Trump accuses NYT reporter of breaking the law by alerting FBI to Kushner meetings with Russians

President Donald Trump accused a New York Times reporter of breaking the law by tipping off the FBI to developments in the Russia investigation.

Times reporter Michael Schmidt alerted the FBI’s assistant director for public affairs in March 2017 that he and some colleagues had found out Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn had met in December 2016 with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who then set up a meeting between Trump’s son-in-law and a Russian banker.

Schmidt’s email was then forwarded to FBI special agent Peter Strzok, who was leading the bureau’s Russia investigation, and Jonathan Moffa, an FBI counterintelligence officer, reported the Washington Examiner.

Trump reacted with a pair of tweets suggesting that Schmidt had fed false information to the FBI.

“Just revealed that the Failing and Desperate New York Times was feeding false stories about me, & those associated with me, to the FBI,” Trump tweeted. “This shows the kind of unprecedented hatred I have been putting up with for years with this Crooked newspaper. Is what they have done legal?”

[Raw Story]

Trump Rebrands Air Force One to “Trump Force One”

President Trump on Thursday displayed a model of a redesigned Air Force One during an Oval Office meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The plane featured a red, white and blue paint design, which Trump has been pushing for as part of a contract for new Air Force One jets.

The model plane sat on a desk in front of the two leaders as they discussed Iran, China and other topics for roughly 10 minutes.

“It’s going to be terrific,” Trump said of the new plane, calling it an “upgrade” over the current model.

Trump last week shared renderingsof the redesigned presidential plane during an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. The red, white and blue design would replace the traditional white and baby blue that has been used on the presidential aircraft dating back to the Kennedy administration.

Some observers noted that the new pattern is similar to the former Trump Shuttle planes that the president managed decades ago as a private businessman.

The new Boeing planes are set to be delivered by the end of 2024, which would be the end of a possible second term for Trump.

The president’s desired redesign could face a roadblock, as a House panel voted last week to approve an amendment that would require the Trump administration to get congressional approval for any “work relating to aircraft paint scheme, interiors and livery” before it takes place.

[The Hill]

Trump threatened Time magazine reporter with prison time

President Trump reportedly appeared to threaten a Time magazine reporter with prison time after a photographer tried to take a picture of a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Time reports.

During an interview with the publication in the Oval Office on Monday, Trump asked the reporters to go off the record while he showed them the letter he received from Kim.

According to the interview transcript, the photographer appeared to try and snap a photo of the document, but White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it wasn’t allowed.

Later on in the interview, the publication asked Trump about former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who testified that the president, “under threat of prison time,” told him to direct former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his recusal from the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian election interference.

“Excuse me,” Trump said. “Under Section II — well, you can go to prison instead, because, if you use, if you use the photograph you took of the letter I gave you … confidentially, I didn’t give it to you to take photographs of it.

“So don’t play that game with me,” Trump said.

“I’m sorry, Mr. President,” the reporter responded. “Were you threatening me with prison time?”

“Well, I told you the following. I told you you can look at this off-the-record. That doesn’t mean you take out your camera and start taking pictures of it. O.K.?” Trump said. “So I hope you don’t have a picture of it.”

“You can’t do that stuff,” he continued. “So go have fun with your story. Because I’m sure it will be the 28th horrible story I have in Time magazine. … With all I’ve done and the success I’ve had, the way that Time magazine writes is absolutely incredible.”

[The Hill]

Trump vows mass immigration arrests, removals of ‘millions of illegal aliens’ starting next week

President Trump said in a tweet Monday night that U.S. immigration agents are planning to make mass arrests starting “next week,” an apparent reference to a plan in preparation for months that aims to round up thousands of migrant parents and children in a blitz operation across major U.S. cities.

“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump wrote, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “They will be removed as fast as they come in.”

Large-scale ICE enforcement operations are typically kept secret to avoid tipping off targets. In 2018, Trump and other senior officials threatened the mayor of Oakland, Calif., with criminal prosecution for alerting city residents that immigration raids were in the works.

Trump and his senior immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, have been prodding Homeland Security officials to arrest and remove thousands of family members whose deportation orders were expedited by the Justice Department this year as part of a plan known as the “rocket docket.”

In April, acting ICE director Ronald Vitiello and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen were ousted after they hesitated to go forward with the plan, expressing concerns about its preparation, effectiveness and the risk of public outrage from images of migrant children being taken into custody or separated from their families.

Vitiello was replaced at ICE by former FBI and Border Patrol official Mark Morgan, who had impressed the president with statements on cable television in favor of harsh immigration enforcement measures.

In his first two weeks on the job at ICE, Morgan has said publicly that he plans to beef up interior enforcement and go after families with deportation orders, insisting that the rulings must be carried out to uphold the integrity of the country’s legal system.

“Our next challenge is going to be interior enforcement,” Morgan told reporters June 4 in Washington. “We will be going after individuals who have gone through due process and who have received final orders of deportation.

“That will include families,” he said, adding that ICE agents will treat the parents and children they arrest “with compassion and humanity.”

U.S. officials with knowledge of the preparations have said in recent days that the operation was not imminent, and ICE officials said late Monday night that they were not aware that the president planned to divulge their enforcement plans on Twitter.

Executing a large-scale operation of the type under discussion requires hundreds — and perhaps thousands — of U.S. agents and supporting law enforcement personnel, as well as weeks of intelligence gathering and planning to verify addresses and locations of individuals targeted for arrest.

The president’s claim that ICE would be deporting “millions” also was at odds with the reality of the agency’s staffing and budgetary challenges. ICE arrests in the U.S. interior have been declining in recent months because so many agents are busy managing the record surge of migrant families across the southern border with Mexico.

The family arrest plan has been considered even more sensitive than a typical operation because children are involved, and Homeland Security officials retain significant concerns that families will be inadvertently separated by the operation, especially because parents in some households have deportation orders but their children — some of whom are U.S. citizens — might not. Should adults be arrested without their children because they are at school, day care, summer camp or a friend’s house, it is possible parents could be deported while their children are left behind.

Supporters of the plan, including Miller, Morgan and ICE Deputy Director Matthew Albence, have argued forcefully that a dramatic and highly publicized operation of this type will send a message to families that are in defiance of deportation orders and could act as a deterrent.

According to Homeland Security officials, nearly all unauthorized migrants who came to the United States in 2017 in family groups remain present in the country. Some of those families are awaiting adjudication of asylum claims, but administration officials say a growing number are skipping out on court hearings while hoping to live and work in the United States as long as possible.

Publicizing a future law enforcement operation is unheard of at ICE. Trump administration officials blasted Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf last year for warning immigrants about an impending raid, saying she endangered agents’ safety.

“The Oakland mayor’s decision to publicize her suspicions about ICE operations further increased that risk for my officers and alerted criminal aliens — making clear that this reckless decision was based on her political agenda with the very federal laws that ICE is sworn to uphold,” then-ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan said at the time.

Homan later retired, but last week Trump said Homan would return to public service as his “border czar.” On Fox News, Homan later called that announcement “kind of premature” and said he had not decided whether to accept the job.

Schaaf responded late Monday to the president’s tweet teasing the looming ICE roundups.

“If you continue to threaten, target and terrorize families in my community . . . and if we receive credible information . . . you already know what our values are in Oakland — and we will unapologetically stand up for those values,” she wrote.

[Washington Post]

Trump Afraid to Say He Doesn’t Trust Kim Jong Un Because ‘It Would Be Very Insulting To Him’

President Donald Trump said that even if he no longer trusted North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, he would not say so because “it would be very insulting to him,” but thankfully for Kim’s feelings, Trump went on to say that he does still trust Kim.

In yet another telling exchange during his series of interviews with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Trump closely guarded the relationship he has cultivated with the dictator whom Trump says he has fallen “in love” with.

During a sit-down in the Rose Garden, Stephanopoulos asked Trump about his blunt declaration, one year ago, that “there’s no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.”

“But there is a nuclear threat today, isn’t there?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“Well, it could change,” Trump replied. “I would say not much. There’s been no testing, no anything. But it could change.”

North Korea conducted two short-range missile tests within the space of a week in early May, which Trump would acknowledge during the interview.

“But they have stockpiles,” Stephanopoulos interrupted. A recent study estimated that North Korea possesses a stockpile of up to 30 nuclear warheads.

In an exchange that was edited from the broadcast of the interview, but included in the transcript, Trump then offered to show Stephanopoulos a letter he had received from Kim, and praised the dictator as “tough” and “smart.”

“I will actually show you the letter,” Trump said. “But– I’d show it to you a little bit off the record. But it was– a very nice letter. But I’ve received many very nice letters. And he’s a very tough guy. He’s a very smart person. He doesn’t treat a lot of people very well, but he’s been treating me well. Now, at some point that may change. And then I’ll have to change, too. But right now, we have a very good, you know, relationship. We have a really very strong relationship.”

“So you still trust him?” Stephanopoulos asked, a question which was included in the broadcast.

“Well, look, I, I don’t, I — first of all, if I didn’t, I couldn’t tell you that,” Trump said, adding “It would be very insulting to him.”

“But the answer is, yeah, I believe that he would like to do something,” Trump continued. “I believe he respects me. It doesn’t mean it’s going to get done. This has been going on for many, many decades with the family. But I get along with him really well, I think I understand him, and I think he understands me.”

Asked if he still believes Kim is building nuclear weapons, Trump replied: “I don’t know. I hope not. He promised me he wouldn’t be. He promised we– me he wouldn’t be testing.”

And in another portion that was edited from the broadcast, Trump said, “I think he’d like to meet again. And I think he likes me a lot. And I think– you know, I think that we have a chance to do something.”

Trump has gone out of his way to praise Kim Jong Un, and recently shared his love of heckling former Vice President Joe Biden with the dictator.

[Mediaite]

Trump calls newspaper report on Russia power grid ‘treason’

President Donald Trump has lashed out at The New York Times, saying it engaged in a “virtual act of treason” for a story that said the U.S. was ramping up its cyber-intrusions into Russia’s power grid.

The Times reported on Saturday that the U.S. has bored into Russian utility systems in an escalating campaign meant to deter future cyber activity by Russia. It comes as the U.S. looks for new ways to punish Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and prevent a recurrence.

The Times, in its official public relations account, called Trump’s accusation “dangerous” and said it had told officials about the story before it was published and no security issues were raised.

The newspaper, basing its reports on three months of interviews with current and former government officials, said this campaign was conducted under new cyber authorities granted by Trump and Congress. But it also reported that two administration officials believed the president had not been briefed in detail, fearing he might countermand the action against Russia or reveal sensitive information to foreign officials.

In a pair of tweets sent Saturday night, Trump asserted the story wasn’t true and denounced reporters as “cowards.”

“Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country,” he wrote.

The story reported the deployment of American computer code into Russia’s grid and other targets to act as a deterrent. The newspaper also said the U.S. Cyber Command, part of the Department of Defense, has explored the possibility that Russia might try to initiate selective blackouts in key states to disrupt the 2020 election.

In a second tweet, Trump added about the story: “ALSO, NOT TRUE! Anything goes with our Corrupt News Media today. They will do, or say, whatever it takes, with not even the slightest thought of consequence! These are true cowards and without doubt, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

The New York Times’ response also noted that the paper described the article to government officials before publication. “As our story notes, President Trump’s own national security officials said there were no concerns.”

The paper said there was no evidence the US had actually activated the cyber tools.

[Associated Press]

TRUMP INSISTS THE CONSTITUTION’S ARTICLE II ‘ALLOWS ME TO DO WHATEVER I WANT

President Donald Trump insisted that Article II of the U.S. Constitution “allows” him to do “whatever” he wants, arguing that he never planned to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller but had every legal right to do so.

The president made the remarks during an exclusive interview with ABC News’ host George Stephanopoulos, part of which was released last week and another part of which was released ahead of its airing on Sunday.

Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on specific allegations of obstruction of justice, as many legal experts have defined them, laid out in the second portion of Mueller’s report. One of the primary examples that critics of the president often point to, is the allegation that Trump directed White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller.

“Number one, I was never gonna fire Mueller,” Trump insisted. “I never suggested firing Mueller.”

Stephanopoulos pushed back, pointing out that McGahn’s testimony to the special counsel and the report told a different story.

“I don’t care what he says,” Trump replied. “It doesn’t matter. That was to show everyone what a good counsel he was. Now he may have got confused with the fact that I’ve always said to anybody that would listen: Robert Mueller was conflicted.”

The president also argued that McGahn lied under oath about being told to fire Mueller because he “wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer” or perhaps misunderstood Trump, because he constantly criticized the special counsel. “Robert Mueller had a total conflict of interest,” the president argued.

“Look, Article II [of the Constitution], I would be allowed to fire Robert Mueller,” he asserted. “Assuming I did all the things… Number one, I didn’t. He wasn’t fired … But more importantly, Article II allows me to do whatever I want. Article II would have allowed me to fire him,” Trump claimed.

Again, the president insisted that he “wasn’t gonna fire” Mueller, pointing out that actions like that did not go very well for former President Richard Nixon, who resigned from office back in 1974. “I watched Richard Nixon go around firing everybody, and that didn’t work out too well,” he said.

Article II of the Constitution outlines the powers given to the president of the United States. The duties outlined in the article include making treaties in conjunction with the Senate, commanding the U.S. military and delivering the annual State of the Union address.

Legal experts disagree over whether or not Trump legally could fire the special counsel. Some have argued that he would have had to tell a Justice Department official to make the call, and they would have had to choose if they would carry out the demand. Others have contended, as Trump did to Stephanopoulos, that he had the legal authority to simply fire Mueller whenever he wanted to. However, many have viewed such an action as obstructing justice, as the special counsel was specifically tasked with investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether or not the Trump campaign conspired in that effort.

[Newsweek]

Trump says supporters could ‘demand’ he not leave office after two terms

In tweets on Sunday morning, President Donald Trump suggested supporters might not want him to leave office after two terms. 

“The good news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT),” Trump wrote. 

The president had also been criticizing the Washington Post and the New York Times, calling them “both a disgrace.” 

Trump has talked about the issue before. In March last year, according to a recording obtained by CNN, he told a closed-door fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago that “maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day,” in reference to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s abolishment of term limits. It was unclear if the comments were made in jest.  

The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution explicitly states that “no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice.” 

The only American president to serve more than two terms was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who died during his fourth term in office. 

Some progressive commentators have speculated about the possibility of Trump not leaving office if he loses the election narrowly. Last week, Bill Maher said on CNN that if Trump loses, “he won’t go.”  

To which conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg responded, “Refusing to leave would make him the crazy guy the Marines escort out of the building.”

[USA Today]

Trump in testy exchange with Stephanopoulos: ‘You’re being a little wise guy’


President Trump
 pushed back at ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos during a testy interview, calling him “a little wise guy.”

Stephanopoulos was pressing the president on not answering questions in person from special counsel Robert Mueller‘s team.

“Wait a minute. I did answer questions. I answered them in writing,” Trump said

“Not on obstruction,” Stephanopoulos replied.

“George, you’re being a little wise guy, OK, which is, you know, typical for you,” Trump hit back.

“Just so you understand. Very simple. It’s very simple. There was no crime. There was no collusion. The big thing’s collusion. Now, there’s no collusion. That means … it was a setup, in my opinion, and I think it’s going to come out,” he continued.

Stephanopoulos, 58, was a White House communications director and senior advisor for policy and strategy for President Clinton. 

He joined ABC News as a political analyst after Clinton’s first term in 1997 and is now ABC News’s chief anchor and host of “Good Morning America” and “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

[The Hill]

Trump tries to defend foreign dirt comments by noting he meets with world leaders all the time

President Trump is out with a defense of his foreign dirt comments, and it’s a real doozy.

Trump took to Twitter on Thursday after coming under fire for saying in an interview with ABC that he would accept dirt on an election opponent offered by a foreign government and wouldn’t necessarily alert the FBI.

Amid this firestorm, the president on Twitter suggested that taking dirt from a foreign government and holding meetings with heads of state are basically the same thing, sarcastically asking if he should call the FBI after meeting with Queen Elizabeth II or the Prince of Wales. Trump deleted and reposted the tweet after originally writing “Prince of Whales.”

Trump also complained about his “full answer” not being played on the news while not explaining what context or nuance is supposedly missing. In the interview, George Stephanopoulos specifically asked Trump whether 2020 candidates should accept information on their opponents from foreign governments, and he said that “I think I’d take it” and would only “maybe” go to the FBI if he “thought there was something wrong” while defending this as not being “interference.” ABC’s Meridith McGraw noted on Twitter that the network “did not edit” his answer.

[The Week]

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