Watch CBS News

Trump addresses Republican Jewish Coalition event in Las Vegas

President Trump addressed the Jewish Republican Coalition's Annual Leadership Meeting on Saturday, delivering a speech after recently accusing Democrats of being "anti-Jewish" and "anti-Israel." He spoke at the Venetian Resort, owned by Sheldon Adelson, a prominent Republican donor and strong Trump supporter, who received a standing ovation at the meeting.

Mr. Trump began his speech by jokingly thanking Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar. Omar was criticized for making comments about Israel, which some called anti-Semitic. She later apologized for her comments. 

"I almost forgot, she doesn't like Israel. I'm so sorry!" Mr. Trump said, as her name was booed. He also talked about Republican electoral wins, praising their moderate gains in the Senate and maintaining several governorships. He also touted wins in the House, although Democrats gained an overwhelming majority in 2018.

"We get no credit. Fake news. We get no credit, let's keep winning," he said.

He later claimed that the Democrats had allowed the "scourge" of anti-Semitism to enter the party. Mr. Trump quickly pivoted to talking about his support for Israel, and his dissolution of the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor.

"How the hell did you support President Obama? How the hell did you support the Democrats? Well, you guys didn't," Mr. Trump joked, alluding to how the majority of Jewish Americans support Democratic candidates. "The incredible bond between the United States and Israel has never been stronger than it is right now."

Trump spent most of the speech touting his administration's accomplishments, and in particular the confirmation of conservative justices to the federal bench.

He also discussed his administration's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the decision to move the American embassy there from Tel Aviv. Mr. Trump joked that world leaders would call him about the move, which was globally unpopular, and he said he waited to reply to their calls until after he had announced it.

The president also raised his administration's decision last month to recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, a controversial move that has not been backed by other countries. 

Mr. Trump has made his support for Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, a key part of his appeal to Jewish voters. Several attendees at the meeting Saturday were wearing red yarmulkes emblazoned with "Trump" and "RJC."

Netanyahu -- who has been indicted on corruption charges -- is running for his third term, and the election is on Tuesday. Trump jokingly asked the audience at the meeting how the election was going, and who they thought would win. The crowd replied with cheers of "Bibi," Netanyahu's nickname.

The president's trip to Las Vegas comes after he toured a stretch of the southern border in California on Friday and made controversial comments about asylum seekers, disparaging asylum as a "scam" and a "hoax."

"I look at some of these asylum people, they're gang members," he said. "They're not afraid of anything. They have lawyers greeting them. They read what lawyers tell them to read."

"The system is full. We can't take you anymore. Whether it's asylum. Whether it's anything you want. It's illegal immigration," he continued, warning migrants away from seeking asylum.

Mr. Trump reiterated this message in an interview with Griff Jenkins on "Fox and Friends" Saturday morning.

"There's never been so many people coming up and that's because they're gaming the system and the system is changed for the worse because of what happened with Democrats and what they've done in terms of Congress," Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump repeated these allegations during his speech Saturday. He also accused the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras of not doing enough to stop people from migrating to the U.S. -- which is why he directed the State Department to cut off aid to the three countries. Critics argue that cutting off aid would worsen the situation in these countries, driving more people to seek asylum.

"I've taken a lot of heat from the stupid people," about the decision to cut off aid, Mr. Trump said. "What about building our own country for a change?" 

He also reiterated threats to close down the border, which could be economically catastrophic for the country. "I'll do whatever is necessary to stop an invasion of our country," he said.

Steven Portnoy contributed to this report

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.