President Donald Trump criticizes Fox News over Pete Buttigieg town hall

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Sunday to comment on potential rival and Hoosier Pete Buttigieg and his chances on becoming president.

Trump’s tweets came hours before a Fox News town hall Sunday featuring Buttigieg in Claremont, New Hampshire. The 7 p.m. town hall was hosted by “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace.

“Hard to believe that @FoxNews is wasting airtime on Mayor Pete, as Chris Wallace likes to call him. Fox is moving more and more to the losing (wrong) side in covering the Dems. They go dumped from the Democrats boring debates, and they just want in. They forgot the people who go them there,” President Trump tweeted.

On his introduction to the show, Wallace said Buttigieg is “different, he breaks the mold and voters seem to be very intrigued by that at this point.”

Wallace compared Buttigieg’s fast-growing popularity to that of former president Barack Obama and Trump.

Trump tweeted that Wallace never speaks as well of him as he does of Buttigieg. He also referred to the South Bend, Indiana, mayor again as longtime Mad Magazine mascot Alfred E. Neuman.

“Chris Wallace said, “I actually think, whether you like his opinions or not, that Mayor Pete has a lot of substance…fascinating biography.” Gee, he never speaks well of me – I like Mike Wallace better…and Alfred E. Newman will never be President!,” he tweeted.

In an interview earlier this month, Trump compared Buttigieg to Mad Magazine’s freckled-faced cartoon boy mascot, saying, “Alfred E. Neuman cannot become president of the United States.

The shot landed home with baby boomers and Gen Xers, many of whom remember thumbing through the iconic satirical magazine. But Buttigieg, a millennial, told Politico he had to Google it.

“I guess it’s just a generational thing,” he said. “I didn’t get the reference. It’s kind of funny, I guess. But he’s also the president of the United States, and I’m surprised he’s not spending more time trying to salvage this China deal.”

The remark came on the heels of one Trump made at a campaign rally a few days earlier.

“Boot-edge-edge,” the president sounded out, according to a story reported by The Hill, “They say ‘edge-edge.’ “

Trump continued, apparently thinking little of Buttigieg’s stature on the world stage: “He’s got a great chance. He’ll be great. He’ll be great representing us against President Xi (Jinping) of China. That’ll be great.”

The president also alluded to Buttigieg on a conservative radio show last month as he speculated which Democrat he might face in the 2020 election, saying “It could be the mayor from Indiana.”

[USA Today]

Trump attacks Rep. Amash as a ‘loser’ and ‘lightweight’ after the Republican calls for impeachment

President Donald Trump responded to a Republican House member’s call for impeachment on Sunday, calling the lawmaker a “loser” who seeks to make headlines. 

On Saturday, Rep. Justin Amash said in a tweet that Attorney General Barr “deliberately misrepresented” the report from special counsel Robert Mueller investigation into Russian election interference, which he said showed that Trump “engaged in impeachable conduct.”

The Michigan Republican said he made that statement “only after having read Mueller’s redacted report carefully and completely.” 

Trump said in a tweet on Sunday that he was “never a fan” of Amash, whom he called “a total lightweight who opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy.” 

“Justin is a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents hands!” he tweeted.

During an interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., agreed that Amash made his statement because he “wants to have attention.”

“Now, you’ve got to understand Justin Amash,” McCarthy said. “He votes more with Nancy Pelosi, than he ever votes with me. It’s a question whether he’s even in our Republican conference as a whole. What he wants is attention in this process.” 

The president said he did not believe Amash had actually read Mueller’s report. He claimed the report was “strong on NO COLLUSION” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin and “ultimately, NO OBSTRUCTION.” At the same time, he slammed the report as “biased” because it was “‘composed’ of 18 Angry Dems who hated Trump.”

But Mueller’s report explicitly said that the investigation looked into 10 potentially obstructive acts and the evidence did not clear the president. Rather, it said, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him” and punted that decision to the attorney general. Barr and then-deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein ultimately decided not to bring charges against the president. 

The Mueller report also found that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in “sweeping and systematic fashion” with “a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton” and a hacking operation that sought to uncover information damaging to Clinton. 

The report concluded “the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts,” but it did not find “that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” 

Because the report did not find evidence of a conspiracy, Barr has argued the president could not have obstructed justice because there was no crime to cover up in the first place. Trump made a similar argument on Sunday. 

“Anyway, how do you Obstruct when there is no crime and, in fact, the crimes were committed by the other side?” he asked, referring to his belief that the investigation was a politically-motivated attack. 

Many legal experts have disputed the assertion that obstruction requires an “underlying crime.” And Amash said he believed Mueller’s report showed that Trump’s acts had “all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.” 

Amash also argued that impeachment “does not even require probable cause that a crime (e.g., obstruction of justice) has been committed; it simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct.” 

Many congressional Democrats, including many presidential candidates, have agreed with Amash’s call to begin impeachment proceedings. But the party’s leadership, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has yet to back such a move

Pelosi has said impeachment would be too “divisive” for the nation without greater bipartisan support. And, so far, Amash has been the only Republican member of Congress to back impeachment. 

On Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Amash “showed more courage than any other Republican” in Congress, but didn’t change the fact that there were “no signs” that impeachment could “even be potentially successful in the Senate.” 

[USA Today]

Trump Issues Threat: ‘If Iran Wants to Fight’ it Will Be the ‘Official End of Iran’

President Donald Trump took to Twitter to issue a threat against Iran amidst escalating tensions between the United States and the Middle Eastern country.

The president’s warning was short and direct: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!

The threat comes just days after the New York Times reported that Trump was seeking to tamp down escalated tensions between his administration and Tehran, telling acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan he doesn’t want a war with the country.

That came after National Security Adviser John Bolton requested the Pentagon to present a military plan that would involve sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East in response to a possible provocation from Iran.

When a reporter asked Trump if the U.S. was going to war with Iran last week, the president replied, “I hope not.”

[Mediaite]

Trump requests paperwork to pardon accused US war criminals

President Donald Trump has requested paperwork allowing him to move forward quickly with pardons for accused US war criminals, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The pardons from a President who on the campaign trail expressed support for “tougher” tactics than waterboarding and going after the families of terrorists could come “on or around Memorial Day,” two US officials told the Times.

One military official told the Times that the White House made its request to the Justice Department on Friday, and that while pardon files typically take months to assemble, the Justice Department had stressed the files needed to be completed before the coming Memorial Day weekend.

The Times said those who could potentially receive clemency include a Navy SEAL who is facing trial for shooting unarmed civilians and murdering a wounded person, along with a range of others accused or convicted of shooting or killing unarmed civilians.

Trump previously expressed sympathy for Eddie Gallagher, the Navy SEAL in question, in a March tweet saying he would be moved to “less restrictive confinement” ahead of his trial.

“In honor of his past service to our Country, Navy Seal #EddieGallagher will soon be moved to less restrictive confinement while he awaits his day in court. Process should move quickly! @foxandfriends @RepRalphNorman,” Trump tweeted.

Gallagher was charged last year for the various violent incidents in Iraq during 2017.

On the campaign trail, Trump implied he would support torturing detainees as president, and after significant pushback for his enthusiastic comments about waterboarding and killing the families of terrorists, he reversed the position in a statement. But just days after taking the oath of office, Trump again expressed support for torture and said he “absolutely” believed it works.

Trump’s potential pardons for accused and convicted war criminals, if issued, would mark the latest gesture from the US President toward a change in standards for US war efforts and treatment of detainees that he intimated on the campaign trail.

Earlier this month, Trump pardoned Michael Behenna, a former Army soldier who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing a detainee he drove into the Iraqi desert and shot twice. In April, the Trump administration revoked the visa for the chief prosecutor on the International Criminal Court, and a spokesperson said at the time that the US would take necessary steps “to protect our people from unjust investigation.”

The ICC, which the US is not a member of, sought authorization previously to open an investigation into crimes committed by US troops in Afghanistan.

[CNN]

Trump Calls For Joe Biden to Be Investigated: ‘It’s a Disgrace’

In his interview with Fox News host Steve Hilton, President Donald Trumpcalled for an investigation into one of his 2020 rivals, Joe Biden, and the former vice president’s ties to China.

Granted, Trump didn’t bring up the prospect of investigation, he was egged on by Hilton. “Don’t you think that should be investigated?” the Fox News host asked. “That financial connection –the Chinese government putting billions of dollars into Biden’s family business.”

Trump’s answer: “1oo percent.”

“It’s a disgrace,” the president continued. “And then he says China’s not a competitor of ours. China is a massive competitor of ours. They want to take over the world.”

Hilton’s question appears based on a claim from Peter Schweizer — author of Clinton Cash — who wrote hat the firm of Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden “inked a $1 billion private equity deal with a subsidiary of the Chinese government’s Bank of China.”

On a somewhat related note, Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, recently floated plans to travel to Ukraine and convince the government to launch an investigation on the Biden family. Giuliani has dropped that idea last week, and yesterday, a Ukranian prosecutor said in an interview that his government has no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens.

[Mediaite]

Trump blames Obama for not warning him about Michael Flynn. Which Obama did.

President Donald Trump wants you to believe that he had no way of knowing about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s shady dealings with Russia before he made him his first national security adviser. In reality, the president is trying to rewrite history.

On Friday, Trump tweeted his lament that nobody warned him about Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general who was dismissed from his job as director of national intelligence by then-President Barack Obama in 2014. After his dismissal, Flynn wasted little time cozying up to the Kremlin, and then spent 2016 as one of Trump’s key campaign surrogates.

“It now seems the General Flynn was under investigation long before was common knowledge,” Trump tweeted. “It would have been impossible for me to know this but, if that was the case, and with me being one of two people who would become president, why was I not told so that I could make a change?”

But news reports indicate otherwise. CNN, citing former Obama administration officials, reported on May 17, 2017, that during a White House meeting days after Trump’s election, Obama told him that “given the importance of the [national security adviser] job, the president through there were better people for it, and that Flynn wasn’t up for the job.” But Trump proceeded with hiring Flynn anyway. Former New Jersey governor and longtime Trump confidant Chris Christie has also said he directly advised Trump against hiring Flynn.

“If I were president-elect of the United States, I wouldn’t let General Flynn into the White House, let alone give him a job,” Christie said in 2017.

Flynn soon illustrated why Obama and Christie had concerns about him. During the presidential transition period, he had phone calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in which he advised Kislyak not to respond to new sanctions the Obama administration placed on Russia for interfering (on Trump’s behalf) in the just-completed presidential election. Not only did Flynn undercut Obama’s foreign policy, but he then lied about it, telling FBI investigators during an interview conducted days after Trump’s inauguration that he and Kislyak did not in fact discuss sanctions.

Flynn’s lies to the FBI prompted officials to warn Trump once again about Flynn. On January 26, 2017, then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates personally informed the White House that Flynn lied to the FBI about his calls with Kislyak, and therefore was at risk of being blackmailed by Russia. But instead of immediately taking action against Flynn, the Trump administration fired Yates three days later, after she refused to implement Trump’s executive order barring people from a number of Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the United States.

Flynn was finally fired on February 13, after it emerged that he had also misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of his phone calls with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition period. He pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in December 2017, agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller, and is still awaiting sentencing.

Trump, however, has repeatedly tried to blame the whole Flynn debacle on Obama.

Beyond the explicit warnings from Obama and Christie, a number of red flags were raised about Flynn, beginning with his unusual paid trip to Moscow for an RT gala in December 2015 — an event in which he infamously sat directly next to Russian President Vladimir Putin — and continuing throughout 2016.

As the Guardian detailed in March 2017, both US and British intelligence officers were troubled about Flynn’s role in the Trump administration, given his dealings with Russia:

US intelligence officials had serious concerns about Michael Flynn’s appointment as the White House national security adviser because of his history of contacts with Moscow and his encounter with a woman who had trusted access to Russian spy agency records, the Guardian has learned.

US and British intelligence officers discussed Flynn’s “worrisome” behaviour well before his appointment last year by Donald Trump, multiple sources have said.

They raised concerns about Flynn’s ties to Russia and his perceived obsession with Iran. They were also anxious about his capacity for “linear thought” and some actions that were regarded as highly unusual for a three-star general.

Trump, who promised during his campaign to thoroughly vet his appointees, ignored all the red flags and decided to make Flynn his national security adviser anyway. But instead of being accountable for that, he’s now again trying to shift blame.

Trump’s tweet comes amid new revelations that his lawyer tried to dissuade Flynn from cooperating with Mueller

Trump’s tweet comes the day after a federal judge unsealed records suggesting that months after Flynn’s firing, the White House took steps to discourage him from fully cooperating with investigators.

In the filing, members of Mueller’s team write that “[t]he defendant informed the government of multiple instances, both before and after his guilty plea, where either he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the Administration or Congress that could’ve affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation.”

The filing doesn’t contain additional information about which members of Congress were involved, but according to the Mueller report, Trump’s then-personal attorney — the Washington Post reports the attorney is John Dowd — left a voicemail for Flynn’s attorney in November 2017 and said, “[I]t wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve gone on to make a deal with … the government.”

Dowd went on to ask Flynn’s attorney for any information they might have had implicating the president, and also seemingly alluded to the possibility of a pardon.

“[I]f… there’s information that implicates the President, then we’ve got a national security issue [so] … we need some kind of heads-up. Just for the sake of protecting all our interests if we can …. [R]emember what we’ve always said about the President and his feelings toward Flynn and, that still remains,” the voicemail said.

The public should learn more about Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak and the voicemail Dowd left for Flynn’s lawyer soon. According to the Post, the judge ordered prosecutors to make public a transcript of both, and they will be posted on a court website by May 31.

While Mueller concluded that Dowd’s voicemail didn’t rise to the level of prosecutable obstruction of justice — he cited the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) guidance that a sitting president cannot be indicted — the new revelations suggest the White House was worried about Flynn might tell investigators, and was taking steps to dissuade him from spilling.

So now, ahead of what could end up being more damaging revelations about his relationship with Flynn, Trump is again trying to distance himself from his former national security adviser, and throwing Obama under the bus in the process.

[Vox]

Trump Loses It on Anonymous Sources Within His Administration: ‘It’s Bullsh*t!’

During a speech to realtors on Friday, President Donald Trump swung at the “fake news” and called “bullshit” on stories about his administration that are based on anonymous sources.

Earlier Friday, the president railed on Twitter against “fraudulent and highly inaccurate coverage of Iran,” all while simultaneously saying it could be a good thing if causes Tehran to become confused. During a part of his speech in which he denied a conflict between him and his advisers on how to deal with Iran, Trump mocked media reports by remarking on how they rely on confidential sources.

“There is no source, the person doesn’t exist, the person’s not alive,” Trump said. “It’s bullshit.”

But Maggie Haberman of The New York Times wasted little time calling out the president:

[Mediaite]

Trump says Mulvaney had ‘no right’ if he cast doubt on infrastructure talks

President Donald Trump expressed frustrations against his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, for questioning the prospects of striking a deal with Democrats on an infrastructure plan, placing doubt on whether Mulvaney actually criticized the plan even though his comments were captured on camera.

In a newly released clip of a Fox News interview airing Sunday, Trump was asked whether he still wants to pursue a large infrastructure plan with Democrats even though Mulvaney threw cold water on the idea.

“Yeah, if Mick Mulvaney said that, then he has no right to say that. He tells me he didn’t say that and he didn’t mean it. He said it’s going to be hard to finance,” the President told “The Next Revolution” host Steve Hilton.

However, despite the President’s claim that Mulvaney hadn’t cast doubts on the plan, he did so on camera last month.

“Is this a real negotiation? I think it remains to be seen,” Mulvaney said at the Milken Institute in Beverly Hills referring to the infrastructure deal, adding, “I think there’s a much better chance of getting NAFTA passed than getting an infrastructure deal passed.”

The comment came as Democrats met with Trump and administration officials at the White House to discuss a potential infrastructure plan. Both parties suggested the meeting went well, but there hasn’t been much news on where the negotiations will go next.

Pressed further during the Fox News interview whether he’d still like to pursue an infrastructure plan with Democrats, Trump said he does want to move forward, but worried about raising taxes.

“I do, but I also think we’re being played by the Democrats a little bit,” he said.
“You know, I think what they want me to do is say, ‘well what we’ll do is raise taxes, and we’ll do this and this and this,’ and then they’ll have a news conference — see, Trump wants to raise taxes. So it’s a little bit of a game.”

[CNN]

Reality

Watch Mick Mulvaney say the thing Trump claimed he never said.

Trump on de Blasio: ‘NYC HATES HIM!’

President Donald Trump on Thursday took a swipe at the newest candidate in the Democratic primary pool: Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow New Yorker.

The New York City mayor announced his presidential bid in a three-minute videoThursday morning, about half of which was dedicated to attacking Trump and presenting de Blasio as the Democrat best positioned to challenge the president’s hold on the White House in 2020.

“I’m a New Yorker. I’ve known Trump’s a bully for a long time. This is not news to me or anyone else here,” de Blasio said. “And I know how to take him on.”

Hours after the mayor’s campaign launched, the president weighed in on de Blasio’s candidacy on Twitter.

“The Dems are getting another beauty to join their group,” Trump wrote. “Bill de Blasio of NYC, considered the worst mayor in the U.S., will supposedly be making an announcement for president today. He is a JOKE, but if you like high taxes & crime, he’s your man. NYC HATES HIM!”

The two New Yorkers’ relationship dates to before the president left the Empire State for Washington. The pair exchanged volleys while both were on the campaign trail in 2016. Trump was seeking the White House that year, while de Blasio was trying to hold on to his seat in City Hall in 2017.

With momentum sagging during his first term in office, de Blasio adopted a campaign strategy based partially on an opportune moment: the rise of Trump. After the president was elected, the mayor pledged to protect the people of New York and resist any moves by the Trump administration to “undermine” his constituents.

De Blasio’s message Thursday echoed this rallying cry, albeit with a more national focus. The mayor detailed efforts to combat climate change, protect families separated at the border and take the Trump administration to court over security funding.

“Donald Trump must be stopped,” de Blasio said. “I’ve beaten him before, and I will beat him again.”

The mayor responded to Trump’s tweet on Thursday less than an hour after it was posted with a link to his campaign site and his own nickname for the president known for belittling his opponents with various monikers.

“NYC has record low crime & record high jobs,” de Blasio wrote. “We’re investing in working families with free Pre-K & guaranteed health care. #ConDon taking advantage of working families is no joke.”

[Politico]

Trump says campaign was ‘conclusively spied on,’ calls it ‘treason’

President Trump on Friday asserted that his 2016 campaign had been “conclusively spied on” by the Obama administration while calling the charge akin to “treason” and demanding jail time for those behind it.

In a tweet, the president said “nothing like this has ever happened” while calling for prison sentences.

“A really bad situation. TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!” he continued.

The president’s tweet comes days after Attorney General William Barrannounced the appointment of a U.S. attorney to review the decisions that led to the establishment of an investigation into Trump’s campaign and Russian election interference.

The attorney general infuriated many Democrats on Capitol Hill earlier this year when he asserted that “spying” on the Trump campaign had occurred in 2016, while declining to take a position on its legality. His choice of language has earned rebukes from former members of the Justice Department including former FBI chief James Comey.

Barr told The Wall Street Journal and Fox News in interviews published Friday that he had received insufficient answers from Justice Department personnel about the reasons why an investigation had been launched into the Trump campaign in the first place.

“Government power was used to spy on American citizens,” Barr told the Journal on Friday. “I can’t imagine any world where we wouldn’t take a look and make sure that was done properly.”

“I’ve been trying to get answers to the questions and I’ve found that a lot of the answers have been inadequate and some of the explanations I’ve gotten don’t hang together, in a sense I have more questions today than when I first started,” Barr added in his interview with Fox.

“People have to find out what the government was doing during that period. If we’re worried about foreign influence, for the very same reason we should be worried about whether government officials abuse their power and put their thumb on the scale.”

[The Hill]

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