Trump at Farm Bureau: You are so lucky I gave you the ‘privilege’ of voting for me

President Trump on Monday told people attending the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention in Tennessee that they were “so lucky” he gave them the “privilege” of voting for him during last year’s presidential election given the policies he’s pushed for agriculture.

“We are streamlining regulations that have blocked cutting edge biotechnology, setting free our farmers to innovate, thrive and to grow,” Trump said at the convention.

“Oh, are you happy you voted for me. You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege,” he said, prompting laughter and cheers from the crowd.

“The other choice wasn’t going to work out too well for the farmers, I hate to — or the miners, or anybody else,” Trump added, referring to his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Trump was at the convention in Nashville, Tenn., to tout the GOP tax bill that was passed at the end of 2017. He touched on how farmers would benefit from changes to the estate tax and decreased regulations.

[The Hill]

Media

Donald Trump suggests he wants US law to limit free speech in wake of publication of explosive new book

President Donald Trump has hit out at “very weak” libel laws in the US as he branded an explosive new book detailing the inner workings of the White House as “fiction”.

Suggesting he would like to see tougher laws on speech, Mr Trump said that if libel laws “were strong… you wouldn’t have things like that happen where you can say whatever comes into your head” – referring to Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

The book has caused a storm of controversy and has left the President facing questions about his mental state, with quotes in Fire and Fury – including from Mr Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon – suggesting that even those close to Mr Trump had questioned his capability.

Early on Saturday, Mr Trump wrote a string of messages on Twitter where he rejected such claims, saying he was a “very stable genius” whose two greatest assets are his “mental stability and being, like, really smart”.

Mr Wolff’s new book, which has shot to the top of the bestseller list on Amazon after being released four days early, has clearly riled the President and he used a rare news conference during a retreat with Republican leadership to reinforce what he sees as a stellar list of life achievements.

Answering a question about why he saw the need to tweet about his mental state, Mr Trump said that he had attended “the best college” and was an “excellent” student. He added that he came out of college and “made billions and billions of dollars… [and] became one of the best business people” before touting his “tremendous success” over a decade on television. He went on to add that he ”ran for President one time, and won”.

Mr Trump also called Mr Wolff a “fraud” and the book “a complete work of fiction”, saying that “he doesn’t know me at all” and said that he had not been interviewed in the White House as Mr Wolff had said. He later admitted that he had spoken to Mr Wolff during his presidential campaign.

The gathering at Camp David, with a number of members of his cabinet, is supposed to be a weekend for Mr Trump to concentrate on their agenda for 2018. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan were also present for the two days of talks, with the Republican party facing a battle to keep control of the US Congress in November’s elections.

At the beginning of his remarks, Mr Trump described having some “incredible meetings” with colleagues, saying the party was readying its 2018 legislative agenda.

[The Independent]

Trump legal team blasts explosive Michael Wolff book in cease-and-desist letter

President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Charles Harder, has demanded on behalf of his client that author Michael Wolff and his publisher immediately “cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination” of a forthcoming book, “Fire and Fury, according to a letter obtained by ABC News.

The book is scheduled to be released next week but excerpts have caused a stir.

“We are investigating numerous false and/or baseless statements that you have made about Mr. Trump,” the lawyer wrote to Wolff.

The letter goes on to say they are looking into possible defamation of Trump and his family and invasion of privacy.

The lengthy letter to Wolff and Henry Holt and Co. Inc. goes on to accuse the author of actual malice.

It states, “Actual malice (reckless disregard for the truth) can be proven by the fact that the Book admits in the Introduction that it contains untrue statements. Moreover, the Book appears to cite to no sources for many of its most damaging statements about Mr. Trump. Also, many of your so-called ‘sources’ have stated publicly that they never spoke to Mr. Wolff and/or never made the statements that are being attributed to them. Other alleged ‘sources’ of statements about Mr. Trump are believed to have no personal knowledge of the facts upon which they are making statements or are known to be unreliable and/or strongly biased against Mr. Trump.”

Harder sent a similar letter to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon Wednesday night demanding he cease and desist from making allegedly false statements against the president and his family.

Bannon has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment. Wolff and his publisher have also not responded.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump hit back at Bannon in scathing comments, saying that when Bannon was fired “he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”

President Trump’s comments, which came in the form of a written statement from the White House, were in response to Bannon’s strident criticism of Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort for sitting down with a group of Russians who promised damaging information against Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election in excerpts from Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House”.

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party,” the president said in a statement. “Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base — he’s only in it for himself.”

[ABC News]

Reality

Man who lead the racist birther movement upset with book of “false” claims about him.

Trump tweets he will announce awards for most “dishonest” and “corrupt” media of the year

President Trump on Tuesday night claimed he will announce awards for the most “dishonest” and “corrupt” media of the year. “Stay tuned!” Mr. Trump ended his tweet about the subject.

“I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR Monday at 5:00 o’clock. Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!” the president tweeted.

The details of the president’s announcement about such unprecedented awards was unclear, and came in between tweets threatening the use of a big nuclear button against North Korea and touting Fox News’ Sean Hannity’s 9 p.m. show.

Mr. Trump has continued to attack mainstream outlets like the “failing” New York Times, even while he gives them interviews. The president gave an exclusive, 30-minute interview, with no aides around, to The New York Times’ Mike Schmidt last week while at his club Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.

Other than his 11 a.m. daily intelligence briefing and a lunch with Vice President Pence and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, the president had no events scheduled for the first official work day of 2018. He spent some of the morning tweeting about Pakistan, North Korea’s “rocket man” Kim Jong Un, and taking credit for the lack of commercial airline deaths in 2017.

[CBS News]

Trump falsely takes credit for record year in airline safety

2017 was a lot of things, including, as it turns out, the safest year on record for commercial air travel. And the president of the United States is, perplexingly, taking credit for it.

There was an estimated 3 percent growth in air traffic from 2016 to 2017. And the fatality rate was 0.06 fatalities per million flights — in other words, one fatal accident for 16 million flights.

“2017 was the safest year for aviation ever,” Adrian Young of the Dutch consulting firm To70 told Reuters.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday took to Twitter to celebrate the year in airline safety:

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday on two analyses that both found 2017 was a great year for airline safety. One was from To70, which found no consumer passenger jet fatalities in 2017. Its Civil Aviation Safety Review, an annual analysis of airplane safety, found there were 13 lives lost on airplanes in 2017. They occurred on two regional airlines, both of which were small turboprop (propeller-powered) planes.

To70’s analysis examines accidents, whether caused by technical failure, human error, or unlawful interference, involving larger passenger aircraft. In 2017, there were 111 accidents, two of which included fatalities: an October crash of a Brazilian-built Embraer flight in Angola, and a November crash of a Czech-made plane in eastern Russia.

The Aviation Safety Network also reported that there were no commercial jet deaths in 2017. It recorded 10 fatal airliner accidents, resulting in 44 deaths of passengers on board and 35 people on the ground. It records passenger and cargo flights.

The group’s president, Harro Ranter, said in a statement that the average number of airliner accidents has shown a “steady and persistent” decline since 1997, thanks in large part to sustained efforts by international safety organizations to improve safety — not President Trump, who has been in office for less than a year.

As the Hill’s Jordan Fabian points out, there hasn’t been a fatal passenger airline crash in the US since 2009, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, and the last deadly commuter plane crash took place in Hawaii in 2013.

Still, Trump has made a habit of taking credit for things that don’t exactly correspond to him — including claiming he invented the phrases “prime the pump” and “fake news,” touting business deals reached under the Obama administration as attributable to him, and saying quarterback Colin Kaepernick is still a free agent because NFL owners are afraid of “a nasty tweet from Donald Trump.”

Trump in June proposed privatizing the US air traffic control system. The proposal would place the safety of millions of US airline passengers under a private nonprofit corporation instead of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and could potentially cost more.

That’s not to say that flying is a risk-free affair — as To70 notes, there were several serious non-fatal accidents in 2017, including an Air France Airbus plane carrying 520 people from Paris to Los Angeles last fall that had to make an emergency landing after suffering serious damage to one of its four engines. The firm also points to the risk that the growing prevalence of lithium-ion batteries in electronics poses for fires aboard planes.

“There is no room for complacency,” To70’s report warns.

[Vox]

Reality

The Aviation Safety Network also reported that there were no commercial jet deaths in 2017. It recorded 10 fatal airliner accidents, resulting in 44 deaths of passengers on board and 35 people on the ground. It records passenger and cargo flights.

The group’s president, Harro Ranter, said in a statement that the average number of airliner accidents has shown a “steady and persistent” decline since 1997, thanks in large part to sustained efforts by international safety organizations to improve safety — not President Trump, who has been in office for less than a year.

Trump: Postal Service is ‘dumber and poorer’ for not charging Amazon more

President Donald Trump on Friday called on the United States Postal Service to charge Amazon and others “much more” for shipping, adding that the government agency is becoming “dumber and poorer” by not doing so.

“Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer? Should be charging MUCH MORE!” the president wrote on Twitter.

Amazon announced Wednesday that the company had a record-setting holiday season, though it is unclear whether that is what prompted the president’s critique.

Jeff Bezos, who is the CEO of Amazon and also owns The Washington Post, has been a target of Trump in the past.

The president — who has had an often-rocky relationship with the media — has also previously accused The Washington Post of fabricating facts and has called the paper a lobbyist for Amazon.

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/29/trump-postal-service-amazon-shipping-charges-319625

Sarah Sanders: Russia Investigation a ‘Hoax,’ But We Have ‘No Intention’ to Fire Mueller

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took some new shots at the Russia special counsel today, even as she insisted the Trump Administration doesn’t plan on firing Robert Mueller.

In an interview for America’s Newsroom, Sanders was asked by Bill Hemmer about recent questions surrounding Mueller’s probe. Sanders proceeded to dismiss the investigation as a “hoax” which shows that Democrats have no agenda beyond attacking and trying to undermine the president.

“For the 1,000th time, We have no intentions of firing Bob Mueller,” Sanders said. “We are continuing to work closely and cooperate with him. We look forward to seeing this hoax wrap up very soon.”

Hemmer followed up by asking about what Senator Rand Paul suggested earlier today about former Obama officials colluding to stop Trump from being president. Sanders responded with more jabs at Democrats and the “liberal media,” and responded that Ryan’s claims could be worth looking into.

[Mediaite]

Media

Trump Taunts Press Before Cabinet Meeting Prayer: ‘You Need it More Than I Do’

Because he’s Donald Trump, one slam against the political press per day is never enough.

Trump held a cabinet briefing where he gloated about his first year in office and the imminent success of the GOP’s tax bill. During his round table, Trump invited HUD Secretary Ben Carson to say a prayer for the room…and the president turned that into an opportunity to swipe at the media again.

“I’m going ask Ben Carson, you can stay if you want, because you need the prayer more than I do, I think. You may be the only ones. Maybe a good solid prayer, and they’ll be honest.”

You can probably expect more of this when the president holds his press conference on tax reform later today.

[Mediaite]

Trump on whether he’ll pardon Michael Flynn: ‘We’ll see’

President Donald Trump gave a cryptic answer to reporters on Friday when he was asked whether he will consider pardoning his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

“I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet. We’ll see what happens. Let’s see,” Trump said. “I can say this: When you look at what’s gone on with the FBI and Justice Department, people are very, very angry.”

Flynn’s recent guilty plea centered on false statements he made to investigators last January about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak during Trump’s transition to the presidency. Flynn is now cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Mueller’s work has come under heightened scrutiny in recent days, after revelations that two FBI agents who worked on the investigation had exchanged text messages critical of Trump. One of the agents was immediately ousted from the investigation, and the other had already ended her assignment with Mueller’s team.

Trump has also spoken in defense of Flynn in recent weeks, complaining via Twitter that Flynn was treated unfairly by the DOJ in comparison to Trump’s former Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

“So General Flynn lies to the FBI and his life is destroyed, while Crooked Hillary Clinton, on that now famous FBI holiday ‘interrogation’ with no swearing in and no recording, lies many times…and nothing happens to her?” Trump wrote earlier in December. “Rigged system, or just a double standard?”

[Business Insider]

Media

White House threatened CNN reporter to not to ask Trump questions at bill signing

CNN reporter Jim Acosta said Tuesday that the White House warned him not to ask President Trump a question during a bill signing event, claiming that press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggested his access at future events could be revoked if he did.

Acosta’s claim comes a day after he clashed with Sanders about media accuracy during a press briefing.

The White House press pool rotates print and broadcast reporters from different outlets on a schedule to cover events at the White House. Reporters, during the events, are allowed to ask the president and other officials questions.

At the Tuesday event, Acosta asked the president about his attack against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) earlier in the morning in which he suggested the New York senator would “do anything” for a campaign contribution.

The question, which Trump did not respond to, took place after he signed off on the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2018 fiscal year. In his remarks about the measure, he touted that his administration has accelerated “the process of fully restoring America’s military might.”

Acosta has repeatedly clashed during the administration with White House officials during press briefing, including Sanders and senior aide Stephen Miller.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Acosta’s tweet.

[The Hill]

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