ISIS leader killed in daring U.S. raid in Syria, Trump says

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died in a U.S. raid in northwestern Syria, President Donald Trump announced Sunday, describing in detail a daring mission by Army Delta Force commandos that he said had been planned for five months.

Baghdadi, whose self-declared caliphate once covered large swaths of Syria and Iraq, detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and three children after he was cornered in a tunnel.

“The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him,” Trump said from the White House. “Baghdadi’s demise demonstrates America’s relentless pursuit of terrorist leaders and our commitment to the enduring and total defeat of ISIS and other terrorist organizations.”

No U.S. personnel were lost in the raid and Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CNN that two who suffered minor injuries have been returned to duty.

The death of Baghdadi, long considered the most wanted man in the world, came amid weeks of acrimonious debate in Washington about the U.S. role in Syria after Trump’s efforts to remove troops from the region. The abrupt withdrawal allowed scores of ISIS prisoners to escape and set off warning that of a rebirth of an Islamic State sanctuary, which has been the focus of an intense U.S.-led air campaign backed by small number of troops on the ground and local allies, since 2015.

After years of rare and unconfirmed sightings, Baghdadi resurfaced in an unverified video in April, rallying his followers in Iraq and Syria following the group’s loss of its so-called caliphate.

The United States had placed a $25 million bounty on the ISIS leader’s head.

Russia in June 2017 claimed to have killed Baghdadi in an airstrike on Raqqa, Syria. A month later reports of his death again surfaced, this time from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Baghdadi is believed to have been born in 1971 in Samarra, Iraq. He was a cleric in a Baghdad mosque during the 2003 U.S. invasion that toppled Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. He joined the insurgency against U.S. forces in Iraq in its early days and spent 10 months in U.S. military detention in 2004.

Baghdadi become the leader of al-Qaida’s Iraq faction in 2010. In 2014, he declared the Islamic State a global caliphate from the Al-Nuri mosque in Mosul, in what is his only known public appearance as the leader of the terrorist organization.

Trump called ISIS “among the most depraved organizations in history” and listed some of the group’s victims: the Iraqi Yezidi minority group against whom it committed “genocidal mass murder,” the Jordanian fighter pilot burned alive in a cage after his plane crashed in ISIS territory, and the American hostages Jim Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller who died in the group’s custody.

“His evil acts of beheadings, enslavement of women, rape, torture, and pure brutality follows him to his grave,” Secretary of State Milke Pompeo said in a statement.

Foley’s mother, Diana, thanked Trump and the troops. “I hope this will hinder the resurgence of terror groups and pray that captured ISIS fighters will be brought to trial and held accountable,” she said.

The mission to kill or capture Baghdadi was launched from Iraqi territory. “This raid was impeccable and could only have taken place with the acknowledgment and help of certain other nations and people,” Trump said. “I want to thank the nations of Russia, Syria, Turkey, and Iraq, and I also want to thank the Syrian Kurds for certain support they were able to give us.”

The raid, which lasted two hours inside Baghdadi’s compound, was immediately hailed by both parties as a major victory in the fight against Islamic terrorism.

“The death of al-Baghdadi is a triumph for our nation’s anti-terrorism efforts and is a testament to the persistence and expertise of our military and intelligence services,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat and member of the Armed Services Committee. “Al-Baghdadi spread a heinous terrorist ideology which must continue to be snuffed out in Syria and around the world.

“I congratulate President Trump, our allies who assisted in this effort, and, in particular, those who risked their lives in this raid,” she added in a statement.

“It’s tremendous news that the U.S. has ended Baghdadi’s bloody jihad,” added Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican and member of the Intelligence Committee. “The President made the right call to take out this bloodthirsty monster who led ISIS as it raped and pillaged its way through Iraq and Syria.”

But Sasse and others also warned in a statement about letting up the pressure. “As Americans celebrate this victory, we must remain clear-eyed that this is no time to let off the gas: Baghdadi is gone but another animal will take his place as ISIS works to regroup.”

“Removing the leadership of terrorist groups is not on its own a decisive win. It never has been,” said Eric Robinson, a former intelligence official. “Saying that the caliphate is going to crumple as a result of this is just wrong. It will endure.”

The death of its leader won’t mark the defeat of ISIS, agreed Michael Nagata, a retired Army lieutenant general and former senior intelligence official who fought the Islamic State’s predecessor organization in Iraq and was the top special operations commander in the Middle East during the early years of the ISIS campaign.

“I’ve never seen the death of a senior leader be the catalyst for the elimination or destruction of a powerful, well-entrenched, global terrorist movement. It’s a necessary step but it’s never a decisive step,” Nagata said in an interview.

“There are a lot of parallels to be drawn to the impact of Osama bin Laden’s death,” said Nagata, who was also the senior U.S. military official in Pakistan at the time of the 2011 raid that killed the founder of al-Qaida. “It was important at the time and had enormous symbolic value but it is mostly strategically irrelevant now. That’s the trajectory I expect the impact of Baghdadi’s death to follow.”

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Mick Bednarek, who was the top U.S. officer at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad during ISIS’ rise in 2014 and 2015, said in an interview it is “incredible news and speaks highly once again of our collective intelligence agencies and more specifically our special operators.”

But Bednarek, who four years ago called the battle against ISIS “the fight of our lifetime,” cautioned against taking too many victory laps.

“When you eliminate the head or figurehead, does that mean the demise of the Islamic State terror organization? Absolutely not. Who is the next emergent leader? It is going to have an impact, but it is not going to be the be all end all where we can rest on our laurels.”

Trump used unusually vivid, even gory, language in describing Baghdadi’s final moments — descriptions that that some regional experts feared could further inflame extremists in the region.

“He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming,” Trump said. “The compound had been cleared by this time, with people either surrendering or being shot and killed. Eleven young children were moved out of the house un-injured. The only ones remaining were Baghdadi in the tunnel, who had dragged three children with him to certain death. He reached the end of the tunnel, as our dogs chased him down. He ignited his vest, killing himself and the three children. His body was mutilated by the blast, but test results gave certain and positive identification.”

“He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone,” Trump said, adding at one point that he would support making public Baghdadi’s final moments.

Trump also said Baghdadi “died like a dog. He died like a coward.” The reference particular could anger Islamist extremists because they view the animals as unclean.

Dana Shell Smith, a former U.S. ambassador to Qatar, warned that being so descriptive could backfire by stoking more anger toward the United States.

She pointed out that former President Barack Obama was far more careful in describing al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden’s killing. The Obama administration even pointed out that it gave bin Laden’s body an Islamic funeral ritual before slipping it into the ocean.

“It was important for our relationships in the region and safety of our military and diplomats,” the former ambassador wrote on Twitter. “It’s how America rolls. With honor. We don’t delight in death like the terrorists do.”

Bednarek said the president’s extended remarks, in which he also repeatedly took credit for the raid and the defeat of ISIS, struck him as “a bit disquieting.”

“But that is his penchant to do.”

Still, the damage inflicted on the group is undeniable, Esper said.

“This is a devastating blow,” he told CNN. “This is not just their leader, it’s their founder. He was an inspirational leader in many ways. He’s the one that when he — he formed ISIS in 2014, he led to the establishment of physical caliphate throughout the region, so this is a major blow to them. And we’re going to watch carefully next steps and as a new leader and leaders pop up, we’ll go after them as well.”

[Politico]

Reality

Let’s take a moment to recognize this is exactly what we expect a President of the United States to do, find the terrorist organization and break it up.

But taking a step back there are several issues with what had transpired.

First, the only reason how we had information on al-Baghdadi’s location is because of Kurdish intelligence, the same Kurd allies who Trump abandoned a week prior just to get off of the phone with Turkish Dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then blasted the Kurds as ‘no angels.’

Second, according to reporting by The New York Times we’ve been following al-Baghdadi for some time, but the military had to act because of Trump’s surprise decision to pull troops from northern Syria. So the operation happened despite Trump, not because of Trump. This put our service men and women at a much greater risk.

Third, Trump compared this a bigger get than Osama bin Laden, who President Barack Obama gave the go-ahead to the mission that brought him to justice. That’s just an incredibly dumb statement to compare the ISIS-inspired attacks to the world-changing event on 9/11, orchestrated by bin Laden.

Fourth, Trump turned our national security into partisanship by keeping this operation secret from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. It was okay for him to let Russia know, but not Nancy Pelosi, or even Mitch McConnell? This is on-brand for Trump’s style of politics where he’d rather be friends with our enemies than work with his fellow Americans.

Fifth, the operation occurred at 3:30pm, Trump was golfing at a resort he still owns, operates, promotes, and receives profits from at that exact time. It’s possible when he got to the White House around 5:30pm the operation was still ongoing, but this image is too staged with most people looking at the camera.

Finally, Donald Trump announcement of the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi revealed a slew of sensitive details about the secret military operation that could imperil future raids, special operations and intelligence. He has no care of national security.

White House to order federal agencies to end NYT and WaPo subscriptions

The White House plans to order all federal agencies not to renew their subscriptions to the New York Times and the Washington Post, two papers that President Trump has repeatedly attacked for their critical coverage of his administration, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: The White House said on Tuesday that it would cancel its own subscriptions to the Post and the Times, after Trump complained that they were “fake” during an appearance this week on Fox News’ “Hannity.” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an email to the Journal: “Not renewing subscriptions across all federal agencies will be a significant cost saving — hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars will be saved.”

Between the lines: Axios’ Sara Fischer notes that the Post and the Times each make around $20 million annually by selling political and issue ads (mostly issue ads) that are geared toward reaching policy makers and opinion leaders at key D.C. institutions, including the White House and federal agencies. Hundreds of copies of the two newspapers are distributed to the White House and agencies.

  • These are expensive ads, and they’re typically the only types of ads with pricing that can’t be negotiated or bartered down.
  • In fact, the Times touts its reach into the White House when selling ads. It even created a separate D.C. edition of its paper printed out of Springfield, Virginia, just to make it cheaper to target federal agencies with ads that could be locally inserted.

The bottom line: This move, if the White House follows through on it, will have an advertising impact on the newspapers at a time when the issue advocacy market is really hot.

[Axios]

Trump blasts ‘Never Trump’ Republicans as ‘human scum’

President Trump on Wednesday excoriated so-called Never Trump Republicans as “human scum” as he seeks to solidify Republican support of him amid an ongoing impeachment inquiry.

He singled out his administration’s special envoy to Ukraine, William Taylor, who a day earlier sat for closed door testimony with those lawmakers the impeachment inquiry and delivered damaging testimony about the White House’s efforts to pressure Ukraine for political purposes.

“The Never Trumper Republicans, though on respirators with not many left, are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our Country than the Do Nothing Democrats,” Trump tweeted. “Watch out for them, they are human scum!” 

“Never Trumper Republican John Bellinger, represents Never Trumper Diplomat Bill Taylor (who I don’t know), in testimony before Congress!” Trump tweeted about 45 minutes later, bemoaning the lack of transparency in the impeachment proceedings thus far.

“It would be really great if the people within the Trump Administration, all well-meaning and good (I hope!), could stop hiring Never Trumpers, who are worse than the Do Nothing Democrats,” Trump added. “Nothing good will ever come from them!”


Trump earlier this week complained that Democrats leading the impeachment investigation were interviewing individuals he hadn’t heard of before launching into a tirade against the “Never Trumpers.”

“Don’t forget, many of these people were put there during Obama, during Clinton, during the Never Trump or Bush era,” Trump said at a Cabinet meeting on Monday. “You know, you had a Never Trump or Bush. You have heard of those? Those people might be worse than the Democrats — the Never Trumpers. The good news is they’re dying off fast.”

In the same Cabinet meeting, Trump called on Republicans to fight tougher in the impeachment inquiry.

The president’s tweet came as some of his Republican allies in the House had stormed a closed-door hearing to protest what they argued has been a lack of transparency in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry process.

The furor broke up the deposition of a top Defense Department official who was testifying about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

The fracas also follows testimony from Taylor, who told committees just one day ago that Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine to pressure the country to conduct a pair of investigations — one into 2016 election hacking, the other into the family of former Vice President Joe Biden — that might have helped Trump’s reelection campaign next year.

Democrats viewed Taylor’s testimony as particularly damaging for the president, who has repeatedly denied a quid pro quo or any inappropriate interactions with the Ukrainians.

[The Hill]

Trump Lashes Out at Coverage of Awarding G7 to Resort He Owns, Also Extolls Resort’s ‘Tremendous Ballrooms’

President Donald Trump reacted angrily Saturday to criticism of his administration announcing it would hold a summit of foreign leaders at a resort Trump owns.

“I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 Leaders,” Trump said Saturday night.

Trump went on to praise the features of his resort like “tremendous ballrooms” and claimed again that he would not “profit” from the summit.

Trump also highlighted Doral’s proximity to Miami International Airport as a positive, but Chuck Todd and David Fahrenthold pointed to that as a negative on Friday, both of them agreeing it was a security risk for the high-profile event.

“Doral is right on the Miami airport flight paths,” Todd said. “I think one of my reporters told me there’s like 20 different flight paths that are going to have to be diverted.”

“This is such a security nightmare to put it in the middle of a neighborhood where you’re going to have the neighbors coming and going,” Fahrenthold said.

[Mediaite]

Trump Rages at Pelosi, Mattis, and Communists During ‘Meltdown’ in White House Meeting

President Donald Trump invited Democratic Party leaders to the White House on Wednesday and proceeded to have what those leaders described as a “meltdown” in front of them. Before the lawmakers left early, Trump managed to rail against communists, his own former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom he called “a third-rate politician,” according to the Democratic leaders and sources’ descriptions of the meeting.

Shortly after the brief, cross-partisan meeting with the president in the Cabinet Room—which was convened to discuss Syria- and Turkey-related matters—Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) emerged to give a readout to reporters on what was, in Schumer’s words, Trump’s “nasty diatribe.”

“What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown—sad to say,” Pelosi told reporters. “I think that vote, the size of the vote—more than two-to-one of the Republicans voted to oppose what the president did [on troops in Syria]—it probably got to the president, because he was shaken up by it [and] that’s why we couldn’t continue in the meeting because he was just not relating to the reality of it.”

Schumer asserted that Pelosi “kept her cool completely” even while Trump sniped that “there are communists involved [in Syria] and you guys might like that.”

The president even took a shot at his former defense secretary—who quit late last year over policy disagreements—when the conversation on Wednesday afternoon touched on foreign policy and a potential rejuvenation of ISIS fighters in Syria.

According to a Democratic source familiar with what happened in that meeting, Schumer at one point pulled out a piece of paper featuring quotes from Mattis’ interview on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. The Democratic leader began reading to the president the statement that Mattis made on that Sunday show, that “if we don’t keep the pressure on, then ISIS will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back.”

Trump, this source said, then interrupted Schumer, and insisted that Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general.”

“You know why?” the president continued, according to the source. “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.” Trump also repeatedly claimed that of the ISIS prisoners who escaped when Turkish forces invaded northeast Syria (an invasion Trump all but greenlit), only the “least dangerous” individuals got out.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, asked to confirm the president’s assertion that those ISIS prisoners who escape were the “least dangerous,” told Schumer he didn’t know, according to the source.

At one point, Trump is said to have claimed that “someone wanted this meeting so I agreed to it,” despite the White House having called the meeting.

Pelosi, for her part, told Trump that Russia has long wanted a “foothold in the Middle East,” adding that because of the president’s actions, the Russian government now has it. “All roads with you lead to Putin,” the House speaker jabbed, according to one senior Democratic aide.

“I hate ISIS more than you do,” Trump shot back at Pelosi, this aide noted, with Pelosi replying, “You don’t know that.”

Later in the day, Pelosi, in the escalating round of insults hurled between the West Wing and Capitol Hill, told reporters, “I think now we have to pray for [Trump’s] health. Because this was a very serious meltdown on the part of the president.”

There was even a point in this meeting, the Democratic aide said, that President Trump distributed to attendees the Oct. 9 letter he sent to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the one that read, “You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy—and I will.” Trump’s letter also includes the lines, “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”

This was taken as an attempt by the president to demonstrate to all the Republicans and Democrats in the room that he was being sufficiently tough on Erdogan, and as an effort to convince those present that he did not greenlight the Turkish invasion, which is currently causing political backlash at home, and slaughter and mayhem abroad.

The president’s aides, meanwhile, sought to place the blame for the derailed meeting on the Democratic leaders’ decision to walk out over Trump’s “nasty” words directed at Pelosi.

“Her decision to walk out was baffling, but not surprising,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham emailed The Daily Beast shortly after the Democrats’ comments to White House press. “Speaker Pelosi had no intention of listening or contributing to an important meeting on national security issues.  While Democratic leadership chose to storm out and get in front of the cameras to whine, everyone else in the meeting chose to stay in the room and work on behalf of this country.”

Trump later tweeted a flurry of photos from the meeting that he claimed showed the Democrats had tanked the meeting, including one in which he accused Pelosi of having an “unhinged meltdown.”

This wouldn’t be the first time this year that a meeting at the White House involving Trump, Pelosi, and Schumer completely degenerated so quickly. Early this year, during a Friday meeting on the government shutdown, President Trump started the gathering by launching a 15-minute, profanity-encrusted rant that included him demanding his border wall, and, unprompted, complaining about Democratic lawmakers who want to impeach him. 

At the time, Trump told attendees that he was, simply put, too popular a president to impeach.

Today, Trump and his administration are currently fighting back against an ongoing, rapidly accelerating impeachment inquiry, with Democrats on Capitol Hill hoping to hold a vote on his impeachment before the end of the year.

[The Daily Beast]

Gruesome Video of Fake Trump Killing Media in Mass Shooting Played at One of His Resorts

At a time when our nation is facing an epidemic of mass shootings, supporters of President Donald Trump showed a violent depiction of a fake Trump massacring members of the news media using a gun and other weapons at a conference held at one of the president’s resorts, the New York Times reported Sunday night.

American Priority, a group that supports the president, hosted the conference at Trump National Doral Miami. Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. and Florida Governor Rick DeSantis were all scheduled to speak at the event. But Huckabee Sanders and a source close to Trump Jr. denied either saw the video.

Bloomberg technology reporter William Turton surfaced a video matching the description from the Times on YouTube. The video appears to have been uploaded by YouTube account TheGeekzTeam in July 2018, and the account has posted other videos doctored to make it look like Trump is violently killing his enemies. Although Turton said he has not yet been able to confirm the YouTube video was the same one played at the conference, the details in the video as described by the Times line up, although portions like the Barack Obama interview at the end of the video were not reported to have been shown.

In the video,a man with Trump’s head superimposed on his body goes into a building labeled the “Church of Fake News” where people inside are labeled with logos of major news outlets including Vox, Politico, the Washington Post, HuffPost, ABC and NBC covering their heads. Trump then opens fire, killing numerous media outlets including Vox, Politico and NPR, in addition to activist group Black Lives Matter. The fake Trump begins his rampage using a gun but later switches to a wooden stake and a knife. Also in the video are Hillary Clinton, Maxine Waters, Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, John McCain and Rosie O’Donnell — all of them are slaughtered by the killer Trump. The mass murder ends with the president driving a wooden stake into the head of a person depicted as the church’s minister with a CNN logo covering their face as DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” plays in the background.

The footage, the Times said, was taken and doctored from a church massacre scene in the dark comedy “Kingsman: The Secret Service.”

Trump’s presidency has been marked by criticism of the news media, and recently he has even been vocally critical of his beloved Fox News. The president himself has shared a video depicting himself as violent toward the media, tweeting out a doctored video of him body slamming a man with a CNN logo over his head in 2017. Trump has also turned his ire toward reporters during his political rallies, spurring his supporters to taunt and threaten members of the media covering him.

When we are barely a year out from the tragic Capital Gazette shooting in Maryland that killed five of the newspaper’s staff not to mention other recent mass shootings in churchessynagogues and mosques, videos like this are particularly dangerous, especially when they are broadcast at events even loosely affiliated with the president and on property he owns.

[Rolling Stone]

Media

Trump Gloats About Shep Smith’s Fox News Exit

The question from a reporter to President Donald Trump on Friday night was, “Did you or your administration pressure Fox News to get rid of Shepard Smith?” 

Trump did not answer directly, but rather took the opportunity to gloat over his least-favorite Fox News anchor’s departure, saying, “No, I don’t know, is he leaving? Oh, that’s a shame.” 

“Did I hear Shepard Smith is leaving?” the president asked, soundly almost gleeful. “Is he leaving because of bad ratings? He had terrible ratings, is he leaving because of his ratings? If he’s leaving, I assume he’s leaving because he had bad ratings.” 

Smith, who has been the rare critical voice against the president on Fox, announced on Friday that he had requested to get out of his contract on leave the network, effective immediately. “Even in our currently polarized nation, it’s my hope that the facts will win the day,” Smith said in his final broadcast. “That the truth will always matter, that journalism and journalists will thrive.”

The move comes just two days after Attorney General Bill Barr met privately with Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch, prompting some speculation that the Trump administration had something to do with Smith’s exit. 

“Well, I wish him well,” Trump concluded. “I wish Shepard Smith well.” 

[The Daily Beast]

Media

Trump appears to do bizarre impression of FBI agent having sex

Donald Trump appeared to perform an impression of former FBI agent Peter Strzok and attorney Lisa Page having sex while the president was in the middle of a speech during a rally in Minnesota on Thursday.

Mr Trump slammed his hand on the podium and shouted “I love you, Lisa,” and “I love you too, Peter” before moaning “Lisa, I love you, Lisa! Lisa! Oh, God, I love you Lisa!”

The president had previously called Mr Strzok a “sick loser” amid investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in US elections. Mr Mueller removed Mr Strzok from his team after discovering anti-Trump text messages between Mr Strzok and Ms Page, who had an affair.

The president has falsely claimed that the texts had been deleted and has frequently argued that the messages amount to “corruption” within an investigation that followed Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 presidential election.

At his Minnesota rally, Mr Trump continued to mock the text messages: “And if she doesn’t win, Lisa, we’ve got an insurance policy, Lisa: we’ll get that son of a bitch out.”

[The Independent]

Media

Trump says Fox News ‘doesn’t deliver for US anymore’ after poll shows rising impeachment support

President Trump said on Thursday that Fox News “doesn’t deliver for US anymore” after the network’s latest poll showed growing support for his impeachment and removal from office.

“From the day I announced I was running for President, I have NEVER had a good @FoxNews Poll,” Trump tweeted. “Whoever their Pollster is, they suck. But @FoxNews is also much different than it used to be in the good old days.”

A Fox poll released Wednesday found 51 percent of respondents supported Trump’s impeachment and removal from office. Four percent of participants said the president should be impeached but not removed, and 40 percent were completely against impeachment. 

Trump on Thursday also lashed out at prominent Fox News employees who have been critical of him and his interactions with the president of Ukraine, which is at the heart of an impeachment inquiry by House Democrats. 

“@FoxNews doesn’t deliver for US anymore,” Trump tweeted. “It is so different than it used to be. Oh well, I’m President!”

He ripped retired Judge Andrew Napolitano, who argued that Trump had already confessed to a crime when he admitted to encouraging the Ukrainian president to look into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son.

Trump claimed that Napolitano, Fox News’s senior judicial analyst, wanted to be on the Supreme Court but that he turned the judge down. Politico reported in 2017 that Napolitano had told friends he was on Trump’s shortlist of potential nominees.

The president also ripped Fox News anchor Shepard Smith and contributor Donna Brazile. Trump has targeted both before, as Smith regularly fact checks or rebuts statements from the president during his hourly program and Brazile is the former interim leader of the Democratic National Committee.

Trump has had a hot-and-cold relationship with Fox News in recent months. He has complained about several of the network’s polls that showed him trailing his Democratic challengers in potential 2020 matchups and regularly lashes out at employees who are critical of him.

He tweeted in August that the cable network “isn’t working for us anymore” and that his supporters “have to start looking for a new News Outlet.”

But the president still regularly tweets out quotes from Fox News programming, his aides appear on Fox for interviews and former White House staffers have taken jobs at the network.

Moments after his criticism of Fox on Thursday, the president retweeted posts from Fox Business Network anchor Maria Bartiromo multiple times.

[The Hill]

Trump calls investigations ‘BULLSHIT’

President Donald Trump’s furor with House Democrats’ barely week-old impeachment probe reached new heights on Wednesday, apparently prompting the president to resort to obscenities to express his discontent.

In a slew of tweets fired off as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff held a briefing on lawmakers’ impeachment efforts, Trump branded the Democratic Caucus as “Do Nothing Democrats” and proceeded to call their oversight efforts “bullshit.”

“The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016, 223-306,” he wrote, incorrectly stating the breakdown of Electoral College votes he and Hillary Clinton received.

He also fired off a warning to Democrats ahead of their nominating contest next year: “Get a better candidate this time, you’ll need it!”

Later speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside Finland’s visiting president, Trump managed to partially censor himself in making a crude reference to Schiff, one of his top congressional rivals.

“He is a shifty dishonest guy who was critical of one of the great secretary of States,” Trump said of Schiff, who’d just criticized Mike Pompeo on national television. “The most honorable person, Mike Pompeo, and this guy was negative on Mike Pompeo.”

Trump then delivered some locker room talk about Schiff: “He can’t — you know there’s an expression, he couldn’t carry his blank strap,” he said, apparently bleeping out “jock strap.”

“I won’t say it,” Trump went on, “because they’ll say it was so terrible to say, but that guy couldn’t carry his blank strap, do you understand that?”

Pelosi only formally launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump last week, after it was reported the president pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Biden is among the top candidates vying to run against Trump next year.

The probe stems from a whistleblower complaint filed by a member of the intelligence community citing that call, prompting the White House to release its rough transcript of the conversation. Democrats, citing Trump’s sudden decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine, suggested the conversation may have contained a quid pro quo, though no such offer is explicitly made, according to the White House’s account of the phone call.

Trump’s outbursts come as the investigation has intensified on a daily basis. Early Wednesday morning, Pompeo confirmed that he was on the July phone call with Trump and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky after initially playing down any knowledge of what was discussed on the call.

Pompeo also stoked Democrats’ ire by appearing to accuse them on Tuesday of intimidating career employees at the State Department and by suggesting several potential witnesses could decline to appear for depositions with lawmakers.

In recent days, Trump demanded Schiff’s resignation while claiming the congressman and the anonymous whistleblower could both be guilty of treason.

But Democrats have moved forward quickly with their probe, hitting Trump and his allies with a number of subpoenas over the past week, and Trump has continued to lash out, calling their investigations an attempt at a “coup.” Schiff on Wednesday made clear that he would not put up with stonewalling by the White House, telling reporters that doing so would be considered evidence of obstruction in any eventual articles of impeachment.

In Wednesday’s news conference, Pelosi said she still believed Democrats could work with the White House on prescription drug pricing legislation and to make tweaks to Trump’s renegotiated deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, arguing that her colleagues could investigate and legislate simultaneously.

She also forcefully defended the probe, insisting she would be a fair arbiter while ensuring it moves forward at an aggressive pace.

As Trump barked out insults in the Oval Office, referring to Schiff as a “lowlife” and “shifty Schiff,” Finland’s Sauli Niinistö sat quietly in the chair beside him with a straight face.

When a Finnish reporter offered up the chance to change the subject, asking Trump what he could learn from “the happiest country in the world,” Finland, the president continued to lay into his rivals.

“Well if you got rid of Pelosi, and you got rid of shifty Schiff,” Trump trailed off with a grin after slapping Niinistö on the knee.

“Finland is a happy country, he’s a happy leader, too,” Trump added, eliciting an eyebrow raise and a knowing chuckle from Niinistö.

[Politico]

Reality

Donald Trump tweeted this during his 9 hours of Executive Time.

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