Trump trashes Tillerson for saying Putin outfoxed him

President Donald Trump on Thursday bashed former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as “dumb as a rock,” saying he was “totally ill prepared and ill equipped” to be America’s top diplomat, after Tillerson shared unflattering information about Trump with top House members.

The president’s outburst on social media comes after Tillerson met with the top Democrat and Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and some of their staffers on Tuesday. He said during the meeting that Russian leader Vladimir Putin had out-prepared the U.S. president when the pair met for the first time in July 2017 in Hamburg, Germany.

Tillerson, whom Trump fired in March 2018, left the impression that the Russians had outmaneuvered the Republican president on at least two occasions, three people familiar with Tillerson’s meeting with the lawmakers told POLITICO.

Trump denied he was under-prepared for the meeting with Putin, who he has long sought to charm.

“Rex Tillerson, a man who is ‘dumb as a rock’ and totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State, made up a story (he got fired) that I was out-prepared by Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Hamburg, Germany,” the president tweeted. “I don’t think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing!”

It was not the first time the president has lashed out at his former secretary of state, who was ousted last year after frequently being at odds with Trump on policy issues. Trump also called Tillerson “dumb as a rock” in December.

According to the people familiar with Tillerson’s Tuesday session, which lasted roughly seven hours, he said that while in Germany, the Russians indicated to U.S. officials that the meeting between Trump and Putin would be quick, essentially a meet-and-greet.

The Russians also proposed not having anyone present to take notes, according to Tillerson’s statements, and Tillerson and others agreed to that condition, the people said. “Tillerson said, ‘It’s the way the Russians preferred it,’” one of the people told POLITICO.

But instead of lasting just a few minutes, the session turned into a wide-ranging meeting that stretched more than two hours.

It is still not clear what the two leaders discussed; Tillerson has said cyber issues and allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election came up. He indicated Tuesday that there were other topics discussed, though he declined to go into specifics, the people familiar with the meeting said.

Tillerson told those attending Tuesday’s session that he does not recall crafting a written record of the meeting after it ended and that he doesn’t know if anyone did.

The Washington Post, which first revealed some details of Tillerson’s talks with lawmakers this week, has in the past reported that Trump took away the notes of his interpreter in that meeting. Tillerson, who could not be reached for comment for this story, told lawmakers that he did not witness the interpreter’s notes being taken away.

The Hamburg meeting may not have been the first time the Russians out-played the Trump administration, the people familiar with Tillerson’s remarks told POLITICO.

In May 2017, Trump met in the Oval Office with two top Russian officials, foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

The people familiar with the Tillerson meeting Tuesday said he indicated that the U.S. side understood the session to be a mere courtesy call with no real agenda. Tillerson also said he did not recall a designated note-taker being in the room.

“The president twice went into a meeting with sophisticated diplomatic players from an adversary with no agenda and presumably no designated note-taker. That’s concerning, because it leaves the U.S. side open to being out-maneuvered,” one of the people familiar with Tuesday’s session said.

It was later reported that Trump divulged classified information to his Russian guests. Tillerson did not address those reports, however.

Tillerson was careful not to disparage Trump during his discussions Tuesday, the people familiar with the meeting said.

[Politico]

Trump Decries Dem ‘Fishing Expedition’ in House: ‘They Want a DO OVER’

President Donald Trump went on another Twitter tear tonight over the White House showdown with the Democratic-controlled House for witnesses and documents.

The White House has already rejected several requests from multiple committees, and Trump today said multiple times that he considers a lot of this an attempt at a Democratic “do-over” of the Mueller report:

Trump went on to quote former CIA Director John Brennan‘s walk-back of some of his previous Russia speculation:

That walk-back from Brennan was from March 25th. It’s unclear why the president shared it today, though it’s worth noting the clip was played on Fox News earlier tonight (in the context of Brennan’s appearance on Capitol Hill today):

[Mediaite]

Trump brags about his China trade war ‘success’ as stock ticker shows market tanking

President Donald Trump on Monday boasted about how successful his trade war with China has been — even though stock markets took an absolute beating on the news that China was about to slap tariffs on $60 billion of American goods.

While giving remarks to White House reporters on Monday, Trump bragged that his tariffs were making the United States richer, while a stock-market ticker showed that the Dow Jones Industrial Average was falling by more than 600 points.

“We’re taking in right now hundreds of billions of dollars,” Trump said of his tariffs on Chinese goods. “We’re taking in billions of dollars of tariffs, and those tariffs are going to be tremendously, if you look at what we’ve done thus far with China, we’ve never taken in ten cents until I got elected, now we’re taking in billions of billions.”

Trump also falsely credited the tariffs for economic growth in the first quarter of 2019, even though the majority of economists say the tariffs had nothing to do with strong GDP growth.

“This is a very positive step,” Trump said as the stock ticker continued showing a bloodbath in the markets. “I love the position we’re in.”

[Raw Story]

Trump ignores black #1 NFL pick to congratulate white player with history of racist tweets

In his first tweet on Saturday morning, President Donald Trump ignored the first player picked in the NFL draft, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, who is black, to praise the number two pick — a white player with a history of racist tweets.

In his tweet, Trump skipped over the Heisman Trophy winner to celebrate Ohio State’s Nick Bosa — who missed most of the 2018 season — for being picked second.

“Congratulations to Nick Bosa on being picked number two in the NFL Draft. You will be a great player for years to come, maybe one of the best. Big Talent! San Francisco will embrace you but most importantly, always stay true to yourself. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” he tweeted.

According to to the San Franciso Chronicle,”Bosa recently deleted tweets in which he called Colin Kaepernick a ‘clown,’ referred to Beyonce’s music as ‘complete trash’ and called ‘Black Panther’ the worst Marvel movie. On Thursday, the website Blacksportsonline posted threads showing Bosa following and liking accounts that feature white nationalist posts. The twitter feed @rzstprogramming showed Bosa retweeted a tweet referring to ‘crappernick.’”

[Raw Story]

Trump says he would challenge impeachment in Supreme Court

President Trump on Wednesday said that he would attempt to challenge impeachment in the Supreme Court if Democrats carried out such proceedings, though it’s unclear the high court would hear such a case.

“The Mueller Report, despite being written by Angry Democrats and Trump Haters, and with unlimited money behind it ($35,000,000), didn’t lay a glove on me. I DID NOTHING WRONG,” Trump tweeted.

“If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court. Not only are there no ‘High Crimes and Misdemeanors,’ there are no Crimes by me at all,” he continued.

The president accused Democrats, Hillary Clinton and “dirty cops” of being guilty of criminal activity.

“We waited for Mueller and WON, so now the Dems look to Congress as last hope!” Trump concluded.

The House holds the power to carry out impeachment proceedings, while the Senate is responsible for whether to convict the individual in question. The chief justice of the Supreme Court, currently John Roberts, would preside over the Senate trial.

There is little precedent to support the idea of the Supreme Court weighing in on the merits of impeachment, as a sitting president has not previously challenged impeachment proceedings in the high court.

The Supreme Court ruled in the 1993 case of federal Judge Walter Nixon that whether the Senate properly conducted an impeachment trial was a political question, and therefore nonjusticiable.

Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, rejected the possibility of Trump taking an impeachment to the Supreme Court.

“Not even a SCOTUS filled with Trump appointees would get in the way of the House or Senate, where [Chief Justice] Roberts would preside over Trump’s Impeachment Trial,” tweeted Tribe, an outspoken critic of the president.

The president has been fixated in recent days on pushing back against the specter of impeachment proceedings, while maintaining that he is “not even a little bit” concerned about the possibility of removal from office.

Democratic leaders have largely said they don’t yet support starting the impeachment process, but remained open to the possibility in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller‘s full report.

In the partly redacted document, investigators did not establish that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 election, but did not exonerate Trump on the question of obstruction of justice. 

Investigators instead detailed 10 episodes they reviewed for potential obstruction by the president, with Mueller saying that Congress has the authority to conduct potential obstruction probes.

Talk of whether to carry out impeachment hearings has split Democrats, and discussions have intensified in the aftermath of Mueller’s report.

“I do believe that impeachment is one of the most divisive forces, paths that we could go down to in our country,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday. “But if the facts, the path of fact-finding takes us there, we have no choice. But we’re not there yet.”

House Democrats have launched a flurry of investigations into the president, seeking to review his finances, potential abuse of power and corruption within the administration.Trump later asserted in a pair of tweets that he had been cooperative with the Mueller investigation, and suggested Congress should focus on legislation instead of seeking additional information from the White House as part of its own probes. “Millions of pages of documents were given to the Mueller Angry Dems, plus I allowed everyone to testify, including W.H. counsel. I didn’t have to do this, but now they want more,” Trump tweeted. “Congress has no time to legislate, they only want to continue the Witch Hunt, which I have already won. They should start looking at The Criminals who are already very well known to all. This was a Rigged System – WE WILL DRAIN THE SWAMP!”

[The Hill]

Trump questions impeachment talk after stock market hits record high

President Trump on Tuesday lamented that some Democrats are discussing the prospect of impeachment proceedings on the same day that the stock market closed at record highs, suggesting he should be given more credit.

“You mean the Stock Market hit an all-time record high today and they’re actually talking impeachment!?” Trump tweeted. “Will I ever be given credit for anything by the Fake News Media or Radical Liberal Dems? NO COLLUSION!”

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite closed at record highs on Tuesday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 26,656.39, 1.1 percent short of an all-time high.

Trump has regularly taken credit for good news on the stock market, and he has previously questioned how lawmakers could move to impeach “somebody who’s done a great job.”

A pair of high-profile Democrats were asked at the Time 100 Summit on Tuesday about where they stand on launching impeachment proceedings, a topic that has dominated discussions since special counsel Robert Mueller‘s report was released last week.

In the partly redacted document, investigators did not establish that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 election, but did not exonerated Trump on the question of obstruction of justice. Investigators instead detailed 10 episodes they reviewed for potential obstruction by the president, with Mueller saying that Congress has authority to conduct potential obstruction probes.

“I do believe that impeachment is one of the most divisive forces, paths that we could go down to in our country,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday. “But if the facts, the path of fact-finding takes us there, we have no choice. But we’re not there yet.”

Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in the 2016 election, said impeachment proceedings should “be something undertaken in a really serious, diligent way, based on evidence.”

She suggested that Trump would have been indicted for obstruction of justice as a result of Mueller’s probe if he weren’t the sitting president.

J.W. Verret, who served as one of the first 16 members of then-candidate Trump’s pre-transition team, said Tuesday that he believes Mueller’s report amounted to “a referral to Congress to begin impeachment proceedings.”

As Democratic leaders and media pundits weigh the merits of impeachment proceedings, Trump has been openly defiant about the prospect.

He has tweeted about the possibility multiple times in recent days, asserting Monday that he did not commit actions that reach the threshold of “high crimes and misdemeanors” that could lead to impeachment.

Trump told reporters at Monday’s White House Easter Egg Roll that he was “not even a little bit” worried about impeachment. 

[The Hill]

Trump Spreads Fake Poll on His ‘Soaring Approval’ Aired By Fox’s Lou Dobbs

President Donald Trump seemed delighted on Thursday when he posted a screen-shot from Lou Dobbs‘ Fox Business show supposedly showing his approval polling is at 55%.

There’s just one little problem: the number is way off, and his actual approval rating according to that poll is a paltry 43%.

The Fox Business host spent a good portion of his show repeatedly fawning over a new poll from the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service on Trump and the economy. Dobbs framed the poll’s findings with the graphic above, saying Trump enjoys “soaring approval” from 58% of voters for his performance on the economy, and an impressive 55% from voters overall.

Here’s what the poll actually says:

While President Trump’s overall unfavorable rating has remained steady at 55 percent since he announced his candidacy in 2015, 58 percent of voters approve of the job he has done on the economy.

To be clear: Trump’s disapproval is 55%, according to that poll. His approval rating, meanwhile, is 43%. That means his numbers are underwater by 12%.

Mo Elleithee, director of Georgetown Politics and a frequent Fox News guest, corrected the president on Twitter:

Whoopsies.

Watch above, via Fox Business.

UPDATE: Fox Business issued an on-air correction to the poll on Thursday morning.

From FBN’s Blake Burman:

It’s been a quite start to the day for President Trump, though he did send out a tweet this morning from the Lou Dobbs show last night on Fox Business. That tweet featured a poll that was not entirely accurate, which Fox Business would like to correct. According to a poll from Georgetown University, 58 percent of respondents approved of the president’s handling of the economy. That portion of the graphic was right. However, the graphic also showed that 55 percent of the respondents approve of the president, that number is not correct. The 55 percent number was those who have an unfavorable impression of President Trump.

[Mediaite]

Stock Market Falls as Trump threatens tariffs on $11 billion of EU goods

U.S. stocks closed lower Tuesday, with the S&P 500 snapping its eight-day winning streak, on fears over escalation of trade tensions with the European Union and a weaker global outlook from the International Monetary Fund.

How did the benchmarks fare?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.72%  dropped 190.44 points, or 0.7%, to close at 26,150.58, while the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.61% fell 17.57 points. or 0.6%, to 2,878.20. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -0.56% declined 44.61 points, or 0.6%, to 7,909.28.

What drove the market?

The office of the U.S. Trade Representative threatened to levy tariffs on many European goods late Monday. The threat is a retaliation against European companies’ subsidies for aircraft manufacturer Airbus SE EADSY, -1.82% If the U.S. follows through, the proposed tariffs would affect about $11 billion in imports to the U.S., including helicopters, bicycles, cheese and wine.

Lighthizer said the Trump administration would wait for World Trade Organization clearance to implement the duties. President Donald Trump Tuesday morning tweeted that the EU has taken advantage of the U.S., adding that it would “soon stop!”:

The U.S.-EU tensions comes with the administration reportedly close to resolving a yearlong spat with China, which has roiled markets amid fears the clash between the world’s largest economies could disrupt global economic growth.

The IMF lowered the outlook for global economic growth in 2019 to 3.3% from 3.5% projected in January, marking its third reduction of growth expectations in six months. The decline has been broadly felt, with all advanced economies, including the U.S., and most major emerging-market economies seeing deterioration in their outlook.

Meanwhile, data pointed to a tightening of the U.S. labor market. The number of job openings in the U.S. fell by 538,000 to 7.1 million on the last business day of February, marking the smallest number of job openings since March of 2018.

The National Federation of Independent Business’s small-business optimism index edged up 0.1 point to a seasonally adjusted 101.8, marking the third month in a row in a narrow range.

What were strategists saying?

“The tariff threat is probably what’s moving markets negatively,” Karen Cavanaugh, senior market strategist with Voya Investment Management, told MarketWatch, though she noted that tariffs being discussed are relatively small. “We’re in an information vacuum before earnings season, and right now any little thing could move markets until we get something substantial to sink our teeth into.”

“Sentiment in continental Europe is holding up well, considering the heightened tensions between Washington, D.C., and Brussels in relation to the threat of $11 billion worth of tariffs being imposed on European imports,” wrote David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets, in a research note.

Which stocks were in focus?

Apple Inc. AAPL, -0.30%  surrendered early gains to fall 0.3%, bringing its nine-day win streak to a close as its effort to reclaim $1 trillion in market cap took a pause.

Shares of Wynn Resorts LtdWYNN, -3.86% dropped 3.9% after the company terminated talks to purchase Australia’s Crown Resorts.

Shares of Paris-listed Airbus SE AIR, -1.86%  were off 1.9% amid the U.S. tariff threat. U.S. listed shares EADSY, -1.82% also fell 1.8%.

Avaya Holdings CorpAVYA, +4.17% shares gained 4.2% after Bloomberg reported that the communications software company is organizing a sales process for the company, following the receipt of unsolicited bids.

General Electric CoGE, -2.85% shares slid 2.9% a day after J.P. Morgan analyst Stephen Tusa downgraded the stock.

Shares of American Airlines Group IncAAL, -1.68% fell 1.7% after the company cut its first quarter guidance.

How were other markets trading?

Markets in Asia closed on a mixed note, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 NIK, -0.61%adding 0.2%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, -0.35% rising 0.3%, while the Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, -0.39% lost 0.2%. European stocks were lower, with the Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP, -0.47% down 0.5%.

In commodities markets, the price of oil CLK9, +0.19% retreated from five-month highs, while gold futures GCM9, -0.13% settled higher. The U.S. dollarDXY, +0.02% was mostly unchanged.

[MarketWatch]

Trump steps back from Mexico border threat as companies warn of economic fallout

President Donald Trump took a step back on Tuesday from his threat to close the U.S. southern border to fight illegal immigration, as pressure mounted from companies worried that a shutdown would cause chaos to supply chains.

Trump threatened on Friday to close the border this week unless Mexico acted. He repeated that threat on Tuesday but said he had not made a decision yet: “We’re going to see what happens over the next few days.”

Closing the border could disrupt millions of legal crossings and billions of dollars in trade. Auto companies have been warning the White House privately that it would lead to the idling of U.S. plants within days because they rely on prompt deliveries of components made in Mexico.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest U.S. business lobbying group, has been in contact with the White House to discuss the “very negative economic consequences that would occur across the country,” said Neil Bradley, the group’s top lobbyist, on a call with reporters.

Trump praised efforts by Mexico to hinder illegal immigration from Central America at its own southern border. On Monday, the Mexican government said it would help regulate the flow of migrants.

“I really wanted to close it,” Trump said on Tuesday night at a fundraiser for congressional Republicans.

[Reuters]

Trump slams media for coverage of investigations into ‘all time favorite duly elected President’

President Trump tore into the media over its coverage of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which concluded without sufficient evidence that the president’s campaign had colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. 

“The Fake News Media has lost tremendous credibility with its corrupt coverage of the illegal Democrat Witch Hunt of your all time favorite duly elected President, me! T.V. ratings of CNN & MSNBC tanked last night after seeing the Mueller Report statement. @FoxNews up BIG!” Trump tweeted Tuesday evening. 

Trump and his conservative allies on Capitol Hill and in the media seized on Attorney General William Barr’s announcement that Mueller found no evidence of collusion, using it to slam mainstream outlets for what they said was speculative reporting that implied Trump’s guilt.

“The Mainstream Media is under fire and being scorned all over the World as being corrupt and FAKE. For two years they pushed the Russian Collusion Delusion when they always knew there was No Collusion. They truly are the Enemy of the People and the Real Opposition Party!” Trump tweeted early Tuesday morning. 

The president has long had an acrimonious relationship with the press, often hammering outlets that reported negative news of the White House as “fake news” and at times even speculating whether he should revoke the press credentials of certain publications’ employees.

Fox News, a staunch defender of the president in its primetime hours, saw a boost in its viewership in the aftermath of the Mueller news, more than quadrupling CNN’s ratings.

[The Hill]

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