Federal judge halts Trump attempt to discharge service members deemed ‘unfit’ only because they are HIV-positive

A federal judge has issued a ruling from the bench halting the Trump administration’s attempts to discharge service members merely due to their HIV-positive status. The order goes into effect immediately for the U.S. Air Force after two airmen sued Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.

“The two Airmen serving as plaintiffs, who filed pseudonymously, were given discharge orders at the end of last year after being found ‘unfit for continued military service’ despite compliance with medical treatment and physical fitness requirements,” Lambda Legal announced Friday.

The lawsuit was filed by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN, with partner law firm Winston & Strawn.

“These decisions should be based on science, not stigma, as today’s ruling from the bench demonstrates,” Lambda Legal’s Scott Schoettes said, calling the judge’s decision, ” a major victory.”

Equality Cases Files published a copy of the ruling here.

[Raw Story]

Draft-dodger Trump says he ‘would have been a good general’ while trashing James Mattis in Cabinet meeting rant

President Donald Trump ended former Defense Secretary James Mattis’ tenure as defense secretary right before the New Year, seemingly in retaliation for a letter Mattis published criticizing President Trump’s global policy.

At a cabinet meeting Wednesday, the President lashed out at Mattis.

“What’s he done for me? How had he done in Afghanistan? Not too good,” Trump said.

“As you know, president Obama fired him, and essentially so did I,” he added. In fact, general Mattis tendered his resignation after Trump announced the hasty withdrawal of troops from Syria. The President has since said he would slow the troop withdrawal.

“I think I would have been a good general, but who knows?” the President added

[Raw Story]

 

Trump Hits Back At ‘Failed Generals’ Who Were ‘Unable To Do The Job’ Over Syria Withdrawal

President Donald Trump is pushing back on criticism about the sudden announcement from a week and a half ago about plans to remove U.S. troops from Syria and that ISIS was defeated. This decision reportedly came despite advice from military and intelligence leadership and eventually led to the protest resignation from Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

On New Year’s Eve, President Trump apparently felt the need to clear the air and defend his position via a short series of tweets that explained his process as a simple fulfillment of his campaign promise. And, as his is wont, he included some not-so-subtle digs at his detractors.

Trump tweeted:

Following the announced plans to withdrawal, Trump has received bipartisan criticism for the planned withdrawal. Senator Lindsey Graham, a close Senate ally to the White House, notably was vocal in pushing back on this plan, though his rhetoric has softened more recently.

Trump’s dig at “some failed generals” is certainly a dig at Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who in a recent interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, spared little criticism for a president who he sees as “immoral.”

[Mediaite]

Reality

Trump’s plan to fight ISIS was actually Obama’s plan, just on a faster timeline.

Sarah Sanders Goes After CNN: They ‘Attack Anyone Who Supports’ Trump, Including Military

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is hammering CNN for reporting that military protocol might’ve been violated when President Donald Trump met with U.S. forces in his travels abroad.

During the president’s meetings with soldiers in Iraq and Germany, various members of the military were spottedas they took photos with Trump, displayed his paraphernalia, and asked him to sign MAGA hats.

Typically, U.S. troops are asked to conduct themselves in an apolitical manner, so CNN reported that some of yesterday’s interactions with Trump might’ve broken Defense Department rules on “partisan political activities.”

As critics from CNN and other outletsaccuse Trump of using his troop visits as a political exercise, Sanders is slamming the network by saying they will “attack anyone who supports President Trump.”

[Mediaite]

Trump misleads about military pay raises again

President Donald Trump incorrectly told troops in Iraq on Wednesday that he gave them their first pay raise in more than 10 years — a falsehood he has repeatedly told.

Speaking to troops at Al Asad Air Base during his surprise visit to Iraq, Trump told troops: “You protect us. We are always going to protect you. And you just saw that, ’cause you just got one of the biggest pay raises you’ve ever received. … You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years. More than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one. I got you a big one.”
In fact, military pay has increased every yearfor more than three decades. It was raised 2.4% in 2018 and then 2.6% in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. The 2.6% pay raise is the largest in the past 9 years.

[CNN]

Trump, Angry Over Mattis’s Rebuke, Removes Him 2 Months Early

President Trump said on Sunday that he would remove Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who issued a stinging rebuke of the president when he announced his resignation last week, from his post by Jan. 1, two months before he had planned to depart.

Mr. Trump, in a Twitter post, said that Patrick M. Shanahan, Mr. Mattis’s deputy, would serve as the acting defense secretary.

Aides said that the president was furious that Mr. Mattis’s resignation letter — in which he rebuked the president’s rejection of international allies and his failure to check authoritarian governments — had led to days of negative news coverage. Mr. Mattis resigned in large part over Mr. Trump’s hasty decision to withdraw American forces from Syria.

When Mr. Trump first announced that Mr. Mattis was leaving, effective Feb. 28, he praised the defense secretary on Twitter, saying he was retiring “with distinction.” One aide said that although Mr. Trump had already seen the resignation letter when he praised Mr. Mattis, the president did not understand just how forceful a rejection of his strategy Mr. Mattis had issued.

The president has grown increasingly angry as the days have passed, the aide said. On Saturday, Mr. Trump posted a tweet that took a jab at Mr. Mattis, saying that “when President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance. Some thought I shouldn’t, I thought I should.”

Mr. Mattis, a retired four-star general, led the United States Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, from 2010 to 2013. His tour there was cut short by the Obama administration, which believed he was too hawkish on Iran.

Mr. Shanahan, who, like Mr. Mattis, is from Washington State, is a former Boeing executive. Aides say that Mr. Trump likes him in part because he often tells the president that he is correct to complain about the expense of defense systems.

[The New York Times]

New emails show Trump’s unqualified Mar-a-Lago buddies are influencing VA policies

A new batch of emails obtained by Pro Publica show that three members of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort are influencing contract and budget decisions at the Department of Veterans Affairs — despite being completely unqualified to do so.

The emails show that the three Mar-a-Lago members — Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, West Palm Beach physician Bruce Moskowitz and lawyer Marc Sherman — were involved in “some of the agency’s most consequential matters, most notably a multibillion-dollar effort to overhaul electronic health records for millions of veterans,” Pro Publica writes.

According to Pro Publica, the trio reviewed a draft of a $10 billion contract to overhaul the VA’s electronic medical records system, and they were listed among 40 different outside “experts” consulted for the contract despite lacking “any relevant expertise.”

Additionally, the emails show that Moskowitz used his position as an adviser to get the VA to adopt his mobile medical app, even though IT officials at the VA said that the app had serious functionality problems. In fact, one email shows that a VA IT official believed that “some of the code needs to be refactored and even rebuilt” for the app to work properly.

Moskowitz even recruited his son, Aaron Moskowitz, to pitch the benefits of the app during a conference between the VA and Apple CEO Tim Cook. Apple experts similarly pushed back on Moskowitz’s mobile app and said that “the national databases needed to make the app accurate didn’t exist,” Pro Publica writes.

[Raw Story]

Trump Boasts He Knew of Bin Laden Before 9/11 Attacks: ‘I Pointed Him Out in My Book’

President Donald Trump took to Twitter this morning to claim that he called for the capture of late al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden years before the terrorist group’s 9/11 attacks.

“Of course we should have captured Osama bin Laden long before we did. I pointed him out in my book just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center. President Clinton famously missed his shot. We paid Pakistan Billions of Dollars & they never told us he was living there. Fools!” Trump tweeted, after he bashed the U.S. military in an interview on Fox News Sunday for not killing bin Laden sooner.

“We no longer pay Pakistan the $Billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example, Afghanistan being another,” he added. “They were just one of many countries that take from the United States without giving anything in return. That’s ENDING!”

However, the president’s claims that he called for the capture of bin Laden are questionable at best.

In his book The America We Deserve, which Trump referenced as proof that he was onto al-Qaeda before 9/11, but the following passage — the only time bin Laden is mentioned, per Politifact — shows that he did not have a specific intuition about bin Laden, and was instead criticizing America’s erratic policies in the Middle East at the time:

“Instead of one looming crisis hanging over us, we face a bewildering series of smaller crises, flash points, stand offs, and hot spots. We’re not playing the chess game to end all chess games anymore. We’re playing tournament chess – one master against many rivals. One day we’re assured that Iraq is under control, the UN inspectors have done their work, everything’s fine, not to worry. The next day the bombing begins. One day we’re told that a shadowy figure named Osama bin Laden is public enemy number one, and U.S. jet fighters lay waste to his camp in Afghanistan. He escapes back under some rock, and a few news cycles later, it’s on to a new enemy and a new crisis.”

During the early days of his 2016 campaign, Trump repeated the same claim, saying, “Remember that in The America We Deserve, I wrote that book in 2000, I wrote about Osama bin Laden: ‘We’ve got to take him out,’” Trump said during a Dec. 2 rally for his presidential campaign.

Last night, Trump attacked retired admiral William McRaven for not getting to bin Laden sooner.

“Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice?” Trump said to Fox News. “You know, living — think of this — living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan, in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer, but living in Pakistan right next to the military academy. Everybody in Pakistan knew he was there.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Slams Navy SEAL: ‘Wouldn’t It Have Been Nice If We Got Osama Bin Laden a Lot Sooner’

President Donald Trump dismissed criticism from William McRaven on Fox News Sunday, referring to the retired Navy SEAL Admiral as a “Hillary Clinton fan.”

While grilling the president on his anti-press rhetoric, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace brought criticism from McRaven, who oversaw the 2011 raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.

After Wallace listed McRaven’s bonafides, Trump cut in: “Hillary Clinton fan.”

“Special Operations…” Wallace said.

“Excuse me, Hillary Clinton fan,” Trump insisted.

“Who led the operations, commanded the operations that took down Saddam Hussein and that killed Osama bin Laden,” Wallace continued, “says that your sentiment is the greatest threat to democracy in his lifetime.”

“OK, he’s a Hilary Clinton backer and an Obama-backer,” Trump said.

“He was a Navy Seal 37 years,” Wallace shot back.

“Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama Bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice?” Trump asked. “You know, living – think of this – living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer. But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there.”

“You’re not even going to give them credit for taking down Bin Laden?” Wallace asked.

Trump ignored the question in favor to hitting Pakistan: “They took him down but – look, look, there’s news right there, he lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year, which we don’t give them anymore, by the way, I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us.”

[Mediaite]

White House confirms Trump will not visit Arlington cemetery on Veterans Day as rain is expected

The White House on Monday confirmed that President Donald Trump will not visit Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day.

According to Washington Post correspondent Josh Dawsey, the White House announced “a lid” on presidential movements at 10 a.m. ET, meaning the president is not scheduled to leave the White House for the remainder of the day.

Although President Barack Obama visited Arlington National Cemetery for Veterans Day services on several occasions, President Trump has chosen to avoid the remembrance of military deaths at the national cemetery.

Weather.com forecasted a 100 percent chance of rain at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday.

[Raw Story]

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