During his commencement address at the 136th graduation of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, President Donald Trump briefly discussed his upcoming overseas trip, put the spotlight on some of his policy priorities -- including the border wall, his tax plan and health care -- and discussed his thoughts on how he has been treated lately.
“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media. No politician in history, and I say this with great assurity, has been treated worse or more unfairly,” Trump said. “You can’t let them get you down. You can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams. I guess that’s why I won.”
Earlier in the speech, Trump commended the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
“(Secretary of Homeland Security) John (Kelly) and all of his folks are also doing an incredible job protecting our homeland and our border and I am thrilled that my first address to the service academy is the graduation ceremony of the United States Coast Guard. Believe me, it’s a great honor,” Trump said.
Trump also took a moment to criticize the costs of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the USS Gerald Ford.
He said the Coast Guard has done tremendous work with fewer people and fewer resources and “you did it with skill and with pride and I’d like to say, under budget and head of schedule.”
“We’re doing a lot of that now in the United States,” Trump said. “I won’t talk about how much I saved you on the F-35 fighter jet … or how much we're about to save you on the Gerald Ford, the aircraft carrier.”
"When we build the new aircraft carriers, they are going to be built under budget and ahead of schedule," Trump said.
Trump told the cadets that, as leaders, they have to act properly under great pressure as they bring law and order to the dangerous waters; block illegal shipments of cash, weapons and drugs; and battle human trafficking.
Trump, whose professional background was in business before he entered the political realm, also mentioned the role Coast Guard plays in U.S. commerce.
“Not only do you defend American security, you also protect American prosperity,” Trump said. “Today, the Coast Guard helps keep our waters open for Americans to do business and keeps our rivers flowing with commerce and it keeps our ports churning with American exports. You help billions, and billions of dollars in goods to navigate our country every day.”
“We are becoming very, very prosperous again. You can see that,” he added.
This was the president's first trip to Connecticut since being inaugurated and the second commencement speech since being elected.
His speech came amid fallout over revelations that Trump personally appealed to now-fired FBI Director James Comey to abandon the bureau's investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, allegations based on notes Comey wrote after the meeting.
Before the president arrived, protesters and supporters gathered, chanting dueling messages, voicing their thoughts on his presidency and policies.