Trump rips Kellyanne Conway’s husband, conservative lawyer George Conway, for calling him mentally ill: ‘A total loser!’

President Donald Trump tore into top White House advisor Kellyanne Conway’s husband on Tuesday, calling him a “total loser” after he accused Trump of exhibiting symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder.

George Conway, a veteran attorney with deep roots in Republican politics, has become a prominent critic of his spouse’s boss, even as his wife remains one of Trump’s most committed public defenders.

On Monday, George Conway sent a series of tweets displaying the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder and anti-social personality disorder listed in the latest edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders.

He explicitly connected those posts to Trump. “*All* Americans should be thinking seriously *now* about Trump’s mental condition and psychological state, including and especially the media, Congress—and the Vice President and Cabinet,” he tweeted.

In response Monday evening, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, took a swing at Conway, saying he “hurts his wife because he is jealous of her success.”

On Tuesday morning, the president piled on, retweeting Parscale’s post under a heading “a total loser!”

Conway had reportedly been in line for a role in the Trump administration’s Justice Department. But Conway said in June 2017 that he was pulling himself out of consideration. “For me and my family, this is not the right time for me to leave the private sector and take on a new role in the federal government,” Conway said in a statement at the time.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the exchange between George Conway and Trump. George Conway did not immediately provide comment to CNBC on his Twitter exchange.

He did, however, double down in responses to Trump on Tuesday morning.

“Tell us, @realDonaldTrump—which of these diagnostic criteria do you not satisfy?” Conway tweeted.

Conway added: “Congratulations! You just guaranteed that millions of more people are going to learn about narcissistic personality disorder and malignant narcissism! Great job!”

[CNBC]

Trump Posts Tweet Telling Meghan McCain That He’s More Loved Than Her Dead Father

On Sunday, President Donald Trump retweeted a tweet from a supporter insisting that he’s more loved than Sen. John McCain.

Meghan McCain took a swipe at Trump suggesting ‘no one will ever love you like they loved my father’ WRONG Meghan!” Lori Hendrywhose Twitter description describes her as “Immigrated here legally•Proud American Citizen•Here to support TRUMP!” wrote in the tweet.

Hendry continued on: “Millions of Americans truly LOVE President Trump, not McCain. I’m one! We hated McCain for his ties to the Russian dossier & his vote against repealing Obamacare.”

Hendry was referring to a tweet sent out by Meghan McCain on Saturday.

“No one will ever love you the way they loved my father,” Meghan wrote. “I wish I had been given more Saturdays with him. Maybe spend yours with your family instead of on twitter obsessing over mine?”

Meghan’s tweet was prompted by Trump slamming her late father on Twitter, something Trump did again on Sunday despite being lambasted on Twitter for his first McCain disparaging tweet of the weekend.

[Mediaite]

Trump Blasts ‘Lowest Rated’ Shepard Smith and Other Fox Anchors: ‘Should Be Working’ at CNN

President Donald Trump lashed out at several Fox News anchors Sunday, writing in a tweet they “should be working” at CNN.

In a day packed with Twitter missives, Trump’s latest attack takes aim at Smith, a weekday anchor, and Leland Vittert and Arthel Neville, both weekend anchors at the president’s favorite network.

“Were @FoxNews weekend anchors, @ArthelNeville and @LelandVittert, trained by CNN prior to their ratings collapse?” Trump wrote. “In any event, that’s where they should be working, along with their lowest rated anchor, Shepard Smith!”

Trump’s attack on the hard news side of Fox News comes hours after he called for Jeanine Pirro — the opinion host suspended by the network for suggesting a congresswoman’s hijab meant she was anti-American — to be brought back on air.

[Mediaite]

Trump Attacks McCain For 2nd Day Straight, Falsely Claims McCain Graduated ‘Last in His Class’

Donald Trump — who reportedly had Michael Cohen threaten all of his schools to keep his own transcripts a secret — spent a second consecutive day attacking the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), falsely claiming that McCain was “last in his class” at Annapolis.

On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted another attack on McCain, saying that it was “‘last in his class’ (Annapolis) John McCain that sent the Fake Dossier to the FBI and Media hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election.”

Trump’s claim about McCain is false. He graduated fifth from the bottom of his class, and self-effacingly noted in 1993 that “My four years here [at Annapolis] were not notable for individual academic achievement but, rather, for the impressive catalogue of demerits which I managed to accumulate.”

Former Trump fixer Michael Cohen has testified that Trump had him threaten all of his own former schools to keep his academic records secret.

Trump’s attack cones a day after he similarly slammed McCain, prompting a cutting response from Meghan McCain. Trump’s obsession with attacking John McCain’s military record dates back at least twenty years, when he told Dan Rather “He was captured. Does being captured make you a hero? I don’t know. I’m not sure.”

It was an attack that he infamously repeated during the 2016 presidential campaign, but which did not dim his popularity with Republican voters.

[Mediaite]

Trump threatens an SNL Rerun with federal investigation for mocking him

Donald Trump is taking his fixation with Saturday Night Live to a new level.

The President tweeted in the early Sunday morning hours a threat to have the NBC late night comedy series investigated by a federal agency. The offense? Mocking him.

“It’s truly incredible that shows like Saturday Night Live, not funny/no talent, can spend all of their time knocking the same person (me), over & over, without so much of a mention of ‘the other side,’” the president wrote. “Like an advertisement without consequences. Same with Late Night Shows. Should Federal Election Commission and/or FCC look into this? There must be Collusion with the Democrats and, of course, Russia! Such one sided media coverage, most of it Fake News. Hard to believe I won and am winning. Approval Rating 52%, 93% with Republicans. Sorry! #MAGA”

Oddly, SNL didn’t even air a new episode last night, but rather a repeat that featured at least one Trump sketch (with Alec Baldwin reprising his role as Trump).

Of course, entertainment programming mocking newsworthy figures is protected as free speech. Trump seems to be referring to the “equal time rule” which mandates that U.S. broadcast TV stations give equal air-time opportunities to opposing political candidates in prime-time if requested. But Trump is president, not a candidate, and SNL is in late-night and, again, parody. There’s also FCC’s “fairness doctrine,” a regulation that required networks to give balanced coverage to matters of public controversy. The FCC eliminated the policy in 1987.

Trump has long slammed SNL, shown hostility toward mockery in general and is known to hardly ever laughthis link opens in a new tab (“I’ve never seen him laugh. Not in public, not in private,” former FBI Director James Comey told ABC). Trump’s former adviser Roger Stone has said Trump decided to run for president after President Obama mocked him at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner — a celebration and roast that Trump has refused to attend as president.  

Trump lashes out at McCain seven months after senator’s death

President Donald Trump on Saturday lashed out against an old nemesis, the late Sen. John McCain, for his crucial vote against repealing Obamacare in 2017.

Trump chastised McCain for his no vote on a bare-bones repeal of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation, wrongly describing it as a “thumbs down on repeal and replace after years of campaigning to repeal and replace!”

The legislation opposed by McCain did not have a replacement component.

Responding to reports in conservative media outlets that cite court documents that say a former aide to the Republican senator from Arizona was the source of a leak that put a Trump opposition-research dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele into the hands of multiple media outlets in late 2016, the president echoed former independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s remarks on Fox News.

The reports about the source of the leaks have not been confirmed by NBC News.

The dossier alleges the Trump campaign worked with the Russian government to defeat rival Hillary Clinton in 2016. The core allegations in the dossier compose the heart of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian influence on the presidential election.

“The more we find out the uglier it becomes,” Starr, referring to the alleged media leaks of the dossier, said recently on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” “The Steele dossier I think has been very substantially discredited.”

Starr said of McCain, “I think he was an American hero. But I’m very sorry he got implicated in this in terms of spreading this very nasty stuff around.”

The reports that McCain leaked the 35-page dossier, which was originally the product of funding by a conservative publication, are “unfortunately a very dark stain” on the former senator’s record, Starr said.

In December former U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said on MSNBCthat “the dossier holds up well. None of it has been disproven.”

Starr, a Republican, headed the investigation that led to the impeachment of President Clinton for lying about having sex with White House staffer Monica Lewinsky.

Trump lashed out at McCain again on Sunday, claiming McCain sent the dossier to the FBI and the media. McCain gave a version of the dossier to the FBI in December of 2016, after the presidential election, and asked if any of it was true, but he had denied being a source of the document for BuzzFeed, which published it in January of 2017.

[NBC News]

State Dept. Cancels Journalist’s Award Over Her Criticism of Trump

Jessikka Aro, a Finnish investigative journalist, has faced down death threats and harassment over her work exposing Russia’s propaganda machine long before the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. In January, the U.S. State Department took notice, telling Aro she would be honored with the prestigious International Women of Courage Award, to be presented in Washington by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Weeks later, the State Department rescinded the award offer. A State Department spokesperson said it was due to a “regrettable error,” but Aro and U.S. officials familiar with the internal deliberations tell a different story. They say the department revoked her award after U.S. officials went through Aro’s social media posts and found she had also frequently criticized President Donald Trump.

“It created a shitstorm of getting her unceremoniously kicked off the list,” said one U.S. diplomatic source familiar with the internal deliberations. “I think it was absolutely the wrong decision on so many levels,” the source said. The decision “had nothing to do with her work.”

The State Department spokesperson said in an email that Aro was “incorrectly notified” that she had been chosen for the award and that it was a mistake that resulted from “a lack of coordination in communications with candidates and our embassies.”

“We regret this error. We admire Ms. Aro’s achievements as a journalist, which were the basis of U.S. Embassy Helsinki’s nomination,” the spokesperson said. 

Aro received a formal invitation to the award ceremony not from the embassy but from the State Department’s Office of the Chief of Protocol on Feb. 12. 

There is no indication that the decision to revoke the award came from the secretary of state or the White House. Officials who spoke to FP have suggested the decision came from lower-level State Department officials wary of the optics of Pompeo granting an award to an outspoken critic of the Trump administration. The department spokesperson did not respond to questions on who made the decision or why. 

To U.S. officials who spoke to FP, the incident underscores how skittish some officials—career and political alike—have become over government dealings with vocal critics of a notoriously thin-skinned president. The Trump administration has barred the hiring of prominent Republican foreign-policy experts who publicly denounced the president during the 2016 election season, including some who have since walked back their criticisms. As another example, Trump himself last year revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, who regularly castigates the president on Twitter, and threatened to follow suit with other former national security officials who did the same. 

In the minds of some diplomats, this has created an atmosphere where lower-level officials self-censor dealings with critics of the administration abroad, even without senior officials weighing in.

Aro said the decision to cancel her award and corresponding trip to the United States caught her completely by surprise.

“[When] I was informed about the withdrawal out of the blue, I felt appalled and shocked,” Aro told FP. “The reality in which political decisions or presidential pettiness directs top U.S. diplomats’ choices over whose human rights work is mentioned in the public sphere and whose is not is a really scary reality.”

Aro is a prolific Twitter user and was originally chosen for the award because of her investigative work exposing Russian troll factories. She often debunks misinformation spread online and comments on major news events related to propaganda and election interference, including Brexit and the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into links between the Russian government and Trump’s campaign. She has regularly tweeted criticism about Trump’s sharp political rhetoric and attacks on the press. Aro also helped organize a demonstration in Helsinki when the Finnish capital hosted a summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in July 2018.

“I use Twitter to exchange ideas and share information freely,” Aro said. “I find the idea of U.S. government officials stalking my Twitter and politicizing my perfectly normal expressions of opinion deeply disturbing.”

After first being notified she would get the award, Aro filled out forms and questionnaires at the request of officials and cancelled paid speaking engagements to travel to Washington to attend the March 7 ceremony in Washington. The State Department also sent her an official invitation to accept the award and planned an itinerary for a corresponding tour of the United States, complete with flights and high-profile visits to newspapers and universities across the country.

Since 2007, the State Department has held an annual award ceremony honoring women around the world who “have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk and sacrifice,” according to the department’s website.

This year, the award is being given to Razia Sultana of Bangladesh; Naw K’nyaw Paw of Myanmar; Moumina Houssein Darar of Djibouti; Magda Gobran-Gorgi (“Mama Maggie”) of Egypt; Col. Khalida Khalaf Hanna al-Twal of Jordan; Sister Orla Treacy of Ireland; Olivera Lakic of Montenegro; Flor de Maria Vega Zapata of Peru; Marini de Livera of Sri Lanka; and Anna Aloys Henga of Tanzania.

The awards “demonstrate the United States commitment to gender equality, social inclusion, and advancing the global status of women and girls from all backgrounds across sectors as part of our foreign policy,” State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Pompeo will host the ceremony honoring the awardees on Thursday morning. First lady Melania Trump is also expected to attend and speak at the ceremony.

In 2014, Aro pursued reporting on a Russian troll factory in St. Petersburg that aimed to alter western public opinions. Long before the U.S. elections in 2016, which propelled Russian disinformation campaigns to the spotlight, she unearthed evidence of a state-sanctioned propaganda machine trying to shape online discourse and spread disinformation. After she published her investigation, Russian nationalist websites and pro-Moscow outlets in Finland coordinated smear campaigns against her, accusing her at times of being a Western intelligence agent and drug dealer, and bombarding her with anonymous abusive messages. She also received death threats.

Aro won the Finnish Grand Prize for Journalism in 2016 for her investigative work, and in 2018, she successfully sued the founder of MV-Lehti, a far-right, pro-Russian website in Finland, for defamation and negligence after it published offensive content about her following her initial investigation.

In late February, Aro submitted a letter drafted by her lawyer to the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki asking for justification about why her award was rescinded at the last minute and who made the decision. The letter also reserved the right to seek damages, due to Aro having to cancel paid speaking events that would have conflicted with Thursday’s award ceremony.

Aro said the embassy has not yet responded to the letter.

[Foreign Policy]

Trump directed Gary Cohn to pressure DOJ to block AT&T-Time Warner deal

President Trump reportedly directed his former economic adviser, Gary Cohn, to pressure the Justice Department to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger, according to a report in The New Yorker.

In an explosive new investigation into the relationship between the Trump White House and Fox News, the magazine reported new details that contradict the administration’s assurances that Trump had no role in the Justice Department’s lawsuit trying to stop the merger.

Citing an unidentified “well-informed source,” The New Yorker reported that in summer 2017, months before the Justice Department filed its antitrust lawsuit, Trump called Cohn and then-chief of staff John Kelly into the Oval Office and told them that he wanted to “make sure” the Justice Department’s lawsuit seeking to block the merger was filed.

“I’ve been telling Cohn to get this lawsuit filed and nothing’s happened!” Trump told Kelly, according to the report. “I’ve mentioned it 50 times. And nothing’s happened. I want to make sure it’s filed. I want that deal blocked!”

Trump repeatedly criticized the $85 billion deal on the campaign trail and as president, vowing to block the merger and saying that it was “not good for the country.”

But, according to The New Yorker, many saw Trump’s opposition to the deal as motivated by his disdain for CNN, which is owned by Time Warner. But the Justice Department has insisted that the president’s unhappiness with CNN, which he often targets in tweets and at rallies as “fake news,” did not influence the case.

After Trump’s direction in the 2017 meeting, The New Yorker reported, Cohn refused to follow the instruction, knowing that it would be “highly improper” for Trump to involve himself in stopping the merger.

“Don’t you f—ing dare call the Justice Department,” he reportedly told Kelly. “We are not going to do business that way.”

A spokesperson for Cohn declined to comment to The New Yorker, and Kelly did not respond to request for comment.

A former White House official who was not named in the report told The New Yorker that Trump often “vented” in “frustration” about the AT&T-Time Warner deal and his desire to block it.

“The President does not understand the nuances of antitrust law or policy,” the former official said. “But he wanted to bring down the hammer.”

A federal judge ruled against the Justice Department last June, allowing the merger to go forward. The Trump administration appealed the decision, but a federal appeals court last month upheld the lower court’s decision.

The anecdote about Trump’s instruction to Cohn appears in The New Yorker’s report as an example of how the Trump administration’s actions have been “pro-Fox.”

The New Yorker reported that Trump’s effort to have Cohn push to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger, in addition to the administration’s approval of the Disney-Fox merger and opposition to the Sinclair-Tribune merger, would all have benefitted the Murdoch family and Fox News.

The Hill has reached out to 21st Century Fox and the Department of Justice for comment.

[The Hill]

Trump Accuses Adam Schiff of ‘Illegally Leaking to Fake News CNN’

President Donald Trump baselessly accused Rep. Adam Schiff of leaking to CNN on Sunday.

Trump’s accusation, framed with a question mark at the end, came on a busy day of tweeting for the president.

At one point, Trump seemed to blame Democrats in some way for his lackluster North Korean summit, writing: “For the Democrats to interview in open hearings a convicted liar & fraudster, at the same time as the very important Nuclear Summit with North Korea, is perhaps a new low in American politics and may have contributed to the ‘walk.’ Never done when a president is overseas. Shame!”

And then this

[CNN]

Trump points to Dems over failure of North Korea summit

President Trump on Sunday appeared to point blame at Democrats for the collapse of his negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last week.

“For the Democrats to interview in open hearings a convicted liar & fraudster, at the same time as the very important Nuclear Summit with North Korea, is perhaps a new low in American politics and may have contributed to the “walk” Never done when a president is overseas. Shame!” Trump tweeted.

The president was referring to the testimony of his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, which occurred simultaneously with his summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. 

Cohen testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, where he accused the president of lying to the public about hush money payments and floated the possibility of Trump’s collusion with Moscow.

Cohen was sentenced to prison last year after pleading guilty to financial crimes, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress. He sentence is set to begin on May 6.

While Cohen was on Capitol Hill, Trump was in Hanoi, at his second meeting with Kim.

Trump entered negotiations with the hope of securing a deal that involved North Korea denuclearizing, but talks ended abruptly without any type of deal, which Trump alludes to in his tweet. 

The president told reporters following the summit that the U.S. was not willing to fully lift sanctions in exchange for partial denuclearization, stating that “[s]ometimes you have to walk, and this was just one of those times.”

A North Korean official disputed that characterization of the country’s position adding that Kim “may have lost the will” to engage in future negotiations.

“This proposal was the biggest denuclearization measure we could take at the present stage in relations to [the] current level of confidence between the DPRK and the United States,” North Korea’s foreign minister said.

[The Hill]

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