NEW LONDON, Connecticut -- Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly jokingly told President Donald Trump on Wednesday that a ceremonial sword gift from the Coast Guard could be put to good use against his enemies in the media.
"Use that on the press, sir," Kelly, a retired Marine general, was caught saying on the open mic on the lectern after Trump's commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy here.
In honor of his first address as commander-in-chief to one of the service academies, the Coast Guard presented Trump with the sword to the applause of the 195 newly commissioned ensigns in the graduating class and several thousand of their family members.
As Trump sat down with the sword in his lap, Kelly leaned in with a smile to suggest how he should use it.
Much of Trump's address to the graduates dealt with complaints that the media consistently fails to acknowledge his accomplishments and good intentions.
He said that in their Coast Guard careers the graduates will often run up against the trials he faces daily. "You will find things are not always fair," he said.
"You have to put your head down and fight, fight, fight," Trump said, to get past the "naysayers" who oppose change. "Look at the way I've been treated lately, especially by the media. No politician in history, and I say with surety, has been treated worse, more unfairly."
The president did not comment directly on a range of controversies currently besetting the White House, including his firing of FBI Director James Comey and allegations arising from Russian attempts to influence the November elections.
Instead, Trump focused on his push to bring jobs back into the country, strengthen border security, and put in place major tax cuts.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.