family were there to meet the Trumps:

The First Lady expressed her gratitude to everyone involved in decorating the White House for Christmas …

… and invited Americans to visit:

What a great kick off to the Christmas season!

Monday, July 15, 2018 was not the first time President Trump had a meeting with President Putin.

They had met at the G20 in 2017:

Also:

The Left and the GOPe in hysterics over Helsinki 2018. Hmm!

Anyway, before going into the Trump-Putin summit, this is what happened beforehand.

The president, first lady and their entourage arrived in Helsinki, Finland, on Sunday, July 15:

Many locals lined the motorcade route:

Jack Posobiec of OAN was also in town to cover the event:

This was the president’s schedule for Monday, July 16:

President Trump renewed his friendship with President Sauli Niinistö, whom he had hosted at the White House on August 28, 2017 (fashion notes here):

There American and Finnish officials had a working breakfast (another video here):

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was an important part of the delegation and was grateful to Finnish officials for their hard work in setting up not only the breakfast meeting but also arrangements for meetings with the Russians. Pompeo met with Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.

While the presidential motorcade was on its way to the Hilton Helsinki, Putin’s plane was landing. Putin went straight to the Presidential Palace for his meeting with Trump.

Trump’s and Pompeo’s staff met up. Pompeo visited the US embassy.

The Finnish president and first lady escorted their American counterparts into the Presidential Palace, in the eastern part of the city:

The Trumps greeted Putin:

This is where they met:

The Russians and Americans shared a working lunch:

When their meeting ended, the two presidents held a joint press conference (OAN videos here and here), after a member of the press corps had to be escorted out by the Secret Service for holding up a written message about a nuclear weapons ban (videos here and here):

Then, Putin lobbed a few zingers, such as this one:

And this one:

Putin also gave a World Cup football to Trump, which worried Senator Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina):

Trump said he would give the ball to his 12-year-old son Barron.

Ultimately:

Fox News posted press conference highlights, and the White House has a full transcript, excerpted below, emphases mine:

PRESIDENT PUTIN: (As interpreted.) Distinguished Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen: Negotiations with the President of the United States Donald Trump took place in a frank and businesslike atmosphere. I think we can call it a success and a very fruitful round of negotiations.

We carefully analyzed the current status — the present and the future of the Russia-United States relationship; key issues of the global agenda. It’s quite clear to everyone that the bilateral relationship are going through a complicated stage, and yet those impediments — the current tension, the tense atmosphere — essentially have no solid reason behind it.

The Cold War is a thing of past. The era of acute ideological confrontation of the two countries is a thing of the remote past, is a vestige of the past. The situation in the world changed dramatically …

We’re glad that the Korean Peninsula issue is starting to resolve. To a great extent, it was possible thanks to the personal engagement of President Trump, who opted for dialogue instead of confrontation …

Once again, President Trump mentioned the issue of the so-called interference of Russia when the American elections, and I had to reiterate things I said several times, including during our personal contacts, that the Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs, including the election process

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Thank you. I have just concluded a meeting with President Putin on a wide range of critical issues for both of our countries. We had direct, open, deeply productive dialogue. It went very well.

Before I begin, I want to thank President Niinistö of Finland for graciously hosting today’s summit. President Putin and I were saying how lovely it was and what a great job they did.

I also want to congratulate Russia and President Putin for having done such an excellent job in hosting the World Cup. It was really one of the best ever and your team also did very well. It was a great job …

But our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed as of about four hours ago. I really believe that. Nothing would be easier politically than to refuse to meet, to refuse to engage. But that would not accomplish anything. As President, I cannot make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics or the media, or Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct

During today’s meeting, I addressed directly with President Putin the issue of Russian interference in our elections. I felt this was a message best delivered in person. We spent a great deal of time talking about it, and President Putin may very well want to address it, and very strongly — because he feels very strongly about it, and he has an interesting idea.

We also discussed one of the most critical challenges facing humanity: nuclear proliferation. I provided an update on my meeting last month with Chairman Kim on the denuclearization of North Korea. And after today, I am very sure that President Putin and Russia want very much to end that problem. They’re going to work with us, and I appreciate that commitment …

Q Thank you. Mr. President, you tweeted this morning that it’s U.S. foolishness, stupidity, and the Mueller probe that is responsible for the decline in U.S. relations with Russia. Do you hold Russia at all accountable for anything in particular? And if so, what would you consider them — that they are responsible for?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes, I do. I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago — a long time, frankly, before I got to office. And I think we’re all to blame …

But I do feel that we have both made some mistakes. I think that the probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart. It’s kept us separated. There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it. People are being brought out to the fore.

So far, that I know, virtually none of it related to the campaign. And they’re going to have try really hard to find somebody that did relate to the campaign. That was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily. And frankly, we beat her — and I’m not even saying from the standpoint — we won that race. And it’s a shame that there can even be a little bit of a cloud over it.

People know that. People understand it. But the main thing, and we discussed this also, is zero collusion. And it has had a negative impact upon the relationship of the two largest nuclear powers in the world. We have 90 percent of nuclear power between the two countries. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous what’s going on with the probe …

PRESIDENT PUTIN: (As interpreted) …

We heard the accusations about the Concord country [sic]. Well, as far as I know, this company hired American lawyers. And the accusations doesn’t — doesn’t have a fighting chance in the American courts. So there’s no evidence when it comes to the actual facts. So we have to be guided by facts and not by rumors.

Now, let’s get back to the issue of these 12 alleged intelligence officers of Russia. I don’t know the full extent of the situation, but President Trump mentioned this issue, and I will look into it

Moreover, we can meet you halfway; we can make another step. We can actually permit official representatives of the United States, including the members of this very commission headed by Mr. Mueller — we can let them into the country and they will be present at this questioning

For instance, we can bring up Mr. Browder in this particular case. Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned over $1.5 billion in Russia. They never paid any taxes, neither in Russia nor in the United States, and yet the money escaped the country. They were transferred to the United States. They sent a huge amount of money — $400 million — as a contribution to the campaign of Hillary Clinton. Well, that’s their personal case. It might have been legal, the contribution itself, but the way the money was earned was illegal

PRESIDENT PUTIN: (As interpreted.) I’d like to add something to this. After all, I was an intelligence officer myself, and I do know how dossiers are made up. Just a second. That’s the first thing.

Now, the second thing: I believe that Russia is a democratic state, and I hope you’re not denying this right to your own country. You’re not denying that United States is a democracy. Do you believe the United States is a democracy? And if so, if it is a democratic state, then the final conclusion in this kind of dispute an only be delivered by a trial by the court, not by the executive — by the law enforcement.

For instance, the Concord company that was brought up is being accused — it’s been accused of interference. But this company does not constitute the Russian State. It does not represent the Russian State. And I brought several examples before.

Well, you have a lot of individuals in the United States — take George Soros, for instance — with multibillion capitals, but it doesn’t make him — his position, his posture — the posture of the United States? No, it does not. Well, it’s the same case. There is the issue of trying a case in the court, and the final say is for the court to deliver.

We’re now talking about the private — the individuals, and not about particular states. And as far as the most recent allegation is concerned about the Russian intelligence officers, we do have an intergovernmental treaty. Please, do send us the request. We will analyze it properly and we’ll send a formal response

Of course, all of this blew up that day and the rest of the week. More on that to follow.

Trump tweeted his thanks to the Finnish president:

And to the people of Helsinki:

That evening, the president and first lady arrived in Washington (another video here):

More on Helsinki 2018 to follow.

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