Political News

Trump Claims Credit for an Economy He Calls the ‘Envy of the Entire World’

Posted July 27, 2018 11:10 a.m. EDT

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump exulted in data Friday that showed economic growth accelerated in the second quarter, reeling off a list of statistics to make a case, during a midterm election year, that his administration should get the credit for the humming economy.

“Once again, we are the economic envy of the entire world,” Trump declared outside the South Portico of the White House, flanked by his top economic advisers. “As the trade deals come in, one by one, we’re going to go a lot higher than these numbers.”

The Commerce Department estimated that growth in the second quarter of 2018 rose to 4.1 percent, the fastest quarterly rate since 2014. Economists have questioned whether growth can continue at such a pace, but Trump and his advisers argued it was more than a “one-shot shot,” citing, among other factors, gains in business investment and productivity that they said resulted from deep cuts in corporate taxes.

“This is a boom that will be sustainable,” Trump’s chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said, “frankly as far as the eye can see.”

Trump’s economic victory lap came amid gathering legal clouds for the president. The special counsel in the Russia investigation, Robert Mueller, is scrutinizing Trump’s Twitter posts for evidence that he obstructed justice; The Wall Street Journal reported that the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, had been subpoenaed to testify in the investigation of Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

It also came amid an invitation from President Vladimir Putin of Russia that he was ready to meet with Trump in Moscow or Washington. The White House said earlier this week that it would put off a meeting until the end of Mueller’s investigation, which it predicted would be sometime after the New Year.

The Russians had initially reacted coolly to Trump’s invitation that Putin come to Washington, suggesting that the two leaders could meet on the sidelines of a larger gathering of world leaders, like the Group of 20 meeting.

On Friday, Trump did not take questions about those or other issues in his appearance on a sun-drenched morning. Instead, he offered a long list of rosy statistics about jobs, trade deficits and the gross domestic product. He made no reference to the budget deficit, which has ballooned because of his tax cuts, though he promised during the campaign to eliminate it.

Trump referred to a visit he made Thursday to a steel mill in Granite City, Illinois, where the plant’s owner, United States Steel Corp., has begun firing up two blast furnaces after a lengthy shutdown. The company credited Trump’s tariffs on China and other steel exporters for leading it to put the plant back on line.

“Half of them had tears coming down their faces,” Trump said of the workers, who greeted the president with hoots and hollers but did not seem engaged in a mass display of crying.

Trump also thanked the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, for returning the remains of U.S. service members killed during the Korean War. The president had presented that as an immediate victory of his summit with Kim in Singapore last month, but the return of the remains dragged on for several more weeks.

“I want to thank Chairman Kim for keeping his word,” Trump said. “I want to thank Chairman Kim, in front of the media, for fulfilling a promise he made to me.”