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Trump bashes his favorite targets, promises big policy change at Iowa rally

  • President Donald Trump slams foes and highlights what he deems the successes of his administration at an Iowa rally.
  • Trump talks about health care and tax reform, among other topics, and criticizes congressional Democrats.

Basking in an energetic Iowa crowd Wednesday night, President Donald Trump slammed his most frequent targets and promised lofty policy changes in the near future.

The president looked comfortable riffing and embellishing in front of the Cedar Rapids audience for more than an hour. Trump came to Iowa from a Washington in which his administration has appeared to struggle under the weight of constant controversy and he's seemed frustrated by the pace of policy changes.

In the campaign-style rally, Trump hit out at some of his favorite targets — "fake news" media outlets, "obstructionist" Democratic lawmakers and the Clinton family. He also touted what he deemed his accomplishments so far and defended his inability to quickly follow through on some of his key campaign promises.

Aside from policy hurdles, the president faces a reported investigation into whether he attempted to impede the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, following reports that he asked then-FBI Director James Comey to go easy on an ally. Trump contended that the Russia probe — which he again called a "witch hunt" — will not slow his agenda.

"They have phony witch hunts going against me, they have everything ... and all we do is win, win win," Trump said.

The rally featured the staples of Trump's raucous campaign — "lock her up" chants about his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton, calls to "build the wall" on the U.S. border with Mexico and protesters getting escorted out of the venue.

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Charlie Neibergall | AP Photo
President Donald Trump speaks during a rally, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The president highlighted the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and his plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, among other moves, as early successes of his administration. He took credit for the U.S. unemployment rate falling to a 16-year low — though it was dropping in the years before he became president — and claimed that "very few" presidents have done what he has to slash regulations.

He also pledged to replace the Affordable Care Act, cut U.S. tax rates and renew American infrastructure. Those were key campaign promises that Trump has struggled to accomplish so far.

"I've been there for five months," Trump said in response to Republicans' difficulties in passing a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

Trump also defended his choice of wealthy individuals — such as billionaire Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and economic advisor Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs president — for top administration posts. Trump had repeatedly criticized Goldman and the influence on wealthy individuals in Washington while on the campaign trail.

"I love all people, rich and poor. But in those particular positions, I don't want a poor person," Trump said.

Aside from his jabs against foes and policy pledges, Trump publicly confirmed reports about some private comments he made. He said that he wanted Republican senators to draft a health-care plan with more "heart."

The Senate is expected to release a draft of its tightly-held Obamacare replacement bill on Thursday. Trump reportedly called the health-care bill passed by the House "mean."

Trump also confirmed that was seeking to put solar panels on his proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. He said the energy created by those panels would help to cover the costs of the structure.