Introducing President Donald Trump at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Wednesday advised the school’s graduates to “tell the truth,” and praised the U.S. as “first and foremost a nation of laws.”
“Tell the truth to your seniors, even though it’s uncomfortable, even though they may not want to hear it,” Kelly said, with Trump, the commencement speaker, sitting next to him on stage. “They deserve that. Tell the truth.”
The commencement address was Trump’s first public appearance since Tuesday’s extraordinary reports that he asked then-FBI director James Comey in February to end his investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials. Trump fired Comey last week.
The White House has denied that Trump pushed Comey to end the probe.
During the speech, Trump did not directly discuss the reports and mostly stuck to a prepared script.
But while instructing the graduates on overcoming adversity, Trump lashed out at the media.
“Never, ever, ever give up. Things will work out just fine. Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media,” he said. “No other politician in history has been treated worse or more unfairly. Adversity makes you stronger.”
He also boasted about his election victory and lauded his achievements as president, ending the speech by advising students to “enjoy your life.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer hesitated to answer when asked by a reporter on Tuesday whether it was acceptable for public officials to lie.
“Um. The reason I’m going to have hedging on this is that I’m just thinking,” he said. “Mentally, I’m going through every position in the United States government. In theory, if you were an operative of some sort. Uh, there are cases in which ― yeah, if it’s a public official, then no.”