World

Wall to go up even if US government comes down

Enraged Trump lashes out at 'dishonest' media and vows to build Mexico wall

PHOENIX US President Donald Trump revved up supporters on Tuesday with a defence of his response to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and a promise to shut down the government if necessary to build a wall along the border with Mexico.

Under fire for saying "both sides" were to blame for the violence between white supremacists and left-wing counter- protesters in Virginia on Aug 12, Mr Trump accused television networks of ignoring his calls for unity in the aftermath.

"I didn't say I love you because you're black, or I love you because you're white," he said. "I love all the people of our country."

Police used pepper spray to disperse the crowd after protesters threw rocks and bottles outside the convention centre where he spoke.

Mr Trump repeatedly singled out the media for criticism of how they covered the Charlottesville violence and the resulting political fallout.

"These are truly dishonest people. They are bad people. I really think they don't like our country," he said. "The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media."

Adopting a glib tone, Mr Trump said many reporters ignored his condemnation of white supremacists, including the Ku Klux Klan.

"I hit 'em with neo-Nazi, I hit 'em with everything... KKK? We have KKK. I got 'em all," he said.

Mr James Clapper, a former director of US national intelligence, expressed concern at Mr Trump's behaviour, calling it "downright scary and disturbing". He told CNN: "I question his fitness to be in office."

Funding for the border wall has flagged in the US Congress as lawmakers question whether Mr Trump's promise during the presidential election campaign is really necessary.

But a defiant Mr Trump said: "If we have to close down our government, we're building that wall. The American people voted for immigration control."

With thousands of supporters cheering, Mr Trump also weighed in on another racially charged issue, hinting he would pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio, 85, who battled illegal immigration in Phoenix, was found guilty last month of criminal contempt for violating the terms of a 2011 court order in a racial profiling case.

Mr Trump covered a gamut of issues, from Nafta trade talks to the North Korea showdown during a raucous and rambling speech. -REUTERS

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