‘A lot of people are going to be joining’: Trump says July Fourth event boosts military recruiting

It was decried by critics as a costly campaign rally, but President Donald Trump says his “Salute to America” will pay off for the military.

“Gonna have a lot of people being recruited, I think, based on that,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn Friday of his military-inspired Independence Day speech, flyovers and tank display.

“We’re gonna have a lot of people joining our military and we really needed that. Our job numbers are so good that our military has a hard time getting people and I think really you’re gonna see a big spike. I’ve already heard it, a lot of people calling in. No place like our military, I think we showed that last night.”

“But despite the rain, that was just a fantastic evening. I think people really had it, and I think a lot of people — you know it was really a recruitment situation — a lot of people are gonna be joining our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines,” he said.

On another topic, Trump also defended Customs and Border Protection over findings of inhumane conditions at migrant facilities on the southern border.

“I’ve seen some of those places and they are run beautifully, they’re clean, they’re good, they do a great job, they do a great job. They’re crowded because the Democrats will not give us any relief from these loopholes. We have loopholes that are so bad … so these places are — many of them, not all of them — many of them, they’re incredible,” he said.

The president shrugged off a question about Border Patrol agents posting derogatory and sexist messages about lawmakers in a secret Facebook group, and defended the comments that have been blasted by Border Patrol and Homeland Security leadership.

“I haven’t seen it, I will say this. I think that the Border Patrol was treated very, very badly by certain members of Congress. Very, very badly. For the most part, they’re very respected by Congress, but certain members of Congress say very bad things and lie and exaggerate, and Border Patrol people are tough people. They’re not happy about it,” Trump said.

Trump was also asked whether his club in Bedminster, New Jersey — where he was headed to Friday — still employs any undocumented immigrants.

“Well that, I don’t know, because I don’t run it. But I would say this. Probably every club in the United States has that because it seems to be, from what I understand, a way that people did business. But we’ve ended whatever they did, we have a very strict rule and those rules are very strict,” he said. “But it seems that every club practically in the United States, that’s the way they do business.”

The president also defended his recent meeting with Kim Jong Un, claiming — apparently falsely — that his predecessor Barack Obama had tried to get a meeting with the North Korean dictator and failed.

“President Obama wanted to meet with Kim Jong Un and Kim Jong Un said no. Numerous occasions, he called. And right now, we have a very nice relationship. We’ve done a lot and we’ve gotten — we’ve gotten our hostages back. We’re getting the remains back. A lot of good things are happening. And there’s been no nuclear testing. During President Obama, they were nuclear testing, they were sending missiles. Right now, everything’s nice and quiet.”

He also offered some words of encouragement for the U.S. women’s national soccer team in their quest for the women’s World Cup, despite a public war of words with the team’s co-captain, Megan Rapinoe.

“I hope they do well. I hope they win,” he said.

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