Trump Snaps at Female Reporter Asking About His Own Accusers: ‘Please Sit Down!’

President Donald Trump held a rare solo press conference on Wednesday as a series of scandals exploded around him, most threateningly the allegations of sexual misconduct against Brett Kavanaugh, his Supreme Court nominee.

The president was hammered by questions on the allegations against Kavanaugh, and one reporter even confronted Trump on his own accusers.

CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang began her question: “How have your personal experiences of being accused by more than a dozen women of sexual misconduct —”

Trump cut her off, and launched into a diatribe that lasted more than two minutes.

“I’ve been accused. I’ve been accused. False accusations. Excuse me. I’ve been accused. I was accused by — I think it was four women. You can check with Sean Hannity. You can check with Fox, because they covered it very strongly.”

Jiang tried to finish her question, but Trump spoke over her.

“Excuse me. I was accused by four or five women who got paid a lot of money to make up stories about me. We caught them and the mainstream media refused to put it on television.”

“There were four women, and maybe more, I think the number is four or five. But one had a mortgage paid off her house, $52,000. Another one had other things happen.”

Trump continued to rail against his accusers, insisting he had “never met these people.” When he finally wrapped up, Jiang tried to ask her question: “If I could just actually ask my question, Mr. Trump. You didn’t let me ask my question.”

“You’ve been asking a question for ten minutes,” Trump fired back. “Please sit down. Go ahead. Go ahead.”

Jiang held onto the microphone and asked her question: “How did that impact your opinions on the allegations against –”

“It does impact my opinion,” Trump cut in. “You know why? Because I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me. I’m a very famous person. Unfortunately. I’ve been a famous person for a long time. But I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me. Really false charges. I know friends that have had false charges. People want fame, they want money, they want whatever.”

[Mediaite]

Media

Trump attacks second Kavanaugh accuser: ‘She admits that she was drunk’

President Trump on Tuesday went after the second woman who has come forward to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, suggesting she lacks credibility in part because she was intoxicated during the alleged incident.

Deborah Ramirez alleges that Kavanaugh exposed himself and thrust his genitals in her face at a college party during their freshman year at Yale in the 1980s. She acknowledged in her account to The New Yorker that she had been drinking prior to the alleged incident, and had gaps in her memory of the event.

“The second accuser has nothing,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with the Colombian president at the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.

“She thinks maybe it could have been him, maybe not. She admits that she was drunk. She admits that there are time lapses,” the president said.

Trump claimed that allegations from Ramirez and Christine Blasey Ford are part of a “con game” by Democrats against his Supreme Court nominee.

“I can tell you that false accusations of all types are made against a lot of people,” the president added. “This is a high-quality person and I certainly hope – it would be a horrible insult to our country if this doesn’t happen. And it would be a horrible horrible thing for future political people, judges… it cannot be allowed to happen.”

[The Hill]

Trump questions why Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser waited to report alleged assault

President Donald Trump on Friday questioned why the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a sexual assault waited years to report the incident, leveling his most direct criticism yet at Christine Blasey Ford.

“I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!”

The comments departed from the more restrained approach Trump has taken when discussing Blasey Ford. In his comments earlier this week, Trump has focused on defending Kavanaugh’s character while lamenting the public attention the case has received.

Blasey Ford has come forward with claims Kavanaugh and a friend took her into a room where he pinned her to a bed, groped her, tried to remove her clothes and put his hands over her mouth to muffle her screams at a house party in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., in the early 1980s, when he was 17 and she 15.

Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the allegations.

Experts say it is common for victims to delay reporting sexual abuse, in part because they feel ashamed or are fearful. Some studies suggest that only about one-third of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to law enforcement officials.

Blasey Ford reiterated Thursday that she would be willing to testify before senators about her allegations. Ford’s attorney spoke with staff for the Senate Judiciary Committee and laid out requests for her to testify next week, including that Kavanaugh not be in the same room.

After barreling ahead, Kavanaugh’s confirmation was abruptly halted this week when Ford came forward to identify herself as the author of an anonymous letter detailing the accusations. The committee has scheduled a meeting Monday to hear from both Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford, but negotiations over that hearing are ongoing.

Some Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have said the Senate should move quickly to confirm Kavanaugh before the November midterm elections. Others, notably Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, have been more cautious.

Republicans can confirm Kavanaugh without support from Democrats, but they can afford to lose only one of their own members.

Trump’s tweet went a step further in questioning Ford’s account than remarks he made in an interview with with Fox News late Thursday night.

“Why didn’t somebody call the FBI 36 years ago?” Trump said in the Fox interviews broadcast live before a rally in Las Vegas. “I mean, you could also say when did this all happen, what is going on? To take a man like this and besmirch …”

While Trump himself approached the issue cautiously in his initial comments, some of his surrogates have not.

Donald Trump Jr. drew criticism, including from Republicans, for making light of Blasey Ford’s accusations in an Instagram post over the weekend. The post included a fake letter, written in crayon, suggesting Kavanaugh was too young to have harmed Blasey Ford.

“This is sickening,” Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., wrote on Twitter Wednesday in response to the post. “No one should make light of this situation.”

[USA Today]

Trump Mocks the #MeToo Movement During Montana Rally

Donald Trump, whom more than a dozen women have accused of sexual misconduct, has made no secret of his distaste for the #MeToo movement, defending both longtime pal Roger Ailes and ex-Fox mega-host Bill O’Reilly against charges of sexual misconduct (Ailes he called a “very, very good person,” while of O’Reilly he said, “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”). But in February, the president made his position on #MeToo even more explicit: the day after defending former staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned amid allegations of domestic abuse from two of his ex-wives, Trump tweeted that “lives are being shattered and destroyed” by “mere” allegations. “He says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that,” Trump said the day prior. “He said very strongly . . . that he’s innocent.” The comments inspired a wave of disquiet among those inclined to support women in speaking out about harassment and abuse. And on Thursday, the president revived his rhetoric during a bizarre rally in Montana ostensibly intended to stoke support for the state’s Republican Senate candidate.

Riffing on his nickname for Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose Native American heritage he has repeatedly questioned, Trump—who made no mention of the hasty same-day resignation of E.P.A. chief Scott Pruitt—told the crowd, “I want to apologize. Pocahontas, I apologize to you . . . to you I apologize. To the fake Pocahontas, I won’t apologize.”

He went on to suggest that if Warren won the 2020 Democratic primary, he would dare her to take an ancestry test during a televised debate. “We’ll take that little kit and say, we have to do it gently because we are in the #MeToo generation, so we have to be very gentle. And we will very gently take that kit, and we will slowly toss it” to Warren, “hoping it doesn’t hit her and injure her arm.” Trump added that he’d give $1 million to charity if the test “shows [Warren is] an Indian . . . I have a feeling,” he said, “she will say no.”

Nor did Trump confine himself to insulting a potential Democratic opponent—during the same speech, he also claimed that Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters had an I.Q. in the “mid-60s,” lobbed derogatory criticisms at journalists, and vouched for Russian President Vladimir Putin. After the rally, Warren fired back with a tweet, writing, “Hey, @realDonaldTrump: While you obsess over my genes, your Admin is conducting DNA tests on little kids because you ripped them from their mamas & you are too incompetent to reunite them in time to meet a court order. Maybe you should focus on fixing the lives you’re destroying.”

The president’s particular strain of misogyny has been on display for much of this week—earlier on Thursday, Trump told reporters that he doesn’t believe allegations that G.O.P. Rep. Jim Jordan knew about the sexual abuse of student athletes while he was a coach at Ohio State University. (Jordan himself has denied them.) “I don’t believe them at all,” Trump said of Jordan’s accusers, adding that he believes in Jordan’s innocence “100 percent”. Thursday also happened to be the day the White House officially hired Bill Shine, the former Fox News co-president who allegedly covered for Ailes for years. In making such statements, Trump seems to be indicating that no line of attack is off-limits—a tactic that successfully set him apart from a crowded Republican field in 2016.

He’s also setting a deeply toxic precedent for the 2020 presidential race—particularly if he faces off against another woman. And though this strategy is likely to appeal to his base, potentially deepening the gulf between people who believe women when they say they’ve been forced to endure sexual harassment and people who don’t, it is not without risk for Republicans. Not only could it further galvanize Democrats, but it could also alienate women voters who, according to a poll published on Friday, have a disproportionately negative view of the president: just 32 percent of women approve of his job performance, compared to 51 percent of men.

[Vanity Fair]

White House announces hiring of former Fox News exec Bill Shine

Veteran Fox News executive Bill Shine is President Trump’s new right-hand-man for White House communications.
The appointment was announced on Thursday afternoon, shortly before Shine joined Trump on a trip to Montana. Shine’s title is Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications
His move from Fox to the White House further solidifies the backscratching relationship between TV network and Trump’s orbit. But it’s especially eyebrow-raising because Shine resigned last year amid a flurry of sexual harassment allegations within the network.

Shine was a key deputy of powerful Fox News chairman Roger Ailes. When Ailes was accused of sexual harassment by numerous women in 2016, Shine was accused of covering up the alleged misdeeds.

Some of the accounts portrayed Shine as Ailes’ protector and fixer. Shine was named in at least four lawsuits or allegations related to alleged sexual harassment or racial discrimination at the network. He has denied all wrongdoing. And he has never been accused of harassment himself.

The liberal group UltraViolet issued a statement calling Shine’s hiring “disturbing” but “unsurprising.” The group said the “Trump White House has been a revolving door of sexual abusers and their enablers.”

The National Women’s Law Center, another group staunchly critical of Trump, said “the President’s choice runs counter to widespread efforts to address and prevent sexual harassment at this moment of reckoning. This country deserves better.”

When Ailes was forced out of Fox News in July 2016, Shine was initially promoted to co-president. But this turned out to be just a transition period. He resigned in May 2017, in part due to his reputation being tainted from the Ailes scandals.

Shine also had powerful supporters. Shine and Sean Hannity rose up the ranks at Fox News together, and the two men remain close friends. Hannity is now Fox’s biggest star and the president’s biggest booster. CNN previously reported that Hannity pushed the idea of Shine joining the White House behind the scenes.

Shine’s imminent hiring was reported last week. And he was seen at the White House earlier this week. The reports prompted two of Shine’s critics in the right-wing media world to resurface the Ailes-era allegations against Shine.

Newsmax, run by Trump friend Chris Ruddy, published several critical stories. And conservative activist Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch, told The Daily Beast, “I don’t want so see the ghost of Roger Ailes running the White House communications operation.”

Klayman said Shine’s handling of harassment claims needed to be investigated.
Reaction to Shine’s hiring included some negative responses from those who used to work for him or Fox News.

“I say this as someone who was on Fox for a decade and had no beef (though little interaction) with Bill Shine: It’s a disgrace that a man who, it turns out, enabled and covered up truly repulsive behavior by Roger Ailes, would get a senior White House job,” said Bill Kristol, editor at large of The Weekly Standard in a tweet.

And two years to the day former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the network, quoted a story on Twitter and talked about the impact of “giving women a voice, letting them know you can be believed … and say enough is enough.”

One of the president’s sons, Donald Trump, Jr., predicted the criticism in a tweet on Thursday afternoon.

“On your marks, get set…. how long till the liberal media and snowflakes start taking shots at the great Bill Shine? Competent, hard working and a believer in making America great again!” Trump Jr. wrote.

Thursday’s White House statement about the appointment highlighted Shine’s past experience with Fox News.

“[Shine] brings over two decades of television programming, communications, and management experience to the role. Previously, Mr. Shine served as Co-President of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network,” it read.

[CNN]

Steve Mnuchin busted for tax favor to brothel owner who gave hefty contributions to Republicans

Following large campaign contributions from a brothel owner to Republicans, the Treasury Department “quietly reversed itself” to provide huge financial benefits, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Lance Gilman, the proprietor of the infamous Mustang Ranch brothel in Storey County, Nevada had worked “behind the scenes” for the county to be listed as an “opportunity zone” — a tax advantage for distressed areas.

For Storey County to qualify, Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV) had to withdraw the nomination for the town of Dayton, in neighboring Lyon County. This resulted in Gov. Sandoval withdrawing a nomination for a county with a median household income of $49,007 and instead nominating a county with a medium income of $65,508.

Even another brothel owner is mad about the special treatment Gilman received for Storey County.

Dennis Hof owns four brothels in Lyon County, including the Moonlight Bunny Ranch. He wrote an autobiography called The Art of the Pimp and stars on the HBO series “Cathouse.”

Hof, who is also a Republican candidate for state assembly, blasted the decision.

“Its unconscionable that in this day and age these kinds of things can happen,” Hof said.

“Anything we’ve got we should keep. If they gave Lance [Gilman] something, what did we get for it?” Hof asked. “We don’t just give things away for nothing.”

Gilman, The Post noted, is a “major GOP donor” who made a $5,000 contribution to Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) while appealing for the rule change.

The Treasury Department, run by Secretary Steve Mnuchin, denied special treatment.

“The State of Nevada raised an issue relating to data supporting opportunity zone nominations,” a Treasury Department spokesman said. “In response to Nevada’s feedback, the [Internal Revenue Service] has clarified its procedures and all future nominations.”

The state of Vermont asked if they could use similar metrics, but was denied.

[Raw Story]

Trump Calls Female Reporter ‘So Obnoxious,’ Tells Her to Be Quiet At Least 5 Times

On Friday, President Donald Trump told a female reporter to be quiet at least five times. He also called her “so obnoxious.”

It all happened during Trump’s whirlwind media blitz on Friday and with plenty of cameras nearby was all caught on tape.

Video of the incident shows Trump singling out CBS News correspondent Weijia Jiang and telling her to be quiet at least five times, according to Jiang’s account.

Then, when she pressed POTUS on not calling out North Korea’s human rights violations he put his hand out towards her face and turned his head away.

Then he told another reporter,” she’s so obnoxious.”

Trump then threw in another scolding “quiet” for good measure.

Jiang talked about what happened on Twitter, giving it a somewhat positive spin, writing, Trump “told me I was obnoxious and to be quiet at least 5x, but to his credit he did answer plenty of our questions.”

The White House, which has been increasingly adversarial towards the press, has not commented on the incident or otherwise remarked on Trump’s behavior towards Jiang.

[Mediaite]

Trump disrupts G-7 gender equality meeting by arriving late

President Donald Trump arrived late for a gender equality meeting at an international summit, prompting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to kick it off without waiting for “stragglers” to arrive.

Trump created a distraction when he walked in late for Saturday’s breakfast meeting during the Group of Seven summit of leading industrialized nations being held in Quebec.

He missed Trudeau’s introductory statement and entered the room while Gender Equality Advisory Council co-chair Isabelle Hudon was speaking.

Security personnel had to open a path for Trump through a throng of journalists and cameramen. The camera clicks for Trump almost drowned out Hudon.

French President Emmanuel Macron stared at Trump after he sat down.

Trudeau and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland later tweeted photos of the women’s empowerment meeting, showing Trump’s empty chair.

Trudeau had made the issue of gender equality a priority for the gathering. He said gender equality must “cut through” everything the G-7 does.

[PBS]

Donald Trump Suggests Melania’s Birthday Gift Was Him Going on ‘Fox and Friends’

President Donald Trump said that he conducted an interview with Fox and FriendsThursday because it was his wife’s birthday and “maybe I didn’t get her so much.”

First Lady Melania Trump turned 48 on Thursday, but the president spent a good portion of his early morning calling in to give his favorite network an interview.

After beginning the interview by wishing his wife a happy birthday, he was skittish when asked what else he got her.

“I better not get into that because I may get in trouble,” he said. “Maybe I didn’t get her so much. I got her a beautiful card, you know I’m very busy to be running out looking for presents. I got her a beautiful card and some beautiful flowers. And she did a fantastic job with France. The people of france were just spellbound by their great president who just left. Emmanuel.”

The first lady has had a busy week preparing for the Trumps’ first state dinner as they hosted French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte at the White House on Tuesday.

Still, there were signs of tension between husband and wife. During an arrival ceremony for Macron Tuesday, the president, not for the first time, struggled to get Melania Trump to hold his hand.

President Trump’s questionable birthday gifts come amid a continued flood of reports over alleged extramarital affairs. Indeed, in the same Fox and Friends interview Thursday, Trump confirmed for the first time that his personal attorney Michael Cohen represented him during the “crazy Stormy Daniels deal.”

Trump was apparently referencing a $130,000 payment that Cohen has admitted making to Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, just weeks before the 2016 election. Daniels has alleged that she had an affair with Trump in 2006, just months after Melania gave birth to son Barron.

[Newsweek]

Media

Judge rules against Trump administration in teen pregnancy prevention case

A federal judge in D.C. ruled Thursday that the Trump administration’s cuts to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program were unlawful.

Last summer, the administration notified 81 organizations that their five-year grants through the program would end in 2018, rather than in 2020, prompting multiple lawsuits.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson ruled in one of those cases Thursday, ordering the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to accept and process applications of four grantees as if they had not been terminated.

“We are disappointed with today’s ruling. As numerous studies have shown, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program is not working. Continuing the program in its current state does a disservice to the youth it serves and to the taxpayers who fund it. Communities deserve better, and we are considering our next steps,” said HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley in a statement. 

The Public Citizen, a consumer rights group in D.C., represented Policy and Research LLC, Project Vida Health Center, Sexual Health Initiatives for Teens and the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy — four of 81 grantees who had their funds cut short by the administration last year.

Several other lawsuits are still playing out in court.

“The court’s decision today is a rebuke of the Trump administration’s effort to kill a program that is working effectively to lower teen pregnancy rates,” said Sean Sherman, an attorney at the Public Citizen Litigation Group. “Because of the court’s ruling, the four grantees will be able to continue to serve their local communities and to conduct important research. The court’s decision confirms that HHS must administer the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program in accordance with the agency’s own regulations and the requirement of reasoned decision-making.”

The administration abruptly cut the grants off last year, arguing that the programs were ineffective at curbing teenage pregnancy.

The program, created in 2010 under former President Obama, funds organizations working to reduce and prevent teen pregnancy, with a focus on reaching populations with the greatest need.

But it has long been criticized by conservatives for its focus on comprehensive sex education, which can include teaching about safe sex and abstinence.

[The Hill]

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