Posts tagged with "President Donald Trump"

Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld takes on Trump in 2020 White House bid

February 18, 2019

Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld (R), who led the Bay State from 1991-1997, announced on February 15 that he was launching an exploratory committee for a potential 2020 White House bid—becoming the first Republican to take a significant step to challenge President Donald Trump, The Hill reported.

Weld sees his base as “never-Trump” Republicans, as well as Independent voters who are eager to push Trump out of the White House.

During a campaign announcement last Friday in New Hampshire, Weld outlined a number of policy differences between himself and the Trump administration, The Hill noted—while taking aim at Democrats whom, he argued, had abandoned the principles of fiscal responsibility. He also took aim at Trump personally, arguing that he was unfit for the presidency.

“[O]ur President is simply too unstable to carry out the duties of the highest executive office—which include the specific duty to take care that the laws be faithfully execute —in a competent and professional matter,” Weld said at the annual Politics & Eggs breakfast hosted by The New England Council. “He is simply in the wrong place.”

“It upsets me that our energies as a society are being sapped by the president’s culture of divisiveness,” Weld said, according to The Hill, adding, “Because of the many concerns I’ve talked about today, I’ve established an exploratory committee to explore the possibility of running as a Republican in the 2020 presidential election.”

The former Massachusetts governor fueled speculation of a presidential bid after he told The Boston Globe earlier this month that his planned speech in New Hampshire “will deal comprehensively with my thoughts about the 2020 election.”

Also raising eyebrows was Weld’s decision earlier this month to rejoin the Republican Party after switching to the Libertarian Party in 2016. That year, he was tapped to run as former libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s running mate.

The former governor addressed those concerns Friday, admitting to being a “small-L libertarian” while no longer a member of the party, according to The Hill’s report.

“I’ve considered myself a ‘small-L libertarian'” for years, Weld added. “[But] I want to not dribble around the court, I want to go right for the hoop. If you want to go one-on-one, you have to go as an ‘R’,” he said of running as a Republican.

Weld’s path to the Republican nomination would be a narrow one, the news outlet said, noting that the GOP has largely consolidated behind Trump in recent years. At the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting in New Mexico last month, committee members voted unanimously to approve a resolution declaring the party’s “undivided support for President Donald J. Trump and his effective Presidency.”

Research contact: @KMaxGreenwood

Warner counters Burr: Committee cannot rule on collusion until investigation wraps up

February 14, 2019

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia—who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee—broke ranks on February 12 with committee Chair Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina. Warner contested his Republican colleague’s assessment that the panel had found no evidence of collusion to date during its inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Respectfully, I disagree,” Warner said, according to CNN. “I’m not going to get into any conclusions I’ve reached because my basis of this has been that I’m not going to reach any conclusion until we finish the investigation. And we still have a number of the key witnesses to come back.”

His statement came just hours before President Donald Trump’s former “fixer” and personal lawyer Michael Cohen told the committee that he would defer his testimony “due to post-surgery medical needs.”

Cohen had been subpoenaed by the committee on January 24 as a key source of information on the campaign’s contacts with Russia—one of the few individuals with a behind-the-doors perspective on Trump’s campaign machinations—but he has backed out three times. At least one of those times, Cohen claimed he was reluctant to talk  because of “ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and Mr. [Rudolph] Giuliani.”

On Tuesday night, CNN reported, Burr told reported on Capitol Hill, “I can assure you that any goodwill that might have existed in the committee with Michael Cohen is now gone.”

Burr reiterated that his committee had “no factual evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia,” but that he wanted to interview Cohen before the former lawyer for President Donald Trump reports to federal prison next month.

“I would prefer to get him before he goes to prison, but you know, the way he’s positioning himself, not coming (to) the committee, we may help him go to prison,” Burr said.

However, Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis said the surgery excuse was accurate. “Mr. Cohen was expected to and continues to suffer from severe post shoulder surgery pain, as confirmed by a letter from his surgeon, which was sent to Senator Burr and Senator [Mark] Warner,” Davis said. “The medication Mr. Cohen is currently taking made it impossible for him to testify this week.”

The split in public comments between Burr and Warner marked a rare instance of a partisan divide between the two committee leaders.

Another panel member, Senator Angus King (I-Maine), backed Warner up, telling The Hill that the Intelligence Committee “has not concluded anything.”

“Several of the individual members have made statements, but I certainly am not prepared to make a statement as to what was found or not found,” he said.

Warner told CNN that lawmakers are still hoping to speak with a few witnesses, including Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen. The longtime Trump associate was scheduled to testify Tuesday, but postponed his appearance, citing medical reasons after a recent shoulder surgery.

Trump has repeatedly maintained that his campaign did not collude with Russia and he has welcomed Burr’s  comments as proof of that fact.

Research contact: @jeremyherb

BBC cameraman assaulted by Trump zealot at El Paso rally

February 13, 2019

As President Donald Trump whipped his base into a lather on Monday night, February 11, at an El Paso, Texas, rally—demanding a wall at the southern border and demeaning the “Fake Media”— the violence that had been simmering for so long among his supporters ratcheted up.

Sporting a red Make America Great Again cap, a man leaped out of the audience, shoving and swearing at BBC cameraman Ron Skeans—whose camera feed splintered and revolved during the short altercation—and tried to strike at other news crews before being wrestled away by a blogger in the crowd.

Skeans told his BBC colleagues that he was blindsided by a “very hard shove” during the rally, adding that he “didn’t know what was going on.”

A spokesperson for BBC told The Guardian in a statement that the cameraman was “violently pushed and shoved by a member of the crowd” while covering the event.

Meanwhile, BBC News Editor Eleanor Montague tweeted, “Just attended my first @realDonaldTrump rally where my colleague BBC cameraman Rob Skeans was attacked by a Trump supporter. The crowd had been whipped up into a frenzy against the media by Trump and other speakers all night #TrumpElPaso

By the next morning, BBC Americas Bureau Chief Paul Danahar tweeted: “I’ve written to @PressSec asking for a full review of security arrangements for the media after last night’s attack on our BBC cameraman at the President’s rally. Access into the media area was unsupervised. No one in law enforcement intervened before, during or after the attack.”

He was disappointed by the response from the White House, which read, “An individual involved in a physical altercation with a news cameraman was removed from last night’s rally. We appreciated the swift action from venue security and law enforcement officers.”—Michael Glassner, Chief Operating Officer, Trump for President Inc.”

I’m afraid this statement from the Trump campaign does nothing to address the security lapses at President Trump’s rally in El Paso last night when our BBC colleague was attacked,” Danahar commented on behalf of the news organization, adding, “There was not swift action to prevent or interrupt the attack by any security agency.

The BBC stated that the incident occurred after Trump “heavily criticized” the press.

At the event, President Trump checked that the media involved were well, responding with a thumbs up, and continuing his speech after the attacker was taken out of the stadium.

The White House had no further comment.

Other reporters had predicted that violence would erupt at a Trump rally, including CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta, who tweeted in July, “I’m very worried that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt. We should not treat our fellow Americans this way. The press is not the enemy.”

According to a report by The New York Times, In August, experts from the United Nations and a human rights body condemned the president’s attacks on the news media and warned that they could incite violence against journalists.

“His attacks are strategic, designed to undermine confidence in reporting and raise doubts about verifiable facts,” David Kaye, the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of expression, and Edison Lanza, who holds the same position at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said in a statement.

“We are especially concerned that these attacks increase the risk of journalists being targeted with violence,” they said.

Research contact: @pdanahar

Who do you trust? Trump claims a wall made El Paso safe; Mayor Margo disagrees

February 12, 2019

As President Donald Trump confirmed plans for a Monday night rally in El Paso, Texas, the city’s mayor, Dee Margo, asserted that the lower incidence of crime that the area has enjoyed in recent years has not been the direct result of fencing at the southern border.

The president is expected to exhort his base for a wall at what amounts to a major campaign event—being held just days ahead of the deadline for Congress to hammer out a deal on the budget and border security, NBC News reported on February 11.

“The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime—one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities,” Trump said in his State of the Union Address on February 6 “Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.”

But the statistics don’t back him up. Mayor Margo notes. According to law enforcement data, the city had low crime rates well before a border barrier was constructed between 2008 and mid-2009.

Indeed, NBC News reports, violent crime has been dropping in El Paso since its modern-day peak in 1993 and was at historic lows before a fence was authorized by Congress in 2006. Violent crime actually ticked up during the border fence’s construction and after its completion, according to police data collected by the FBI.

Democratic officials immediately took issue with the picture Trump painted, saying the president was using their city to justify a pointless and unnecessary wall.

“The facts are clear. While it is true that El Paso is one of the safest cities in the nation, it has never been ‘…considered one of our Nation’s most dangerous cities,'” the city’s sheriff, Richard Wiles, a Democrat, said in a statement after Trump concluded his address. “And, El Paso was a safe city long before any wall was built.”

“I believe he was given some misinformation,” Mayor Margo told CNN in an interview, adding the idea that El Paso was a lawless and dangerous place before fencing was built is “not factually correct.”

Margo said he’d correct the president if he reiterated falsehoods about El Paso on Monday. “The geography of Texas won’t allow a fence from El Paso to Brownsville even if you wanted to do it,” Margo said.

When pressed on the inaccuracy of the president’s claims, the White House said the high rate of crime in the city directly across the border—Juarez—proved that the barrier was responsible for the low crime rate in El Paso.

Research contact: @janestreet

The tweets of Canadians and Americans reflect national stereotypes

February 8, 2019

@JustinTrudeau’s tweets are more friendly and courteous than those posted regularly by @realDonaldTrump—and it turns out that both men mirror the personalities and communication styles of their constituents, based on findings of a study conducted.recently by McMaster University in Ontario.

The study, which examined differences in the language used in nearly 40 million tweets suggests that the national stereotypes about the population of each nation—for example, that Canadians tend to be polite and nice, while Americans are negative and assertive—are reflected on Twitter, even if those widely held (but fixed and oversimplified) beliefs aren’t completely accurate.

Linguistic experts from the school used Twitter in an attempt to better understand national identity on a mass scale and where stereotypes might originate. They isolated  the words, emoticons, and emojis used disproportionately on Twitter by individuals from each country.

The findings, published online last November in the journal PLOS ONE, suggest that national stereotypes are grounded –at least partially—in the words we choose. The work builds on earlier research from 2016 when the same team analyzed 3 million tweets.

“The most distinctive word choices of Americans and Canadians on Twitter paint a very accurate and familiar picture of the stereotypes we associate with people from these nations,” says Daniel Schmidtke, co-author of the study and a post-doctoral researcher at McMaster.

Canadians were far more positive on Twitter, using words such as: great, thanks, good, amazing, and happy For example, on February 5, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted, “We’re working hard to build infrastructure across the country to make life better for Canadians. Our investments are #BuildingCanada-and creating good, middle class jobs along the way.”

Americans tended to use more negative words like: hate, miss, mad, feel, swear, tired. For example, on February 5, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, “With Caravans marching through Mexico and toward our Country, Republicans must be prepared to do whatever is necessary for STRONG Border Security. Dems do nothing. If there is no Wall, there no Security. Human Trafficking, Drugs and Criminals of all dimensions – KEEP OUT!”

Americans preferred emojis, whereas Canadians preferred emoticons. Americans also used more netspeak like ‘lol’, ‘idk’, and ‘af’.

“It’s tempting to think that Canadians tweet more nicely than Americans because they really are more nice than Americans,” says Bryor Snefjella, the lead author of the study and a graduate student in the Reading Lab in McMaster’s Department of Linguistics and Languages, who was supervised by another co-author of the study, Associate Professor Victor Kuperman.

“But when we put all the data together, it suggests that something more complicated is happening,” he says.

The wrinkle is that other studies which have surveyed large numbers of Canadians and Americans have consistently shown that such national stereotypes are not accurate. There isn’t any hard evidence to support that an average American’s and average Canadian’s personality traits are different.

“The Twitter behavior we observe doesn’t actually reflect the real underlying personality profile of an average American or Canadian,” says Schmidtke.

To explore further, they exposed study participants to the most typical words and emojis from each nation. The participants were not told anything about how the words were chosen. They were then asked what the personality traits were of someone who often uses the most American and most Canadian words and emojis.

The results? Someone who uses very Canadian words has a personality matching the stereotype of a Canadian, and someone who uses very American words has a personality matching the stereotype of an American.

The research team argues that their results show an identity construction strategy in action: Canadians and Americans may create their national character stereotype through their language use.

In future, researchers hope to compare other stereotypes between people in different sets of countries.

Research contact: vickup@mcmaster.ca

2020 Democratic contenders take Trump to task with State of the Union guests

February 6, 2019

Democratic 2020 contenders are using President Donald Trump’s second State of the Union Address on February 5 to “put a human face” on their points of contention with the current administration, CNN reports.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is bringing a decorated transgender Navy member to the House chambers to view the speech. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has invited a labor leader recently furloughed from his job at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. And California Senator. Kamala Harris will attend along with a woman who lost her home in a wildfire.

Gillibrand’s guest is Blake Dremann, a transgender Navy lieutenant commander who has been deployed 11 times. The invitation comes after the Supreme Court allowed Trump’s ban on transgender military service to go into effect.

Gillibrand, who battled the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, told CNN that she will introduce legislation in the Senate later this week that would protect transgender Americans’ ability to serve in the military.

Transgender service members like Lieutenant Commander Dremann make extraordinary sacrifices every day to defend our freedom and our most sacred values, and President Trump’s decision to ban them from military service is cruel and undermines our military readiness,” she said in a statement on her official website.

Harris invited Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik, whose home was destroyed in the Thomas wildfire that ravaged Southern California last year. What’s more, during a year of adversities, Pesiri-Dybvik and her husband both work for air traffic control and were furloughed during the government shutdown this year, Harris said.

“Trisha’s story is just one of many stories I heard during the shutdown of Americans whose lives were upended and who faced those difficult days with strength and resilience,” Harris said in a statement on her own Senate website. “Washington needs to hear her story and avoid another harmful shutdown.”

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s guest is Sajid Shahriar, a HUD staffer and labor leader with roles in both the local American Federation of Government Employees and the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.

“It’s time to send a message to President Trump and Senate Republicans: federal and contract workers are the backbone of our economy and their livelihoods should never be used as pawns in Republican political games,” Warren said her February 4 statement.

Others considering presidential runs are also using the State of the Union to advance their political priorities.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is taking aim at prescription drug costs, she said on February 1. Her guest is Nicole Smith-Holt, the mother of Alec Raeshawn Smith, a Type 1 diabetic who died from diabetic ketoacidosis because he couldn’t afford his $1,300-a-month insulin prescription.

Highlighting his advocacy for gun control, California Representative Eric Swalwell invited Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor and gun reform activist Cameron Kasky.

One of the sharpest critics of the Trump administration’s family separations at the US-Mexico border, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, invited mother and daughter Albertina Contreras Teletor and Yakelin Garcia Contreras, age 12, who were separated at the southern border last spring.

This child separation policy came from a dark and evil place within the heart of this administration,” said Merkley in a statement on his official website. “Innocent children suffered because of deeds that were carried out in our names and using our tax dollars as Americans. I’m bringing Albertina and Yakelin as my guests to the State of the Union because we need to bear witness to the suffering that this cruel policy inflicted, and resolve to make sure that nothing like this ever happens in the United States of America again.” 

Research contact: @ericbradner

Up against the wall: DOJ seeks eminent domain for barrier in Texas, but postpones asylum cases

January 22, 2019

Thirty-one days and counting into the partial government shutdown, President Donald Trump still is hitting a brick wall in his demands for Congress to approve his $5.7 billion budget for a “barrier” on the U.S.-Mexico border.

But, Vox reports, that hasn’t stopped Justice Department attorneys from working to seize private land for the barrier by eminent domain, even as they have to postpone most other lawsuits due to the shutdown. Government attorneys even filed a new case in January, after the shutdown began.

And all of this is happening, even after DOJ instructed federal attorneys to postpone any lawsuits that weren’t necessary to safeguard “the safety of human life or the protection of property” until the shutdown was over. The Trump administration has even put cases on hold that it previously has argued are essential to national security, the news outlet says—including the lawsuit over its asylum ban, which has been put on hold by a federal judge in California.

Indeed, the news outlet reports, land condemnation cases in the Southern District of Texas, where the Trump administration has declared its interest in building 104 miles of bollard fencing, are still “chugging along.”

The Texas Civil Rights Project is representing defendants in two active eminent domain cases to date—with a third coming up soon and many more in the works—and has seen no evidence of a shutdown delay.

In a hearing on a government lawsuit over a tiny, tent-of-an-acre parcel, Judge Micaela Alvarez noted that “even with the shutdown, I understand that the attorneys handling these matters on behalf of the Government are not being furloughed and they still have to appear.” The attorney for the Southern District of Texas confirmed it: “This is all I’m allowed to work on.”

It has been more than ten days since the Department of Justice has received funding from Congress, Vox points out. Since then, the agency has been allowed by law only to do certain things— either activities that don’t require funding from Congress or actions that are essential to the functioning of government or the protection of human life or property.

Lawsuits from immigrants seeking habeas corpus petitions to be released from detention have been delayed for the shutdown. So has ongoing litigation in the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Research contact: Dara Linddara@vox.com

Dems vow to ‘get to the bottom’ of allegations that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress

January 21, 2019

President Donald Trump directed his longtime former personal  attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter, BuzzFeed reported late on January 17.

The story, which invalidates Trump’s ongoing claim that he had no business deals with Russia—and apprehends him in a maneuver to mislead federal legislators—exposes the president to criminal culpability, like he has never been before.

Indeed, according to The Washington Post, Democrats in Congress vowed on January 18 to thoroughly investigate the new report—with Representative Jerry Nadler (D-New York), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee,  vowing that his panel would “get to the bottom” of the allegations.

Early on Friday, Nadler tweeted, “We know that the President has engaged in a long pattern of obstruction. Directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime. The @HouseJudiciary Committee’s job is to get to the bottom of it, and we will do that work.”

Representative Adam B. Schiff (D-California), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, released a formal statement, asserting, ““It is now alleged that the president … directed Michael Cohen to lie under oath to Congress about these matters in an effort to impede the investigation and to cover up his business dealings with Russia. These allegations may prove unfounded, but, if true, they would constitute both the subornation of perjury as well as obstruction of justice.

“Our committee,” said Schiff, “is already working to secure additional witness testimony and documents related to the Trump Tower Moscow deal and other investigative matters. As a counterintelligence concern of the greatest magnitude, and given that these alleged efforts were intended to interfere with our investigation, our Committee is determined to get to the bottom of this and follow the evidence wherever it may lead.”

In his first public comments on the report, Trump went on Twitter on Friday morning to quote a Fox News reporter, Kevin Corke, as saying, “Don’t forget, Michael Cohen has already been convicted of perjury and fraud, and as recently as this week, the Wall Street Journal has suggested that he may have stolen tens of thousands of dollars….”

“Lying to reduce his jail time!” Trump added in his own words.

According to the BuzzFeed report, the special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and what BuzzFeed described as “a cache of other documents.”

Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with the special counsel’s office, BuzzFeed reported.

In a statement, Lanny J. Davis, a legal communications adviser to Cohen, said that both he and Cohen are declining to respond to reporters’ questions “out of respect for Mr. Mueller’s and the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation.”

Research contact: jason.leopold@buzzfeed.com

Pelosi: ‘State of the Union’ should be delayed due to lack of security during government shutdown

January 17, 2019

In a January 16 letter to President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) suggested that the State of the Union address, scheduled for January 29, should be postponed, due to security concerns caused by the partial government shutdown.

The annual statement—which covers the accomplishment and challenges of the current administration and is delivered by the president—is classified as a National Security Event under Public Law 106-544, passed in December 2000. Under that legislation, the U.S. Secret Service is designated as the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating, planning, exercising, and implementing security for the speech.

While the president is not required to deliver the information as a speech, every POTUS since Woodrow Wilson, except Herbert Hoover, has done so, in front of a joint session of Congress. Prior to that time, most presidents delivered the annual communication as a written report.

“Both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now—with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs,” Pelosi noted.

“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week,” she said, “I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th

The suggestion, which, The Washington Post reported, could deny Trump an opportunity to make his case for border-wall funding in a prime-time televised address, came as White House officials were urgently lobbying Republican senators against signing a bipartisan letter that would urge an end to a shutdown.

The White House had no immediate response.

According to the same Post report, Pelosi later told reporters that the letter was intended as a suggestion and that she was not rescinding the invitation for Trump to speak. “He can make it from the Oval Office if he wants,” she added.

Research contact: @SpeakerPelosi

Trump: ‘I don’t care’ if Putin conversation becomes public

January 16. 2019

Following media reports that he squelched access to transcripts of his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin—and welshed on any promises to share them with his top aides—President Donald Trump on January 12 said he would be willing to release the details of the leaders’ private conversation in Helsinki last summer, Politico has reported.

“I would. I don’t care,” Trump told Fox News host Jeanine Pirro in a phone interview. “I’m not keeping anything under wraps. I couldn’t care less.”

The president’s remarks came hours after a report by The Washington Post stating that Trump “has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details” of his talks with Putin. The Post also reported that there is no detailed record of Trump’s interactions with Putin at five locations over the past two years, according to U.S. officials.

The president referred to his roughly two-hour meeting with Putin in Helsinki — at which only the leaders and their translators were present — as “a great conversation” that included discussions about “securing Israel and lots of other things,” Politico said.

“I had a conversation like every president does,” Trump told Pirro. “You sit with the president of various countries. I do it with all countries.”

House Republicans in July blocked an attempt by Democratic lawmakers to subpoena Trump’s interpreter in Helsinki. Politico previously had reported that Putin raised the subjects of nuclear arms controls and weapons prohibitions in space during the one-on-one conference, according to a Russian document.

Asked by Pirro if he’d ever worked on behalf of Russia, Trump did not directly answer the question, calling a New York Times report of an FBI counterintelligence investigation on him “insulting.”

Trump also evaded a question on whether the administration was seeking to keep special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report on the Russia probe from the public, saying only that the investigation was a “hoax.”

Research contact: @QuintForgey