Trump threatens to pull federal funds for Calif. wildfires over forest ‘mismanagement’

With major wildfires still roaring out of control in California, President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to blame “gross mismanagement of the forest” for the catastrophe and threatened to withhold federal funds if the issue is not remedied.

It was his first tweet on the wildfires, now among the deadliest and most destructive in California history, although he earlier issued an emergency declaration providing federal funds for Butte, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

At least nine people have been killed and the entire town of Paradise, in northern California has been destroyed.

“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump tweeted. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”

His latest remarks were reminiscent of his tweets during another major outbreak of fires in California in August, when he blamed the wildfires on “bad environmental laws” and his claim that water from the north was “foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean.”

In that tweet burst, Trump also said California wildfires “are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized.”

At the time, The New York times noted a debate over the allocation of water for irrigation or fish habitat but none regarding water purportedly being diverted into the ocean.

The Times quoted Cal Fire officials as saying there is no shortage of water for fighting fires. Helicopters collect water from lakes and ponds to douse wildfires and have plenty at hand, they said.

Asked about that the president’s tweeted claim of water diversion, a spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown, Evan Westrup, told the Times in an email, “Your guess is as good as mine.”

The presidents of two professional firefighters associations have denounced President Donald Trump’s assertion that “gross mismanagement of the forests” is to blame.

California Professional Firefighters president Brian Rice called the President’s words “ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning” in a written statement.

Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said the comments were “reckless and insulting.”

“Moreover, nearly 60 percent of California forests are under federal management, and another two-thirds under private control. It is the federal government that has chosen to divert resources away from forest management, not California.”

The Trump tweet also prompted some harsh criticism from singer Katy Perry, a native Californian, who called his remarks “heartless.”

“This is an absolutely heartless response,” she tweeted. “There aren’t even politics involved. Just good American families losing their homes as you tweet, evacuating into shelters.”

Singer-songwriter John Legend, who lives in Los Angeles, also weighed in, tweeting, “Our National Embarrassment can’t bring himself to show some empathy to Californians dealing with a horrific disaster.”

Trump Suggests He Will Call For New Election in Arizona: ‘SIGNATURES DON’T MATCH’

The President of the United States is floating the possibility of throwing out the results of an entire Senate election and calling for a new vote — alleging electoral corruption.

In a Friday afternoon tweet sent from somewhere over the Atlantic — as he’s currently on board Air Force One en route to France — President Donald Trump floated the possibility of a new election in Arizona, where the votes are still being tabulated in the Senate contest between Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Martha McSally (R). The reason for the drastic action, according to Trump? “Electoral corruption.”

“Just out — in Arizona,” Trump wrote. “SIGNATURES DON’T MATCH. Electoral corruption – Call for a new Election? We must protect our Democracy!”

The presidential dispatch was sent at 3:33 p.m. ET. Twenty-seven minutes earlier, a report on the Arizona Senate contest aired on Fox News. In it, correspondent Dan Springer stated the following:

“There are still just under 500,000 votes to count. Nearly all are in Maricopa [County]. And that’s where a legal drama is brewing. The Republican party sued over the handling of ballots where the signature either wasn’t there or didn’t match…a short time ago, the Republican Party chairman accused the Maricopa County recorder — a Democrat — of destroying evidence by mixing in disputed ballots in with all the others.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Baselessly Alleges Florida Election Fraud in Wild Rant: ‘You Notice the Votes Never Go the Other Way…’

During a White House pool spray on Friday morning, President Donald Trump went off on a wild rant baselessly floating the idea of foul play in the narrow elections in Florida for Senate and Governor — which soon spun off into a rant about corruption at large.

Speaking with reporters before departing for Paris, Trump baselessly claimed that votes tend to go for Democrats in contested elections.

“You notice the votes never go the other way?” Trump said. “They hire lawyers, and the votes don’t ever seem to go the Republican way…I don’t know. You tell me. It’s always the Democrats.”

Those comments led to the rant about “crooked stuff.”

“It’s always GPS Fusion,” the president said. “It’s always crooked stuff. Look at what happened. How many FBI are gone, how many Justice Department people are gone that I found out?…There’s a lot of bad stuff going on in this country, and we’re finding out. And I’m getting to the bottom of it. And I’ve done a hell of a job.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Fires Back After Michelle Obama Says She Won’t Forgive His Birtherism: I Won’t Forgive Barack

President Donald Trump slammed his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, hours after it was reported that the former First Lady Michelle Obama criticized Trump in her upcoming memoir for his years touting the conspiracy that Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.

The Washington Post, on Friday, published an excerpt of Michelle Obama’s soon-to-be-released memoir Becoming. In it, she bashed Trump — saying she’ll never forgive Trump for his birtherism.

The whole thing was crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed. But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks…What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this I’d never forgive him.

During a Friday morning pool spray at the White House, Trump was asked about Michelle Obama’s comments. His reply?

“I guess she wrote a book. She got paid a lot of money to write a book. And they always insist you come up with controversial. Well, I’ll give you a little controversy back. I’ll never forgive [Barack Obama] for what he did to our United States military. By not funding properly, it was depleted. Everything was old and tired. And I came in and I had to fix it.”

Trump added, “So I’ll never forgive him for what he did to our military. I’ll never forgive him for what he did in many other ways — which I’ll talk to you about in the future.”

[Mediaite]

Trump and Rick Scott Spread Claims of Fraud Without Evidence

Days after midterm voting, as ballots are still being counted, Republican lawmakers holding onto tight leads in midterm states are alleging foul play and voter fraud. The claims were amplified by President Trump, without evidence, on Friday morning.

“You mean they are just now finding votes in Florida and Georgia — but the Election was on Tuesday?” he wrote in a tweet. “Let’s blame the Russians and demand an immediate apology from President Putin!”

Current Florida Gov. Rick Scott, locked in a tight Senate race, said in a press conference Thursday night that “the people of Florida deserve fairness and transparency and the supervisors are failing to give it to us.”

“Every Floridian should be concerned there may be rampant voter fraud in Palm Beach and Broward Counties,” he said. “I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida.”

Scott’s race against Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson seems to be headed toward triggering a mandatory recount. Florida law says any race within a 0.5 percent margin must go to a recount, and as of 9 a.m. Friday, Nelson trailed Scott by 0.18 percent.

Previous claims of widespread voter fraud, including Trump’s claim that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016, are considered false by voting experts. One investigation, published in 2014, found 31 possible cases of in-person voter fraud out of more than a billion ballots cast over a 14 year period.

Scott claimed victory Tuesday night and has filed lawsuits against two county elections officials, in Palm Beach and Broward Counties, alleging their offices have withheld voting records.

Nelson’s election attorney Marc Elias tweeted Friday that “as the counties continue their work, I expect that margin will narrow further. And then the State will conduct an orderly recount.”

Trump has a history of calling out fraud, without providing evidence to back up his claims. No widespread claim of voter fraud by the president has ever been proven true. Trump even created a commission to investigate alleged fraud after the 2016 election, but it dissolved without releasing any findings.

“They’re finding votes out of nowhere, and Rick Scott who won by — it was close, but he won by a comfortable margin, he easily won but every hour it seems to be going down,” Trump said outside the White House Friday. “I think that people have to look at it very, very cautiously.”

In the case of Florida still counting ballots more than 48 hours after polls closed, David Becker, the executive director for the Center for Election Innovation and Research, told NPR it is extremely common for a voting jurisdiction to be taking as long as Broward County is.

“Election officials are literally just counting the ballots. This isn’t corruption or fraud,” Becker said. “It is literally the best of democracy. Let election officials do their job and count the ballots.”

[NPR]

Trump, Asked by Reporter If Soros Is Funding the Caravan, Says ‘I Wouldn’t Be Surprised’

Speaking outside the White House on Wednesday, President Donald Trump refused to rule out the possibility that George Soros might be behind the migrant caravan.

Trump was first asked if he thought someone was funding the caravan.

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Trump replied.

George Soros?” a reporter pressed.

“I don’t know who, but I wouldn’t be surprised,” Trump continued on. “A lot of people say yes.”

A “lot of people” includes Fox News folks like Lou Dobbs and Laura Ingraham, as well as pro-Trump Congressman Matt Gaetz who tweeted out this:

The conspiracy theory — which apparently dates back to March — may also have contributed to the synagogue slayings in Pittsburgh.

Standing on the White House lawn on Wednesday, Trump gave no further indication about why he would “not be surprised” that Soros was involved, although blaming Soros has proven popular among Trump’s base.

[Mediaite]

Trump: We will ‘build tent cities’ for migrant caravan

President Trump during an interview on Monday said that the administration is planning to “build tent cities” for the thousands of migrants seeking asylum who are heading towards the Southern border.

Trump in recent days has been stoking fears that violent gang members may be part of the so-called migrant “caravan,” which includes thousands of Central Americans fleeing violence and dire economic conditions in their home countries. The migrants are still weeks away from reaching the border.

The president during a pre-recorded interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham said the administration will “hold” the migrants who apply for asylum rather than releasing them pending their court dates, as previous administrations have done.

“If they applied for asylum, we’re going to hold them until such time as their trial takes place,” Trump told Ingraham.

“Where? We have the facilities?” she asked.

“We’re going to put up – we’re going to build tent cities,” Trump replied. “We’re going to put tents up all over the place. We’re not going to build structures and spend all of this, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars — we’re going to have tents.”

“They’re going to be very nice,” he added.

Trump has called the caravan of Central American migrants an “invasion.” He has also referred to the midterms as the election of the “caravan.”

Democrats and immigration-rights activists have accused the president of drawing on xenophobic and racist images in an effort to frighten the electorate ahead of Election Day. The migrants are still over one thousand miles away.

Ingraham during the interview asked Trump to respond to former President Obama, who denounced the president’s rhetoric about the caravan during a recent campaign event.

“Now the latest, they’re trying to convince everybody to be afraid of a bunch of impoverished, malnourished refugees a thousand miles away — that’s the thing, it’s the most important in this election?” Obama said during an event in Florida this week. “We’re scare-mongering people on the border.”

Trump responded by saying that there are people from “gangs” in the caravan. His claim has not been proven.

[The Hill]

Media

Pentagon to deploy 5,200 active duty troops to Mexico border as Trump escalates threats against migrant caravan

A week out from the midterm elections, the Pentagon said Monday it is sending 5,200 troops, some armed, to the Southwest border this week in an extraordinary military operation to stop Central American migrants traveling north in two caravans that were still hundreds of miles from the U.S. The number of troops is more than double the 2,000 who are in Syria fighting the Islamic State group.

President Donald Trump, eager to focus voters on immigration in the lead-up to the elections, stepped up his warnings about the caravans, tweeting: “This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!”

His warning came as the Pentagon began executing “Operation Faithful Patriot,” described by the commander of U.S. Northern Command as an effort to help Customs and Border Protection stiffen defenses at and near legal entry points. Advanced helicopters will allow border protection agents to swoop down on migrants trying to cross illegally, he said.

“We’re going to secure the border,” Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the Northern Command leader, said at a news conference. He spoke alongside Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.

Eight hundred troops already are on their way to southern Texas, O’Shaughnessy said, and their numbers will top 5,200 by week’s end. He said troops would focus first on Texas, followed by Arizona and then California.

The number of people in the first caravan has dwindled to 3,500 from about 7,000, though a second one was gaining steam and marred by violence. About 600 migrants in the second group tried to cross a bridge from Guatemala to Mexico en masse on Monday but were met by ranks of Mexican federal police who blocked them from entering. The riverbank standoff followed a more violent confrontation Sunday when the migrants used sticks and rocks against Mexico police. One migrant was killed Sunday night by a head wound, but the cause was unclear.

The first group passed through the spot via the river — wading or on rafts — and was advancing through southern Mexico. That group appeared to begin as a collection of about 160 who decided to band together in Honduras for protection against the gangs who prey on migrants traveling alone and snowballed as the group moved north. They are mostly from Honduras, where it started, as well as El Salvador and Guatemala.

Overall, they are poor, carrying the belongings that fit into a knapsack and fleeing gang violence or poverty. It’s possible there are criminals mixed in, but Trump has not substantiated his claim that members of the MS-13 gang, in particular, are among them.

The president’s dark description of the caravan belied the fact that any migrants who complete the long trek to the southern U.S. border already face major hurdles, both physical and bureaucratic, to being allowed into the United States. Migrants are entitled under both U.S. and international law to apply for asylum, but it may take a while to make a claim. There is already a bottleneck of asylum seekers at some U.S. border crossings, in some cases as long as five weeks.

McAleenan said the aim was to deter migrants from crossing illegally between ports, but he conceded his officers were overwhelmed by a surge of asylum seekers. He also said Mexico was prepared to offer asylum to the caravan.

“If you’re already seeking asylum, you’ve been given a generous offer,” he said of Mexico. “We want to work with Mexico to manage that flow.”

The White House is also weighing additional border security measures, including blocking those traveling in the caravan from seeking legal asylum and preventing them from entering the U.S.

The military operation drew quick criticism.

“Sending active military forces to our southern border is not only a huge waste of taxpayer money, but an unnecessary course of action that will further terrorize and militarize our border communities,” said Shaw Drake of the American Civil Liberties Union’s border rights center at El Paso, Texas.

Military personnel are legally prohibited from engaging in immigration enforcement. The troops will include military police, combat engineers and others helping on the southern border.

The escalating rhetoric and expected deployments come as the president has been trying to turn the caravans into a key election issue just days before the midterm elections that will determine whether Republicans maintain control of Congress.

“This will be the election of the caravans, the Kavanaughs, law and order, tax cuts, and you know what else? It’s going to be the election of common sense,” Trump said at a rally in Illinois on Saturday night.

On Monday, he tweeted without providing evidence: “Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border.”

“Please go back,” he urged them. “you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!”

The troops are expected to perform a wide variety of functions such as transporting supplies for the Border Patrol, but not engage directly with migrants seeking to cross the border, officials said. One U.S. official said the troops will be sent initially to staging bases in California, Texas and Arizona while the CBP works out precisely where it wants the troops positioned. U.S. Transportation Command posted a video on its Facebook page Monday of a C-17 transport plane that it said was delivering Army equipment to the Southwest border in support of Operation Faithful Patriot.

The U.S. military has already begun delivering jersey barriers to the southern border in conjunction with the deployment plans.

[CNBC]

Trump laughs about locking up George Soros moments after calling for national unity

President Donald Trump on Friday briefly tried to strike a conciliatory tone when it came to condemning political violence — but he quickly reverted back to attacking his political foes, including musing about having billionaire Democratic donor George Soros arrested.

While addressing the Young Black Leadership Summit at the White House on Friday, Trump went on the attack against “globalists” whom he accused of undermining American sovereignty.

“I like the globe too, but we have to take care of our people,” the president said.

While Trump talked about “globalists,” many audience members started yelling, “Soros!” while another member yelled, “Lock him up!”

The president smiled and pointed to the audience member and laughingly repeated, “Ha, lock him up!”

Trump’s laughter about the prospect of locking up Soros comes after Trump supporter Cesar Sayoc was arrested on Friday on suspicion of sending explosive devices to Soros and several top Democrats. Sayoc’s Facebook and Twitter feed are loaded with attacks on Soros and other liberals.

[Raw Story]

Media

Trump Doubles Down on Baseless Caravan Claim at Rally: ‘Very Bad People’ Are Coming, It’s an ‘Assault On Our Country’

As President Donald Trump ginned up support for Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Monday night, he once again slammed Democrats over immigration policy and the migrant caravan approaching the U.S. southern border.

Trump didn’t bring up his dubious claim today that “unknown Middle Easterners” are mixing in with the refugees, but instead said “I think the Democrats had something to do with [the migrants].”

“Now they are saying, I think we made a big mistake. People are seeing how bad it is. How pathetic it. How bad our laws are. They made a big mistake…That is an assault on our country. In that caravan you have some very bad people. You have some very bad people. We can’t let that happen to our country, and it’s not.”

[Mediaite]

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