Trump: “I didn’t call Bob Costa!!! I called Bob Costa!!!”

President Donald Trump responded to a couple of throwaway lines by MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson with a furious denial that accidentally confirmed the comment he was initially pushing back against.

The president again spent the morning Wednesday tweeting in apparent response to reports he was watching on TV, as he’s done all week, and seemed to have been angered by remarks Jackson made in passing during a discussion of a Washington Post report.

“The president called up the friend of our show Bob Costa overnight on an unrelated topic,” Jackson said, “and Bob smartly asked him about all of these subpoenas that House Democrats are issuing against the Trump administration, and the president made the argument to the Post, ‘Hey, I cooperated plenty with Robert Mueller, what do I have to cooperate with Congress for?”

Jackson had introduced the segment by pointing out that the president had called Costa, the Post reporter, and Trump responded about five minutes later with an angry denial that also confirmed the broadcaster’s account about who had initiated the call.

[Raw Story]

Trump says he would challenge impeachment in Supreme Court

President Trump on Wednesday said that he would attempt to challenge impeachment in the Supreme Court if Democrats carried out such proceedings, though it’s unclear the high court would hear such a case.

“The Mueller Report, despite being written by Angry Democrats and Trump Haters, and with unlimited money behind it ($35,000,000), didn’t lay a glove on me. I DID NOTHING WRONG,” Trump tweeted.

“If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court. Not only are there no ‘High Crimes and Misdemeanors,’ there are no Crimes by me at all,” he continued.

The president accused Democrats, Hillary Clinton and “dirty cops” of being guilty of criminal activity.

“We waited for Mueller and WON, so now the Dems look to Congress as last hope!” Trump concluded.

The House holds the power to carry out impeachment proceedings, while the Senate is responsible for whether to convict the individual in question. The chief justice of the Supreme Court, currently John Roberts, would preside over the Senate trial.

There is little precedent to support the idea of the Supreme Court weighing in on the merits of impeachment, as a sitting president has not previously challenged impeachment proceedings in the high court.

The Supreme Court ruled in the 1993 case of federal Judge Walter Nixon that whether the Senate properly conducted an impeachment trial was a political question, and therefore nonjusticiable.

Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, rejected the possibility of Trump taking an impeachment to the Supreme Court.

“Not even a SCOTUS filled with Trump appointees would get in the way of the House or Senate, where [Chief Justice] Roberts would preside over Trump’s Impeachment Trial,” tweeted Tribe, an outspoken critic of the president.

The president has been fixated in recent days on pushing back against the specter of impeachment proceedings, while maintaining that he is “not even a little bit” concerned about the possibility of removal from office.

Democratic leaders have largely said they don’t yet support starting the impeachment process, but remained open to the possibility in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller‘s full report.

In the partly redacted document, investigators did not establish that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 election, but did not exonerate Trump on the question of obstruction of justice. 

Investigators instead detailed 10 episodes they reviewed for potential obstruction by the president, with Mueller saying that Congress has the authority to conduct potential obstruction probes.

Talk of whether to carry out impeachment hearings has split Democrats, and discussions have intensified in the aftermath of Mueller’s report.

“I do believe that impeachment is one of the most divisive forces, paths that we could go down to in our country,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday. “But if the facts, the path of fact-finding takes us there, we have no choice. But we’re not there yet.”

House Democrats have launched a flurry of investigations into the president, seeking to review his finances, potential abuse of power and corruption within the administration.Trump later asserted in a pair of tweets that he had been cooperative with the Mueller investigation, and suggested Congress should focus on legislation instead of seeking additional information from the White House as part of its own probes. “Millions of pages of documents were given to the Mueller Angry Dems, plus I allowed everyone to testify, including W.H. counsel. I didn’t have to do this, but now they want more,” Trump tweeted. “Congress has no time to legislate, they only want to continue the Witch Hunt, which I have already won. They should start looking at The Criminals who are already very well known to all. This was a Rigged System – WE WILL DRAIN THE SWAMP!”

[The Hill]

Trump questions impeachment talk after stock market hits record high

President Trump on Tuesday lamented that some Democrats are discussing the prospect of impeachment proceedings on the same day that the stock market closed at record highs, suggesting he should be given more credit.

“You mean the Stock Market hit an all-time record high today and they’re actually talking impeachment!?” Trump tweeted. “Will I ever be given credit for anything by the Fake News Media or Radical Liberal Dems? NO COLLUSION!”

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite closed at record highs on Tuesday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 26,656.39, 1.1 percent short of an all-time high.

Trump has regularly taken credit for good news on the stock market, and he has previously questioned how lawmakers could move to impeach “somebody who’s done a great job.”

A pair of high-profile Democrats were asked at the Time 100 Summit on Tuesday about where they stand on launching impeachment proceedings, a topic that has dominated discussions since special counsel Robert Mueller‘s report was released last week.

In the partly redacted document, investigators did not establish that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 election, but did not exonerated Trump on the question of obstruction of justice. Investigators instead detailed 10 episodes they reviewed for potential obstruction by the president, with Mueller saying that Congress has authority to conduct potential obstruction probes.

“I do believe that impeachment is one of the most divisive forces, paths that we could go down to in our country,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday. “But if the facts, the path of fact-finding takes us there, we have no choice. But we’re not there yet.”

Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in the 2016 election, said impeachment proceedings should “be something undertaken in a really serious, diligent way, based on evidence.”

She suggested that Trump would have been indicted for obstruction of justice as a result of Mueller’s probe if he weren’t the sitting president.

J.W. Verret, who served as one of the first 16 members of then-candidate Trump’s pre-transition team, said Tuesday that he believes Mueller’s report amounted to “a referral to Congress to begin impeachment proceedings.”

As Democratic leaders and media pundits weigh the merits of impeachment proceedings, Trump has been openly defiant about the prospect.

He has tweeted about the possibility multiple times in recent days, asserting Monday that he did not commit actions that reach the threshold of “high crimes and misdemeanors” that could lead to impeachment.

Trump told reporters at Monday’s White House Easter Egg Roll that he was “not even a little bit” worried about impeachment. 

[The Hill]

Trump retweets hit list suggesting he’s going after Obama, Biden, Brennan, Clapper the Democratic Party and more

On Monday, President Donald Trump retweeted a ‘hit list’ from Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, a conservative self-styled watchdog group.

Fitton tweeted a list out with Democrats name who believed have abused President Donald Trump.

People on the list included Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton.

[Raw Story]

Trump: ‘Nobody disobeys my orders’

President Trump on Monday said “nobody disobeys” his orders after special counsel Robert Mueller wrote in his report that Trump attempted to influence the Russia investigation but was unsuccessful because his aides didn’t follow his demands.

“Nobody disobeys my orders,” Trump told reporters outside of the White House at Monday’s Easter Egg Roll.

A redacted version Mueller’s report, which was released Thursday, detailed several cases in which Trump potentially obstructed justice.

But Mueller wrote that Trump’s efforts “were mostly unsuccessful” in influencing the probe because those around him “declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

“The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” the report reads.

In one instance, Trump in 2017 ordered then-White House counsel Don McGahn to remove Mueller. McGahn refused, according to the report, which states that he decided “that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre.” 

Trump: ‘I could have fired everyone’ on Mueller team if I wanted to

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.”

Trump did not address reporters as he departed the White House for Florida.

[The Hill]

Trump slams ‘dirty cops’ at FBI over Steele dossier

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.

[MSN]

Trump attacks ‘very fake’ New York Times for tax law piece

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 Hill]

Trump hotels exempted from ban on foreign payments under new stance

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 business empire.

“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 losses.

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. Advertisement

A 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 meetings.

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 clause.

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 Trump era.

“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.”

[The Guardian]

Trump Claims ‘USA has the Absolute Legal Right’ to Send Migrants to Sanctuary Cities

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.

[Mediaite]

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