Trump ad­dresses Lib­erty Uni­ver­sity com­mence­ment

The Progress-Index Weekend - - OBITUARIES - By Dar­lene Su­perville [PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS]

LYNCH­BURG, Va. — Don­ald Trump, the real es­tate mogul-turned­pres­i­dent, of­fered sim­ple words of ad­vice to uni­ver­sity grad­u­ates Satur­day as he urged them to fol­low their con­vic­tions, pre­pare to face crit­i­cism and rel­ish the op­por­tu­nity to be an “out­sider.”

“It’s the out­siders who change the world,” Trump de­clared in his first com­mence­ment ad­dress to more than 18,000 grad­u­ates of Lib­erty Uni­ver­sity, a Chris­tian school whose pres­i­dent was one of Trump’s ear­li­est and most out­spo­ken sup­port­ers dur­ing last year’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

Trump kept to a largely upbeat mes­sage dur­ing the roughly 30-minute speech, never men­tion­ing his stun­ning de­ci­sion this past week to re­move James Comey as FBI di­rec­tor. Trump said Comey is a “show­boat” and “grand­stander” who was fired be­cause he wasn’t do­ing a good job.

But the tim­ing of Trump’s de­ci­sion raised ques­tions as he re­mains frus­trated by FBI and con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Rus­sia’s role in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign that ended with Trump’s elec­tion, along with pos­si­ble ties be­tween Trump as­so­ciates and the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment.

Trump said Satur­day that he could name a new di­rec­tor by Fri­day, when he de­parts on his first for­eign trip as pres­i­dent to Saudi Ara­bia, Is­rael, Italy and Bel­gium. Jus­tice De­part­ment of­fi­cials be­gan in­ter­view­ing can­di­dates in Wash­ing­ton on Satur­day.

Draw­ing par­al­lels to what was widely viewed as a long­shot pres­i­den­tial bid by Trump, who had never held elec­tive of­fice be­fore win­ning the Novem­ber elec­tion, Trump urged the grad­u­ates to never stop fight­ing for what they be­lieve in.

“Re­mem­ber this: Noth­ing worth do­ing ever, ever, ever came easy,” he said. Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple packed an on-cam­pus sta­dium to wel­come Trump, the sec­ond sit­ting pres­i­dent to ad­dress the uni­ver­sity’s com­mence­ment cer­e­mony, with ap­plause and a stand­ing ova­tion.

“Fol­low­ing your con­vic­tions means you must be will­ing to face crit­i­cism from those who lack the same courage to do what is right, and they know what is right, but they don’t have the courage or the guts or the stamina to take it and to do it,” said Trump, who did not wear a gown.

Trump ad­vised the grad­u­ates to “never quit” and to carry them­selves with “dig­nity and pride.”

“De­mand the best from your­self and be to­tally un­afraid to chal­lenge en­trenched in­ter­ests and failed power struc­tures,” Trump said, in a dig at the Wash­ing­ton po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment he has vowed to shake up. “Does that sound fa­mil­iar, by the way?”

Trump also urged grad­u­ates to “treat the word ‘im­pos­si­ble’ as noth­ing more than mo­ti­va­tion” and “rel­ish the op­por­tu­nity to be an out­sider.”

“The more that a bro­ken sys­tem tells you that you’re wrong, the more cer­tain you should be that you must keep push­ing ahead,” he said. “You must keep push­ing for­ward.”

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump gives the com­mence­ment ad­dress for the Class of 2017 at Lib­erty Uni­ver­sity on Satur­day in Lynch­burg, Va.

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