Trump considered revoking Obama’s security clearance last year but was talked out of it by McMaster.

At the time, some of Trump’s most fervent supporters in the White House saw former Obama Administration officials as powerful enemies who threatened the new President’s rule, and they agitated for punishing them by revoking their security clearances. The idea was rebuffed by the national-security adviser at the time, H. R. McMaster, who signed a memo extending the clearances of his predecessors at the N.S.C., Republicans and Democrats alike. As Trump stepped up his public and private attacks on Obama, some of the new President’s advisers thought that he should take the extraordinary step of denying Obama himself access to intelligence briefings that were made available to all of his living predecessors. Trump was told about the importance of keeping former Presidents, who frequently met with foreign leaders, informed. In the end, Trump decided not to exclude Obama, at the urging of McMaster.

[The New Yorker]

Trump Threatens to Pull Clearance For CNN’s Phil Mudd After Seeing Him on TV: He’s ‘In No Mental Condition’

President Donald Trump is adding CNN contributor Philip Mudd to the list of intelligence officials who might lose their security clearance for criticizing him.

Mudd, a former CIA officer, attracted a lot of attention last week over his explosive showdown with pro-Trump commentator Paris Dennard. The two debated whether Trump is using security clearance revocation to punish his foes, and Mudd blew up after Dennard accused officials like him of profiting from their clearance by securing media commentary positions.

As it were, Fox News’ Sean Hannitymade fun of Mudd’s “complete meltdown” on his show tonight, and obviously, Trump was watching.

Should Mudd’s clearance actually be pulled, you can add it to the list of Trump’s decisions influenced by Fox News programming.

[Mediaite]

Reality

Our part-time-president Donald Trump was busy watching Fox News during his “Executive Time” when he saw Fox play a CNN clip of former intel official Philip (not “Phillip”) Mudd becoming visibly frustrated with a lying Paris Dennard.

Trump has added Mudd to his authoritarian-style “enemies list” and threatened to pull his security clearance.

Trump says it’s ‘very dangerous’ when Twitter, Facebook self-regulate content

President Donald Trump is again putting pressure on technology companies, telling Reuters in an interview published Monday that it’s “very dangerous” when social platforms like Twitter and Facebook self-regulate content.

“I won’t mention names but when they take certain people off of Twitter or Facebook and they’re making that decision, that is really a dangerous thing because that could be you tomorrow,” Trump said.

Major social media companies have for months been responding to claims that they censor conservatives. Trump last monthcalled Twitter “discriminatory” and accused the company of “shadow banning” prominent Republicans by de-emphasizing certain accounts from search results.

Trump’s latest comments come just two weeks after big tech companies suspended or banned conservative radio host Alex Jones for violating community policies. Facebook was among the earliest to remove a post by the InfoWars host after Apple took down several of his podcasts. Twitter was later to act, but ultimately suspended Jones for a week.

Both Twitter and Facebook are private companies, giving them the legal standing to ban accounts that they say violate their guidelines or terms of service.

Representatives for the companies have appeared before Congress several times in the last year to address claims of censoring conservatives. Twitter has repeatedly said it doesn’t shadow ban, and Facebook said it doesn’t moderate content based on political beliefs.

The companies have been ramping up content moderation and hiring more human fact-checkers to rein in abuse. During the 2016 presidential election, Facebook and Twitter were both used by foreign actors, who sought to play up political divisions around social issues.

Facebook said last month it detected similar interference ahead of November’s midterm elections, and Twitter announced a purge of abusive accounts.

[CNBC]

Trump Says He Could Lead the Investigation Into Himself: I Can ‘Run it if I Want’

President Donald Trump insists he has has stayed out of Robert Mueller‘s way so far — but he can seize control of the special counsel’s investigation if he wants to.

As part of a wide-ranging conversation with Reuters published on Monday, the president faced questions about whether he would ever give an interview to Mueller under oath. Trump grumbled that a Mueller interview would be a “perjury trap” if his discrepancies and past statements get used against him.

“Even if I am telling the truth, that makes me a liar,” said Trump. “That’s no good.”

Trump went on to say he’s “totally allowed” to run the special counsel investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia.

[Mediaite]

Trump Continues to Hammer DOJ Lawyer Bruce Ohr: ‘A Total Joke!’

President Donald Trump is once again targeting DOJ lawyer Bruce Ohr, who reportedly had some connection to the compilation of the Steele dossier.

Trump went on to say that Ohr is “at the center of FALSE ALLEGATIONS” which led to the Russia investigation:

Trump singled out Ohr before in a press pool outside the White House, calling him a “disgrace” and saying he “suspect[s]” he will revoke Ohr’s security clearance “very quickly.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Dares John Brennan to Sue: ‘Worst CIA Director’ Will Have to Reveal Texts, Emails and Documents

President Donald Trump tweeted once again about former CIA director John Brennan after revoking his security clearance.

Trump went on to say that Brennan is a “political ‘hack’”:

Brennan has been extremely vocal in his criticism of Trump, even before his security clearance was revoked. Several former White House officials who have criticized the Trump administration have had their security clearance taken from them in the past few weeks, raising concern that Trump is looking to silence his political enemies.

[Mediaite]

Trump Speechwriter With White Nationalist Ties Exits the White House

Darren Beattie, a speechwriter for President Donald Trump, has left the White House after reporters uncovered that he had spoken at a conference of white nationalists.

CNN reports that it reached out about Beattie after finding out that he was listed as a speaker at the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club Conference.

Other speakers at 2016’s conference included John Derbyshire and Robert Weissberg, two National Review writers who were fired from the magazine in 2012 after expressing racist viewpoints.

Beattie confirmed that he was at the conference, telling CNN in an email Saturday: “In 2016 I attended the Mencken conference in question and delivered a stand-alone, academic talk titled ‘The Intelligentsia and the Right.’ I said nothing objectionable and stand by my remarks completely.”

“It was the honor of my life to serve in the Trump Administration. I love President Trump, who is a fearless American hero, and continue to support him one hundred percent,” he added. “I have no further comment.”

The White House asked CNN to hold off on the story for several days last week and then did not disclose when exactly Beattie had left. CNN reports that Beattie’s White House email worked until late Friday evening but was deactivated by Saturday.

“Mr. Beattie no longer works at the White House,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told CNN simply Friday night. “We don’t comment on personnel matters.”

[Mediaite]

Rudy Giuliani says ‘truth isn’t truth’

Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s attorney, said Sunday that “truth isn’t truth” when explaining that he won’t let special counsel Robert Mueller rush Trump into testifying because he doesn’t want investigators to trap the President into a lie.

“When you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well, that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth,” Giuliani told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Sunday morning during “Meet the Press.”

“Truth is truth,” Todd said in response.

“No, no, it isn’t truth,” Giuliani said. “Truth isn’t truth. The President of the United States says, “I didn’t …”

“Truth isn’t truth?” Todd interjected. “Mr. Mayor, do you realize, what … I think this is going to become a bad meme.”

“No, no, no … don’t do this to me,” Giuliani said.

“Don’t do ‘truth isn’t truth’ to me,” Todd continued.

“Donald Trump says I didn’t talk about [former national security adviser Michael] Flynn with [then-FBI Director James] Comey. Comey says you did talk about it. So tell me what the truth is,” Giuliani said.

This isn’t the first time in recent days that Giuliani has spoken about the truth and facts this way. During an appearance on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” on Tuesday evening, Giuliani told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that facts are in the eye of the beholder.

“If fact [checking] is anything, we’ve never had anybody with the level of mendacity that he has. Not even close,” Cuomo said of Trump.

“It’s in the eye of the beholder,” Giuliani responded.

“No, facts are not in the eye of the beholder,” Cuomo said.

“Yes it is — yes they are. Nowadays they are,” Giuliani asserted.

The President’s outside legal team for the special counsel investigation, which is headed up by Giuliani, replied to Mueller’s proposal for terms of possible presidential testimony earlier this month, but the former New York mayor wouldn’t disclose the details of his team’s response.

Trump has said he is willing to speak with Mueller’s team, but his legal team has expressed opposition to that possibility because they believe the special counsel’s investigators could take what Trump says, if it differs from what others have laid out, as a lie.

“They have two pieces of evidence,” Giuliani said to Todd on Sunday morning, explaining his stance. “Trump says I didn’t tell them, and the other guy says that he did say it. Which is the truth? Maybe you know because you’re a genius.”

On Sunday afternoon, former FBI Director James Comey appeared to respond to Giuliani’s “truth isn’t truth” comment via Twitter.

“Truth exists and truth matters. Truth has always been the touchstone of our country’s justice system and political life. People who lie are held accountable. If we are untethered to truth, our justice system cannot function and a society based on the rule of law dissolves,” Comey tweeted.

Giuliani has been speaking about Comey in the news lately. Last week, Giuliani told CNN’s Jake Tapper that if the President sits down for questioning by special counsel Mueller, Trump will say he never discussed easing up on a probe of former national security adviser Flynn with Comey.

[CNN]

Trump compares Mueller probe to McCarthyism

President Donald Trump on Sunday compared the special counsel investigation to McCarthyism, saying Robert Mueller made the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy “look like a baby.”

“Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!,” Trump tweeted.

McCarthy led a Cold War-era inquisition of alleged Communists who he claimed had infiltrated American governmental institutions. The Wisconsin Republican’s assertions, famously voiced in a speech in 1950, contributed to the paranoia and fear known as “the Red Scare.” A special Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee investigated McCarthy’s initial claims about Communists infiltrating the State Department and found them to be “a fraud and a hoax.”

Upon becoming chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee’s subcommittee on investigations in 1953, McCarthy expanded his probes into alleged communist activity. In 1954, he began investigating the US Army. The three months of Army-McCarthy hearings shattered the senator’s image and led to his censure by the Senate.

The President’s comparison between the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the trials of McCarthyism was one of a series of tweets that lashed out at the probe Sunday morning. Trump directed particular ire at a Saturday New York Times report that White House counsel Don McGahn has been cooperating extensively with the special counsel.

Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA and National Security Agency, was asked about Trump’s comparison of Mueller to McCarthy on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“So, Joe McCarthy was a demagogue. And we haven’t heard a public syllable from Bob Mueller in more than a year,” Hayden said. “And I have got to add that McCarthy’s lawyer, Roy Cohn, became Donald Trump’s personal lawyer — lawyer and mentor for decades. I mean, the irony here is just amazing.

Cohn, who died in 1986, worked closely with Trump beginning in the 1970s. For more than a decade, Cohn represented Trump on construction deals and his lawsuit against the NFL.

The New York Times reported McGahn had participated in interviews spanning 30 hours over the last nine months. He provided “detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart of the inquiry into whether President Trump obstructed justice,” including providing information that the Mueller team otherwise would not have learned about, the Times reported, citing a dozen current and former White House officials and other individuals briefed on the matter.

Trump lashed out at The New York Times in a series of tweets Sunday.

“The Failing New York Times wrote a story that made it seem like the White House Councel [sic] had TURNED on the President, when in fact it is just the opposite – & the two Fake reporters knew this,” Trump tweeted. “This is why the Fake News Media has become the Enemy of the People. So bad for America!”

He continued: “Some members of the media are very Angry at the Fake Story in the New York Times. They actually called to complain and apologize – a big step forward. From the day I announced, the Times has been Fake News, and with their disgusting new Board Member, it will only get worse!”

Shortly after Trump’s criticism, the Times tweeted that it “stands behind the reporting of our Pulitzer-Prize winning reporters @nytmike and @maggieNYT.”

The two reporters are often called out by the President because of their extensive and well-sourced White House reporting, which he sees as overly critical.

[CNN]

Reality

First, Donald Trump’s mentor was lawyer Roy Cohn, who was previously mentored by Joseph McCarthy.

Second, McCarthy was a demagogue who architected the “Red Scare” which relied on baseless allegations and conspiracy theories to generate fear and when pressed for evidence to support his false claims, McCarthy refused and attacked his critics including the press.

Sound familiar?

Trump Lashes Out At NYT’s Bombshell McGahn Report, Calls It ‘Fake News’

President Donald Trump fired off several angry Tweets on Sunday aimed at discrediting a report that White House counsel Donald McGahn is cooperating with the Russia investigation to protect himself, with Trump insisting that it is “just the opposite.”

“I have demanded transparency so that this Rigged and Disgusting Witch Hunt can come to a close,” Trump tweeted. “I allowed [McGahn] and all others to testify ― I didn’t have to. I have nothing to hide.”

Trump also said “some members of the media” were angry about the Times’ report and have called to “complain and apologize.” He did not identify who those members are

His outburst came the day after The New York Times reported that McGahn is extensively cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible links between Trump’s campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether the president has obstructed justice. McGahn, according to the Times story, has voluntarily provided Mueller’s team a wealth of information about Trump’s behavior, beyond what might be expected from someone in his position.

Any suggestion that McGahn has turned on him is false, Trump insisted on Sunday.

″In fact it is just the opposite,” he tweeted. “This is why the Fake News Media has become the Enemy of the People. So bad for America!”

The Times reported that McGahn’s cooperation in the investigation began in part because the president’s initial team of lawyers insisted that Trump had nothing to hide and they wanted the investigation to end quickly.

But according to sources close to McGahn, cited in the Times’ report, both McGahn and his lawyer, William Burck, were confused by Trump’s willingness to allow him to speak so freely to the special counsel. Trump’s attitude reportedly led McGahn to suspect that the president was setting him up to take the blame for any possible illegal acts of obstruction.

Nixon administration attorney John Dean, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice during the 1970s Watergate scandal, told Slate on Saturday that McGahn did the “right thing” to cooperate “extensively” with Mueller’s investigation.

McGahn is “doing exactly the right thing, not merely to protect himself, but to protect his client. And his client is not Donald Trump; his client is the office of the president,” said Dean, who was White House counsel under Richard Nixon.

Trump, in his tweets on Sunday, referred to Dean as a “rat.”

Although Dean was part of the White House-led efforts under President Richard Nixon to cover up the crimes committed Watergate scandal, his decision to testify to Congress about it was crucial to exposing the affair and causing Nixon to resign from office 44 years ago.

[Huffington Post]

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