President Donald Trump accused Democrats of abandoning Israel and claimed that asylum seekers look like UFC fighters during his speech Saturday before the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas.
Right off the bat, the President referenced Minnesota Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar, who has made several controversial comments suggesting that politicians who support Israel are financially motivated and that pro-Israel groups advocate for “allegiance to a foreign country.”
“And a special thanks to Representative Omar of Minnesota,” Trump joked, as the crowd erupted into boos. “Oh, oh, oh I forgot, she doesn’t like Israel, I forgot, I’m so sorry. Oh, no she doesn’t like Israel, does she. Oh, please, I apologize.”
Trump said that “people aren’t fighting for Israel in Congress,” warning that “if implemented, the Democrats’ radical agenda would destroy our economy, cripple our country and very well could leave Israel out there all by yourselves – can’t do that.”
Trump later repeated previous allegations that “the Democrats have even allowed the terrible scourge of anti-Semitism to take root in their party and in their country,” pointing to Democrats’ recent move to block a measure condemning the boycott-Israel movement from the Yemen War Powers Resolution.
“Politicians who seek to weaponize the US-Israel relationship and turn it into a wedge issue are no friends of Israel, and the transparent cynicism of their words are clear to all,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a statement to CNN.
Trump says asylum applicants are coached
Trump also called the asylum program “a scam,” alleging that lawyers coach tough, violent men through the process.
“Some of the roughest people you’ve ever seen, people that look like they should be fighting for the UFC,” he said, referencing the Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts promotion company. “They read a little page given by lawyers that are all over the place – you know lawyers, they tell them what to say. You look at this guy, you say, wow, ‘that’s a tough cookie.’”
Trump then adopted a deep voice, saying, “I am very fearful for my life, I am very worried that I will be accosted if I’m sent back home” to impersonate a hypothetical migrant.
“No, no, he’ll do the accosting,” he quipped.
Trump also mocked those supporting asylum as being in denial about migrants’ motivations.
“Oh, give him asylum – he’s afraid, he’s afraid!” Trump said, imitating them. “We don’t love the fact that he’s got tattoos on his face, that’s not a good sign. We don’t love the fact that he’s carrying the flag of Honduras or Guatemala or El Salvador, only to say he’s petrified to be in his country.”
Trump also justified his decision last week to cut aid to those three central American countries, known as the Northern Triangle, for their role in caravans traveling to the United States.
“The Democrats say, ‘how dare you do that, that money is used for all this good!’” Trump said. “But no it’s not, it’s largely stolen.”
“Now if their government wanted to, I have a feeling they’d be able to stop caravans from forming in those three countries, I have a feeling,” he added. “They’re pretty tough, they’re pretty tough down there. And, but they didn’t, so I stopped the payments.”
The funds going to the region were allocated by the State Department and focus on the “root causes of violence” in order to “promote opportunity and security for their citizens,” according to the US Global Leadership Coalition. Experts have said that cutting violence-prevention and security-focused aid to the region would likely increase the number of migrants seeking to reach the United States.
Trump also reiterated his remarks Friday that “our country’s full.”
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the day of Trump’s speech.
CNN’s Greg Clary contributed to this report.