Kellyanne Conway Snaps Back at Reporter: ‘What’s Your Ethnicity?’

When White House reporter Andrew Feinberg posed a question to Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday about the president’s racist tweets against the four congresswomen known as the “Squad,” he found himself taken aback by her response. 

Feinberg, a reporter for the website BeltwayBreakfast.com, asked the White House counselor which countries President Donald Trump was referring to when he suggested Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar—all U.S. citizens—should “go back” to where they came from. 

Instead of answering that question, Conway asked him, “What’s your ethnicity?” 

“Uh… why is that relevant?” Feinberg asked before Conway interrupted him to say, “Because I’m asking you a question.”

After Conway shares that her ancestors are from Ireland and Italy, the reporter said, “My ethnicity is not relevant to the question I’m asking you.” 

Conway still would not answer Feinberg’s question, instead insisting that he question was relevant because Trump said “originally” from—he didn’t—and going on a rant about how “a lot of us are sick and tired in this country of America coming last,” echoing comments she made on Fox News earlier in the day about the “Squad” representing a “dark underbelly in this country.” 

In that same Fox interview, Conway distanced herself from her husband George Conway, whose latest Washington Post column is headlined: “Trump is a racist president.” 

Reached for comment, Feinberg told The Daily Beast, “It’s not the first time she’s responded to one of my questions with an irrelevant question, but this time was particularly bizarre.”

“I just wanted to get back to what I was asking her about,” he added, “so I was glad she was able to confirm the president’s thinking on the matter.”

[The Daily Beast]

Media

Trump says he’s ‘so great looking and smart, a true Stable Genius’ in tweet bashing 2020 Dems

President Donald Trump again referred to himself as a “stable genius” while also touting himself as “great looking” in a tweet Thursday mocking some of the leading Democratic candidates hoping to unseat him. 

In the middle of a morning tweet storm that touched on everything from the census to the Pledge of Allegiance, Trump said that all news media outlets would all be endorsing him “at some point, one way or the other.” He made that prediction based on his belief that they will “quickly go out of business for lack of credibility, or approval, from the public” when “I ultimately leave office in six years or maybe 10 or 14 (just kidding).” 

He then used his favorite insults for former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., wondering how anyone could imagine one of them being president instead of “what you have now, so great looking and smart, a true Stable Genius!” 

Trump has referred to himself as a “stable genius” on several occasions. He first used the term in January 2018 in response to concerns that he was not mentally fit for office, which were magnified after the publication of Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” The book featured quotes from administration officials who questioned Trump’s cognitive ability, including former White House strategist Steve Bannon who said Trump “has lost it.” 

“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” Trump tweeted. He added that being elected president “on my first try” should “qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!” 

The president used the phrase again in May after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she hoped “for an intervention” for Trump and expressed concern about his well-being after he abruptly left a meeting with Democrats. Pelosi said Trump had “flipped” but Trump said he had been “extremely calm” and called himself an “extremely stable genius.” 


[USA Today]

Trump Again Lashes Out at Fox News for Not Sufficiently Adoring Him

Donald Trump’s growing annoyance at his favorite news network was on display once again Sunday night, when he ripped Fox News for failing to lavish him with sufficient praise.

The tirade began early Sunday evening with tweets targetting the network’s “weekend anchors.” Watching them, Trump wrote, is worse than watching the “Trump haters” on CNN and MSNBC. He also took a swipe at the New York Times before concluding that “@FoxNews is changing fast, but they forgot the people who got them there!” That’s his way of saying he’s responsible for the network’s success and they should thank him with fawning coverage.

The reason for Trump’s outburst isn’t clear. Maybe he saw soccer fans chanting “fuck Trump” during a Fox News live shot earlier Sunday. Maybe he didn’t like seeing Democratic candidate Michael Bennet on Fox News Sunday. Maybe, as Media Matters’s Matthew Gertz suggested, Trump was inspired by the network twice citing a New York Times report about abhorrent conditions in an immigration detention center.

More difficult to explain are the tweets that came later in the evening. Trump went after Shepard Smith, his most vocal critic on Fox News, and Donna Brazile, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee, who recently joined the network. As Gertz pointed out though, Brazile hasn’t been on Fox for a week.

All of this comes as Trump is being courted by a right-wing TV network that promises to be more sycophantic than Fox News ever was. One America News has been called the “Ultimate ‘Pro-Trump’ Network” and Trump has reportedly been tuning into the network more than ever. But apparently not this weekend.

[New York Magazine]

Trump accuses media of ‘phony’ reporting on migrant detention centers

President Trump on Sunday accused the media of reporting “phony and exaggerated accounts” of conditions at migrant detention centers along the border in the wake of two bombshell reports from the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) watchdog.

“The Fake News Media, in particular the Failing @nytimes, is writing phony and exaggerated accounts of the Border Detention Centers,” Trump tweeted.

“First of all, people should not be entering our Country illegally, only for us to then have to care for them. We should be allowed to focus on United States Citizens first. Border Patrol, and others in Law Enforcement, have been doing a great job. We said there was a Crisis – the Fake News & the Dems said it was ‘manufactured.'”

“Now all agree we were right, but they always knew that. They are crowded (which we brought up, not them) because the Dems won’t change the Loopholes and Asylum. Big Media Con Job!” he added.

The reports from the DHS Office of Inspector General covered the conditions at facilities near El Paso, Texas, and in the Rio Grande Valley.s

The government watchdog found severe overcrowding, migrants being held too long and dirty conditions at many of the facilities.

A group of lawyers who visited a Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, made similar claims about the treatment of migrants.

The Trump administration has denied reports and images of the conditions in detainment facilities.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan earlier Sunday called the allegations of mistreatment, specifically of children, “unsubstantiated.”

Congress last month approved a $4.6 billion emergency border funding bill that was signed into law by Trump and provides migrant agencies with more resources to tackle the problem. However, the bill has been panned by some progressive lawmakers, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who argue it doesn’t do enough to address the systemic issues with the border agency. 

Two Facebook groups linked to current and former Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents have been uncovered recently that include derisive images of migrants, vulgar and sexually explicit posts about lawmakers, and racist comments.

CBP condemned the group discovered by ProPublica, calling the posts “completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see – and expect – from our agents day in and day out.”

[The Hill]

Trump praises Saudi crown prince, ignores questions on Khashoggi killing

President Donald Trump enjoyed breakfast here Friday with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, heaping praise on the Saudi ruler while ignoring evidence of his role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The crown prince had faced some isolation at last year’s G20 summit in Buenos Aires after being implicated in the grisly murder of the Washington Post columnist and legal resident of the U.S., who disappeared after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October.

But Trump has largely ignored the evidence, including a conclusion by the Central Intelligence Agency, that Prince Mohammed ordered the killing.

At a news conference on Saturday, Trump said he did raise the killing privately with the crown prince, who told him about 13 people who had been prosecuted for the crime.

“He’s very angry about it,” he said. “He’s very unhappy about it.”

But Trump did not indicate that he confronted the crown prince over his own complicity. And when pressed about the CIA’s conclusion at the news conference, Trump responded, “I can’t comment on the intelligence community. I guess I’m allowed to declassify … but the truth is I don’t want to talk about intelligence.”

It wasn’t the first time Trump has declined to confirm or deny the CIA’s assessment, which has been shared with U.S. lawmakers and administration officials.

“I’m extremely angry and unhappy about a thing like that taking place,” Trump said. “But as of this moment, more than 13 people are being prosecuted, and I hear the numbers are going to be going up.”

Earlier, before their breakfast at the Imperial Hotel in Osaka, Trump and Prince Mohammed ignored at least two questions about Khashoggi’s death.

“Mr. President, will you discuss Jamal Khashoggi?”

Trump instead answered a question about his plans to visit the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Un.

“Mr. President, will [you] address the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, sir, with the crown prince?”

Trump instead answered a question about his plans to discuss the technology company Huawei with President Xi Jinping of China, saying it would be part of their talks on trade.

Trump also did not raise the issue of Khashoggi’s murder in his opening remarks.

United Nations report last week found there was “credible evidence” to warrant further investigation into allegations the crown prince masterminded the killing. “No conclusion is made as to guilt,” the report stated, adding, however: “Evidence points to the 15-person mission to execute Mr. Khashoggi requiring significant government coordination, resources and finances.”

In his remarks, Trump proclaimed his admiration for the crown prince, declaring that it was an honor to be in his company.

“It’s an honor to be with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, a friend of mine, a man who has really done things in the last five years in terms of opening up Saudi Arabia,” Trump said. “And I think especially what you’ve done for women. I’m seeing what’s happening; it’s like a revolution in a very positive way.”

Trump continued, “I want to just thank you on behalf of a lot of people, and I want to congratulate you. You’ve done, really, a spectacular job.”

Saudi Arabia will host next year’s G20 summit, which gave Prince Mohammed a prominent place at the front and center of this year’s “family photo” of leaders on Thursday.

Trump posed alongside Prince Mohammed, who greeted him with a warm smile, a robust handshake and a pat on the hand. Trump and the prince spoke together during the photo shoot, gesturing actively, and the two men continued to talk as they walked off the platform together.

At the Imperial Hotel, before breakfast, Trump insisted that it was his good relationships that were keeping the United States safe and free from conflicts.

“We have a very good friendship,” Trump said of China. “We have a very, very good friendship, like I have with Mohammed. I mean, we have a great — a great relationship, and that’s very important, especially when you have a place like — whether it’s Saudi Arabia, in all fairness, or China, or any country. Or any country. Or North Korea. It’s about relationship. Otherwise, you end up in very bad wars and lots of problems. The relationship is very important.”

[Politico]

Trump jokes to Putin they should ‘get rid’ of journalists

Donald Trump joked with Vladimir Putin about getting rid of journalists and Russian meddling in US elections when the two leaders met at the G20 summit in Japan.

As they sat for photographs at the start of their first formal meeting in nearly a year, the US president lightheartedly sought common ground with Putin at the expense of the journalists around them in Osaka.

“Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it? You don’t have this problem in Russia but we do,” Trump said.

To which Putin responded, in English: “We also have. It’s the same.”

Twenty-six journalists have been murdered in Russia since Putin first became president, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), many of them investigative reporters scrutinising governmental abuses.

Trump has frequently referred to the press as the “enemy of the people” and in February the CPJ expressed concern about the safety of journalists covering Trump rallies, where they have been the target of derision and abuse from the president and his supporters. It is a year to the day since five Capital Gazette employees were killed in their newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland. The shooting led to the organisation Reporters Without Bordersadding the US to its list of the five deadliest countries for journalism.

It was the first meeting between the two men since a summit in Helsinki last July, and since the publication of a report by the special counsel Robert Mueller, which found Russia had interfered extensively in the 2016 US presidential election, but found insufficient evidence that the Trump campaign had conspired with Moscow.

When journalists asked Trump just before he left for Japan what he would like to talk to Putin about, he told them it was “none of your business”. As they sat alongside each other, a reporter asked whether he was going to tell Putin not to meddle in the 2020 election.

Trump said: “Yes, of course I will,” drawing a laugh from Putin. Then, without looking at Putin, Trump said briskly: “Don’t meddle in the election, please,” and then repeated the phrase with a mock finger wag as Putin and the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, smiled broadly.

Relations between the two countries have been sour for years, worsening after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backed Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war. In a recent television interview, Putin said relations between Moscow and Washington were “getting worse and worse”.

Trump has sought better relations with Putin to tackle a host of issues, including his goal to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. On Friday, he emphasised the positives.

“It’s a great honour to be with President Putin,” Trump said. “We have many things to discuss, including trade and including some disarmament.”

Trump and Putin had been scheduled to meet at the end of November at the last G20 in Buenos Aires, but Trump cancelled the meeting as he flew to Argentina, citing Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian navy ships and sailors. The two spoke informally at the event. The Ukrainian sailors have still not been freed.

“We’ve had great meetings. We’ve had a very, very good relationship,” Trump said on Friday. “And we look forward to spending some very good time together. A lot of very positive things are going to come out of the relationship.”

In May, the two leaders had their first extensive phone conversation in months. Trump said they talked about a new accord to limit nuclear arms that could eventually include China. Russia is under punitive sanctions imposed by the US and the EU and wants them lifted.

Trump’s critics have accused him of being too friendly with Putin and castigated him for failing to publicly confront the Russian leader in Helsinki over Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election.

In an interview with the Financial Times on Thursday, Putin claimed Trump’s victory in 2016 and the rise of nationalist-populist movements in Europe signalled the death of liberal policies in the west.

“[Liberals] cannot simply dictate anything to anyone just like they have been attempting to do over the recent decades,” he said. “The liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.”

Trump later held talks with Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro. “He is a special man, doing very well, very much loved by the people of Brazil,” Trump said, smiling broadly. For his part, Bolsonaro told the US president: “I have been a great admirer of you for quite some time, even before your election. I support Trump, I support the United States, I support your re-election.”

[The Guardian]

Trump accuses NYT reporter of breaking the law by alerting FBI to Kushner meetings with Russians

President Donald Trump accused a New York Times reporter of breaking the law by tipping off the FBI to developments in the Russia investigation.

Times reporter Michael Schmidt alerted the FBI’s assistant director for public affairs in March 2017 that he and some colleagues had found out Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn had met in December 2016 with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who then set up a meeting between Trump’s son-in-law and a Russian banker.

Schmidt’s email was then forwarded to FBI special agent Peter Strzok, who was leading the bureau’s Russia investigation, and Jonathan Moffa, an FBI counterintelligence officer, reported the Washington Examiner.

Trump reacted with a pair of tweets suggesting that Schmidt had fed false information to the FBI.

“Just revealed that the Failing and Desperate New York Times was feeding false stories about me, & those associated with me, to the FBI,” Trump tweeted. “This shows the kind of unprecedented hatred I have been putting up with for years with this Crooked newspaper. Is what they have done legal?”

[Raw Story]

Trump threatened Time magazine reporter with prison time

President Trump reportedly appeared to threaten a Time magazine reporter with prison time after a photographer tried to take a picture of a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Time reports.

During an interview with the publication in the Oval Office on Monday, Trump asked the reporters to go off the record while he showed them the letter he received from Kim.

According to the interview transcript, the photographer appeared to try and snap a photo of the document, but White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it wasn’t allowed.

Later on in the interview, the publication asked Trump about former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who testified that the president, “under threat of prison time,” told him to direct former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his recusal from the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian election interference.

“Excuse me,” Trump said. “Under Section II — well, you can go to prison instead, because, if you use, if you use the photograph you took of the letter I gave you … confidentially, I didn’t give it to you to take photographs of it.

“So don’t play that game with me,” Trump said.

“I’m sorry, Mr. President,” the reporter responded. “Were you threatening me with prison time?”

“Well, I told you the following. I told you you can look at this off-the-record. That doesn’t mean you take out your camera and start taking pictures of it. O.K.?” Trump said. “So I hope you don’t have a picture of it.”

“You can’t do that stuff,” he continued. “So go have fun with your story. Because I’m sure it will be the 28th horrible story I have in Time magazine. … With all I’ve done and the success I’ve had, the way that Time magazine writes is absolutely incredible.”

[The Hill]

Trump calls newspaper report on Russia power grid ‘treason’

President Donald Trump has lashed out at The New York Times, saying it engaged in a “virtual act of treason” for a story that said the U.S. was ramping up its cyber-intrusions into Russia’s power grid.

The Times reported on Saturday that the U.S. has bored into Russian utility systems in an escalating campaign meant to deter future cyber activity by Russia. It comes as the U.S. looks for new ways to punish Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and prevent a recurrence.

The Times, in its official public relations account, called Trump’s accusation “dangerous” and said it had told officials about the story before it was published and no security issues were raised.

The newspaper, basing its reports on three months of interviews with current and former government officials, said this campaign was conducted under new cyber authorities granted by Trump and Congress. But it also reported that two administration officials believed the president had not been briefed in detail, fearing he might countermand the action against Russia or reveal sensitive information to foreign officials.

In a pair of tweets sent Saturday night, Trump asserted the story wasn’t true and denounced reporters as “cowards.”

“Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country,” he wrote.

The story reported the deployment of American computer code into Russia’s grid and other targets to act as a deterrent. The newspaper also said the U.S. Cyber Command, part of the Department of Defense, has explored the possibility that Russia might try to initiate selective blackouts in key states to disrupt the 2020 election.

In a second tweet, Trump added about the story: “ALSO, NOT TRUE! Anything goes with our Corrupt News Media today. They will do, or say, whatever it takes, with not even the slightest thought of consequence! These are true cowards and without doubt, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

The New York Times’ response also noted that the paper described the article to government officials before publication. “As our story notes, President Trump’s own national security officials said there were no concerns.”

The paper said there was no evidence the US had actually activated the cyber tools.

[Associated Press]

Trump in testy exchange with Stephanopoulos: ‘You’re being a little wise guy’


President Trump
 pushed back at ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos during a testy interview, calling him “a little wise guy.”

Stephanopoulos was pressing the president on not answering questions in person from special counsel Robert Mueller‘s team.

“Wait a minute. I did answer questions. I answered them in writing,” Trump said

“Not on obstruction,” Stephanopoulos replied.

“George, you’re being a little wise guy, OK, which is, you know, typical for you,” Trump hit back.

“Just so you understand. Very simple. It’s very simple. There was no crime. There was no collusion. The big thing’s collusion. Now, there’s no collusion. That means … it was a setup, in my opinion, and I think it’s going to come out,” he continued.

Stephanopoulos, 58, was a White House communications director and senior advisor for policy and strategy for President Clinton. 

He joined ABC News as a political analyst after Clinton’s first term in 1997 and is now ABC News’s chief anchor and host of “Good Morning America” and “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

[The Hill]

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