Trump keeps up attacks on Obama over Russian meddling

President Donald Trump is continuing to blame his predecessor for not doing enough to deter Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump’s latest criticism of President Barack Obama comes as he’s deflected questions about his own administration’s response to Russian meddling and measures the US can take to prevent it. The President notably has refused to condemn the interference in the wake of last week’s indictments against 13 Russian nationals, instead claiming that the latest developments in the investigation demonstrate a lack of collusion between his campaign and Russia.

In one tweet, Trump quoted Obama saying toward the end of the 2016 race that there was no evidence America’s elections were “rigged,” suggesting the then-businessman should “stop whining.” Obama, however, was referring to Trump’s claims of a rigged election and calls at the time for supporters to monitor polling sites for potentially ineligible voters attempting to cast ballots.

Tuesday’s tweet came soon after “Fox & Friends” highlighted the comment.

“That’s because he thought Crooked Hillary was going to win and he didn’t want to ‘rock the boat.’ When I easily won the Electoral College, the whole game changed and the Russian excuse became the narrative of the Dems,” Trump said.

Trump also claimed on Tuesday he’s “been tougher on Russia than Obama.”

The 44th president, however, personally warned Russian President Vladimir Putin against messing with the election, imposed sanctions on Russian individuals and entities, kicked out 35 Russian diplomats and closed two of the Kremlin’s compounds in the United States.

Trump, in comparison, still has not imposed sanctions designed to punish election meddling by Moscow.

Representatives for Obama declined to comment Tuesday on Trump’s latest round of tweets.

And over the weekend, Trump publicly rebuked his own national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, after he said there was “incontrovertible” evidence that Russia meddled in the election.

Trump also questioned on Monday why Obama didn’t do more to prevent Moscow from interfering in US elections, tweeting: “Obama was President up to, and beyond, the 2016 Election. So why didn’t he do something about Russian meddling?”

Trump has adamantly denied any cooperation between his team and Russia and has called the investigation a Democratic hoax.

[CNN]

Reality

Obama faced Putin and told him “to cut it out”, tried to alert the public with a bi-partisan announcement but was blocked by Mitch McConnell, expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two compounds.

Let’s take score. Trump calls the investigation a hoax, attacks his FBI, fired an FBI director for not easing up on it, never condemned Russia, took Putin at his word that he had no involvement, never implemented Russian sanctions passed by Congress which is a dereliction of duty, and tried to reopen the Russian compounds Obama closed.

Timeline

July 2016: The FBI opens an investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

August 2016: Obama receives top secret intelligence file detailing Putin’s direct involvement in Russian election meddling.

September 2016: U.S. intelligence agencies reach unanimous agreement regarding Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. At a G20 meeting in Huangzhou, China, Obama pulls Putin aside and warns him directly “to cut it out.” Obama then held a meeting with 12 key members of both parties of Congress and top intelligence officials to release a public bi-partisan statement on Russian election interference, but Mitch McConnell blocked the statement not believing the underlying intelligence.

October 2016: At Obama’s direction, former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issue a public statement saying, “The U.S. intelligence community is confident that the Russian government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”

December 2016: Obama approves a set of relatively modest — and primarily symbolic — sanctions, including expelling 35 Russian diplomats and closing two compounds in Maryland. The administration had considered several steeper measures including “cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure, the release of CIA-gathered material that might embarrass Putin and sanctions that officials said could ‘crater’ the Russian economy,” per the Post.

Donald Trump falsely says he never denied Russian meddling

The indictments of 13 Russians detailing how they used Facebook and Twitter to undercut Hillary Clinton and promote President Donald Trump spurred a flurry of tweets from Trump over the weekend.

“I never said Russia did not meddle in the election,” Trump wrote Feb. 18. “I said ‘it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.’ The Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!”

Trump might want to focus on collusion, but his blanket denial that he ever questioned Russian meddling runs up against his own words.

Early on, Trump treated any mention of Russian interference as an attack on the legitimacy of his victory.

In a May 2017 interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump said “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.” Trump continued in that interview to say, “It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”

That statement earned him PolitiFact’s 2017 Lie of the Year.

In September 2017, when reports of Russian-backed Facebook ads came out, Trump tweeted, “The Russia hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook. What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary?”

When the Washington Post reported in December 2016 that the CIA had concluded that the Russians wanted to boost Trump’s chances, Trump rejected it.

“We had a massive landslide victory, as you know, in the Electoral College,” he said on Fox News Sunday on Dec. 11, 2016. “I guess the final numbers are now at 306. She’s down to a very low number. No, I don’t believe that at all.”

In a December 2016 interview with Time, Trump said two things: He didn’t think Russia meddled, and that it might have.

“I don’t believe they interfered,” Trump said. “That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point. Any time I do something, they say ‘oh, Russia interfered.’”

But a moment later he said, “I believe that it could have been Russia and it could have been any one of many other people. Sources or even individuals.”

During an overseas trip to Asia in November 2017, Trump spoke of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. A reporter asked how Trump brought up the issue of Russian meddling in the U.S. election.

“Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ ” Trump said. “And I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”

Asked again if he believed Putin, Trump called several top U.S. intelligence officials “political hacks,” and argued that other matters were more important.

“You have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with that,” Trump said. “Now, you’re not going to get into an argument. You’re going to start talking about Syria and the Ukraine.”

So there are any number of occasions when Trump has denied Russian meddling across the board. But at other moments, he has acknowledged that it is possible.

In the same interview with NBC’s Holt where he called the Russian thing “a made-up story,” Trump also suggested that Russia might try to shape U.S. elections.

“If Russia or anybody else is trying to interfere with our elections, I think it’s a horrible thing and I want to get to the bottom of it,” Trump said. “And I want to make sure it will never, ever happen.”

At a January 2017 news conference, he said he thought Russia did hack into the DNC, but he blurred the picture.

“As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” he said. “But I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people.”

Pressed on his apparent acceptance of the intelligence agencies’ findings, Trump backpedaled.

“All right, but you know what, it could have been others also,” Trump said.

Politifact Ruling

Trump said that he “never said that Russia did not meddle in the election.”

In reality, he called the matter a “made-up story,” and a “hoax.” He has said that he believes Russian President Putin’s denial of any Russian involvement. He told Time, “I don’t believe they (Russia) interfered.”

Even when he has acknowledged the possibility that the Russians interfered, he has added that it could have been other countries or even individuals.

Trump’s denial doesn’t match what he has actually said.

We rate this claim Pants on Fire!

[Politifact]

Trump lashes out at Oprah on Twitter, calling her ‘insecure’

After an early morning tweetstorm Sunday, President Trump took to Twitter again later that night, this time lashing out at whom some hope will be a 2020 rival: Oprah Winfrey.

“Just watched a very insecure Oprah Winfrey, who at one point I knew very well, interview a panel of people on 60 Minutes. The questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect. Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!” the president tweeted.

Trump was referring to Winfrey’s interview with “60 Minutes,” where the former talk show host again said she has no desire to run for president, despite encouragement from wealthy donors after her stirring Golden Globes speech last month.

“I am actually humbled by the fact that people think that I could be a leader of the free world, but it’s just not in my spirit. It’s not in my DNA,” she told correspondent Ann Silvio.

Trump’s tweet followed a familiar pattern: He asserts to have once known a rival or critic “very well,” but once he sees them as an enemy, he threatens to expose them, like he did with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)

Trump and Winfrey are familiar with each other, as the president said in his tweet. Whether they know each other “very well,” as he claims, is more subjective. Winfrey interviewed Trump on her show shortly after he had taken out a full-page ad during the 1988 presidential race in which he criticized U.S. foreign policy.

When Winfrey asked Trump in that interview whether he would ever pivot from real estate to politics, he said he would “never want to rule it out totally, because I really am tired of seeing what’s happening with this country, how we’re really making other people live like kings and we’re not.”

Twenty years after that interview, many Americans are hoping Winfrey feels the same and decides to run. Days after Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech, a Quinnipiac poll showed she would get 52 percent of the vote if she ran against Trump.

But for now, Winfrey is using her platform to ask Americans how they feel about Trump’s comments and policies, which is what it appears the president took issue with Sunday.

While moderating a panel of voters during the “60 Minutes” segment, Winfrey asked how they felt about Trump’s recent comments referring to immigrants from “s—hole countries” such as Haiti and African nations.

After one Trump supporter defended the president’s comments, Winfrey pushed back.

“Come on, Matt. If you’re talking about … Matt, if you’re talking about the country, you’re talking about the people in the country. When he’s talking about Norway or Norwegians, he’s talking about Norwegians,” she said.

She went on to ask questions about Trump’s fitness for office, his temperament and the sexual misconduct allegations he faces.

Those questions are what appear to have set Trump off, triggering his tweet calling the fellow billionaire “insecure ” — something that people across the political spectrum found ironic, given his recent insistence that he is a “very stable genius” and “like, really smart.”

Trump‘s approval ratings among Americans are inching upward but remain low, particularly among those who are attracted to the idea of a Winfrey presidency.

But perhaps Winfrey’s greatest threat to Trump is not a potential presidential bid but rather her interviews with these focus groups — where Trump’s supporters are confronted with the president’s words and actions in front of people outside their bubble.

While Trump has been criticized as a highly divisive leader, Winfrey is known for her broad appeal across gender, racial and even political lines. During the president’s inauguration speech, he pledged to be a unifier. But Winfrey’s focus group reminded viewers that some Americans see him as anything but — and that likely concerns Trump.

[Washington Post]

Trump blames Florida school shooting on Russia investigation

President Donald Trump’s attacks on the FBI hit a new low on Saturday evening, when the president suggested in a tweet that the bureau had failed to prevent Wednesday’s mass shooting at a Florida high school because of its ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. While it’s true that the FBI had been alerted about Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, there’s absolutely no evidence that the bureau missed anything because of its investigation into the Trump team’s possible collusion with Russia.

“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable,” Trump wrote. “They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

The FBI acknowledged on Friday that a person close to Cruz contacted their tip line on January 5, a month before the shooting, to provide information about his gun ownership, desire to kill people, and his disturbing behavior. FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement that he is investigating what happened. The GOP, however, isn’t happy. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chair of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter to Wray asking the bureau brief their committees on why the FBI didn’t act on the tip, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also asked the agency to brief his staffers. Florida Gov. Rick Scott this week went so far as to call for Wray’s resignation over the matter. “We constantly promote ‘see something, say something,’ and a courageous person did just that to the FBI. And the FBI failed to act,” Scott said.

On Saturday, At a rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Emma Gonzalez, a student who survived the shooting, delivered an impassioned speech and addressed the president directly. (Beyond blaming the FBI, Trump on Thursday tweeted that neighbors and classmates knew Cruz “was a big problem” and should have reported him to authorities — which they did.) “How about we stop blaming the victims for something that was the shooter’s fault?” she asked. “If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.”

[Vox]

Reality

Before the start of his big Russia tweetstorm, President Trump reportedly dined with Geraldo Rivera.

The reality is, the FBI employs 35,000 people, only as small handful, about 36 people, are working on the Russia investigation

Trump Shares Another Anti-CNN Meme: ‘Big Ratings Loser’

Last year the President RT’d someone who shared a meme of CNN getting hit by a train before deleting it. And then there was the meme he RT’d of himself with a CNN-labeled blood spot on the sole of his shoe.

And then, of course, there was the infamous Trump-wrestling-CNN clip that is actually still up:

[Mediaite]

Trump blames Obama, lashes out at Schiff and Democrats, but spares Russia criticism in weekend tweet storm

President Donald Trump has lashed out at his critics, political rivals, American institutions and even his own national security advisor in a weekend tirade about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Yet the president spared Russia itself from his harshest criticism.

Trump zeroed in on his predecessor in the Oval Office, Barack Obama, for not doing enough to stop Russian operations intended to sow chaos in the American political system.

“Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing,” Trump posted Sunday morning on Twitter.

Trump was referring to comments from Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own probe into Russia’s election-interference efforts.

Schiff, an outspoken critic of Trump, said Friday that the Obama administration shared some responsibility in the Russia controversy, because it should have been more aggressive and revealed the operation to the public.

“We should have called them out much earlier,” Schiff said Friday morning. “While I respect the motive in terms of the Obama administration, they didn’t want to be seen as meddling, the American people had a right to know what was going on and could be trusted to do the right thing with it. And they should have defended being more public and aggressive at the time, at least in my view.”

Schiff made his comments ahead of several federal indictments of Russian nationals and entities by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

The indictments revealed Friday did not include any allegation that Russia efforts actually had any effect on the outcome of the election, but it did not conclude otherwise, either. The charges allege that the Russians waged “information warfare” on the U.S. political system to aid Trump’s campaign.

The latest developments in the case compelled Trump to acknowledge that Russia had interfered. Previously, he described the Russia plot as a “hoax” and the investigation into it a “witch hunt.” In his Sunday tweet storm, he stated that he always meant that the “Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!”

[CNBC]

Reality

It is very easy to look backwards and say we could have done better, especially knowing now the scope of the election interference and we also didn’t know then. But we did know enough, enough that Obama wanted to release a bipartisan statement to the public alerting them of Russian involvement, but Mitch McConnell flatly refused to cooperate.

We also know that when Jeh Johnson, Obama’s secretary of homeland security, contacted people in charge of elections in various states whose election data had been possibly compromised, the Republicans in those states blew him off.

And as Joe Biden pointed out, “Can you imagine if the president of the United States called a press conference in October with this fella, and Stephen Bannon and company, and said ‘tell you what, the Russians are trying to interfere in our elections and we have to do something about it.’”

Trump calls for DOJ to investigate Obama over Iran

President Donald Trump was up early Sunday morning, tweeting that he can’t understand why former President Barack Obama was not investigated for the Iran deal before then launching an attack on House intel member Adam Schiff (D-CA).

Hours after undermining his own National Security Adviser on Twitter, Trump went after Obama.

“Never gotten over the fact that Obama was able to send $1.7 Billion Dollars in CASH to Iran and nobody in Congress, the FBI or Justice called for an investigation!” Trump wrote.

You can see the tweets below:

[Raw Story]

Reality

In 1979, Iran’s then-monarch Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi paid $400 million to the United States government to purchase military parts. But that year’s revolution toppled the shah, and the military parts were never delivered.

To regain its funds, Iran filed a claim against the United States in 1981 in the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, which adjudicates disputes between the two nations. The body, located at the Hague, was established amid negotiations to end the 1979-81 Iran hostage crisis, in which pro-revolution students took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

Trump criticizes national security advisor HR McMaster’s comments about Russian meddling in the 2016 election

President Donald Trump, in a late-night tweet, criticized remarks his national security advisor made earlier Saturday about Russian interference in the 2016 election.

H.R. McMaster, who is also a lieutenant general in the U.S. Army, told a conference in Germany that there was “incontrovertible” evidence that Russia had meddled in the U.S. election.

He was citing Friday’s federal indictments, stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, that said Russian operatives conducted a sophisticated internet campaign to sow chaos in the American political scene.

Trump eventually responded to his national security advisor by saying McMaster left out some details from his comments.

“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems,” Trump tweeted late Saturday night.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Friday that these particular indictments did not include allegations that the Russian efforts affected the election’s results. Trump saw the latest development in the case as a vindication.

The indictments released Friday allege, in part, that the Russians sought to disparage Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and help Trump win. The Russian operatives, according to the charges, attempted to convince some Americans to vote for third-party candidate Jill Stein over Clinton, and also sought to discourage minority turnout at the polls.

McMaster’s comments Saturday were part of a testy exchange with a Russian delegate at the conference.

“As you can see with the FBI indictment, the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain,” McMaster said. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday dismissed reports of interference as “blather.”

Trump has repeatedly denied that his campaign colluded with Russians to sway the election in his favor, and has often called the special counsel’s investigation a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.” Russian authorities have also rejected claims of collusion.

The president’s tweet targeting McMaster came soon after he suggested in another tweet that the Russia probe had somehow distracted the FBI from seeing warning signs leading to Wednesday’s shooting massacre at a high school in south Florida.

[CNBC]

 

Trump Says Florida Students Should Have Done More To Prevent Deadly Shooting

President Donald Trump on Thursday responded to the massacre at a South Florida high school by suggesting students and the surrounding community could have done more to prevent the attack.

At least 17 people were killed and 15 injured after a troubled former student opened fire on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, police said. Nikolas Cruz, 19, had been expelled from the school the previous year for “disciplinary reasons,” and many of his former classmates told media on Wednesday that he displayed problematic behavior.

“Honestly a lot of people were saying it was going to be him,” one student told CBS Miami. “We actually, a lot of kids threw jokes around like that, saying that he’s the one to shoot up the school, but it turns out everyone predicted it. It’s crazy.”

A former teacher, Jim Gard, told the Miami Herald that Cruz reportedly wasn’t allowed to carry a backpack on the school campus, and that “there were problems with him last year threatening students.”

Contrary to Trump’s tweet, it does appear that authorities were aware of Cruz’s behavior before the attack. A former neighbor told The New York Times that Cruz’s late mother called the police on her two sons on multiple occasions, though she stressed that she didn’t think the boys were violent. Broward County Mayor Beam Furr told CNN that Cruz had been treated at a mental health clinic in the past and  was somewhat on officials’ radar.

“It wasn’t like there wasn’t concern for him,” Furr said.

Trump’s tweet failed to acknowledge the role that Florida’s lax gun laws played in the shooting. Barring institutionalization, it’s extremely difficult to keep someone with a history of mental illness from buying a gun in Florida. The accused killer legally purchased the AR-15-style rifle used in the slaughter, his family’s attorney said.
The president also ignored the fact that he actually made it easier for people with mental health issues to buy guns by revoking an Obama-era gun regulation last year.

[Huffington Post]

Trump: Media’s ‘Approval Ratings Are Correctly at Their Lowest Levels In History’

President Donald Trump is back on Twitter. And guess what? He’s taking aim at the “Fake News Media” again.

In his first tweet of the day, the president complained that the media is not paying attention to all of the positive stuff going on in the country and instead churning out the “same negative stories.”

[Mediaite]

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