Trump: ‘Unfair’ coverage should be tested in courts

President Trump early Sunday ripped “one sided” and “unfair” media coverage, saying it should be tested in courts.

“A REAL scandal is the one sided coverage, hour by hour, of networks like NBC & Democrat spin machines like Saturday Night Live,” he tweeted.

“It is all nothing less than unfair news coverage and Dem commercials. Should be tested in courts, can’t be legal? Only defame & belittle! Collusion?”

Trump posted the tweet after NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” pondered a world in which the president was not elected in its latest cold open.

The president also knocked the sketch comedy show after its season premiere earlier this year, saying it was “just a political ad for the Dems.”

Trump often labels negative coverage “fake news” and calls the media the “enemy of the people.”

In October, he blamed what he deemed unfair media coverage for causing “great anger” in the country.

The president said in a pair of tweets following a violent week of mail bombs and a shooting that killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue that the “Fake News Media” is “the true Enemy of the People.”

“There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly,” Trump wrote.

“That will do much to put out the flame of Anger and Outrage and we will then be able to bring all sides together in Peace and Harmony,” he added.

Trump in September repeated his suggestion that NBC’s “license” should be challenged. In a tweet, he attacked the network’s “journalistic standards” following reports that it had passed on a damning exposé about Harvey Weinstein.

“NBC FAKE NEWS, which is under intense scrutiny over their killing the Harvey Weinstein story, is now fumbling around making excuses for their probably highly unethical conduct,” the president wrote.

“I have long criticized NBC and their journalistic standards-worse than even CNN. Look at their license?” he added.

Broadcasting licenses are granted to individual stations instead of networks like NBC,  however.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai repeatedly said last year that the FCC would not revoke those licenses on the basis of a station’s content.

Satire is also protected by the First Amendment.

[The Hill]

Trump let Ryan Zinke keep his job until after he threw Christmas party for lobbyists

President Donald Trump reportedly wanted outgoing-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke fired weeks ago but the White House allowed him to keep his job until after he threw a Christmas bash at his office for lobbyists and cronies.

According to a report in the Washington Post, the White House put some of the blame for the midterm election debacle, that saw the Democrats seize control of the House, on Zinke’s scandal problems.

The reports states, “Administration officials concluded weeks ago that Zinke was the Cabinet member most vulnerable to congressional investigations once Democrats took control of Congress in January. “

The White House reportedly gave Zinke the opportunity to resign or be fired, and Josh Dawsey at the Post said Zinke managed to convince them to let him last out until almost the end of the year, allowing him to throw a holiday party.

“The secretary’s final public appearance was Thursday night at his Christmas party, which he told White House staffers he wanted to have before his dismissal. He invited lobbyists and conservative activists to his executive suite, where he posed for photos in front of a large stuffed polar bear wearing a Santa cap, according to an attendee,” reports the Post.

You can read the whole report here.

[Raw Story]

Trump and Rudy Giuliani tweeting bogus claims about missing texts from ex-FBI agents Strzok and Page

President Donald Trump tweeted out a blatantly false claim intended to undermine the federal investigation of his campaign ties to Russia.

The president and his attorney Rudy Giuliani each passed along bogus claims that 19,000 texts between two former FBI officials had been destroyed by investigators — which contradicted new findings by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

“How can Mueller’s gang get away with erasing over 19,000 texts of Trump haters Stroyk and Page?” Giuliani tweeted early Saturday, misspelling former FBI agent Peter Strzok’s last name. “They say it was DOJ policy to destroy evidence? I guess Mueller’s angry Democrats fall under the Hillary exception to obstruction of justice. She erased over 30,000 emails.”

Giuliani continued tweeting misleading claims about the story, citing conservative media reports, throughout Saturday morning, and then Trump chimed in.

“Wow, 19,000 Texts between Lisa Page and her lover, Peter S of the FBI, in charge of the Russia Hoax, were just reported as being wiped clean and gone,” Trump tweeted, taking a pass on spelling out Strzok’s name. “Such a big story that will never be covered by the Fake News. Witch Hunt!”

[Raw Story]

Trump Dances On The Grave Of The Weekly Standard

President Donald Trump celebrated the closing of the Weekly Standard Saturday, a conservative outlet which often published harsh pieces about the President and his administration.

[Talking Points Memo]

Trump Says Media Is Ignoring the “REAL Story on Russia”

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York continue racking up convictions and guilty pleas in the ever-widening scandals connected to Donald Trump, the president is lashing out—at Hillary Clinton, at the Democratic National Committee, and, of course, at the media. Just hours after announcing the departure of his scandal-plagued Interior secretary Saturday, Trump tweeted that “never in history” had the US press been “more dishonest than it is today.”

“Stories that should be good, are bad,” Trump complained. “Stories that should be bad, are horrible.”

[Mother Jones]

Trump Goes Off on Rant, Claims He’s the Only Reason Dems Are Opposed to Wall: ‘Absolute Hypocrites’

President Donald Trump bashed Democrats Thursday night — arguing that their personal animus against him is the only reason for their opposition to a Southern border wall.

In a wild video rant posted to Twitter, the president railed against the Left — accusing them of being disingenuous in their stance on the wall.

“The Democrats are absolute hypocrites!” Trump said. “All along, they’ve been supporting walls and supporting fences, and supporting all sorts of border security.

The video then cut to old clips of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former President Barack Obama making various statements against illegal immigration. None has ever voiced support for a Southern border wall anywhere near the scale Trump has proposed — although Clinton came the closest by saying she has previously backed construction of a “barrier.”

Trump, however, regards Democrats as flip-flopping on the issue. And the reason for their supposed 180? Him.

“The fact is they’ve always supported fences, and walls, and partitions,” Trump said. “But you know what? They only don’t want to do it because of me. They have to put the people ahead of politics.”

[Mediaite]

Media

Trump Attacks ‘Crazed’ Mika Brzezinski for ‘Butt Boy’ Comment About Pompeo

President Donald Trump went after MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski this afternoon for the comment she made yesterday calling Sec. Mike Pompeo a “wannabe dictator’s butt boy.”

She made the comment after Pompeo’s remarks on Fox News about Saudi Arabia and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Brzezinski later acknowledged that the comment was homophobic and apologized, saying she should have said something like “water boy,” and was absent from Morning Joe Thursday because of a pre-planned day off.

She got a lot of flak for those comments, including from U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell:

Well, now President Trump has weighed in, saying if Brzezinski was conservative she’d be banned from TV immediately:

[Mediaite]

Trump claims Flynn got ‘great deal’ because prosecutors ’embarrassed’

President Trump on Thursday again slammed special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation as a “witch hunt” and claimed that prosecutors gave his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, “a great deal” because they felt badly about how he had been treated.

“They gave General Flynn a great deal because they were embarrassed by the way he was treated – the FBI said he didn’t lie and they overrode the FBI,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “They want to scare everybody into making up stories that are not true by catching them in the smallest of misstatements. Sad!”

Flynn, who served a brief stint as Trump’s national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. last December and agreed to cooperate in Mueller’s investigation.

Mueller has described Flynn’s cooperation as valuable. Earlier this week, Flynn asked a federal judge to spare him from prison time and instead sentence him to at most one year probation.

In a memo filed in federal court late Tuesday, Flynn’s defense attorneys also suggested that he had been duped by FBI agents who handled his interview, playing into a theory among conservatives that Flynn had been wrongly led to commit a federal crime.

Mueller has recommended Flynn serve no jail time, citing his “substantial assistance” in the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Flynn, who served on the Trump campaign before moving to the White House, is said to have offered the special counsel valuable details about contacts between the campaign and Russia as well as information related to other unknown matters under investigation.

Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced in D.C. federal court on Dec. 18.

Late Wednesday, the judge overseeing his case, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, asked both Flynn and Mueller to turn over additional materials related to Flynn’s January 2017 interview with the FBI in which he later admitted he lied about his Russia contacts.

It is possible but unclear whether the developments could delay Flynn’s sentencing.

Asked later Thursday whether he thought the FBI had acted inappropriately in the case, Trump said it was “a great thing” that the judge was assessing the matter.

“The FBI said Michael Flynn… didn’t lie. And Mueller said, well, maybe he did,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with recently elected governors. “But now they are all having a big dispute. So I think it is a great thing that the judge is looking into that situation.”

A report released by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee earlier this year said top FBI officials testified that the agents who interviewed Flynn in January 2017 did not see outward indications, such as changes in his posture or tone, that indicated he knew he was lying. Flynn has admitted to lying to the FBI agents about his discussions with Kislyak regarding sanctions on Russia among other topics.

One of the agents who interviewed Flynn was Peter Strzok, a former FBI official who has attracted intense scrutiny from Republican lawmakers as a result of text messages he sent before the election in which he expressed criticisms of then-candidate Trump. While conservatives have seized on the messages as evidence of bias at the FBI in the early days of the counterintelligence probe into Russian interference, the Justice Department inspector general has found no evidence that political bias influenced the bureau’s decisions.

[The Hill]

Trump Pushes Back: ‘I Never Directed Michael Cohen to Break the Law’

President Donald Trump is addressing the recent legal developments surrounding his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who was sentenced to three years in prison for crimes he pled guilty to in a Manhattan court.

Cohen pled guilty to illegally paying off women with whom Trump had allegedly engaged in extramarital affairs, and strongly implicated the President during the court proceedings. “I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds,” Cohen said. “I was weak for not having the strength to refuse his demands. Owning this mistake will free me to be once more the person I am.”

Trump is hitting back via Twitter:

President Trump denies directing Cohen for the actions that led to his sentencing, however, the Federal prosecutors in his own Department of Justice disagree.

Court filings clearly identify Trump has having directed these actions. Also, an audio recording surfaced earlier this year in which Cohen and Trump appear to talk about the illicit payments.

President Trump previously denied knowledge paying off adult film actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy Playmate Karen MacDougal, though he has denied ever engaging in any untoward behavior with both.

[Mediaite]

Trump Moves to Deport Vietnam War Refugees

The Trump administration is resuming its efforts to deport certain protected Vietnamese immigrants who have lived in the United States for decades—many of them having fled the country during the Vietnam War.

This is the latest move in the president’s long record of prioritizing harsh immigration and asylum restrictions, and one that’s sure to raise eyebrows—the White House had hesitantly backed off the plan in August before reversing course. In essence, the administration has now decided that Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in the country before the establishment of diplomatic ties between the United States and Vietnam are subject to standard immigration law—meaning they are all eligible for deportation.

The new stance mirrors White House efforts to clamp down on immigration writ large, a frequent complaint of the president’s on the campaign trail and one he links to a litany of ills in the United States.

The administration last year began pursuing the deportation of many long-term immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia, and other countries who the administration alleges are “violent criminal aliens.” But Washington and Hanoi have a unique 2008 agreement that specifically bars the deportation of Vietnamese people who arrived in the United States before July 12, 1995—the date the two former foes reestablished diplomatic relations following the Vietnam War.

The White House unilaterally reinterpreted the agreement in the spring of 2017 to exempt people convicted of crimes from its protections, allowing the administration to send back a small number of pre-1995 Vietnamese immigrants, a policy it retreated from this past August. Last week, however, James Thrower, a spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Hanoi, said the American government was again reversing course.

Washington now believes that the 2008 agreement fails to protect pre-1995 Vietnamese immigrants from deportation, Thrower told The Atlantic. This would apply to such migrants who are either undocumented or have committed crimes, and this interpretation would not apply to those who have become American citizens.

“The United States and Vietnam signed a bilateral agreement on removals in 2008 that establishes procedures for deporting Vietnamese citizens who arrived in the United States after July 12, 1995, and are subject to final orders of removal,” Thrower said. “While the procedures associated with this specific agreement do not apply to Vietnamese citizens who arrived in the United States before July 12, 1995, it does not explicitly preclude the removal of pre-1995 cases.”

The about-turn came as a State Department spokesperson confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security had met with representatives of the Vietnamese embassy in Washington, D.C., but declined to provide details of when the talks took place or what was discussed.

Katie Waldman, a spokeswoman for DHS said: “We have 5,000 convicted criminal aliens from Vietnam with final orders of removal—these are non-citizens who during previous administrations were arrested, convicted, and ultimately ordered removed by a federal immigration judge. It’s a priority of this administration to remove criminal aliens to their home country.”

Spokespeople for the Vietnamese embassy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

But the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group, said in a statement that the purpose of the meeting was to change the 2008 agreement. That deal had initially been set to last for five years, and was to be automatically extended every three years unless either party opted out. Under those rules, it was set to renew next month. Since 1998, final removal orders have been issued for more than 9,000 Vietnamese nationals.

When it first decided to reinterpret the 2008 deal, Donald Trump’s administration argued that only pre-1995 arrivals with criminal convictions were exempt from the agreement’s protection and eligible for deportation. Vietnam initially conceded and accepted some of those immigrants before stiffening its resistance; about a dozen Vietnamese immigrants ended up being deported from the United States. The August decision to change course, reported to a California court in October, appeared to put such moves at least temporarily on ice, but the latest shift leaves the fate of a larger number of Vietnamese immigrants in doubt. Now all pre-1995 arrivals are exempt from the 2008 agreement’s protection.

Many pre-1995 arrivals, all of whom were previously protected under the 2008 agreement by both the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, were refugees from the Vietnam War. Some are the children of those who once allied with American and South Vietnamese forces, an attribute that renders them undesirable to the current regime in Hanoi, which imputes anti-regime beliefs to the children of those who opposed North Vietnam. This anti-Communist constituency includes minorities such as the children of the American-allied Montagnards, who are persecuted in Vietnamfor both their ethnicity and Christian religion.

The Trump administration’s move reflects an entirely new reading of the agreement, according to Ted Osius, who served as the United States ambassador to Vietnam from December 2014 through November 2017.* Osius said that while he was in office, the 2008 agreement was accepted by all involved parties as banning the deportation of all pre-1995 Vietnamese immigrants.

“We understood that the agreement barred the deportation of pre-1995 Vietnamese. Both governments—and the Vietnamese-American community—interpreted it that way,” Osius told The Atlantic in an email. The State Department, he added, had explained this to both the White House and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

News of the Trump administration’s renewed hard line quickly made the rounds on Vietnamese American social media, with advocacy groups warning of potentially increased deportations.

“Forty-three years ago, a lot of the Southeast Asian communities and Vietnamese communities fled their countries and their homeland due to the war, which the U.S. was involved in, fleeing for their safety and the safety of their families,” said Kevin Lam, the organizing director of the Asian American Resource Workshop, an advocacy group. “The U.S. would do well to remember that.”

[The Atlantic]

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