Trump called the media in general "dishonest" and "unfair," and referred to a particular TV reporter as a "sleaze." His complaints dominated an event that was supposed to be about Trump's own charity — and provided new evidence that, even as the presumptive GOP front-runner, Trump is inclined to air his grievances and rivalries publicly.
“I wasn’t looking for the credit, but I had no choice but to do this because the press was saying I didn’t raise any money for them,” Trump said.
The donations Trump announced on Tuesday were related to a Jan. 28 fundraiser for veterans that he held in Des Moines, on a night when Trump skipped a GOP debate due to a feud with its host, Fox News. That night, Trump said he'd raised $6 million. Most of it came from other donors, but Trump said he would give $1 million of his own.
After that, however, Trump became reluctant to release details about what had become of the money. At times, too, his staff gave out false information: More than a week ago, Trump's campaign manager said that Trump had already given out his $1 million in personal gifts.
As it turned out, he had not. Trump made his $1 million donation the evening of May 23, after a day of inquiries on Twitter — Trump's preferred social-media platform — by The Washington Post.
On Tuesday, Trump was giving away donations that had originally come in from other people, and were routed through his Donald J. Trump Foundation. He said that, in all, the fundraiser had brought in $5.6 million — but that more money would come in.
Trump detailed new gifts to more than a dozen veterans groups, most of them $75,000 each. By Tuesday afternoon, several of them had confirmed to The Post that they had indeed received the checks. Trump said that all of the money had been paid out, except for a single check to one group waiting for IRS authorization.
But, even as Trump described these gifts, he would interrupt to blast the press again.
"The press should be ashamed of themselves. And on behalf of the vets, the press should be ashamed of themselves," Trump said at one point. "Instead of being, like, 'Thank you very much, Mr. Trump,' or 'Trump did a good job,' You say, 'Well who got it? Who got it?'. ... And it makes me look very bad."
The presumptive GOP nominee also hurled insults at reporters in the audience, whom he accused of liberal bias and of attempting to diminish his efforts.
"You're a sleaze because you know the facts, and you know the facts well,” Trump said in one instance, pointing at a reporter from ABC News.
By law, nonprofit charities like Trump's foundation are not supposed to participate in political campaigns. At this event, however, Trump described the nonprofit's gifts at what was clearly a campaign event — at which he bashed his rivals, and talked up his poll numbers. He spoke from a podium that said "Make America Great Again," the slogan of his campaign.