White House

Trump says China would best Buttigieg even as his own trade talks slow

President returns to Florida, where polls show an uphill re-election battle

President Donald Trump greets supporters during a rally at the Van Andel Arena on March 28 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was in Panama City, Florida, Wednesday evening for another rally. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump mocked congressional Democrats at a campaign rally in Florida on Wednesday and called on them to end their investigations into his business and personal activities.

“It’s time to end the nonsense,” the president said of House Democrats’ probes on a day when Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said the country has entered a “constitutional crisis.”

“It’s the only way we’re going to beat him in 2020,” Trump said in Panama City Beach, quoting an unnamed Democrat he appeared to have seen on television.

“And now we have the best poll numbers we’ve ever had,” Trump said wryly. “It’s crazy.”

[Chill in China trade talks is all Biden’s fault, Trump says]

“Anybody in this audience, I could have gotten something on you,” he said to laughs while again asserting that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia election meddling probe turned up “no collusion” between his campaign and Russians.

(Fact Check: What Mueller’s investigation actually found was no criminal-level coordination but some contacts; the former FBI director also did not clear the president on obstruction of justice.)

Within minutes of the president taking the stage, the crowd erupted in a “four more years” chant. He obliged them by predicting Election Day 2020 will be “just as special” as the one in 2016 that put him in the White House.

He mocked the front-runners for the Democratic nomination, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, calling them “Sleepy Joe” and “Crazy Bernie.” He also suggested South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg — another 2020 Democratic candidate — would be crushed in negotiations with Chinese President Xi Jinping, even as his own administration’s trade talks with Xi’s government are collapsing.

Trump’s top trade negotiators this week said Chinese officials are backing away from what they hoped would be a deal that could be finalized soon. An end to years of talks would be a big setback for Trump, who campaigned on getting tough with Beijing.

Trump recently told reporters in the Oval Office that he plans to run for re-election by focusing on what his team and surrogates often call a “booming” economy. To that end, the president on Wednesday said his message will be all about “jobs, jobs, jobs.”

[Trump’s federal judge pace matches recent presidents — but with a big twist]

Meantime, Trump announced his administration will devote $448 million in Housing and Urban Development funds to help with disaster relief in Florida. On a stage he declared “slick,” he also said negotiators working on a disaster relief bill are getting “pretty close.” But he gave no prediction on a final agreement and votes.

The announcement came as a recent Bendixen & Amandi International poll showed 53 percent of Florida voters oppose a second Trump term. Forty percent of those surveyed wanted him to win in 2020.

He accused Democrats of “trying to stop” the disaster aid legislation.

The usually chatty Trump twice ducked reporters’ questions on Wednesday, first when a Cabinet meeting was to feature reporters being allowed inside and then when he headed straight to Marine One on his way to Florida.

One reason might have been because The New York Times published a report, citing Trump’s tax documents, that showed he didn't pay federal income tax for nearly a decade while also losing tens of millions for several years.

Then the House Judiciary Democrats voted to hold his hand-picked attorney general, William Barr, in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over an unredacted copy of Mueller’s report.

Then, the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., to provide additional testimony in its own probe on the matter.

The president spent much of his day on Twitter prior to heading to the Sunshine State, sounding off on trade talks with China, Biden, and defending his business and tax strategies.

Watch: Trump: ‘We’re fighting all the subpoenas’

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