Trump calls for DOJ to investigate Obama over Iran

President Donald Trump was up early Sunday morning, tweeting that he can’t understand why former President Barack Obama was not investigated for the Iran deal before then launching an attack on House intel member Adam Schiff (D-CA).

Hours after undermining his own National Security Adviser on Twitter, Trump went after Obama.

“Never gotten over the fact that Obama was able to send $1.7 Billion Dollars in CASH to Iran and nobody in Congress, the FBI or Justice called for an investigation!” Trump wrote.

You can see the tweets below:

[Raw Story]

Reality

In 1979, Iran’s then-monarch Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi paid $400 million to the United States government to purchase military parts. But that year’s revolution toppled the shah, and the military parts were never delivered.

To regain its funds, Iran filed a claim against the United States in 1981 in the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, which adjudicates disputes between the two nations. The body, located at the Hague, was established amid negotiations to end the 1979-81 Iran hostage crisis, in which pro-revolution students took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

Trump: Media’s ‘Approval Ratings Are Correctly at Their Lowest Levels In History’

President Donald Trump is back on Twitter. And guess what? He’s taking aim at the “Fake News Media” again.

In his first tweet of the day, the president complained that the media is not paying attention to all of the positive stuff going on in the country and instead churning out the “same negative stories.”

[Mediaite]

Trump administration just yanked press access of a journalist who wouldn’t censor his story

This story, in which the Trump-appointed administrator of a federal agency apparently summarily banned an American journalist from participating in news conferences after the reporter refused to remove sentences in one of his stories that the administrator wanted removed, is striking, and not just because it represents a direct Trump administration attempt to censor what is reported in the press.

The short version is that Modern Healthcare reporter Virgil Dickson was removed from an agency telephone-held press conference and told he was not allowed to participate after someone within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, now headed by Seema Verma, a Pence-tied conservative whose healthcare vision primarily consists of Americans getting less of it, took issue with his reporting on the “abrupt” resignation of a top Medicaid official.

After the article appeared, Dickson received an email from Brett O’Donnell, a communications contractor working for CMS. O’Donnell called reports of a disagreement or workload problems “false speculation” and said it was “irresponsible” to mention them without more details. […]
The next day, O’Donnell wrote to Dickson’s editor, Matthew Weinstock, asserting that the article was inaccurate and demanding that the references to workload and the disagreement be excised. O’Donnell’s email also stated: “Short of fully correcting the piece we will not be able to include your outlet in further press calls with CMS.”

Dickson and his editor stood their ground—and at the next press call with CMS, Dickson was indeed removed from the call.

So we have a federal agency curtailing press access to reporters whose stories contain unpleasantries, which is off the bat not what we are supposed to be doing. But that’s only half of it.

The person to call Dickson to make this demand is a curious character:

O’Donnell, the consultant who threatened to blackball Modern Healthcare, is not a member of the media affairs offices for CMS or for HHS.He is a Republican strategist who has helped GOP candidates in their political campaigns. In 2015, O’Donnell pleaded guilty to lying to U.S. House ethics investigators about how much campaign work he did with money that came from office accounts rather campaign accounts.

O’Donnell, reached by email, declined to answer questions from AHCJ.

So he is apparently a consultant for the agency rather than an employee because he was too crooked for the post? Or does the Republican “strategist” find it more strategic to be off-payroll?

And what idiot hired a man fresh off a guilty plea for lying to investigators? Oh. Right. These clowns. And these clowns have apparently enlisted a consultant fresh off a guilty plea for lying to government investigators to help administrator Seema Verma purge the nation’s papers of … reporting she doesn’t like?

[Daily Kos]

Donald Trump thinks not clapping for him is ‘treasonous’

President Donald Trump wasn’t — and, apparently, still isn’t — happy that Democrats in Congress didn’t stand to applaud him in his State of the Union address last week.

Here’s what Trump told a crowd in Cincinnati in a speech on Monday afternoon:

“They were like death and un-American. Un-American. Somebody said, ‘treasonous.’ I mean, Yeah, I guess why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean they certainly didn’t seem to love our country that much.”

So, here we are. Again.

Let’s quickly define “treason,” shall we?

Here’s how Merriam-Webster does it:

“The offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign’s family.”

Trump loyalists will dismiss all of this as much ado over nothing. He was joking! He didn’t even say that it was treasonous! He was just agreeing with people who said it was treasonous!

Fine. Also, wrong. And missing the point in a major way.

The point? It’s this: Not standing during applause lines for the State of the Union isn’t treasonous or un-American. Not even close.

If it was, all of the Republicans in that chamber are treasonous and un-American as well because when former President Barack Obama would tout his accomplishments in office — as Trump was doing last Tuesday night — lots and lots of Republican legislators would sit on their hands while the Democratic side of the aisle erupted in cheers. And so on and so forth for every president before him (and after).

Then there is the fact that the specific “treasonous” instance Trump was referring to had to do with his touting of historically low African-American unemployment — a bit of a cherry-picked fact based off of a single month’s economic report. By the time the new report for January came out last Friday, black unemployment had ticked up almost a point and was no longer close to a historic low.

Treason is Benedict Arnold. (Side bar: Read Nathaniel Philbrick’s “Valiant Ambition” about Arnold and George Washington.) Treason isn’t refusing to applaud when the President of the United States thinks you should.

Like with many things Trump says or tweets, there’s a natural tendency to just shrug it off. To do that, however, is to miss something very important — and concerning — at work here.

What Trump is saying is that dissent — which is what Democrats are doing when they choose not to clap for a line in his speech — is traitorous and/or un-American. That if these non-clappers really loved the country, they would be applauding when he touted how low black unemployment had dipped under his tenure.

If you think that’s totally OK, flip the script. Put a Democratic president in office. And have him or her chastise Republicans as treasonous because they didn’t applaud for the fact that something close to universal health care has been achieved. Would that be a reasonable charge? Or is it possible that while Republicans agree that more people having health insurance is a good thing, they fundamentally disagree with the way in which it was implemented?

You don’t have to imagine it. Because that’s what happened during several of President Obama’s State of the Union addresses. Except that Obama never suggested those non-clapping Republicans didn’t love America.

Even the suggestion of criminalizing dissent should send a chill down the spine of anyone who counts themselves as a fan of democracy. The right to dissent — without fear of retribution — sits at the heart of what differentiates America from authoritarian countries around the world.

When you have a president float the idea that not clapping at moments when he believes clapping is appropriate sends a very powerful message to the country about how we do (and should) deal with those who disagree with us. And that goes for whether he was “joking” or not.

It’s a very bad message — no matter whether you agree with Trump or not.

[CNN]

Media

Trump asked Rosenstein about Russia probe, if he was on Trump’s ‘team’

President Trump reportedly asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein if he was on Trump’s “team” at a December meeting.

CNN reported that Rosenstein met with Trump in hopes of getting his support against House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who was seeking sensitive documents for his classified memo purporting to detail surveillance abuses by the government.

At the meeting, Trump reportedly asked Rosenstein about the direction of the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, and asked directly if Rosenstein was “on my team.”

Rosenstein replied, “of course, we’re all on your team, Mr. President,” according to CNN’s sources.

Trump has considered firing Rosenstein in recent weeks according to a recent CNN report, telling aides “let’s fire him.” Rosenstein is the top Justice Department official in charge of the Russia investigation.

[The Hill]

Trump’s slap at ‘fake’ media draws boos, hisses from Davos crowd

President Trump’s swipe at the “fake” news media Friday at the World Economic Forum prompted some hissing and booing from the audience.

During a question-and-answer session with the forum’s founder after his main speech to the group, Trump said it wasn’t until he became a politician that he realized “how nasty, how mean, how vicious and how fake the press can be.”

The comment prompted some scorn from the room.

He had been asked by founder Klaus Schwab about how his past experiences had prepared him for the Oval Office. Trump noted that a businessman had never been elected president.

He said he was often “treated well” by the news media when he was a New York developer but that treatment changed when he entered politics.

Earlier Friday, Trump branded as “fake news” a story by The New York Times that he had tried to fire special counselor Robert Mueller in June.

“Fake news, folks. Fake news. Typical New York Times fake stories,” he said as was he walking a groups of reporters.

[USA Today]

Media

FBI director Chris Wray replaces Comey holdover with Trump loyalist amid pressure from AG Sessions to ‘clean house’

FBI Director Christopher Wray has announced the replacements for two top FBI jobs that worked under ex-director James Comey, amid pressure from the attorney general and White House to “clean house” during special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

As The Washington Post reported Tuesday, Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, was named as the replacement for former FBI general counsel James Baker, who “was reassigned late last year.” He also appointed Zachary J. Harmon, a colleague from the law firm he worked for prior to taking the helm of the bureau, as his new chief of staff after his old one, Jim Rybicki, left to take a private sector job.

Baker’s reassignment in December came amid right-wing media speculation that he “leaked” information from the bureau and was an ally to Comey, who defended him on Twitter in the days after he was moved to a different position.

Boente, the Post noted, may be seen as a loyalist for President Donald Trump despite being appointed to his U.S. attorney position President Barack Obama. After acting Attorney General Sally Yates refused to back Trump’s travel ban, Boente stepped forward to defend it.

The announcement of the filled positions came after reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been pressuring Wray to reshuffle positions in the bureau. Yesterday, Axios reported that Wray threatened to quit if he were forced to fired Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, a foe of the Trump administration despite being appointed as acting director of the bureau following Comey’s firing.

[Raw Story]

Trump Mocks ‘Crazy Jim Acosta’ By Misquoting Him: ‘Thank You For Your Honesty Jim!’

President Donald Trump took a victory lap over the end of the government shutdown early Tuesday morning, making sure to include a bizarre jab at CNN’s Chief White House correspondent “Crazy” Jim Acosta in a tweet.

It’s not his best nickname, but then again the president has been slacking on those as of late, so that’s to be expected.

“Even Crazy Jim Acosta of Fake News CNN agrees,” Trump wrote, quoting the reporter:

“Thank you for your honesty Jim!” the president added, perhaps signaling a turning point in the pair’s frosty relationship?

Trump seems to be misquoting this Monday tweet from Acosta, in which he reported that his White House sources were “dancing in end zone,” before quoting sources as claiming that Democrats “caved…gambled and lost” in their negotiations:

It’s not clear (it never is) whether Trump understands that Acosta’s tweet is composed of quotes, or if he’s deliberately trolling the White House reporter.

The government shutdown came to a close after a solid 69 hours on Monday, after Trump signed a bill to fund the government through February 8.

[Mediaite]

Trump Expels CNN’s Acosta From Oval Office For Asking Questions About Sh*tholegate: ‘Out!’

President Donald Trump ordered CNN’s Jim Acosta to be expelled from the Oval Office on Tuesday after the CNN White House correspondent tried to ask him questions during a press pool.

Trump allowed the media to join him today as he welcomed Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev to the White House. As Trump finished his statement, Acosta moved to inquire about the immigration meeting where Trump spoke of “sh*thole countries.”

When asked if he wants immigrants to come from Norway, Trump responded “I want them to come in from everywhere. Everywhere.” As Acosta tried to follow up by asking Trump if he wants more immigrants from white or caucasian countries, Trump pointed at him and said “out.”

Acosta spoke about this with Wolf Blitzer afterwards and said it was clear the president was ordering him out of the room. Acosta said he tried to ask his questions again when Trump and Nazarbayev gave a joint statement later on, but Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley “got right up in my face” and started shouting at him to block out any questions.

“It was that kind of a display,” Acosta recalled. “It reminded me of something you might see in less democratic countries when people at the White House or officials of a foreign government attempt to get in the way of the press in doing their jobs.”

[Mediaite]

Media

Trump attacks Wall Street Journal for quoting him accurately on North Korea, as audio confirms

This weekend, the White House has been lashing out at the Wall Street Journal, quibbling over a quote President Donald Trump made about his relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. The Journal reported that Trump said, “I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea,” while the White House contends that Trump said “I’d probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted out Saturday evening that the Journal’s reporting was “fake news.”

Though the Journal had released its audio the day before, Sanders then released the “official” White House audio at midnight Sunday morning.

On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted his own attacks about the interview, claiming the Journal “stated falsely” that he has a good relationship with Kim Jong Un.

But the Journal stands by its reporting, as well as the transcription provided by an independent transcription service. Neither version of the audio provides any audible or contextual indication that Trump said “I’d” in a line of comments about foreign relationships that were otherwise not conditional. Moreover, the transcript of the interview shows that the Journal’s own reporters clearly heard “I” — not “I’d” — and asked a follow-up question, which the President refused to answer:

TRUMP: …I have a great relationship with him, as you know I have a great relationship with Prime Minister Abe of Japan and I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea. I have relationships with people, I think you people are surprised.

WSJ: Just to be clear, you haven’t spoken to the North Korean leader, I mean when you say a relationship with Korea—

TRUMP: I don’t want to comment on it—I don’t want to comment, I’m not saying I have or I haven’t. But I just don’t—

WSJ: Some people would see your tweets, which are sometimes combative towards Kim Jong Un…

TRUMP: Sure, you see that a lot with me and then all of a sudden somebody’s my best friend. I could give you 20 examples. You give me 30. I’m a very flexible person.

It’s unclear exactly what this quibbling is designed to accomplish, though it certainly draws more attention — not less — to the possibility that the White House has a relationship with North Korea of a different nature than it has previously indicated.

It may, however, also be a form of retaliation against the Journal for something totally unrelated. The Journal published its story about Trump’s Kim Jong Un comments on Thursday, then on Friday published a report that shortly before the 2016 election, the Trump Organization paid an adult film star, Stephanie Clifford (stage name Stormy Daniels), $130,000 to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump. It was only after this report that the White House began criticizing the Journal’s reporting on the relationship with North Korea.

[ThinkProgress]

Media

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