President Trump on Thursday pushed back against questions about whether he may have obstructed the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, asserting that he could have “fired everyone,” including special counsel Robert Mueller, if he had so chosen.
Trump quoted Fox News host Jesse Watters, who said on “The Five” that Trump “was being framed” and “fought back.”
“I had the right to end the whole Witch Hunt if I wanted,” the president tweeted. “I could have fired everyone, including Mueller, if I wanted. I chose not to. I had the RIGHT to use Executive Privilege. I didn’t!”
The president’s tweet came as he traveled aboard Air Force One to Palm Beach, Fla., where he will spend the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort.
A redacted version of Mueller’s full report was released Thursday morning. In it, the special counsel detailed 10 areas where investigators looked at whether Trump may have obstructed justice.
Mueller looked into, among other topics, Trump’s efforts to remove the special counsel, his conduct surrounding the firing of former FBI Director James Comey and his encouragement of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take control of the investigation.
The special counsel ultimately did not exonerate or implicate Trump on obstruction charges.
“[I]f we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment,” the report states.
Attorney General William Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein did not find sufficient evidence to prove obstruction of justice on the part of the president.
Mueller’s report further established there was “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russian government, Barr said.
Trump’s tweet marked one of his few public comments in the wake of the report’s release.
The president briefly addressed the report’s findings at an event for wounded military service members, saying that he was “having a good day” and reiterating his stance the report found “no collusion. No obstruction.”
He also tweeted a photo inspired by the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones” showing him staring into a fog behind the statement: “No collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats—Game Over.”
President Trump on Wednesday took aim at top officials at the FBI as well as Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), accusing them of conspiring to undermine his 2016 campaign and eventual presidency.
Trump tweeted that the dossier authored by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele on behalf of Fusion GPS, a political intelligence firm, and provided to the FBI by Steele had been a “total fraud on your President and the American people!”
“Wow! FBI made 11 payments to Fake Dossier’s discredited author, Trump hater Christopher Steele. @OANN @JudicialWatch The Witch Hunt has been a total fraud on your President and the American people!” he wrote.
“It was brought to you by Dirty Cops, Crooked Hillary and the DNC,” Trump continued.
Trump and his allies have argued for years that the dossier authored by Steele on the president’s ties to Russia, which has not been fully verified, was the impetus for the FBI’s initial investigation of the Trump campaign begun under the Obama administration, which Trump has claimed led to illegal spying on his campaign.
The president’s reelection campaign echoed those claims over the weekend, falsely telling supporters in a fundraising email that Attorney General William Barr had revealed “unlawful” surveillance on the Trump campaign.
“Attorney General William Barr said what the president has thought all along: He believes “unlawful spying did occur” against Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign,” read the fundraising email.
Barr told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing last week that he believes “spying” did occur on the Trump campaign, but made no determination as to whether or not it was conducted legally.
“I think spying did occur,” the attorney general said. “But the question is whether it was adequately predicated and I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that.”
“I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred. I’m saying that I am concerned about it and looking into it. That’s all,” he added.
President Donald Trump issued the second veto of his presidency Tuesday, stopping a congressional resolution that would have sought to end US involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.”
This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future,” Trump wrote to the Senate Thursday.Trump added that the resolution is “unnecessary” in part because there are no United States military personnel in Yemen “commanding, participating in, or accompanying military forces of the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthis in hostilities in or affecting Yemen.” Trump was expected to issue the veto as the resolution was seen as a rebuke of Trump’s Middle East policies.
Supporters of the War Powers Resolution argued the US shouldn’t be involved in the war without explicit permission from Congress. Opponents argued the US does not have “boots on the ground” and is offering noncombat technical assistance to Saudi Arabia, an ally.
Several supporters made clear their votes were also aimed at expressing their frustrations with Trump’s continued support for Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been implicated in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The bill passed the House 247-175. Sixteen Republicans voted yes with Democrats and one voted present. In the Senate the vote was 54 to 46, with seven Republicans voting with Democrats.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not responded to questions on whether she intends to seek a vote to override the President’s veto.
In a statement Tuesday night, Pelosi called on Trump to “put peace before politics.”
“The conflict in Yemen is a horrific humanitarian crisis that challenges the conscience of the entire world. Yet the President has cynically chosen to contravene a bipartisan, bicameral vote of the Congress and perpetuate America’s shameful involvement in this heartbreaking crisis,” Pelosi said.
“This conflict must end, now. The House of Representatives calls on the President to put peace before politics, and work with us to advance an enduring solution to end this crisis and save lives.”
The only other veto Trump has issued was his veto of a resolution of disapproval for his emergency declaration to build barriers along the US border with Mexico. Trump vetoed that resolution last month.
President Trump on Monday attacked The New York Times as “very fake” for publishing an article pointing out most Americans will likely receive a tax cut under his 2017 law, even though a majority say they will not.
Speaking at a Tax Day event in Minnesota, Trump held up a printed copy of the Times article and voiced his displeasure with the headline “Face It: You (Probably) Got a Tax Cut.”
“In other words, they’re really pretty upset. You can tell where they’re coming from, come on,” the president said.
Noting the article pointed out a large majority of Americans are expected to receive cuts, something that is positive for him, Trump said “they must have made a mistake. I’m sure these writers will be fired very shortly.”
Trump continued to tout the effects of his tax law but later added that “nothing good comes from The New York Times,” drawing applause from an audience of supporters inside a trucking and equipment facility outside Minneapolis.
The White House staged Monday’s event in order to promote the tax law, which is Trump’s biggest legislative accomplishment and something he plans to tout during his 2020 reelection race.
Multiple polls show that most Americans believe they are not benefiting from the law, which could limit its effect as a political asset next year. The Times article pointed out the disparity between popular opinion about the law and its actual effects.
“To a large degree, the gap between perception and reality on the tax cuts appears to flow from a sustained – and misleading – effort by liberal opponents of the law to brand it as a broad middle-class tax increase,” it says.
The president has routinely attacked his hometown paper, even though he has sat for multiple interviews with its reporters during his time in office.
His latest remarks came the same afternoon it was announced that the Times had won a Pulitzer Prize for its long-form article investigating Trump’s finances, which said the Trump family has been dodging taxes for years.
The Department of Justice has adopted a narrow interpretation of a
law meant to bar foreign interests from corrupting federal officials,
giving Saudi Arabia, China and other countries leeway to curry favor
with Donald Trump via deals with his hotels, condos, trademarks and golf courses, legal and national security experts say.
The so-called foreign emoluments clause was intended to curb
presidents and other government officials from accepting gifts and
benefits from foreign governments unless Congress consents.
But in a forthcoming article in the Indiana Law Journal, the Washington University Law professor Kathleen Clark reveals justice department filings have recently changed tack. The new interpretation, Clark says, is contained in justice filings responding to recent lawsuits lodged by attorneys generals and members of Congress.
Clark’s article notes that in more than 50 legal opinions over some
150 years justice department lawyers have interpreted the clause in a
way that barred any foreign payments or gifts except for ones Congress
approved. But filings by the department since June 2017 reveal a new
interpretation that “… would permit the president – and all federal
officials – to accept unlimited amounts of money from foreign
governments, as long as the money comes through commercial transactions
with an entity owned by the federal official,” the professor writes.
The justice department stance now closely parallels arguments made in
a January 2017 position paper by Trump Organization lawyer Sheri Dillon
and several of her law partners. On 11 January 2017, just days before
he was sworn in, Dillon said Trump isn’t accepting any payments in his
“official capacity” as president, as the income is only related to his
private business. “Paying for a hotel room is not a gift or a present,
and it has nothing to do with an office,” Dillon said.
That goes against what many experts believe.
“For over a hundred years, the justice department has strictly
interpreted the constitution’s anti-corruption emoluments clause to
prohibit federal officials from accepting anything of value from foreign
governments, absent congressional consent,” Clark told the Guardian.
“In 2017, the department reversed course, adopting arguments nearly
identical to those put forward by Trump’s private sector lawyers.
Instead of defending the republic against foreign influence, the
department is defending Trump’s ability to receive money from foreign
governments,” Clark added.
A justice department spokesperson declined to comment, but pointed to
its filings in the emoluments lawsuits which Clark has noted contain
five arguments similar to those used by Trump’s business lawyers. Among
the key justice arguments is that the foreign emoluments clause only was
intended to prohibit the president accepting gifts and employment
compensation from a foreign government, but allows him to benefit from
what it calls “commercial transactions”.
Other legal scholars also voice strong qualms about the justice
department’s current position on emoluments and criticize the
administration’s lax attitude about conflicts involving Trump and his
“The heart of the matter is that these are clauses meant to guard
against undue foreign influence and conflicts of interest,” John
Mikhail, a professor at Georgetown Law Center, said.
Two attorneys general from the District of Columbia and Maryland have
filed lawsuits arguing the Trump International Hotel in Washington,
where numerous foreign and state delegations have stayed or hosted
events, has violated the anti corruption clauses. Some 200 members of
Congress have also filed a lawsuit alleging that Trump has conflicts of
interest in at least 25 countries.
The inspector general at the General Services Administration, which
oversees the government-owned Old Post Office building leased by the
Trump International Hotel, has faulted the agency for “improperly
ignoring (the) emoluments clauses” and for conflicts of interest
involving the hotel while Trump is in office.
Former intelligence officials also expressed concerns. “There’s a
perception among lobbyists for foreign governments that the White House
is for sale,” said Robert Baer, a 21 year CIA veteran with a Middle East
background. “It’s a counter intelligence nightmare.”
The Trump Organization did pledge that while Trump was president it
would donate any profits from foreign entities to the treasury. To that
end it has written checks for $342,000 to the government covering the
years 2017 and 2018. But some ethics watchdogs have questioned the
methodology for calculating these payments, arguing it doesn’t account
for foreign revenues to Trump businesses which overall have had yearly
Further critics note that while Trump opted to let his two sons run
his real estate businesses, and pledged he would not be involved with it
as long as he was president, he has not been shy about publicly touting
his properties including his Scottish golf course.
chief focus of critics and the emolument lawsuits has been the Trump
International Hotel which has become a mini mecca for numerous foreign
delegations – including ones from Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Turkey and the
Philippines – who have used it for overnight stays and various
The hotel is leased from the GSA for 60 years and located on
Pennsylvania Avenue just a few blocks from the White House. The IG’s
report this January said the lease should have been reviewed again with
Trump’s election to determine if it was in violation of the emoluments
Critics of Trump’s ongoing ties to the Trump International and his
business empire also note that some countries with major political and
business problems in Washington have frequented his properties. “It
appears that President Trump may be benefiting from foreign use of his
properties designed to influence his decisions,” said the former
Republican congressman Mickey Edwards.
For instance, a 60-person Malaysian government delegation stayed at
Trump International in the fall of 2017 at a time when the justice
department was conducting a major corruption investigation of Malaysian
officials including the then prime minister, Najib Razak, who had a
White House meeting with Trump during their stay, as first reported by
radio station WAMU and Reveal.
Meanwhile, lobbyists for Saudi Arabia, which has aggressively courted
Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, spent at least $270,000 at his DC
hotel after Trump won the election, booking 500 rooms over an estimated
three-month period, according to a Washington Post report.
Last March, a Saudi delegation traveling with the country’s Crown
Prince Mohammed bin Salman seemed to enjoy a lavish stay at Trump’s New
York hotel, which helped to reverse a two-year revenue decline at the
property, according to the Washington Post.
These foreign dealings with Trump hotels are exhibit A for many
critics of the weak kneed enforcement of the emoluments clause in the
“This administration gives off every appearance of turning the White
House into a giant cash register,” said Mikhail. “ Rather than drawing
bright lines between the Trump Organization and the Trump administration they seem intent on blurring those lines.”
The lawsuits have to wend their way through the courts – which could
see tough battles given mixed court rulings thus far. But critics in
Congress and outside are raising more questions about emoluments and
Trump’s business conflicts as new issues keep arising.
“Congress now must conduct independent oversight so the American
people can determine for themselves whether the President is acting in
our nation’s best interests or his own,” said congressman Elijah
Cummings, the chairman of the House committee on oversight and reform.
Mike Carpenter, who served on the National Security Council in the
Obama years, added: “When foreign powers patronize the president’s
businesses it creates an enormous national security risk.”
President Donald Trump tweeted out on Saturday night that “the USA has the absolute legal right” to send migrants to sanctuary cities.
“Just out: The USA has the absolute legal right to have apprehended illegal immigrants transferred to Sanctuary Cities. We hereby demand that they be taken care of at the highest level, especially by the State of California, which is well known or its poor management & high taxes!” Trump wrote.
Trump’s tweet comes just following a segment on Fox News where his deputy Press Secretary defended the plan.
Speaking with Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro on Saturday, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley praised Trump’s proposal.
He claimed, though, that the actual transport hasn’t started yet because Trump is still considering all of his options and they are still working on the legality of the issue.
In defense of Trump’s proposal, Gidley said this:
“They are telling us you cannot keep family units who come here illegally and unlawfully at the southern border. You can’t keep them at detention facilities. You can’t deport them. The only thing you can do is as an administration is release them into American communities…So, the president said listen, there are sanctuary cities out there where Democrats have said we welcome any and all whether they criminals, whether they are here illegally, seeking asylum, regardless. Anybody who disagrees with us is racist. So the president said fine, I’ve got a great idea. We’d love to work with you guys to figure out exactly the best way to transport these people were here illegally and unlawfully and into your communities and your districts and your states.”
Gidley then added that not a single Democrat has signed up for the plan.
Pirro next asked when all this was going to start.
“He’s looking at any and all options right now,” Gidley said, referring to Trump. “We’re going through the process, reviewing everything we can do lawfully.”
Pirro then asked if it had started already.
“Not yet, we’re trying to figure out if we can do that Legally,” Gidley replied.
A few minutes later, Trump tweeted out that the “USA has the absolute legal right” to what he wants and send migrants to sanctuary cities.
President Donald Trump again threatened to send asylum seekers to sanctuary cities.
“Democrats must change the immigration laws fast,” Trump demanded, despite nothing being done during the two years of his presidency that Republicans controlled both houses of Congress.
Trump then branded immigrants as “criminals of all shapes.”
“If not, sanctuary cities must immediately act to take care of the illegal immigrants – and this includes gang members, drug dealers, human traffickers, and criminals of all shapes, sizes and kinds,” Trump continued.
Back from his round of golf with Tiger Woods, President Donald Trumptook to Twitter on Saturday evening to bash the New York Times for being corrupt after running a story about sanctuary cities.
“The New York Times Sanctuary Cities/Immigration story today was knowingly wrong on almost every fact. They never call to check for truth. Their sources often don’t even exist, a fraud. They will lie & cheat anyway possible to make me look bad. In 6 years they will be gone,” Trump wrote.
He also insisted that the paper had to beg subscribers for forgiveness after botching coverage of the 2016 election.
“When I won the Election in 2016, the @nytimes had to beg their fleeing subscribers for forgiveness in that they covered the Election (and me) so badly,” Trump wrote. “They didn’t have a clue, it was pathetic. They even apologized to me. But now they are even worse, really corrupt reporting!”
Trump, by the way, doesn’t exactly have his facts right. The New York Timesactually reported that they had a “Trump bump” as a result of the election.
More than three million paid digital-only subscribers. More than four million total.
The New York Times Company announced on Thursday that it surpassed those milestones during the third quarter of 2018, when the number of its digital subscribers showed a net increase of roughly 203,000.
That was the highest gain in digital subscribers in a quarter since the so-called Trump bump in the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 after the presidential election.
During President Donald Trump’s visit to the border at Calexico, California, a week ago, where he told border agents to block asylum seekers from entering the US contrary to US law, the President also told the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, Kevin McAleenan, that if he were sent to jail as a result of blocking those migrants from entering the US, the President would grant him a pardon, senior administration officials tell CNN.
Two officials briefed on the exchange say the President told McAleenan, since named the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, that he “would pardon him if he ever went to jail for denying US entry to migrants,” as one of the officials paraphrased.
It was not clear if the comment was a joke; the official was not given any further context on the exchange.The White House referred CNN to the Department of Homeland Security. A DHS spokesman told CNN, “
At no time has the President indicated, asked, directed or pressured the Acting Secretary to do anything illegal. Nor would the Acting Secretary take actions that are not in accordance with our responsibility to enforce the law.”
President Trump said on Friday that his administration was “strongly” considering releasing migrants detained at the border into mostly Democratic “sanctuary cities,” suggesting that the idea should make liberals “very happy” because of their immigration policies.
“We are looking at the possibility, strongly looking at it to be honest with you,” he said on Friday in response to a question about the proposal.
“We might as well do what they always say they want,” Mr. Trump said if Democrats do not agree to new immigration policies. “We’ll bring them to sanctuary city areas and let that particular area take care of it,” he said, adding that California welcomed the idea of more people coming to the state.
“We can give them a lot. We can give them an unlimited supply,” he said.
“Democrats say we must have open borders and that illegal immigrants have a right to be in this country at all costs,” the spokesman, Hogan Gidley, said, adding, “so they should be working with the administration to find the best ways to transport those illegal aliens that are already set for release, into communities in their districts and states.”
Democratic lawmakers do not want “open borders,” as the president has suggested. They favor improving border security, but they do not support many of Mr. Trump’s hard-line immigration policy proposals, such as building a wall along the southwestern border.
Last year, Trump administration officials had floated the idea of transporting migrants to sanctuary cities, which do not strictly adhere to federal immigration laws, as a way to address the influx of migrants crossing the border with Mexico.
One of the highest-profile sanctuary cities is San Francisco, home to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is one of the president’s top political rivals and a thorn in his efforts to change American immigration laws. The White House raised the proposal again in February, suggesting it could punish Democrats for rejecting budget requests for border security.
Ms. Pelosi’s office condemned the Trump administration for the idea, which the Department of Homeland Security said on Thursday was ultimately rejected.
But Mr. Trump’s tweets on Friday indicated it was not off the table, and the president appeared to revel in the Democratic outrage, saying, “The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!”
Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, a state with several sanctuary cities, criticized the president’s proposal.
“Trump’s plan to release migrants into ‘enemy’ cities as if they are some kind of contagion is reprehensible,” Mr. Markey tweeted. “Trump is obsessed with the border and sanctuary cities because he only wins by dividing people.”
There has been an influx of migrant families crossing the southern border into the United States, exceeding the staffing and resources available for immigration enforcement. And with a shortage of space in shelters and detention centers, immigration officials have been releasing migrants into the country as they wait to appear before an immigration court. Those courts are so backlogged with cases that it can be months or years before the migrants are called to appear before a judge.