Trump: Wish I picked someone other than Sessions to head DOJ

President Trump on Wednesday said he regrets his decision to pick Jeff Sessions as attorney general, the latest sign of his growing anger over the Russia investigation.

Citing Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who said earlier on CBS that Trump “could have picked somebody else” to lead the Justice Department, the president responded, “I wish I did!”

Gowdy was asked whether Trump obstructed justice when he reportedly asked Sessions early last year to reverse his decision to rescue himself from the Russia probe, an interaction reported Tuesday by The New York Times.

In comments later quoted by Trump, Gowdy said Trump was merely “expressing frustration that Attorney General Sessions should have shared these reasons for recusal before he took the job, not afterward.”

“There are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else!” Trump wrote, quoting Gowdy.

The president has lashed out at a variety of targets as the Russia investigation has moved closer to his inner circle, including special counsel Robert Mueller and now Sessions.

Sessions, a former Alabama senator and top Trump campaign backer, decided to recuse himself from the probe after it was revealed he had not disclosed contacts with Russia’s U.S. ambassador during the 2016 presidential race.

That decision angered Trump, who viewed it as the ultimate betrayal. The president has said publicly he wants an attorney general who will shield him legally and politically.

“If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you,’” Trump told the Times in July 2017. “It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”

The Times reported that Mueller is probing the interaction between Sessions and the president in his effort to determine whether Trump obstructed the investigation into ties between Moscow’s election interference and the Trump campaign.

Trump, however, has not shied away from attacking Sessions, blasting him as “weak” for not heeding his calls to launch an investigation into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey.

Aides say the president has not fired Sessions, however, because he understands it would draw even more legal and political backlash.

Instead, Trump has chosen to attack Mueller and his investigators in an effort to undermine the credibility of the probe.

Gowdy rebutted one of the president’s main line of attacks, that the Obama administration embedded a spy on his campaign in order to benefit Clinton. In fact, the FBI used a confidential source who met with several Trump associates suspected of having contacts with Russians.

“I don’t know what the FBI could have done or should have done other than run out a lead that someone loosely connected with the campaign was making assertions about Russia,” Gowdy said on CBS.

Trump did not cite those remarks on Twitter.

[The Hill]

Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his decision to recuse himself from Russia probe

President Donald Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election, according to a report in The New York Times.

The meeting is under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller‘s team, which is seeking to find out whether Trump has made attempts to obstruct the probe, the Times said. It’s also an indication that Mueller’s obstruction probe into Trump is more extensive than previously thought.

The recusal kept Sessions from overseeing the special counsel’s investigation into possible Russian involvement with the Trump campaign, ceding responsibility to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

At a meeting at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in March 2017, the president berated Sessions for recusing himself and asked him to change his mind, saying he needed a loyalist overseeing the investigation, the Times reported. Sessions refused, the article said.

A representative for the attorney general did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. The special counsel’s office declined to comment, and the White House referred inquiries to the president’s outside counsel.

Later Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted that he wished he had picked another person to be attorney general.

Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s attorneys in the Russia probe, told CNBC that Trump still seems frustrated over Sessions for the recusal “because he believes he should not have in the first place.”

Ever since Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, Trump has attacked sessions both in public and in private. The president has frequently taken to Twitter to slam Sessions.

The Times, citing a source, also reported that Trump, in July, had told his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, to convince Sessions to resign. Priebus then informed the attorney general’s chief of staff, who told Priebus that the president himself would have to ask Sessions to quit, which did not end up happening, the report said.

Priebus was out as chief of staff by the end of July, replaced by John Kelly. The Times reported that Mueller’s team wants to ask Trump about his discussions with Priebus regarding Sessions.

Read the full report in The New York Times.

[CNBC]

Trump accuses media, and not Russia, of ‘most highly sophisticated Disinformation Campaign in history of politics’

President Donald Trump on Tuesday accused the entire U.S. mainstream media of running a “highly sophisticated Disinformation Campaign” to undermine his 2016 campaign and his presidency.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump said it was the media, and not Russia, that had conducted a campaign of “disinformation” during the 2016 election.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump had promised to stop obsessing over the 2016 campaign and “to start focusing my energy on North Korea Nuclear, bad Trade Deals, VA Choice, the Economy, rebuilding the Military, and so much more.”

[Raw Story]

Trump says, without proof, that Mueller team will meddle in midterm elections

President Donald Trump alleged Tuesday — without providing any evidence — that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation will meddle in the midterm elections to benefit Democrats.

Trump’s claim is his latest attack on the credibility of the Russia investigation as being politically motivated, though it’s a significant new step in his attacks on what is intended to be an independent probe working to get to the bottom of Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.

“The 13 Angry Democrats (plus people who worked 8 years for Obama) working on the rigged Russia Witch Hunt, will be MEDDLING with the mid-term elections, especially now that Republicans (stay tough!) are taking the lead in Polls,” Trump tweeted. “There was no Collusion, except by the Democrats!”

Trump’s use of the word “rigged” invokes a line he frequently employed in 2016 — often when he was trailing Hillary Clinton in the polls — to raise doubts about the election outcome. At the time, he appeared to be suggesting that the election would be out of the hands of voters.

Although CNN has reported that several members of Mueller’s team have donated to Democrats, Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election has also been the subject of several Republican-led congressional inquiries. Mueller is a Republican who was appointed as FBI director by President George W. Bush, and the man who appointed him as special counsel, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, was appointed by Trump and is also a registered Republican.

Tuesday’s conspiracy theory was accompanied by a barrage of Trump tweets on the Russia probe, which repeated his previous requests for investigations into his political enemies.

“Why aren’t the 13 Angry and heavily conflicted Democrats investigating the totally Crooked Campaign of totally Crooked Hillary Clinton. It’s a Rigged Witch Hunt, that’s why! Ask them if they enjoyed her after election celebration,” Trump tweeted.

Another tweet read: “Sorry, I’ve got to start focusing my energy on North Korea Nuclear, bad Trade Deals, VA Choice, the Economy, rebuilding the Military, and so much more, and not on the Rigged Russia Witch Hunt that should be investigating Clinton/Russia/FBI/(Department of) Justice/(President Barack) Obama/(former FBI Director James) Comey/(Former Attorney General Loretta) Lynch etc.”

In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani called the Mueller probe “illegitimate” and acknowledged that a political strategy to discredit the investigation was part of an effort to sway public opinion to Trump’s side in case he faces impeachment.

“They are giving us the material to do it,” Giuliani told CNN’s Dana Bash. “Of course, we have to do it in defending the President. We are defending — to a large extent, remember, Dana, we are defending here, it is for public opinion, because eventually the decision here is going to be impeach, not impeach.”

Trump himself has escalated his attacks on Mueller’s investigation in recent weeks. Last week, he demanded the Justice Department look into whether the Obama administration planted a “spy” in his campaign, although US officials have told CNN that the confidential source was not planted inside the campaign.

The Justice Department responded to Trump’s demand by asking its inspector general to look into the matter.

[CNN]

Trump live tweets Fox News to push claims of campaign surveillance

President Trump on Monday tweeted quotes from George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley’s appearance on “Fox & Friends” to bolster his claims of surveillance on his presidential campaign.

Trump also quoted Turley, a constitutional law professor and contributor to The Hill, to slam former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, whom Trump fired last year.

“I think the president has raised a legitimate issue. I don’t agree with how he did it but to say that we shouldn’t investigate this matter is rather bizarre,” Turley said on the Fox News show prior to the president’s tweets.

“We now find out that the Obama administration put the opposing campaign’s presidential candidate, or his campaign, under investigation,” he continued. “That raises legitimate questions.”

Turley also criticized Yates for her decision to not defend the first iteration of Trump’s travel ban on refugees from several majority-Muslim countries. The president fired her over the decision when she was serving as acting attorney general.

The law professor was responding to Yates saying that Trump has “taken the assault on the rule of law to a new level.”

“I’m afraid that it’s a rather ironic statement because she is part of the concerns people have raised about bias in the Justice Department,” Turley said.

“She told an entire department to stand down and not to defend the president’s first immigration order,” he said. “I said at the time that she was fired for good cause, I still believe that. I find her actions to be really quite unbelievable.”

Trump has repeatedly claimed that the FBI spied on his campaign during the 2016 election.

[The Hill]

Trump lashes out at ’13 angry Democrats’

President Trump on Sunday lashed out on Twitter at special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation, referring to the “13 Angry Democrats” on the probe and writing that they should have been working to investigate Hillary Clinton controversies.

The Sunday tweet comes as the president has expressed anger and frustration about the FBI’s use of an informant in its investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. Trump and his allies have claimed the use of the informant was an act of politically motivated espionage.

“Why didn’t the 13 Angry Democrats investigate the campaign of Crooked Hillary Clinton, many crimes, much Collusion with Russia?” he tweeted. “Why didn’t the FBI take the Server from the DNC? Rigged Investigation!”

Trump has used the “13 angry Democrats” term to refer to people on Mueller’s probe who he believes are biased against him.

The president, most recently, sent a pair of tweets Saturday night lashing out at those members and casting doubt on Mueller’s investigation into reported ties between Trump’s campaign and Moscow.

“This whole Russia Probe is Rigged. Just an excuse as to why the Dems and Crooked Hillary lost the Election and States that haven’t been lost in decades. 13 Angry Democrats, and all Dems if you include the people who worked for Obama for 8 years. #SPYGATE & CONFLICTS OF INTEREST!” Trump wrote.

Mueller, a lifelong Republican, is in talks with Trump’s legal team to set up a potential interview with the president, which could lead to the investigation’s conclusion.

The use of the informant predated his appointment, though Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani on Sunday said it still “tainted” Mueller’s probe.

[The Hill]

Trump Rails Against ‘Young and Beautiful’ Lives ‘Destroyed’ By Russia Probe: ‘They Went Back Home in Tatters!’

President Donald Trump has been busy on Twitter this Sunday morning. As part of a series of holiday weekend dispatches, the Commander-in-Chief railed against what he deems to be the ruination of people’s careers as a result of the Russia investigation.

“Who’s going to give back the young and beautiful lives (and others) that have been devastated and destroyed by the phony Russia Collusion Witch Hunt?” Trump wrote. “They journeyed down to Washington, D.C., with stars in their eyes and wanting to help our nation…They went back home in tatters!”

Many on Twitter mused that the “young and beautiful” Trump was referring to was Hope Hicks — the 29-year-old former White House Communications Director who left her post in March.

[Mediaite]

Trump tweets lie: Why didn’t FBI tell me about ‘phony Russia problem’ during campaign

President Trump questioned on Saturday why the FBI never informed him that it was examining Russian interference in the 2016 election when the bureau began using an informant to meet with his campaign advisers.

“With Spies, or ‘Informants’ as the Democrats like to call them because it sounds less sinister (but it’s not), all over my campaign, even from a very early date, why didn’t the crooked highest levels of the FBI or ‘Justice’ contact me to tell me of the phony Russia problem?” Trump tweeted.

Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported that a top-secret FBI informant met with at least three Trump campaign advisers in 2016. The meeting took place in the early days of the bureau’s counterintelligence investigation into Russian efforts to meddle in the presidential election.

Trump and his allies have suggested in recent days that the informant was used to spy on his campaign for political reasons. No evidence has surfaced to suggest that that was the case.

Former intelligence officials, including former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, have pushed back on Trump’s allegations, saying that the informant was deployed as the intelligence community sought to determine whether Russia was taking active measures to influence the election.

It was also reported in late 2017 that the FBI did, in fact, warn the Trump campaign of possible Russian meddling.

Select lawmakers met with top Justice Department officials this week in a pair of classified meetings to discuss the use of the informant, who has been identified in media reports as American professor Stefan Halper.

The U.S. intelligence community concluded in a report released last year that Russia did, in fact, meddle in the presidential election and sought to help Trump’s campaign.

That conclusion has become the subject of a criminal investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump has denounced that probe as a “witch hunt” and a “hoax” intended to undermine his presidency.

[The Hill]

Audio of White House Official Directly Disproves Trump ‘Phony Sources’ Attack on NY Times

New audio of a White House senior official briefing reporters disproves an assertion that President Donald Trump made in a tweet Saturday that a source quoted in the New York Times “doesn’t exist.”

According to the Times, the official said that “even if the meeting [with North Korea] were reinstated, holding it on June 12 would be impossible, given the lack of time and the amount of planning needed.”

Trump held that the source was “phony” in his tweet:

Multiple reporters refuted this claim, saying that the quote came from a background briefing that an aide gave hundreds of reporters.

Journalist Yashar Ali tweeted out the audio of this briefing, proving that the reporters were indeed correct.

Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah can be heard introducing the aide as Matt Pottinger, deputy assistant to the president for Asia, and instructing reporters to refer to him as a senior White House official.

[Mediaite]

Trump says NFL players who kneel during national anthem ‘maybe shouldn’t be in the country’

Taking a knee during the national anthem during a National Football League game should “maybe” be a deportable offense, President Donald Trump appeared to say in an interview that aired Thursday morning.

Speaking just moments after the NFL announced that all players who are on the field when the national anthem is heard before a game must stand and show respect — or can choose to remain in the locker room without penalty — Trump praised the new policy but also said it didn’t go far enough in punishing players who might continue to take a knee during the anthem.

“Well, I think that’s good. I don’t think people should be staying in locker rooms. But still, I think it’s good. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country,” Trump said in a wide-ranging sit-down with “Fox and Friends” that took place Wednesday but wasn’t aired until Thursday.

“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, and the NFL owners did the right thing,” he added.

Under the new policy, teams will be subject to a fine if a player does not comply.

The NFL had previously suggested that players should stand, but it stopped short of enforcing fines. The new policy says clubs can still develop their own work rules for players and personnel who don’t stand, but they must be “consistent with the above principles.” That means teams could choose to pass along fines to players.

The controversy over players who kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner” has raged since 2016, when Colin Kaepernick, then a quarterback with the 49ers, first refused to stand as a lone protest against police brutality, particularly against black Americans, and racial oppression. Protests expanded, prompting Trump to criticize the the kneeling as “disgraceful.”

Trump, in the interview with Fox, took credit for creating the issue but said it was “the people” who “pushed it forward.”

“I think the people pushed it forward, not me. I brought it out. it could have been taken care of when it first started,” he said.

Trump, in his interview, also discussed immigration, the MS-13 gang and his decision last year to fire former FBI Director James Comey.

“I’ve done done a great service for the country by firing him,” Trump claimed.

The president, who spoke to the network Wednesday following a roundtable discussion on MS-13 and immigration in New York, added that he would not consider an immigration bill that did not include provisions to build his border wall.

“Unless it includes a wall, I mean a real wall … there will be no approvals from me,” Trump said. He said he was “watching one or two” of the bills that are expected to be voted on in the House, following an expected forced vote process by moderate Republicans known as a discharge petition.

The petition would force a vote on bipartisan legislation unveiled in March that would allow for the consideration of four different proposals, including: a conservative immigration bill proposed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.; a bipartisan version of the Dream Act; and a bipartisan bill to protect people covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program while enhancing border security.

Trump, however, said, “it’s time to get the whole package,” referring to his desire that any immigration deal include not only money for his wall and protections people covered by DACA, but also increased border security measures like ending so-called “chain migration.”

[NBC News]

1 29 30 31 32 33 58