Impeached president Donald Trump today tweeted an imaginary law that does not exist.
There is no such law.
It doesn’t exist.
Impeached president Donald Trump today tweeted an imaginary law that does not exist.
There is no such law.
It doesn’t exist.
President Trump on Friday evening commuted the prison sentence of his longtime friend Roger Stone, a veteran Republican operative who was convicted of lying to Congress about his efforts to contact WikiLeaks during Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
“Roger Stone is a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement. “There was never any collusion between the Trump Campaign, or the Trump Administration, with Russia.”
“Roger Stone has already suffered greatly,” she continued. “He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case. Roger Stone is now a free man!”
Stone’s attorney Robert Buschel told NPR, “We are grateful and relieved. Glad this nightmare is over.”
The commutation, which Trump issued days before Stone was to report to federal prison, brings an end to Stone’s legal fight — but only further inflames the political battle over his prosecution and the broader Russia investigation.
Earlier Friday evening, a federal appeals court had denied an emergency bid from Stone to stay out of prison.
The case against Stone was brought by then-special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible ties between Moscow and the Trump campaign.
Stone was indicted on charges of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction. The charges related to his efforts during the 2016 presidential race to act as an intermediary between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks was releasing Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence services, and Stone publicly and privately presented himself as someone with inside knowledge about the group’s operations.
After the election, when Stone was questioned under oath about the matter by the House Intelligence Committee, he lied to lawmakers about his efforts to contact WikiLeaks. He also tried to prevent an associate from testifying before the committee.
After a tumultuous runup to his trial, during which the presiding judge, Amy Berman Jackson, imposed a gag order on Stone after he published a threatening photograph of her, a jury found him guilty on all seven counts in November.
After his trial, Stone raised allegations of juror misconduct and tried to get the verdict dismissed. Jackson entertained the motion, even holding a hearing in which she brought back members of the jury for questioning, but she ultimately rejected Stone’s bid for a new trial and sentenced him to more than three years in prison.
Stone has since appealed his conviction.
In an interview this month with ABC News, Attorney General William Barr called Stone’s prosecution “righteous” and said the sentence handed down was “fair.”
On Twitter Friday night, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said that “commuting Roger Stone’s sentence is a terrible blow to justice and the rule of law.” He added: “Through this act, Trump is saying: ‘If you lie for me, if you cover up for me, if you obstruct for me, I will protect you.’ “
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the lone Republican to vote to convict Trump in his impeachment trial, also blasted the commutation, calling it “[u]nprecedented, historic corruption” on Twitter on Saturday morning.
Donald Trump visited one of his own private golf courses in Virginia on Saturday as America continued to see fallout from a rapid surge in coronavirus cases. The trip came a day after the US president said he would stay in Washington DC to “make sure law and order is enforced” amid ongoing anti-racism protests.
The president has been frequently criticized for the scale of his golfing habit while in office. CNN – which tallies his golfing activities – said the visit to the Trump National course in Loudon county, just outside Washington DC, was the 271st of his presidency – putting him at an average of golfing once every 4.6 days since he’s been in office. His predecessor, Barack Obama, golfed 333 rounds over the two terms of his presidency, according to NBC.
The visit comes as the number of confirmed new coronavirus cases per day in the US hit an all-time high of 40,000, according to figures released by Johns Hopkins on Friday. Many states are now seeing spikes in the virus with Texas, Florida and Arizona especially badly hit after they reopened their economies – a policy they are now pausing or reversing.
Trump has been roundly criticized for a failure to lead during the coronavirus that has seen America become by far the worst hit country in the world. Critics in particular point to his failure to wear a mask, holding campaign rallies in coronavirus hot spots and touting baseless conspiracy theories about cures, such as using bleach.
On Friday night Trump tweeted that he was cancelling a weekend trip to his Bedminster, New Jersey golf course because of the protests which have rocked the capital, including taking down statues of confederate figures.
“I was going to go to Bedminster, New Jersey, this weekend, but wanted to stay in Washington, D.C. to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced. The arsonists, anarchists, looters, and agitators have been largely stopped,” he tweeted.
Trump’s latest visit to the golf course put him in the way of some opposition. According to a White House pool media report: “A small group of protesters at the entrance to the club held signs that included, ‘Trump Makes Me Sick’ and ‘Dump Trump’.
A woman walking a small white dog nearby also gave the motorcade a middle finger salute.”
It is not yet known if Trump actually played a round of golf. But a photographer captured the president wearing a white polo shirt and a red cap, which is among his common golfing attire.
At a White House event on police reform, President Donald Trump seemed to reference the recent destruction of Confederate monuments by protesters, but again made clear he favors preserving those memorials to the pro-slavery South.
During remarks on what the White House calls his “Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities,” Trump concluded a riff on the coronavirus crisis by saying, of a potential vaccine, that “even without it, it goes away.”
“But if we had the vaccine, and we will, if we had therapeutic or cure, one thing is sort of blends into the other, it will be a fantastic day and I think that’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen very soon,” Trump added.
“Americans can achieve anything when we work together as one national family,” he continued. “To go forward we must seek cooperation not confrontation, we must build upon our heritage, not tear it down. And we must cherish the principles of America’s founding as we strive to deliver safe, beautiful, elegant justice. And liberty for all.”
Trump’s remarks in the Rose Garden were for the purpose of announcing an executive order that was prompted by nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd — a strange setting for Trump to renew his longtime defense of the Confederacy and its symbols.
President Donald Trump retweeted a message in which conservative provocateur Candace Owens attacked the character of George Floyd, whose death in police custody has spurred widespread anti-racism protests.
In the message shared by the president, conservative radio host Glenn Beck interviews Owens about Floyd’s death, alongside the message: “I don’t care WHAT George Floyd did. The officer should have never treated him like that and killed him! But we still must ask: Is he a HERO? BLEXIT founder @RealCandaceO gave her thoughts: ‘The fact that he has been held up as a martyr sickens me.'”
“This is a guy with a very long record and a very long criminal record,” Beck said.
Owens describes Floyd as a symbol of the “broken culture in black America today” and asserted that “he was not a good person.”
Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, after a police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes.
Friends, family, former teachers, and colleagues praised him after his death as a “gentle giant,” who moved to Minneapolis to turn his life around after a stint in prison.
“Knowing my brother is to love my brother,” Philonise Floyd, George’s brother, told CNN.“He’s a gentle giant. He don’t hurt anybody.”
Christopher Harris, a close friend of Floyd, told The Guardian, “he was looking to start over fresh, a new beginning,” Harris said. “He was happy with the change he was making.”
Video of the footage, in which Floyd can be heard saying “I can’t breathe,” has spread across the internet, spurring the most widespread popular protests in the US for a generation.
Trump is facing mounting opposition for his response to the unrest. Instead of seeking to unify the country, say critics, the president has sought to portray the protests as instigated by left-wing extremists, and has demanded that authorities “dominate” the protests.
The president has condemned the police actions that led to Floyd’s death in remarks Friday, saying,”Equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement regardless of race, color, gender or creed.
But the president was also accused of disrespecting Floyd’s memory when he claimed that Floyd was “looking down” and rejoicing in “this great day” over better than expected employment figures.
Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, described Trump’s remark as “despicable.
“George Floyd’s last words, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ echoed all across this nation and quite frankly around the world,” said Biden.
“For the president to try to put any other words in the mouth of George Floyd, I frankly think is despicable.”
As the sound of sirens wailed and flash bangs popped across the street, President Donald Trump announced from the Rose Garden that he would use the U.S. military to stop the riots across the county that have been sparked by the death of George Floyd.
“I am mobilizing all federal and local resources, civilian and military, to protect the rights of law abiding Americans,” Trump said in the extraordinary address, which was delivered as police fired tear gas outside to push protesters back from the White House.
“If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said, referring to himself as “your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters.”
To activate the military to operate in the U.S., Trump would have to invoke the 213-year-old Insurrection Act, which four people familiar with the decision had told NBC News he planned to do.
The military police forces would come from Fort Bragg in North Carolina and possibly Fort Belvoir in Virginia and could arrive in Washington within hours, these people said.
Trump’s decision to invoke the act, adopted in 1807, to deploy troops comes as his frustrations mount over the protests that have followed the death of Floyd, a black man who was killed in police custody last week in Minneapolis. The people familiar with his decision said Trump was angry Sunday night at the destruction protestors caused in Washington, particularly the vandalization of national monuments.
Some of the president’s aides have been encouraging him for days to invoke the act, as he weighs options for exercising executive powers to address the crisis. The act was last invoked during the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.
Trump’s remarks came hours after he urged the nation’s governors to get “tough” with unruly demonstrators. “Most of you are weak,” he told them, according to audio of the call obtained by NBC News. “You have to dominate. If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time, they’re gonna run over you, you’re gonna look like a bunch of jerks,” the president said.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment on the president’s plans but at a briefing with reporters Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany left open the possibility that the president could invoke the act.
“The Insurrection Act, it’s one of the tools available, whether the president decides to pursue that, that’s his prerogative,“ McEnany said.
Governors can ask that the federal government send active duty troops to help in cases of civil unrest like the widespread protests plaguing U.S. cities over the last several days. But, so far, no governor has requested active duty troops to assist and instead they have relied on local law enforcement and National Guard soldiers and airmen on state active duty.
Governors often prefer the National Guard forces in these cases because they can legally perform law enforcement duties in the U.S., whereas troops on active duty cannot without violating the Posse Comitatus Act, a 1878 law that prohibits the government from using military forces to act as a police force within U.S. borders.
But the president could invoke the Insurrection Act to deploy active-duty troops without a request from a governor. Those troops would be allowed to conduct law enforcement missions. To invoke the act, Trump would first have to issue a proclamation to “immediately order the insurgents to disperse and retire peaceably to their abodes within a limited time,” according to the law.
In the past the Justice Department has drafted such proclamations. And according to the Congressional Research Service, the act has been invoked many times throughout U.S. history, although rarely since the 1960s civil rights era. When it was invoked in 1992 during the Los Angeles riots, the move was requested by then-California Gov. Pete Wilson, not invoked solely by President George H.W. Bush.
The Defense Department declined to comment on the possibility that the president could invoke the act.
One of Trump’s allies outside the White House, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., urged Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act “if necessary” so U.S. troops can “support our local law enforcement and ensure that this violence ends tonight.”
President Donald Trump on Monday lashed out at governors during a White House videoconference, telling them that “most of you are weak” after states grappled with another night of anger and unrest following the killing of George Floyd last week.
In audio of the call obtained by NBC News, Trump berated governors for their response to the protests, repeatedly criticizing New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, and urged law enforcement to crack down and make more arrests.
“You have to arrest people, you have to try people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again,” Trump said on the call.
Trump called the governors “fools” and expressed anger with Democratic mayors in particular over the protests and unrest ravaging cities nationwide. He was described by one person on the call as “losing it.”
“You have to dominate. If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time, they’re gonna run over you, you’re gonna look like a bunch of jerks,” the president said.
The president also called the initial response in Minnesota “weak and pathetic” and called the state a “laughingstock all over the world.”
Trump focused primarily on “antifa,” or anti-fascists, and Occupy Wall Street, which he said was handled well by comparison.
“This is like Occupy Wall Street. It was a disaster. Until one day somebody said, that’s enough,” Trump said.
Attorney General Bill Barr told the governors that the Justice Department believes protestors are heading to other states with less of a law enforcement presence “where they can go and overwhelm the local police forces.” Barr said there needs to be a focus on stopping “professional instigators and the leadership group.”
During the call, Trump claimed to have intelligence showing who the “bad actors” and professional instigators are, though he did not elaborate.
Trump also asked states to enact laws against flag burning saying the federal government would back them up if they did.
The White House billed the event as a “video teleconference with governors, law enforcement, and national security officials on keeping American communities safe.”
Several governors pushed back on Trump’s narrative, including J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, a Democrat, who told Trump he was “extraordinarily concerned about the rhetoric that’s been used by you. It’s been inflammatory.”
Maine Gov. Janet Mills, also a Democrat, said she was concerned about the president visiting her state this week because of security issues. Trump later said that the governor’s concerns made it more likely he would go to the state.
“You know, she’s tried to talk me out of it, I think she probably talked me into it,” Trump said. “She just doesn’t understand me very well.”
Maine is home to Puritan Medical Products, the company the administration compelled through the Defense Production Act to produce coronavirus testing swabs.
Maine is home to Puritan Medical Products, the company the administration compelled through the Defense Production Act to produce coronavirus testing swabs.
Trump’s response to the unrest has been to call for stronger law enforcement rather than calling for calm or addressing the concerns about police brutality and racism that many protestors say drove them to come out. Critics say an escalation in force would exacerbate already high tensions between protestors and the police.
After another night of protests led to fires and vandalism blocks from the White House, Trump spent Monday morning on Twitter blaming the unrest on antifa and accusing staffers of former Vice President Joe Biden of “working to get the anarchists out of jail.”
Trump had no public events scheduled for Monday, after not appearing in public on Sunday.
Trump’s advisers have been divided over what role the president should take in responding to the widest unrest the country has seen in decades. Some say the president should focus his message on Floyd, the black man who died last week at the hands of Minneapolis police, and urge calm.
Others say the top priority is stopping the violence and looting that have taken place in some areas, arguing that the best path to that end is strong police tactics, not presidential speeches.
The president told Sharyl Attkisson that Sessions “should have never” held the position.
“Jeff Sessions was a disaster as attorney general,” Trump said during the “Full Measure” interview, which aired on Sunday morning. “He’s not mentally qualified to be attorney general. He was the biggest problem.”
Trump’s remarks escalated an ongoing feud between the president and Sessions, a former Republican senator from Alabama who as attorney general recused himself from the FBI’s investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election.
On Saturday, the president formally endorsed college football coach Tommy Tuberville, who is challenging Sessions’s bid to return to the Senate, citing the recusal.
Sessions responded on Twitter, saying, “I did my duty & you’re damn fortunate I did.”
“It protected the rule of law & resulted in your exoneration,” he posted. “Your personal feelings don’t dictate who Alabama picks as their senator, the people of Alabama do.”
Sessions and Tuberville will compete in a July 14 runoff after a close Republican primary election in March. The Republicans seek to unseat Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who took over Sessions’s seat in a 2017 special election.
Trump fired Sessions in November 2018 and told NBC News’s “Meet the Press” last year that Sessions would be his only “do-over” as president.
President Donald Trump on Friday fired Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who had told Congress about the whistleblower complaint that led to Trump’s impeachment, the President told Congress in a letter obtained by CNN.
Atkinson will leave his job in 30 days, Trump told the House and Senate Intelligence committees, and he has been placed on administrative leave effective immediately, according to a congressional source.
Trump did not name a permanent successor.
“As is the case with regard to other positions where I, as President, have the power of appointment … it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general,” Trump wrote. “That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General.”
The announcement that he’s firing Atkinson late on a Friday night comes as the President is dealing with a worldwide pandemic from the novel coronavirus, which has consumed his presidency since the end of the impeachment trial only two months ago. Trump has faced widespread criticism for the federal government’s response to the outbreak, and has said the impeachment trial “probably did” distract him from responding to the virus’ outbreak during the trial in January and early February.
Atkinson’s firing is the latest case of the Trump administration removing officials who took part in the President’s impeachment. Trump also removed Alexander Vindman, a then-National Security Council official who had testified in the House’s proceedings, along with Vindman’s twin brother, both of whom were reassigned out of the NSC, and fired then-US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.
Other officials, including then-US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and her acting successor, Bill Taylor, left the Trump administration after the impeachment proceedings.
Trump also fired former FBI Director James Comey in 2017 while the FBI was investigating the President.
The congressional source said that Atkinson was informed on Friday evening that Trump had fired him. The statute for the intelligence community inspector general requires that both intelligence committees be notified 30 days before the inspector general can be dismissed, so Trump could not immediately remove Atkinson — he could only place him on leave until the 30 days pass.
Top Democrats on the House and Senate Intelligence committees blasted the move.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in statement that Trump must “immediately cease his attacks on those who sacrifice to keep America safe, particularly during this time of national emergency.”
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff of California, who led the House’s impeachment investigation, said the firing was “another blatant attempt by the President to gut the independence of the Intelligence Community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing.”
“This retribution against a distinguished public servant for doing his job and informing Congress of an urgent and credible whistleblower complaint is a direct affront to the entire inspector general system,” Schiff said in a statement.
Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, “In the midst of a national emergency, it is unconscionable that the President is once again attempting to undermine the integrity of the intelligence community by firing yet another an intelligence official simply for doing his job.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the firing was “all too familiar a pattern in this administration.”
“When you speak truth to power, you should be a hero. But in this administration, when you speak truth to power, all too often, you get fired,” Schumer told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield on Saturday.
Atkinson — a career, nonpartisan official — came under fire from the President’s allies last year for alerting lawmakers to the then-unknown whistleblower complaint, which Congress later learned was an allegation that Trump had sought dirt on his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden from Ukraine’s President while withholding US security aid from Kiev.
The allegation sparked a House impeachment inquiry that detailed the quid pro quo effort and led to Trump’s impeachment in December on two articles. The Senate acquitted Trump on both charges in February.
One of the former attorneys for the anonymous whistleblower, Andrew Bakaj, told CNN the firing of ICIG Michael Atkinson was not unexpected yet still “disheartening” and “pretty clearly retaliation” for his role in transmitting the initial complaint to Congress.
“I think Atkinson was quite honorable and acted with integrity. The way he handled himself underscored his independence and neutrality. Not all IG’s have historically done that,” said Bakaj, who no longer represents the whistleblower after they hired new legal counsel earlier this year. “In this case you have an individual who got an allegation, did an investigation and came to an independent conclusion. This is truly a loss to the IG community and also a shot across the bow for any future whistleblowers from coming forward.”
Bakaj said Atkinson “had the courage to do what was right” when he shared the whistleblower complaint with Congress despite clashing with his then-boss, then-acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, over whether it rose to the level of “urgent concern.”
After the whistleblower complaint was shared with Congress, Atkinson testified before the intelligence committees, explaining how he had attempted to corroborate the complaint in order to determine it was credible and should be shared with Congress. Maguire initially pushed back on that recommendation, but the White House ultimately relented and released the complaint.
Bakaj told CNN that Atkinson’s replacement was ultimately expected and, in some ways, serves as a “bookend” for the impeachment saga. “The door is finally closed,” he said, adding that he was alerted that Trump had been planning to fire Atkinson for some time.
Maguire formally resigned from US government service in February after Trump made it clear he would not be nominated for the job full time, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.
Other top intelligence officials also have recently left the administration, after Trump picked US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell to replace Maguire as acting director of national intelligence. Russ Travers, who was head of the National Counterterrorism Center, was fired last month by Grenell in a move that was seen as a removal of someone not perceived as loyal enough.
Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Susan Collins of Maine issued statements later Saturday on Atkinson’s removal.
“Like any political appointee, the Inspector General serves at the behest of the Executive. However, in order to be effective, the IG must be allowed to conduct his or her work independent of internal or external pressure,” said Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “It is my hope the next nominee for the role of ICIG will uphold the same important standards laid out by Congress when we created this role.”
Grassley said that “Congress has been crystal clear that written reasons must be given when IGs are removed for a lack of confidence,” adding, “More details are needed from the administration.”
“The intelligence community inspector general is particularly essential to ensuring the nation’s secrets are well protected and powerful, highly invasive surveillance authorities are not abused. Going forward the ICIG must step up its focus on investigating those abuses and preventing leaks of classified information,” he said.
Collins noted that Trump followed established procedure by notifying Congress 30 days prior to the removal of the inspector general along with the reasons for the removal in line with The Inspector General Reform Act. But she added that she “did not find his rationale for removing Inspector General Atkinson to be persuasive.”
“While I recognize that the President has the authority to appoint and remove Inspectors General, I believe Inspector General Atkinson served the Intelligence Community and the American people well, and his removal was not warranted,” Collins said.
Tom Monheim, a career intelligence official, will be the acting intelligence community inspector general, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
President Donald Trump said Sunday he is “strongly considering” a full pardon of his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
It was unclear what sparked Trump’s tweet Sunday, which came amid the coronavirus outbreak. Trump said “it is reported that” the FBI and the Justice Department “lost” records related to Flynn. Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, has accused the FBI of tampering with the interview notes of her client.
The Justice Department and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment about what Trump was referring to.
Although he pleaded guilty in late 2017, admitting he lied to the FBI about conversations during the Trump transition period with Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Flynn has sought to withdraw his guilty plea, alleging FBI misconduct. That has delayed his sentencing hearing, which had been scheduled to take place Feb. 27.
Last month, NBC News reported that the Justice Department had opened an inquiry into the FBI’s interview of Flynn while he briefly served as Trump’s national security adviser.
Attorney General William Barr asked the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, Jeffrey Jensen, to review the matter, people familiar with the inquiry said.
In October, Trump tweeted that Flynn’s prosecution was “a disgrace.” Earlier last year, he asked “why was I not told” about Flynn’s being under investigation sooner “so that I could make a change?”
Barr’s efforts to take a heavier role in matters within the Justice Department that are of personal interest to the president, including the Flynn case and the sentencing of Trump associate Roger Stone, have come under scrutiny in recent months. Barr is set to testify later this month in front of the House Judiciary Committee about his personal involvement in cases relating to allies of the president (it’s unclear whether the coronavirus outbreak will delay the hearing).
Trump’s tweet Sunday comes nearly a month after he granted clemency to a series of people. He commuted the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was serving a lengthy prison term on corruption charges. Trump also pardoned former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was sentenced in 2010 to four years in prison after pleading guilty to felony charges, including tax fraud and lying to White House officials.