Trump ral­lies West Virginia, at­tacks Rus­sia probe

State’s Demo­cratic gov­er­nor uses event to an­nounce switch to GOP.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY S.A. MILLER

At a cam­paign rally with Pres­i­dent Trump in West Virginia, the state’s Demo­cratic gov­er­nor announced that he was switch­ing to the Repub­li­can Party.

Gov. Jim Jus­tice said that Democrats had walked away form him dur­ing the re­cent leg­isla­tive ses­sion.

“To­day, I tell you as West Vir­gini­ans, I can’t help you any more be­ing a Demo­cratic gov­er­nor,” he told the huge crowd in an arena in Hunt­ing­ton. “To­mor­row I will be chang­ing my reg­is­tra­tion to Repub­li­can.”

Mr. Jus­tice, a bil­lion­aire coal and real es­tate mag­nate who ran as a non-politi­cian for gov­er­nor, said he had a lot in com­mon with Mr. Trump.

“This man and my­self are not politi­cians. We ran to get some­thing done. We ran and gave up part of our lives. We ran and want noth­ing,” he said. “We ran as our Found­ing Fa­thers did years ago, to serve.”

Mr. Trump had promised a “very big an­nounce­ment” at the event and the gov­er­nor’s party switch lived up to the hype.

Mr. Jus­tice’s de­fec­tion will leave Democrats with just 15 gover­nors.

It also bodes badly for Sen. Joe Manchin, who now is one of only two statewide elected Democrats in the solidly red state. Mr. Manchin is up for re-elec­tion in 2018, one of 10 Se­nate Democrats run­ning in states that Mr. Trump car­ried.

As a re­sult, Mr. Manchin cheered Mr. Trump’s visit.

“The Pres­i­dent is coming to West Virginia, and I’m ex­cited he is,” he said in a state­ment. “I know some Democrats, es­pe­cially those in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., would not want the Pres­i­dent to visit their state. As Amer­i­cans, we should al­ways be hon­ored to have a Pres­i­dent visit our state who­ever he or she is re­gard­less of po­lit­i­cal party.”

Mr. Manchin also voiced sup­port for Mr. Trump’s tax re­form ef­fort.

Mr. Trump car­ried West Virginia with 68 per­cent of the vote, while Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton took just 26 per­cent.

It is also the state where Mr. Trump has the high­est job-approval rat­ing at 60 per­cent. West Virginia is one of 17 states where Mr. Trump’s job-approval tops 50 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to Gallup.

The pres­i­dent has been ral­ly­ing his base to help push his stalled agenda through Congress. Last week, he ral­lied thou­sands at an event in Ohio.

In West Virginia, he called for Congress to keep ty­ing to re­peal Oba­macare, pass ma­jor tax re­form and ini­ti­ate a mas­sive in­fra­struc­ture pro­gram — all top agenda items stuck on Capi­tol Hill.

“Day af­ter day we are keep­ing the prom­ises we made dur­ing the cam­paign,” Mr. Trump said.

He pointed to the eco­nomic bump in West Virginia, where the coal in­dus­try has re­bounded as he rolled back Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s en­vi­ron­men­tal poli­cies tar­get­ing coal.

“We’ve ended the war on beau­ti­ful clean coal,” he said. “Amer­i­can ex­ports of coal al­ready are up nearly 60 per­cent this year.”

The up­beat speech be­lied the po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges Mr. Trump faces in Wash­ing­ton, in­clud­ing a Jus­tice Depart­ment spe­cial prose­cu­tor who re­cently im­pan­eled a grand jury to in­ves­ti­gate Rus­sia med­dling in the pres­i­den­tial race and al­leged Trump cam­paign col­lu­sion.

Mr. Trump told the scream­ing crowd that it the whole thing was a “hoax” by Democrats try­ing to steal back the pres­i­dency.

“They are ty­ing to cheat you out of the lead­er­ship you want with a fake story that is de­mean­ing to all of us and most im­por­tantly de­mean­ing to our coun­try and de­mean­ing to our Con­sti­tu­tion,” he said.

He mocked the con­tention that Rus­sian helped his cam­paign.

“Most peo­ple know there were no Rus­sians in our cam­paign. There never were,” said Mr. Trump. “We didn’t win be­cause of Rus­sia. We won be­cause of you.”

“Have you seen any Rus­sians in West Virginia or Ohio or Penn­syl­va­nia? Are there any Rus­sians here tonight? Any Rus­sians?” said Mr. Trump. “They can’t beat us at the vot­ing booths so they are try­ing to cheat you out of the fu­ture and the fu­ture that you want.”


IN THE HEART­LAND: Pres­i­dent Trump, re­spond­ing to news of the Mueller grand jury, told a rally in West Virginia that the en­tire Rus­sia nar­ra­tive was a Demo­cratic ruse.


Pres­i­dent Trump spoke at a rally at Big Sandy Su­per­store Arena in Hunt­ing­ton, West Virginia, on Thurs­day. He has a 60 per­cent job-approval rat­ing there.

Pres­i­dent Trump lis­tens as West Virginia Gov. Jim Jus­tice, a Demo­crat, announced that he is switch­ing par­ties to join the Repub­li­cans.

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