Trump: I’m a ‘very stable genius’

President Donald Trump slammed reports questioning his mental stability in a series of tweets Saturday morning, writing he’s a “very stable genius” after the publication of an exposé about his first year as President put the White House into damage-control mode.

“Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence … ” Trump wrote, referring to questions raised about the mental fitness of the former President, who disclosed in 1994 that he had Alzheimer’s disease.

“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” the President continued. “Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star … to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!”

After his tweets Saturday morning, Trump told reporters at Camp David that Wolff is a “fraud” who doesn’t know him.

“I went to the best colleges, or college,” he told reporters. “I had a situation where I was a very excellent student, came out and made billions and billions of dollars, became one of the top business people, went to television and for 10 years was a tremendous success, as you probably have heard, ran for President one time and won. Then I hear this guy that doesn’t know me at all, by the way, didn’t interview me, said he interviewed me for three hours in the White House. Didn’t exist, it’s in his imagination.”

Trump continued: “I never interviewed with him in the White House at all; he was never in the Oval Office.”

Wolff told “Today” show host Savannah Guthrie on Friday that he “absolutely spoke to the President” while working on “Fire and Fury.”

“Whether he realized it was an interview or not, I don’t know, but it certainly was not off the record,” Wolff said. “I’ve spent about three hours with the President over the course of the campaign, and in the White House. So, my window into Donald Trump is pretty significant.”

The remarkable spectacle of Trump defending his mental stability comes after the President and some of his top officials spent the last few days countering claims in author Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury,” about Trump’s mental fitness to serve as President. The book, which went on sale Friday, also paints the picture of a President who neither knows nor cares about policy and doesn’t seem to perceive the vast responsibilities of his role.

CNN has not independently confirmed all of Wolff’s assertions.

Trump’s tweets also come after reports surfaced that a dozen lawmakers from the House and Senate received a briefing from Yale psychiatrist Dr. Bandy X. Lee on Capitol Hill in early December about Trump’s fitness to be president.

“Lawmakers were saying they have been very concerned about this, the President’s dangerousness, the dangers that his mental instability poses on the nation,” Lee told CNN in a phone interview Thursday, “They know the concern is universal among Democrats, but it really depends on Republicans, they said. Some knew of Republicans that were concerned, maybe equally concerned, but whether they would act on those concerns was their worry.”

The briefing was previously reported by Politico. Lee, confirming the December 5 and 6 meeting to CNN, said that the group was evenly mixed, with House and Senate lawmakers, and included at least one Republican — a senator, whom she would not name.

[CNN]

Trump falsely takes credit for record year in airline safety

2017 was a lot of things, including, as it turns out, the safest year on record for commercial air travel. And the president of the United States is, perplexingly, taking credit for it.

There was an estimated 3 percent growth in air traffic from 2016 to 2017. And the fatality rate was 0.06 fatalities per million flights — in other words, one fatal accident for 16 million flights.

“2017 was the safest year for aviation ever,” Adrian Young of the Dutch consulting firm To70 told Reuters.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday took to Twitter to celebrate the year in airline safety:

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday on two analyses that both found 2017 was a great year for airline safety. One was from To70, which found no consumer passenger jet fatalities in 2017. Its Civil Aviation Safety Review, an annual analysis of airplane safety, found there were 13 lives lost on airplanes in 2017. They occurred on two regional airlines, both of which were small turboprop (propeller-powered) planes.

To70’s analysis examines accidents, whether caused by technical failure, human error, or unlawful interference, involving larger passenger aircraft. In 2017, there were 111 accidents, two of which included fatalities: an October crash of a Brazilian-built Embraer flight in Angola, and a November crash of a Czech-made plane in eastern Russia.

The Aviation Safety Network also reported that there were no commercial jet deaths in 2017. It recorded 10 fatal airliner accidents, resulting in 44 deaths of passengers on board and 35 people on the ground. It records passenger and cargo flights.

The group’s president, Harro Ranter, said in a statement that the average number of airliner accidents has shown a “steady and persistent” decline since 1997, thanks in large part to sustained efforts by international safety organizations to improve safety — not President Trump, who has been in office for less than a year.

As the Hill’s Jordan Fabian points out, there hasn’t been a fatal passenger airline crash in the US since 2009, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, and the last deadly commuter plane crash took place in Hawaii in 2013.

Still, Trump has made a habit of taking credit for things that don’t exactly correspond to him — including claiming he invented the phrases “prime the pump” and “fake news,” touting business deals reached under the Obama administration as attributable to him, and saying quarterback Colin Kaepernick is still a free agent because NFL owners are afraid of “a nasty tweet from Donald Trump.”

Trump in June proposed privatizing the US air traffic control system. The proposal would place the safety of millions of US airline passengers under a private nonprofit corporation instead of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and could potentially cost more.

That’s not to say that flying is a risk-free affair — as To70 notes, there were several serious non-fatal accidents in 2017, including an Air France Airbus plane carrying 520 people from Paris to Los Angeles last fall that had to make an emergency landing after suffering serious damage to one of its four engines. The firm also points to the risk that the growing prevalence of lithium-ion batteries in electronics poses for fires aboard planes.

“There is no room for complacency,” To70’s report warns.

[Vox]

Reality

The Aviation Safety Network also reported that there were no commercial jet deaths in 2017. It recorded 10 fatal airliner accidents, resulting in 44 deaths of passengers on board and 35 people on the ground. It records passenger and cargo flights.

The group’s president, Harro Ranter, said in a statement that the average number of airliner accidents has shown a “steady and persistent” decline since 1997, thanks in large part to sustained efforts by international safety organizations to improve safety — not President Trump, who has been in office for less than a year.

Trump Promotes Antisemitic, Conspiracy Website: I ‘Wish the Fake News Would Report’ Like This

President Donald Trump shared an article about the website magapill.com showcasing his “accomplishment list” — though, aside from including a faulty link, the Twitter account associated with the site frequently posted content that was antisemitic or conspiratorial in nature.

“Wow, even I didn’t realize we did so much. Wish the Fake News would report! Thank you,” tweeted the president — promoting an article from a site that believes Seth Rich was “murdered” by Hillary Clinton and banking is corrupted by “certain bloodlines.”

The front page of the website is titled “President Donald Trump’s Accomplishment List.” This page touts articles — in a Drudge Report style format — that supposedly reflect the president’s successes on the economy, crime, and business.

However, things get significantly stranger and disturbing when examining MAGAPill’s Twitter account, as the site obsesses over conspiracy theories — including the idea that Luciferianism, in part, controls the world, along with George Soros and the Vatican.

In the same wild flow chart, the account shares the theory that “banking families” — a seeming reference to the Jewish community — control all of the world’s financial institutions for their gain. “Banking families, Certain bloodline families have dominated global financial institutions, including: BIS, FED, IMF, World Bank, Wall Street,” states the chart.

Ironically, Trump’s tweet praising the work of MAGAPill came just after a post in which he attacked CNN as “fake news.”

[Mediaite]

Trump calls Hillary Clinton the ‘worst’ loser ever, after she says he’s ‘disgraced’ the office

President Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are at it again.

Trump lashed out at his former rival on Saturday, calling Clinton “the worst (and biggest) loser of all time,” after the ex-Democratic nominee made pointed criticisms in a series of interviews about Trump’s political and moral legitimacy.

The president tweeted: “Give it another try in three years,” in an apparent attempt to bait Clinton to run for president again.

The president’s remarks followed two interviews on Friday, in which the former Democratic nominee differentiated between sexual assault accusations against GOP Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and Democratic Sen. Al Franken. Clinton questioned why Trump was never hurt by past allegations from women that he behaved improperly, and tried to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Trump’s win by invoking Russia’s suspected meddling in the 2016 general election.

In an interview with Mother Jones, Clinton said she can’t explain why Trump’s candidacy was not affected by the allegations or his bullying of his rival candidates on the campaign trail.

“I don’t understand a lot about how he got away with so many attacks and insults and behaviors that allowed him to win the presidency,” the publication reported Clinton as saying.

Trump has always denied allegations made by several women to the New York Times before the election, and around the time of the release of the infamous 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape. In the second presidential debate, Trump admitted to bragging on the tape about kissing and groping women, but said he actually never did any of those things.

On WABC radio, Clinton said the Franken situation differs from Moore because the Minnesota senator apologized, and said he would “gladly cooperate” with an ethics investigation. “I don’t hear that from Roy Moore or Donald Trump,” Clinton said. “Look at the contrast between Al Franken, accepting responsibility, apologizing, and Roy Moore and Donald Trump who have done neither.”

The president has been blasting Franken, while trying to stay out of the Moore situation. Trump’s has said the voters of Alabama should decide on whether to elect Moore in next month’s special election.

The former secretary of State — appearing to promote her new book “What Happened” — also told WABC radio that Trump has “disgraced the office” of the presidency. “I didn’t think he’d be as bad as he turned out to be,” she added.

Clinton, also a former senator from New York and first lady, called the GOP tax reform plan “bad policy” that’s “downright cruel” to working Americans. “I will predict to you that a number of Republican members of Congress who voted for it, will lose their seats in 2018.”

[CNBC]

Trump distances himself from Ed Gillespie after Virginia election loss

President Trump tried to distance himself from Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie on Twitter late Tuesday, after Democratic candidate and Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam won the state’s highly contested governor’s race.

Both parties poured money and staff into the Virginia election, which was seen as a potential bellwether for Trump’s impact on mid-term elections across the country next year.

“Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for,” Trump tweeted after the election. “Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!”

Trump, who is traveling in South Korea, had been a vocal supporter of Gillespie but had never hit the campaign trial for the former Republican National Committee chairman.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump tweeted, “.@EdWGillespie will totally turn around the high crime and poor economic performance of VA.” Last month, Trump first came out to support Gillespie on Twitter by bashing Northam.

[USA Today]

Trump reportedly wanted nearly 10 times more nuclear weapons

President Donald Trump wanted to increase the U.S. nuclear arsenal by nearly 10 times, NBC News reported Wednesday.

The president brought up his desire for a buildup during a meeting with top national security advisors in July, according to the report, which cited three officials at the gathering. Advisors told Trump about treaties that would be endangered and other hurdles preventing such a move. There is no planned expansion of nuclear weapons, NBC reported.

After the meeting ended, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was heard calling Trump a “moron.” That comment reportedly sparked more tensions between Tillerson and Trump following an NBC News report last week. Tillerson denied the piece of the report that said he was close to resigning this summer, but did not refute calling the president a “moron.”

The report on the July meeting comes as the U.S. pushes for the denuclearization of North Korea.

Trump has made public statements before about boosting the U.S. nuclear arsenal. In December, he tweeted that the “United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”

The White House and Pentagon could not immediately be reached for comment.

In a Wednesday morning tweet, the president claimed “fake” NBC “made up” the story. He called it “pure fiction, made up to demean.”

In a second tweet, he suggested that the NBC coverage is “bad” for the country. He asked: “At what point is it appropriate to challenge their License?”

Trump is apparently referencing the licenses granted to individual television stations by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC does not license news originations or television networks.
NBC Universal, through its television stations division, owns 28 NBC and Telemundo local television stations.

The licensing of television stations dates back to the early days of radio, when the government set regulations based on the idea that the spectrum belonged to the public. Radio and television stations are required to renew their licenses periodically, and those licenses can be revoked if the station’s owner violates FCC regulations or other laws.

But as recently as December, the commission made clear that individual broadcasters have “broad discretion” in what they choose to air.

“The Commission will not take adverse action on a license renewal application based upon the subjective determination of a listener or group of listeners that the station has broadcast purportedly inappropriate programming,” the FCC commissioners wrote in a recent decision challenging a local radio station license.

[CNBC]

Trump: I want to focus on North Korea not ‘fixing somebody’s back’

President Trump praised health care block grants on Saturday, saying they allow the states to focus on health care, but said he would rather focus his energy on tensions with North Korea than “fixing somebody’s back or their knee.”

“You know in theory, I want to focus on North Korea, I want to focus on Iran, I want to focus on other things. I don’t want to focus on fixing somebody’s back or their knee or something. Let the states do that,” the president told Mike Huckabee on the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s “Huckabee.”

“The block grant concept is a very good concept, and if you have good management, good governors, good politicians in the state, it’ll be phenomenal,” he continued.
“I could almost say we are just about there in terms of the vote, so I expect to be getting health care approved,” he said.

Trump’s comments come after Senate Republicans failed twice this year to fulfill a seven-year campaign promise of repealing and replacing ObamaCare.

The latest repeal and replace failure was the Graham-Cassidy bill, which included block grants to states.

However, the legislation failed after Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Susan Collins (Maine) announced their opposition to the bill last month, effectively killing it.

Trump has expressed frustration in his Republican colleagues in the Senate for their health care failure, so much so that he called Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Friday to discuss the issue.

The move is likely to unsettle Republicans on Capitol Hill who have been working with Trump on tax reform in recent weeks.

[The Hill]

Trump Deleting Tweets After Luther Strange’s Loss Raises Legal Questions

After the candidate whom President Trump backed in Tuesday’s Alabama Senate primary, Luther Strange, lost to Roy Moore, Trump summarily deleted several tweets he had made in support of Strange. However, they were archived on ProPublica’s Politiwhoops website.

Among them: “Luther Strange has been shooting up in the Alabama polls since my endorsement. Finish the job-vote today for “Big Luther”

And: “ALABAMA, get out and vote for Luther Strange-he has proven to me that he will never let you down!#MAGA”

It’s not clear why Trump (or someone on his behalf) acted to attempt to remove the evidence that he backed Strange. The president had been very vocal in his support for Strange, including holding a rally in Alabama on Sept. 22. And while on the Internet nothing is ever really deleted, Trump’s actions to remove the tweets from his feed have raised some legal questions.

In June, two government watchdog groups, the National Security Archive and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, brought a lawsuit against the Trump administration in part for deleting other tweets, arguing it was in violation of the Presidential Records Act.

According to the website of the National Archives, which administers the act, it places “the responsibility for the custody and management of incumbent Presidential records with the President.”

At the time the lawsuit was filed, CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said that “by deleting these records, the White House is destroying essential historical records.”

But the Alabama Senate tweets may be another matter. In an email, CREW Communications Director Jordan Libowitz said Trump can delete “purely political tweets,” which he said are not covered by the Presidential Records Act.

However, Libowitz said Trump has been deleting a lot of tweets, and that “particularly as the government has acknowledged @realdonaldtrump tweets to be official statements, deleting those tweets which are not purely political would violate the [Presidential Records Act] if the tweets are not archived.”

Lauren Harper of the nonprofit National Security Archive, which advocates for public access to government information, said Trump is the head of the Republican Party because of his position as president, and so there is not much differentiation between his role as party leader and as president in the instance of deleting his tweets about Strange.

Noting reports that at least six current or former White House officials used private email accounts for government business, Harper says the deletion of the Strange tweets “is part of a larger pattern” of the Trump administration’s not taking record keeping seriously.

Following the email reports, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Tuesday, “All White House personnel have been instructed to use official email to conduct all government-related work.”

Many of the tweets Trump has deleted are to correct typos. The night of the Alabama race, for example, Trump congratulated Moore and initially told him to “WIN in Nov.” A new tweet later corrected that to “in Dec,” when Alabama will hold its general election.

There was also the “covfefe” kerfuffle in May, when Trump tweeted the mysterious nonword, which was retweeted more than 100,000 times before being deleted. In June, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., introduced the “COVFEFE Act of 2017” to officially make social media part of the Presidential Records Act.

[NPR]

Trump’s Plan to End Qatar-Saudi Arabia Deadlock Fails

 

President Trump’s plan to de-escalate the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Qatar ended in failure this week after the two countries released conflicting statements hours after a phone call organized by Trump.

The New York Times reported on Saturday that a phone call late Friday between the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, was meant to find common ground between the two nations. Instead, the two countries attacked each other hours later in the media over which country capitulated and agreed to peace negotiations first.

“The problem is as much about appearing to not capitulate to the other side as it is trying to solve any problems,” Michael Stephens of the Royal United Services Institute told the Times.

“Given the hypersensitivity of both sides to appearing weak,” he added, “it makes the problem considerably harder to solve.”

Trump himself seemed to hint that he was favoring Saudi Arabia in the negotiations on Thursday in comments at the White House, saying that “massive funding of terrorism by certain countries” was still a huge problem. Trump has accused the country of sponsoring terrorism in the region in the past.

“If they don’t stop the funding of terrorism, I don’t want them to come together,” he added.

Trump called the two leaders separately on Friday, urging them to work together to end terrorism in the region and work with the United States to counter Iran’s influence.

Unity among the Arab nations “is essential to promoting regional stability and countering the threat of Iran,” read a White House read out of the calls.

Trump “also emphasized that all countries must follow through on commitments from the Riyadh Summit to defeat terrorism, cut off funding for terrorist groups, and combat extremist ideology,” it added.

[The Hill]

Trump Disbands Business Councils Before They Disband Themselves. Takes Credit.

Some of America’s top CEOs were preparing to issue a statement criticizing the president — so he effectively fired them from a White House council first.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced he was ending two business advisory councils amid a stampede of defections and after one of the groups had decided to disband over the president’s much-criticized response to the weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Va.

A person close to Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum said the group had already told the White House it had resolved to disband and condemn the president’s Tuesday claims that “both sides” were responsible for violence at a white supremacist and neo-Nazi gathering and that some “very fine people” were among the marchers defending a Confederate statue.

The group in a statement presented the decision as mutual with Trump, though EY CEO Mark Weinberger tweeted Wednesday that “we made the right call.” Members of the separate Manufacturing Council — which had already lost eight members this week — were due to hold their own call Wednesday.

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!” Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, ending the debate.

The split likely won’t change Trump’s agenda — the long-time real estate developer still intends to slash corporate taxes and regulations. And the White House said a separate group of government officials called the American Technology Council, which met with top Sillicon Valley executives and Trump in June, will keep working. Still, the break-up of the two high-profile CEO groups shows increasing pressure on business leaders to distance themselves from the White House and could hurt Trump’s standing with the pro-business, establishment wing of voters and donors in the Republican Party.

“There is no room for equivocation here: the evil on display by these perpetrators of hate should be condemned and has no place in a country that draws strength from our diversity and humanity,” JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said in a statement Wednesday after Trump disbanded the Strategic and Policy Forum to which he belonged. Dimon had weighed in on the events in Charlottesville over the weekend but had not criticized the president directly.

“It is a leader’s role, in business or government, to bring people together, not tear them apart,” he said.

Executives historically have clamored to belong to White House business councils, which give them an opportunity to pitch the president behind closed doors.

Merck’s Kenneth Frazier — the first CEO to announce he was leaving Trump’s manufacturing council this week — repeatedly pressed Trump in private on reforming tax laws. Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris was initially granted a private sit-down with EPA head Scott Pruitt as the agency weighed a key regulation, though the meeting was trimmed down to a brief greeting.

In return, the executives served as surrogates for a White House trying to sell its pro-business message. Council members regularly flanked the president at a series of announcements and executive order signings. Executives like Campbell’s Soup CEO Denise Morrison told reporters they were optimistic about Trump’s effect on the economy. Dow donated about $1 million for the president’s inauguration.

The corporate backlash started Monday with Merck’s Frazier — the only African-American CEO on Trump’s manufacturing council — who said he was quitting “to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.” Within a day, the CEOs of Under Armour and Intel said they were leaving too.

The president on Tuesday called them “grandstanders” on Twitter and lashed out at Merck specifically. He claimed the defections wouldn’t hurt him.

“For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning. However, no other CEOs publicly stepped forward to join the council, and five more leaders said they were leaving.

On Tuesday — before Trump’s news conference but after he took heat Saturday for blaming “many sides” for violence in Charlottesville — Morrison of Campbell’s said she planned to remain on the manufacturing council. Social media campaigns in response called the company a “Soup Nazi” in reference to the television show Seinfeld; another circulated altered photos of fake Campbell’s products called “Cream of Complicity” and “Swastika Soup.”

On Wednesday, Morrison said she couldn’t serve on the council any longer. “Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville,” Morrison said in a statement.

Others also flipped their stances. “The President’s most recent statements equating those who are motivated by race-based hate with those who stand up against hatred is unacceptable and has changed our decision to participate in the White House Manufacturing Advisory Council,” Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said on Wednesday — less than 24 hours after telling reporters he planned to stay on the council so J&J would have a voice in high-level discussions.

Activists said the overnight campaigns and threats of boycotts motivated executives. Progressive groups have also pushed payment processing companies to cut ties with hate groups, collecting thousands of signatures on petitions, though Discover, Visa and Mastercard told POLITICO they had limited ability to force banks to cut off merchants conducting legal businesses.

“The collapse of the CEO councils is not due to an outbreak of conscience,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Instead, it is public pressure — pressure for the CEOs to evidence a measure of decency — that is driving them off the councils. That’s not exactly the most inspiring example of moral leadership. No profiles in courage here.”

Silicon Valley executives such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Apple’s Tim Cook also met with Trump in June through the administration’s American Technology Council, which is technically made up of government employees. Still, activists like Weissman are calling on the affiliated executives to condemn Trump’s comments too.

Until this week, Trump had spent months praising the same executives who are now rebuking him.

“I want to thank these great business leaders,” Trump said in February, when Merck’s Frazier, J&J’s Gorsky, Campbell’s Morrison and other CEO advisers joined him for a signing ceremony on an executive order on regulatory reform. “They’re helping us sort out what’s going on, because … it’s been disastrous for business. This is going to be a place for business to do well and to thrive.”

[Politico]

1 14 15 16 17