Trump Says MS-13, North Korea Show Democrats Have ‘Lost Touch’

President lashes out after Dems blame him for summit cancellation

President Donald Trump addresses the press before departing for Dallas, Texas where he would make an appearance at the National Rifle Association convention on May 4, 2018. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)
President Donald Trump addresses the press before departing for Dallas, Texas where he would make an appearance at the National Rifle Association convention on May 4, 2018. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)
Posted May 25, 2018 at 9:05am

President Donald Trump on Friday said congressional Democrats “have lost touch,” accusing the opposition party of rooting against his attempts to disarm North Korea and coddling members of the violent MS-13 gang.

The president on Thursday thanked a bipartisan group of lawmakers who helped pass a bill that eases financial regulations before he signed it at the White House. But the next morning, he tweeted that “Democrats are so obviously rooting against us in our negotiations with North Korea.”

That allegation came a day after Trump canceled his planned June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after concluding the dictator was behaving unreliably and could not be trusted to talk about a serious and verifiable deal.

Democratic lawmakers placed ample blame on the U.S. commander in chief, saying the cancellation reflected an unprepared president and an administration that mishandled the run-up to the now-scuttled summit.

For instance, House Intelligence ranking member Adam B. Schiff of California on Thursday denounced “a poor negotiating strategy in which the president made it all too clear to North Korea that he needed the summit more than the North Korean dictator,” adding in a statement that “this put the United States in a weak bargaining position.”

[Dems Blame Trump for Nixed Kim Summit, GOP Applauds Move]

Trump did react to an overnight statement from the Kim government in which it praised Trump for even being willing to hold one-on-one talks. On Friday morning, he called that statement “very good news” and “warm” and “productive.”

But the GOP president did not limit his morning criticism of the opposition party to its reaction to his summit decision.

He also accused them of “coming to the defense of MS 13 thugs.” Trump wrote that Democratic lawmakers say members of the murderous gang are “individuals & must be nurtured.” 

A White House event last week prompted an extensive back-and-forth on the president’s use of the term “animals” to describe, depending on who was interpreting, MS-13 gang members or undocumented immigrants writ large.

On Wednesday, Trump slammed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats for panning his remark and saying he was referring to all immigrants. “I called them animals the other day, and I was met with rebuke,” he said during an event in New York. “They said, ‘They are people.’ They’re not people. These are animals. And we have to be very, very tough,” he said of MS-13 members.

All indications point to the president being eager to turn Pelosi’s and Democrats’ criticism over “animals” into a campaign-trail message heading into the midterm elections in November, which will determine which party controls the House and Senate for the remainder of his current term.

Another expected campaign message was part of his Friday morning tweets, with Trump accusing Democrats of “asking to end your big Tax Cuts & raise your taxes instead. Dems have lost touch!”

Congressional Democrats counter such lines by saying the GOP tax law Trump helped push through both chambers disproportionately helps large corporations and does little to help the so-called “forgotten men and women” — candidate Trump’s words — that helped put him in the Oval Office in 2016.

In a string of tweets fired off in close succession, the president also fixated on the ongoing Justice Department probe of Russia election meddling and possible obstruction of justice. He charged Democrats with trying to obscure the matter by “alluding to the the concept that having an Informant placed in an opposing party’s campaign is different than having a Spy, as illegal as that may be.”

[McConnell to Senate: Don’t Book Nonrefundable Travel for August Recess]

Democratic members say it is Trump and his House GOP allies who are attempting to delegitimize the investigation and erode the credibility of witnesses like former FBI Director James B. Comey. Trump has admitted he fired Comey while thinking of the Russia investigation.

The president asked this rhetorical question less than 24 hours after senior Justice Department officials briefed two groups of lawmakers about an informant and the information he provided to federal investigators during the early days of the Russia probe: “But what about an ‘Informant’ who is paid a fortune and who ‘sets up’ way earlier than the Russian Hoax?”

But none of the members who were briefed — including close Trump ally Devin Nunes of California, the House Intelligence chairman whom the president called a “very courageous man” earlier this week — emerged to cry foul.

“Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intel agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign,” Schiff said as he read a statement he said represented his views and those of his party’s House and Senate leadership.

And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had this to say to NPR after being one of the members briefed by the Justice officials: “I don’t really have anything to add to this subject based upon the Gang of Eight briefing that we had today, which was classified.”

Watch: How Trump’s Attacks on Mueller Probe Are Playing on Capitol Hill

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