President Trump on Wednesday told graduates of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy that no politician has ever received worse treatment from the news media, and urged them to “fight, fight, fight” in the face of adversity.
“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media," a fiery Trump said during a commencement address at the New London, Conn. school. "No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly.”
“You can’t let them get you down,” he added. “You can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams. Adversity makes you stronger.”
The comments were Trump’s first since Tuesday evening’s bombshell reports that he pressured then-FBI Director James Comey in February to drop his probe of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Trump made no specific mention of Comey or the revelation that he disclosed highly classified intelligence to Russian diplomats during a May 10 Oval Office meeting. But he peppered his speech with references to coverage of the controversies that have consumed his White House.
“You will find that things happen to you that you do not deserve and that are not always warranted,” he said. “But you have to put your head down and fight, fight, fight. Never, ever, ever give up. Things will work out just fine.”
Trump said that attitude is a big reason why he won the November election.
He then listed what he described as a “tremendous amount” of accomplishments from his earliest months in office.
“Never stop doing what you know is right,” the president said. “Nothing worth doing ever, ever, ever came easy. And the more righteous your fight, the more opposition you will face.”
In the hours before Wednesday’s speech, the White House remained virtually silent in the wake of the Comey report, which has inflicted significant of political damage on Trump’s presidency.
The White House issued an unsigned report late Tuesday denying the report, but no officials have spoken about it publicly since then.
Republicans on Capitol Hill have expressed exasperation with he growing number of controversies circling the White House, and some lawmakers have demanded to hear directly from Comey about his account of the meeting.
The controversies have also taken a toll on embattled White House staffers who have been tasked with defending his message.
Trump has publicly undercut official explanations given by aides for Comey’s surprise firing last week and his intelligence disclosure. He has also questioned the press shop’s ability to keep up with his frenetic approach.
“Unless I have them every two weeks and I do myself, we don't have them,” Trump said of the White House daily press briefing during a Fox News interview last week. “I think it's a good idea.”
- Updated at 1:18 p.m.