Donald Trump Tweets His Defense by Attacking AOC

President Donald Trump’s lawyers, who launched his defense at his impeachment trial in the Senate Saturday morning, have claimed that they will respond substantively to Democrats’ methodical case for why the president should be removed from office. But shortly before the Senate convened for the first day of the White House defense, the president teed up the proceedings with a tweet strong on name calling and short on evidence. 

His targets include two lawmakers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Alexandra  Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who have no role in the impeachment trial. Trump also posted tweets quoting Fox Business News host Lou Dobbs praising him. 

Trump’s defenders thus far have not disputed the facts of the case against him. Senate Republicans have complained about comments by Democratic impeachment managers and launched attacks on President Obama’s foreign policy and other topics that are at best tangental. Trump’s lawyers on Saturday have said they will focus on Vice President Joe Biden’s actions related to Ukraine in 2016, and that the president did “nothing wrong. White House counsel Pat Cipollone promised in his opening remarks that Trump’s team will focus on evidence that the House impeachment managers did not include. But their boss appears to have another strategy.

[Mother Jones]

Trump says lead impeachment Democrat Schiff has not paid ‘price, yet’

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that the Democratic lawmaker leading the impeachment case against him, Representative Adam Schiff, has “not paid the price, yet” for his actions, a statement Schiff said he viewed as a threat.

The vitriol from Trump against Schiff and other Democrats followed three days of their arguments in his impeachment trial before the U.S. Senate on charges he abused the power of his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political rival, and then tried to obstruct an investigation by Congress.

“Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man. He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!” Trump said on Twitter.

Asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” if he took the Republican president’s social media post as a threat, Schiff said, “I think it’s intended to be.”

As lead impeachment manager, Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, played a central role in Democrats’ efforts to paint Trump’s behavior as dangerous to democracy the Republican-led Senate, where Trump is likely to be acquitted.

While some Republican senators said Schiff had been effective, most appeared unswayed. The lawmaker from California, a former federal prosecutor, has been a regular target of attack from Trump and Trump’s Republican supporters in Congress.

Some Republican senators took umbrage at Schiff’s more pointed comments, including that the president could not be trusted to do the right thing for the country and that Republican senators were under extreme pressure to acquit Trump.

Schiff said on NBC he was making the argument “that it’s going to require moral courage to stand up to this president.”

“This is a wrathful and vindictive president,” he said. “I don’t think that there’s any doubt about it and if you think there is, look at the president’s tweets about me today, saying that I should pay a price.”

Trump regularly levels personal attacks against political opponents. His broadsides against Schiff have included “pencil neck” and “liddle.” Critics accuse Trump of using an anti-Semitic trope in referring to the Jewish lawmaker as “shifty.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Trump’s Twitter post. Representatives for Schiff said they had nothing to add to the congressman’s comments.

TRUMP’S DEFENSE

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told Fox News Channel she had not spoken to Trump about the tweet but, “I think he means he hasn’t yet paid the price with the voters.”

U.S. Senator James Lankford, a Republican, likened Trump’s comment to those of Democrats who say Republicans will pay a price at the ballot box for supporting Trump or will pay a price in the future as they are held accountable.

“I don’t think the president is trying to be able to do a death threat here or do some sort of intimidation,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Both of them are saying the American people will speak on this.”

Another House impeachment manager, Democrat Zoe Lofgren, told CNN Trump should “get a grip” and be more presidential. “The president has a tendency to say things that seem threatening to people,” she said.

Trump’s team of lawyers began their defense on Saturday, arguing Democrats’ efforts to remove the president from office would set a “very, very dangerous” precedent in an election year.

Alan Dershowitz, a member of Trump’s legal team, told “Fox News Sunday” the conduct described in the Senate trial did not amount to an impeachable offense. He shrugged off a recording first reported on Friday in which Trump told Lev Parnas, an associate of his lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, he wanted to see the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, fired.

“The president has full authority to fire an ambassador,” Dershowitz said.

During the House of Representatives impeachment hearings last month, witnesses described Giuliani as leading efforts to pressure Ukraine on investigating former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a leading 2020 Democratic candidate, and his son Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

Yovanovitch was seen as resisting those efforts and was recalled in May.

[Reuters]

Trump doubles down on his promise to ‘save’ Social Security a day after suggesting he was open to cuts in the program

President Trump sought to defend his Social Security record in a Thursday afternoon tweet, accusing Democrats of wanting to “destroy” it and pledging he would “save” it — only a day after he suggested he was open to overhauling it alongside Medicare. 

Trump said: “Democrats are going to destroy your Social Security. I have totally left it alone, as promised, and will save it!”

The comments came only a day after he suggested in a CNBC interview that he was open to overhauling both social safety-net programs, saying it was “the easiest of all things” and it would happen at the “right” moment after the election. 

White House spokesperson Judd Deere defended the administration’s record on entitlements in an email to Business Insider on Wednesday, saying, “With no benefit cuts, President Trump is keeping his commitment to the most vulnerable Americans especially those who depend on Medicare and Social Security.”

Deere added: “His budgets have proposed more savings to mandatory programs than any President in history, including lowering drug costs, eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse, and getting people off welfare and back to work.”

Trump faced significant criticism from Democrats after his remarks on the entitlement programs aired on CNBC. Both Social Security and Medicare are highly popular with voters.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a leading presidential candidate, said in a Wednesday tweet that Trump “lied” about his 2016 campaign pledge to guard both programs from cuts.

And Sen. Elizabeth Warren, another frontrunner, also pounced, saying she would “fight” to expand Social Security instead.

[Business Insider]

Trump Goes Off on ‘Mini Mike Bloomberg’ After Fox & Friends Airs Attack Ad

President Donald Trump fired back at Democratic candidate Michael Bloomberg in response to his new campaign ad — airing on Fox & Friends — slamming the president’s behavior as “erratic and out of control.”

Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade interviewed Bloomberg’s 2020 campaign manager Kevin Sheekey who took aim at Trump’s military accomplishments and why Bloomberg would be a more stable commander-in-chief: “It’s not all about spending money… so throwing money at a problem is not leadership.”

Trump, who refers to the billionaire as “Mini Mike Bloomberg,” tweeted following the ad that the presidential hopeful and former New York City mayor “is playing poker with his foolhardy and unsuspecting Democrat rivals.”

“The fact is, when Mini loses, he will be spending very little of his money on these “clowns” because he will consider himself to be the biggest clown of them all – and he will be right!,” President Trump blasted.

Galia Slayen, national spokeswoman for the 2020 Bloomberg campaign, responded to Trump’s tweet by asking if the attacks on “mini” Mike Bloomberg is set to become “a morning routine.”

[Mediaite]

Trump promotes violence in support of white supremacist rally in Virginia

President Donald Trump slammed Virginia Democrats over several gun violence prevention measures they’re looking to pass in the state, as a white supremacist group gears up to protest at an annual gun rights rally outside the state capitol. 

“Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia,” the president tweeted on Friday evening. “That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away. Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you Dems!” 

Trump’s tweet came shortly after law enforcement arrested three suspected white supremacists in Maryland and Delaware who had allegedly talked about opening fire at Monday’s pro-gun rally.

The suspects belong to a violent white-supremacist group called “the Base,” whose aim is “to accelerate the downfall of the US government, incite a race war and establish a white ethno-state,” according to an affidavit filed in Georgia court, as The Wall Street Journal reported.

Several other members of the Base were arrested throughout the country this week on different charges. 

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, announced Wednesday that the state would temporarily ban firearms in Capitol Square prior to Monday’s rally, citing the arrests and threat of a shooting. 

Gun rights groups appealed Northam’s decision, but a federal appeals court judge upheld the temporary gun ban on Thursday, writing that “the Second Amendment right to bear arms is not unlimited.” 

“This is the right decision,” Northam said in a Thursday statement about the ruling. “These threats are real — as evidenced by reports of neo-Nazis arrested this morning after discussing plans to head to Richmond with firearms.”

Virginia Democrats, who control both the state house and senate, are working on passing several gun regulations, including background checks on gun sales, a law that would allow authorities to confiscate a gun from someone they believe is a danger to themselves, a ban on firearms in government buildings. 

Tens of thousands of pro-gun protesters are expected to gather outside the state capitol building in the annual Lobby Day protest.

[Business Insider]

Trump Retweets Image of Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer in Traditional Islamic Clothing Before Iranian Flag

President Donald Trump took his attacks on Speaker Nancy Pelosi Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to a whole new level Monday morning, by retweeting a photoshopped image of the two in traditional Muslim garb before an Iranian flag.

The tweet came in a flurry of frenzied presidential tweets (and retweets) critical of Speaker Pelosi’s criticism of the Trump administrations handling of Iranian foreign relations, in particular, that following the deadly drone strike that took the life of Quds force leader and Iranian Republican Guard Major General Qasam Soleimani.

In the days that followed Soleimani’s death, a million Iranians reportedly flooded the streets of Teheran to protest the U.S. killing of the number two leader of Iran. But as Iran eventually admitted to shooting down a Ukranian airliner and killing 167 civilians, protests have started against the Iranian regime.

[Mediaite]


Trump demands Justice Roberts dismiss ‘phony’ impeachment that ‘should not even be allowed to proceed’

President Donald Trump on Sunday suggested that Justice John Roberts should declare that impeachment charges against him are unconstitutional.

In an appearance on Fox News over the weekend, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani first made the suggestion that Roberts could kick off the president’s impeachment trial by dismissing it.

“Great idea,” Trump wrote Sunday morning as he tweeted out video of Giuliani’s appearance. “This phony Impeachment Hoax should not even be allowed to proceed. Did NOTHING wrong. Just a partisan vote. Zero Republicans. Never happened before!”

[Raw Story]


Trump hits Senate for giving impeachment ‘credibility’ by holding trial

President Trump on Sunday tweeted that Republicans risked lending credibility to the impeachment inquiry brought by the House by holding a trial in the Senate.

The president said any proceedings in the Senate would be based on “no evidence,” and appeared to urge Senate Republicans to reject the idea of holding a trial at all.

“Many believe that by the Senate giving credence to a trial based on the no evidence, no crime, read the transcripts, “no pressure” Impeachment Hoax, rather than an outright dismissal, it gives the partisan Democrat Witch Hunt credibility that it otherwise does not have. I agree!” Trump tweeted.

Trump spent much of Sunday tweeting about the upcoming Senate impeachment trial, which, he wrote in one message, “should not even be allowed to proceed.”

“Why should I have the stigma of Impeachment attached to my name when I did NOTHING wrong?” he added in another tweet. “Read the Transcripts! A totally partisan Hoax, never happened before. House Republicans voted 195-0, with three Dems voting with the Republicans. Very unfair to tens of millions of voters!”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have battled for weeks over the scope of the Senate impeachment trial, with Pelosi holding firm in her demands for McConnell to guarantee that witnesses will be called before she presents the Senate with the House-passed articles of impeachment.

Last week it was reported that McConnell had signed on to a measure that would allow the Senate to dismiss the House articles of impeachment without a trial.

[The Hill]

‘Maybe we will, maybe we won’t’: Trump doubles down on threat to take oil from Syria

Donald Trump has renewed his threats to forcibly steal oil from Syria, a move which experts say would amount to a war crime.

The president defended his decision to leave a small number of American troops in the war-torn nation after a general withdrawal in October by claiming they were only there to secure Syria’s oilfields.

“They say he left troops in Syria… do you know what I did? I took the oil,” he said during a Fox News interview.

“The only troops I have are taking the oil, they are protecting the oil.”

When the interviewer, Laura Ingraham, attempted to correct Mr Trump by insisting the soldiers were not there to take the oil but to guard the facilities, the president cut her off.

“I don’t know, maybe we should take it, but we have the oil. Right now, the United States has the oil. We have the oil.”

This is not the first time the erratic former business tycoon has publicly mused about stealing Syria’s oil reserves.

In October, shortly after his abrupt withdrawal of US forces and abandoning of their Kurdish allies in the region, Mr Trump said he wanted an American oil firm to fly in to tap Syria’s oil on behalf of the government.

“What I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly,” he said.

However, such a move would likely constitute pillage and looting, actions which have long been designated as illegal under international law and the rules of war.

The Geneva Convention, which the US is a signatory to, explicitly prohibits the looting of property during conflict, defining it as a war crime.

“The president appears to believe that the US can sell the oil, based on his statements in the past about Iraqi oil and Libyan oil … thinking that we can loot countries,” Benjamin Friedman, policy director at think tank Defence Priorities and adjunct professor at the George Washington University, told The Independent last year.

“I am sure people in the White House have tried to explain to him that is not how it works.

“Taking the profits from the sale of Syrian oil for the US treasury would be illegal. That would probably qualify as pillaging under the law.”

Ironically, experts say Syria’s oil fields are not much of a prize anyway. Even before the country descended in a chaotic civil war, it only produced about 380,000 barrels of poor-quality oil a day.

In 2018, after its production was several hampered by the conflict, it produced about the same amount of oil as the state of Illinois.

Before he entered the White House, Mr Trump had said several times that the US should have “taken the oil” from the other Middle Eastern nations its armed forces had intervened in, including Iraq and Libya.

Some commentators have speculated that defence officials desperate to persuade the president to permit some US forces to remain in Syria as a counter-balance to Isis and the Assad regime were forced to appeal to his oil obsession to gain his approval.

[The Independent]

Trump complains he didn’t get Nobel Peace Prize days after threatening to commit war crimes

President Donald Trump complained that he was not awarded the Nobel Peace Prize just days after he threatened to commit war crimes in Iran.

Trump spoke at a rally in Toledo, Ohio, on Thursday after walking back his threat to target Iranian cultural sites, which would constitute a war crime.

Trump complained at the rally about the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded back in October to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed “for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea,” according to the Nobel Committee.

But Trump claimed that he was the one who actually saved the country.

“I’m going to tell you about the Nobel Peace Prize,” he said. “I’ll tell you about that. I made a deal, I saved a country and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country. I said, ‘What, did I have something do with it?’ Yeah, but you know, that’s the way it is. As long as we know, that’s all that matters.”


The Washington Post reported that this would be “news to Ethiopians,” noting that Trump “played no apparent role in the Eritrea peace deal.”ADVERTISEMENT

The House Foreign Affairs Committee said on Twitter that “Trump is confused,” suggesting that he confused the Eritrea peace deal with another deal between Ethiopia and Egypt regarding a new dam, which Washington helped move along.

A senior Ethiopian government official told the Associated Press as much.

“He was talking about Egypt and Ethiopia,” the unidentified official said. “President Trump really believes he avoided a war as such . . . but that was not the case.”

Trump has long grumbled about the Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded to former President Barack Obama during his first year in office.

Trump claimed in May 2018 that “everyone thinks” he deserves the Nobel Prize for his efforts to negotiate with North Korea, which recently fell apart.

Trump later complained about Obama’s Nobel Prize during a speech in the Rose Garden last February.

“They gave it to Obama. He didn’t even know what he got it for. He was there for about 15 seconds and he got the Nobel Prize. He said, ‘Oh, what did I get it for?’” Trump complained. “With me, I probably will never get it.”

Trump also claimed last fall that the committee that gives out the awards was rigged against him.

“I think I’ll get a Nobel prize for a lot of things if they gave it out fairly, which they don’t,” he said during an appearance with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan before turning his attention to Obama again.

“He had no idea why he got it, and you know what?” Trump asked. “That was the only thing I agreed with him on.”

Obama received the prize eight months into his presidency for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

[Raw Story]

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