Trump Blasts ‘Fake News Media’ for Not Reporting on AT&T’s Planned Merger With Time Warner

On Friday, President Donald Trump blasted the “fake news media” for not reporting on litigation revolving around AT&T’s planned merger with Time Warner in a tweet that seemed to come out of nowhere.

“Why doesn’t the Fake News Media state that the Trump Administration’s Anti-Trust Division has been, and is, opposed to the AT&T purchase of Time Warner in a currently ongoing Trial,” Trump wrote. “Such a disgrace in reporting!”

While his exact intent was not clear, Trump was likely reacting to reports that his lawyer Michael Cohen was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by AT&T for a consulting gig that actually amounted to Cohen peddling his access to Trump.

The AT&T payment was also significant because Essential Consulting, the shell consulting firm Cohen set up to receive payments, also happens to be the firm that paid Stormy Daniels the $130,000 in hush money.

AT&T has since said it regretted hiring Cohenand claimed the damage to their reputation will not hurt their planned merger.

So far, Trump, not known for clarification,  has not issued a follow-up tweet.

[Mediaite]

Pence calls on Mueller to wrap up’ Russia probe

US Vice-President Mike Pence has urged special counsel Robert Mueller to “wrap up” his investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

He said the White House has “fully co-operated” with the probe, which is looking at whether US President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.

Mr Trump and the Kremlin have repeatedly denied the allegations.

His remarks came as he and Mr Trump greeted three Americans returning from North Korea after being held there.

“In the interests of the country, I think it’s time to wrap it up,” he told NBC News early on Thursday morning at Joint Base Andrews.

The vice-president added the administration had provided more than a million documents to Mr Mueller’s investigation team.

“And I would very respectfully encourage the special counsel and his team to bring their work to completion.”

Mr Pence dismissed reports about Michael Cohen, Mr Trump’s personal lawyer, receiving millions of dollars in payments from companies as a “private matter” and “something I don’t have any knowledge about”.

Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that Mr Cohen’s company, Essential Consultants LLC, last year received half a million dollars from Columbus Nova, a New York-based investment company affiliated with a firm controlled by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

It was one of several businesses – including major corporations like AT&T – which paid a shell company set up by Mr Cohen after the 2016 election.

Following the vice-president’s comments, top Democrat Adam Schiff tweeted that Mr Pence “has now brought his sycophancy to a whole new level”.

Mr Schiff’s tweet centers around lingering concerns over Michael Flynn, the former US national security adviser, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia last December.

Mr Trump sacked Mr Flynn last February, saying he had lied to Mr Pence about meeting the Russian envoy to the US.

Per a list of questions leaked to US media, it appeared that special counsel Robert Mueller will look into Mr Flynn’s contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak and what exactly the president knew about the situation.

[BBC]

Trump Threatens to Pull Press Credentials from ‘Fake News’ Media Over Negative Coverage

You know how this works. President Trump receives critical press coverage, he gets on Twitter to complain about it, the White House’s relationship with the media deteriorates further, queen to E5.

As you can see, the president is threatening to take press credentials away from “fake news” media outlets until they give him the coverage he approves of it. Trump previously yanked press credentials from multiple news organizations during the 2016 election, and as NYT‘s Maggie Haberman points out, it seems he still doesn’t get that the press isn’t supposed to be his cheerleading squad:

[Mediate]

Trump suggests legal action coming against Mueller’s team

President Donald Trump suggested Monday that “angry Democrats” on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team could face legal action over alleged “conflicts of interest.”

“The 13 Angry Democrats in charge of the Russian Witch Hunt are starting to find out that there is a Court System in place that actually protects people from injustice…and just wait ’till the Courts get to see your unrevealed Conflicts of Interest!” Trump said.

Trump did not provide proof of the alleged conflicts. Although CNN has reported that several members of Mueller’s team have donated to Democrats, Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election also has been the subject of several Republican-led congressional inquiries. Mueller is a Republican who was appointed by President George W. Bush, and the man who appointed him as special counsel, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, was appointed by Trump.

The President also weighed in on other recent developments in the Russia investigation. He denied that he’s obstructed the probe, instead defending his actions and rhetoric as “fighting back” against “the Russia Witch Hunt.”

“There is no O, it’s called Fighting Back,” the President tweeted, later suggesting that the investigation was being dragged out so it could damage Republicans in the midterm elections.

Trump also asked why FBI special agent Peter Strzok is still at the bureau. Strzok’s text messages with Lisa Page, a former FBI lawyer who resigned last week, became fodder for conservatives who believed they revealed bias at the bureau.

Several leaked questions that Mueller is interested in asking Trump are related to possible obstruction of justice actions. Trump said last week that such questions amount to a “setup and trap” and that it would “seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened!”

Last month, Trump hinted to “Fox & Friends”that he might “at some point” step in and take action against the Justice Department, which is overseeing the special counsel investigation.

[CNN]

Trump slams Mueller Russia probe, accuses team of having ‘unrevealed conflicts of interest’

President Donald Trump on Monday railed against the federal probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, accusing special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of having “unrevealed conflicts of interest” and insisting that obstruction of justice is a “made-up phony crime.”

“The Russia Witch Hunt is rapidly losing credibility. House Intelligence Committee found No Collusion, Coordination or anything else with Russia. So now the Probe says OK, what else is there? How about Obstruction for a made up, phony crime.There is no O, it’s called Fighting Back,”

It wasn’t immediately clear what conflicts of interest Trump was referring to, although the president has repeatedly slammed the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt.” Mueller, a Republican, was appointed FBI chief by GOP President George W. Bush in 2001 and served until 2013.

The tweets come just days after a U.S. federal judge, T.S. Ellis, said he is skeptical about Mueller’s ability to bring charges against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Ellis, a Reagan appointee, hammered the special counsel’s office Friday, suggesting that the charges against Manafort have nothing to do with Russian election interference and that the special counsel is only interested in squeezing Manafort for information “that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his impeachment.”

Trump wrote in the first of two Monday morning tweets on the topic. Mueller’s team is reportedly probing whether Trump committed obstruction of justice by firing James Comey as FBI director last year.

Trump, referring to Mueller’s team, added, “The 13 Angry Democrats in charge of the Russian Witch Hunt are starting to find out that there is a Court System in place that actually protects people from injustice.”

“And just wait ’till the Courts get to see your unrevealed Conflicts of Interest!” Trump said.

Trump’s tweets, however, could also be part of a more combative legal strategy that the president’s newly reshuffled legal team is said to be taking against the Mueller probe.

Last week, Trump tapped Emmet Flood, who advised Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings, to assist in the Russia investigation after Ty Cobb, the lead White House attorney handling the probe, announced plans to retire. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a longtime Trump ally and ex-federal prosecutor in New York, also recently joined Trump’s legal team to provide advice on how to deal with the special counsel’s probe.

Mueller reportedly wants to question Trump in detail about his ties to Russia, the president’s firing of Comey and whether he tried to interfere with the investigation, according to a list of questions published by The New York Times last week.

In less than a year — Mueller was appointed special counsel in May 2017 — his team’s work has resulted in 19 individuals being charged with crimes. That number includes 13 Russian nationals and five people who pleaded guilty (among them Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos).

[NBC News]

Trump Denies ‘Changing Any Stories’ About Stormy Daniels Payment. This Tape Proves Otherwise

During a heated exchange with reporters Friday, President Donald Trump insisted that he’s “not changing any stories” related to the $130,000 hush money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels just days before the November 2016 presidential election.

“We’re not changing any stories. All I’m telling you is this country is right now running so smooth and to be bringing up that kind of crap and to be bringing up witch hunts all the time, that’s all you want to talk about,” Trump told reporters just before boarding Air Force One to Dallas.

Moments later, the president instructed reporters to “take a look at what I said” in April when he took questions from reporters aboard Air Force One about the Daniels payoff. So, what did the president say less than one month ago regarding his knowledge of the $130,000 payment? Here’s the exchange from April:

Reporter: “Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?”

Trump: “No, no. What else?”

Reporter: “Why did Michael Cohen make it if there was no truth to her allegations?

Trump: “You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney and you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen.”

Reporter: “Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?”

Trump: “No, I don’t know. No.”

The exchange left little room for interpretation as to whether Trump knew about the payment or not. Thus, it left no wiggle room for the president to now say that “we’re not changing any stories” after Trump’s outside lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday that Trump repaid the $130,000 hush money sum to his longtime attorney Michael Cohen.

Whether or not Giuliani had “his facts straight” when made that comment is irrelevant. Even if Giuliani was not correct, the fact remains that the Trump team’s story about the hush money payment did, in fact, change between April and this week. Trump cannot say one moment that he didn’t know about the payment, only for his lawyer to go on national television weeks later and say the exact opposite. Again, even if Giuliani was misinformed, he still changed the narrative in the national media and, like it or not, the narrative in the media is the story.

[Mediaite]

Trump tweets rant against NBC for correcting inaccurate report on Michael Cohen wiretap warrant

President Donald Trump finally smacked NBC News for walking back a report that his attorney Michael Cohen was under a wiretap warrant.

The network and ABC News each issued corrections to reports that Cohen had been wiretapped by the FBI, saying instead that the attorney had instead been subjected to a pen register — which means that his calls were logged in real time.

“NBC NEWS is wrong again!” Trump tweeted. “They cite ‘sources’ which are constantly wrong. Problem is, like so many others, the sources probably don’t exist, they are fabricated, fiction! NBC, my former home with the Apprentice, is now as bad as Fake News CNN. Sad!”

[Raw Story]

Trump Threatens to ‘Get Involved’ With the DOJ: ‘At Some Point I Will Have No Choice’

President Trump has once again weighed in on Republican concerns that the DOJ is not providing documents in a timely manner.

It’s gotten to the point where some Republicans have begun drafting articles of impeachment against Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein as a “last resort.” Rosenstein fired back yesterday by saying the DOJ will not be “extorted.”

And now the President himself is getting into this ongoing battle:

[Mediaite]

Trump asks court to dismiss emoluments lawsuit against him

President Donald Trump has asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing him of violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause related to private payments from other governments.

Trump is asking the judge to dismiss the complaint against him as an individual.

He’s also being sued separately for violating the Emoluments Clause — which prohibits federal officeholders from receiving gifts and payments from foreign states or their representatives — in his official capacity as President.

Trump, in the new filing, claims the District of Columbia and Maryland state attorneys general suing him can only bring a court action like this against him as President.

Even if they could sue Trump as an individual, “the President still is absolutely immune,” according to the filing.

Previously, the judge let the lawsuit move forward and focused it on proceeds from the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Following that ruling, the case will challenge payments made by foreign officials for services at the Trump International Hotel but will not include visits to Mar-a-Lago in Florida or other Trump properties.

Maryland and DC have argued that the Trump International Hotel’s operations put other nearby hotel and entertainment properties at a competitive disadvantage and that the Trump hotel got special tax concessions.

But the judge did not make any rulings on the allegations in the case, which accuse Trump of taking illegal gifts from foreign governments through his family’s business.

The court is still weighing the definition of emoluments and other questions raised in the lawsuit.

[CNN]

Trump calls WHCD a ‘very big, boring bust’

President Trump continued to denigrate the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Sunday morning — calling the gathering a “very big, boring bust.”

Trump fired off a few tweets celebrating the campaign-style rally he held for supporters Saturday night in Michigan, which was organized to coincide with the annual dinner organized by the White House Correspondents’ Association. This was the second consecutive year that the president broke from tradition by skipping the black-tie affair.

Comedian Michelle Wolf’s pointed performance elicited fierce reactions from fans and critics. It was variously described as “magnificently funny” and “unnecessarily cruel.” Trump agreed with the latter, calling Wolf a “so-called comedian” and suggesting that Fox News host Greg Gutfeld host next year’s dinner.

Most of the criticism directed toward Wolf dealt with her jokes at the expense of conservative women. Many prominent figures, both liberal and conservative, were offended what the “Daily Show” contributor said about White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. Trump, who was famously lampooned at the 2011 dinner by Seth Meyers, sent Sanders to represent the administration in his place. She was seated on the dais throughout Wolf’s performance.

Margaret Talev, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, told Politico that some of Wolf’s material made her feel uncomfortable.

“The association by tradition does not preview or censor the entertainer’s remarks,” Talev said. “Some of them made me uncomfortable and did not embody the spirit of the night. And that is protected by the First Amendment. I appreciated Sarah Sanders for joining us at the head table and her grace through the program.”

Sanders’s father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, condemned the dinner, claiming it celebrated “bullying, vulgarity, and hate” rather than the First Amendment, as intended.

[Yahoo]

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