President Donald Trump criticizes Fox News over Pete Buttigieg town hall

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Sunday to comment on potential rival and Hoosier Pete Buttigieg and his chances on becoming president.

Trump’s tweets came hours before a Fox News town hall Sunday featuring Buttigieg in Claremont, New Hampshire. The 7 p.m. town hall was hosted by “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace.

“Hard to believe that @FoxNews is wasting airtime on Mayor Pete, as Chris Wallace likes to call him. Fox is moving more and more to the losing (wrong) side in covering the Dems. They go dumped from the Democrats boring debates, and they just want in. They forgot the people who go them there,” President Trump tweeted.

On his introduction to the show, Wallace said Buttigieg is “different, he breaks the mold and voters seem to be very intrigued by that at this point.”

Wallace compared Buttigieg’s fast-growing popularity to that of former president Barack Obama and Trump.

Trump tweeted that Wallace never speaks as well of him as he does of Buttigieg. He also referred to the South Bend, Indiana, mayor again as longtime Mad Magazine mascot Alfred E. Neuman.

“Chris Wallace said, “I actually think, whether you like his opinions or not, that Mayor Pete has a lot of substance…fascinating biography.” Gee, he never speaks well of me – I like Mike Wallace better…and Alfred E. Newman will never be President!,” he tweeted.

In an interview earlier this month, Trump compared Buttigieg to Mad Magazine’s freckled-faced cartoon boy mascot, saying, “Alfred E. Neuman cannot become president of the United States.

The shot landed home with baby boomers and Gen Xers, many of whom remember thumbing through the iconic satirical magazine. But Buttigieg, a millennial, told Politico he had to Google it.

“I guess it’s just a generational thing,” he said. “I didn’t get the reference. It’s kind of funny, I guess. But he’s also the president of the United States, and I’m surprised he’s not spending more time trying to salvage this China deal.”

The remark came on the heels of one Trump made at a campaign rally a few days earlier.

“Boot-edge-edge,” the president sounded out, according to a story reported by The Hill, “They say ‘edge-edge.’ “

Trump continued, apparently thinking little of Buttigieg’s stature on the world stage: “He’s got a great chance. He’ll be great. He’ll be great representing us against President Xi (Jinping) of China. That’ll be great.”

The president also alluded to Buttigieg on a conservative radio show last month as he speculated which Democrat he might face in the 2020 election, saying “It could be the mayor from Indiana.”

[USA Today]

Trump Loses It on Anonymous Sources Within His Administration: ‘It’s Bullsh*t!’

During a speech to realtors on Friday, President Donald Trump swung at the “fake news” and called “bullshit” on stories about his administration that are based on anonymous sources.

Earlier Friday, the president railed on Twitter against “fraudulent and highly inaccurate coverage of Iran,” all while simultaneously saying it could be a good thing if causes Tehran to become confused. During a part of his speech in which he denied a conflict between him and his advisers on how to deal with Iran, Trump mocked media reports by remarking on how they rely on confidential sources.

“There is no source, the person doesn’t exist, the person’s not alive,” Trump said. “It’s bullshit.”

But Maggie Haberman of The New York Times wasted little time calling out the president:

[Mediaite]

White House revokes press passes for dozens of journalists

IN WHAT APPEARS TO BE an unprecedented move, the White House revoked the press passes of a significant chunk of the Washington press corps because they didn’t meet a new standard, according to Washington Postcolumnist Dana Milbank. Under the new rules, rolled out earlier this year, in order to qualify for the highest level of access—known as a “hard pass”—journalists had to be present in the White House for at least 90 days out of a 180-day period. According to Milbank, virtually the entire press corps failed to meet this new test, including all six of the Post’s White House correspondents. Media outlets then had to apply for exceptions to cover their senior journalists, or settle for six-month passes, which don’t allow as much access.

The Post applied for and was granted exceptions for its White House correspondents, Milbank says, but he was not given one. “I strongly suspect it’s because I’m a Trump critic,” he wrote on Wednesday. “The move is perfectly in line with Trump’s banning of certain news organizations, including The Post, from his campaign events and his threats to revoke White House credentials of journalists he doesn’t like.” Milbank noted that, since dozens of senior correspondents didn’t meet the new standards either, “they all serve at the pleasure of Press Secretary Sarah Sanders” and
“therefore, in theory, can have their credentials revoked any time they annoy Trump or his aides.” (The White House press secretary told the Post the move was a result of security concerns, not a desire to crack down on specific journalists.)

Some seemed concerned that the new rules are an attempt to exert more direct control over the White House press corps, after an incident involving CNN reporter Jim Acosta in November. Acosta’s press pass was revoked following a contentious press conference in which the CNN reporter repeatedly asked the president questions about immigration policy that Trump refused to answer, and then refused to hand over the microphone when an aide tried to take it from him. Later that day, Acosta tried to access the White House in the usual way and was told his “hard pass” had been revoked because of his behavior. Sanders later released a statement saying the CNN reporter’s pass had been withdrawn “until further notice.”

CNN went to court to seek an injunction ordering the White House to return Acosta’s pass, and won. The media company and a number of other organizations that filed briefs in the case argued that the First Amendment protected the media’s right to cover the White House, and that this right couldn’t be abridged without due process. Judge Timothy Kelly agreed with the latter part of that argument, and said the Trump administration had failed to show why Acosta’s press pass was being revoked, or, in fact, that any process had been followed at all. “Whatever process occurred within the government is still so shrouded in mystery that the government could not tell me at oral argument who made the initial decision to revoke Mr. Acosta’s press pass,” he wrote.

Now, with its new standards for performance and most of the press corps holding passes that have only been issued as “exceptions,” the White House has a structure in place that could allow it to remove whoever it wishes to remove. That wouldn’t necessarily override First Amendment protection for press access (which Kelly didn’t rule on), but in the short term it gives the Trump administration new levers with which to control the press corps. Some argue that access to the White House is already almost meaningless, since press briefings are few and far between (there hasn’t been an on-camera briefing for 58 days, a new record) and what briefings there are often involve the White House press secretary and/or the president shutting down journalist questions and in many cases outright lying about various details of the administration’s behavior or plans.

Here’s more on the White House’s tangled relationship with the press:

  • Un-American: “This is what dictators do,” Patrick Leahy, the senior Democratic senator from Vermont, said in a tweet posted to his official Twitter account, quoting from the Dana Milbank piece in The Washington Post. Jeff Merkley, a Democratic senator from Oregon, posted a similar sentiment on Twitter, saying: “Curtailing a free press and undermining the public’s access to government is a hallmark of authoritarianism & has no place in America. This purge of reporters is un-American and needs to be reversed ASAP. ”
  • Not normal: Even before the furor over the revoking of Jim Acosta’s press pass, New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen was arguing that the media should “suspend normal relations with the Trump presidency” because of the way it treated journalists and the press. New outlets and journalists should refuse to do background or off-the-record briefings, Rosen said, and stop repeating the president’s falsehoods. Rosen also argued as early as 2017 that media outlets should stop sending their senior journalists to White House briefings.
  • Does it matter? In September, Pete Vernon wrote for CJR about the inexorable decline of the White House press briefing and asked whether or not it matters anymore. Olivier Knox, the president of the White House Correspondents Association, told CNN’s Brian Stelter that the briefing “has both a symbolic and a substantive importance to the White House press corps,” because it shows that “the most powerful political institution in American life is not above being questioned.” But others argued it was just an exercisein political theater.
  • No dinner: Trump announced last month that he wouldn’t be attending the White House Correspondent Dinner, an annual fundraiser in which journalists dine with politicians and celebrities, and then ordered that no White House or administration officials would be allowed to attend the dinner either. Trump said the dinner was “so boring and negative” that he would be attending a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin instead. Last year, CJR looked at the dinner and found that less than half the money raised went to scholarships.

[Columbia Journal Review]

Trump Rage-Tweets Fox & Friends Segment About ‘Russian Involvement’: ‘TREASONOUS HOAX!’

A Fox & Friends segment in the 7 a.m. ET hour drew President Donald Trump‘s ire on Tuesday — one focused in on what Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt termed “this Russia involvement” in the 2016 election.

In a pair of tweets, the President — chiming in three-and-a-half hours after the original segment aired — quoted Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade…and then added his own editorial commentary.

“Everyone wants to know who needs to be held accountable for this,’ Earhardt said. “Because it took up two years of our lives, basically, talking about Russia involvement. It proved no collusion. And people want to trace it back to find out how this all happened — how the investigation happened — and how Carter Pageended up being surveilled.”

After the quote, Trump weighed in by writing, “TREASONOUS HOAX!”

The President took some liberties and paraphrased the subsequent comment from Brian Kilmeade.

“And why Christopher Steele was so determined to get this information out before the election,” Kilmeade said. “This British spy!”

Notably, Trump added: “(this fake dossier.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Retweets Call for Fox News to Take Andrew Napolitano Off the Air

President Donald Trump is calling for Fox News to take one of the networks biggest critics off their air, in a Sunday morning retweet of Twitter User @HH41848213, aka “HowardH” who joined Twitter in 2016 and has roughly 235 followers until today.

The analysis of  Mueller Report drama — and the competing news narratives that have followed suit — has been, for the most part, predictable. That is to say, that media outlets that have been consistently critical of President Trump have amplified evidence of Executive Branch malfeasance, while those that traditionally take a pro-Trump perspective (take Fox New for example) have been quick to promote Trump’s “no collusion, no obstruction” story.

The most notable exception to that pretty hard and fast rule has been Fox News Senior Legal Analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano, who has consistently demonstrated his independent judicial perspective, much to the disappointment of Trump and his supporters.

Trump’s retweet:

When you look at the continuous incorrect statements by Napolitano over the past 2 years, it is fair to ask FNC why they allow him to have national air time. The man has been significantly wrong on at least 8 major occasions. Unacceptable! Take him off the air!

What has Napolitano said that has raised the ire of the commander in chief? Where to start? His insights have been remarkably critical of Mueller Report findings on Trump’s obstruction of justice, the behavior of Attorney General William Barrand even the curious behavior of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Donald Trump’s use of Twitter has flouted previous presidential decorum for years. But the retweeting of some rando on Twitter calling for the ostensible firing of the well-respected legal mind of Andrew Napolitano is a new level that we haven’t quite seen before.

[Mediaite]

‘Bigger than WATERGATE’: Trump hails NYT report on FBI meeting with Papadopoulos

The White House on Friday seized on revelations that the FBI during the 2016 campaign sent an undercover investigator to meet with an aide to then-candidate Donald Trump, with the president calling the news “bigger than Watergate.”

Trump praised one of his most frequent media foes, The New York Times, for its reporting, while his reelection campaign lit into investigators and Vice President Mike Pence called the bureau’s actions “very troubling.”

“Finally, Mainstream Media is getting involved – too ‘hot’ to avoid,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Pulitzer Prize anyone? The New York Times, on front page (finally), ‘Details effort to spy on Trump Campaign.’ @foxandfriends This is bigger than WATERGATE, but the reverse!”

At the heart of Trump’s claim is a Times report out Thursday that a woman, sent by the FBI, identified herself as an assistant to a Cambridge researcher when she met in London in 2016 with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who later pleaded guilty to making false statements to the bureau. The woman was sent as part of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

The revelation that the bureau sent someone undercover to meet with Papadopoulos has fueled the president’s and his allies’ insistence that special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation was politically motivated and that the Trump 2016 campaign was under inappropriate surveillance.

That investigation, however, was reportedly opened after Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat that Russians had offered to help Trump’s campaign, before the aide met the undercover woman.

Still, Trump continued to claim Friday that the report was proof of his spying claims, praising it as a marked departure from what he said is consistently negative coverage about his presidency.

“I was happy to see on the front of The New York Times for the first time where they were talking about spying and they’re talking about spying on my campaign,” he told reporters in the Oval Office. “That’s a big difference between the way they’ve been covering. That’s a story bigger than Watergate, as far as I’m concerned.”

The woman, who identified herself as Azra Turk, posed for her meeting with the Trump campaign aide as an assistant to Cambridge professor and government informant Stefan Halper. The meeting veered eventually from its purported purpose, foreign policy, to the woman directly asking Papadopoulos whether the Trump campaign was working with Russia to interfere in the election. At that point, investigators had been looking into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties for little more than a month, though the politically fraught probe was still being kept under wraps.

The operation “yielded no fruitful information,” the Times reported, and though FBI officials have insisted their investigatory actions taken before the 2016 election were legal, they are being probed by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

The FBI declined to comment to the Times on the undercover effort.

In the wake of Mueller concluding his investigation earlier this year without finding a conspiracy to collude with Russians, Trump and his allies have clamored for an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, calls Attorney General William Barr has said he supports.

Barr came under fire last month when he told lawmakers it was possible there was “spying” on the Trump campaign that should be looked into. He has since defended his use of the term “spying,” arguing that there was likely more involved in the probe’s genesis than what is publicly known.

Pence agreed with Barr’s phrasing in an interview with Fox News on Friday.

“We’ve got to get to the bottom of how all this started. The American people have a right to know how this investigation even began. And as the attorney general said when he testified before Congress, there was spying. We need to understand why there was, whether there was a sufficient predicate. We really need to get to the bottom of how this all began and if there was a violation of the rules, if the law was broken, the people that were responsible need to be held accountable,” he said.

“It’s very troubling,” he said of the Times report, adding later that “the American people are not going to tolerate this.”

In a statement Thursday, Trump’s reelection campaign manager ripped into the revelations.

“There is a word for this in the English language: Spying,” Brad Parscale said. “Democrats and their media friends have expressed horror at the term, but there is no other way to describe it: the FBI spied on the Trump campaign in 2016.”

Parscale accused Democrats and the press of ignoring the “real scandal,” the “Obama Administration using the Justice Department to spy on a political adversary’s campaign.”

He added: “As President Trump has said, it is high time to investigate the investigators.”

Though the Russia investigation was triggered by Papadopoulos’ disclosure to an Australian diplomat that he’d been told Russia had “dirt” on Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton, the president has repeatedly and incorrectly claimed that it was based off an unsubstantiated dossier claiming Russia had compromising information on him that was funded by his political opponents.

Late Thursday, however, Trump appeared to call for dropping an investigation into his investigators before returning to his insistence that the Russia probe had been rigged.

“OK, so after two years of hard work and each party trying their best to make the other party look as bad as possible, it’s time to get back to business,” he wrote in a pair of tweets. “The Mueller Report strongly stated that there was No Collusion with Russia (of course) and, in fact, they were rebuffed at every turn in attempts to gain access. But now Republicans and Democrats must come together for the good of the American people. No more costly & time consuming investigations.”

[Politico]

Trump: Fox’s Napolitano asked me to pardon his friend, put him on Supreme Court


President Trump
 tweeted Saturday that Fox News analyst Andrew Napolitano met with him and urged him to nominate Napolitano to the Supreme Court as well as grant a pardon to one of Napolitano’s friends.

Napolitano, a former superior court judge in New Jersey, works as a legal analyst for Fox News. In a pair of tweets Saturday evening following his campaign rally in Green Bay, Wis., the president accused the commentator of becoming “very hostile” after Trump supposedly turned him down for the nation’s highest court.

“Thank you to brilliant and highly respected attorney Alan Dershowitz for destroying the very dumb legal argument of ‘Judge’ Andrew Napolitano,” Trump wrote.

“Ever since Andrew came to my office to ask that I appoint him to the U.S. Supreme Court, and I said NO, he has been very hostile! Also asked for pardon for his friend. A good ‘pal’ of low ratings Shepard Smith,” the president added, referring to Fox’s chief news anchor, who has often been critical of the White House.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment regarding when the conversation with Napolitano occurred or whom the Fox News commentator supposedly asked Trump to pardon.

Trump frequently showers praise on Fox News figures who are seen as allies of his administration, including Dershowitz, who has defended the president amid the now-concluded investigation into Russia’s election interference and Trump’s campaign.

[The Hill]

Trump ramps up attacks on media ahead of White House Correspondents’ Dinner

President Trump has reignited his attacks on the news media in the days leading up to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, underscoring the White House’s use of the press as an effective foil.

Trump will skip the dinner for a third straight year, opting to hold a rally in Wisconsin instead on Saturday night. He has also directed other administration officials not to attend.

“The Correspondents’ Dinner is too negative. I like positive things,” Trump said earlier this month in explaining his decision.

Within hours of those comments, he had taken to Twitter to characterize the press as “the enemy of the people,” a favorite insult that has appeared to get under the skin of some in the media.

Trump has continued his near-constant criticisms of the news media in the weeks since, repeatedly lashing out in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference.

The latest wave of criticism reached its crest on Tuesday, when he fired off seven tweets castigating the press and singling out specific outlets and reporters by name. It included shots at “Psycho Joe” Scarborough of MSNBC and applied the term “enemy of the people” to The New York Times, despite its publisher warning Trump about the dangerous implications of the phrase.

The White House essentially trolled journalists on Thursday when press secretary Sarah HuckabeeSanders made her first appearance at the briefing room podium in 45 days — complete with an appearance by Vice President Pence — at a mock Q&A for children as part of Take Your Kids to work day. Reporters were unable to ask questions.

None of the Trump attacks are the least bit shocking and they are likely to only continue as the president seeks another four years in the office.

Trump has scored political victories in part by running against the press, which delights his core supporters. In 2020, there is every indication that the president will continue with this strategy, framing the election in part on a Washington elite symbolized by the mainstream media seeking to thwart his effort to win another four years in the Oval Office.

Trump has a long history with the White House Correspondents Association and its dinner, which is a key part of the story surrounding how Trump became president and of his relationship with the media.

Trump was the subject of ridicule at the 2011 event from both Seth Meyers and President Obama, who made fun of Trump’s decision-making and importance with references to “Celebrity Apprentice.”

Trump, Obama said at the time, recognized the need to fire Gary Busey and not Lil John or Meatloaf in a recent episode.

“And these are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night,” Obama said, mocking Trump. “Well handled, sir. Well handled.”

The jokes started a narrative that Trump had launched his presidential campaign because of the jokes at his expense, though The Washington Post’s Roxanne Roberts, who sat next to Trump at the 2011 dinner, has largely shot down that theory.

As president, Trump has stayed away from the dinner, which nonetheless provoked a huge controversy last year after comedian Michelle Wolf delivered a searing set that mocked the press, congressional Republicans and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who attended in Trump’s place.

The fallout led to changes at the dinner itself, which will feature biographer Ron Chernow as the keynote speaker in lieu of a comedic act.

The White House was unmoved by the shift in tone, as Trump directed other administration officials not to attend.

Trump will still loom large over Saturday evening’s proceedings. His consistent attacks on the media have raised concerns among First Amendment and press freedom watchdogs, and his rally could lead to split screen coverage of the festivities in D.C.

The president’s campaign rallies are typically rife with jabs at the media. Trump often references “fake news,” whipping his supporters into a frenzy while pointing at reporters in the back of the venue.

The press has served as a useful political foil for Trump, who has rallied his base by portraying himself as an outsider unwelcome by the Washington establishment, and a victim of unfair coverage and punditry.

[The Hill]

Donald Trump denies he tried to fire Mueller, disputing account from a former senior White House aide

President Donald Trump insisted Thursday that he did not try to fire Robert Mueller, disputing a central finding in the special counsel’s report that was based on extensive interviews with Trump’s former White House counsel, Don McGahn.

“As has been incorrectly reported by the Fake News Media, I never told then White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Robert Mueller, even though I had the legal right to do so,” Trump tweeted. “If I wanted to fire Mueller, I didn’t need McGahn to do it, I could have done it myself.”

The special counsel spent nearly two years investigating whether anyone from Trump’s presidential campaign conspired with Russia to sway the 2016 election and whether the president sought to illegally obstruct justice.

Mueller’s 448-page report detailed multiple contacts between Russian operatives and Trump associates during the campaign but said investigators didn’t find evidence of a criminal conspiracy. The report documented actions by Trump to derail Mueller’s investigation. The special counsel did not conclude Trump obstructed justice, but it refused to clear him of wrongdoing.

McGahn told Mueller’s team that Trump ordered him to have the special counsel fired and later asked him to lie about the incident. McGahn spent hours speaking to investigators and supplied written notes.

Trump has repeatedly called the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.” He also claimed the report vindicated him.

In recent days, he has lashed out at House Democrats, who vowed to conduct their own fact finding and seek to have McGahn and other figures in the inquiry testify on Capitol Hill. Trump indicated he will try to block testimony by McGahn.

The Mueller report’s findings spurred calls by some House Democrats to move toward impeachment proceedings, though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., urged her colleagues to focus first on carrying out an investigation.

The Mueller report details an incident June 17, 2017, that McGahn described to investigators.

Trump “called McGahn at home and directed him to call the Acting Attorney General and say that the Special Counsel had conflicts of interest and must be removed,” the report says. “McGahn did not carry out the direction, however, deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre.”

[USA Today]

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]

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