Trump Cites ‘Failing New York Times’ Article to Exonerate Himself From Russian Political Meddling

President Trump issued a…um, bizarre and contradictory statement on Monday where he slammed The New York Times while using it as proof that he wasn’t involved in Russian efforts to interfere with American political institutions.

Its possible Trump was referring to this recent Times article describing FBI’s efforts to convince Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with ties to Paul Manafort, to become an informant on the Russian government’s misdeeds. FBI officials approached Deripaska and other prominent Russian officials over the years in hopes of tracking organized crime, countering Russia’s foreign political meddling, and, eventually, gaining insight on any possible collusion between Trump and the Kremlin.

The line Trump invoked in his tweet doesn’t appear in the Times‘ article, though it does contain this somewhat-resemblant portion that makes reference to Bruce Ohr and Christopher Steele.

The contacts between Mr. Steele and Mr. Ohr started before Mr. Trump became a presidential candidate and continued through much of the campaign.

The piece says Ohr and Steele were both involved in efforts to convince Russian oligarchs to cooperate with the FBI. The campaign was reportedly unsuccessful, and Trump and his defenders have been escalating their attacks on Ohr recently in order to discredit Robert Mueller‘s investigations.

Going back to Trump’s tweet, however, reactors online felt that he sorta garbled his point by bashing the Times while – at the same time – using them as the basis for his claim against the “rigged witch hunt.” Others pointed out how American intelligence workers obviously tried to counter Russia’s objectionable behavior long before Trump became politically-relevant.

[Mediaite]

Trump asks ‘how the hell’ Bruce Ohr still works at the Justice Department

President Donald Trump on Wednesday launched another pointed attack against Bruce Ohr, the Justice Department official who has drawn intense scrutiny from Capitol Hill Republicans, asking on Twitter “how the hell” he still has a job at the DOJ.

“How the hell is Bruce Ohr still employed at the Justice Department? Disgraceful! Witch Hunt!” Trump tweeted.

The message came one day after Ohr appeared behind closed doors with congressional investigators, who grilled him about the timing of his contacts with Fusion GPS, the firm that worked with former British spy Christopher Steele to create and distribute a salacious dossier about Trump’s relationship with Russia.

As a senior Justice Department staffer, Ohr passed along Steele’s information to the FBI, even after the bureau had terminated its formal relationship with Steele over media leaks.

Trump has regularly attacked Ohr on Twitter, accusing him of being emblematic of corruption at the Justice Department that he says is fueling special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

[Politico]

Trump revives charge Obama spied on his campaign

President Donald Trump is reviving his unverified claims President Barack Obama spied on his campaign and touting the words of a conservative Fox News host who also claims there’s now a precedent for presidents to use the government to spy on political rivals.

Trump, in a series of early morning tweets, quoted Tucker Carlson, who claimed on his show Tuesday night that President Obama had spied on Trump’s campaign and later argued the ‘lunatics on the left’ created a model that future presidents could follow.

‘The Obama people did something that’s never been done…They spied on a rival presidential campaign. Would it be OK if Trump did it next? I am losing faith that our system is on the level. I’m beginning to think it is rotten & corrupt. Scary stuff Obama did.’ @TuckerCarlson DOJ’ Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning.

His ‘DOJ’ might have been an indication the tweet was meant for the Department of Justice, who he has heavily criticized for not reining in the investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 election and for not probing rival Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s looking into Russia’s role in the presidential contest – and whether or not Trump obstructed that investigation – remains on going.

Trump was quoting Carlson, a conservative pundit who as seen as one of the president’s staunchest defenders.

Carlson, in a conservation with Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist on his Fox show Tuesday night said: ‘The Obama people did something that’s never been done that I’m aware of, they spied on a rival presidential campaign and that’s okay with you. But would it be okay if the Trump did that to the next guy?’

He went on to argue there was now a precedent for presidents to use the government to spy on rival political campaigns.

‘What’s the next election is going to be like?’ he asked attorney Richard Goodstein, who was also a guest on his show. ‘I don’t want the Trump Administration to spy on rival campaigns, but you and the lunatics on the left have created a precedent that will allow them to, and future presidents to do that. I don’t want to live in that country, that’s all I’m saying.’

There has been no proof Obama spied on the Trump campaign. The FBI was investigating the campaign’s ties to Russia during the 2016 election, which Trump argues is evidence of a ‘deep red state’ conspiracy to keep him out of the White House.

In May, Trump demanded the Justice Department investigate his allegation that the Obama administration’s FBI ‘infiltrated or surveilled’ his 2016 campaign.

The agency directed its Office of Inspector General y to formally probe those claims, an investigation that remains ongoing.

Trump’s demand came after multiple reports that the FBI had sent an informant to speak with campaign advisers about matters related to possible Russia ties, which the president has used to claim Obama was spying on him.

Some reports named Stefan Halper, an American professor at Cambridge University, as the FBI informant who met with Trump campaign aidesCarter Page and George Papadopoulos.

Both aides were suspected of dealing with the Russians.

Halper also reportedly met with a third Trump campaign official, Sam Clovis, to whom he reportedly expressed interest in helping the president’s campaign.

The use of an information is common FBI practice in criminal investigations but there is no public evidence that Halper was an FBI informant, and official sources have refused to comment on the subject. Halper has not given any comment on the issue.

Papadopoulos revealed in a plea agreement to having been told by an apparent Russian agent that Vladimir Putin government had access to a raft of hacked Clinton emails before this was made public. He has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

Page, meanwhile, was under surveillance by the FBI at the time he met with the FBI informant.

Trump and his allies claim that FBI surveillance of Page was a done through a tainted FISA warrant that relied on the unverified Christopher Steele dossier, paid for by a law firm with ties to Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.

The dossier claimed the Russians had information on Trump that it could use for blackmail, which the president has denied.

Last month, documents released through a Freedom of Information Act request showed federal agents relied on more information than the Steele dossier to obtain the warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

But Trump on Tuesday morning quoted Carlson making another charge – that Clinton and the DNC paid for information from the Russians to use against the American government, likely in a reference to the Steele dossier.

‘Hillary Clinton and the DNC paid for information from the Russian government to use against her government – there’s no doubt about that!’ @TuckerCarlson,’ Trump wrote.

Carlson, on his Fox show Tuesday night told attorney Richard Goodstein:  ‘The Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC paid for information from the Russian government to use against their opponent. There is no debate about that.’

[Daily Mail]

Trump attacks Hillary Clinton’s email server again — then ‘jokes’ maybe the Russians hacked it

President Donald Trump tweeted that China hacked Hillary Clinton’s email server, a claim that has not been verified by anyone other than right-leaning media outlets. Trump used the moment to mock the Russia hack while highlighting the story.

“Report just out: ‘China hacked Hillary Clinton’s private Email Server.’ Are they sure it wasn’t Russia (just kidding!)? What are the odds that the FBI and DOJ are right on top of this? Actually, a very big story. Much classified information!” Trump tweeted.

If sources are revealing information that China hacked Clinton’s server, it’s entirely possible that is also classified information.

[Raw Story]

Update

Even Fox News is debunking this story.

Trump Takes Aim at Google, Claims Search Results ‘RIGGED’ Against Him: ‘Illegal?’

President Donald Trump unleashed some unusually early morning tweets on Tuesday, citing a report from a conservative website to rip Google for allegedly biased search results.

Trump first claimed that “Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media.”

“In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD,” he continued. “Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out.”

Trump then asked if the search results were “Illegal”, before elaborating: “96% of… results on ‘Trump News’ are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous.”

“Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good,” he added. “They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!”

The president appears to be referencing a report by conservative blog PJ Media, which claimed that “96 Percent of Google Search Results for ‘Trump’ News Are from Liberal Media Outlets.”

The report tested out results from searching “Trump” in the news section of Google, analyzing the results using Sharyl Attkisson‘s “media bias chart.” The report looked at the first 100 items that appeared, and found that supposedly “left-leaning sites” made up “96 percent of the total results.” CNN — one of the highest trafficked news websites in the world — appeared the most frequently by a “large margin”, the report said, while conservative websites like National Review or Breitbart did not.

[Mediaite]

Reality

The author of the report has since distanced herself from the claims, calling them “not scientific” and “based on only a small sample size” of 100 results.)

Trump Threatens FBI Over Hillary Clinton Emails: ‘I May Have To Get Involved’

President Donald Trump on Saturday issued a chilling warning to the FBI, accusing the agency of ignoring “tens of thousands” of Hillary Clinton’s emails and warning that he “may have to get involved.”

His tweets came less than an hour after similar ones criticizing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, adding fodder to their monthslong feud and fueling fresh rumors that Sessions’ days in office are numbered.

Trump has been lashing out at the Justice Department all week after his former campaign chair Paul Manafort was found guilty on numerous corruption charges as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference. Manafort’s conviction came shortly after Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, implicating the president in election interference.

Trump and his allies have long used the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state as a way to discredit the Justice Department, particularly as the special counsel investigation has come to fruition.

The president blames Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe in May 2017, which ultimately lead to Mueller’s appointment.

Sessions on Thursday fired back in one of his strongest rebukes of the president to date.

“The actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations,” he said.

[Huffington Post]

QAnon Conspiracy Theorist Got a Photo with Trump in the Oval Office

By now you’re probably heard about the conspiracy theory “QAnon,” particularly after a Trump rally last month featured some very noticeable Q signs, shirts, etc. from the rallygoers.

Well, one QAnon conspiracy theorist actually got a photo with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office this week.

According to The Daily Beast, Lionel Lebron said he didn’t ask Trump directly about the issue, but believes Trump knows all about it already.

And White House officials didn’t really have a good answer for this:

All four White House officials the Beast did speak with about how Trump, the leader of the free world, ended up in a smiling photo op at the Resolute Desk with a prominent QAnon conspiracy theorist, pleaded ignorance about when this occurred, and why. Two of these West Wing officials audibly could not contain their laughter.

The Washington Post confirmed that White House officials had no idea how this happened:

[Mediaite]

Trump Bemoans ‘Persecuted White Farmers’ in South Africa

President Trump says he has instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to look into alleged violence against white farmers in South Africa and the government’s alleged seizure of their land after watching a Fox News report on the subject. Citing Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s statement that the “South African government is now seizing land from white farmers,” Trump tweeted that he’s asked Pompeo to “closely study” the matter, which he said involves the “large scale killing of farmers.” The comments, which appear to fuel claims by right-wing groups that the South African government is waging war against whites, seemed to be an abrupt change of subject from perhaps the biggest blow to Trump’s White House so far: the conviction of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the plea deal by his longtime fixer Michael Cohen earlier this week. The State Department has yet to comment on Trump’s tweet, but in a statement cited in the same Fox News report Trump was referencing, the State Department noted that South Africa’s land redistributions are being carried out through “an open process including public hearings, broad-based consultations, and active civic society engagement.” Most of South Africa’s land belongs to a white minority two decades after apartheid ended.

[The Daily Beast]

Reality

How does a specific white genocide conspiracy theory about white farmers being murdered in South Africa pushed by the white supremacist groups AfriForum and Identity Evropa, where the white supremacist podcasts White Rabbit Radio and Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance both had episodes dedicated to, end up being tweeted out by Donald Trump?

Oh he watched it on white supremacist Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show.

The reality is, as with the vast majority of conspiracy theories, it is simply not true.

Yes there are farmers being murdered in South Africa and each one is sad and tragic, but since Trump is talking about the data then we have to look at the data. Murder rates among African farmers have drastically declined over the past decades and there are no stats that say they happened for racial reasons.

The last time there was large scale tracking in South Africa of murders of farmers by race, 33% of victims were black.

Also, South Africa’s has a high murder rate, of 34.1 per 100,000 people, that number is far lower in the rural areas.

 

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 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]

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