Posts tagged with "President Donald Trump"

Trump severs ties with three pollsters after bleak numbers are leaked

June 18, 2019

President Donald Trump appears to be stumbling before he is even out of the gate. Although he hasn’t stopped campaigning since his 2016 election—holding rallies nationwide for his political base even while he has been in office—it is now an open secret that the incumbent president is trailing several Democratic contenders … and not just by a trivial amount.

In fact, The Washington Post reported on June 17, President Trump’s campaign severed ties with three members of his polling team late last week following a leak of grim numbers to the media. The polling results showed him trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in several battleground states, as well as failing to match the momentum of other Democratic hopefuls.

Days ahead of Trump’s official launch of his reelection bid today, the campaign is ending its relationships with Brett Loyd, Mike Baselice, and Adam Geller while keeping pollsters Tony Fabrizio and John McLaughlin, the Post said.

The officials, like others interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss internal moves. The Trump campaign declined to comment. NBC News first reported on the campaign’s actions.

The news follows reports—first by Politico and later by The New York Timeson a 17-state internal poll conducted by Fabrizio. The data show Trump trailing Biden by double digits in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Michigan, where Trump narrowly edged out Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016. The poll also found Trump behind Biden in several other states that were key to the president’s win — Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and Georgia — while holding a narrow edge in strongly Republican Texas.

And other polling bears the results out. According to Real Clear Politics, a poll by Fox News posted on June 16 found that Biden would beat Trump by ten points (49-39) in the general election. Sanders would take a nine-point lead (49-40; Warren, a two-point lead (43-41); Harris, a one-point lead (42-41), and Buttigieg a one-point lead (41-40).

As for general job approval, the Fox poll found that 45% of the U.S. population approves of President Trump’s performance, while 53% disapproves.

President Trump spoke to reporters in the Oval Office on June 12, claiming his reelection campaign is leading “in every single state that we polled.”

But, privately, the president was livid that the numbers leaked out, according to White House and campaign officials.

“He is madder that the numbers are out than that the numbers exist,” said one administration source.

On Monday morning, Trump tweeted, “A poll should be done on which is the more dishonest and deceitful newspaper, the Failing New York Times or the Amazon (lobbyist) Washington Post! They are both a disgrace to our Country, the Enemy of the People, but I just can’t seem to figure out which is worse? The good….news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT), both of these horrible papers will quickly go out of business & be forever gone!”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Trump to Stephanopoulos: ‘I never suggested firing Mueller’

June 17, 2019

In addition to his assurances that “oppo” research on a political rival would be acceptable to “anyone” inside the Beltway—even if it were offered by a hostile nation such as Russia—President Donald Trump, told ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos last week in an exclusive interview that he had “never suggested firing [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller.”

In doing so, ABC News noted, the president directly disputed the account of a key witness in Mueller’s investigation—former White House Counsel Don McGahn—saying that it “doesn’t matter” what McGahn testified to the special counsel’s team.

Taking it one step further, Trump told Stephanopoulos that McGahn “may have been confused” when he told Mueller that Trump instructed him multiple times to have the acting attorney general remove the special counsel because of perceived conflicts of interest.

“The story on that very simply: No. I was never going to fire Mueller. I never suggested firing Mueller,” Trump told Stephanopoulos, according to the ABC report.

But when Stephanopoulos pushed back and referenced McGahn’s testimony, Trump became defiant. “I don’t care what [McGahn] says, it doesn’t matter,” Trump said.

The rest of the ABC News transcript went as follows

“Why would [McGahn] lie under oath?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“Because he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer,” Trump said. “Or he believed it because I would constantly tell anybody that would listen— including you, including the media—that Robert Mueller was conflicted. Robert Mueller had a total conflict of interest.”

“And has to go?” Stephanopoulos followed up.

“I didn’t say that,” Trump insisted.

And if Trump has anything to do with it, McGahn will not be asked to set the record straight: At the president’s instruction, McGahn currently is fighting a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee to testify publicly about those conversations with Trump, among other things, the Times reports.

Research contact: @ABC

Kushner is flummoxed on interview questions about Trump’s racism

June 4, 2019

When you work for the family business, loyalty isn’t just a nicety; it’s a rigorous job requirement. So, we weren’t expecting any big reveals from presidential son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner during his June 2 interview with National Political Reporter Jonathan Swan of Axios on HBO.

Indeed, when pressed by Swan about whether current POTUS, Donald Trump, could be characterized as a racist—judging by his no-holds-barred birther campaign against his predecessor Barack Obama—Kushner was briefly flummoxed, according to a report by The Washington Post.

Here’s a quick transcript, obtained from the news outlet:

SWAN: Have you ever seen him say or do anything that you would describe as racist or bigoted?

KUSHNER: So, the answer is un— uh, no. Absolutely not. You can’t not be a racist for 69 years, then run for president and be a racist. What I’ll say is that, when a lot of the Democrats call the president a racist, I think they’re doing a disservice to people who suffer because of real racism in this country.

SWAN: Was birtherism racist?

KUSHNER: Um, look I wasn’t really involved in that.

SWAN: I know you weren’t. Was it racist?

KUSHNER: Like I said, I wasn’t involved in that.

SWAN: I know you weren’t. Was it racist?

KUSHNER: I know who the president is, and I have not seen anything in him that is racist. So, again, I was not involved in that.

SWAN: Did you wish he didn’t do that?

KUSHNER: Like I said, I was not involved in that. That was a long time ago.

That’s 4-0, The Washington Post noted—Four instances in which Kushner emphasized that he hadn’t personally participated in Trump’s effort to question the legitimacy of the nation’s first black president, and zero instances in which he denied the entire effort was racist.

Kushner’s insistence that this “was a long time ago” is also pretty difficult to digest. For those who might have forgotten the 2016 campaign, Trump’s birtherism charge made a comeback and lingered for weeks before he eventually backed off — kind of, the news outlet said. But not before he had appealed repeatedly to his base.

Michelle Obama reserved some of the harshest words in her 2018 autobiography, Becoming, for this saga. “The whole [birther] thing was crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed,” she said. “But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks.”

According to the Post, “He showed the GOP base, much of which embraced the bogus theory, that he was willing to stick by a birther campaign that riled them up and drove the establishment crazy. It was the first big conspiracy theory of his conspiracy theory-laden political career.”

And that first big success has led to Trump’s more recent disparagement of Muslims, Gold Star parents, Hispanics, Haiti and Africa as “shXthole countries,” “people who were captured in the war,” and even Meghan Markle.

With that in mind, Jonathan Swan’s questions are effectively answered.

Research contact: @jonathanvswan

Elizabeth Warren has a plan: She wants to pass a law clarifying that presidents can be indicted

June 3, 2019

Would Special Counsel Robert Mueller have charged President Donald Trump with a crime if Justice Department policy had not prevented him from doing so? On Friday, May 31, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) said the answer was “yes,” according to a report by The New York Times.

But Senator Warren—who is among the more than 20 party hopefuls seeking the nomination for president—predictably enough, has a plan for that.

She has proposed legislation aimed at ensuring that “no President is above the law.” Indeed, in a story posted on Medium, she has made her vision clear: “If Donald Trump were anyone other than the president of the United States right now, he would be in handcuffs and indicted …. Mueller’s statement made clear what those of us who have read his report already knew. He’s referring President Trump for impeachment, and it’s up to Congress to act.”

Now, Warren has called on Congress to pass a law clarifying that the DOJ can, in fact, indict the president of the United States, while also renewing her call to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, the Times reports.

“But impeachment isn’t supposed to be the only way that a President can be held accountable for committing a crime,” she said. “Congress should make it clear that Presidents can be indicted for criminal activity, including obstruction of justice. And when I’m president, I’ll appoint Justice Department officials who will reverse flawed policies so no President is shielded from criminal accountability.”

This is not a new stand for Senator Warren, who declared herself in favor of impeachment about a day after the Mueller report was released on April 18. She also was among several candidates who leveled sharp criticism at Attorney General William Barr for his handling of the report’s release, the news outlet noted.

She renewed her criticism of Barr on May 31, saying he had “disgraced himself by acting like Trump’s personal defense attorney” while also pledging to “appoint an Attorney General who will protect the rule of law.”

She reminded Americans, “No matter what he may think, Donald Trump is not a King. No President is. And our democracy only works if everyone can be held accountable.”

Research contact: @SenWarren

Trump: ‘I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected’

May 31, 2019

President Donald Trump veered off from his “No collusion!” tweets on May 30 to refer to Russia President Vladimir Putin’s admitted preference for his candidacy during the 2016 U.S. elections, Vox reports.

The morning after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s media event—at which he resigned from the Department of Justice and took the opportunity to inform Americans that, if he had thought the president was innocent of obstruction, he would have said so—Trump engaged in one of his rambling tweetstorms.

“Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax,” the president tweeted on May 30. “And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn’t exist.”

In other words, Vox notes, Trump was saying, “The Kremlin tried to help me win, but I didn’t coordinate with them.”

Just an hour later, however, he told reporters outside the White House that Russia didn’t have anything to do with helping him win, contradicting his own tweet. “I got me elected. Russia didn’t help me at all,” the president said.

Still, the tweet was the first time that Trump implied that Russia had facilitated his win in 2016. He repeatedly has supported the story that the Kremlin did not aim to sway the election in his favor.

“I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump said alongside the Russian leader at their summit in Helsinki last July.

Research contact: @voxdotcom

Kudlow gets castigated by president after telling truth about tariffs

May 16, 2019

Truth-teller Larry Kudlow is in the administration doghouse this week. Donald Trump reportedly castigated his chief economic adviser after Kudlow contradicted the president publicly on Fox News Sunday—saying everyday Americans would be hurt by tariffs the extra $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods that the White House imposed on May 10, The Hill said.

An unidentified White House official told The Washington Post that the president and Kudlow spoke after the aide’s talk show appearance.

“Trump called Larry, and they had it out,” said the official, according to the newspaper, which added that two other sources described the exchange as cordial.

Other sources recounted that Trump repeatedly told Kudlow during the conversation  “not [to] worry about” the consequences of tariffs on U.S. businesses.

Kudlow’s remarks contradicting the president came during an interview with Fox News host Chris Wallace, who pressed him about the impact of tariffs.

“In fact, both sides will pay in these things, and of course it depends,” Kudlow told Wallace.

“The Chinese will suffer [gross domestic product] losses and so forth with respect to a diminishing export market and goods that they may need,” Kudlow added.

Trump, however, has publicly defended his trade strategy, writing on Twitter that there is “no reason” U.S. consumers should feel the effect of tariffs.

Their [sic] is no reason for the U.S. Consumer to pay the Tariffs, which take effect on China today,” he said on Twitter. “This has been proven recently when only 4 points were paid by the U.S., 21 points by China because China subsidizes product to such a large degree. Also, the Tariffs can be completely avoided if you [buy] from a non-Tariffed Country, or you buy the product inside the USA (the best idea).”

Research contact: @thehill

No verdict yet in first courtroom test of House subpoena of Trump financial records

May 15, 2019

In a Washington, D.C., courtroom on May 14, lawyers representing the Democrat-controlled House Oversight Committee, Mazars USA, and Donald Trump faced off over release of the president’s financial records.

While the verdict on whether Mazars—Trump’s accounting firm—must produce all of the president’s financial statements, communications, and other documents related to its relationship with the president may not come this week; during this first hearing, the judge seemed to be leaning toward approval of the congressional subpoena, CNN reported.

Indeed, the judge, Amit Mehta of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, underlined during the hearing how federal courts have almost never sided with requests to limit congressional subpoenas, and Congress has done historically important work with investigations in the past, like in the Watergate and Whitewater investigations.

“Am I right there isn’t a single Supreme Court case or appellate case since 1880 that has found a congressional subpoena overstepped its bounds?” Mehta asked Trump’s lawyer. “I agree there are outer limits, but it’s not clear to me what they are.”

In this case, the Democratic-controlled House Oversight Committee has subpoenaed Mazars USA for all financial records related to Trump, a handful of his companies, and his foundation from 2011 through 2018.

Trump’s personal legal team then sued Mazars to stop the subpoena, prompting the House to step up in court to argue for its investigative request.

According to CNN, “The case weighs the extent of Congress’ authority and the personal privacy claims of the president—in a court system that has generally refrained from infringing on congressional investigations, including subpoenas.”

“This is an effort to engage in law enforcement, not to legislate,” said attorney William Consovoy, who is representing Trump.

Doug Letter, the House general counsel, disputed that characterization.

“Congress is not trying to send President Trump to jail,” he said. “But we can still look into … whether someone is violating the law.”

And that is a decision that Trump is trying desperately to delay with this suit. Indeed, the president’s attorneys have said that Judge Mehta is deliberately fast-tracking these hearings—and, in doing so, is not giving them a fair shot in court.

The accounting firm has not taken sides and is willing to hand the documentation over, should the judge decide in favor of the House committee.

Mazars became a target in the House investigation after former Trump personal attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen accused Trump of fudging his wealth in an unsuccessful attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills football team and reduce his real estate tax burden.

The House has argued that it has the authority to subpoena Trump’s information, and says it is investigating potential constitutional, conflict of interest, and ethical questions related to Trump’s financial holdings.

Trump’s attorneys, conversely, say the President is being targeted by the Democrats for political reasons — that the subpoena doesn’t have a legislative purpose. They also argue Trump will be harmed if his private information from his accountant is exposed.

Research contact: @CNNPolitics

Trump claims executive privilege over full Mueller report; House Judiciary votes to hold Barr in contempt

May 9, 2019

At the instigation of the Justice Department on the evening of May 7, President Donald Trump claimed executive privilege over the full Mueller report.

The maneuver represented a last-ditch effort to shield hidden portions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as the supporting evidence he collected, from Congress and the American people.

“This is to advise you that the president has asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials,” a Justice Department official, Stephen Boyd, wrote Wednesday morning, referencing not only the Mueller report but the underlying evidence that House Democrats are seeking.

The assertion came as the House Judiciary Committee was set to vote on Wednesday, May 8, on whether the House of Representatives should hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for the same materials, The New York Times reported.

In response, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) commented in a formal release, “Tonight, in the middle of good faith negotiations with the attorney general, the [DoJ] abruptly announced that it would instead ask President Trump to invoke executive privilege on all of the materials subject to our subpoena.

“This is, of course, not how executive privilege works,” Nadler noted. “The White House waived these privileges long ago, and the department seemed open to sharing these materials with us earlier today. The department’s legal arguments are without credibility, merit, or legal or factual basis.”

He said that the move could have alarming and risky repercussions, remarking, “Worse, this kind of obstruction is dangerous. The department’s decision reflects President Trump’s blanket defiance of Congress’s constitutionally mandated duties.

“In the coming days,” Nadler continued, “I expect that Congress will have no choice but to confront the behavior of this lawless administration.  The committee will also take a hard look at the officials who are enabling this cover-up.  In the meantime, the committee will proceed with consideration of the contempt citation as planned.  I hope that the Department will think better of this last minute outburst and return to negotiations.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a blistering statement: “The American people see through Chairman Nadler’s desperate ploy to distract from the President’s historically successful agenda and our booming economy. Neither the White House nor Attorney General Barr will comply with Chairman Nadler’s unlawful and reckless demands,” she wrote, according to The Times.

She added: “Faced with Chairman Nadler’s blatant abuse of power, and at the Attorney General’s request, the President has no other option than to make a protective assertion of executive privilege.”

Shortly after 1 p.m. on May 8, after negotiations had once again tanked, Nadler said before the committee vote, “This is information we are legally entitled to receive and we are Constitutionally obligated to review .… The Trump administration has taken obstruction of Congress to new heights.”

The committee voted along partisan lines to hold Barr in contempt of Congress  (24 Democrats versus 16 Republicans). The contempt citation now will go before the full House chamber for a vote, where Democrats hold a 38-seat majority. The timing of that vote will be up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California),

Research contact: @HouseJudiciary

California Senate passes measure to keep Trump off 2020 ballot unless he releases tax returns

May 6, 2019

The California State Senate has passed a bill  that would require candidates appearing on the presidential primary ballot—including President Donald Trump, who is gearing up to run in 2020—to release five years’ worth of income tax returns.

The Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act (SB-27) was approved in a 27-10 vote in the State Senate, The Hill reports. The act would require California’s Secretary of State, within five days of receiving the returns, to make redacted versions of the returns available to the public on his or her website.

According to The Hill, the bill represents a response to the president’s continuing refusal to release his tax returns as presidential candidates traditionally have done, claiming he is under audit.

“We believe that President Trump, if he truly doesn’t have anything to hide, should step up and release his tax returns,” said State Senator Mike McGuire (D), who co-authored the bill. 

All ten Republicans in the State Senate voted against the bill’s passage.

“I get that playing the resistance card may be good politics for the majority party, but I would submit that it’s bad policy for Californians,” Senator Brian Jones (R) told the Associated Press. 

Other presidential candidates would also be subject to the bill, but several 2020 Democrats already have released their tax returns.

Similar bills are making their way through the Washington State and New Jersey State legislatures, The Hill said.

Research contact: @thehill

Speaker Pelosi says AG Barr perjured himself before Congress—and reprisals are required

May 3, 2019

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) is outraged over the Attorney General’s obfuscations—in his written summary of the Mueller report; in his characterization of his communications with the special counsel; and in his congressional testimony.

Pelosi said on Thursday, May 2 that AG William Barr  had committed a crime by lying to lawmakers during his testimony on Capitol Hill, The Hill reported.

“What is deadly serious about it is the attorney general of the United States of America was not telling the truth to the Congress of the United States. That’s a crime,” Pelosi said during a press conference in the Capitol.

The remarks came as Democrats on Capitol Hill are increasingly lashing out at Barr for his handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia’s election interference.

Some lawmakers are pressing for Barr to resign; others have floated the idea of impeachment; and still others—chief among them, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler (D-New York)—are weighing whether to bring contempt of Congress charges against AG, who refused an invitation to testify before the House panel and its counsels on Thursday.

Pelosi, who has been cautious to date about escalating the standoff between her caucus and the GOP, declined to say how—or if—Democrats would challenge Barr’s actions, deferring those decisions to the committee heads. But she strongly suggested some response is forthcoming.

Pelosi cited a recent statement from Representative Nadler, which warned that “Barr’s moment of accountability will come soon enough.”

“I think that probably applies,” Pelosi said. Asked if jail time is appropriate for Barr, she again punted to the committees.

“There’s a process that’s involved here,” she said, according to The Hill. “The committees will act upon how we will proceed.”

Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, May 1, Barr was grilled by panel Democrats, who accused him of misrepresenting the Mueller team’s findings for the political purpose of protecting President Donald Trump, the news outlet said.

The Democratic rebukes were fueled by revelations that Mueller had written to Barr on March 24 and called him directly on March 25, expressing concerns over the nature of the attorney general’s four-page summary of Mueller’s report.

In that letter, which became public just hours before Wednesday’s Senate hearing, Mueller said ““The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.”

Barr, after receiving the letter, testified to Congress that he was ‘”not aware”of any reservations from Mueller or his team regarding the summary letter.

According to the Hill, Pelosi said she “lost sleep” Wednesday night watching replays of Barr’s testimony.

“How sad it is for us to see the top law enforcement officer in our country misrepresenting—withholding—the truth from the Congress of the United States,” she said.

Asked directly whether Barr committed a crime, Pelosi didn’t hesitate.

“He lied to Congress; he lied to Congress. And if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime,” Pelosi said.

“Nobody is above the law; not the president of the United States, and not the attorney general.”

Research contact: @thehill