Trump keeps up attacks on Obama over Russian meddling

President Donald Trump is continuing to blame his predecessor for not doing enough to deter Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump’s latest criticism of President Barack Obama comes as he’s deflected questions about his own administration’s response to Russian meddling and measures the US can take to prevent it. The President notably has refused to condemn the interference in the wake of last week’s indictments against 13 Russian nationals, instead claiming that the latest developments in the investigation demonstrate a lack of collusion between his campaign and Russia.

In one tweet, Trump quoted Obama saying toward the end of the 2016 race that there was no evidence America’s elections were “rigged,” suggesting the then-businessman should “stop whining.” Obama, however, was referring to Trump’s claims of a rigged election and calls at the time for supporters to monitor polling sites for potentially ineligible voters attempting to cast ballots.

Tuesday’s tweet came soon after “Fox & Friends” highlighted the comment.

“That’s because he thought Crooked Hillary was going to win and he didn’t want to ‘rock the boat.’ When I easily won the Electoral College, the whole game changed and the Russian excuse became the narrative of the Dems,” Trump said.

Trump also claimed on Tuesday he’s “been tougher on Russia than Obama.”

The 44th president, however, personally warned Russian President Vladimir Putin against messing with the election, imposed sanctions on Russian individuals and entities, kicked out 35 Russian diplomats and closed two of the Kremlin’s compounds in the United States.

Trump, in comparison, still has not imposed sanctions designed to punish election meddling by Moscow.

Representatives for Obama declined to comment Tuesday on Trump’s latest round of tweets.

And over the weekend, Trump publicly rebuked his own national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, after he said there was “incontrovertible” evidence that Russia meddled in the election.

Trump also questioned on Monday why Obama didn’t do more to prevent Moscow from interfering in US elections, tweeting: “Obama was President up to, and beyond, the 2016 Election. So why didn’t he do something about Russian meddling?”

Trump has adamantly denied any cooperation between his team and Russia and has called the investigation a Democratic hoax.

[CNN]

Reality

Obama faced Putin and told him “to cut it out”, tried to alert the public with a bi-partisan announcement but was blocked by Mitch McConnell, expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two compounds.

Let’s take score. Trump calls the investigation a hoax, attacks his FBI, fired an FBI director for not easing up on it, never condemned Russia, took Putin at his word that he had no involvement, never implemented Russian sanctions passed by Congress which is a dereliction of duty, and tried to reopen the Russian compounds Obama closed.

Timeline

July 2016: The FBI opens an investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

August 2016: Obama receives top secret intelligence file detailing Putin’s direct involvement in Russian election meddling.

September 2016: U.S. intelligence agencies reach unanimous agreement regarding Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. At a G20 meeting in Huangzhou, China, Obama pulls Putin aside and warns him directly “to cut it out.” Obama then held a meeting with 12 key members of both parties of Congress and top intelligence officials to release a public bi-partisan statement on Russian election interference, but Mitch McConnell blocked the statement not believing the underlying intelligence.

October 2016: At Obama’s direction, former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issue a public statement saying, “The U.S. intelligence community is confident that the Russian government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”

December 2016: Obama approves a set of relatively modest — and primarily symbolic — sanctions, including expelling 35 Russian diplomats and closing two compounds in Maryland. The administration had considered several steeper measures including “cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure, the release of CIA-gathered material that might embarrass Putin and sanctions that officials said could ‘crater’ the Russian economy,” per the Post.

Homeland Security Senior Adviser Was Right-Wing Radio Host Who Promoted Birtherism

A Department of Homeland Security senior adviser to the White House was formerly a conservative radio host who “promoted conspiracy theories about former President Barack Obama’s birthplace, lamented the “Zimbabwe-fication of America,” and mocked the LGBT community,” according to a report by CNN’s KFILE.

Frank Wuco joined the White House in January after spending several years as a radio host in Florida, and his hardline views on Islam have been previously reported – as well as a jihadist character named Fuad Wasul he would often dress up as for videos warning of Islamic extremism.

CNN’s KFILE combed through dozens of hours of Wuco’s radio show, and found a trove of controversial comments from the man who now leads a team working to enforce President Donald Trump’s executive orders, including his controversial travel ban:

On the radio, Wuco said Obama knew nothing of the “black American experience,” defended the initial speculation in the media that Muslim extremists were responsible for the mass killing in Norway, and said that gay people had hijacked the word “gay” from happy people.

Wuco, a former naval intelligence officer, also happens to have something in common with Trump: he touted the birther conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, even referring to the former president’s birth certificate as “a questionable document.”

Acting DHS press secretary Tyler Houlton defended Wuco in a statement to CNN, saying “Mr. Wuco works every day to keep the American people safe by helping to implement the President’s security-focused agenda, including raising the global bar for vetting and screening of potential terrorists.

“Years-old comments cherry picked from thousands of hours on the air have no bearing on his ability to perform his job for the American people,” Houlton said.

[Mediaite]

White House defends Trump’s Muslim tweets

The White House on Wednesday defended President Trump’s widely condemned retweets of videos purporting to show violence committed by Muslims.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that whether the inflammatory videos are real or not, “the threat is real.”

“I’m not talking about the nature of the video,” she told reporters at the White House. “I think you’re focusing on the wrong thing. The threat is real and that is what the president is talking about.”

Sanders said the videos underscore the need for Trump’s push to bolster national security and secure the nation’s borders.

“Those are very real things. There is nothing fake about that,” she said.

Trump retweeted videos posted by Jayda Fransen, a leader of the far-right organization Britain First. The group is considered a fringe entity in the U.K. and Fransen has been convicted of a hate crime.

The tweets set off a massive backlash against the president on both sides of the Atlantic.

U.S. civil rights leaders accused Trump of fanning anti-Muslim sentiment and the British government condemned the tweets.

“British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right, which is the antithesis of the values that this country represents — decency, tolerance and respect,” British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said in a statement. “It is wrong for the president to have done this.”

The Council of American-Islamic Relations also condemned the tweets. The group’s executive director, Nihad Awad, said Trump is “clearly telling members of his base that they should hate Islam and Muslims.”

“Trump’s posts amount to incitement to violence against American Muslims,” he said. “His actions should be condemned by all American political and religious leaders, regardless of their party or faith.”

Fransen’s first tweet read: “VIDEO: Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!”

“VIDEO: Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” read another. “VIDEO: Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” read a third.

The videos have not been independently authenticated.

[The Hill]

Trump uses Egypt attack to plug border wall, immigration restrictions

In denouncing the terror attack on a mosque in Egypt, President Trump on Friday renewed his calls for for tighter immigration screening in the U.S, and a wall along the border with Mexico.

Trump said he would Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi “to discuss the tragic terrorist attack, with so much loss of life,” adding on Twitter: “We have to get TOUGHER AND SMARTER than ever before, and we will. Need the WALL, need the BAN! God bless the people of Egypt.”

Egyptian state media reported that at least 235 people died and more than 130 were injured during an attack on a Sufi mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai region, the deadliest attack ever on Egyptian civilians by Islamic militants.

Earlier Friday, Trump tweeted: “Horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenseless worshipers in Egypt. The world cannot tolerate terrorism, we must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence!”

In a readout after the call, the White House said Trump offered his condolences to the people of Egypt after the “heinous attack” on worshippers. Trump “reiterated that the United States will continue to stand with Egypt in the face of terrorism,” the statement said. “The international community cannot tolerate barbaric terrorist groups and must strengthen its efforts to defeat terrorism and extremism in all its forms.”

Trump has used previous terror attacks to promote immigration restrictions that are the subject of many political and legal disputes.

The administration’s proposed ban on immigration from six Muslim majority countries has faced a number of legal challenges. And congressional Democrats have moved to block funding for the proposed wall on the nation’s southern border.

Democrats said the nation has long screened immigrants in an effort to block potential terrorists, and they have accused Trump of making his proposals to keep Muslims and Hispanics out of the United States.

[USA Today]

Reality

Trump proposes a border wall with Mexico to keep out Egyptians and a Muslim ban that does not include Egypt as solutions to prevent terrorism after a terror attack at a mosque in Egypt.

Trump: Suspect Entered U.S. in ‘Diversity Visa Lottery’, Blames Schumer

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the Uzbek immigrant suspected of murdering eight people in New York City with a rental truck entered the U.S. through the “Diversity Visa Lottery Program” and the president charged Sen. Chuck Schumer and Democrats had loosened the nation’s borders.

Trump did not provide any supporting evidence for the claim about the visa program, which was being discussed on the morning TV program “Fox and Friends” that the president indicated in his tweets he was watching.

“The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based,” Trump tweeted.

“We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter) @foxandfriends,” Trump tweeted, citing the morning program whose hosts were discussing the visa lottery.

“Senator Chuck Schumer helping to import Europes problems, said Col.Tony Shaffer. We will stop this craziness! @foxandfriends,” Trump added, appearing to reference a retired U.S. Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel who appeared on the program Wednesday.

Moments later, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the the suspect in the attack had entered the U.S. “through a diversity program, a lottery program.” He did not elaborate.

Schumer, for his part, shot back at Trump on Twitter: “I guess it’s not too soon to politicize a tragedy.”

In a statement, the New York senator slammed Trump for “dividing America” and called on the president not to follow through on proposed cuts to “vital anti-terrorism funding.”

“I have always believed and continue to believe that immigration is good for America,” Schumer said. “President Trump, instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, should be focusing on the real solution — anti-terrorism funding — which he proposed cutting in his most recent budget.”

The Trump-Schumer back and forth came less than 24 hours after eight people were killed and about a dozen more were injured when a motorist in a rented pickup truck deliberately drove down a bike path in lower Manhattan and mowed down several people before crashing into a school bus in what officials said was a terrorist attack.

Police found a note inside the truck that was used indicating the suspect claimed to have carried out the attack for the Islamic State terrorist group.

The suspect was identified as a 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant named Sayfullo Saipov, who entered the United States in 2010, law enforcement officials said. It wasn’t immediately clear under what circumstances Saipov came to the United States.

According to The New York Times, he had obtained a green card, giving him permanent legal resident status in the U.S.

Trump, in his tweets Wednesday, was apparently referring to the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery, which was established by the Immigration Act of 1990. That bill was passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by then-President George H.W. Bush.

The program allows the State Department to offer 50,000 visas annually to immigrants from countries with low immigration rates.

Democrats quickly hit back against Trump’s claims.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that “it was kind of absurd (for Trump)…to be using it as a fulcrum for … this kind of a debate.”

“I don’t think this is the time to get political,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “There is no doubt we have to be smarter and have more intelligence… but there is also no doubt that is not the time to play politics, to foment hate, this is not the time to divide.”

At least one Republican defended the diversity visa lottery.

“To be honest with you, I’ve known a number of people in New York who come in under the lottery system, they’ve made outstanding contributions, they’ve become citizens,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a former House Homeland Security Committee Chairman, told Fox Business Channel. “So that really is separate from the idea of the vetting.”

According to the State Department, diversity visa lottery applicants must meet certain education and work experience requirements, like having obtained “at least a high school education or its equivalent” or “two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform.”

People who are not from an eligible country can also qualify if their spouse was born in an eligible country.

The State Department determines selectees through a randomized computer drawing, its website states.

In 2013, a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Eight” proposed an compromise immigration reform bill that would have eliminated the diversity lottery. The bill did not make it through Congress.

[NBC News]

Kellyanne Conway Says Russian Interference is Not ‘An Issue of National Security’

In a late-night Thursday interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, senior counselor Kellyanne Conway tap danced around any questions concerning the grand jury investigation, subpoenas and the meeting between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russians.

Conway maintained that the American people didn’t care about Russia or the scandals surrounding it. Cuomo explained to her that sometimes the news has to cover issues that are important but not always popular. However, polling reveals that Americans do care about the Russia investigation and ensuring that it moves forward ethically.

“This investigation isn’t about Russian interference,” said Conway about the investigation on Russian interference.

“Sometimes you have to cover things even when they are not popular,” he said. “This is an issue of potential national security.”

“How is that though?” Conway asked. “How is it an issue of potential national security? What is the basis for saying that?”

Cuomo explained that when a foreign adversary hacks and election and tries to influence an election and meet with one candidate over another, it’s concerning.

As Conway has done many times before, she attacked Cuomo and CNN for not covering anything other than the Russia scandal. She specifically bashed the network for not talking about what Trump supporters care about. That’s when the conversation got a little heated. CNN regularly does panels with Trump voters. Some were even aired on Cuomo’s morning show “New Day.”

A frustrated Cuomo informed Conway he’s deeply invested in every issue, most specifically the opioid epidemic, explaining that he’s working on a documentary for CNN that focuses on the crisis in New Hampshire, a state that voted overwhelmingly for Trump last November

[Raw Story]

Media