Posts tagged with "President Donald Trump"

Ominous video at #AMPFest19 shows Trump ‘offing’ reporters in ‘Church of Fake News’

October 15, 2019

A video depicting a macabre scene of a fake President Donald Trump shooting, stabbing, and brutally assaulting members of the news media and his political opponents inside a Church of Fake News was shown at a conference for his supporters at his Miami resort, the Trump National Doral, last week, according to footage obtained by The New York Times.

According to the Times’ report on October 13, the video combines a series of memes and shows the president’s head superimposed on a mass shooter’s body. The president in the video then goes on to slaughter his political and media critics.

The conference was organized by American Priority, a pro-Trump group, and it was attended by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was speaking at the event, and the President’s son, Donald Trump, Jr.—neither of whom would admit to seeing the video, which supposed “was shown in a side room at #AMPFest 19,” the organization said.

In its official statement, AMP describes the video as “unauthorized” and says that it was never “approved, seen, or sanction by the #AMPFest 19 organizers,” who were “not even aware of the video until they were contacted by the NYT.”

The extremely violent video can be seen in this embedded tweet.

After news of the video broke, many politicians took to Twitter to condemn the video, including Democratic presidential candidate @Beto O’Rourke, who said: “ At a conference of Trump supporters, they played a video of our president murdering journalists in a church. Last year, a Trump supporter sent bombs to CNN—and a shooter entered a church yesterday. This video isn’t funny. It will get people killed.”

Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) added his own outrage, tweeting: “Every mother and father in America should watch video. Play it all the way to end. Know that this is the re-election message of your President. And then ask yourself – how you sit your kids down and tell them you want this person to lead us. “

On Monday morning, the White House Press Secretary (@PressSec) Stephanie Grisham weighed in, trying to distance the president from the violent clip, which contained a Trump campaign logo. She tweeted, “Re: the video played over the weekend: The @POTUS @realDonaldTrump has not yet seen the video, he will see it shortly, but based upon everything he has heard, he strongly condemns this video.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Invisible man: House Dems consider extraordinary steps to conceal whistleblower’s identity from GOP

October 9, 2019

House Democrats are weighing extraordinary steps to secure testimony from the whistleblower whose complaint prompted their impeachment inquiry—considering masking his identity to prevent President Donald Trump’s congressional allies from exposing him, according to three officials familiar with the deliberations, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

As the GOP continues its political posturing and plotting, as well as obstruction of witness testimony, Democrats deem it imperative to have the whistleblower testify from a remote location; and to conceal his appearance and voice, these officials told the DC-based news outlet. Two other possibilities include having the whistleblower sit behind a screen or partition or conducting audio-only testimony.

“Schiff does not want to burn his identity,” a senior congressional official told the newspaper.

“There are lots of different protocols and procedures we’re looking into to find out what works and doesn’t work to protect the identity of the whistleblower,” a person familiar with the talks told the news outlet. “That is paramount.”

The whistleblower’s complaint centered on Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump pressed the new leader eight times to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, and his son Hunter.

On Tuesday, the House Intelligence Committee was told that the testimony of Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, had been blocked b y the State Department. The whistleblower said that Sondland met with Zelensky to give “advice” about how to “navigate” Trump’s demands, working behind the scenes to carry out the president’s wishes in a country that’s not a member of the European Union.

In text messages provided to Congress, Sondland insisted that Trump’s decision to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine was not a quid pro quo—as diplomat William B. “Bill” Taylor had said he feared.

Trump told Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, to hold back the military aid for Ukraine shortly before his July call. Trump has repeatedly denied that there was a “quid pro quo” between the military assistance and the request to investigate the Bidens.

At the White House on Monday, Trump lashed out at Democrats over their impeachment inquiry.

“You can’t impeach a president for doing a great job. . . . This is a scam,” he said at an event on trade with Japan.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Weekend curveball: New whistleblower(s)

October 8, 2019

President Donald Trump got bushwacked again last weekend—this time, as a “new whistleblower,” came forward, also being represented by Mark Zaid and Andrew Bakaj, the lawyers for the original whistleblower, according to CNN’s Jake Tapper, Pamela Brown and Zachary Cohen.

The new witness is said to have   first-hand knowledge that supports the claims of the initial whistleblower, and to have been on the line during the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

If this is the case, it would , it totally undermine the main defense that has been used to date by Republicans—that all information was secondhand in the original whistleblower complaint.

CNN reports that the new whistleblower works in the intelligence community and that he or she already has spoken to the intelligence community’s inspector general.

The individual has not filed another complaint, but the lawyers argue anyone who speaks to the intelligence community watchdog is considered to have made a protected disclosure, and is a whistleblower under law.

According to the cable news outlet, Zaid has acknowledged a second whistleblower and his partner, Andrew Bakaj, described “multiple” whistleblowers in a tweet Sunday, but will not specify if that is more than the two we now know.

Bakaj: “I can confirm that my firm and my team represent multiple whistleblowers in connection to the underlying August 12, 2019, disclosure to the intelligence community inspector general. No further comment at this time.”

Research contact: @CNN

FEC chair states unconditionally that accepting ‘oppo research’ from a foreign national is illegal

October 7, 2019

We told him so: Federal Election Commission (FEC) Chair Ellen Weintraub on October 4 stated unconditionally that accepting any kind of “opposition research” from a foreign national or government is illegal under U.S. elections law.

In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Weintraub again refuted President Donald Trump’s position that there is nothing wrong with listening to foreign intelligence about his 2020 political opponents.

As far back as June 16, in an exclusive interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, the president reacted to a question about whether he would accept information from foreigners—such as China or Russia—for his reelection campaign, or choose to hand it over to the FBI, by saying, “I think maybe you do both.”

He added at the time, “I think you might want to listen; there isn’t anything wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent.’—oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”

And this week, he called on China publicly to provide that information.

“The law is pretty clear,” Weintraub said to co-host Willie Geist. “It is absolutely illegal for anyone to solicit, accept or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with any election in the United States.”

“I don’t want to comment on the specifics,” Weinstein added of Trump’s call for Biden to be investigated by foreign governments, including Ukraine, the UK, and China. “I’m just here to explain the law. That’s part of my job, and I think this is a moment in America where it’s really important that the American people understand what the law is.”

According to a report by The Hill, the FEC chief has weighed in on social media in the past on statements made by Trump, including earlier this year when Trump talked to ABC.

“Is this thing on?” Weintraub tweeted at the time.

Research contact: @thehill

Trump’s impeachment tantrums disengage key 2020 supporters

October 4, 2019

Women across the nation are viewing President Donald Trump’s impeachment-incited tirades with consternation and concern, Politico reports. And they do not represent the only key voting bloc that has backed off since the whistleblower report was released to Congress in late September.

Indeed, nearly a half-dozen polls conducted since September 24—when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) announced the official launch of an impeachment inquiry—have found female voters rallying behind her call to action; intensifying concerns among White House allies that the white women who helped carry Trump to victory in 2016 can no longer be counted on next November.

Specifically, 57% of registered female voters strongly or somewhat approved of impeachment in a CBS survey released September 30; and  62% of women in a Quinnipiac University survey released Monday said they thought “Trump believes he is above the law.”

The development comes, according to Politico, just as two more key demographics—Independent voters and college-educated whites—are exhibiting ever-larger “fault lines” in their resistance to impeachment.

What’s more, the allegations against Trump—that he leveraged U.S. aid to Ukraine, holding back funding unless the eastern European nation agreed to supply “opposition research” on Joe Biden, a Democratic frontrunner in the 2020 presidential election—also are changing the dynamics on Capitol Hill.

Should impeachment gain the support of an undeniable majority of likely voters, Republicans legislators who previously declined to distance themselves from the president could quickly change their calculus, the news outlet says—setting Trump on the same lonely course that led to President Richard Nixon’s Watergate-era resignation in August 1974.

“From my point of view as a Republican pollster, the president’s base has been solid so far,” Micah Roberts, a partner at Public Opinion Strategies, which oversaw an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted last week, told Politico during an interview. “But college-educated whites have electoral significance for us in the suburbs and can completely shift the dynamic and the conversation just by virtue of shifting the overall numbers.”

In some cases, that shift already has started: Fifty percent of college-educated whites in an NPR/Marist College survey said they approved of House Democrats’ decision to launch the formal impeachment inquiry into Trump. That compares to a narrower margin of support for the move (45-43) in a Politico/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday.

“If you look at college-educated whites, those are probably some of the most engaged voters. They are a big and important chunk of the electorate and they have shifted the most resolutely toward impeachment so far,” Roberts said.

“I really don’t like where we are right now,” said one prominent Republican pollster.

To be sure, Politico says, some of the same polls include evidence suggesting impeachment could become a political risk for Democrats as they head into a heated election year. And the rapid-pace environment in which the impeachment process has already unfolded, combined with varying levels of understanding of the process itself, mean a lot of voters are still in “wait-and-see mode,” according to Roberts.

Finally, some polls have underscored mixed feelings among voters toward the former vice president, which would be a positive sign for the president. For example, 42% of voters in a Monmouth survey said Biden “probably exerted pressure on Ukrainian officials to avoid investigating” his son during his time in office; but only 26%t of voters in a Reuters/Ipsos poll said they believe Biden is attempting to conceal a potential scandal ahead of 2020.

With Elizabeth Warren already ahead by several percentage points in key primary and caucus areas, the opinions on Biden may, in the end, be moot.

Research contact: @politico

Graham will ask Australia, Italy, and UK to aid and abet AG Barr’s probe into Russia investigation

October 2, 2019

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) obviously is “drinking the Kool-Aid,” along with the president, the attorney general, and the secretary of state.

On October 1, The Hill reports, Graham laid out plans to send a letter asking other nations to cooperate with the Justice Department’s probe into the origins of the Mueller investigation.

Graham, during an on-air interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Monday, knocked a report by The New York Times that alleged that President Donald Trump had asked the Australian government to assist Attorney General William Barr as part of the DOJ investigation.

“Barr should be talking to Australia. He should be talking to Italy. He should be talking to the U.K. to find out if their intelligence services worked with our intelligence services improperly to open up a counterintelligence investigation of Trump’s campaign. If he’s not doing that he’s not doing his job,” Graham said according to The Hill. 

“So I’m going to write a letter to all three countries … asking them to cooperate with Barr,” he added. 

Graham’s Fox News interview comes after The New York Times reported that Trump urged Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help Barr, according to two officials with knowledge of the call. The Justice Department subsequently confirmed that Trump had contacted foreign governments at Barr’s request.

Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and has emerged as a Trump crony, blasted the Times piece, The Hill said—characterizing it as “the beginning of an effort to shut down Barr’s investigation.”

“This New York Times article is an effort to stop Barr. … What are they afraid of? This really bothers me a lot that the left is going to try to say there’s something wrong with Barr talking to Australia, Italy and the United Kingdom,” he added.

In addition to the Times story, The Washington Post reported on Monday that Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham of the District of Connecticut, who is leading the DOJ’s inquiry, met with senior Italian officials.

Barr also has reportedly requested assistance from British intelligence officials in connection with the inquiry.

Research contact: @thehill

‘No one is above the law.” With Pelosi imprimatur, impeachment inquiry hurtles forward

September 26, 2019

With gravity and solemnity, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California)—who had stood firm as the voice of reason for many months, resisting efforts to launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump—said at 5 p.m. on September 24 in an address to the American people, “No one is above the law.”

And with those words, she announced a formal impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, saying that the president’s growing Ukraine scandal marked a “breach of his Constitutional responsibilities,” NBC News reported.

“This week the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically,” Pelosi said.

Indeed, several media outlets, including NBC News, reported that, last summer, the president had withheld hundreds of millions in Congressionally approved military aid to the Eastern European nation—using the funds as leverage to get the “oppo research” he wanted on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

On Monday, The Washington Post and other media outlets reported that Trump, in lockstep with the attorney general, instructed his acting chief of staff to place a hold on about $400 million in military aid for Ukraine in the days before a late July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” she continued. “Therefore, today I am announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.”

Pelosi said she was formally directing the House’s six committees that have jurisdiction over impeachment, oversight and other related matters to “proceed with their investigations under that umbrella.”

“The president must be held accountable,” she said. “No one is above the law.”

Pelosi’s change of heart came as dozens of House Democrats—now about 200 members—have come out in support of an impeachment inquiry in the wake of reports that Trump may have withheld aid to Ukraine to pressure officials there to investigate the son of political rival Joe Biden.

Trump responded on Twitter within moments of Pelosi’s announcement, saying, “They never even saw the transcript of the call. A total Witch Hunt!”

He also demeaned the House Speaker, and the chairmen of the House Judiciary, Intelligence, and Financial Services committees—all of whom are expected to collaborate on impeachment charges—tweeting, “Pelosi, Nadler, Schiff and, of course, Maxine Waters! Can you believe this?”

Earlier, Trump told reporters that an impeachment inquiry would help him in the 2020 election but would harm the country.

“If she does that they all say that’s a positive for me in the election. You could also say who needs it, it’s bad for the country,” he said, according to NBC News.

And in an effort to defuse the situation, on Wednesday, he released a transcript of the call to the Ukraine president.

Pelosi reacted to the release of the transcript with a statement on her website:

“The release of the notes of the call by the White House confirms that the President engaged in behavior that undermines the integrity of our elections, the dignity of the office he holds, and our national security. The President has tried to make lawlessness a virtue in America and now

“I respect the responsibility of the President to engage with foreign leaders as part of his job. It is not part of his job to use taxpayer money to shake down other countries for the benefit of his campaign. Either the President does not know the weight of his words or he does not care about ethics or his constitutional responsibilities.

“The transcript and the Justice Department’s acting in a rogue fashion in being complicit in the President’s lawlessness confirm the need for an impeachment inquiry. Clearly, the Congress must act.“As we await the transmittal of the full whistleblower complaint to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, it is important to note that the complaint was determined by the Inspector General to be a matter of ‘urgent concern’ and ‘credible

“The Intelligence Community has long recognized that whistleblowers constitute a vital part of our national security apparatus and that they must be protected. I reiterate my long-standing call to protect the whistleblower from retaliation.”

While Senate Republicans continue to support the president; once the whistleblower complaint is in the hands of Congress, the inquiry is expected to gain momentum—at least in the House.

Research contact: @NBCNews

‘Going to hell’: Trump hits out at homeless crisis—and Speaker Pelosi—in San Francisco

September 20, 2019

The Trump Administration has singled out San Francisco—the 12th Congressional District, represented by his chief antagonist, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—for an environmental violation to San Francisco over its homelessness problem.

The president said late Wednesday that the notice would come from the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. He said waste, specifically used needles, in storm sewers is contributing to ocean pollution.

“It’s a terrible situation that’s in Los Angeles and in San Francisco,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One on his flight from California to Washington, D.C.. “And we’re going to be giving San Francisco, they’re in total violation, we’re going to be giving them a notice very soon.”

He added: “They have to clean it up. We can’t have our cities going to hell.”

In a statement, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the city has a sewer system that runs effectively, keeping debris from reaching the Bay or the Pacific Ocean, the Journal said.

“In San Francisco we are focused on advancing solutions to meet the challenges on our streets, not throwing off ridiculous assertions as we board an airplane to leave the state,” Breed said.

According to the EPA website, a notice of violation is a civil administration action the agency can take that doesn’t involve a judicial court process. Such notices don’t mean the EPA has conclusively determined a violation occurred, the news outlet clarified, and they typically offer recipients avenues to compliance. The EPA usually sends such notices to companies, not cities.

Before the president’s swing through California this week, the Trump administration said it was exploring options to help get homeless people in California off the streets.

Mayor Breed said San Francisco is addressing its homeless crisis by dedicating services for the mentally ill and drug addicted, adding 1,000 new shelter beds and seeking voter approval of a $600 million affordable housing bond.

In addition, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom signed a state budget in June investing $1.75 billion in efforts to spur new housing and about $1 billion aimed at helping cities and counties combat homelessness.

According to the Journal report, homelessness jumped 12% and 16% from a year ago in the county and city of Los Angeles, respectively. In San Francisco, the number rose 17%, while Alameda County, which includes Oakland, saw a 43% increase.

Research contact: @WSJ

New York appeals court allows Trump emoluments case to move forward

September 16, 2019

President Donald Trump has never been one “to look a gift horse in the mouth”—but now, his avarice may have consequences. On September 13, a federal appeals court in New York ruled that a lawsuit accusing the POTUS of violating the Emoluments ClauseArticle I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution—could proceed after a lower court had thrown out the case.

Specifically, the clause “prohibits any person holding a government office from accepting any present, emolument, office, or title from any King, Prince, or foreign State, without congressional consent. Its purpose is to prevent external influence and corruption of American officers by foreign states

According to a report by The Hill, a panel of judges with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which alleged that the president violated the constitutional clause by refusing to put his business assets in a blind trust while in office and profiting off the presidency.

But the case had been dismissed by a lower court in December 2017.

CREW welcomed the reinstatement of the case: “If President Trump would like to avoid the case going further and curtail the serious harms caused by his unconstitutional conduct, now would be a good time to divest from his businesses and end his violations of the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution,” Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement.

And CREW is just one of the many watchdog organizations that have raised concerns about the president’s decision not to put his company in a blind trust, according to The Hill.

Indeed, several of his actions in recent weeks seem to have been geared to generate profits for his properties—among them, his talk of hosting the next G7 meeting at his Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami; his “suggestion” that Vice President Pence stay at his Turnberry golf resort in Scotland; and his deal with the USAF to do pricey refuels at the nearby airport and layovers at TrumpTurnberry.

Multiple lawsuits have alleged Trump is in violation of the Emoluments Clause , but none has gone to court until the September 13 decision cleared the way.

“I got sued on a thing called emoluments. Emoluments. You ever hear of the word? Nobody ever heard of it before,” Trump said at a speech in Pennsylvania last month. “And what it is is presidential harassment, because [the presidency] is costing me a fortune, and I love it.”

Chances are, he’ll be familiar with the Emoluments Clause soon.

Research contact: @thehill

Amid U.S. vaping clampdown, Juul enters China, the world’s largest tobacco market

September 13, 2019

Holy smokes! No sooner did U.S. e-cigarette maker Juul Labs come under scrutiny for its flavored products at home than it surfaced in China, Reuters reports—with online storefronts on e-commerce sites owned by Alibaba Group and JD.com, geared to tap into the world’s largest market of smokers.

Following a press conference on September 11, during which President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump voiced concern about the health effects of vaping—noting that their 13-year-old son, Barron, is in the age group most likely to be captivated by the tasty, new smokes—the U.S. government announced plans to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from store shelves.

Juul, in which tobacco giant Altria Group owns a 35% stake, has been launching its products in international markets such as South Korea, Indonesia, and the Philippines, Reuters says.

The move comes as U.S. health officials are investigating a handful of deaths and potentially hundreds of lung illnesses tied to contaminants in vaping products—among them, E acetate, THC, cutting agents/diluents, pesticides, opioids and other toxins.

China, which is the world’s largest single market for tobacco consumption with over 300 million smokers, represents a market with both opportunity and risk for the company.

It is already home to dozens of Chinese competitors with names such as Relx, Yooz, and SNOW+ that have taken tens of millions of dollars in venture capital funding from high-profile investors.

Research source: @Reuters