Trump retweets hit list suggesting he’s going after Obama, Biden, Brennan, Clapper the Democratic Party and more

On Monday, President Donald Trump retweeted a ‘hit list’ from Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, a conservative self-styled watchdog group.

Fitton tweeted a list out with Democrats name who believed have abused President Donald Trump.

People on the list included Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton.

[Raw Story]

Trump: ‘Nobody disobeys my orders’

President Trump on Monday said “nobody disobeys” his orders after special counsel Robert Mueller wrote in his report that Trump attempted to influence the Russia investigation but was unsuccessful because his aides didn’t follow his demands.

“Nobody disobeys my orders,” Trump told reporters outside of the White House at Monday’s Easter Egg Roll.

A redacted version Mueller’s report, which was released Thursday, detailed several cases in which Trump potentially obstructed justice.

But Mueller wrote that Trump’s efforts “were mostly unsuccessful” in influencing the probe because those around him “declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

“The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” the report reads.

In one instance, Trump in 2017 ordered then-White House counsel Don McGahn to remove Mueller. McGahn refused, according to the report, which states that he decided “that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre.” 

Trump: ‘I could have fired everyone’ on Mueller team if I wanted to

President Trump on Thursday pushed back against questions about whether he may have obstructed the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, asserting that he could have “fired everyone,” including special counsel Robert Mueller, if he had so chosen. 

Trump quoted Fox News host Jesse Watters, who said on “The Five” that Trump “was being framed” and “fought back.”

“I had the right to end the whole Witch Hunt if I wanted,” the president tweeted. “I could have fired everyone, including Mueller, if I wanted. I chose not to. I had the RIGHT to use Executive Privilege. I didn’t!”

The president’s tweet came as he traveled aboard Air Force One to Palm Beach, Fla., where he will spend the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

A redacted version of Mueller’s full report was released Thursday morning. In it, the special counsel detailed 10 areas where investigators looked at whether Trump may have obstructed justice.

Mueller looked into, among other topics, Trump’s efforts to remove the special counsel, his conduct surrounding the firing of former FBI Director James Comey and his encouragement of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take control of the investigation.

The special counsel ultimately did not exonerate or implicate Trump on obstruction charges.

“[I]f we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment,” the report states.

Attorney General William Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein did not find sufficient evidence to prove obstruction of justice on the part of the president. 

Mueller’s report further established there was “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russian government, Barr said.

Trump’s tweet marked one of his few public comments in the wake of the report’s release.

The president briefly addressed the report’s findings at an event for wounded military service members, saying that he was “having a good day” and reiterating his stance the report found “no collusion. No obstruction.”

He also tweeted a photo inspired by the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones” showing him staring into a fog behind the statement: “No collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats—Game Over.”

Trump did not address reporters as he departed the White House for Florida.

[The Hill]

Trump slams ‘dirty cops’ at FBI over Steele dossier

President Trump on Wednesday took aim at top officials at the FBI as well as Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), accusing them of conspiring to undermine his 2016 campaign and eventual presidency.

Trump tweeted that the dossier authored by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele on behalf of Fusion GPS, a political intelligence firm, and provided to the FBI by Steele had been a “total fraud on your President and the American people!”

“Wow! FBI made 11 payments to Fake Dossier’s discredited author, Trump hater Christopher Steele. @OANN @JudicialWatch The Witch Hunt has been a total fraud on your President and the American people!” he wrote.

“It was brought to you by Dirty Cops, Crooked Hillary and the DNC,” Trump continued.

Trump and his allies have argued for years that the dossier authored by Steele on the president’s ties to Russia, which has not been fully verified, was the impetus for the FBI’s initial investigation of the Trump campaign begun under the Obama administration, which Trump has claimed led to illegal spying on his campaign.

The president’s reelection campaign echoed those claims over the weekend, falsely telling supporters in a fundraising email that Attorney General William Barr had revealed “unlawful” surveillance on the Trump campaign.

“Attorney General William Barr said what the president has thought all along: He believes “unlawful spying did occur” against Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign,” read the fundraising email.

Barr told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing last week that he believes “spying” did occur on the Trump campaign, but made no determination as to whether or not it was conducted legally.

“I think spying did occur,” the attorney general said. “But the question is whether it was adequately predicated and I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that.”

“I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred. I’m saying that I am concerned about it and looking into it. That’s all,” he added.

[MSN]

Trump attacks ‘very fake’ New York Times for tax law piece

President Trump on Monday attacked The New York Times as “very fake” for publishing an article pointing out most Americans will likely receive a tax cut under his 2017 law, even though a majority say they will not.

Speaking at a Tax Day event in Minnesota, Trump held up a printed copy of the Times article and voiced his displeasure with the headline “Face It: You (Probably) Got a Tax Cut.”

“In other words, they’re really pretty upset. You can tell where they’re coming from, come on,” the president said.

Noting the article pointed out a large majority of Americans are expected to receive cuts, something that is positive for him, Trump said “they must have made a mistake. I’m sure these writers will be fired very shortly.”

Trump continued to tout the effects of his tax law but later added that “nothing good comes from The New York Times,” drawing applause from an audience of supporters inside a trucking and equipment facility outside Minneapolis.

The White House staged Monday’s event in order to promote the tax law, which is Trump’s biggest legislative accomplishment and something he plans to tout during his 2020 reelection race.  

Multiple polls show that most Americans believe they are not benefiting from the law, which could limit its effect as a political asset next year. The Times article pointed out the disparity between popular opinion about the law and its actual effects.

“To a large degree, the gap between perception and reality on the tax cuts appears to flow from a sustained – and misleading – effort by liberal opponents of the law to brand it as a broad middle-class tax increase,” it says.

The president has routinely attacked his hometown paper, even though he has sat for multiple interviews with its reporters during his time in office.

His latest remarks came the same afternoon it was announced that the Times had won a Pulitzer Prize for its long-form article investigating Trump’s finances, which said the Trump family has been dodging taxes for years.

[The Hill]

Trump hotels exempted from ban on foreign payments under new stance

The Department of Justice has adopted a narrow interpretation of a law meant to bar foreign interests from corrupting federal officials, giving Saudi Arabia, China and other countries leeway to curry favor with Donald Trump via deals with his hotels, condos, trademarks and golf courses, legal and national security experts say.

The so-called foreign emoluments clause was intended to curb presidents and other government officials from accepting gifts and benefits from foreign governments unless Congress consents.

But in a forthcoming article in the Indiana Law Journal, the Washington University Law professor Kathleen Clark reveals justice department filings have recently changed tack. The new interpretation, Clark says, is contained in justice filings responding to recent lawsuits lodged by attorneys generals and members of Congress.

Clark’s article notes that in more than 50 legal opinions over some 150 years justice department lawyers have interpreted the clause in a way that barred any foreign payments or gifts except for ones Congress approved. But filings by the department since June 2017 reveal a new interpretation that “… would permit the president – and all federal officials – to accept unlimited amounts of money from foreign governments, as long as the money comes through commercial transactions with an entity owned by the federal official,” the professor writes.

The justice department stance now closely parallels arguments made in a January 2017 position paper by Trump Organization lawyer Sheri Dillon and several of her law partners. On 11 January 2017, just days before he was sworn in, Dillon said Trump isn’t accepting any payments in his “official capacity” as president, as the income is only related to his private business. “Paying for a hotel room is not a gift or a present, and it has nothing to do with an office,” Dillon said.

That goes against what many experts believe.

“For over a hundred years, the justice department has strictly interpreted the constitution’s anti-corruption emoluments clause to prohibit federal officials from accepting anything of value from foreign governments, absent congressional consent,” Clark told the Guardian.

“In 2017, the department reversed course, adopting arguments nearly identical to those put forward by Trump’s private sector lawyers. Instead of defending the republic against foreign influence, the department is defending Trump’s ability to receive money from foreign governments,” Clark added.

A justice department spokesperson declined to comment, but pointed to its filings in the emoluments lawsuits which Clark has noted contain five arguments similar to those used by Trump’s business lawyers. Among the key justice arguments is that the foreign emoluments clause only was intended to prohibit the president accepting gifts and employment compensation from a foreign government, but allows him to benefit from what it calls “commercial transactions”.

Other legal scholars also voice strong qualms about the justice department’s current position on emoluments and criticize the administration’s lax attitude about conflicts involving Trump and his business empire.

“The heart of the matter is that these are clauses meant to guard against undue foreign influence and conflicts of interest,” John Mikhail, a professor at Georgetown Law Center, said.

Two attorneys general from the District of Columbia and Maryland have filed lawsuits arguing the Trump International Hotel in Washington, where numerous foreign and state delegations have stayed or hosted events, has violated the anti corruption clauses. Some 200 members of Congress have also filed a lawsuit alleging that Trump has conflicts of interest in at least 25 countries.

The inspector general at the General Services Administration, which oversees the government-owned Old Post Office building leased by the Trump International Hotel, has faulted the agency for “improperly ignoring (the) emoluments clauses” and for conflicts of interest involving the hotel while Trump is in office.

Former intelligence officials also expressed concerns. “There’s a perception among lobbyists for foreign governments that the White House is for sale,” said Robert Baer, a 21 year CIA veteran with a Middle East background. “It’s a counter intelligence nightmare.”

The Trump Organization did pledge that while Trump was president it would donate any profits from foreign entities to the treasury. To that end it has written checks for $342,000 to the government covering the years 2017 and 2018. But some ethics watchdogs have questioned the methodology for calculating these payments, arguing it doesn’t account for foreign revenues to Trump businesses which overall have had yearly losses.

Further critics note that while Trump opted to let his two sons run his real estate businesses, and pledged he would not be involved with it as long as he was president, he has not been shy about publicly touting his properties including his Scottish golf course. Advertisement

A chief focus of critics and the emolument lawsuits has been the Trump International Hotel which has become a mini mecca for numerous foreign delegations – including ones from Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Turkey and the Philippines – who have used it for overnight stays and various meetings.

The hotel is leased from the GSA for 60 years and located on Pennsylvania Avenue just a few blocks from the White House. The IG’s report this January said the lease should have been reviewed again with Trump’s election to determine if it was in violation of the emoluments clause.

Critics of Trump’s ongoing ties to the Trump International and his business empire also note that some countries with major political and business problems in Washington have frequented his properties. “It appears that President Trump may be benefiting from foreign use of his properties designed to influence his decisions,” said the former Republican congressman Mickey Edwards.

For instance, a 60-person Malaysian government delegation stayed at Trump International in the fall of 2017 at a time when the justice department was conducting a major corruption investigation of Malaysian officials including the then prime minister, Najib Razak, who had a White House meeting with Trump during their stay, as first reported by radio station WAMU and Reveal.

Meanwhile, lobbyists for Saudi Arabia, which has aggressively courted Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, spent at least $270,000 at his DC hotel after Trump won the election, booking 500 rooms over an estimated three-month period, according to a Washington Post report.

Last March, a Saudi delegation traveling with the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman seemed to enjoy a lavish stay at Trump’s New York hotel, which helped to reverse a two-year revenue decline at the property, according to the Washington Post.

These foreign dealings with Trump hotels are exhibit A for many critics of the weak kneed enforcement of the emoluments clause in the Trump era.

“This administration gives off every appearance of turning the White House into a giant cash register,” said Mikhail. “ Rather than drawing bright lines between the Trump Organization and the Trump administration they seem intent on blurring those lines.”

The lawsuits have to wend their way through the courts – which could see tough battles given mixed court rulings thus far. But critics in Congress and outside are raising more questions about emoluments and Trump’s business conflicts as new issues keep arising.

“Congress now must conduct independent oversight so the American people can determine for themselves whether the President is acting in our nation’s best interests or his own,” said congressman Elijah Cummings, the chairman of the House committee on oversight and reform.

Mike Carpenter, who served on the National Security Council in the Obama years, added: “When foreign powers patronize the president’s businesses it creates an enormous national security risk.”

[The Guardian]

Trump Claims ‘USA has the Absolute Legal Right’ to Send Migrants to Sanctuary Cities

President Donald Trump tweeted out on Saturday night that “the USA has the absolute legal right” to send migrants to sanctuary cities.

“Just out: The USA has the absolute legal right to have apprehended illegal immigrants transferred to Sanctuary Cities. We hereby demand that they be taken care of at the highest level, especially by the State of California, which is well known or its poor management & high taxes!” Trump wrote.

Trump’s tweet comes just following a segment on Fox News where his deputy Press Secretary defended the plan.

Speaking with Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro on Saturday, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley praised Trump’s proposal.

He claimed, though, that the actual transport hasn’t started yet because Trump is still considering all of his options and they are still working on the legality of the issue.

In defense of Trump’s proposal, Gidley said this:

“They are telling us you cannot keep family units who come here illegally and unlawfully at the southern border. You can’t keep them at detention facilities. You can’t deport them. The only thing you can do is as an administration is release them into American communities…So, the president said listen, there are sanctuary cities out there where Democrats have said we welcome any and all whether they criminals, whether they are here illegally, seeking asylum, regardless. Anybody who disagrees with us is racist. So the president said fine, I’ve got a great idea. We’d love to work with you guys to figure out exactly the best way to transport these people were here illegally and unlawfully and into your communities and your districts and your states.”

Gidley then added that not a single Democrat has signed up for the plan.

Pirro next asked when all this was going to start.

“He’s looking at any and all options right now,” Gidley said, referring to Trump. “We’re going through the process, reviewing everything we can do lawfully.”

Pirro then asked if it had started already.

“Not yet, we’re trying to figure out if we can do that Legally,” Gidley replied.

A few minutes later, Trump tweeted out that the “USA has the absolute legal right” to what he wants and send migrants to sanctuary cities.

[Mediaite]

Trump Bashes NY Times for Making Him Look Bad: ‘In 6 Years They Will Be Gone’

Back from his round of golf with Tiger Woods, President Donald Trumptook to Twitter on Saturday evening to bash the New York Times for being corrupt after running a story about sanctuary cities.

“The New York Times Sanctuary Cities/Immigration story today was knowingly wrong on almost every fact. They never call to check for truth. Their sources often don’t even exist, a fraud. They will lie & cheat anyway possible to make me look bad. In 6 years they will be gone,” Trump wrote.

He also insisted that the paper had to beg subscribers for forgiveness after botching coverage of the 2016 election.

“When I won the Election in 2016, the @nytimes had to beg their fleeing subscribers for forgiveness in that they covered the Election (and me) so badly,” Trump wrote. “They didn’t have a clue, it was pathetic. They even apologized to me. But now they are even worse, really corrupt reporting!”

Trump, by the way, doesn’t exactly have his facts right. The New York Timesactually reported that they had a “Trump bump” as a result of the election.

Here is the report from November 2018 (emphasis mine):

More than three million paid digital-only subscribers. More than four million total.

The New York Times Company announced on Thursday that it surpassed those milestones during the third quarter of 2018, when the number of its digital subscribers showed a net increase of roughly 203,000.

That was the highest gain in digital subscribers in a quarter since the so-called Trump bump in the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 after the presidential election.

[Mediaite]

Trump Says He Is Considering Releasing Migrants in ‘Sanctuary Cities’

President Trump said on Friday that his administration was “strongly” considering releasing migrants detained at the border into mostly Democratic “sanctuary cities,” suggesting that the idea should make liberals “very happy” because of their immigration policies.

“We are looking at the possibility, strongly looking at it to be honest with you,” he said on Friday in response to a question about the proposal.

“We might as well do what they always say they want,” Mr. Trump said if Democrats do not agree to new immigration policies. “We’ll bring them to sanctuary city areas and let that particular area take care of it,” he said, adding that California welcomed the idea of more people coming to the state.

“We can give them a lot. We can give them an unlimited supply,” he said.

The comments came a day after the administration said the policy proposal was never seriously considered. But after the president’s Twitter posts on Friday, a White House spokesman said Democrats should work with the administration to welcome migrants into their districts.

“Democrats say we must have open borders and that illegal immigrants have a right to be in this country at all costs,” the spokesman, Hogan Gidley, said, adding, “so they should be working with the administration to find the best ways to transport those illegal aliens that are already set for release, into communities in their districts and states.”

Democratic lawmakers do not want “open borders,” as the president has suggested. They favor improving border security, but they do not support many of Mr. Trump’s hard-line immigration policy proposals, such as building a wall along the southwestern border.

Last year, Trump administration officials had floated the idea of transporting migrants to sanctuary cities, which do not strictly adhere to federal immigration laws, as a way to address the influx of migrants crossing the border with Mexico.

One of the highest-profile sanctuary cities is San Francisco, home to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is one of the president’s top political rivals and a thorn in his efforts to change American immigration laws. The White House raised the proposal again in February, suggesting it could punish Democrats for rejecting budget requests for border security.

Ms. Pelosi’s office condemned the Trump administration for the idea, which the Department of Homeland Security said on Thursday was ultimately rejected.

But Mr. Trump’s tweets on Friday indicated it was not off the table, and the president appeared to revel in the Democratic outrage, saying, “The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!”

Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, a state with several sanctuary cities, criticized the president’s proposal.

“Trump’s plan to release migrants into ‘enemy’ cities as if they are some kind of contagion is reprehensible,” Mr. Markey tweeted. “Trump is obsessed with the border and sanctuary cities because he only wins by dividing people.”

There has been an influx of migrant families crossing the southern border into the United States, exceeding the staffing and resources available for immigration enforcement. And with a shortage of space in shelters and detention centers, immigration officials have been releasing migrants into the country as they wait to appear before an immigration court. Those courts are so backlogged with cases that it can be months or years before the migrants are called to appear before a judge.

[The New York Times]

Trump calls Mueller investigation ‘attempted coup’

President Donald Trump on Wednesday blasted special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation as an “attempted coup” that failed and praised Attorney General William Barr for saying he is investigating how the probe began — a move congressional Republicans have long advocated.

“This was an attempted coup. This was an attempted takedown of a president and we beat them. We beat them,” Trump told reporters at the White House ahead of his departure for Texas. “So the Mueller report, when they talk about obstruction, we fight back. You know why we fight back? Because I knew how illegal this whole thing was: It was a scam.”

At about the same time, Barr, on Capitol Hill, said “I think spying did occur: on the Trump campaign and he wanted to look into how it began and whether it was legally justified.

Trump also blasted what he called the “haters of Trump” and “dirty cops” and bad people” who worked on the investigation but, according to him, still found no evidence of the campaign colluding with Russia to influence the presidential election.

“What has been found during this period of time are the illegal acts of getting this whole phony investigation started. And hopefully that’s where people are going now. That’s where people are going, and it’s very interesting. It was an illegal investigation,” Trump said.

Trump said he still has not read the Mueller report and said he’s not interested in the report, beyond the possibility that the Justice Department could look into the origins of the investigation.

“As far as I’m concerned, I don’t care about the Mueller report. I’ve been totally exonerated. No collusion, no obstruction,” Trump said. “I am not worrying about something that never, ever should have taken place.”

[ABC News]

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