- President Donald Trump says he wants to end the political unrest that has divided the US, but insisted that it began before he took office.
- During a meeting with network news anchors on Tuesday, Trump said he believes heightened political division in the country goes back to the Clinton administration.
- He bragged that it was “much worse” during President Bill Clinton’s 1998 impeachment.
President Donald Trump acknowledged the political division that has roiled the US in the early years of his presidency, and said he wants to do something about it.
During a meeting with network news anchors on Tuesday, Trump said “I want to see our country united. I want to bring our country back from a tremendous divisiveness.” He insisted that the rift developed “not just over one year, over many years – including the Bush years, not just Obama.”
Trump bragged that it was “much worse” during Bill Clinton’s 1998 impeachment, according to an on-the-record excerpt of his remarks. “So many of you are too young to remember that. I feel too young to remember it, but I guess I’m not,” the president quipped.
Indeed, the US has deeply fractured along party lines since Trump took office. His critics have blamed his rhetoric and policies that have targeted immigrants, refugees, LGBTQ people, and communities of color. Trump has also gotten low marks for his fiery reactions to developments in the Justice Department’s investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US election.
It wasn’t always like this. Despite what had been a bitter 2016 primary and an even tougher general election, when Trump won the White House in November 2016, he struck a conciliatory tone during his victory speech. “It is time for us to come together as one united people. It’s time,” Trump said that night.
Experts and commentators are looking to Trump’s first State of the Union address on Tuesday night for possible cues that Trump could pursue a more united front as president. But political observers have warned that evidence of such a pivot requires a change in practice and policy, beyond the president’s annual speech.