President Donald Trump both literally and figuratively threw out his prepared remarks at a West Virginia roundtable event that was supposed to be about tax reform.
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The president instead launched into a freewheeling riff on several unrelated topics, including extended remarks on illegal immigration in which he hearkened back to controversial and unsubstantiated comments he made on the campaign trail in 2015 when he said: "when Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best."
“Remember my opening remarks at Trump Tower when I opened. Everybody said: ‘Oh, he was so tough. I used the word rape. Yesterday it came out where this journey coming up, women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before. They don't want to mention that,” Trump said on Thursday.
The president was referring to the march of roughly 1,000 Central American migrants, which Trump has referred to as a “caravan.”
Trump started to praise Mexico for what he suggested was their efforts in turning the “caravan” back, saying they were “very good to us yesterday,”.
The group organizing the so-called "caravan told ABC News that at least 80 percent would probably end up staying in Mexico and the rest would try to go to the United States.
“We cannot let people enter our country. We have no idea who they are, what they do, where they came from. We have no idea what their records are. We don't know if they're murders if they're killers, if they're MS-13, we're throwing them out by the hundreds,” Trump said.
The president also claimed that there is widespread voter fraud in California, suggesting that Democrats are in favor of family-based immigration, so-called chain migration, and the visa lottery program because they believe they are gaining votes.
"They're doing it for that reason," Trump said. "A lot of them aren't going to be voting. A lot of times it doesn't matter because in many places like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that. There was like they say oh — not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people. It is very hard because the state guards their records."
The president again called for building his long-promised border wall along the southern border, saying today that the military will be building “some of it” after suggesting days ago that resources to fund and build the wall could come from the military.
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen has since said the president was talking about the military building wall along military installations.
Trump also slammed a variety of other immigration laws that he wants to do away with including provisions that some local jurisdictions have used to limit or delay cooperation with federal immigration agents and also criticizing the practice of "catch and release", in which migrants who surrender to border agents are released from custody and eventually face a hearing before a judge.
“How about that catch, that means you catch them. Now you release them. That is what is called, catch-and-release,” Trump said.
While in West Virginia, the president also took several shots at the state’s Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who is facing a tough re-election bid.
“If you look at your senator. He voted against — Joe. He voted against. No, it was bad. I thought he would be helpful,” Trump said, referring to Manchin’s vote against the tax bill.