Posts tagged with "The Washington Post"

Trump campaign refuses to issue press credentials to Bloomberg News reporters

December 4, 2019

Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign has announced that it no longer will approve credentials for Bloomberg News reporters after the financial media company said it wouldn’t cover Democratic presidential candidatesonly reporting on  Republican and Independent candidates—while its owner and founder, Mike Bloomberg, is out on the trail seeking the party’s nomination.

It’s anybody’s guess what effect the newly restrictive Trump campaign policy might have without a similar decision by the White House, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Bloomberg News occupies one of a handful of permanent seats in the White House press corps travel pool, which means a Bloomberg News reporter currently is with the president wherever he travels, including campaign events.

A White House spokesman declined to comment, but the POTUS weighed in on Twitter on Monday evening.

“Mini Mike Bloomberg has instructed his third rate news organization not to investigate him or any Democrat, but to go after President Trump, only,” @realDonaldTrump tweeted, adding it was “not O.K.!”

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale commented that continuing to investigate President Trump, whom all of the Democratic presidential contenders are attempting to unseat, was an unfair reporting practice.

“The decision by Bloomberg News to formalize preferential reporting policies is troubling and wrong,” Parscale said in a statement obtained by the Journal. The campaign will engage with Bloomberg News reporters only on a “case-by-case basis,” he said.

“Since they have declared their bias openly, the Trump campaign will no longer credential representatives of Bloomberg News for rallies or other campaign events,” Parscale added.

John Micklethwait, editor in chief of Bloomberg News, said Parscale’s accusations “couldn’t be further from the truth.”

“We have covered Donald Trump fairly and in an unbiased way since he became a candidate in 2015 and will continue to do so despite the restrictions imposed by the Trump campaign,” he said in a statement.

According to The Wall Street Journal, “It is unusual for major-party presidential candidates to ban news outlets from events, but not for Trump. During his 2016 campaign he barred several media outlets, including The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, and BuzzFeed News, from his campaign events for certain periods.”

Research contact:@WSJ

Sondland: ‘Everyone was in the loop’ and ‘followed Trump’s orders,’ pressed for a ‘quid pro quo’

November 21, 2019

The team on the ground in Ukraine was following President Donald Trump’s orders, Ambassador Gordon Sondland said in no uncertain terms in his dramatic testimony in the impeachment inquiry on November 20. And those orders included working with the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to extract a quid pro quo from the new Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Specifically, the United States would provide a meeting with Trump in the White House and close to $400 million in military aid in exchange for a public announcement by Zelensky on CNN that Ukraine would investigate the 2016 election, the energy company Burisma; and 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden, along with his son Hunter.

Indeed, Ambassador Gordon said in his opening statement, obtained by The New York Times, that the first thing his interlocutors should know is that, “Secretary [of Energy Rick] Perry, Ambassador [Kurt] Volker, and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the President of the United States.”

“We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani, “Sondland noted. “Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt. We all understood that, if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So we followed the President’s orders.”

“I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’ ” Sondland said in sworn testimony. “With regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

Trump’s U.S. ambassador to the European Union—described by The Washington Post as “a longtime Republican donor who gave $1 million to the presidential inaugural committee and was confirmed by the Republican Senate”—gave the House Intelligence Committee an account of the president’s culpability in leveraging the power of the Oval Office for his own political gain.

According to the Post’s report, Democrats said Sondland’s testimony pulled back the curtain on the extent of the Ukraine pressure campaign—implicating not just the president but Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

“We now can see the veneer has been torn away,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) told reporters during a break in the testimony, arguing that the situation as described by Sondland “goes right to the heart of the issue of bribery, as well as other potential high crimes or misdemeanors.”

“I think a very important moment in the history of this inquiry,” he added.

Sondland said “there was no secret” about the work within a much larger circle of Trump’s Cabinet. Everyone was in the loop,” Sondland said

Digging a deeper hole for the secretary of state to climb out of, Sondland said that Pompeo was involved at several points, including the key point of withholding security assistance—and that he “was aware that a commitment to investigations was among the issues we were pursuing.”

The ambassador said that he was never privy to the White House meetings where the aid was frozen—but that he became convinced it was being held up as leverage and thought that was inappropriate, the Post said.

“In the absence of any credible explanation for the hold, I came to the conclusion that the aid, like the White House visit, was jeopardized,” Sondland said. “My belief was that if Ukraine did something to demonstrate a serious intention” to launch the investigations Trump wanted, “then the hold on military aid would be lifted.”

Following the testimony, in brief remarks to reporters outside the White House, Trump distanced himself from Sondland, saying, “This is not a man I know well.” He noted that Sondland testified that the president had denied to him there was a quid pro quo.

“That means it’s all over,” Trump said.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

From Russia with love: Putin’s state media unmask whistleblower in response to Rand Paul’s request

November 7, 2019

Russia, are you listening? Standing in solidarity with Donald Trump at a rally in Kentucky on November 4, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) demanded that the media “unmask” the whistleblower whose report about the president’s alleged extortion of Ukraine had set off impeachment investigations in the U.S. House of Representatives.

While American news organizations were loath to identify the patriot who had spoken out in the interest of national security, Kremlin-controlled state media promptly jumped on Paul’s request, The Daily Beast reported on November 6.

Very quickly after Senator Paul tweeted out an article that speculated in considerable detail about the identity of the whistleblower—with a photograph, a name, and details about the purported political history of a CIA professional—Russian state media followed suit, the news outlet said.

As if on cue, Putin’s state news organizations—TASS, RT, Rossiya-1—disseminated the same information. But unlike Rand Paul, one of the Russian state media outlets didn’t seem to find the source—Real Clear Investigations—to be particularly impressive, and claimed falsely that the material was published originally by The Washington Post.

This was the most egregious—but certainly not the only example—of Kremlin-funded media cheerleading for Trump’s fight against impeachment as proceedings against him continue to unfold with growing speed, The Daily Beast reported. Immediately, the talking heads on Fox News picked up on Trump’s talking points—and they also have been echoed across the pond, albeit with a tinge of irony.

“Have you lost your minds that you want to remove our Donald Ivanovych?” asked Russian TV journalist Vladimir Soloviev, the host of the show Evening with Vladimir Soloviev.

“They say Trump is making Russia great. That’s basically accurate,” pointed out Karen Shakhnazarov, CEO of Mosfilm Studio and a prominent fixture on Russian state television. “The chaos brought by Trump into the American system of government is weakening the United States. America is getting weaker and now Russia is taking its place in the Middle East. Suddenly, Russia is starting to seriously penetrate Africa… So when they say that Trump is weakening the United States—yes, he is. And that’s why we love him… The more problems they have, the better it is for us.”

For his part, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a Russian client whose regime teetered on the brink of collapse only to be saved definitively by Trump’s chaotic approach to the Middle East, recently said that “President Trump is the best type of president for a foe.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Facebook gets grief for including Breitbart in News tab

October 29, 2019

Can Facebook do anything that doesn’t draw fire from users, regulators, legislators, and the media? After years of complaints from American news outlets that the social media site has The Washington Post reports that Facebook has agreed to compensate at least some news organizations as part of a specialized “News” tab meant to steer users toward curated national and local news stories.

But the project immediately raised new controversy when it became known that Breitbart News—a Web outlet linked to right-wing causes that was once run by former Trump adviser Steve Bannonhad been included among the 200 media outlets participating in the program.

“Given that Facebook is putting actual news outlets in the same category as Breitbart, actual news outlets should consider quickly withdrawing from the program,” Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters for America, a liberal nonprofit media watchdog, told the Post.

At an event in New York to launch the project, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended Breitbart’s inclusion. “You want to include a breadth of content to make sure all different topics can be covered,” Zuckerberg said.

Other outlets participating include The Washington Post, The New York Times, News Corp., BuzzFeed News, Business Insider, Bloomberg News, Fox News, NBCUniversal, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times.

The News tab marks the latest iteration of Facebook’s approach to online news, the Post reports. Before January 2018, the company had been a leading distributor of news, but that role was dogged by the presence in its feed of false and misleading information, as well as by allegations that its news feed and other features tilted toward liberal viewpoints

Zuckerberg did not go into specifics about how different publishers would be compensated, and media analysts expressed skepticism that the arrangement will help the small and medium local outlets that have been most seriously undercut by the rise of online news distribution.

“The vast majority of local news outlets are not included, and that is part of the news ecosystem that’s most at risk,” David Chavern, the president and chief executive of the News Media Alliance, a trade association of news publishers, told The Washington Post.

Chavern called Facebook’s agreement to pay at least some news outlets for their content a step in the right direction, noting that tech platforms have been “uniquely unwilling to pay for news and quality journalism.”

The News tab already is available to more than 200,000 Facebook users in the United States, with a broader rollout planned for early next year. The new service, Facebook executives say, should make it easier for users to locate the day’s major headlines, as well as stories geared toward particular topics or locales.

The initiative could reach 20 million to 30 million people over a few years, Zuckerberg said.

 Research contact: @washingtonpost

Trump retracts decision to host G-7 at Doral resort after GOP kicks up a fuss

October 22, 2019

Following bashing by his own party, President Donald Trump announced abruptly Saturday night that he would no longer host next year’s Group of Seven (G-7) Summit at the Trump National Doral Miami resort in Florida, The Washington Post reported.

However, he was unrepentant about scheduling a major diplomatic event at one of his properties—refusing to acknowledge that the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution specifically prohibits the president from accepting payments from foreign governments.

“I don’t think you people, with this phony Emoluments Clause—and by the way, I would say that it’s cost anywhere from $2 billion to $5 billion to be president,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting at the White House, The Hill said.

The decision to bring the world leaders to his resort —and to require them, as well as their staffs and the media covering the summit, to pay the Trump Organization for their stays—was an unprecedented one in modern American politics, the Post noted: The president awarded a huge contract to himself. The White House promoted Doral as the single best venue in the United States to host the G-7 summit in June, and the meeting would have brought thousands of guests in the offseason to a resort that is struggling financially.

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on Sunday defended Trump’s selection of Doral, explaining that Trump still thinks of himself as working in the “hospitality business” even though he is president.

“He was honestly surprised at the level of pushback,” Mulvaney told anchor Chris Wallace on  Fox News Sunday.  “At the end of the day, he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business, and he saw an opportunity to take the biggest leaders from around the world and he wanted to put on the absolute best show, the best visit that he possibly could, and he was very comfortable doing it at Doral.”

Now, Trump said, he and his administration will search for a new location. In a tweet, he attributed the concession to “Irrational Hostility” from Democrats as well as the media, although the revolt among Republicans may well have been the trigger.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Investor who made smutty comments at summit loses $600 million contract in backlash

October 15, 2019

A financial executive who was crude and lewd at an industry conference has lost a major contract as a result, The Washington Post reports.

Specifically, the news outlet said, last week the State of Michigan pulled fully $600 million of its pension fund from wealth management firm Fisher Investments after the company’s founder and chairman, Ken Fisher, made boorish and sexually explicit comments during a fireside chat at the Tiburon CEO Summit, October 7-9 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in San Francisco.

In a letter obtained by the Post on October 10, Michigan Chief Investment Officer Jon Braeutigam informed the state’s investment board that its Bureau of Investments, housed under the state Treasury Department, had terminated its relationship with Fisher Investments because of CEO Ken Fisher’s “completely unacceptable comments.”

During a moderated keynote discussion on October 8. Fisher allegedly compared his wealth management strategy to picking up women for sex, according to summit attendees who recounted what they heard in interviews with The Washington Post.

He spoke of doing acid and his belief that charities are immoral. He also made crude comments about genitalia, attendees said, and mentioned financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was indicted on federal sex-trafficking charges earlier this year before dying by suicide in prison.

Despite a Tiburon policy that requires summit attendees to keep private what they hear and discuss there, three CEOs publicly shared their accounts of what Fisher said in the interest of exposing his behavior and holding the self-proclaimed “self-made multibillionaire” accountable.

Alex Chalekian, founder and chief executive of Lake Avenue Financial , came forward first, posting a video to Twitter hours after Fisher’s remarks. Chalekian called the fireside chat a “true debacle” and said Fisher’s words were “absolutely horrifying,” the Post reported.

Rachel Robasciotti, founder and CEO  of wealth management firm Robasciotti and Philipson, and Sonya Dreizler, a speaker and consultant to financial services firms, publicly confirmed Chalekian’s account online and in media reports.

“When you have power and you get onstage to share your worldview, and when your worldview includes women as sexual objects … that is irresponsible,” Robasciotti said in an interview with The Washington Post. “You’re peddling your worldview, and people are adopting it.”

Amid the backlash, Fisher was initially defiant in an interview with Bloomberg, defending his remarks by saying he had “given a lot of talks, a lot of times, in a lot of places and said stuff like this and never gotten that type of response.” He also claimed attendees had mischaracterized what he said and were being unfair.

Fisher, 68, later issued a formal apology. He has been barred from attending future Tiburon summits.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

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

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

Meteorologist-in-chief? NOAA staff warned in September 1 directive not to contradict Trump

September 10, 2019

The POTUS is reaping the whirlwind in Washington, DC, as Hurricane Dorian weakens to a tropical storm and exits Canada.

Indeed, President Donald Trump has continued to insist loudly and implacably within the past few days that a map of the projected path of Hurricane Dorian showed that Alabama “would most likely be hit” by the storm.

To prove his point, the president had gone so far as to redraw the official map of the storm’s footprint with his own Sharpie on September 4—and had sent out a volley of tweets within the past week.

Rather than allowing the controversy to persist, a top National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) official warned his staff not to contradict the White House, The Washington Post reported.

Referencing archived hurricane advisories, the NOAA official said that information provided to the president and the public between August 28 and September 2 “demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama.”

He told NOAA staff to “only stick with official National Hurricane Center forecasts if questions arise from some national level social media posts which hit the news this afternoon.” They were also told not to “provide any opinion,” according to a copy of the email obtained by The Washington Post.

A NOAA meteorologist who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution told the Post that the note, understood internally to be referring to Trump, came after the National Weather Service office in Birmingham contradicted Trump by tweeting Alabama would “NOT see any impacts from the hurricane.”

The Birmingham office sent the tweet after receiving a flurry of phone calls from concerned residents following Trump’s message.

The agency sent a similar message warning scientists and meteorologists not to speak out on September 4, after Trump showed the doctored hurricane map.mu

“This is the first time I’ve felt pressure from above to not say what truly is the forecast,” the meteorologist said. “It’s hard for me to wrap my head around. One of the things we train on is to dispel inaccurate rumors and ultimately that is what was occurring—ultimately what the Alabama office did is provide a forecast with their tweet, that is what they get paid to do.”

The NOAA statement set off a firestorm among scientists, who attacked NOAA officials for bending to Trump’s will.“This looks like classic politically motivated obfuscation to justify inaccurate statements made by the boss. It is truly sad to see political appointees undermining the superb, lifesaving work of NOAA’s talented and dedicated career servant,” Jane Lubchenco, who served as NOAA administrator under President Barack Obama, told the Post..

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Michigan is first U.S. state to ban flavored e-cigarettes

September 5, 2019

Just a couple of weeks following the first U.S. death to be officially attributed to vaping, Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a Democrat, has announced her decision to institute a statewide prohibition on all flavored electronic cigarettes, including the sweet, fruity, and menthol varieties.

The ban is due to go into effect today, but retailers will have 30 days to comply, according to a report by The Huffington Post.

Michigan, thus, becomes the first state to prohibit flavored e-cigarettes, which preliminary studies have shown are more likely to get young people hooked on vaping, according to The Washington Post.

 “My number one priority is keeping our kids safe and protecting the health of the people of Michigan,” Whitmer told the DC-based newspaper of misleading descriptions like “safe” and “healthy” to advertise vaping products.

Whitmer noted that she’d been compelled to take action after the state Department of Health and Human Services declared vaping among young people a public health emergency.

And it’s not the only one to do so.

On Friday, August 23, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported the death of an individual who had recently vaped and had been hospitalized with a severe respiratory illness. A total of 22 people, ranging in age from 17 to 38, have so far been diagnosed with the illness and IDPH officials are working with local health departments to investigate 12 more individuals. The Illinois department has requested help from the Centers for Disease control to track and address the disease.

Several U.S. cities also have taken steps in recent months to place limits on vaping.  San Francisco in June became the first major U.S. city to ban the sale of all e-cigarettes. Last week, Boulder, Colorado, finalized a ban on flavored e-cigarette products. Sacramento, California, has also approved a similar ban.

In March, The HuffPost reports, the Food and Drug Administration proposed restricting the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, except for menthol, mint and tobacco flavors. The FDA proposal has not been finalized.

Research contact: @HuffPost