New emails show Trump’s unqualified Mar-a-Lago buddies are influencing VA policies

A new batch of emails obtained by Pro Publica show that three members of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort are influencing contract and budget decisions at the Department of Veterans Affairs — despite being completely unqualified to do so.

The emails show that the three Mar-a-Lago members — Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, West Palm Beach physician Bruce Moskowitz and lawyer Marc Sherman — were involved in “some of the agency’s most consequential matters, most notably a multibillion-dollar effort to overhaul electronic health records for millions of veterans,” Pro Publica writes.

According to Pro Publica, the trio reviewed a draft of a $10 billion contract to overhaul the VA’s electronic medical records system, and they were listed among 40 different outside “experts” consulted for the contract despite lacking “any relevant expertise.”

Additionally, the emails show that Moskowitz used his position as an adviser to get the VA to adopt his mobile medical app, even though IT officials at the VA said that the app had serious functionality problems. In fact, one email shows that a VA IT official believed that “some of the code needs to be refactored and even rebuilt” for the app to work properly.

Moskowitz even recruited his son, Aaron Moskowitz, to pitch the benefits of the app during a conference between the VA and Apple CEO Tim Cook. Apple experts similarly pushed back on Moskowitz’s mobile app and said that “the national databases needed to make the app accurate didn’t exist,” Pro Publica writes.

[Raw Story]

Trump Boasts He Knew of Bin Laden Before 9/11 Attacks: ‘I Pointed Him Out in My Book’

President Donald Trump took to Twitter this morning to claim that he called for the capture of late al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden years before the terrorist group’s 9/11 attacks.

“Of course we should have captured Osama bin Laden long before we did. I pointed him out in my book just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center. President Clinton famously missed his shot. We paid Pakistan Billions of Dollars & they never told us he was living there. Fools!” Trump tweeted, after he bashed the U.S. military in an interview on Fox News Sunday for not killing bin Laden sooner.

“We no longer pay Pakistan the $Billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example, Afghanistan being another,” he added. “They were just one of many countries that take from the United States without giving anything in return. That’s ENDING!”

However, the president’s claims that he called for the capture of bin Laden are questionable at best.

In his book The America We Deserve, which Trump referenced as proof that he was onto al-Qaeda before 9/11, but the following passage — the only time bin Laden is mentioned, per Politifact — shows that he did not have a specific intuition about bin Laden, and was instead criticizing America’s erratic policies in the Middle East at the time:

“Instead of one looming crisis hanging over us, we face a bewildering series of smaller crises, flash points, stand offs, and hot spots. We’re not playing the chess game to end all chess games anymore. We’re playing tournament chess – one master against many rivals. One day we’re assured that Iraq is under control, the UN inspectors have done their work, everything’s fine, not to worry. The next day the bombing begins. One day we’re told that a shadowy figure named Osama bin Laden is public enemy number one, and U.S. jet fighters lay waste to his camp in Afghanistan. He escapes back under some rock, and a few news cycles later, it’s on to a new enemy and a new crisis.”

During the early days of his 2016 campaign, Trump repeated the same claim, saying, “Remember that in The America We Deserve, I wrote that book in 2000, I wrote about Osama bin Laden: ‘We’ve got to take him out,’” Trump said during a Dec. 2 rally for his presidential campaign.

Last night, Trump attacked retired admiral William McRaven for not getting to bin Laden sooner.

“Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice?” Trump said to Fox News. “You know, living — think of this — living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan, in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer, but living in Pakistan right next to the military academy. Everybody in Pakistan knew he was there.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Slams Navy SEAL: ‘Wouldn’t It Have Been Nice If We Got Osama Bin Laden a Lot Sooner’

President Donald Trump dismissed criticism from William McRaven on Fox News Sunday, referring to the retired Navy SEAL Admiral as a “Hillary Clinton fan.”

While grilling the president on his anti-press rhetoric, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace brought criticism from McRaven, who oversaw the 2011 raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.

After Wallace listed McRaven’s bonafides, Trump cut in: “Hillary Clinton fan.”

“Special Operations…” Wallace said.

“Excuse me, Hillary Clinton fan,” Trump insisted.

“Who led the operations, commanded the operations that took down Saddam Hussein and that killed Osama bin Laden,” Wallace continued, “says that your sentiment is the greatest threat to democracy in his lifetime.”

“OK, he’s a Hilary Clinton backer and an Obama-backer,” Trump said.

“He was a Navy Seal 37 years,” Wallace shot back.

“Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama Bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice?” Trump asked. “You know, living – think of this – living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer. But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there.”

“You’re not even going to give them credit for taking down Bin Laden?” Wallace asked.

Trump ignored the question in favor to hitting Pakistan: “They took him down but – look, look, there’s news right there, he lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year, which we don’t give them anymore, by the way, I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us.”

[Mediaite]

White House confirms Trump will not visit Arlington cemetery on Veterans Day as rain is expected

The White House on Monday confirmed that President Donald Trump will not visit Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day.

According to Washington Post correspondent Josh Dawsey, the White House announced “a lid” on presidential movements at 10 a.m. ET, meaning the president is not scheduled to leave the White House for the remainder of the day.

Although President Barack Obama visited Arlington National Cemetery for Veterans Day services on several occasions, President Trump has chosen to avoid the remembrance of military deaths at the national cemetery.

Weather.com forecasted a 100 percent chance of rain at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday.

[Raw Story]

Trump cancels WW1 memorial at US cemetery in France due to rain

President Donald Trump could not attend a commemoration in France for U.S. soldiers and marines killed during World War One on Saturday because rain made it impossible to arrange transport, the White House said.

The last minute cancellation prompted widespread criticism on social media and from some officials in Britain and the United States that Trump had “dishonored” U.S. servicemen.

The president was scheduled to pay tribute at a ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, about 85 km (50 miles) east of Paris, with his wife Melania. But light steady rain and a low cloud ceiling prevented his helicopter from traveling to the site.

“(Their attendance) has been canceled due to scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather,” the White House said in a statement, adding that a delegation lead by Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired general, went instead.

The decision prompted a rash of criticism on Twitter, with Nicholas Soames, a Britishmember of parliament who is a grandson of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, saying that Trump was dishonoring U.S. servicemen.

“They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to the Fallen,” Soames wrote on Twitter.

White House officials said the decision was taken due to the weather and cited security concerns in hastily arranging a motorcade. Similar concerns prevented Trump from reaching the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea a year ago when foggy weather prevented his helicopter from landing.

Ben Rhodes, who served as deputy national security adviser for strategic communications under President Barack Obama, said the excuse about the inclement weather did not stand up.

“I helped plan all of President Obama’s trips for 8 years,” he wrote on Twitter. “There is always a rain option. Always.”

Despite the light rain, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a moving ceremony in Compiegne, northeast of Paris, to mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the World War One armistice.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeauattended his own ceremony to pay tribute to Canadian troops killed at Vimy Ridge, on the battlefields of northeastern France.

Others compared Trump’s memorial snub to the National Football League’s kneeling protests.

Around 70 leaders, including Trump, are scheduled to gather at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Sunday morning to mark the commemoration of the centenary of the end of the war, when some 10 million soldiers were killed during four years of grinding conflict.

It was not clear what Trump decided to do instead of attending the cemetery. The White House said he was at the residence of the U.S. ambassador in Paris. During that time he sent a tweet wishing a “Happy 243rd Birthday” to the U.S. Marine Corps.

The president is scheduled to take part in a ceremony at the Suresnes American Cemetery to the west of Paris on Sunday afternoon, when he is expected to make formal remarks.

[CNBC]

Donald Trump Says He’s Too ‘Busy’ to Visit U.S. Troops Overseas but Has Played Golf Almost 70 Times

President Donald Trump said during an interview with the Associated Press Wednesday that he has yet to pay a visit to United States troops overseas because he has been “very busy with everything that’s taking place here.” Trump’s comments about being too busy come despite him receiving regular criticism for the number of times he has taken to the golf course during his presidency—68 times by the latest count.

President Barack Obama, with whom the current president has sought to constantly compare himself, visited troops in Iraq within three months of taking office in 2009, as he did as a senator and candidate for the presidency the year before. Trump, though, asked why he had not yet made a trip to visit troops, said it was not a particularly important part of his job.

“Well, I will do that at some point, but I don’t think it’s overly necessary,” Trump said. “I’ve been very busy with everything that’s taking place here. We have the greatest economy in the history of our country. I mean, this is the greatest economy we’ve ever had, best unemployment numbers. Many groups are, you know, we’ve never even been close to these numbers. I’m doing a lot of things. I’m doing a lot of things. But it’s something I’d do. And do gladly.

Trump continued, repeating an often-made claim: “Nobody has been better at the military.” Earlier this year, Trump signed a $717 billion defense bill, which while representing an increase on the previous year, is not a record as Trump has claimed.

Some veterans have been less than impressed with Trump’s stance on visiting troops risking their lives overseas.

“Veterans aren’t surprised Trump has no interest in going to war, after he used his wealth and elite connections to avoid the draft five times while working class people went in his place,” Alexander McCoy, a former U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant and spokesperson for progressive veterans group Common Defense, told the New York Daily News.

Trump has found plenty of time for golfing as well as spending time at his own properties.

In July, liberal-leaning group VoteVets directly targeted this apparent hypocrisy.

“Trump has spent 123 days golfing, or 1/5 of his term, at a cost to taxpayers of $72,181,957 – and still hasn’t visited troops in a war zone,” the group tweeted, although the financial cost to taxpayers was later found to be misleading.

Trump’s frequent golfing has come despite him regularly criticizing his predecessor Obama for playing the sport during his time in office. However, analysis has shown that Obama played golf significantly fewer times than Trump.

[Newsweek]

Donald Trump’s response to Meghan McCain’s eulogy for her dad is a MAGA tweet

Perhaps the most biting part of Meghan McCain’s eulogy for her father Sen. John McCain during Saturday’s memorial was when she went straight for President Trump’s slogan.

“The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great,” she said as part of a speech that routinely took jabs at Trump.

People in the room clapped and social media erupted. You can read her entire speech.

Meghan gave one of several eulogies in McCain’s honor Saturday when a who’s who of Washington and the world gathered at the National Cathedral for his memorial service.

President Trump was not invited and decided instead to spend time at the Trump National Golf Club in Loudoun County, Virginia, amid a morning of tweets criticizing the Department of Justice and the FBI and threatening Canada.

Hours later, though, Trump seemingly responded on Twitter with a signature-style message to “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Reviews of his response were mixed.

[USA Today]

Trump decided against White House statement praising McCain

President Trump decided against releasing an official White House statement on Sen. John McCain following his death, two administration sources confirmed to Fox News.

The statement would have praised him for his decades of service and his heroism as a Vietnam War POW. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and other senior aides all had pushed for such a statement, which would have called McCain a “hero.”

The president, however, rejected the statement and instead issued a brief tweet Saturday night following the legendary Arizona Republican senator’s death.

The tweet said, “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!”

The decision on the statement was first reported by The Washington Post.

Trump’s decision speaks to the longstanding feud between the two men, dating back to when Trump, as a candidate, said McCain was not a war hero and seemed to fault him for being captured during the Vietnam War. McCain endured five years in captivity, an experience that later shaped his views, as a senator, on interrogation techniques. Known as the Senate’s “maverick,” McCain often bucked party ideology, earning him praise on Democratic side of the aisle and sometimes criticism from his own party – but he remained an influential voice even through his battle with brain cancer. He twice ran for president and was the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2008.

Tributes to McCain, meanwhile, poured in from other world leaders and statesmen including former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

“Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own,” Barack and Michelle Obama said in their statement.

“In an era filled with cynicism about national unity and public service, John McCain’s life shone as a bright example. He showed us that boundless patriotism and self-sacrifice are not outdated concepts or clichés, but the building blocks of an extraordinary American life,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement.

McConnell also announced that McCain will lie in State at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

[Fox News]

Trump got into a bizarre fight with Vietnam vets over the movie ‘Apocalypse Now’

A new report from the Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng claims that President Donald Trump got into a bizarre argument last year during a meeting with Vietnam veterans over the classic war movie “Apocalypse Now.”

According to Suebsaeng’s sources, the meeting between Trump and several Vietnam veterans was arranged by estranged former aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman, who at the time served as a liaison between the president and veterans’ organizations.

During the meeting, a dispute broke out over whether Robert Duvall’s character in “Apocalypse Now” used napalm or Agent Orange against Vietcong forces. Apparently, Trump falsely believed that it was Agent Orange that U.S. forces used against the enemy, despite the fact that the movie’s single most famous line is Duvall’s character saying, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

“Multiple people — including Vietnam War veterans — chimed in to inform the president that the Apocalypse Now set piece he was talking about showcased the U.S. military using napalm, not Agent Orange,” Suebsaeng reports. “Trump refused to accept that he was mistaken and proceeded to say things like, ‘no, I think it’s that stuff from that movie.’”

One veteran who was present at the meeting described it to Suebsaeng as “really f*cking weird.”

[Raw Story]

Army discharging some immigrant recruits

The U.S. Army has begun quietly discharging some immigrant members, a move that could put those member’s immigration status at risk, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

Immigration attorneys told the AP that they knew of more than 40 immigrant recruits and reservists who had been discharged from their service or whose status is now at question.

Some of the military members told the AP that they did not know why they were discharged. Others said they were told they were labeled a “security risk” because of relatives abroad and or because their background checks were incomplete.

Spokespeople for the Pentagon and the Army told the news outlet that they could not comment on the discharges or say if there have been any policy changes due to pending litigation.

The Defense Department told the AP in a statement that “[a]ll service members (i.e. contracted recruits, active duty, Guard and Reserve) and those with an honorable discharge are protected from deportation.”

The immigration attorneys told the AP that many of the immigrants received an “uncharacterized discharge,” putting into question their ability to remain in the U.S.

Immigrant military members can obtain citizenship if they receive an honorable discharge. The AP reported that basic training has been delayed for discharged immigrant soldiers, which means they can’t become naturalized citizens.

Recruits must have legal status in the U.S. before enlisting in the Army. About 10,000 immigrants are currently serving in the military, with most going to the Army, according to the outlet.

The reports comes amid a Trump administration crackdown on immigration, including a “zero tolerance” policy mandating that all undocumented immigrants caught at the border face prosecution.

[The Hill]

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