WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday reminded a crowd in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., of his 2015 claim that Mexico was sending rapists to the U.S., pointing to controversial comments he made at the start of the 2016 campaign.
“Remember my opening remarks at Trump Tower when I opened? Everyone said ‘oh, he was so tough’ and I used the word ‘rape,’ ” Trump said while decrying illegal immigration.
Appearing in Trump Tower in the summer of 2015, Trump accused Mexico of sending rapists and drugs across the U.S. border.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” Trump said. “And some, I assume, are good people.”
The remarks kicked off a firestorm of controversy, the first of many that would face comments Trump made on the campaign trail.
In response to the initial comments, NBC and Univision ended their partnership with the then-businessman for the Miss Universe pageant and Macy’s announced that it was dropping his clothing line.
Now, as president, Trump suggested Thursday that he was right.
“Yesterday it came out where this journey coming up, women are raped at levels that nobody’s ever seen before,” Trump said.
While Trump was likely referring to a caravan of immigrants fleeing from Honduras, it was unclear what statistics or report he was drawing from.
Trump’s comments were expected to be on tax reform, but Trump made a show of jokingly throwing his script away.
While Trump did tout tax cuts he secured with Congressional Republicans, the president also touched on illegal immigration, tariffs, the upcoming midterm elections and offered repeated attacks on Sen. Joe Manchin (R-W.V.).