President Trump holds rally in Pennsylvania

By Veronica Rocha and Meg Wagner, CNN
8:58 p.m. ET, August 2, 2018
8:55 p.m. ET, August 2, 2018

Our live coverage has ended. Scroll through the posts below to see how President Trump's rally in Wilkes-Barre played out.

8:51 p.m. ET, August 2, 2018

4 key takeaways from Trump's Pennsylvania rally

President Donald Trump speaks at a political rally at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on August 2, 2018.

President Trump delivered remarks tonight at a rally for Rep. Lou Barletta in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

During his speech, Trump touched on his meeting last month with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the upcoming midterm elections and his new strategy for getting funding to build a border wall.

In case you missed it, here are some takeaways from tonight's rally:

  • On the Putin meeting: Trump defended his meeting with Putin in Helsinki, saying they "got along really well." He said the press wanted the two leaders to "have a boxing match."
  • On the border wall: Trump told the crowd he'll tell Democrats he doesn't want to build a wall — and then, "they'll insist on building it." 
  • On a possible government shutdown: Trump said he'd be willing to push the government into a shutdown — either before the midterm elections in November or afterward — if Congress does not change the US immigration laws. "Whether it’s before or after, we are getting it or we are closing down government. We need border security. We need border security," Trump said.
  • On election interference: Trump did not mention election interference tonight, instead referring vaguely to the "Russian hoax." This come just hours after his national security team stood in the White House and decried Russia's attack on American democracy.
8:32 p.m. ET, August 2, 2018

Trump reminisces about the "good press" he got before becoming president

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on Aug. 2, 2018.

Remember when President Trump got good press? He does.

He waxed nostalgically about those heady New York tabloid days — after spending much of the night railing against the media. 

"I didn’t need this. I didn’t need this. I didn’t need it!" Trump said of the presidency. "I had a very nice life. I used to get actually good press."

He continued: "I didn’t need this, but I love it."

It was a momentary riff in a speech that ran more than an hour. But in the next breath, he called the press "horrible, horrendous people."

8:11 p.m. ET, August 2, 2018

Trump might be coming to a debate hall near you

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

Republican Senate candidate Lou Barletta speaks in front of US President Donald Trump at a political rally in Pennsylvania

President Trump raised the prospect of coming to Pennsylvania to watch a debate in the Senate race between Democratic Sen. Bob Casey and Republican congressman Lou Barletta.

"Is the President of the United States allowed to come and sit in the front row?" Trump asked. 

Campaigning for Barletta tonight, Trump repeatedly assailed Casey, who is favored in the race.

"That would be great entertainment," Trump said. "That would be great entertainment." 

He seemed to be joking about attending a debate, but who knows. 

8:02 p.m. ET, August 2, 2018

Trump wants to use reverse psychology to get Democrats to build the wall

From CNN's Allie Malloy

President Trump came up with an interesting way to get his border wall while holding a rally in Pennsylvania: Reverse psychology.

The President told the crowd he'll tell Democrats he doesn't want to build a wall — and then, "they'll insist on building it." 

It was the beginning of a familiar ICE, immigration, border wall segment of his rally. 

Trump defended ICE officers, calling them "warriors" and slammed Democrats. 

Trump said he would be "taking some very tough actions." 

"We need border security. We need border security," Trump said. 

7:56 p.m. ET, August 2, 2018

Trump says he’s willing to shut down the government before or after midterms

President Trump said he'd be willing to push the government into a shutdown — either before the midterm elections in November or afterward — if Congress does not change the US immigration laws.

"I would personally prefer before. But whether it’s before or after, we are getting it or we are closing down government. We need border security. We need border security," Trump said.

This is not the first time Trump has alluded to a possible shutdown: Trump has said repeatedly threatened push the government into a shutdown ahead of the coming spending deadline in September if Congress does not fund his border wall and change the nation's immigration laws.

Here's one tweet threatening a shutdown:

7:44 p.m. ET, August 2, 2018

Trump refers to "Russian hoax" — but doesn't mention election meddling as he talks about Putin

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

Hours after his national security team stood in the White House and decried Russia's attack on American democracy, President Trump did not immediately mention election interference at a campaign rally Thursday night, instead referring to it vaguely as "a hoax."

"In Helsinki, I had a great meeting with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. We got along really well," Trump said. "By the way, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. Now, we’re being hindered by the Russian hoax — it’s a hoax, ok?"

As he defended his summit with Putin — which even many of his most staunch supporters called a debacle — Trump attacked the press and made no mention of election meddling.

"I’ll tell you what, Russia is very unhappy Trump won, that I can tell you," Trump said, a statement that Putin disputed last month in Helsinki, when he acknowledged he wanted Trump to win.

Trump defended his meeting with Putin, suggesting the criticism was a creation of the press.

"They wanted me to go up and have a boxing match," Trump said. "Let me tell you if I did go up and start screaming -- they would have said, he was terrible. He was so rude. His performance was horrible."

The President did not mention how the Wall Street Journal editorial page and other conservative voices assailed his Putin meeting. 

So far at least, his grievance-filled speech in Wilkes-Barre has not touched on one thing: Russian election hacking.

7:40 p.m. ET, August 2, 2018

The crowd chanted, "Lock her up." Here's how Trump responded.

From CNN's Allie Malloy

President Trump responded to a "lock her up" chant in Pennsylvania by saying, "Oh no. no. They only want to go after Republicans," appearing to refer to the Justice Department.

"They don't want to do anything," Trump said, adding that things would be changing soon.

"Some things just take a little bit longer," Trump continued.

Watch the moment:

7:25 p.m. ET, August 2, 2018

Trump slams Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in opening remarks

From CNN's Allison Malloy

President Trump, while endorsing Senate candidate Lou Barletta, slammed his opponent and current Sen. Bob Casey, saying he had never met him. 

Trump called Casey "worse" than an obstructionist, adding that he would do whatever House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Chuck Schumer and Rep. Maxine Waters tell him.

"I've been in Washington now for more than a year and a half. I hardly — honestly, I'm not sure I ever met Bob Casey. I never met him ... and I'm sure I did. Now his father was a good man ... but we're dealing with a totally different person."

Trump said Barletta is running "against somebody who's so overrated."