Trump makes baseless claim about man, 75, shoved by police: ‘Could be a set-up?’

Donald Trump has claimed a 75-year-old man who was hospitalized when police shoved him to the ground at a protest in Buffalo could be “an antifa provocateur” and suggested the incident “could be a set-up”.

Two Buffalo police officers were charged with assault after video showed them pushing Martin Gugino, a slightly built septuagenarian and longtime peace activist, with enough force that he violently struck his head on the sidewalk.

The New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, responded to Trump’s claims, which were offered without evidence, on Tuesday, describing the president’s behavior as “cruel and reckless”.

“The man is still in the hospital & the president is disparaging him,” Cuomo said.

The incident has been held up as an example of aggressive policing at George Floyd protests across the country and has triggered outrage across the US and overseas.

Trump, however, claimed – without offering any evidence – that Gugino may have been attempting to infiltrate police scanners. The president also seemed to suggest Gugino had exaggerated the force used by police.

“Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur,” Trump said on Twitter.

“75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?”

Gugino’s attorney, Kelly Zarcone, told WBFO News on Tuesday that the 75-year-old has been taken out of intensive care but is “still hospitalized and truly needs rest”.

“Martin has always been a peaceful protester because he cares about today’s society,” Zarcone said.

“We are at a loss to understand why the president of the United States would make such dark, dangerous and untrue accusations against him.”

Trump tagged One America News Network, a far-right conservative news network, in the tweet. Shortly before Trump’s post, OANN ran a segment which made near identical claims to Trump.

OANN, which has spread multiple conspiracy theories, cited the Conservative Treehouse, a conspiracy theory website, as its source.

The Conservative Treehouse, which is among the news sites listed in FactCheck.org’s “misinformation directory”claimed over the weekend that Gugino “was attempting to capture the radio communications signature” when he was shoved to the ground by the police.

During the 2016 presidential election the Conservative Treehouse peddled the conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton might have cancer. It has also spread conspiracy theories about student David Hogg, who survived the Parkland school shooting and has become a prominent gun control activist.

“The president is tweeting conspiracy theories about the Buffalo incident based on no evidence, no proof,” Cuomo said.

“Was the blood coming out of his head staged? Were our eyes lying to us? No.”

Cuomo added: “It’s cruel and reckless.”

The two Buffalo officers who pushed Gugino were charged with second-degree assault. All 57 members of Buffalo police’s emergency response team resigned from the team in an apparent show of support for their two colleagues.

Trump announced he would designate antifa – the term stands for anti-fascist – as a terrorist group at the end of May. Experts said the proposal is unworkable, and have said there is no actual antifa organization to be defined in such terms.

In reality, antifa relates to a broad spectrum of leftwing groups which are opposed to fascism and the far right.

Trump has often embraced conspiracy theories, most notoriously his pushing of “birtherism” – the completely false and racist theory that former president Barack Obama was not born in the US.

[The Guardian]

The Guardian]

Trump retweeted an attack on George Floyd’s character by Glenn Beck and Candace Owens

President Donald Trump retweeted a message in which conservative provocateur Candace Owens attacked the character of George Floyd, whose death in police custody has spurred widespread anti-racism protests. 

In the message shared by the president, conservative radio host Glenn Beck interviews Owens about Floyd’s death, alongside the message: “I don’t care WHAT George Floyd did. The officer should have never treated him like that and killed him! But we still must ask: Is he a HERO? BLEXIT founder @RealCandaceO gave her thoughts: ‘The fact that he has been held up as a martyr sickens me.'”

“This is a guy with a very long record and a very long criminal record,” Beck said.

Owens describes Floyd as a symbol of the “broken culture in black America today” and asserted that “he was not a good person.” 

Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, after a police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes. 

Friends, family, former teachers, and colleagues praised him after his death as a “gentle giant,” who moved to Minneapolis to turn his life around after a stint in prison. 

“Knowing my brother is to love my brother,” Philonise Floyd, George’s brother, told CNN.“He’s a gentle giant. He don’t hurt anybody.”

Christopher Harris, a close friend of Floyd, told The Guardian, “he was looking to start over fresh, a new beginning,” Harris said. “He was happy with the change he was making.”

Video of the footage, in which Floyd can be heard saying “I can’t breathe,” has spread across the internet, spurring the most widespread popular protests in the US for a generation. 

Trump is facing mounting opposition for his response to the unrest. Instead of seeking to unify the country, say critics, the president has sought to portray the protests as instigated by left-wing extremists, and has demanded that authorities “dominate” the protests. 

The president has condemned the police actions that led to Floyd’s death in remarks Friday, saying,”Equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement regardless of race, color, gender or creed.

But the president was also accused of disrespecting Floyd’s memory when he claimed that Floyd was “looking down” and rejoicing in “this great day” over better than expected employment figures.

Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, described Trump’s remark as “despicable. 

“George Floyd’s last words, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ echoed all across this nation and quite frankly around the world,” said Biden.

“For the president to try to put any other words in the mouth of George Floyd, I frankly think is despicable.”

[Business Insider]

Trump says voting by mail will ‘lead to the end’ of the Republican Party

On Thursday evening, in an all-caps tweet, President Donald Trump once again attacked early voting — this time going so far to say that it could “lead to the end of our great Republican Party.”

Contrary to Trump’s claim, studies have shown that voting by mail does not actually benefit one party over the other.

Indeed, some solidly Republican states, like Utah, make extensive use of mail-in ballots, as do some swing states Republicans frequently win like Florida — where the president himself cast a mail-in ballot.

[Raw Story]

Donald Trump signs executive order targeting social media companies

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Thursday targeting tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google and the pivotal internet law that provides them broad legal immunity over content posted by their users.

“We’re fed up with it,” Trump said in the Oval Office Thursday before signing the order, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The official executive order has not been released, but a draft order circulated earlier this week sought to pare back platform liability protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Under Section 230, internet companies have broad immunity from liability for the content their users post on their platforms. The draft order would open the door for the Commerce Department and the Federal Communications Commission to reinterpret the law and allow the Federal Trade Commission to create a tool for users to report bias online.

“That’s a big deal. They have a shield. They can do what they want,” Trump said Thursday. “They’re not going to have that shield.”

Trump announced his plans to sign this executive order after Twitter fact-checked two of his tweets for the first time earlier this week. The tweets made false and misleading claims about mail-in voting and voter fraud, and Twitter labeled them with a link leading users to additional reporting about the issue.

Trump is attacking a Twitter employee over the company’s decision to fact-check him because the employee criticized Trump in past tweets

President Donald Trump slammed a Twitter employee Thursday who was critical of Trump in past tweets, calling the employee a “hater” and tagging his twitter handle.

Trump has reacted strongly this week to Twitter’s decision to add fact-checking labels to some of his tweets for the first time, and has accused Twitter and other tech companies, again and without evidence, of anti-conservative bias.

On Wednesday, Trump allies and advisers started directing their ire at Twitter’s head of site integrity, Yoel Roth, who has tweeted harsh criticism of Trump in the past.

Roth’s old tweets from 2016 and 2017 were resurfaced and shared widely on Wednesday, including a tweet calling Trump a “racist tangerine,” a tweet decrying “ACTUAL NAZIS IN THE WHITE HOUSE,” and a tweet describing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as “a personality-free bag of farts.”

A Twitter spokesperson told Business Insider Wednesday that Roth is part of the team overseen by VP for trust and safety Del Harvey that recommends whether to label tweets that contain misinformation, but added that the decision to label tweets is ultimately made by “leadership” following recommendations from the trust and safety team.

On Wednesday night, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey stood by the decision to correct Trump’s false claims about voting.

“Fact check: there is someone ultimately accountable for our actions as a company, and that’s me,” Dorsey posted. “Please leave our employees out of this. We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally.”

“Per our Civic Integrity policy (https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/election-integrity-policy), the tweets yesterday may mislead people into thinking they don’t need to register to get a ballot (only registered voters receive ballots),” Dorsey continued. “We’re updating the link on @realDonaldTrump’s tweet to make this more clear.”

Trump advisers are presenting Roth’s tweets as evidence of alleged anti-conservative bias across Twitter and other tech companies. Donald Trump Jr. slammed Roth on Twitter after Breitbart reported on his past tweets. On Fox News Wednesday morning, senior adviser Kellyanne Conway called Roth “horrible” and read his Twitter handle out loud on air.

“Somebody in San Francisco go wake him up and tell him he’s about to get a lot more followers,” Conway said on “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday.

The jabs at Roth are part of the Trump world’s broader backlash to Twitter’s decision to add fact-checking labels to Trump’s tweets that claimed without evidence that vote by mail is being used by Democrats to commit voter fraud. The tweets now include a disclaimer reading “get the facts” with a link to independent fact-checkers who debunk Trump’s claim.

This is the first time Twitter has taken action to mediate Trump’s false or misleading statements on the platform. Twitter has been upbraided by Trump critics over the years who say the platform enables Trump to spread falsehoods despite its policies against misinformation.

Trump lashed out at Twitter in response to the labels early Wednesday, threatening to shut down or “strongly regulate” social-media platforms that he claims are unfair to conservatives.

[Business Insider]

Trump Steps Up Attacks on Mail Vote, Making False Claims About Fraud

President Trump on Wednesday escalated his assault against mail voting, falsely claiming that Michigan and Nevada were engaged in voter fraud and had acted illegally, and threatening to withhold federal funds to those states if they proceed in expanding vote-by-mail efforts.

The president inaccurately accused the two states of sending mail ballots to its residents. In fact, the secretaries of state in Michigan and Nevada sent applications for mail ballots, as election officials have done in other states, including those led by Republicans.

The Twitter posts were the latest in a series of broadsides the president has aimed at a process that has become the primary vehicle for casting ballots in an electoral system transformed by the coronavirus pandemic.

As most states largely abandon in-person voting because of health concerns, Mr. Trump, along with many of his Republican allies, have launched a series of false attacks to demonize mail voting as fraught with fraud and delivering an inherent advantage to Democratic candidates — despite there being scant evidence for either claim.

“Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election,” the president tweeted Wednesday morning. “This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”

An hour later he made a similar threat against Nevada, saying the state had created “a great Voter Fraud scenario” and adding “If they do, ‘I think’ I can hold up funds to the State.”

Mr. Trump’s outbursts come as the White House and his re-election campaign are confronting polls showing the president trailing his Democratic rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., both nationally and in key swing states.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment or elaboration.Mr. Trump has often made threats about cutting off funding to states but has not always followed through. He has threatened in the past to withhold federal funds to sanctuary cities. Last month, he said he wanted Democratic states to give him “sanctuary-city adjustments” in exchange for federal financial relief. He has not yet followed through on the threat.

Michigan’s secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, quickly clarified on Wednesday that the state is not mailing ballots to all Michigan voters. On Wednesday she began mailing ballot applications to all registered voters.

“I was notified about the tweet this morning and it caught me off guard because it of course was inaccurate,” Ms. Benson, a Democrat, said in an interview. “It is nothing different from my Republican colleagues in other states are doing. It boggles my mind, that this, which is completely within my authority, would in any way be seen as controversial.”

Ms. Benson said she has already spent $4.5 million in federal CARES Act funding to mail voters ballot applications, which are also available online. She had previously sent absentee ballot applications to all voters for the state’s local elections on May 5.

Michigan voters who apply for absentee ballots for the August statewide primary for House and Senate races may also opt in to receive ballots for the November general election.

The president’s attack on Nevada is particularly confounding, given that the state’s effort to switch to a nearly-all-mail election was made by Secretary of State Barbara K. Cegavske, a Republican. Democrats have sued Ms. Cegavske to block her effort to close nearly all of the state’s in-person polling places for the June 9 primary and mail ballots to all registered voters.

“If it has not become apparent yet, Donald Trump makes stuff up,” said Marc Elias, the Democratic elections lawyer who is suing Ms. Cegavske to require more in-person polling places to remain open. “So I don’t think he has a particular objection other than someone has told him that he is losing in Michigan and in Nevada so today he decided to tweet about Michigan and Nevada.”

Ms. Cegavske’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

The president is scheduled to visit a Ford Motor plant that is manufacturing ventilators in Ypsilanti, Mich., on Thursday. This is his first trip to the state since January, and comes at a time when his campaign advisers are increasingly concerned about his chances there. Mr. Trump’s tweets a day ahead of the trip were seen as unhelpful to boosting his political standing in a critical state, and his political opponents immediately pounced on it.

Georgia’s Republican secretary of state and municipal officials in Milwaukee have also said they will send vote-by-mail applications to registered voters in hopes of easing stress on in-person voting locations. In Wisconsin, the state’s bipartisan election commission is meeting Wednesday to decide whether to mail ballot application forms to all registered voters and more than 200,000 people who are eligible to vote but not registered.

Some state Republican parties have been actively encouraging their supporters to vote by mail. In Pennsylvania, another state that recently passed a law to move to no-excuse vote by mail, the state Republican Party has set up an online portal that helps voters understand the new law.

Many states, including Michigan and Wisconsin, also allow voters to make online requests to have absentee ballots mailed to them.

The president himself, along with the first lady, Melania Trump, voted by mail in Florida’s presidential primary in March.

Mr. Trump has long falsely asserted that absentee voting and vote by mail is rife with fraud, applying that argument into his constant complaints of “rigged elections” when he or his supported candidates are losing.

He has been casting doubts on mail voting since his first run for the presidency in 2016. During a rally in Colorado — one of the five states in the country that votes completely by mail — Mr. Trump implied without evidence that it was easy to vote twice.

Recently, Mr. Trump has been lashing out at both vote by mail and absentee voting, at first raising his allegations in April in a tweet and later decrying a decision in California to mail ballots to every voter for November as a “scam.” But the president has also been inconsistent on the issue: on the same day that he criticized the decision in California, he encouraged voters to mail in their ballots for a local congressional race.

Election experts noted that the process Mr. Trump criticized was actually a protective measure against voter fraud.

“A ballot application is returned to state officials who ensure that the information on it is accurate and the person applying for a ballot is entitled to get it,” said Richard L. Hasen, a professor at University of California, Irvine, who specializes in election law. “So it’s a safeguard.”

Mr. Hasen said that the broadsides from Mr. Trump follow a pattern of lashing out against expanding access to voting, even as there remains no evidence to support his claims.

“Trump seems to think that anything that makes it easier for people to vote is going to hurt him,” Mr. Hasen said, “and he’s consistently expressed the view that anything that makes it easier to vote leads to voter fraud when there is absolutely no evidence to support that claim.”

Though Mr. Trump did not specify which funds he was threatening to withhold from states during a pandemic, election officials and Democrats in Congress have been clamoring for more money to help hold the November elections safely.

But the money that has already been appropriated through the Help America Vote Act and the CARES Act is already “out the door” and on the way to states, according to election officials; there is no way for Mr. Trump or his administration to hold up those funds.

Mr. Elias, the elections lawyer, said Mr. Trump could seek to withhold other funds but predicted such a move would be invalidated by the courts.

“The president does not have authority to withhold funding to a state based on the idea that people in the state may vote,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s attacks on mail voting have come largely in states with little history of large numbers of people casting absentee ballots, like Wisconsin. But he has not addressed mail voting in states where it has long been popular, such as Florida and Arizona, and often used to great success by Republican campaigns. Nor has Mr. Trump denigrated mail voting in the five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — that conduct elections entirely by mail.

[The New York Times]

Trump demands Obama be made to testify in the Senate

For the past few days, President Trump has been talking nonstop about something he has termed “OBAMAGATE” — a largely incoherent conspiracy theory that positions former President Obama as the mastermind behind a conspiracy to use federal law enforcement to undermine Trump’s campaign and presidency.

It is, in effect, the new birtherism: an unfounded campaign against the legitimacy of America’s first black president that Trump is trying to exploit to rally the political faithful.

This morning, Trump seriously escalated his campaign against Obama, tweeting at one of his most reliable supporters in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, to force Obama to testify before Congress about this allegedly dastardly plot.

The specific wording of the tweet — “Do it… just do it” — is striking; the request sounds like a childish dare, as if Trump were daring Graham to shave his head during a late-night Zoom call. But the absurdity of the language shouldn’t distract from the nefariousness of the request.

The president of the United States is labeling a fringe right-wing conspiracy theory “the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR.” He’s also more or less ordering a particularly compliant senator — who happens to chair the Judiciary Committee — to use the powers of the Senate to treat one of his predecessors as a potential criminal suspect or witness on the basis of this conspiracy theory.

Throughout Trump’s presidency, he has consistently treated the investigatory and law enforcement powers of the US government as tools to be deployed for purely political reasons. During the coronavirus crisis, when his presidency is once again in mortal danger, he has stepped on the gas on this kind of abuse of power — the Justice Department has dropped charges against Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty,and Trump now seems to be trying to get them to treat Obama like a criminal.

In democracies, presidents are not supposed to use law enforcement agencies as shields for their crooked political allies and swords against their political enemies. The threat that Trump poses to the rule of law, and the basic principles of a free society, has never been clearer.

[Vox]

Update

Graham denied Trump’s request.

Trump refuses to say what crime he is accusing Obama of committing

President Trump repeatedly declined at a press briefing to specify what crime he accused former President Obama of committing in a series of tweets over the weekend and Monday morning, telling reporters: “You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody.”

Why it matters: In the wake of the Justice Department’s decision to drop charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Trump has sent hundreds of tweets and retweets of conservative media — many of which use the phrase “Obamagate” — that allege the Russia investigation was a political hit job directed by the former president.

  • Trump called it the “biggest political crime in American history, by far!” on Sunday and tweeted that “OBAMAGATE makes Watergate look small time” on Monday morning.
  • He also responded to an article from The Federalist on Monday that asked why Obama allegedly told the FBI under James Comey to withhold intelligence from the incoming Trump administration: “Because it was OBAMAGATE, and he and Sleepy Joe led the charge. The most corrupt administration in U.S. history!”

What they’re saying: Trump told reporters on Monday: “Obamagate, it’s been going on for a long time. … Some terrible things happened, and it should never be allowed to happen in our country again. And you’ll be seeing what’s going on over the coming weeks.”

[Axios]

A Trump Insider Embeds Climate Denial in Scientific Research

An official at the Interior Department embarked on a campaign that has inserted misleading language about climate change — including debunked claims that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is beneficial — into the agency’s scientific reports, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times.

The misleading language appears in at least nine reports, including environmental studies and impact statements on major watersheds in the American West that could be used to justify allocating increasingly scarce water to farmers at the expense of wildlife conservation and fisheries.

The effort was led by Indur M. Goklany, a longtime Interior Department employee who, in 2017 near the start of the Trump administration, was promoted to the office of the deputy secretary with responsibility for reviewing the agency’s climate policies. The Interior Department’s scientific work is the basis for critical decisions about water and mineral rights affecting millions of Americans and hundreds of millions of acres of land.

The wording, known internally as the “Goks uncertainty language” based on Mr. Goklany’s nickname, inaccurately claims that there is a lack of consensus among scientists that the earth is warming. In Interior Department emails to scientists, Mr. Goklany pushed misleading interpretations of climate science, saying it “may be overestimating the rate of global warming, for whatever reason;” climate modeling has largely predicted global warming accurately. The final language states inaccurately that some studies have found the earth to be warming, while others have not.

He also instructed department scientists to add that rising carbon dioxide — the main force driving global warming — is beneficial because it “may increase plant water use efficiency” and “lengthen the agricultural growing season.” Both assertions misrepresent the scientific consensus that, overall, climate change will result in severe disruptions to global agriculture and significant reductions in crop yields.

Samuel Myers, a principal research scientist at Harvard University’s Center for the Environment who has studied the effects of climate change on nutrition, said the language “takes very specific and isolated pieces of science, and tries to expand it in an extraordinarily misleading fashion.”

The Interior Department’s emails, dating from 2017 through last year and obtained under public-records laws by the watchdog group Energy and Policy Institute, provide the latest evidence of the Trump administration’s widespread attacks on government scientific work. The administration has halted or scaled back numerous research projects since taking office, including an Obama-era initiative to fight disease outbreaks around the world — a decision that has drawn criticism in recent weeks as a deadly coronavirus has spread globally.

[The New York Times]

Trump endorses far-right conspiracy theorist who lied about Ilhan Omar “partying” on 9/11

Terrence Williams is a pro-Trump social media personality known for pushing wackjob conspiracy theories, such as a fact-free attempt to link the Clintons to Jeffrey Epstein’s death and falsely claiming Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar partied on 9/11.

He was recently alerted by Facebook his page was at risk for being unpublished for pushing misinformation.

Donald Trump tweeted his support for Terrence because… of course he did.

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