Posts tagged with "President Donald Trump"

In tweets about Minneapolis protesters, Trump is accused of “glorifying violence” against them

June 1, 2020

“When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” President Donald Trump threatened by tweet early on Friday, May 30, as Minneapolis and other urban centers nationwide faced violent protests—touched off by the murder of a black man by a white police officer, who placed his knee on the victim’s neck for more than five minutes, despite hearing his cries of “I can’t breathe.”

That officer and four other backup cops have been fired by the Minneapolis Police Department; however, they have not been arrested and no charges have been filed, while the department and federal authorities investigate the incident.

Trump began tweeting about the unrest in Minneapolis around 1 a.m., as cable news showed the police station— where the four city police officers involved in the death of George Floyd were assigned—Inengulfed in a fire set by protesters a short time earlier, The New York Times reported. Protesters also had begun looting businesses in the area.

By the time the president had posted his string of tweets, Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota already had activated and deployed the National Guard in response to a request from local leaders.

“I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis,” Trump said on Twitter. “A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right.”

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” the president wrote in another tweet, which was flagged by Twitter. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

In saying “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” the president intentionally echoed a phrase coined by a Miami police chief in the 1960s about crackdowns on black neighborhoods during times of unrest.

Twitter officials responded to the threat by appending the tweets with a note saying the posts were “glorifying violence.” The social media site also made it more difficult for readers to see the feed of those comments:  “Mr. Trump’s post can now only be seen after users click a box with a notice saying it violated Twitter’s rules against encouraging violence, but it otherwise remains visible.”

The official White House Twitter account repeated Trump’s comments in a Friday morning tweet, and Twitter appended the same notice to that tweet. The same comments appeared on Mr. Trump’s Facebook account without a cautionary notice.

“We’ve taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts, but have kept the Tweet on Twitter because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance,” Twitter said on its official communications account.

Research contact: @nytimes

Dorsey says Trump is the ‘twit’ for trying to control social media platforms

May 29, 2020

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey doesn’t scare easily—even when confronted by a raging U.S. president who is threatening to sign a vindictive executive order—meant to hobble Dorsey’s ability to monitor his own platform and correct deceptive posts.

Twitter became the target of the president’s fury after the social media site added a disclaimer to two tweets riddled with inaccuracies that were written and posted by @realDonaldTrump on his feed early last week, The Daily Beast reports.

The first reaction of the POTUS, according to the news outlet, was to try to bully the site by threatening to close down social-media companies that he thinks “show bias” against conservatives—and it was reported late Wednesday, May 27, that he planned to sign  an executive order intended to remove important legal protections from sites like Twitter and Facebook.

In a series of tweets, Dorsey wrote that Twitter will “continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally. And we will admit to and own any mistakes we make.”

He added: “This does not make us an ‘arbiter of truth.’ Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves.”

Despite his new intention to fight disinformation, this week Dorsey denied a widower’s request to remove Trump tweets that baselessly suggested Lori Klausutis was murdered in 2001 by her boss, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

N.Y. Governor Cuomo excoriates Congress for politicizing federal funding to hard-hit states

May 29, 2020

After a visit to the White House to discuss New York State-based infrastructure projects that could provide a “bailout with a legacy”—among them, plans for extending the 2nd Avenue Subway in the Big Apple and constructing two new tunnels across the Hudson River to carry Amtrak trains that service the northeast—New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sat down for a briefing at the National Press Club on May 27, delivering a fiery defense of federal funding to states that have been hit hard by the coronavirus.

He excoriated Congressional Republicans for politicizing aid to the states by giving preference to red states over blue. And in doing so, Cuomo specifically directed his message at critics such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Senator Rick Scott (R-Florida), The Washington Post reported.

 “Stop abusing New York. Stop abusing New Jersey,” Cuomo said to lawmakers in Congress, adding, “Stop abusing the states who bore the brunt of the COVID virus through no fault of their own.”

This hyper-partisan Washington environment is toxic for this country,” said the governor, according to a transcript posted by Yahoo. “We have people saying, ‘Well, we don’t want to pass a bill that helps Democratic states. It would be a blue-state bailout.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell , Republican of Kentucky, said Cuomo, is interested in “Stopping blue state bailouts.”

Senator Rick Scott of Florida (R) has said, according to Cuomo, “We’re supposed to bail them out? That’s not right.”

“This is really an ugly, ugly sentiment,” maintained the New York Governor. “It is an un-American response. We’re still the United States. Those words meant something.”

Cuomo said he isn’t asking the federal government to do his state’s job.

“I understand that states are responsible for the reopening … but, at the same time, the federal government has a role to play and it has to play a part. There cannot be a national recovery if the state and local governments are not funded. That is a fact.”

Washington is now debating a new recovery bill, he said.

“Previous bills have helped large business, small businesses, all kinds of businesses. Hotels. Airlines. That’s great,” maintained Cuomo. But state and local governments fund schools and hospitals, police, fire.

“The COVID states — the states that bore the brunt — they’re one-third of the GDP,” noted the governor. “How can you tell one-third of the country to go to heck and think that you’re going to see an economic rebound?”

“Also, state economies, that’s what the national economy is made of,” he said. “There is no nation without the states. They tend to forget that in this town.”

Scott fired back in a statement, declaring that Congress will not “use a health crisis and taxpayer money to bail out poorly-run states like Governor Cuomo’s New York.”

McConnell’s office pointed to remarks the Senate majority leader made Tuesday, when he said that “there may be some additional assistance” for states in the next round of coronavirus relief legislation “if it’s directly related to COVID-19.”

Cuomo also pushed back on the notion that the coronavirus came to the United States from China, an argument that Trump and GOP lawmakers have increasingly made as the pandemic has swept across the country.

“It didn’t come from China. It came from Europe, and we bore the brunt of it. And now you want to hold that against us because we bore the brunt of a national mistake?” he asked.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

North Carolina throws threat back at Trump; requests public health plan for GOP convention

May 28, 2020

President Donald Trump needs to “feel the love” at the GOP convention, August 24-27 in Charlotte, North Carolina. That means he wants 50,000 Trump MAGA  acolytes in the arena, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, to cheer his nomination on—and to provide testament to his popularity.

Indeed, according to a report by Politico, the president threatened on Monday, May 25, to pull the Republican National Convention out of North Carolina if state officials don’t roll out the red carpet soon.

But on Tuesday, North Carolina pushed back. Officials there said they would put the onus on national Republicans to show they can pull off a 50,000-person event safely, the news outlet said.

In a letter to Marcia Kelly, the president and CEO of the convention, North Carolina Secretary of Health and Human Services Mandy Cohen acknowledged the president’s warning and requested a public health plan for the event.

“The status of Covid-19 infections in our state and in the Charlotte area continues to rapidly evolve [so] it will be important to have several scenarios planned that can be deployed depending on the public health situation,” she wrote. “[M]easured and careful planning efforts are important not only to convention-goers, but also to the North Carolinians who rely on us to protect the public’s health.”

The missive came as Republicans held conference calls Tuesday to decide how to proceed with plans for the convention. People familiar with the discussions said an array of options were considered, including holding the event in a different state. The three most frequently mentioned states include Florida, Texas and Georgia, all of which have Republican governors. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp have said they would welcome the convention.

Trump has implied that North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, is motivated purely by politics—and not by concern for his electorate during the pandemic.

“We have a governor who doesn’t want to open up the state,” Trump said. “He’s been acting very very slowly and very suspiciously.”

But Republicans involved in convention planning say there remains strong interest in holding the event in North Carolina, a critical swing state. They also acknowledge privately that

Fueling the GOP’s angst is a perception that Cooper is unlikely to lift restrictions to accommodate them. With cases rising in the Charlotte area, Republicans say they’re skeptical that the Democratic governor will allow a mass gathering.

Charlotte City Council member Malcolm Graham, who represents the city’s business district, called Republicans’ plans to host a fully attended convention “literally insane,” citing the number of attendees, vendors and volunteers it would require.

“Obviously, that’s not going to happen in Charlotte, nor would it happen in any other city that they’re going to move it to,” Graham, a Democrat, said in an interview.

Research contact: @politico

Dr. Fauci re-emerges from media blackout; says we’ll be ‘seeing more’ of him

May 25, 2020

He’s back! After a deafening silence that persisted for more than two weeks, top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci re-emerged on the national stage on Thursday, May 21—appearing on CNN’s coronavirus town hall to mark his first major television interview since May 4.

While Fauci has recently been on a “modified quarantine” due to possible exposure to the White House staffers who have tested positive for COVID-19, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) chief has continued to participate in the White House coronavirus task force and testified before the Senate last week via remote, The Daily Beast reported.

Fauci, who has been targeted by pro-Trump figures after appearing to contradict some of the president’s comments on the virus, has been conspicuously absent from TV as the White House pushes for a robust reopening of the economy, as CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported earlier this week. Other public health experts on the task force, such as Dr. Deborah Birx, also have been been noticeably absent.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper immediately greeted Dr. Fauci on Thursday night by asking why the American public has heard so little from the task force and medical experts in recent weeks.

“And if they aren’t going to have daily briefings about facts and science, can you or the NIH or can the CDC have their own daily briefings with top scientists? There are a lot of Americans out there who still want to hear from scientists every day,” Cooper added.

“That’s a good point,” Fauci reacted. “I think you’re probably going to be seeing a little bit more of me and my colleagues. There was a period of time, there was a little bit of a lull of our being out there with the press.”

“I believe that’s going to change. We’ve been talking with the communications people and they realize we need to get some of this information out, particularly some of the scientific issues for which I’m predominantly responsible for. So hopefully we’ll be seeing more of us,” he continued.

The Daily Beast noted, Fauci would go on to say that the task force has “changed a bit” and that he’s in a subgroup with other public health leaders “talking about some of the scientific issues.” He further noted that the task force as a whole is more focused on reopening the economy and the economic impact of the pandemic.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Trump threatens to withhold Michigan, Nevada funding over mail-in voting

May 21, 2020

Unlike President Harry Truman, when President Donald Trump says “The buck stops here,” he means that funding for those whom he dislikes or distrusts really stops at his desk, without going forward to those who need it.

On Wednesday, May 20, the president threatened to withhold federal funding to Michigan after its secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson (D), announced that all of the state’s registered voters would receive applications for absentee ballots in the mail this year, The Hill reports.

Trump charged that the step was done “illegally” and threatened to withhold funding if the state did not reverse course, suggesting the move would encourage voter fraud.

Trump later threatened to suspend federal funding to Nevada, which is holding a mail-in primary election, claiming the state was creating a “great Voter Fraud scenario” and allow people to “cheat in elections.”

“Breaking: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election,” Trump tweeted. “This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”

Trump copied Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows , and the Treasury Department on his tweet about Michigan and also copied Vought and the Treasury Department on the post about Nevada.

Benson responded to Trump’s tweet, correcting him by saying that the state “sent applications, not ballots” and pointing out that Republican secretaries of state have done the same.

Trump has frequently voiced his opposition to expanding mail-in voting, the Hill notes—leveling unsubstantiated and exaggerated claims that mail-in ballots are riddled with fraud and are “corrupt.”

While voting experts say there are higher levels of voter fraud in mail-in voting than in-person voting, they agree that overall cases of voter fraud are rare, according to the news outlet.

“Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to statewide mail-in voting. Democrats are clamoring for it,” Trump tweeted last month. “Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”

Trump can withhold federal funding from states, but would face legal hurdles in trying to do so, Elie Honig, a legal analyst and former federal prosecutor told The Hill.

“First, the federal funds must relate substantively to the state-level policy at issue,” said Honig. “Second, funding restrictions can only apply to new sources of funding. The federal government can’t interrupt or impose new conditions on money that already has been allocated or is already flowing.”

“Also there’s a question whether the president himself can withhold funds without congressional authorization,” Honig continued.

Democrats have supported mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic as a way to ensure that ballots can be cast safely in the 2020 elections without risking exposure to the virus.

The $2 trillion bipartisan relief package that Trump signed into law in late March provides $400 million for states to prepare for upcoming primaries and the November general election during the coronavirus outbreak.

Benson said in a statement on Tuesday that sending mail-in applications to Michigan’s 7.7 million registered voters would ensure their safety.

“By mailing applications, we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote,” Benson said. “Voting by mail is easy, convenient, safe, and secure, and every voter in Michigan has the right to do it.”

Research contact: @thehill 

Barr: U.S. Attorney’s probe not likely to focus on Obama, Biden—or ‘Obamagate’

May 20, 2020

How low will he go? Even at the behest of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Bill Barr said on Monday that he “doesn’t  expect” either to investigate—or to subpoena for testimony— former President Barack Obama or Vice President Joe Biden, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Barr, who to date has been all too willing to do the president’s bidding, said the former heads of state would not be scrutinized as part of an examination into the origins of a federal probe looking at whether the 2016 Trump campaign colluded with Russia. In doing so, he crushed Trump’s Obamagate hopes—making it clear that there would be no criminal prosecution.

Last year the AG appointed John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, to review the origins of the 2016 probe into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russian election interference. The investigation, according to people familiar with it, the Journal says, is proceeding on multiple fronts—examining how the initial allegations surfaced in 2016, as well as a separate 2017 U.S. intelligence report that concluded Moscow had interfered in the presidential election in part to help then-candidate Trump.

“As to President Obama and Vice President Biden, whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Barr said in response to a reporter’s question during a news conference called to discuss updates to the probe of a shooting at a military base last year in Pensacola, Florida. “Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.”

A spokesman for Obama declined to comment to the Journal. Biden didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Barr didn’t provide details on exactly what or whom Durham was investigating, but he expressed concern generally about a trend to “gin up allegations of criminality by one’s political opponents based on the flimsiest of legal theories.”

He didn’t directly address remarks made in recent weeks by President Trump and some of his conservative allies that have suggested without evidence that. Obama and Biden—who is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and Trump’s expected 2020 opponent—had engaged in criminal acts to spy on his 2016 election campaign.

Speaking at the White House Monday afternoon, the president said he was a “little surprised” by  Barr’s announcement about the former president and vice president, adding that “if it was me, I guarantee they’d be going after me.” He said he had “no doubt” that. Biden and Obama were involved in what he called the “takedown of a president.”

Still, the president called Barr an “honorable man” and said he would rely on him to “make all of those decisions.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Trump ousts State Department watchdog at urging of Pompeo; Dems open inquiry

May 19, 2020

The truth will out—unless and until you fire the truth-teller. That’s the position that the Trump Administration takes, and it played out again on Friday night, May 15.

This time, it was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who convinced President Donald Trump to fire State Department Inspector General Steve Linick—the senior official responsible for identifying operational risks within the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for Global Media; a White House official said Saturday, according to a report by The New York Times.

Pompeo had learned that he was under investigation by Linick—both for using a political appointee to run personal errands for himself and his wife; such as walking the dog and picking up the dry cleaning; as well as for investigating the Secretary’s involvement in selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

ccording to Yahoo News, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, (D-New York) confirmed Monday that Linick was looking into the Saudi arms deal.

“His office was investigating — at my request — Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia,” Engel said in a statement. “We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted … Linick pushed out before this work could be completed.”

Engel immediately called the decision to remove Linick an “outrageous act” meant to protect Pompeo from accountability. And by Saturday, May 16, Engel and Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had opened an investigation into Linick’s removal, citing a pattern of “politically motivated firing of inspectors general,” the Times said.

In letters to the White House, the State Department and Linick, the two Democrats wrote that they believed Linick had opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Pompeo and that Pompeo had responded by recommending that  be fired.

“Such an action, transparently designed to protect Secretary Pompeo from personal accountability, would undermine the foundation of our democratic institutions and may be an illegal act of retaliation,” the lawmakers wrote.

In their letters, Engel and Menendez requested that the Trump Administration turn over records and information related to the firing of Linick as well as “records of all I.G. investigations involving the Office of the Secretary that were open, pending, or incomplete at the time of Linick’s firing,” the Times said.

In addition, during a busy weekend, the news outlet said, the president also took steps toward the termination of another government employee whom he saw as a problem. The president moved to remove Glenn A. Fine, who has been the acting inspector general for the Defense Department since before President Trump took office, so that he could not be installed as the leader of an oversight panel intended to keep tabs on how the Trump administration spends trillions of dollars in pandemic relief approved by Congress.

Research contact: @nytimes

Obama tweets ‘vote’ after Trump promotes ‘Obamagate’

May 18, 2020

Now that his Attorney General Bill Barr has dropped DOJ charges against Mike Flynn, President Donald Trump has asked Republicans to take on the Obama Administration—promoting a planned political take-down with the term, Obamagate.

The issue, he says is that Obama-era officials “unmasked” the former national security adviser—gaining knowledge of his identity—after his call to reassure then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that sanctions on his nation would be expunged after Trump took the oath of office in January 2016.

Although, intelligence officials routinely “unmask” the identity of those who are in communications with the nation’s foes, President Trump demanded on Twitter that Senate Republicans call on Obama to testify, blasting what he called “the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA” and claiming that Obama “knew EVERYTHING.”

Indeed, on Wednesday, May 13, the White House sent lawmakers a declassified list of Obama-era officials whom Trump and his aides claim requested documents that led to Flynn’s identity being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

According to a report by The Hill, former President Barack Obama had a simple message for the public on Thursday after his successor went after him on social media: Vote.

The former president shared similar messages on Facebook and Instagram, calling on supporters to “vote.”

Trump repeatedly lashed out at Obama last Sunday after the former president criticized the Justice Department’s decision to drop the case against Flynn. In a call that was subsequently leaked, Obama warned that the move to drop the Flynn case threatened the “rule of law.”

Trump declined to name a specific allegation when pressed by reporters on Monday, May 11, about what crime he was accusing Obama of committing following his tweets over the weekend.

Research contact: @thehill

Kushner says he ‘cannot commit’ to holding 2020 election on November 3

May 14, 2020

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, refused on Tuesday, May 12, to rule out postponing the presidential election in November—a comment that fed directly into Democratic fears that Donald Trump might use the COVID-19 crisis to delay or de-legitimize the contest The New York Times reports.

“I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other, but right now that’s the plan,” Kushner told Time magazine in response to a question about whether the election could be postponed because of the pandemic.

The opinion of a White House staff member has no bearing on when the election is held. Even the president himself does not have the authority to unilaterally postpone Election Day, which by law takes place the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, the Times notes.

But Kushner’s comment raised alarms both because of the expansive power Trump has conferred on members of his family who serve in his administration and because it played into the worst anxieties of Trump’s detractors—that the president would begin to question the validity of the election if he feared he was going to lose.

It also plays into the fears of Bill Maher, the host of HBO’s popular live show, Real Time with Bill Maher, who has repeatedly suggested that Trump will not leave the White House if he loses the election.

And already, the president is suggesting that the election will be “rigged.”

The presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden gave voice to those concerns at a virtual fund-raiser last month. “Mark my words, I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow— come up with some rationale why it can’t be held,” he said.

Doubts about a smooth voting process in November have increased as states have canceled or postponed presidential primary elections to avoid the spread of the virus.

What’s more, the news outlet pointed out, Kushner’s remarks undercut the president’s own publicly stated position on the issue.

“The general election will happen on November 3,” the president said last month at a news conference when asked about Biden’s comment. But he also appeared to raise the specter of election fraud, noting that “I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting.” He added, “It should be, you go to a booth and you proudly display yourself.”

Despite his victory in 2016, the Times reports, “Trump has consistently and without any evidence claimed that there was widespread voter fraud in the last presidential election.” He even briefly formed a commission to examine it, but the group never found evidence and disbanded.

On Tuesday night, Kushner sought to clarify his earlier interview. “I have not been involved in, nor am I aware of, any discussions about trying to change the date of the presidential election,” he said. A White House official said Kushner was fully aware that the date was set by federal law.

But his original remark on the election quickly drew fierce criticism from Trump critics. “Kushner’s statement reveals amazing ignorance of the Constitution and law,” William Kristol, a conservative columnist and prominent “Never Trump” Republican, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “It reveals startling arrogance in taking for granted he gets to have some say about when the election is held. It also reveals an utter lack of understanding of his very subordinate role in our democracy.”

Research contact: @nytimes