Trump appears to do bizarre impression of FBI agent having sex

Donald Trump appeared to perform an impression of former FBI agent Peter Strzok and attorney Lisa Page having sex while the president was in the middle of a speech during a rally in Minnesota on Thursday.

Mr Trump slammed his hand on the podium and shouted “I love you, Lisa,” and “I love you too, Peter” before moaning “Lisa, I love you, Lisa! Lisa! Oh, God, I love you Lisa!”

The president had previously called Mr Strzok a “sick loser” amid investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in US elections. Mr Mueller removed Mr Strzok from his team after discovering anti-Trump text messages between Mr Strzok and Ms Page, who had an affair.

The president has falsely claimed that the texts had been deleted and has frequently argued that the messages amount to “corruption” within an investigation that followed Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 presidential election.

At his Minnesota rally, Mr Trump continued to mock the text messages: “And if she doesn’t win, Lisa, we’ve got an insurance policy, Lisa: we’ll get that son of a bitch out.”

[The Independent]

Media

Trump removed U.S. ambassador to Ukraine over complaints from Giuliani, other outsiders

President Donald Trump ordered the removal of the ambassador to Ukraine after months of complaints from allies outside the administration, including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, that she was undermining him abroad and obstructing efforts to persuade Kyiv to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, according to people familiar with the matter.

The recall of Marie Yovanovitch in the spring has become a key point of interest in the House impeachment inquiry. A whistleblower complaint by a CIA officer alleges the president solicited foreign interference in the 2020 elections by pressing Ukraine’s president in a July 25 call to pursue investigations, including into the activities of Biden, a Democrat who is running for president.

The complaint cites Yovanovitch’s ouster as one of a series of events that paved the way for what the whistleblower alleges was an abuse of power by the president. Trump has described the call with his Ukrainian counterpart as “perfect” and the House inquiry as a “hoax.”

State Department officials were told this spring that Yovanovitch’s removal was a priority for the president, a person familiar with the matter said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo supported the move, an administration official said. Yovanovitch was told by State Department officials that they couldn’t shield her from attacks by the president and his allies, according to people close to her.

In an interview, Giuliani told The Wall Street Journal that in the lead-up to Yovanovitch’s removal, he reminded the president of complaints percolating among Trump supporters that she had displayed an anti-Trump bias in private conversations. In Giuliani’s view, she also had been an obstacle to efforts to push Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter.

[MarketWatch]

Trump publicly urges China to investigate Bidens amid impeachment inquiry

 President Donald Trump urged another foreign government to probe Joe Biden and his son Thursday, saying the Chinese government should investigate the former vice president and son Hunter Biden over the latter’s involvement with an investment fund that raised money in the country.

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.

While Trump said he hasn’t requested Chinese President Xi Jinping investigate the Bidens, the public call mirrors the private behavior on which Democrats are partially basing their impeachment inquiry — using the office of the presidency to press a foreign leader to investigate a political rival.

It is “certainly something we can start thinking about, because I’m sure that President Xi does not like being on that kind of scrutiny, where billions of dollars is taken out of his country by a guy that just got kicked out of the Navy,” Trump said Thursday of asking China to probe the Bidens. “He got kicked out of the Navy, all of the sudden he’s getting billions of dollars. You know what they call that? They call that a payoff.”

The U.S. in the midst of a tense trade war with China. The president, discussing progress on negotiations with Beijing on a possible trade agreement just moments prior to his remarks about the Bidens, told reporters that “if they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous power.”

Chinese officials will be in Washington next week in another attempt to revive talks, Trump said.

Trump, seeking to expand his corruption accusations against the Bidens beyond Ukraine, has in recent days repeatedly accused Hunter Biden of using a 2013 trip on Air Force Two with his father, then the vice president, to procure $1.5 billion from China for a private equity fund he had started.

Prior to Thursday, Trump had not called for an investigation of the matter. The White House declined to comment on Trump’s remarks.

Despite Trump’s accusations, there has been no evidence of corruption on the part of the former vice president or his son. In a statement, Biden’s deputy campaign manager and communications director, Kate Bedingfield, said the president “is flailing and melting down on national television, desperately clutching for conspiracy theories that have been debunked and dismissed by independent, credible news organizations.”

“As Joe Biden forcefully said last night, the defining characteristic of Donald Trump’s presidency is the ongoing abuse of power. What Donald Trump just said on the South Lawn of the White House was this election’s equivalent of his infamous ‘Russia, if you’re listening’ moment from 2016 — a grotesque choice of lies over truth and self over the country,” Bedingfield said.

Trump, during a 2016 campaign rally, encouraged the country to meddle in the 2016 election by trying to access Hillary Clinton’s emails, saying, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation found that within hours of Trump‘s invitation, Russian military intelligence initiated a hack against Clinton’s office. Trump and his allies have said he wasn’t serious when he made the comment.

In pushing back on Trump, Biden’s campaign previously pointed to a fact-check from The Washington Post that found Trump’s claims false while tracing the origins of the $1.5 billion figure to a 2018 book published by conservative author Peter Schweizer.

In addition, Hunter Biden’s spokesman, George Mesires, told NBC News previously that Hunter Biden wasn’t initially an “owner” of the company and has never gotten paid for serving on the board. He said Hunter Biden didn’t acquire an equity interest in the fund until 2017, after his father had left office.

And when he did, he put in only about $420,000 — a 10 percent interest. That puts the total capitalization of the fund at the time at about $4.2 million — a far cry from the $1.5 billion that Trump has alleged.

Trump also said Thursday that he still wants Ukraine to conduct “a major investigation” into Joe and Hunter Biden.

[NBC News]

Reality

Lawfare: Former federal prosecutor and current professor at the University of Alabama School of Law Joyce White Vance concisely yet methodically explained why Trump’s statements constituted a crime.

“Trump just committed a felony violation of law by soliciting something of value in connection with a US election from a foreign government on national TV. 52 U.S. Code § 30121. Violating the law isn’t necessary for Impeachment but it certainly warrants it,” Vance wrote (including a citation to a statute).

She then explained how previously documented accounts of similar behavior render Trump’s conduct here even more culpable than in earlier instances of his requests for foreign assistance.

“The statute requires knowledge your conduct is a crime. After the Mueller investigation, there’s no way Trump was unaware this violates the law. Ukraine/China can you hear me is even worse than Russia, if that’s possible, because it comes from a sitting president,” she wrote.

Trump Again Attacks Teenage Climate Activist Greta Thunberg

President Donald Trump is using his Twitter account to once again attack teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, this time to amplify a snide dismissal of her public appearances as “acting.”

The commander-in-chief on Thursday jabbed at the Swedish 16-year-old: He retweeted and praised a Twitter user who criticized the passionate speech Thunberg gave at the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City late last month.

A user by the name of @Opinion8dKellie shared video of Thunberg’s speech, in which the teen slammed world leaders for what she said was more interest in making money than in saving the planet by reducing carbon emissions.

“What an actress!” the user, @Opinion8dKellie, tweeted, adding, “I won’t be held hostage by someone who just got a learner’s permit. Sorry kiddo!”

Though the tweet was written on Sept. 23, Trump, 73, retweeted it Thursday morning.

“Keep up the great work Kellie!” he wrote.

In the original tweet, @Opinion8dKellie also referred dismissively to when a visibly aggrieved Thunberg said at the U.N.: “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!”

[People]

Trump mocks teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg

President Donald Trump mocked Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg on Twitter late Monday night after the 16-year-old excoriated world leaders for not doing enough to tackle the climate crisis.

“She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” Trump posted on Twitter, replying to a video of Thunberg’s speech at the United Nations climate action summit earlier in the day.

Trump’s penchant for Twitter insults and online confrontations with people he sees as political adversaries is well known, though Monday’s tweet is a striking display of the President teasing a child.

Thunberg appeared to take Trump’s slight in stride. By late Tuesday morning, she had updated her Twitter bio to read: “A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.”

In the video shared by Trump of her speech, Thunberg is visibly frustrated and at times appears to be holding back tears of anger as she dresses down the UN General Assembly.

“People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” Thunberg said.

She did not name Trump or any other world leaders in her speech, but her message was pointed.

“How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight,” she said. “You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency, but no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act then you would be evil and that I refuse to believe.”

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who recently withdrew his support for Trump, criticized the President for his comment about Thunberg.

“Parents in America and around the world: he went after a 16 year old girl yesterday. ⁦@realDonaldTrump⁩ unfit to serve,” Scaramucci tweeted on Tuesday.

Trump briefly attended the UN climate summit on Monday in an impromptu stop on his way to his administration’s priority event on religious freedom. But the US did not speak at the event and Trump — who has repeatedly said he thinks climate change is a hoax — left after 15 minutes.

Thunberg, who has helped galvanize a global movement demanding more action to address climate change, crossed paths with Trump at the UN General Assembly. Video captured her staring down the US President.

The young Swede has been open about her diagnosis of Asperger’s, calling it a “superpower” that helps her activism.

“My diagnosis has definitely helped me keep this focus. When you are interested about something you just continue to read about it and you get super focused,” she told CNN’s Bill Weir in an interview this month.

[CNN]

‘Quiet!’ Trump snaps at reporters as he rants about his ‘perfect phone call’ to Ukraine

President Donald Trump on Monday snapped at reporters after he was asked about his alleged attempts to have Ukraine’s president fabricate dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

As Trump arrived at the U.N., he was asked how seriously he took the impeachment threat.

“Not at all seriously,” the president said dismissively. “I had a perfect phone call with the president of Ukraine. Everybody knows it. It’s just a Democrat witch hunt. Here we go again. They failed with Russia, they failed with recession and everything, and now they’re bringing this up.”

According to Trump, “the one who’s got the problem is Biden.”

“Quiet!” the president demanded after one reporter asked about the whistleblower who outed his conversation with Ukraine’s president.

[Raw Story]

Media

Trump Flirts With $15 Billion Bailout for Iran

President Donald Trump has left the impression with foreign officials, members of his administration, and others involved in Iranian negotiations that he is actively considering a French plan to extend a $15 billion credit line to the Iranians if Tehran comes back into compliance with the Obama-era nuclear deal.

Trump has in recent weeks shown openness to entertaining President Emmanuel Macron’s plan, according to four sources with knowledge of Trump’s conversations with the French leader. Two of those sources said that State Department officials, including Secretary Mike Pompeo, are also open to weighing the French proposal, in which the Paris government would effectively ease the economic sanctions regime that the Trump administration has applied on Tehran for more than a year.

The deal put forward by France would compensate Iran for oil sales disrupted by American sanctions. A large portion of Iran’s economy relies on cash from oil sales. Most of that money is frozen in bank accounts across the globe. The $15 billion credit line would be guaranteed by Iranian oil. In exchange for the cash, Iran would have to come back into compliance with the nuclear accord it signed with the world’s major powers in 2015. Tehran would also have to agree not to threaten the security of the Persian Gulf or to impede maritime navigation in the area. Lastly, Tehran would have to commit to regional Middle East talks in the future. 

While Trump has been skeptical of helping Iran without preconditions in public, the president has at least hinted at an openness to considering Macron’s pitch for placating the Iranian government—a move intended to help bring the Iranians to the negotiating table and to rescue the nuclear agreement that Trump and his former national security adviser John Bolton worked so hard to torpedo.

At the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France last month, Trump told reporters that Iran might need a “short-term letter of credit or loan” that could “get them over a very rough patch.”

Iranian Prime Minister Javad Zarif made a surprise appearance at that meeting. To Robert Malley, who worked on Iran policy during the Obama administration, that visit indicated that “Trump must have signaled openness to Macron’s idea, otherwise Zarif would not have flown to Biarritz at the last minute.” 

“Clearly, Trump responded to Macron in a way that gave the French president a reason to invite Zarif, and Zarif a reason to come,” he said.

The French proposal would require the Trump administration to issue waivers on Iranian sanctions. That would be a major departure from the Trump administration’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign to exact financial punishments on the regime in Tehran. Ironically, during his time in office, President Barack Obama followed a not-dissimilar approach to bring the Iranians to the negotiating table, throttling Iran’s economy with sanctions before pledging relief for talks. The negotiations resulted in the Iran nuke deal that President Trump called “rotten”—and pulled the U.S. out of during his first term.

Trump’s flirtations with—if not outright enthusiasm toward—chummily sitting down with foreign dictators and America’s geopolitical foes are largely driven by his desire for historic photo ops and to be seen as the dealmaker-in-chief. It’s a desire so strong that it can motivate him to upturn years of his own administration’s policymaking and messaging.

And while President Trump has not agreed to anything yet, he did signal a willingness to cooperate on such a proposal at various times throughout the last month, including at the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France, according to four sources with knowledge of the president’s conversations about the deal.

Several sources told The Daily Beast that foreign officials are expecting Trump to either agree to cooperate on the French deal or to offer to ease some sanctions on Tehran. Meanwhile, President Trump is also considering meeting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September. 

“I do believe they’d like to make a deal. If they do, that’s great. And if they don’t, that’s great too,” Trump told reporters Wednesday. “But they have tremendous financial difficulty, and the sanctions are getting tougher and tougher.” When asked if he would ease sanctions against Iran in order to get a meeting with Iran Trump simply said: “We’ll see what happens. I think Iran has a tremendous, tremendous potential.”

Spokespeople for the State Department, White House, and Treasury did not provide comment for this story. A spokesperson for the National Security Council simply referred The Daily Beast to Trump’s Wednesday comments on Iran. Bolton didn’t comment on Wednesday, either.

Trump’s willingness to discuss the credit line with the French, the Iranians and also Japanese President Shinzo Abe frustrated Bolton, who had for months urged Trump not to soften his hard line against the regime in Tehran

Bolton, who vociferously opposed the Macron proposal, departed the Trump administration on explicitly and mutually bad terms on Tuesday. On Bolton’s way out of the door, Trump and senior administration officials went out of their way to keep publicly insisting he was fired, as Bolton kept messaging various news outlets that Trump couldn’t fire him because he quit. The former national security adviser and lifelong hawk had ruffled so many feathers and made so many enemies in the building that his senior colleagues had repeatedly tried to snitch him out to Trump for allegedly leaking to the media. 

On Tuesday afternoon, Bolton messaged The Daily Beast to say that allegations about him being a leaker were “flatly incorrect.

At a press briefing held shortly after Bolton’s exit on Tuesday, neither Secretary of State Mike Pompeo nor Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin showed much sympathy for Bolton’s falling star in Trumpworld. “There were many times Ambassador Bolton and I disagreed,” Pompeo told reporters. “That’s to be sure, but that’s true with a lot of people with whom I interact.”

According to those who know Pompeo well, the secretary’s public statement was a glaring understatement.

[The Daily Beast]

Trump administration warns California its tailpipe deal could violate federal law

The Trump administration sent a warning to California officials Friday, stating that a recent agreement the state made with automakers over tailpipe pollution could violate the law.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation offered the warning in a joint letter to the head of the California Air and Resources Board (CARB) that said its “framework” agreement with four car manufacturers could be a problem.

“The purpose of this letter is to put California on notice that this framework agreement appears to be inconsistent with federal law,” the letter from DOT and EPA’s chief counsels wrote.

The administration is arguing that the state lacked authority under the Clean Air Act to set fuel economy standards in conjunction with the car makers.

“Congress has squarely vested the authority to set fuel economy standards for new motor vehicles, and nationwide standards for [greenhouse gas] vehicle emissions, with the federal government, not with California or any other state,” the letter read.

Mary Nichols, the CARB chairwoman, announced in July that the state had reached an agreement with BMW, Ford, Volkswagen and Honda over the emissions standards for future cars. The news came as the Trump administration is working to finalize a national fuel economy standard that is expected to weaken tailpipe emissions standards.

California has long argued that under the Clean Air Act, it has an exemption to set higher emissions standards due to the state’s history of poor air quality. More than a dozen other states have adopted California’s heightened standards.

CARB did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom compared the Trump administration’s tactics to those of a bully.

“The Trump Administration has been attempting and failing to bully car companies for months now. We remain undeterred. California stands up to bullies and will keep fighting for stronger clean car protections that protect the health and safety of our children and families,” Newsom said in a statement provided to The Hill.

Trump administration officials argue in the letter that the deal with automakers likely goes beyond the scope of those rights.

“CARB’s actions in furtherance of the framework appear to be unlawful and invalid. We recognize California’s disagreements with the Federal government’s policy proposals in this area, but those policy disagreements cannot justify CARB’s pursuit of a regulatory approach that would violate federal law,” reads the letter.

The administration’s warning comes amidst reports that the White House is considering splitting its forthcoming emissions rule into two parts in order to finalize it more quickly. The first part of the rule would include stripping California of its waiver, according to sources with knowledge of the administration’s plans. Any rule put forward by the administration is likely to be challenged in court by California and environmentalist groups that argue the law forbids agencies from weakening pollution standards.

President Trump has made no secret of his frustration with the Golden State over its negotiations with the four automakers.

“Henry Ford would be very disappointed if he saw his modern-day descendants wanting to build a much more expensive car, that is far less safe and doesn’t work as well, because execs don’t want to fight California regulators. Car companies should know that when this Administration’s alternative is no longer available, California will squeeze them to a point of business ruin. Only reason California is now talking to them is because the Feds are giving a far better alternative, which is much better for consumers!” Trump tweeted late last month.

[The Hill]

Trump Campaign Edits CNN Climate Special to Lie About Elizabeth Warren

President Donald Trump‘s reelection campaign posted an edited video in order to lie about Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren‘s remarks at a CNN climate change town hall, falsely insisting that she and the Democrats are coming for “Americans’ straws, cheeseburgers, and light bulbs.”

In a tweet that was flagged by Politico’s Alex Thompson, the so-called “Trump War Room” posted a clip of Warren that cuts off in mid-answer, along with their claim that “Elizabeth Warren and the radical Green New Deal Democrats have their eyes set on Americans’ straws, cheeseburgers, and light bulbs to ‘change our energy consumption.’ And that’s just the beginning!”

But the full exchange makes clear that Warren was saying the opposite, that while she supports individual action on those issues, they are distractions from policies aimed at carbon pollution.

On Wednesday night, moderator Chris Cuomo told Warren “Today the president announced plans to roll back energy-saving lightbulbs, and he wants to reintroduce four different kinds, which I’m not going to burden you with, but one of them is the candle-shaped ones, and those are a favorite for a lot of people, by the way,” and asked “But do you think that the government should be in the business of telling you what kind of lightbulb you can have?”

“Oh, come on, give me a break,” Warren began, as Cuomo asked “Is that a yes?”

“No,” Warren replied, adding that “there are a lot of ways that we try to change our energy consumption, and our pollution, and God bless all of those ways. Some of it is with lightbulbs, some of it is on straws, some of it, dang, is on cheeseburgers, right? There are a lot of different pieces to this. And I get that people are trying to find the part that they can work on and what can they do. And I’m in favor of that. And I’m going to help and I’m going to support.”

[Mediaite]

Trump blasts CNN for ignoring ‘facts’ on climate ahead of 2020 forum

President Donald Trump blasted CNN Wednesday afternoon just ahead of its climate-focused Democratic presidential forum, arguing it would likely ignore key “facts.”

“8 FACTS that #FakeNewsCNN will ignore in tonight’s ‘Climate Forum,'” Trump said in a series of tweets.

The president went on to list points defending the role his administration has played in cleaning the country’s air and reducing emissions, echoing similar talking points he made during his July White House speech on America’s energy leadership.

“1. Which country has the largest carbon emission reduction? AMERICA! 2. Who has dumped the most carbon into the air? CHINA! 3. 91% of the world’s population are exposed to air pollution above the World Health Organization’s suggested level. NONE ARE IN THE U.S.A.!” he said in the thread.

Trump touted America’s leadership in “world energy production” and claimed the U.S. leads on clean air and water.

He also warned that the Democrats’ various climate plans would all lead to increases in energy bills and gasoline costs.

The U.S. last year became the top global producer of natural gas, a point Trump has routinely boasted as he compared the country’s energy dominance with its environmental cleanliness.

However, recent federal reports show that carbon emissions cuts are slowing down under Trump and that bad air days have increased.

Many of the Democratic candidates say their climate plans would provide support to households, especially in low-income communities, to help with the clean energy transition. Some note that cost increases are necessary in the face of the looming climate crisis.

Trump’s tweets come as CNN hosts the country’s first town hall focused entirely on climate change. The seven-hour event will host the top 10 highest-polling Democratic presidential hopefuls, all of whom have rolled out their own plans to fight climate change.

Many of those plans run directly counter to Trump’s policies, including placing moratoriums on drilling on public land, ending fracking, and transitioning away from coal and natural gas.

[The Hill]

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