Trump urges Liberty graduates to be outsiders

  • Trump urges Liberty graduates to be outsiders

Trump urges Liberty graduates to be outsiders

A crowd of more than double that size filled an outdoor stadium on campus to welcome just the second sitting president to address the university's commencement.

"Be totally unafraid to challenge entrenched interests and failed power structures", he said, adding with a smile: "Does that sound familiar, by the way?"

Trump, who took office on January 20, also sounded familiar campaign themes about a broken system in Washington.

"Relish the opportunity to be an outsider", he continued. "Embrace that label. Being an outsider is fine". The more a broken system tells you you're wrong, the more certain you should be that you must keep pushing ahead.

President Trump on Saturday lashed out at "pathetic" critics and the establishment class he charges with trying to block his path.

After applause from the crowd, Trump said: "And we got it".

A president who often ad-libs read from a teleprompter Saturday and stayed mostly on script.

Trump kept to an upbeat message in his first extended public appearance since firing James Comey as Federal Bureau of Investigation director this week, saying the lawyer and veteran prosecutor was an incompetent "showboat" and "grandstander". He campaigned there during his run for office and was bolstered by the endorsement of its president, Jerry Falwell Jr., who helped secure support from religious conservatives.

Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty is a Christian university founded in 1971 by pastor and conservative activist Jerry Falwell. Falwell stressed at the time that he was speaking for himself and not for the university. Trump said he and his staff are looking at "very well known, highly respected, really talented people, and that's what we want for the Federal Bureau of Investigation".

Trump also touched on the role of faith in America throughout the almost 30-minute speech, receiving huge applause when announcing, "In America we don't worship government, we worship God".

The president previously visited Liberty in the midst of his Republican primary campaign in January 2016.

Three students authored an opinion piece in The Post, writing that "Trump is the antithesis of our values". This time, however, the president took a more polished approach: As some graduates looked on donned in Make America Great Again hats, he proclaimed a faith-fueled version of American history and society, lifting up a version of Christian nationalism he first introduced during his speech at Inauguration Day.

"There may very well be a president or two in our midst", Trump said.

The first candidate to arrive was Alice Fisher, a high-ranking Justice Department official in the George W. Bush administration.

Trump, angry over media coverage over the Comey issue, has also threatened to end White House news briefings.

In the commencement address, Mr. Trump urged the graduates to follow their dreams and to have the courage to defy conventional wisdom.

Trump received a degree of his own at the ceremony - an honorary doctor of laws degree. Trump underscored how the school's founder persevered.