Trump’s new EPA chief caught liking racist and conspiratorial social media posts

The acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency was caught liking racist and conspiratorial social media posts using his personal accounts — some as recently as in the past month.

The Huffington Post reported that Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler “liked” a Facebook post showing Barack and Michelle Obama looking at a banana — a racist archetype comparing the former president and first lady to monkeys.

Along with liking the image from an Italian meme page that translates to “My mom is a virgin,” the EPA chief also retweeted infamous Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec.

First uncovered by the liberal American Bridge 21st Century political action committee, most of the posts Wheeler engaged with were made before he came acting EPA administrator in July 2018 following Scott Pruitt’s resignation in the wake of his ethics scandal.

Wheeler retweeted Posobiec from his personal Twitter account in February of 2018 — months after the former Naval intelligence officer had been ousted from military service. The right-wing figure’s ouster followed his promotion of the conspiracy theory that the Democrats were involved in a child sex ring and used a DC pizza parlor as a front for their nefarious gains.

In late September, after taking over at the EPA, Wheeler liked a tweet made by Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson alleging that Twitter discriminates against conservatives.

In an email to HuffPost, the acting EPA chief defending his social media use.

“Over the years, I have been a prolific social media user and liked and inadvertently liked countless social media posts,” Wheeler said. “Specifically, I do not remember the post depicting President Obama and the First Lady. As for some of the other posts, I agreed with the content and was unaware of the sources.”

[Raw Story]

Trump suggests Chicago implement ‘stop and frisk’ to curb violence

President Trump said Monday that he’s directed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to provide federal assistance to the city of Chicago to limit gun violence and suggested the city implement the controversial practice of “stop and frisk.”

“We want to straighten it out and straighten it out fast. There’s no reason for what’s going on there,” Trump told law enforcement officials at a convention for the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Trump said he’s urging Chicago officials to “strongly consider stop and frisk.”

“It works, and it was meant for problems like Chicago,” Trump said, garnering applause from the audience.

Trump previously suggested during his 2016 presidential campaign that stop and frisk could be used to help prevent violence in black communities. He has cited its effectiveness in New York City under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), who is now his personal lawyer.

The city’s use of the practice, in which police stop, question and frisk a person on the grounds of reasonable suspicion that either the person is dangerous or a crime has been committed, was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2013.

In addition to proposing Chicago implement the policy, Trump said Monday that he’d like city officials to change a 2016 deal between the police department and the American Civil Liberties Union that required city police to document every street stop they made in an effort to curb racial profiling.

The president suggested that law enforcement had their hands tied by the agreement.

“The crime spree is a terrible blight on that city, and we’ll do everything possible to get it done,” Trump said. “I know the law enforcement people in Chicago, and I know how good they are. They could solve the problem if they were simply allowed to do their job and do their job properly.”

Trump’s directive to get the federal government involved in Chicago comes days after a city police officer was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2014 shooting of teenager Laquan McDonald.

The shooting prompted numerous protests across the city, and the conviction renewed tensions between the community and city law enforcement.

While activists and residents praised the decision as a measure of justice, the Chicago Police union blasted the jury’s decision, calling it a “sham trial and shameful verdict.”

Chicago has long struggled with a reputation as a city beset with gun violence, though The Chicago Tribune reported that there have been fewer shooting victims so far in 2018 than at the same point in the previous two years.

[The Hill]

Reality

Donald Trump isn’t the “law and order candidate,” but the “every failed police tactic that targeted minorities candidate.”

Trump failed to mention that in every city where stop-and-frisk was implemented, they have become case studies in the perils of such an approach.

Four of the five biggest American cities — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia — have all used stop-and-frisk tactics in an attempt to lower crime. Despite what Trump says, the results are mixed, and in each city the methods have been found unconstitutional for disproportionately targeting minorities.

For example, in Donald Trump’s hometown the NYPD’s practices were found to violate New Yorkers’ Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and also found that the practices were racially discriminatory in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Trump wants to take this nationally.

The most proven form of policing is when officers work with communities thereby gaining trust of a population. So when there is an issue in their neighborhood, residents are more likely to open up and offer evidence.

Media

Trump anti-discrimination official once called most hate crimes hoaxes

A senior Trump appointee responsible for enforcing laws against financial discrimination once questioned in blog posts written under a pen name if using the n-word was inherently racist and claimed that the great majority of hate crimes were hoaxes.

Eric Blankenstein, a policy director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, expressed those and other controversial views more than a decade ago on a political blog he co-authored with two other anonymous contributors.

In a 2004 post, Blankenstein wrote that a proposal at the University of Virginia to impose harsher academic penalties for acts of intolerance was “racial idiocy.” He questioned how authorities could know the motivation of someone using a racial slur.

“Fine . . . let’s say they called him n—– ,” he wrote, spelling out the slur. “. . . would that make them racists, or just a——-?”

Blankenstein also wrote that “hate-crime hoaxes are about three times as prevalent as actual hate crimes.”

The details about Blankenstein’s blog have not been previously reported. He wrote under the name “egb3r,” an alias built from his initials. The Washington Post verified the writer is Blankenstein by examining biographical details in the blog that include his age, his graduation from the University of Virginia, the date of his marriage and a reference to his father, a lawyer.

In a statement, Blankenstein acknowledged that he had written the posts but said they have no bearing on his work today. “The insight to be gained about how I perform my job today – by reading snippets of 14 year old blog posts that have nothing to do with consumer protection law — is exactly zero,” he said.

“Any attempt to do so is a naked exercise in bad faith, and represents another nail in the coffin of civil discourse and the ability to reasonably disagree over questions of law and policy,” he said. “The need to dig up statements I wrote as a 25 year old shows that in the eyes of my critics I am not guilty of a legal infraction or neglect of my duties, but rather just governing while conservative.”

Blankenstein, 39, is one of several Trump appointees at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency created by President Barack Obama following the 2008 financial meltdown. He is among the highest paid employees in the government, earning $259,500, records show.

He is responsible for supervising lenders and enforcing an array of consumer protection laws, including the four-decade-old Equal Credit Opportunity Act, landmark civil rights legislation aimed at protecting blacks and other minorities from discriminatory practices and promoting “fair lending.”

[Washington Post]

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.

 

White House: ‘Can’t guarantee’ no tape of Trump using N-word

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday refused to definitively rule out the possibility that President Trump has used the N-word, but repeatedly pointed out the president has denied uttering the racial slur.

“I can’t guarantee anything,” Sanders said when asked if she can assure that the public will never hear a recording of Trump saying the racial slur.

Sanders said she has not “been in every single room” but added that “the president addressed this question directly” and that she has “never heard him say it.”

The remarkable exchange came after former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman wrote in her new tell-all book “Unhinged” that there are tapes of Trump saying the racial slur on the set of his old reality show, “The Apprentice.”

Trump denied that claim in a Monday night tweet, saying an “Apprentice” producer called him “to say that there are NO TAPES of the Apprentice where I used such a terrible and disgusting word as attributed by Wacky and Deranged Omarosa.”

Manigault Newman’s book has caused a major headache for the White House, and Trump has spent the past several days publicly denying her claims and attacking her credibility. The president escalated those attacks on Tuesday morning, calling her a “lowlife” and a “dog.”

“The president is certainly voicing his frustration with the fact that this person has shown a complete lack of integrity,” Sanders said when asked about the tenor of Trump’s rhetoric.

She also denied that his scorched-earth approach is motivated by Manigault Newman’s race. Before her ouster, she was the highest-ranking African-American in the West Wing.

“The president is an equal-opportunity person who calls things like he sees it,” she said, adding that he will always “fight fire with fire.”

Even though Trump and his staff have spent several days pushing back on the book, Sanders blamed the news media for the amount of attention the book is receiving.

“The individuals in this room continue to create a large platform for somebody they know does not have a lot of credibility,” she said.

Trump’s campaign has filed for arbitration against Manigault Newman, claiming she violated a nondisclosure agreement with the publication of “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House.”

[The Hill]

Media

Donald Trump calls Omarosa Manigault Newman ‘that dog’

Donald Trump has escalated a bitter row with his former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, praising his chief of staff, John Kelly, for “quickly firing that dog”.

Manigault Newman, a former adviser to the US president and contestant on the reality TV show The Apprentice, has released three secret recordingsrelated to her firing as she promotes her memoir, Unhinged.

Her TV appearances, and her claim to have heard a tape of Trump using the N-word and other racial slurs during filming for The Apprentice, have annoyed the president, who levelled another barrage of attacks at her on Tuesday, tweeting: “When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”

On Tuesday morning, Manigault Newman revealed on CBS News a third tape that she says records a 2016 conference call among Trump campaign aides who are discussing how to address potential fallout from the release of tapes that allegedly show Trump using the N-word.

The campaign aides had previously denied that any such conversations took place.

On Monday, Trump denied claims of racism and said Manigault Newman was a liar for claiming he used the N-word: “I don’t have that word in my vocabulary and never have. She made it up.”

When Kelly fired Manigault Newman in December in the White House situation room, she secretly taped it, in an apparent breach of security protocol.

In the recording, which she played on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Kelly told Manigault Newman the firing was the result of “significant integrity issues” and that she could face damage to her reputation if she did not make it a “friendly departure”.

On Monday, Manigault Newman released another recording in which Trump appeared to express surprise that she had been fired. “Omarosa? Omarosa, what’s going on? I just saw on the news that you’re thinking about leaving? What happened?” Trump says on the tape, played on NBC’s Today show.

In a later interview on Monday, Manigault Newman said she “absolutely” had more tapes in her possession and warned that there were more to come.

The controversy has raised questions about whether she could face legal repercussions for recording in the situation room.

Defending her actions, Manigault Newman said the recordings were necessary in a White House “where everybody lies”.

Trump’s scathing attack on Manigault Newman is the latest in a string of insults directed at prominent African American people. This month, Trump questioned the intelligence of the basketball star LeBron James, who had criticised the president in an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon. Trump called Lemon the “dumbest man on television”.

Days earlier, Trump said the black California congresswoman Maxine Waters, a Democrat, had a “very low IQ”.

[The Guardian]

Trump renews attacks on NFL players, calling for suspensions

President Trump on Friday renewed his attacks on NFL players who protest during the national anthem, claiming they “wanted to show their ‘outrage’ at something that most of them are unable to define.”

“The NFL players are at it again — taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem,” Trump tweeted.

“Be happy, be cool! A football game, that fans are paying soooo much money to watch and enjoy, is no place to protest,” he continued. “Most of that money goes to the players anyway.”

“Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!” Trump added.

Trump’s new attack came a day after the first big slate of NFL preseason games on Thursday night, during which players from several teams protestedduring “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

[The Hill]

President Trump bashes LeBron James over CNN interview: Don Lemon made him ‘look smart’

It seemed inevitable that President Donald Trump would weigh in on LeBron James’ recent interview with CNN’s Don Lemon.

After four days, Trump finally let loose in a Friday night tweet in which he bashed James and said Lemon’s interview made the new Los Angeles Lakers star “look smart.” The president also alluded to preferring Michael Jordan over James.

After four days, Trump finally let loose in a Friday night tweet in which he bashed James and said Lemon’s interview made the new Los Angeles Lakers star “look smart.” The president also alluded to preferring Michael Jordan over James.

James sat down with Lemon for the interview Monday after he cut the ribbon on his foundation’s new I Promise School in his native Akron, Ohio. James spoke at length on the intersection of sports, culture and politics.

James lamented Trump “using sports to kinda divide us, and that’s something that I can’t relate to.”

“Sports has never been something that divides people. It’s always been something that brings someone together,” he said.

James’ recent criticism of the president is not new. He has been an outspoken critic, famously calling Trump a “bum” after he rescinded a White House invitation to the Golden State Warriors this past season.

However, it appears Trump did not always feel that way toward James. In what is now a seemingly regular occurrence, there’s a tweet for that, as they say. In a post from May of 2013, Trump tweeted, “LeBron is a great player and a great guy!”

[USA Today]

Trump administration to reverse Obama-era guidance on use of race in college admissions

The Trump administration is planning to rescind a set of Obama-era policies that promote using race to achieve diversity in schools, a source familiar with the plans tells CNN.

While the decision does not change current US law on affirmative action it provides a strong illustration on the administration’s position on an issue that could take on renewed attention with the departure of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court.
“The executive branch cannot circumvent Congress or the courts by creating guidance that goes beyond the law and—in some instances — stays on the books for decades,” Justice Department spokesperson Devin O’Malley told CNN in a statement. “Last year, the Attorney General initiated a review of guidance documents, which resulted in dozens of examples—including today’s second tranche of rescissions — of documents that go beyond or are inconsistent with the Constitution and federal law. The Justice Department remains committed to enforcing the law and protecting all Americans from all forms of illegal race-based discrimination.”
The Education Department did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.
The move, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, comes as the administration has thrown its weight behind a student group that accuses Harvard University of discriminating against Asian-Americans in its admissions process.
Last year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was ending the practice of the Justice Department issuing “guidance documents” that have the “effect of adopting new regulatory requirements or amending the law,” without to going through the formal rulemaking process. As a result, 25 documents were rescinded in December.
The guidance that will be reversed Tuesday provided examples of different educational contexts within which institutions could permissibly consider race.
Tuesday’s reversal also does not affect what a school decides to do on its own within the confines of current Supreme Court precedent, but civil rights groups swiftly reacted with disappointment.
“We condemn the Department of Education’s politically motivated attack on affirmative action and deliberate attempt to discourage colleges and universities from pursuing racial diversity at our nation’s colleges and universities,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The rescission of this guidance does not overrule forty years of precedent that affirms the constitutionality of a university’s limited use of race in college admissions. This most recent decision by the Department of Education is wholly consistent with the administration’s unwavering hostility towards diversity in our schools.”
[CNN]

Trump tweets that ‘disrespectful’ Eagles were disinvited because not enough would attend

President Donald Trump spoke out about the whirlwind he caused, by uninviting the Philadelphia Eagles to the White House ceremony.

In a tweet President Trump said: “The Philadelphia Eagles Football Team was invited to the White House. Unfortunately, only a small number of players decided to come, and we canceled the event. Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!”

CNN’s Don Lemon remind viewers on Monday night that not one Eagles player kneeled during the season and called President Trumps’s actions a political stunt.

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney said President Trump “is the most disrespectful person on earth,” during an interview with Lemon.

[Raw Story]

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