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Defiant Trump Slams Critics During Coast Guard Commencement Speech

  • VOA News

President Donald Trump gives the commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, May 17, 2017.

President Donald Trump used his speech Wednesday at the United States Coast Guard Academy graduation ceremony to slam his critics, especially the news media, and tout his accomplishments so far as commander-in-chief.

At the ceremony in New London, Connecticut, Trump took a defiant tone at times, telling graduates, "No politician in history... has been treated worse or more unfairly," than he has, and despite negative media coverage, he still has been able to accomplish "a tremendous amount in a very short time."

Drawing inspiration from his long-shot win in the 2016 presidential election, Trump encouraged the new graduates to never give up.

"Over the course of your life you will find that things are not always fair...and you have to put your head down and fight, fight, fight. Never, ever, ever give up,” he said. He also told them, “You can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams.”

The remarks come as Trump faces growing scrutiny over his campaign's ties to Russia and whether he fired FBI Director James Comey to obstruct an investigation of Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Trump also listed several things he’s accomplished since becoming president, saying illegal border crossings are down and the number of jobs in America are up. He also referred to the confirmation of new Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Trump said the graduates will soon play vital roles in protecting American borders from drug smugglers and human traffickers.

He said Coast Guard members don’t run from danger, but rather confront it “to keep our ports churning with American excellence.”

“You will battle the scourge of human trafficking — something that people haven’t been talking about, one of the big problems in the world,” Trump said. “Not only will our citizens trust in your leadership, your commanders will, as well. The Coast Guard is the gold standard.”

Trump commended the cadets because, he said, they could have chosen to go to any school they wanted, with far fewer responsibilities than those they assumed at the Coast Guard Academy.

He said many other students graduating in the coming days will wonder what they are going to do afterwards, but that the Coast Guard graduates know exactly what they will be doing in a few weeks.

“It’s amazing to think of the adventures that are about to begin for you,” Trump said. “When you look back, you won’t doubt. You’ll know exactly how you spent your time – saving lives.”

Trump called the Coast Guard “truly vital to the U.S. armed forces.”

“Out of the five branches of our armed services, it’s only the Coast Guard that has the power to break through” thick layers of Arctic ice, he said.

ondent Steve Herman contributed to this report from New London, Connecticut.

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