Trump lashes out at ’13 angry Democrats’

President Trump on Sunday lashed out on Twitter at special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation, referring to the “13 Angry Democrats” on the probe and writing that they should have been working to investigate Hillary Clinton controversies.

The Sunday tweet comes as the president has expressed anger and frustration about the FBI’s use of an informant in its investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. Trump and his allies have claimed the use of the informant was an act of politically motivated espionage.

“Why didn’t the 13 Angry Democrats investigate the campaign of Crooked Hillary Clinton, many crimes, much Collusion with Russia?” he tweeted. “Why didn’t the FBI take the Server from the DNC? Rigged Investigation!”

Trump has used the “13 angry Democrats” term to refer to people on Mueller’s probe who he believes are biased against him.

The president, most recently, sent a pair of tweets Saturday night lashing out at those members and casting doubt on Mueller’s investigation into reported ties between Trump’s campaign and Moscow.

“This whole Russia Probe is Rigged. Just an excuse as to why the Dems and Crooked Hillary lost the Election and States that haven’t been lost in decades. 13 Angry Democrats, and all Dems if you include the people who worked for Obama for 8 years. #SPYGATE & CONFLICTS OF INTEREST!” Trump wrote.

Mueller, a lifelong Republican, is in talks with Trump’s legal team to set up a potential interview with the president, which could lead to the investigation’s conclusion.

The use of the informant predated his appointment, though Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani on Sunday said it still “tainted” Mueller’s probe.

[The Hill]

Trump Threatens to ‘Get Involved’ With the DOJ: ‘At Some Point I Will Have No Choice’

President Trump has once again weighed in on Republican concerns that the DOJ is not providing documents in a timely manner.

It’s gotten to the point where some Republicans have begun drafting articles of impeachment against Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein as a “last resort.” Rosenstein fired back yesterday by saying the DOJ will not be “extorted.”

And now the President himself is getting into this ongoing battle:

[Mediaite]

Trump revives debunked accusation of massive vote fraud in California

President Trump on Thursday revived a long-debunked claim about massive voter fraud in California, telling an audience in West Virginia that “millions and millions of people” had voted illegally in the state.

“In many places, like California, the same person votes many times,” Trump said. “You probably heard about that. They always like to say ‘oh that’s a conspiracy theory.’ Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people.”

Trump first made that accusation shortly after his election, saying that he only lost the popular vote because of illegal voting in California. After his inauguration, the administration set up a commission to look into voter fraud. It was eventually disbanded and did not come up with any evidence to back Trump’s theories.

The president stopped talking about voter fraud in public after taking criticism from Republican elected officials for making unsubstantiated charges about misconduct, not only in California but in other states that he lost, such as New Hampshire. But he never completely stopped raising the issue in private, according to people who have spoken with him.

In recent weeks, he’s been more assertive about publicly discussing some of his grievances — voter fraud being one.

Allegations of voter fraud have been investigated in California. Although some limited cases have been found, no evidence of large-scale fraud has ever surfaced.

[Los Angeles Times]

Trump vetoed Miss Universe contestants for being ‘too ethnic’ or ‘too dark-skinned’

Earlier this year, a report emerged claiming that President Donald Trump would personally rig the Miss Universe pageant to benefit contestants from countries where he had business relationships.

Now a new report published by Michael Isikoff and Mother Jones’ David Corn claims that Trump would also veto certain contestants if he deemed them to be “too ethnic.”

Specifically, one former Miss Universe staffer tells them that Trump would personally “make changes” to the list of finalists “if there were too many women of color” on it.

Another former Miss Universe staffer similarly tells them that Trump would weed out candidates who were too “dark-skinned.”

“He often thought a woman was too ethnic or too dark-skinned,” the staffer explains. “He had a particular type of woman he thought was a winner. Others were too ethnic. He liked a type. There was Olivia Culpo, Dayanara Torres [the 1993 winner], and, no surprise, East European women.”

One former staffer does say, however, that Trump could be persuaded to change his mind about a woman of color being worthy of his pageant “by telling him she was a princess and married to a football player.”

[RawStory]

Trump claims Obama launched Russia probe to discredit campaign

President Donald Trump on Monday accused the Obama administration of using the investigation into potential ties between his campaign and Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election to discredit his bid and boost the chances of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

“Why did the Obama Administration start an investigation into the Trump Campaign (with zero proof of wrongdoing) long before the Election in November? Wanted to discredit so Crooked H would win. Unprecedented. Bigger than Watergate! Plus, Obama did NOTHING about Russian meddling,” Trump tweeted Monday morning.

It’s unclear exactly what pre-election investigation Trump was referring to, though the FBI opened its investigation into the Trump campaign’s links to Russia in July 2016. Then-FBI Director James Comey oversaw that investigation until Trump fired him in May 2017. Shortly after that, former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel to continue the probe.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was wiretapped before and after the election. Some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign, three sources familiar with the investigation have told CNN. Two of these sources, however, cautioned that the evidence is not conclusive. Manafort was Trump’s campaign chairman from May to August 2016.

The FBI also eavesdropped on Carter Page, a campaign associate that then candidate Trump once identified as a national security adviser, on suspicions he was acting as a Russian agent. Page stepped away from the campaign in September 2016 amid questions about his Russian ties.

The surveillance of Manafort and Page was approved by the secret court that oversees domestic surveillance of American citizens under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. In Page’s case, the FBI and Justice Department presented enough evidence to the court to convince Republican-appointed judges to continue the surveillance into mid-2017.
Trump, who has called the investigation into potential ties between his campaign and Russia a “witch hunt,” has repeatedly slammed the Obama administration’s handling of the Russia investigation, saying it “did nothing.”

Before leaving office, however, Obama applied new economic sanctions on the Russian government, ordered the State Department to shut down Russian compounds in Maryland and New York, and expelled 35 Russian diplomats that he described as “intelligence operatives.”

[CNN]

Reality

Except the investigation into the Trump campaign wouldn’t have happened if Carter Page, George Papadapolous, Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and others all had conspired with Russia during the campaign. That happened.

And we’ve been over the claim that Obama did nothing to stop Russian meddling before, and it is a clear lie.

Obama faced Putin and told him “to cut it out”, tried to alert the public with a bi-partisan announcement but was blocked by Mitch McConnell, expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two compounds.

Trump escalates ‘rigged system’ rhetoric amid Russia probe

President Donald Trump’s escalating assault on the “rigged” and “sick” institutions of the government that he leads may portend an ominous end game to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Trump’s blast at a campaign rally on Friday night followed a week of rising attacks on Mueller and the FBI from pro-Trump media outlets and personalities and prominent conservatives in Congress.

The President did not name Mueller at the boisterous event in Pensacola, Florida, avoiding specific attacks on the probe after a flurry of furious tweets last weekend may have deepened his political and legal exposure.

But he enriched his building narrative that unnamed forces within the US government were thwarting his administration, just days after unloading on the FBI on Twitter, when he said the bureau’s reputation was in “tatters.”

“This is a rigged system. This is a sick system from the inside. And, you know, there is no country like our country but we have a lot of sickness in some of our institutions,” Trump told the crowd in Florida.

Not the first time

It is not the first time that Trump has made such arguments — he complained against the “rigged” system during last year’s election in a gambit seen at the time as a face-saving hedge against a possible loss to Hillary Clinton.

But the context has changed. Trump is now the head of the government that he is accusing of conspiring against him politically. Therefore, his attacks against US government institutions, including the FBI, but which have also included the wider intelligence community and the judiciary are far more polarizing politically and risk causing long-term damage to already fragile trust in government.

They could even have constitutional implications since Trump is attacking the very system set up to constrain presidential power and to ensure integrity at the pinnacle of US government.

The timing of the assault is unlikely to be an accident.

The new intensity in attacks against Mueller and the FBI followed the plea deal reached by fired national security adviser Michael Flynn last week, that could see him testify against key figures in the President’s inner circle.

Trump responded to the rising threat by suggesting that there was something corrupt in a system that indicted Flynn but did not prosecute his former election rival over her email server.

“So General Flynn lies to the FBI and his life is destroyed, while Crooked Hillary Clinton, on that now famous FBI holiday ‘interrogation’ with no swearing in and no recording, lies many times…and nothing happens to her?” Trump tweeted. “Rigged system, or just a double standard?”

Trump’s return to the “rigged” system rhetoric reflects his consistent political strategy of seeking enemies against which to define himself. It also plays into the suspicions of his supporters by casting himself as a outsider innocent of wrongdoing who is being persecuted by an elite establishment which has gamed Washington power for itself.
But it also has serious implications for the Mueller probe.

It’s possible that the former FBI director concludes that there was no evidence of collusion by the Trump campaign during the election, and the President did not obstruct justice in the firing of his successor at the bureau James Comey.

But given the Flynn plea deal, it appears clear he has bigger targets than the former national security adviser in his sights.

In that light, attacks by Trump and the GOP on Mueller and the bureau could be an attempt to discredit any eventual conclusions that Mueller might deliver to Congress — be they favorable or unfavorable to the President.

The simultaneous political and media campaign against Mueller, meanwhile, is raising concerns that the President has embarked on an attempt to solidify his political base and frame a political rationale for supporters in Congress to oppose any eventual move toward impeachment. The idea would be that if the system of legal accountability represented by Mueller and the FBI is “rigged” and “sick,” it cannot be trusted to deliver a fair verdict on the President, a conceit that has staggering political implications.

[CNN]

Media

Watch at CNN.com

Trump reverts to campaign-trail name-calling in Twitter rant calling for probe of DNC

President Trump issued a flurry of tweets over a five-hour span Friday urging the Justice Department to investigate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee over a joint fundraising agreement they signed in August 2015.

Trump’s accusations follow publication by Politico of an excerpt from former acting DNC Chair Donna Brazile’s upcoming book. Brazile alleges she found “proof” that the 2016 Democratic primary was rigged in Clinton’s favor.

Previous presidents have avoided even seeming to direct the Justice Department on whom to investigate — but not Trump.

Trump reverted to his campaign-trail name-calling of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), again referring to her as “Pocahontas.”

He also in one post called Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) “Crazy Bernie.” Trump has described this kind of rhetoric as “modern day presidential.”

Trump’s epic Twitter rant took place in the hours and minutes before he was set to depart the South Lawn via Marine One for his Air Force One flight to Hawaii to kick off his 12-day swing through Asia.

Implicit in the messages was more criticism of Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, though Trump did not mention the nation’s top prosecutor by name.

Asked later Friday if he would fire the attorney general if he doesn’t investigate Trump’s Democratic political rivals, the president said, “I don’t know.”

Two White House officials quickly cautioned against reading too much into Trump’s comments, reiterating that he has no plans to fire Sessions. And although the White House maintains that Trump’s tweets are “official record,” it says Trump has not ordered Sessions or the FBI to do anything related to Democrats.

The aides said the tweets were a media savvy way to deflect attention from the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

This week, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates, who also had a role in the campaign, were indicted on 12 counts, and former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying about his dealings with Russians who were offering “dirt” on Clinton.

[Los Angeles Times]

Trump: Ayotte Would Have Won Senate Reelection If Not For Voter Fraud

President Trump has long claimed, without presenting any evidence, that he would have won the popular vote if it weren’t for widespread voter fraud. Now he’s using that same assertion to explain why former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s lost her seat in November, Politico reported Friday.

During a closed-door meeting with a group of senators from both parties on Thursday, Trump digressed from a planned discussion of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to talk about the elections, arguing that he and Ayotte both should have won the vote in New Hampshire, according to Politico.

According to Trump, Ayotte’s reelection bid was foiled by “thousands” of people from Massachusetts illegally casting ballots in the Granite State, meeting participants told Politico. One source said that the room fell silent after the remark.

Ayotte, who is currently serving as a “sherpa” liaison between the White House and senators for Gorsuch’s nomination, was at the meeting.

Though he has cited unsubstantiated voter fraud in the presidential race before, this is the first time he has mentioned it in connection with down-ballot contests.

Trump began making claims of voter fraud before the 2016 general elections but doubled down on the idea after his Electoral College win. He lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million ballots.

Trump revived the illegal-voting claims just days after he took the oath of office last month, allegedly saying in a meeting with congressional leaders that he lost the popular vote because “3 to 5 million ‘illegals’ ” cast ballots.

Later that week, he followed up on the claim, announcing in a string of tweets that he would launch a “major investigation” of voter fraud, including cases of individuals registered to vote in multiple states and deceased people who have not been taken off state voting rolls.

(h/t The Hill)

Trump Stands by Unsubstantiated Voter Fraud Claims: ‘It’s Really a Bad Situation’

President Trump in a new interview seemingly defends his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election, maintaining that illegal immigrants and “dead people” around the U.S. were registered to vote.

“Well, many people have come out and said I am right, you know that,” Trump told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly in an interview slated to air Sunday.

When O’Reilly notes that Trump needs data to back up his claim that three million undocumented immigrants voted in the election, Trump insisted “a bad situation” exists regarding voter fraud.

“Let me just tell you — when you see illegals, people that are not citizens and they are on registration rolls … look, Bill, we can be babies, but you take a look at the registration, you have illegals, you have dead people, you have this, it’s really a bad situation. It’s really bad.”

Trump threatened last month to launch “a major investigation” into voter fraud in order to “strengthen up voting procedures,” though the White House has since not provided details on such an effort.

“I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and….even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time),” Trump wrote last month.

“Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!” he added at the time.

(h/t The Hill)

Media

Trump Seeks ‘Major Investigation’ Into Unsupported Claims of Voter Fraud

President Trump plans to ask for a “major investigation” into allegations of widespread voter fraud as he continues to claim, without providing evidence, that he lost the popular vote in November’s election because millions of illegal votes were cast, according to tweets posted Wednesday.

The White House has yet to provide details, but Trump said in back-to-back tweets that the investigation into “VOTER FRAUD” — Trump used all capitals for emphasis — would cover “those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal” and “those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time).”

“Depending on results,” Trump tweeted, “we will strengthen up voting procedures!”

Trump did not indicate who would lead such an investigation or what ground it would cover. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on whether it would now launch an investigation.

Trump continues to face scrutiny, along with some mockery, for insisting during a private reception with congressional leaders Monday that there were between 3 million and 5 million ballots illegally cast in the election, allowing his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton to win the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes, although she lost the electoral-college vote to Trump. The president and his aides have yet to provide any verifiable facts to back up his claim, and analyses of the election found virtually no confirmed cases of voter fraud, let alone millions.

Trump’s campaign attorneys fought recount attempts in several states by Green Party candidate Jill Stein and stated in a recent court filing, “All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.”

A Trump adviser told The Washington Post on Wednesday that Trump has been stewing about his popular-vote count for weeks and insisting to friends that Clinton benefited from illegal votes in Democratic-leaning states such as California. He has mentioned to several of them his interest in launching an investigation into possible voter fraud, said the adviser, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

The adviser went on to frame Wednesday’s tweets as a deeply personal move by Trump reflective of his thinking on the election and did not have details on whether congressional leaders had been briefed on Trump’s desire to have an investigation, although the adviser said Trump did tell them Monday about his broader concerns regarding the election count during a reception at the White House.

Trump also tweeted that he will make his pick to fill the Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court on Feb. 2. Scalia died last February.

Lawmakers from both parties have declined to embrace Trump’s version of the election. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday that he has “seen no evidence to that effect.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a news conference Wednesday that she cannot understand why the newly installed president is “so insecure.”

“To suggest and to undermine the integrity of our voter system is really strange,” Pelosi said. “. . . On top of it, he wants to investigate something that can clearly be proven to be false, but he resists investigations of a Russian disruption of our investigation and any connection to his campaign. All we want is the truth for the American people.”

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he believes the “prime jurisdiction” to investigate alleged voter fraud is at the local and county levels. But he said there is a “federal function” since states set voting laws and certify the tallies.

“I don’t see the evidence [of fraud],” Chaffetz added. “But he’s the president and if he thinks it’s there, have at it.”

The National Association of Secretaries of State, which represents many of the country’s state elections officials, said in a statement Tuesday: “We are not aware of any evidence that supports the voter fraud claims made by President Trump, but we are open to learning more about the administration’s concerns.”

Given that studies have shown that cases of in-person voter fraud are exceptionally rare, voting rights activists and others are worried that Trump’s unfounded comments could lead to more voter-identification laws that they say disenfranchise poor or minority voters, such as the one in North Carolina that the Supreme Court declined to reinstate last summer.

Three congressional Democratic — Reps. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, Robert A. Brady of Pennsylvania and James E. Clyburn of South Carolina — say they are sending letters to 102 chief election officials and attorneys general in all 50 states and the District to request all cases of voters who tried to cast a ballot in the November election and were barred from doing so.

“Republicans in statehouses across America have passed restrictive laws that impair the ability of legitimate voters to participate, and they use the myth of voter fraud to justify their abuses,” Cummings said in a statement.

At the Tuesday briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended Trump’s “long-standing belief” that large-scale voter fraud occurred and pointed to a study that did not contain the conclusion he said it did. Spicer said there were no plans for an investigation but left the option open.

“Maybe we will,” Spicer said. “We’ll see where we go from here, but right now the focus of the president has is on putting Americans back to work.”

When pressed again by reports on the possibility of an investigation, Spicer seemed to play down the prospect, saying “anything is possible.”

Such an investigation could be led by the president’s attorney general. Trump’s pick for the position, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), has asserted in the past that voter fraud exists, but he has distanced himself from Trump’s claim of millions of fraudulent votes.

“I don’t know what the president-elect meant or was thinking when he made that comment or what facts he may have had to justify his statement,” Sessions said at his confirmation hearing this month. “I would just say that every election needs to be managed closely, and we need to ensure that there is integrity in it. And I do believe we regularly have fraudulent activities occur during election cycles.”

Sessions, who has yet to be confirmed, said he had not talked to Trump “about that in any depth or particularly since the election.” A spokeswoman for Sessions declined to comment beyond what the senator said at his confirmation hearing and referred questions about the investigation to the White House. Sessions has been questioned on his handling of a voter fraud case brought against black civil rights activists in Alabama in the 1980s, when he was a U.S. attorney.

The Justice Department can establish jurisdiction when a federal candidate’s name is on the ballot, though it is significantly harder when one is not. Although state law generally governs voter registration and other election-related matters such as the method of casting ballots, federal authorities are often seen as preferable to lead investigations into claims of irregularities. That is because federal authorities have more resources and are detached from local political interests and because their juries are generally drawn from a broader geographic area.

The Justice Department, though, looks at cases with an eye on whether they can be prosecuted — and does not intervene to attempt to improve voting systems. The investigation contemplated in the president’s tweet might be more akin to a study that broadly assesses the problem, or non-problem, of voter fraud, and how state and local systems might prevent it.

(h/t Washington Post)

Reality

His alternative fact originated from a flawed survey on the conspiracy theory website InfoWars, which Trump is known to read.

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