Donald Trump wildly exaggerates Amb. Christopher Steven’s requests for extra Benghazi security

(Politifact) The death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens came up as a topic during the second presidential debate Sunday night.

When moderator Anderson Cooper asked Donald Trump if tweeting about a sex tape between 3 and 5 a.m. reflected the discipline of a good leader, Trump denied using those words and suddenly veered onto the subject of the 2012 attack on the mission compound in Benghazi, Libya. Security was inadequate and Stevens died of smoke inhalation from a fire during an attack by insurgents.

Trump, apparently thinking that the drama unfolded at 3 a.m. in Washington, started referring to a famous Hillary Clinton commercial from her 2008 run for president, which argued that she was the best person for responding to a national emergency, as represented by a hypothetical 3 a.m. phone call to the White House.

Trump: “She said, ‘Who is going to answer the call at 3 o’clock in the morning?’ Guess what? She didn’t answer  because … Ambassador Stevens sent 600 requests for help.”

It’s hard to overstate how much is wrong here.

The attack on the compound actually began at 9:42 p.m. in Libya, which was 3:42 p.m. in Washington. By 3 a.m. in Washington the following day, the attacks were over, and the people involved had either left Benghazi or were less than an hour from being flown out.

So for this fact-check, we’re going to focus on whether Stevens made 600 requests for help.

Trump’s cryptic comment might be heard as suggesting that Stevens made 600 “requests for help” during the attack. The investigations of Benghazi show that didn’t happen. In fact, when we contacted the Trump campaign, they referred us to a graph that claimed something very different.

First, there’s no debate that security at the mission was inadequate and that requests for improvements stalled or rejected.

Some security improvements were made the year of the attack, including “heightening the perimeter wall, installing concrete Jersey barriers, mounting safety grills on the safe area windows, and other minor improvements,” according to a 2014 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report. But while the CIA was making significant upgrades to its nearby annex, similar improvements were not being done at the Benghazi mission. The CIA annex had nine security officers, but only three officers were assigned to the mission complex.

A month before the attack, with the security situation deteriorating, Army Gen. Carter Ham, who was head of U.S. Africa Command, twice offered to give the U.S. embassy in Tripoli a special military security team. Stevens declined the offer. No reason was given, but it may have had to do with the State Department not wanting to aggravate the political instability in Libya with the presence of U.S. forces.

When we contacted the Trump campaign, spokesman Dan Kowalski cited this chart, which was displayed during hearings by the Republican-led House Select Committee on Benghazi.

But there’s no reference to this chart in the report itself, released months later.

Democrats on the committee, in their minority report, said that, “During our hearing with Secretary Clinton, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan) argued that the Select Committee had obtained ‘over 600 requests’ for security from Benghazi, but he refused to provide the evidence for his claim.”

The minority report continues, “Democrats have been unable to successfully reconstruct a list of 600 requests for additional security, and have been able to identify fewer than 200 requests, many of which were granted.”

A few things are worth noting right off the bat.

• The Republicans’ count is 569, not 600, accumulated over nine months.

• Stevens wasn’t sworn in as ambassador to Libya until May 2012. So even if every one of those requests/concerns originated from Stevens and went directly to Clinton, the highest number Trump could cite would be 205, not 600.

• The count is supposed to be the number of security requests or concerns from Benghazi to the State Department, not from Stevens to Clinton, as Trump said. This can get ambiguous because such correspondence is often sent under the name of the ambassador, even if he/she never saw it, to the secretary of state, even though in the vast majority of cases it’s handled by lower-level people and the secretary never sees it.

As Clinton noted during her Jan. 23, 2013, testimony on the Benghazi attack, “1.43 million cables a year come to the State Department. They are all addressed to me. They do not all come to me. They are reported through the bureaucracy.”

It’s also not clear if all these requests were actually for Benghazi or were security-related requests involving the U.S. embassy in Tripoli as well.

Earlier this year, the Washington Post Fact Checker looked into the 600 number, which was being cited by Trump and others. He found duplication.

Once a request is made it can be followed by one or more statements of “concern” on the same topic, so there’s a lot of overlap in the count.

The Post was given only a cursory look at the data used by the GOP staff to come up with their total, but he noted that one subject heading was repeated 17 times, suggesting that the same request was being repeatedly discussed. That alone may have inflated the total.

To properly check whether the same security-related requests were being reported under different subject headings, the committee would have to release the documents.

At the time, Kessler was reporting that the committee’s final report “is supposed to list the documents that formed the basis of the 600 figure.”

We contacted the committee twice and received no response. If we get additional information, we’ll update this fact-check.

In any event, Kessler noted, “few if any” requests were likely from Stevens. He called Trump’s comment “a whopper.”

Our ruling

Trump said “Ambassador Stevens sent 600 requests for help.”

There certainly were many requests for security improvements at the mission. But Trump goes way over the line, citing a graph that includes a period when Stevens wasn’t even the ambassador and doesn’t differentiate between actual requests for improved security and follow-up correspondence.

The highest the number could be, according to that data, is 205 and there’s no evidence that those “requests and concerns” — which may include duplicates — were even sent by Stevens.

We rate his statement Mostly False.

Trump: ‘We Should Take a Drug Test Prior to the Debate’

Donald Trump on Saturday suggested both presidential candidates should take a drug test before the next debate, saying that Hillary Clinton is “actually getting pumped up.”

“At the beginning of her last debate, she was all pumped at the beginning, but at the end she was all ‘take me down.’ She could barely reach her car,” Trump said at a rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. “I think we should take a drug test. Anyway, I’m willing to do it.”

The GOP nominee compared the candidates to athletes, saying he “took down 17 senators and governors.”

“We’re like athletes, but athletes, they make them take a drug test. We should take a drug test,” he said. “I think we should take a drug test prior to the debate because I don’t know what’s going on with her.”

The final presidential debate will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Wednesday.

Trump has previously attacked the Democratic nominee’s health and stamina. This past week, Trump’s campaign released an ad arguing Clinton does not have “fortitude, strength or stamina” to lead the country.

Six days ago, Trump ally Roger Stone suggested in an interview with radio host Alex Jones that Clinton was “jacked up on something, I assume some kind of methamphetamine.”

“I don’t think she has the stamina for a campaign,” Stone said. “They managed to prop her up for one debate, she can’t even keep her full schedule because her health is so bad.”

(h/t Politico)


She’s low energy, she’s high energy, what is it?


In Debate, Trump Admits to Not Paying Federal Taxes

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said “of course” he used a $916 million loss in 1995 to avoid paying federal income taxes.

“Did you use that $916 million loss to avoid paying personal federal income taxes?” moderator Anderson Cooper asked during Sunday’s presidential debate, referring to a New York Times report on Trump’s tax returns.

“Of course I do, of course I do,” Trump said.

The Republican nominee’s 1995 tax return showed him declaring a loss of more than $900 million—which he could have used to avoid paying federal income taxes for almost two decades.

Trump has yet to release his tax returns, bucking a decades-old presidential tradition and prompting suggestions that he could be “hiding something.” He has repeatedly said he will release them after the IRS completes a “routine audit,” but the audit does not prevent him from releasing the returns. Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine, both released their tax returns in early August and have hit Trump over his failure to do the same. Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, released a decade of his tax filings in September.

“I understand the tax code better than anybody that’s ever run for president,” Trump said during Sunday’s debate, criticizing Clinton for failing to reform tax code loopholes as a Senator. “It’s extremely complex.”

When asked, Trump declined to say for how many years he has avoided paying federal income taxes.

“I pay tax, and I pay federal tax too, but I have a write off. A lot of it’s depreciation, which is a wonderful charge,” Trump said. “I love depreciation.”

(h/t Fortune)



Trump Threatens Hillary Clinton With Jail If Elected

Donald Trump’s pledge Sunday night that he would order his attorney general to investigate Hillary Clinton, and his quip that she should “be in jail,” is a direct breach of the tradition of nonpartisan rule of law.

“If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation. Because there has never been so many lies, so much deception, there has never been anything like it,” Trump said during the second presidential debate.

A president is not typically authorized to order specific criminal investigations of individuals, let alone a public pledge to investigate a political opponent. Former Attorney General Eric Holder tweeted that President Richard Nixon’s attorney general “courageously resigned” after being asked to fire a special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal.

When Attorney General Elliot Richardson refused, Nixon went on to fire several members of his cabinet in what became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.”

The FBI and Department of Justice have formally closed the inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state. So the notion of a new president seeking to force the re-opening of the case, because a new party is in office, is essentially unprecedented.

Also note that while Trump has previously talked about investigating Clinton on the campaign trail, including discussing the statute of limitations for charges related to the email issue, his language then was less definitive than what he said Sunday night.

In July, he said he expected “the attorney general will take a very good look at it, from a fair standpoint,” referring to the email inquiry.

(h/t NBC News)


What makes this country different from other countries, dictators, authoritarians, is the peaceful transfer of power. Donald Trump, on a national stage, just threatened to jail his opponent if elected. There are no words to describe how dangerous this comment is to our union.

Trump Almost Turned Second Debate Into an Episode on a Bad Reality Show

Donald Trump’s campaign sought to intimidate Hillary Clinton by inviting women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual abuse to sit in the family area close to the center of Sunday night’s presidential debate.

The four women planned to walk in the debate hall at the same time as the former president and confront him in front of a live television audience, according to sources close to the situation.

The plan was first reported by the Washington Post but was later confirmed by NBC News. It was thwarted moments before the event went on-air when the Commission on Presidential Debates intervened to prevent it, even threatening to get security to block the women.

The four — Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Kathy Shelton — eventually sat in the audience alongside other ticketed members.

If the plan had gone ahead, the women would have sat in the Trump family box which was in an elevated area close to the stage and in front of the cameras.

“We were going to put the four women in the VIP box,” Trump supporter and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani was quoted as saying by the Washington Post. “We had it all set. We wanted to have them shake hands with Bill, to see if Bill would shake hands with them.”

The newspaper said the plot was nixed by Frank J. Fahrenkopf, the debate commission’s co-chairman and a former Republican National Committee chairman, who warned that security personnel would remove the women.

Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook said Hillary knew about what he called an “awkward stunt at the beginning of the debate.”

“He wanted to throw Hillary Clinton off her game. And he need to rehabilitate what has been a failing campaign,” Mook told reporters.”The stunt didn’t work and frankly the debate didn’t work for Trump because this race fundamentally hasn’t changed.”

He added: “This was a painful moment in her marriage and it was litigated very heavily 20 years ago … this was an attempt by Donald Trump to throw her off, try to distract. The problem that he has, and the reason he lost this debate, is he has no command of the issues.”

Bill Clinton has denied all the allegations lobbed by his accusers and was never charged with any crimes, but was impeached by the Republican House in 1998 for lying about an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Broaddrick, who has accused the former president of rape, submitted an affidavit in 1998 denying that Bill Clinton had made nonconsensual sexual advances, which she later recanted.

(h/t NBC News)

Trump Hosts Surprise Panel with Bill Clinton’s Accusers

Donald Trump, reeling after two days of Republican disavowals and disaffections over a 2005 videotape of him bragging about his ability to get away with sexual assault, attempted to change the subject to his opponent’s husband’s alleged infidelities.

Just 90 minutes before his second debate Sunday night with Hillary Clinton, the GOP nominee held a surprise panel, broadcast live to Facebook, with women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct — in effect, dousing a campaign already on fire with buckets of fresh gasoline and bringing the worst fears of many Republicans to a stunning realization.

Seated beside four women — including Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Kathy Shelton — Trump addressed viewers ahead of the debate, making an issue of the sexual history of Bill Clinton, who is not running for president.

“These four very courageous women have asked to be here, and it was our honor to help them,” Trump said of the women who then excused his comments caught on tape and released on Friday.

“Actions speak louder than words,” said Broaddrick. “Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me. I don’t think there’s anything worse.”

Broaddrick once signed an affadavit saying Clinton did not in fact rape her, but later recanted.

Standing in the back of the Four Seasons Hotel ballroom were Trump’s closest aides, including Breitbart publisher Steve Bannon and David Bossie, who have made a career — on the fringes of conservative politics — out of attacking the Clintons.

The surprise roundtable and the tawdriness of the subject is unprecedented in presidential politics, especially on the eve of a debate.

Trump, whose campaign has long tested a fragile Republican coalition that now is undeniably in tatters, is responding to a 48-hour period in which he saw dozens of GOP officeholders pull their endorsements after the video recording that showed him bragging to TV host Billy Bush about his ability to get away with “grab[bing women] by the pussy.”

Ever defiant amidst calls that he surrender the nomination and step aside, Trump is instead engaging in a scorched-earth assault that is only likely to further erode his diminished standing with women voters with potentially devastating consequences for the Republican Party, which is now bracing itself for more sweeping losses down the ballot.

Clinton, who has taken a few days off the campaign trail to prepare for the second debate and the very likelihood of such an attack from Trump, has said very little publicly since the lewd videotape came to light on Friday.

Her campaign, however, issued a statement roughly an hour before the debate began characterizing Trump’s publicity stunt as an act of desperation.

“We’re not surprised to see Donald Trump continue his destructive race to the bottom,” said Clinton’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri. “Hillary Clinton understands the opportunity in this town hall is to talk to voters on stage and in the audience about the issues that matter to them, and this stunt doesn’t change that.

“If Donald Trump doesn’t see that, that’s his loss. As always, she’s prepared to handle whatever Donald Trump throws her way.”

(h/t Politico)


Donald Trump is asking you to ignore the actual recorded words he said 10 years ago, but to pay attention to the allegations of women against the spouse of his political opponent 20-30 years ago.


CBS News

Trump Defends Sexual Assault as ‘Locker Room Talk’ At Debate

Donald Trump defended his lewd and sexually aggressive comments as “locker room” talk three times during Sunday’s presidential debate.

On Friday, previously unaired 2005 footage revealed the Republican presidential nominee bragging about trying to have sex with a married woman and being able to grope women.

“When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything,” Trump had said.

Trump later issued a apology, calling the conversation “locker room banter.”

1. ‘This was locker room talk’

“I don’t think you understood what was — this was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I apologize to my family. I apologize to the American people. Certainly I’m not proud of it. But this is locker room talk.”

2. ‘It’s locker room talk’

“Yes, I’m very embarrassed by it. I hate it. But it’s locker room talk, and it’s one of those things. I will knock the hell out of ISIS. We’re going to defeat ISIS. ISIS happened a number of years ago in a vacuum that was left because of bad judgment. And I will tell you, I will take care of ISIS.”

3. ‘It was locker room talk’

“It was locker room talk, as I told you. That was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I am a person who has great respect for people, for my family, for the people of this country. And certainly, I’m not proud of it. But that was something that happened.”

(h/t CNN)


So what room do I need to be in to call Donald Trump a racist, sexist, motherfucker and be completely excused?

Donald Trump claimed he never did any of the actions described in the 2005 tape, but a New York Times piece interviewed hundreds of women who allege otherwise. Some, such as Jill Harth settled in court over her claims.