UPDATED with video: Team Trump “set a couple goals for themselves tonight; they wanted to demonstrate President Trump could give a speech other than berating people at a campaign rally,” President Obama’s White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest clearly enjoyed telling Stephen Colbert on tonight’s live Late Show.
“And, they did!” Earnest acknowledged, generously, during Colbert’s broadcast after Trump’s address to the joint session of Congress.
“They also were clearly aiming that speech at congressional Republicans who, 40 days into the new presidency, are already worried about the president in their own party,” Earnest continued. He cited “the random tweet about Nordstrom and the “botched roll-out of executive orders” on the list of things causing concern – particularly to Republicans on the ballot in 2018. “They have reason to be concerned; they know they’re on the ballot and Trump is not,” he joked.
As to Trump having started his speech acknowledging the shooting death of an Indian man in Kansas City a week or so ago, the former press secretary said, “I think we waited entirely too long for the President of the United States to speak out about that terrible violence.
“But, to his credit, he used the largest stage in American politics to do so, and that was the right thing to do,” Earnest said.
His final assessment of the speech? “In terms of lowering the bar, I’m not sure you can lower the bar any further than hoping people who are in your party, who are in the audience, like the speech you’ve just given.”
Chatting with Colbert, the two men eventually got around to Trump having repeatedly called the media “fake news” and “enemy” of American people.
“This is not new,” Earnest insisted. “They tried the same thing over the last eight years – to de-legitimize President Obama by accusing him of not being born in the United States.”
Trump, of course, was the leader of that birther movement.
“This whole idea of fake news is not a new thing,” Earnest told Colbert. “This is something the Republicans have been engaged in, and one Republican in particular has been very focused on, for a long time.”