Trump Pledges To Designate Antifa A ‘Terrorist Organization’ In A Distraction From His Failures

As overlapping crises convulse an anxious nation, President Trump on Sunday sought to cast blame for widespread protests gripping cities on “radical-left anarchists,” while adding that the media “is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy.”

The president has said that members of the loosely defined far-left group Antifa — short for “anti-fascists” — have led clashes with police and looting in cities across the U.S. since the killing of a black man in police custody in Minneapolis.

It’s unclear if any group or groups are primarily responsible for escalating protests that began following George Floyd’s death on May 25 as Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck.

In one tweet on Sunday, Trump said the U.S. “will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.” It’s something he has previously floated, and last year two Republican senators introduced a resolution that sought to designate the group as a domestic terrorist organization.

Following Trump’s tweet, Attorney General William Barr said in a statement that “[f]ederal law enforcement actions will be directed at apprehending and charging the violent radical agitators who have hijacked peaceful protest.”

Barr added: “The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.”

The clashes, spreading to dozens of cities across the U.S., follow a series of racist incidents and deaths of black people, including Floyd’s on Monday.

Chauvin, now a former Minneapolis police officer, was seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck while holding him in custody as Floyd pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other officers present at the scene have been fired but not arrested or charged.Article continues after sponsor message

Protests and clashes that have since followed come at a time of unprecedented crisis for the country, with confirmed deaths from the coronavirus pandemic topping 100,000 and millions of people out of work as a result of broad business shutdowns. Minorities, including African Americans, have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 deaths and pandemic-induced economic peril.

Trump addressed the demonstrations Saturday,striking a milder tone than he has on Twitter during prepared remarks following a space launch in Florida. He said Floyd’s death “has filled Americans all over the country with horror, anger and grief.” He added that he “understands the pain that people are feeling” and supports peaceful protest, but that “the memory of George Floyd is being dishonored by rioters, looters and anarchists.”

“He should just sometimes stop talking”

Apart from Saturday’s remarks, though, Trump has not often played a unifying role in recent days. His tweets about radical-left anarchists have also included criticism of Democratic leadership in Minnesota. In another tweet on Sunday, he blamed the mainstream media for fomenting “hatred and anarchy.”

On Friday, Trump tweeted provocatively that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” a phrase with a racist history that Trump said he was not aware of. Later on, he said his intent was not to make a threat but to register a statement of concern that armed violence can accompany looting.

Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, said on Fox News Sunday that the president’s tweets about demonstrations turning violent are “not constructive.”

Speaking on ABC’s This Week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on Sunday morning that she’s not paying attention to Trump’s inflammatory tweets. Instead, she said he “should be a unifying force in our country. We have seen that with Democratic and Republican presidents all along. They have seen their responsibility to be the president of the United States, to unify our country and not to fuel the flame.”

Also Sunday, Keisha Lance Bottoms — mayor of Atlanta, one city that has seen protests and clashes with police — told CBS’ Face the Nation that Trump’s tweets are “making it worse” and “he should just sometimes stop talking.”

In his own statement on Saturday, former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, wrote that “Protesting [Floyd’s killing] is right and necessary. It’s an utterly American response. But burning down communities and needless destruction is not. Violence that endangers lives is not.” He added that as president, he’d lead the conversation about turning the nation’s “anguish to purpose.”

Biden made an unannounced visit on Sunday to the site in Wilmington, Del., where protests had taken place the night before.

[NPR]

Trump says Sessions wasn’t ‘mentally qualified’ to be attorney general

President Trump said in a new interview that Jeff Sessions wasn’t “mentally qualified” to be attorney general and was a “disaster” while in office. 

The president told Sharyl Attkisson that Sessions “should have never” held the position.

“Jeff Sessions was a disaster as attorney general,” Trump said during the “Full Measure” interview, which aired on Sunday morning. “He’s not mentally qualified to be attorney general. He was the biggest problem.”

Trump’s remarks escalated an ongoing feud between the president and Sessions, a former Republican senator from Alabama who as attorney general recused himself from the FBI’s investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election. 

On Saturday, the president formally endorsed college football coach Tommy Tuberville, who is challenging Sessions’s bid to return to the Senate, citing the recusal.

Sessions responded on Twitter, saying, “I did my duty & you’re damn fortunate I did.”

“It protected the rule of law & resulted in your exoneration,” he posted. “Your personal feelings don’t dictate who Alabama picks as their senator, the people of Alabama do.”

Sessions and Tuberville will compete in a July 14 runoff after a close Republican primary election in March. The Republicans seek to unseat Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who took over Sessions’s seat in a 2017 special election.

Trump fired Sessions in November 2018 and told NBC News’s “Meet the Press” last year that Sessions would be his only “do-over” as president.

[The Hill]

Trump retweets a message calling Hillary Clinton a ‘skank’ and spreads sexist insults about other prominent female Democrats

President Donald Trump on Saturday shared a series of messages containing sexist taunts and personal insults against prominent female Democrats, including Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In one message retweeted by the president, John Stahl, a conservative who gathered only 3% of the vote in his bid to represent California’s 52nd District in the House in 2012, called the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, Clinton, a “skank.”

Like Trump, Stahl is fond of referring to political opponents with insulting nicknames, as seen on his Twitter feed.

In another message shared by Trump, Stahl aimed insulting gibes at Pelosi and Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the 2018 race for the governor’s office in Georgia and is a contender for selection as Joe Biden’s running mate in the 2020 presidential race.

[Business Insider]

Trump tears into ’60 Minutes’ after segment with whistleblower Bright

President Trump took aim at CBS News and its flagship news magazine program, “60 Minutes,” on Sunday after the program interviewed whistleblower Rick Bright, former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

In a tweet, the president excoriated CBS and its “third place anchor, @NorahODonnell,” whom he accused of “doing everything in their power to demean our Country, much to the benefit of the Radical Left Democrats.”

“Tonight they put on yet another Fake “Whistleblower”, a disgruntled employee who supports Dems, fabricates stories & spews lies. @60Minutes report was incorrect, which they couldn’t care less about. Fake News!” he tweeted.

“This whole Whistleblower racket needs to be looked at very closely, it is causing great injustice & harm. I hope you are listening [Sen. Susan Collins.] I also hope that Shari Redstone will take a look at her poorly performing gang. She knows how to make things right!” Trump added. Redstone is the chairwoman of ViacomCBS.

Bright, who last week slammed the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 crisis during testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, told CBS News that he was not “disgruntled,” as Trump has described him, but instead was frustrated with the administration’s response to the virus threat.

“Remember, the entire leadership was focused on containment. There was a belief that we could contain this virus and keep it out of the United States,” he said. “Containment doesn’t work. Containment does buy time. It could slow. It very well could slow the spread. But while you’re slowing the spread, you better be doing something in parallel to be prepared for when that virus breaks out. That was my job.”
“I am not disgruntled,” Bright added. “I am frustrated at a lack of leadership. I am frustrated at a lack of urgency to get a head start on developing lifesaving tools for Americans. I’m frustrated at our inability to be heard as scientists. Those things frustrate me.”

Bright told the House committee last week that “unprecedented illness and fatalities” would occur if the U.S. coronavirus response does not improve in upcoming months, and cast doubt on predictions that the U.S. would see a COVID-19 vaccine developed in the next year and a half.

[The Hill]

Trump attacks whistleblower Bright as ‘disgruntled employee’

President Trump on Thursday criticized health official Rick Bright and said he should “no longer” be working for the federal government shortly before the whistleblower was slated to testify before a House panel about the Trump administration’s response to the novel coronavirus.

Trump tweeted that he had never met nor heard of Bright and claimed that the former federal vaccine doctor was “not liked or respected” by people whom the president has consulted, labeling him a “disgruntled employee.”

“I don’t know the so-called Whistleblower Rick Bright, never met him or even heard of him, but to me he is a disgruntled employee, not liked or respected by people I spoke to and who, with his attitude, should no longer be working for our government!” Trump tweeted Thursday morning.

Bright is expected to deliver critical testimony to a House committee later Thursday saying that the Trump administration was unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic. He plans to warn that without a coordinated national response, this year will be “the darkest winter in modern history,” according to a leaked copy of his prepared remarks.

Bright served at the helm of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority from 2016 until last month, when he was reassigned to a narrower position based at the National Institutes of Health.

Bright filed a whistleblower complaint following his reassignment alleging that his early warnings about the virus were met with indifference at the Department of Health and Human Services and that his efforts to push back on the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus, something Trump touted, contributed to his removal from the high-level post.

Bright is seeking to be reinstated in his former position and asked for a full investigation into the decision to reassign him.

Bright, who first came forward with his claims in late April, is slated to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health at 10 a.m. Thursday morning.

Trump has repeatedly said he didn’t know Bright, while dismissing him as a seemingly “disgruntled employee.”

“I don’t know who he is. I did not hear good things about him at all,” Trump told reporters at the White House on May 6. “And to me he seems like a disgruntled employee that’s trying to help the Democrats win an election.” 

[The Hill]

Trump demands Obama be made to testify in the Senate

For the past few days, President Trump has been talking nonstop about something he has termed “OBAMAGATE” — a largely incoherent conspiracy theory that positions former President Obama as the mastermind behind a conspiracy to use federal law enforcement to undermine Trump’s campaign and presidency.

It is, in effect, the new birtherism: an unfounded campaign against the legitimacy of America’s first black president that Trump is trying to exploit to rally the political faithful.

This morning, Trump seriously escalated his campaign against Obama, tweeting at one of his most reliable supporters in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, to force Obama to testify before Congress about this allegedly dastardly plot.

The specific wording of the tweet — “Do it… just do it” — is striking; the request sounds like a childish dare, as if Trump were daring Graham to shave his head during a late-night Zoom call. But the absurdity of the language shouldn’t distract from the nefariousness of the request.

The president of the United States is labeling a fringe right-wing conspiracy theory “the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR.” He’s also more or less ordering a particularly compliant senator — who happens to chair the Judiciary Committee — to use the powers of the Senate to treat one of his predecessors as a potential criminal suspect or witness on the basis of this conspiracy theory.

Throughout Trump’s presidency, he has consistently treated the investigatory and law enforcement powers of the US government as tools to be deployed for purely political reasons. During the coronavirus crisis, when his presidency is once again in mortal danger, he has stepped on the gas on this kind of abuse of power — the Justice Department has dropped charges against Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty,and Trump now seems to be trying to get them to treat Obama like a criminal.

In democracies, presidents are not supposed to use law enforcement agencies as shields for their crooked political allies and swords against their political enemies. The threat that Trump poses to the rule of law, and the basic principles of a free society, has never been clearer.

[Vox]

Update

Graham denied Trump’s request.

Trump rants about the crimes he alleges Rosie O’Donnell has committed

During a wide ranging tirade at a rally in Las Vegas this Friday, President Trump ripped into what he sees as the unfair application of the law against people who support him and those who are against him.

At one point, Trump turned his focus to comedian Rosie O’Donnell, referencing the alleged illegally over-sized campaign donations she allegedly made to at least five Democratic federal candidates back in 2018.

According to Trump, O’Donnell violated campaign finance laws “as badly as anybody I’ve ever seen, and nothing happens to her.”

“Rosie O’Donnell — that was a massive violation of the campaign finance laws, but Dinesh D’Souza, they wanted to put him in jail … for doing something that was really understandable,” he continued. “Rosie O’Donnell, five times — what she did is incredible, nothing happens.”

[Raw Story]

Reality

Dinesh D’Souza willingly exceeded donation limits by making his lover (ewww) and assistant donate to a Republican campaign and paid them back. Rosie O’Donnell did what many donors do, give a donation and expect the campaign to reimburse any money over the maximum.

Media

Trump swipes at ‘little wise guy’ Brad Pitt, Korean film ‘Parasite’ during rally

President Trump took aim at the winners of the Academy Awards at a rally in Colorado Thursday night, singling out newly-minted best supporting actor winner Brad Pitt and best picture winner “Parasite.”

Trump blasted the Academy for giving its top honor to Bong Joon-Ho’s dark comedy about conflict between two families of different economic status, saying “The winner is a movie from South Korea. What the hell was that all about? We’ve got enough problems with South Korea, with trade. And after all that they give them best movie of the year?”

The movie was the first winner in a language other than English.

Trump also castigated Brad Pitt, who won for his role in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood,” by taking a shot at the actor’s victory speech.

“And then you have Brad Pitt. I was never a big fan of his. He got up and said a little wise guy statement. Little wise guy. He’s a little wise guy,” the president said.

In his acceptance speech, Pitt, a longtime supporter of liberal causes, said the time he had been given to speak was “more than the Senate gave John Bolton,” in reference to the former White House National Security adviser who offered to testify in the Senate impeachment trial if subpoenaed.

“I’m thinking maybe Quentin does a movie about it and in the end the adults do the right thing,” Pitt added.

The president then went on to ask “Can we get ‘Gone with the Wind’ back?” The Civil War epic won the 1939 award for Best Picture in 1940.

Trump has criticized the Academy Awards telecast for several years, dating back to before his candidacy for president. As president, he has frequently blamed ratings declines for the ceremony on actors’ attacks on him.

[The Hill]

Trump Attacks Roger Stone Jury Forewoman

President Donald Trump spoke out for the first time since Roger Stone was sentenced to three years and four months in prison on Thursday by Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the D.C. District Court.

During a speech before former prisoners at a criminal justice event in Las Vegas, Trump fired shots at the jury forewoman in the Stone trial, stating, “The forewoman of the jury, the woman who was in charge of the jury, is totally tainted when you take a look.” He additionally labelled her as an “anti-Trump activist” and a “dominant person,” claiming, “she can get people to do whatever she wants.”

“How can you have a jury poll tainted so badly?” Trump asked. He later added, “But it happened to a lot of people and destroyed a lot of people’s lives.”

Trump ended his rant on the jury forewoman by promising viewers, “We are cleaning it out. We are cleaning the swamp, we are draining the swamp.”

He then transitioned to Stone, stating, “I want the process to play out. I think that is the best thing to do. Because I would love to see Roger exonerated. I would love to see it happen because I personally think that he was treated very unfairly.”

He did not say whether he would pardon his longtime friend and adviser.

[Mediaite]

Trump says John Kelly must ‘keep his mouth shut’ after ex-chief of staff said Vindman did the right thing

President Donald Trump blasted his former chief of staff John Kelly on Thursday after the ex-top aide said Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman did the right thing in reporting his concerns about Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s president.

“When I terminated John Kelly, which I couldn’t do fast enough, he knew full well that he was way over his head,” Trump tweeted. “Being Chief of Staff just wasn’t for him. He came in with a bang, went out with a whimper, but like so many X’s, he misses the action & just can’t keep his mouth shut, which he actually has a military and legal obligation to do.”

“His incredible wife, Karen, who I have a lot of respect for, once pulled me aside & said strongly that ‘John respects you greatly. When we are no longer here, he will only speak well of you,” Trump continued. “Wrong!”

Trump was responding to comments Kelly made during a 75-minute speech and question-and-answer session at a Wednesday night event before students and guests at Drew University in New Jersey, which The Atlantic reported.

The retired Marine Corps general, who also served as Trump’s Homeland Security secretary prior to taking on his job as chief of staff, said Vindman was simply following his military training in reporting concerns about Trump’s call.

That phone call, in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and Democrats, led to Trump’s impeachment. Last week, the Senate acquitted the president on two charges, although it was the first time in history a member of a president’s own party— Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah— voted to convict.

Vindman “did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave,” Kelly said. “He went and told his boss what he just heard.”

Vindman, who was the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council and testified in the House impeachment inquiry, was escorted out of the White House last week. Trump later attributed Vindman’s removal to the impeachment.

Kelly said Vindman was right to flag the call because it marked a huge change in U.S. policy toward Ukraine and suggested the content of that call was akin to hearing “an illegal order.”

“Through the Obama administration up until that phone call, the policy of the U.S. was militarily to support Ukraine in their defensive fight against … the Russians,” Kelly said, according to The Atlantic. “And so, when the president said that continued support would be based on X, that essentially changed. And that’s what that guy [Vindman] was most interested in.”

“We teach them, ‘Don’t follow an illegal order. And if you’re ever given one, you’ll raise it to whoever gives it to you that this is an illegal order, and then tell your boss,'” Kelly added.

Kelly, who departed the administration in late 2018, was also critical of other areas of the Trump presidency. He said Trump “tried” to get North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear weapons “but it didn’t work.”

“I’m an optimist most of the time, but I’m also a realist, and I never did think Kim would do anything other than play us for a while, and he did that fairly effectively,” Kelly said.

In announcing Kelly’s impending departure in 2018, Trump told reporters: “John Kelly will be leaving — I don’t know if I can say ‘retiring.”’

“But, he’s a great guy,” Trump continued.

[NBC News]

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