U.S. President Donald Trump used his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to take aim at Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, mock Democrats’ climate change plan and predict a comfortable re-election for himself in 2020.
Trump addressed a cheering audience at the annual CPAC event in Oxon Hill, Maryland, in a more than 90-minute speech that came days after his former lawyer Michael Cohen called Trump a “racist,” “con-man” and a “cheat” in testimony to Congress.
With Mueller’s report on alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign expected to be completed soon, Trump lashed out at what he called “collusion delusion,” slamming newly empowered House Democrats as they open a number of new inquiries involving him.
“This phoney thing,” Trump said of the Russia investigation, “looks like it’s dying so they don’t have anything with Russia there, no collusion. So now they go in and morph into ‘Let’s inspect every deal he’s ever done. We’re going to go into his finances. We’re going to check his deals. We’re going to check’ — these people are sick.”
Trump also repeated his previous claim that he had a “nasty business transaction” with Mueller years ago, and said he turned down Mueller to lead the FBI for a second time before he was appointed special counsel.
“He wanted the job as FBI director… why isn’t that — and I didn’t give it to him — why isn’t that mentioned?” Trump said.
WATCH: Donald Trump says Mueller ‘wanted’ job as FBI director
He then redirected his attention to James Comey, who he fired as FBI director, claiming that Comey and Mueller were close friends.
“Jim Comey — lyin’ James Comey — is his best friend. James Comey is his best friend, and those are a few of the conflicts,” he said.
Trump also proceeded to take shots at his former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
“And the attorney general says ‘I’m gonna recuse myself,’” Trump said, appearing to imitate Sessions’ Southern accent as the crowd jeered.
Trump also said the appointments of Mueller and Comey undermined what he said was “the greatest win of all time.”
“Unfortunately, you put the wrong people in a couple of positions and they leave people for a long time who shouldn’t be there — and all of a sudden, they try to take you out with bulls***.”
On the Green New Deal
Trump sarcastically said that he encouraged the Green New Deal, a policy proposal popular among several of the Democratic Party’s presidential contenders for the 2020 election.
“I think the New Green Deal or whatever the hell they call it — the Green New Deal — I encourage it,” Trump said mockingly as he wound up for a round of exaggeration.
“I think it’s really something that they should promote. They should work hard on it. … No planes, no energy. When the wind stops blowing, that’s the end of your electric.
“Let’s hurry up. Darling, is the wind blowing today? I’d like to watch television, darling.”
WATCH: Trump jokingly says he ‘encourages’ Green New Deal
The Green New Deal doesn’t call for an end to air travel or a total pivot to renewable energy, but rather calls for a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.
Presidential Inauguration photo
Trump also re-hashed his previous claims about his presidential inauguration being far better-attended than photographs of the event suggest.
“Those pictures were taken hours before,” he said.
“We had fencing all the way down to the Washington Monument and it was raining and it was wet and the grass was — and women and men, and I consider them totally equal so I’m not going to say it’s harmful… They had to walk all the way down, they had to walk with high heels in many cases,” he said.
“I said to the people who were sitting next to me, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this, look at that crowd.’
“And it was wide. Wide.”
WATCH: Trump claims picture of inauguration taken ‘hours before’ event
Trump then twice repeated his claim that photos showing a sparsely-attended inauguration were taken “hours before” the event.
Reuters’ photo editor, however, has previously said this famous photo taken from atop the Washington Monument was taken at 12:01:18 p.m. as Trump was taking his oath of office:
Trump also expressed confidence that he will be back at the U.S. Capitol in January 2021 to be sworn in for a second term.
He said he believed he was on course for a bigger victory in the 2020 election than he achieved in 2016.
When he made his prediction, the crowd responded with chants of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”
Trump then paid tribute to America’s conservative moment, saying “Our movement and our future in our country is unlimited.”
He hailed his audience, saying, “The men and women here today are on the front lines of protecting America’s interests, defending America’s value and reclaiming our nation’s priceless heritage.
“With your help, we are reversing decades of blunders and betrayals. These are serious betrayals to our nation.”
WATCH: President Trump talks tough at Conservative Political Action Conference
— With files from the Associated Press