Trump Again Calls Media ‘Enemy of the People’

President Trump turned his speech before a conservative convention into a full-throated attack on journalism Friday, saying some reporters make up unnamed sources for “fake news” and again describing them as “the enemy” of the American people.

“A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are — they are the enemy of the people,” Trump told the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

While praising some reporters as honest, and pledging fealty to the First Amendment, Trump claimed that “the fake news media doesn’t tell the truth.” He said reporters should not be allowed to use anonymous sources, and “we’re going to do something about it.”

The president did not elaborate on what that “something” might be, beyond general criticism.

It was the latest in a series of attacks that, critics said, are designed to undermine coverage of Trump’s troubles in office, including investigations into possible links between his campaign associates and Russians during last year’s presidential election.

The sustained attacks show “how worried he is about the repeated reports of chaos, incompetence, and potential wrongdoing inside his administration,” said Matthew Miller, a spokesman for President Barack Obama’s Justice Department. “His problem, though, is with the facts, not the media, and he’s only making his problem worse the more he runs away from it.”

In his speech to the annual gathering of conservative activists known as CPAC, Trump also thanked them for their support and touted an agenda that includes tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks, a military build-up, a still-to-be-defined replacement for Obama’s health care law, and “border security” that includes travel restrictions from Muslim countries and a proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Our victory was a win for everyone who believes it’s time to stand up for America, to stand up for the American worker and to stand up for the American flag,” Trump said.

The crowd also lapped up his attacks on the media, which came on the same day that he and aides disputed a CNN story that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus spoke to the FBI about media reports on the investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election.

In assailing anonymous sources and so-called “fake news,” Trump discussed specific stories and news organizations in general terms, at one point describing CNN as the “Clinton News Network.”

The White House also deploys anonymity from time to time. Less than two hours before Trump criticized the use of anonymous sources and said all sources should be named, an administration official provided a briefing on condition he not be identified.

Some analysts said Trump’s constant attacks on the press are designed to undermine the public’s faith in institutions in general and the media in particular, as well as to generate doubt about negative stories regarding the administration.

Liz Mair, a Republican consultant involved in a “Never Trump” campaign last year, said attacking the media at a forum like the Conservative Political Action Conference is the easiest way for Trump to unite conservatives who might otherwise oppose him over issues like entitlement spending, free trade, and limited government.

“CPAC has been trying to normalize Trump as a ‘conservative’ for years now, but the fact is, Trump continues to have precious little in common, philosophically, with Burke, Kirk, Reagan, Goldwater or Thatcher,” Mair said.

William McRaven, the retired admiral who planned the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, said this week that Trump’s attacks on the media may also be undermining democracy itself.

“The president said the news media is the enemy of the American people,” McRaven, now chancellor of the University of Texas system, said in a speech. “This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”

Trump first made the “enemy” claim in a tweet a week ago, and he criticized coverage of that incident during his remarks Friday at CPAC.

“In covering my comments, the dishonest media did not explain that I called the ‘fake news’ the enemy of the people,” he said. “The ‘fake news.’ They dropped off the word ‘fake.’ And all of a sudden the story became the media is the enemy.”

In that Feb. 17 tweet, Trump said: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

Trump said he is not “against the media,” and “there are some great reporters around,” but there are also “terrible, dishonest people” in the business.

“I love the First Amendment — nobody loves it better than me,” Trump said at one point. “Nobody — I mean, who use its more than I do?”

(h/t USA Today)

Media

Terror Expert Critical of Trump Advisor Was Threatened Legal Action By White House

An embattled White House terrorism advisor whose academic credentials have come under widespread fire telephoned one of his main critics at home Tuesday night and threatened legal action against him, Newsweek has learned.

Sebastian Gorka, whose views on Islam have been widely labeled extremist, called noted terrorism expert Michael S. Smith II in South Carolina and expressed dismay that Smith had been criticizing him on Twitter, according to a recording of the call provided to Newsweek.

“I was like a deer in the headlights,” Smith, a Republican who has advised congressional committees on the use of social media by the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and al-Qaeda, tells Newsweek. “I thought it was a prank. He began by threatening me with a lawsuit.”

Gorka apparently used his personal cell phone, with a northern Virginia area code, rather than making the call from his White House office or government-issued cell phone, where it would be officially logged, Smith says. The terrorism expert says he suspected Gorka “was trying to conceal the call.”

Smith says he did not begin recording the call until after Gorka allegedly threatened to sue Smith. In an email to Newsweek, Smith said that, “Gorka asserted my tweets about him merited examination by the White House legal counsel. In effect, he was threatening to entangle me in a legal battle for voicing my concerns on Twitter that he does not possess expertise sufficient to assist the president of the United States with formulating and guiding national security policies.”

Gorka did not respond to an email requesting comment.

Smith has been a regular contributor to think tank and TV discussions on terrorism, particularly the use of social media by al-Qaeda and the Islamic State militant group. Last year Foreign Policy magazine included him in its list of “100 Leading Global Thinkers.”

Smith has kept up a steady stream of jabs at Gorka since he learned that the Hungarian born, British-educated terrorism specialist had been hired by President Donald Trump’s top adviser Steve Bannon. Both Bannon and Gorka came from the far-right Breitbart News, where Bannon was editor-in-chief and Gorka was national security editor. On his Twitter page, Gorka describes himself as “deputy assistant to the 45th president of America” and an “Irregular Warfare Strategist.”

His views on the “global jihadist movement,” as he calls it, align with a small cadre of right-wing observers who depict Islamist militants and extremists as being driven principally by passages from the Koran, rather than by government repression, or sectarian, tribal, political or economic factors.

On Tuesday, Smith tweeted that Gorka “doesn’t know the enemies’ ideologies well enough to combat them.” In an earlier tweet directed at Trump, Smith wrote: “You are endangering the lives of Americans by hiring fake ‘terrorism experts.’”

Gorka earned his doctorate from a Hungarian university in 2008 and “a few months later landed a faculty job at the College of International Security Affairs (CISA), a new Pentagon-funded school that was still working toward accreditation,” The Washington Post reported. According to an online biography, he is also an associate fellow at the Joint Special Operations University, at the U.S. Special Operations Command, and holds the Major General Horner Distinguished Chair of Military Theory at the Marine Corps University Foundation, which was funded by Thomas Saunders III, a major Republican Party donor and chairman of the conservative Heritage Foundation. The program’s current director, James Howcroft, also a retired Marine colonel, told Politico that Gorka only “periodically delivered lectures or served as a seminar leader.”

The White House advisor was clearly wounded by Smith’s taunts. “Why is this vitriol popping out of you, every day now?” Gorka asked Smith in his call. ”I look at your Twitter feed once or twice a day and it’s half a dozen tweets about me, and I’ve never even met you.”

“Wow,” Smith responded. “Are you defeating jihad by monitoring or trolling my Twitter feed?”

Gorka expressed puzzlement several times that he was being attacked “by someone who’s never met me.”

“I’ve never met you and I’ve never attacked you,” he said to Smith, his voice rising in frustration and anger. “And your Twitter feed is an incessant berating of my professional acumen. Put yourself in my shoes, Mr. Smith. Have you done that? How would you like it if someone you’ve never met, daily and professionally attacked you?”

“Happens all the time,” Smith responded. Generally speaking, academics and journalists laboring in the field of public policy expect to be criticized for their views.

“It’s not happened to me,” Gorka said, “I can tell you. Maybe you can show me some trick on how you deal with it. This is the first time ever.”

In fact, questions about Gorka’s views and credentials to speak authoritatively on Islam and terrorism were severely criticized in lengthy feature articles in The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal in recent days. He also received a wave of unfavorable publicity in January 2016 when he was arrested for trying to pass through a TSA checkpoint at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. carrying a loaded handgun. He was charged with a misdemeanor and sentenced to six months probation.

One of his most influential critics is Cindy Storer, a leading former CIA expert on the relationship between religious extremism and terrorism.

“He thinks the government and intelligence agencies don’t know anything about radicalization, but the government knows a lot and thinks he’s nuts,” Storer was quoted as saying in the Post.

Smith asked Gorka why he didn’t telephone Storer, “who called you nuts in the Washington Post,” to complain. Gorka responded that Storer’s remark wasn’t “in a Twitter feed that is being sent to people on Capitol Hill.”

Gorka’s scholarship has also come under scrutiny by Mia Bloom, an expert on “transcultural violence” at Georgia State University. “He doesn’t understand a fraction of what he pretends to know about Islam,” Bloom was quoted as saying by the Journal. Bloom has participated in TV appearances with Gorka and at a panel last year at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Nor has Gorka—who does not speak Arabic and has never lived in a Muslim-majority nation, according to news accounts—submitted any of his articles for review in scholarly journals, says Lawrence P. Rubin, associate editor of Terrorism and Political Violence, the leading journal in that field.

“Gorka has not submitted anything to the journal in the last five or so years, according to my records and we have never used him as a reviewer,” Rubin tells Newsweek. “We would not have used him as a reviewer because he is not considered a terrorism expert by the academic or policy community.”

A government expert on Middle East radical movements, who asked not to be named for fear of being fired, tells Newsweek she was disturbed to hear Gorka suggest at a talk he gave in Israel a few years ago that he knew of a “specific person in the [Obama White House] who was deliberately misleading the government” on terrorism issues. “He said he wouldn’t name the person on stage but would provide the particulars” privately to anyone there who wanted to know, she said. Noting the audience was full of potential adversaries, she called Gorka’s remark “‘beyond the pale.”

Several times during his call with Smith, Gorka invited him to the White House to hash out their differences “face to face, man to man,” as he put it in one exchange. They set a tentative date for March 8.

But Smith warned Gorka that “in absolute fairness to you, what you will hear is that I have very serious concerns about our national security,” and in particular Gorka’s role “as an adviser to the president of the United States.”

“If you make a devastating case, then so be it,” Gorka said.

“So be it?” Smith answered. “Then what, you’ll acknowledge you’re out of your league?”

Yeah, absolutely,” Gorka said. “Bring it on.”

Late Wednesday, Gorka withdrew his invitation.

“Given your statements for the latest attack piece and continued disparaging Tweets against not only myself but the administration and the President,” Gorka wrote Smith, “consider your invitation to meet withdrawn.”

Media

Senior Trump Appointee Fired After Critical Comments

A senior Trump administration official was fired following criticism in a private speech of President Donald Trump’s policies and his inner circle of advisers.

Craig Deare, whom Trump appointed a month ago to head the National Security Council’s Western Hemisphere division, was on Friday escorted out of the Executive Office Building, where he worked in Washington.

A senior White House official confirmed that Deare is no longer working at the NSC and has returned to the position he previously held at the National Defense University. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an incident not otherwise made public, and provided no further details.

But current and former administration officials say Deare’s termination was linked to remarks he made Thursday at a private talk at the Wilson Center, a Washington think tank. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

According to one person who attended the discussion, Deare slammed the Trump administration for its policies on Latin America, specifically its rocky start to relations with Mexico. That person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a private event.

Trump signed an order in the first week of his presidency to build a border wall with Mexico, jumpstarting a campaign promise. The move prompted Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto to cancel his trip to Washington in late January.

The person who attended the Wilson Center discussion also said that Deare openly expressed frustration over being cut out of most of the policy discussions about Mexico, saying that members of Trump’s inner circle, including chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, have not consulted with NSC directorates as the White House formulates policy.

Officials at the State Department have expressed similar sentiments regarding the president and his administration’s take on diplomacy. Last week, when the president met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, no one from the State Department had been involved in those talks. Instead, Kushner, who had little diplomatic experience, had a greater role in the meeting than Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Several staffers in the State Department have also been laid off.

Deare has been on the faculty of National Defense University in Washington since 2001. He joined the university’s College of International Security Affairs in 2010 and most recently served as dean of administration.

The person who attended the Wilson Center talk also noted that Deare made several remarks about how attractive Mr. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, appeared, remarks that person described as “awkward.” Mr. Trump has also made several remarks in the past about how attractive his eldest daughter is, once commenting on a television talk show, that “if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I would be dating her.”

Deare did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Officials with the Wilson Center also declined a request for information, saying the discussion was off the record.

Deare is the second senior NSC official to leave in under a week. On Monday, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, resigned after revelations that he discussed sanctions with a Russian diplomat before Trump was sworn in, then misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of those conversations.

(h/t CBS News)

Update

Since being fired from the National Security Counsel, Deare has been reassigned back to his old position at National Defense University.

Trump Tweets: The Media is the ‘Enemy of the American People’

President Trump blasted the media as “the enemy of the American people” in a tweet Friday, calling out several outlets specifically.

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes@NBCNews@ABC@CBS@CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” he wrote.

He had posted and then quickly deleted a slightly different version of the tweet just a few minutes earlier, which omitted ABC and CBS. He also included the word “SICK!” at the end of the original post.

The tweet came one day after Trump held an adversarial and lengthy news conference, in which he berated the media as “very fake news” and dismissed news reports about his and his associates’ ties to Russia as a “ruse.”

About an hour later, he posted a second tweet criticizing the media’s coverage of the press conference.

“‘One of the most effective press conferences I’ve ever seen!’ says Rush Limbaugh. Many agree.Yet FAKE MEDIA calls it differently! Dishonest,” Trump wrote.

Trump has long had an antagonistic relationship with the press, and often labels news stories he sees as unfavorable as “fake news.” Trump’s campaign issued a survey to supporters on Friday, asking them to gauge the trustworthiness of the media.

The news outlets singled out in Trump’s Friday afternoon tweet are not new targets for the president. He has often lambasted CNN and The New York Times, referring to them as “failing” and out of touch with voters.

In a rare interview with The New York Times last month, Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon, the former chair of the far-right Breitbart News, called reporters the “opposition party” and said “the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.”

“They don’t understand this country,” Bannon said. “They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”

Trump echoed Bannon’s comments shortly after, telling “The Brody File” that “the media is the opposition party in many ways.”

(h/t The Hill)

 

 

 

Trump Quotes Critical Blog to Attack 9th Circuit Judges Over His Muslim Ban

President Trump on Friday morning ripped into an appeals court’s decision to uphold a temporary restraining order on his immigration executive order, calling it “disgraceful.”

Citing a legal blog called Lawfare, Trump tweeted: “LAWFARE: ‘Remarkably, in the entire opinion, the panel did not bother even to cite this (the) statute.’ A disgraceful decision!”

The blog post on Lawfare that Trump quoted, while critical of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reasoning, said the court made the right decision in the end.

“The Ninth Circuit is correct to leave the [temporary restraining order] in place, in my view, for the simple reason that there is no cause to plunge the country into turmoil again while the courts address the merits of these matters over the next few weeks,” the post says.

It adds that the judicial system will eventually have to confront the clash between the president’s powers and “the incompetent malevolence with which this order was promulgated.”

Trump’s tweet came moments after MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” quoted the exact same passage from Lawfare’s blog post on TV.

Benjamin Wittes, the blog post’s author, reacted in Twitter, writing: “You decide whether the POTUS is quoting me in context. Here’s the article. For the record, I support the decision.”

The court ruled Thursday that a nationwide restraining order against Trump’s temporary travel ban may continue while a federal judge considers a lawsuit over the policy.

“We hold that the government has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of its appeal, nor has it shown that failure to enter a stay would cause irreparable injury, and we therefore deny its emergency motion for a stay,” the court said.

The three-judge panel hearing the case included Judges William C. Canby Jr., a Jimmy Carter appointee; Richard R. Clifton, a George W. Bush appointee; and Michelle T. Friedland, a Barack Obama appointee.

The decision is narrowly focused on the question of whether the ban should be blocked while the courts consider its lawfulness — but the three-judge panel nevertheless issued a scathing takedown of almost all of the government’s arguments.

Trump immediately fired back on the ruling, tweeting: “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”

 

 

Trump Attacks Federal Judges Weighing Travel Ban

President Trump on Wednesday went after a panel of federal judges weighing whether a court order blocking his travel ban should be lifted.

Speaking to a gathering of law enforcement officials, Trump argued the judges should immediately reinstate the executive order in the name of national security.

“I don’t want to call a court biased, so I won’t call it biased,” the president said at a gathering of the Major Cities Chiefs Association in Washington. “Courts seem to be so political and it would be so great for our justice system if they could read a statement and do what’s right.”

He vented his frustration at the legal arguments made by judges and attorneys on both sides of the case, even reading aloud a portion of immigration law he believes backs up his executive order barring the intake of refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Trump argued the law gives him broad powers to control who enters and leaves the U.S.

“A bad high school student would understand this. Anybody would understand this,” he said.

“They were talking about things that just had nothing to do this,” he said of the judges.

“But I have to be honest that if these judges wanted to, in my opinion, help the court in terms of respect for the court, they do what they should be doing,” he added. “It’s so sad.”

It’s highly unusual for presidents to publicly comment on court cases dealing with their policy proposals — particularly as a court is weighing a case. But Trump has repeatedly proven he’s willing to break longstanding political norms.

Trump said on Tuesday evening that he watched the oral arguments in front of a three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which was broadcast live on cable news.

The judges aggressively questioned a Justice Department lawyer about the evidence Trump was using to bar people from the countries included in the executive order and the national security powers of the president.

The solicitor general of Washington state, which is suing to block the order, was also grilled over whether the nationwide temporary restraining order handed down by a lower court was too broad and whether his contention the ban amounted to religious discrimination.

Trump appeared to take issue with media coverage of the hearing, which centered on the government lawyer’s struggle to make the administration’s case, as well as any skepticism of the order itself.

“I listened to a bunch of stuff on television last night that was disgraceful,” he said.

Trump argued that the country is in danger of being attacked by terrorists as long as the order is on hold.

“I think it’s sad, I think it’s a sad day,” he said. “I think our security is at risk today. And it will be at risk until such time that we are entitled and get what we are entitled to as citizens of this country. We want security.”

(h/t The Hill)

Media

 

Trump Claims Media is Covering Up Terror Attacks, Citing No Evidence

President Trump on Monday said that news outlets are covering up terrorist attacks without citing any evidence that supports that claim.

He made the comment in a speech to U.S. servicemembers at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida after receiving a briefing and eating lunch with troops.

The president began talking about how “radical Islamic terrorists are determined to strike our homeland” as they did on 9/11, in the Boston bombings and in San Bernardino. He said it’s also happening “all over Europe” like in Paris and Nice.

“It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. In many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that,” Mr. Trump said.

There is no evidence that any media outlet is covering up terrorist attacks.

This comes after his adviser, Kellyanne Conway, referred to the “Bowling Green Massacre,” which never happened, in an effort to defend the administration’s travel ban. She later claimed that she misspoke and meant “Bowling Green terrorists.” Cosmopolitan said Monday that Conway had also referred to the fake massacre in an interview with one of its reporters.

During the speech Monday, Mr. Trump vowed to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and also repeated his call for members of NATO to contribute more to the alliance.

“To these forces of death and destruction, America and its allies will defeat you,” Mr. Trump said, adding that the U.S. needs “strong programs” to keep out “people who want to destroy us and destroy our country.”

He seemed to be referring to his travel ban, which has been temporarily halted by a federal judge, and his call for “extreme vetting.”

(h/t CBS News)

Media

Trump Resumes Twitter Attacks on Federal Judge

President Donald Trump on Sunday resumed tweeting against the judge who blocked his executive order on immigration, blaming the court system “if something happens” that could put the U.S. in “peril.”

“Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!” he tweeted Sunday afternoon in reference to Judge James Robart, a district court judge based in Washington state.

A few minutes later, he tweeted again: “I have instructed Homeland Security to check people coming into our country VERY CAREFULLY. The courts are making the job very difficult!”

Trump’s tweets came after an appeal filed by the Justice Department was turned down. The appeal would have lifted a ruling that is currently halting Trump’s immigration order.

On Friday, Robart put a halt on Trump’s immigration order, which restricts travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Syria — and stopped admittance of Syrian refugees to the United States.

The Justice Department filed an appeal late Saturday to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asking for Robart’s order to be put on hold while the appeals court considers an open-ended stay of the ruling. The appeal court reject that request Sunday morning.

The president fired off a batch of four tweets Saturday, starting with: “What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?”

(h/t Politico)

Trump Attacks ‘So-Called Judge’ Over Travel Ban Ruling

President Trump on Saturday issued a new defense of his controversial travel and refugee restrictions, defending the “ban” from the “so-called judge” who halted the order on Friday.

Federal Judge James Robart, appointed by former President George W. Bush and approved by a 99-0 Senate vote in 2004, issued an immediate nationwide restraining order against Trump’s action, which had cut off citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the U.S.

Civil liberties groups applauded the ruling, but Trump vowed it would be overturned.

Despite the White House insisting this week the Trump order did not constitute a travel ban, Trump defended it as such on Saturday morning:

It’s not the first time Trump has publicly attacked a judge with whom he disagreed.

During last year’s presidential campaign, Trump was criticized by both Republicans and Democrats for citing the “Mexican heritage” of Indiana-born Judge Gonzalo Curiel as a reason he should recuse himself from lawsuits regarding Trump University.

(h/t The Hill)

 

 

 

Trump Threatens Funding Cut If UC Berkeley ‘Does Not Allow Free Speech’

President Trump early Thursday threatened to cut federal funding to the University of California, Berkley after violent protests broke out on its campus Wednesday in response to a planned appearance by a far-right commentator.

“If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view — NO FEDERAL FUNDS?” the president tweeted Thursday morning.

A scheduled appearance by right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled Wednesday night about two hours before the Breitbart editor was scheduled to speak.

The university said in a statement the violence was “instigated by a group of about 150 masked agitators who came onto campus and interrupted an otherwise non-violent protest,” according to NPR.

“This was a group of agitators who were masked up, throwing rocks, commercial grade fireworks and Molotov cocktails at officers,” U.C. Berkeley Police Chief Margo Bennet told The Associated Press.

More than 1,500 people had showed up to protest Yiannopoulos’s appearance on campus.

At least six people were injured, according to CNN.

Yiannopoulos called what happened “an expression of political violence,” according to CNN.

“I’m just stunned that hundreds of people … were so threatened by the idea that a conservative speaker might be persuasive, interesting, funny and might take some people with him, they have to shut it down at all costs,” he said in a Facebook Live video.

(h/t The Hill)

1 29 30 31 32 33 40