EL PASO, Texas (CNN) – While visiting a city in mourning and victims in the hospital, President Trump praised medical staff for their response to the shooting.
He then pivoted to talking about the crowd size at a rally he held in El Paso several months earlier and mocking the relatively small size of the crowd that joined presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke.
Now some of President Trump’s own aides are conceding his visits to two cities in mourning didn’t go as planned, after new video shows him bragging about crowd sizes while at a hospital in El Paso.
“We met with also the doctors, the nurses, the medical staff,” Trump said.
The White House stopped reporters and their cameras from capturing the president’s visit, but new cellphone video shows Trump praising medical staff before turning the conversation to himself
“I was here three months ago. We made a speech at – what was the name of the arena? That place was -right? The judge was a respected guy. What was their name? [crosstalk] Oh good. Come here. That was some, that was some crowd. And we had twice the number outside. And then you had this crazy Beto. Beto had like 400 people in a parking lot, they said his crowd was wonderful,” Trump said.
The president, bragging about how many people attended his February rally where he boasted of booting undocumented immigrants from the country.
“They go in to our country. The good news is we have great law enforcement and many of these people, we know where they are, and we’re going to get them the hell out,” Trump said at the February rally.
The president still owes the City of El Paso more than half a million dollars in unpaid fees for police use and public safety costs for that trip.
Trump also reportedly lashed out at his staff for keeping the cameras away during his visits to two hospitals, complaining he wasn’t getting enough credit, though aides said it was out of respect for the patients.
The Washington Post reports that none of those eight patients at the Texas hospital trump visited agreed to meet with him, while two who had been discharged did return for his visit.
His trip followed new questions on what’s next for gun control.
Trump has told aides and lawmakers he’s open to endorsing extensive backgrounds checks.
“I think background checks are important. I don’t want to put guns into the hands of mentally unstable people,” he said.
It’s a position he’s taken before, but never followed through on.
“We’ll be very strong on background checks, going to be doing very strong background checks,” Trump said.
New reporting might explain why.
“There’s no bigger fan of the Second Amendment than me, and there’s no bigger fan of the NRA,” Trump said.
CNN has learned the president has spoken with NRA Chief Wayne Lapierre several times in recent days, and Lapierre warned Trump his supporters in deep red areas don’t want expanded background checks.
The NRA spent more than $30 million to get Trump elected in 2016, financial records show, and has swayed him on gun control in the past.
“I mean, they’re very close to me. I’m very close to them,” Trump says.