Trump fumes after NYT reports on his banking history

President Trump on Monday lashed out at the New York Times after the paper reported that anti-money-laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank flagged multiple transactions involving him and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in 2016 and 2017, and recommended they be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog.

Deutsche Bank executives rejected their employees’ advice, the Times said, and the suspicious transactions were never reported.

Trump, though, did not respond to that part of the report. The president, instead, fixated on the newspaper’s assertion that unlike Deutsch Bank, “most Wall Street banks had stopped doing business with him.”

“The Failing New York Times (it will pass away when I leave office in 6 years), and others of the Fake News Media, keep writing phony stories about how I didn’t use many banks because they didn’t want to do business with me,” Trump tweeted. “WRONG! It is because I didn’t need money. Very old fashioned, but true. When you don’t need or want money, you don’t need or want banks. Banks have always been available to me, they want to make money.”

The president accused the Times, without evidence, of using made-up sources in an effort to “disparage” him. He then repeated a familiar attack line (“FAKE NEWS is actually the biggest story of all and is the true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”) before returning to his Twitter tirade about the report.

“Now the new big story is that Trump made a lot of money and buys everything for cash, he doesn’t need banks,” the president continued. “But where did he get all of that cash? Could it be Russia? No, I built a great business and don’t need banks, but if I did they would be there.”

“DeutscheBank was very good and highly professional to deal with – and if for any reason I didn’t like them, I would have gone elsewhere,” Trump added. “There was always plenty of money around and banks to choose from. They would be very happy to take my money. Fake News!”

The president was tweeting so furiously, it seems, he missed a pair of missives.

“Two Tweets missing from last batch, probably a Twitter error,” Trump tweeted. “No time for a redo! Only the Dems get redos!”

That tweet was quickly deleted. It was unclear what the issue was.

Trump’s reaction to scrutiny of his relationship with Deutsche Bank comes amid efforts by Congress to get ahold of his tax and bank records.

Last month, the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees subpoenaed the German bank for documents related to any suspicious activities detected in Trump’s personal and business bank accounts since 2010.

Trump and his family then sued Deutsche Bank in an attempt to block it from sharing the documents. Although Trump once promised to publicly release his tax returns, he has refused to do so, claiming he is under audit.

Earlier this month, the Times obtained Trump’s tax returns from 1985 to 1994 showing his businesses lost more than $1 billion during that timespan.

[Yahoo News]

President Donald Trump criticizes Fox News over Pete Buttigieg town hall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[USA Today]

Trump attacks Rep. Amash as a ‘loser’ and ‘lightweight’ after the Republican calls for impeachment

President Donald Trump responded to a Republican House member’s call for impeachment on Sunday, calling the lawmaker a “loser” who seeks to make headlines. 

On Saturday, Rep. Justin Amash said in a tweet that Attorney General Barr “deliberately misrepresented” the report from special counsel Robert Mueller investigation into Russian election interference, which he said showed that Trump “engaged in impeachable conduct.”

The Michigan Republican said he made that statement “only after having read Mueller’s redacted report carefully and completely.” 

Trump said in a tweet on Sunday that he was “never a fan” of Amash, whom he called “a total lightweight who opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy.” 

“Justin is a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents hands!” he tweeted.

During an interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., agreed that Amash made his statement because he “wants to have attention.”

“Now, you’ve got to understand Justin Amash,” McCarthy said. “He votes more with Nancy Pelosi, than he ever votes with me. It’s a question whether he’s even in our Republican conference as a whole. What he wants is attention in this process.” 

The president said he did not believe Amash had actually read Mueller’s report. He claimed the report was “strong on NO COLLUSION” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin and “ultimately, NO OBSTRUCTION.” At the same time, he slammed the report as “biased” because it was “‘composed’ of 18 Angry Dems who hated Trump.”

But Mueller’s report explicitly said that the investigation looked into 10 potentially obstructive acts and the evidence did not clear the president. Rather, it said, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him” and punted that decision to the attorney general. Barr and then-deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein ultimately decided not to bring charges against the president. 

The Mueller report also found that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in “sweeping and systematic fashion” with “a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton” and a hacking operation that sought to uncover information damaging to Clinton. 

The report concluded “the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts,” but it did not find “that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” 

Because the report did not find evidence of a conspiracy, Barr has argued the president could not have obstructed justice because there was no crime to cover up in the first place. Trump made a similar argument on Sunday. 

“Anyway, how do you Obstruct when there is no crime and, in fact, the crimes were committed by the other side?” he asked, referring to his belief that the investigation was a politically-motivated attack. 

Many legal experts have disputed the assertion that obstruction requires an “underlying crime.” And Amash said he believed Mueller’s report showed that Trump’s acts had “all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.” 

Amash also argued that impeachment “does not even require probable cause that a crime (e.g., obstruction of justice) has been committed; it simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct.” 

Many congressional Democrats, including many presidential candidates, have agreed with Amash’s call to begin impeachment proceedings. But the party’s leadership, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has yet to back such a move

Pelosi has said impeachment would be too “divisive” for the nation without greater bipartisan support. And, so far, Amash has been the only Republican member of Congress to back impeachment. 

On Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Amash “showed more courage than any other Republican” in Congress, but didn’t change the fact that there were “no signs” that impeachment could “even be potentially successful in the Senate.” 

[USA Today]

Trump Issues Threat: ‘If Iran Wants to Fight’ it Will Be the ‘Official End of Iran’

President Donald Trump took to Twitter to issue a threat against Iran amidst escalating tensions between the United States and the Middle Eastern country.

The president’s warning was short and direct: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!

The threat comes just days after the New York Times reported that Trump was seeking to tamp down escalated tensions between his administration and Tehran, telling acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan he doesn’t want a war with the country.

That came after National Security Adviser John Bolton requested the Pentagon to present a military plan that would involve sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East in response to a possible provocation from Iran.

When a reporter asked Trump if the U.S. was going to war with Iran last week, the president replied, “I hope not.”

[Mediaite]

Trump blames Obama for not warning him about Michael Flynn. Which Obama did.

President Donald Trump wants you to believe that he had no way of knowing about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s shady dealings with Russia before he made him his first national security adviser. In reality, the president is trying to rewrite history.

On Friday, Trump tweeted his lament that nobody warned him about Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general who was dismissed from his job as director of national intelligence by then-President Barack Obama in 2014. After his dismissal, Flynn wasted little time cozying up to the Kremlin, and then spent 2016 as one of Trump’s key campaign surrogates.

“It now seems the General Flynn was under investigation long before was common knowledge,” Trump tweeted. “It would have been impossible for me to know this but, if that was the case, and with me being one of two people who would become president, why was I not told so that I could make a change?”

But news reports indicate otherwise. CNN, citing former Obama administration officials, reported on May 17, 2017, that during a White House meeting days after Trump’s election, Obama told him that “given the importance of the [national security adviser] job, the president through there were better people for it, and that Flynn wasn’t up for the job.” But Trump proceeded with hiring Flynn anyway. Former New Jersey governor and longtime Trump confidant Chris Christie has also said he directly advised Trump against hiring Flynn.

“If I were president-elect of the United States, I wouldn’t let General Flynn into the White House, let alone give him a job,” Christie said in 2017.

Flynn soon illustrated why Obama and Christie had concerns about him. During the presidential transition period, he had phone calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in which he advised Kislyak not to respond to new sanctions the Obama administration placed on Russia for interfering (on Trump’s behalf) in the just-completed presidential election. Not only did Flynn undercut Obama’s foreign policy, but he then lied about it, telling FBI investigators during an interview conducted days after Trump’s inauguration that he and Kislyak did not in fact discuss sanctions.

Flynn’s lies to the FBI prompted officials to warn Trump once again about Flynn. On January 26, 2017, then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates personally informed the White House that Flynn lied to the FBI about his calls with Kislyak, and therefore was at risk of being blackmailed by Russia. But instead of immediately taking action against Flynn, the Trump administration fired Yates three days later, after she refused to implement Trump’s executive order barring people from a number of Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the United States.

Flynn was finally fired on February 13, after it emerged that he had also misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of his phone calls with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition period. He pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in December 2017, agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller, and is still awaiting sentencing.

Trump, however, has repeatedly tried to blame the whole Flynn debacle on Obama.

Beyond the explicit warnings from Obama and Christie, a number of red flags were raised about Flynn, beginning with his unusual paid trip to Moscow for an RT gala in December 2015 — an event in which he infamously sat directly next to Russian President Vladimir Putin — and continuing throughout 2016.

As the Guardian detailed in March 2017, both US and British intelligence officers were troubled about Flynn’s role in the Trump administration, given his dealings with Russia:

US intelligence officials had serious concerns about Michael Flynn’s appointment as the White House national security adviser because of his history of contacts with Moscow and his encounter with a woman who had trusted access to Russian spy agency records, the Guardian has learned.

US and British intelligence officers discussed Flynn’s “worrisome” behaviour well before his appointment last year by Donald Trump, multiple sources have said.

They raised concerns about Flynn’s ties to Russia and his perceived obsession with Iran. They were also anxious about his capacity for “linear thought” and some actions that were regarded as highly unusual for a three-star general.

Trump, who promised during his campaign to thoroughly vet his appointees, ignored all the red flags and decided to make Flynn his national security adviser anyway. But instead of being accountable for that, he’s now again trying to shift blame.

Trump’s tweet comes amid new revelations that his lawyer tried to dissuade Flynn from cooperating with Mueller

Trump’s tweet comes the day after a federal judge unsealed records suggesting that months after Flynn’s firing, the White House took steps to discourage him from fully cooperating with investigators.

In the filing, members of Mueller’s team write that “[t]he defendant informed the government of multiple instances, both before and after his guilty plea, where either he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the Administration or Congress that could’ve affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation.”

The filing doesn’t contain additional information about which members of Congress were involved, but according to the Mueller report, Trump’s then-personal attorney — the Washington Post reports the attorney is John Dowd — left a voicemail for Flynn’s attorney in November 2017 and said, “[I]t wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve gone on to make a deal with … the government.”

Dowd went on to ask Flynn’s attorney for any information they might have had implicating the president, and also seemingly alluded to the possibility of a pardon.

“[I]f… there’s information that implicates the President, then we’ve got a national security issue [so] … we need some kind of heads-up. Just for the sake of protecting all our interests if we can …. [R]emember what we’ve always said about the President and his feelings toward Flynn and, that still remains,” the voicemail said.

The public should learn more about Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak and the voicemail Dowd left for Flynn’s lawyer soon. According to the Post, the judge ordered prosecutors to make public a transcript of both, and they will be posted on a court website by May 31.

While Mueller concluded that Dowd’s voicemail didn’t rise to the level of prosecutable obstruction of justice — he cited the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) guidance that a sitting president cannot be indicted — the new revelations suggest the White House was worried about Flynn might tell investigators, and was taking steps to dissuade him from spilling.

So now, ahead of what could end up being more damaging revelations about his relationship with Flynn, Trump is again trying to distance himself from his former national security adviser, and throwing Obama under the bus in the process.

[Vox]

Trump on de Blasio: ‘NYC HATES HIM!’

President Donald Trump on Thursday took a swipe at the newest candidate in the Democratic primary pool: Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow New Yorker.

The New York City mayor announced his presidential bid in a three-minute videoThursday morning, about half of which was dedicated to attacking Trump and presenting de Blasio as the Democrat best positioned to challenge the president’s hold on the White House in 2020.

“I’m a New Yorker. I’ve known Trump’s a bully for a long time. This is not news to me or anyone else here,” de Blasio said. “And I know how to take him on.”

Hours after the mayor’s campaign launched, the president weighed in on de Blasio’s candidacy on Twitter.

“The Dems are getting another beauty to join their group,” Trump wrote. “Bill de Blasio of NYC, considered the worst mayor in the U.S., will supposedly be making an announcement for president today. He is a JOKE, but if you like high taxes & crime, he’s your man. NYC HATES HIM!”

The two New Yorkers’ relationship dates to before the president left the Empire State for Washington. The pair exchanged volleys while both were on the campaign trail in 2016. Trump was seeking the White House that year, while de Blasio was trying to hold on to his seat in City Hall in 2017.

With momentum sagging during his first term in office, de Blasio adopted a campaign strategy based partially on an opportune moment: the rise of Trump. After the president was elected, the mayor pledged to protect the people of New York and resist any moves by the Trump administration to “undermine” his constituents.

De Blasio’s message Thursday echoed this rallying cry, albeit with a more national focus. The mayor detailed efforts to combat climate change, protect families separated at the border and take the Trump administration to court over security funding.

“Donald Trump must be stopped,” de Blasio said. “I’ve beaten him before, and I will beat him again.”

The mayor responded to Trump’s tweet on Thursday less than an hour after it was posted with a link to his campaign site and his own nickname for the president known for belittling his opponents with various monikers.

“NYC has record low crime & record high jobs,” de Blasio wrote. “We’re investing in working families with free Pre-K & guaranteed health care. #ConDon taking advantage of working families is no joke.”

[Politico]

Trump says campaign was ‘conclusively spied on,’ calls it ‘treason’

President Trump on Friday asserted that his 2016 campaign had been “conclusively spied on” by the Obama administration while calling the charge akin to “treason” and demanding jail time for those behind it.

In a tweet, the president said “nothing like this has ever happened” while calling for prison sentences.

“A really bad situation. TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!” he continued.

The president’s tweet comes days after Attorney General William Barrannounced the appointment of a U.S. attorney to review the decisions that led to the establishment of an investigation into Trump’s campaign and Russian election interference.

The attorney general infuriated many Democrats on Capitol Hill earlier this year when he asserted that “spying” on the Trump campaign had occurred in 2016, while declining to take a position on its legality. His choice of language has earned rebukes from former members of the Justice Department including former FBI chief James Comey.

Barr told The Wall Street Journal and Fox News in interviews published Friday that he had received insufficient answers from Justice Department personnel about the reasons why an investigation had been launched into the Trump campaign in the first place.

“Government power was used to spy on American citizens,” Barr told the Journal on Friday. “I can’t imagine any world where we wouldn’t take a look and make sure that was done properly.”

“I’ve been trying to get answers to the questions and I’ve found that a lot of the answers have been inadequate and some of the explanations I’ve gotten don’t hang together, in a sense I have more questions today than when I first started,” Barr added in his interview with Fox.

“People have to find out what the government was doing during that period. If we’re worried about foreign influence, for the very same reason we should be worried about whether government officials abuse their power and put their thumb on the scale.”

[The Hill]

Trump piles on Rep. Tlaib over Holocaust comments

President Trump on Monday joined Republicans blasting Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., for comments the Democratic congresswoman made about the Holocaust to Yahoo News’ podcast “Skullduggery.”

“Democrat Rep. Tlaib is being slammed for her horrible and highly insensitive statement on the Holocaust,” Trump tweeted. “She obviously has tremendous hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. Can you imagine what would happen if I ever said what she said, and says?”

In her “Skullduggery” interview Friday, Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American, called Trump “a crooked CEO.” In a different part of the interview, she discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role Palestinians played in helping provide a “safe haven” for Jews following the Holocaust.

“There’s a kind of a calming feeling, I always tell folks, when I think of the Holocaust and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors — Palestinians — who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence, in many ways, have been wiped out, and some people’s passports,” Tlaib said. “And just all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-the Holocaust, post-the tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time. And I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that, right, in many ways. But they did it in a way that took their human dignity away, right, and it was forced on them.”

Tlaib did not specify what her ancestors did to help Jewish refugees fleeing Europe during and after the Holocaust. The grand mufti of Jerusalem, the Islamic cleric overseeing the Muslim holy sites in the city, incited riots against Jews immigrating to Palestine and allied himself with Hitler during World War II. The Arab states surrounding Israel opposed its creation as a Jewish state in 1948 and launched a war against it.

Conservative critics quickly seized on Tlaib’s comments, interpreting them to imply that she approved of the Holocaust, something her spokesman said was not what she meant.

“Rashida Tlaib says thinking of the Holocaust provides her a ‘calming feeling,’ shockingly claims Palestinians created ‘safe haven’ for Jews,” read the headline in the Washington Examiner.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., tweeted a link to the Examiner story and called on House Democratic leadership to “take action” against Tlaib.

Tlaib’s spokesman, Denzel McCampbell, issued a statement accusing Cheney, Republican leaders and “right-wing extremists” of “spreading outright lies to incite hate.”

“Liz Cheney should be ashamed of herself for using the tragedy of the Holocaust in a transparent attempt to score political points,” McCampbell wrote. “Her behavior cheapens our public discourse and is an insult to the Jewish community and the millions of Americans who stand opposed to the hatred being spread by Donald Trump’s Republican Party.”

McCampbell then attempted to clarify Tlaib’s remarks.

“Rep. Tlaib said thinking about this effort to provide a safe haven for people fleeing persecution brought calm to Rep. Tlaib because her ancestors were involved in helping those tragically impacted by the Holocaust. The Congresswoman did not in any way praise the Holocaust, nor did she say the Holocaust itself brought a calming feeling to her. In fact, she repeatedly called the Holocaust a tragedy and a horrific persecution of Jewish people.”

He added: “This behavior by a bankrupt Republican leadership is dangerous and only increases hateful rhetoric from those who want to cause harm to oppressed people.”

The attacks from Republicans on Tlaib are reminiscent of those against another freshman Democrat, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., over her criticism of Israel. Both Tlaib and Omar were the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

[Yahoo News]

Trump takes credit for Red Sox “turnaround”

President Donald Trump tried to take credit on Monday for a sudden turnaround in the Boston Red Sox’ season, pointing out that the reigning World Series champions have gone undefeated since their fraught visit to the White House last week.

“Has anyone noticed that all the Boston @RedSox have done is WIN since coming to the White House!” Trump wrote in a tweet. “Others also have done very well. The White House visit is becoming the opposite of being on the cover of Sports Illustrated! By the way, the Boston players were GREAT guys!”

The Red Sox, who visited the White House last Thursday, swept all three of their home games over the weekend against the Seattle Mariners, scoring 34 runs across the three games. Boston has won eight of its last 10 games, a stretch that predates the team’s reception with the president.

Championship-winning sports team visits to the White House have become particularly politicized during the Trump administration, and the president has yanked invitations for at least two teams after prominent athletes said they would not attend the traditionally unremarkable events.

The same was true with the Red Sox team, which was represented by only a portion of last year’s team. Nearly every racial minority member of the team skipped the event, as did manager Alex Cora, a Puerto Rico native, who cited the administration’s handling of hurricane relief efforts there in declining the invitation. The team attempted to downplay the divide and last week reportedly barred a reporter from asking about the upcoming White House visit during a series in Baltimore.

But while neither Trump nor the team addressed the elephant in the room during Thursday’s celebration on the South Lawn, Trump became defensive about his record on Puerto Rico earlier in the day when asked by reporters about the Red Sox visit. The awkwardness was compounded by the White House initially posting on its website that Trump would be celebrating the Boston “Red Socks” and later blasting out his remarks to the “World Cup Series Champions” via email.

Trump was correct Monday in noting that the Red Sox have won the three games since their White House visit, though their turnaround after an extended early season skid began several weeks before their trip to Washington. After falling to 6-17 in mid-April, the team has since won 16 of its last 22 games and was on a two-game winning streak before the team visited Trump.

[Politico]

Trump Attacks FBI Director Chris Wray While Railing Against Investigations: ‘No Leadership’

President Donald Trump attacked FBI chief Chris Wray on Sunday night as he railed against his political enemies in an extensive tweetstorm.

About a day after wailing on former White House Counsel Don McGahn, Trump slammed Democrats and “the Fake News media” in a free-wheeling online tantrum. At one point, Trump amplified a quote from Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton, who slammed Wray by saying “The FBI has no leadership. The Director is protecting the same gang…..that tried to overthrow the President through an illegal coup.”

Trump and Wray (who was appointed by the president) have contradicted each other numerous times on key matters surrounding the investigations of Russian activity during the 2016 election. Most recently, Wray drew headlines after disagreeing with Attorney General Bill Barr‘s characterization for whether the Trump 2016 campaign was spied on.

[Mediaite]

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