As President Donald Trump marks the one-year anniversary of his inauguration, here's a look back at some of his most contentious statements in office

By Tierney McAfee
January 19, 2018 02:42 PM
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Credit: FILE PHOTO - U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an address from the White House in Washington, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Picture - RC1C83C45C90

Since taking office on Jan. 20, 2017, President Donald Trump has frequently drawn public ire for his comments, many of which have been labeled inflammatory at best, and dangerous, racist or sexist at worst.

As Trump marks the one-year anniversary of his inauguration, here’s a look back at some of his most contentious statements in office.

1. On ‘s–thole’ countries

Most recently, Trump was widely denounced for his reported comments describing Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations as “s–thole” countries during an immigration meeting last week with lawmakers of both parties.

“Why are we having all these people from s–thole countries come here?” Trump asked, according to people briefed on the meeting who spoke with The Washington Post. He also singled out Haiti, saying, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.” He then went on to suggest that the U.S. instead take in more people from countries like Norway.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durban, who attended the meeting, confirmed that the president made those statements. The White House initially did not deny that Trump made the comments, though the president later claimed “s–thole” was “not the language used.”

2. On ‘Little Rocket Man’ Kim Jong-un

In the midst of Trump’s ongoing feud with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the president delivered a speech to the United Nations in September, where he first nicknamed Kim “Rocket Man,” in a reference to North Korea’s missile program.

He later modified the nickname to “Little Rocket Man” in tweets taking aim at Kim.

3. On nevertheless trying to strike up a friendship with Kim Jong-un

In November, Trump upped the stakes of his public feud with Kim Jong-un, calling the North Korean leader “short and fat” in a tweet.

Responding to North Korea’s comments labeling Trump a “dotard,” the Korean word for “old lunatic,” Trump fired back: “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!”

4. On “both sides” following the deadly Charlottesville rally

Trump’s response to a rally by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August led to some of the most widespread criticism against him, including from members of his own party. After clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters at the rally turned deadly, killing 32-year-old protester Heather Heyer, Trump still insisted there was blame on “both sides” — and “some very fine people on both sides.”

“Well, I do think there’s blame — yes, I think there’s blame on both sides,” he said at the time. “You look at — you look at both sides. I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either.”

5. On “son of a bitch” athletes taking a knee during the national anthem

Trump has repeatedly and sharply condemned professional sports players who opt to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem in protest of racial injustice.

During a speech in Alabama in September, Trump said people would “love” if NFL owners reacted to a player taking a knee by saying, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired!”

6. On the death of a U.S. soldier killed in battle

According to U.S. Rep Frederica Wilson, Trump told the grieving widow of a U.S. soldier killed in an ambush that “he knew what he signed up for” during a condolence phone call in October.

Wilson, who was in the car with the Johnson family when they took the president’s call, revealed that Trump told widow Myeshia Johnson that her husband, Sgt. La David T. Johnson, “knew what he signed up for… but when it happens it hurts anyway.”

Trump claimed at the time that the congresswoman had “totally fabricated” the story. But Wilson never wavered from her account of the incident, which was also corroborated by the soldier’s mother.

7. On Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand “begging” for campaign contributions

After Gillibrand called on Trump to resign in light of the allegations of sexual misconduct that have been leveled against him by more than a dozen women, Trump lashed out at her in a tweet that was quickly slammed as sexist.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the president at the time, insisting that “only if your mind is in the gutter would you have read it that way.”

8. On negative polls about his presidency

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Trump faced criticism for a December tweet suggesting that global warming doesn’t exist — and worse yet, that perhaps it should exist.

The tweet came in the midst of the president’s holiday vacation to balmy Florida, where he escaped the freezing temperatures that had been plaguing much of the East Coast at the time.

CNN noted that, according to climate scientists, linking temperatures in a certain location to the existence of global warming is an entirely inaccurate way to view global warming. As the Associated Press reported, “weather refers to the atmospheric conditions during a shorter period, while climate is a longer view of weather patterns.”

In June, Trump launched a deeply personal attack on Morning Joe co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough after they criticized him on-air.

In a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll at the time, nearly two-thirds of voters said that Trump’s face-lift comments crossed a line.

But of course we know that, according to the president, any negative polls about him are nothing but “fake news.”