Trump campaign manager repeats call for Acosta’s credentials be suspended: ‘An absolute disgrace’

President Trump‘s 2020 campaign manager is repeating his call for Jim Acosta’s press credentials to be suspended, saying CNN’s chief White House correspondent is “an absolute disgrace” for interrupting a signing ceremony during the summit between President Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un.

“Jim @Acosta should immediately have his press credentials suspended. He is an absolute disgrace!” wrote Brad Parscale to his 100,000 Twitter followers on Tuesday afternoon.

report from the conservative Daily Wire apparently sparked Parscale’s ire. It said that Acosta shouted questions during the ceremony in Singapore, where Trump and Kim signed a general agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula in exchange for unspecified “security measures” from the United States.

“Mr. President, did we agree to denuclearize?” Acosta asked as Trump was signing a document.

”Starting that process very quickly, very, very quickly. Absolutely,” Trump replied.

Acosta followed up with another question, asking, “Did you talk about Otto Warmbier, sir?”

Warmbier was a college student who was imprisoned by North Korea and died shortly after he returned to the U.S. last year

Acosta on Tuesday mocked a Fox News report critical of him for asking the questions during the ceremony.

“Democracy… drink it in people,” he tweeted.

Parscale also called for Acosta’s credentials to be suspended earlier this year.

“Maybe it is time for Jim Acosta to get a suspension for breaking protocol. He continues to embarrass himself and @CNN. Pull his credentials for each incident,” he tweeted on April 2 after Acosta shouted questions at the president during the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

Acosta responded to Parscale at the time on Twitter.

“Just doing my job,” he tweeted. “Which is protected by the First Amendment of The Constitution. You might want to give it a read.”

Acosta, who regularly tangles with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders during the daily press briefing, was promoted to chief White House correspondent by CNN back in January.

[The Hill]

Trump: North Koreans love Kim

President Trump on Tuesday said the people of North Korea “love” the country’s leader Kim Jong Un despite previously condemning the regime’s human rights abuses.

“His country does love him,” Trump said in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos following the historic summit between Trump and Kim in Singapore.

Trump said “you see the fervor” the North Koreans have for their leader.

“They’re gonna put it together, and I think they’re going to end up with a very strong country, and a country which has people  — that they’re so hard working, so industrious,” Trump said.

Stephanopoulos, however, pressed Trump’s reversal from his previous criticism over the oppressive regime that’s been accused of multiple human rights abuses.

“You say his people love him,” Stephanopoulos retorted. “Just a few months ago you accused him of starving his people.”

Trump said in January during the State of the Union address that North Korea has “more brutally oppressed its people than any regime on Earth.”

Stephanopoulos pressed the issue, saying Kim is a brutal dictator who runs a police state with labor camps and forced starvation.

“He’s assassinated members of his own family,” Stephanopoulos added. “How do you trust a killer like that?”

Trump said he can only judge Kim based on his interactions with him.

“I mean, this is what we have, and this is where we are, and I can only tell you from my experience, and I met him, I’ve spoken with him, and I’ve met him,” Trump said.

Trump also noted that things can change in the relationship, saying, “Will I come back to you in a year and you’ll be interviewing me and I’ll say, ‘Gee, I made a mistake?’ That’s always possible.”

Trump said Kim “wants to do the right thing” and that begins with denuclearization.

“I mean, this is what we have, and this is where we are, and I can only tell you from my experience, and I met him, I’ve spoken with him, and I’ve met him,” Trump said.

Trump also noted that things can change in the relationship, saying, “Will I come back to you in a year and you’ll be interviewing me and I’ll say, ‘Gee, I made a mistake?’ That’s always possible.”

Trump said Kim “wants to do the right thing” and that begins with denuclearization.

“Now, with all of that being said, I can’t talk about — it doesn’t matter,” Trump added.

Trump said at a press conference following the summit that human rights abuses happen “in a lot of places” when he was asked if he would reverse his previous criticism of Kim’s regime.

“I believe it’s a rough situation over there,” Trump told reporters. “It’s rough in a lot of places, by the way, not just there.”

Trump mocks press at North Korea summit

President Trump took a jab at the media on Tuesday in Singapore as he and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un headed into their historic meeting.

“The press, they never stop,” Trump told Kim, as reporters yelled out questions to the two leaders.

Trump and Kim met in person for the first time Monday after months of back-and-forth, in the first meeting in history between a North Korean leader and a sitting U.S. president.

Trump has long criticized the media, even laying into American reporters while out of the country. At the Group of Seven summit in Quebec last week, Trump responded to a CNN reporter’s question by calling his network “fake news.”

The Associated Press reported that the Trump administration restricted journalists’ access to multiple portions of the summit, including photo ops, breaking longstanding traditions on covering the commander in chief overseas.

“AP is troubled by the decision to curb media access at the Singapore summit,” said the news outlet’s director of media relations, Lauren Easton. “It is a disservice to the public, which deserves prompt, accurate and complete reporting on what may be one of the president’s most consequential meetings.”

Trump and Kim shook hands and briefly sat down in front of reporters before heading into their one-on-one meeting.

“We’re going to have a great discussion and I think tremendous success,” Trump said. “We’re going to be tremendously successful, and it’s my honor, and we will have a terrific relationship.”

Kim, through a translator, spoke of the “obstacles” that had to be overcome to reach the day of the summit.

“I’ll tell you when they’re out,” Trump said to Kim, apparently referring to the press in the room.

Later, ahead of a working lunch with Kim and both men’s advisers, Trump told photographers and cameramen from Singapore’s “Host TV” to be sure they captured the attendees’ good side.

“Getting a good picture everybody?” Trump asked. “So we look nice and handsome and thin? Perfect.”

[The Hill]

Trump snapped at CNN reporter for asking about G7 tensions: ‘Fake news CNN — the worst’

Donald Trump snarled at a CNN reporter on Saturday morning for asking a question about tensions between the president and other leaders attending the G7 conference, accusing the reporter of “fake news.”

With the unidentified reporter noting there were reports that Trump and other world leaders attending the summit were at odds — and that Trump was leaving the conference early for a friendlier get-together with North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un — the president pulled up short before answering.

“As you were heading into these G7 talks there was a sense that America’s closest allies were frustrated and angry with you and you were angry with them and you were leaving here to go meet early for talks in Singapore. I’m wondering if you view it the same way?’ Trump was asked

“Who are you with out of curiosity?” Trumps demanded, only to be told “CNN.”

“I figured, fake news, CNN, the worst,” Trump snapped back. “I had no idea you were with CNN, after the question I knew you were with CNN.”

After giving a rambling answer, Trump too another jab at the cable news network, before moving on to another reporter.

[Raw Story]

Media

Trump Holds Solo News Conference, Defends Bashing Press

President Donald Trump stepped to the microphone alone Saturday to take reporters’ questions, just the second time he’d done so since taking office more than a year ago.

He talked about his desire for countries to remove all barriers to the free flow of goods. He looked ahead to the next big meeting on his schedule — a summit in Singapore next week with North Korea’s leader. Along the way, Trump bashed the U.S. press and defended why he does it.

“I’d like to ask you why you do that?” said a White House reporter from the news agency Agence France-Presse.

Trump, who is obsessed with his media coverage and has labeled the press “the enemy of the people,” defended the steady stream of attacks.

“Because the U.S. press is very dishonest. Much of it, not all of it,” Trump said. “Oh, I have some folks in your profession that are with the U.S., in the U.S., citizens, proud citizens; they’re reporters. These are some of the most outstanding people I know. But there are many people in the press that are unbelievably dishonest. They don’t cover stories the way they’re supposed to be. They don’t even report them in many cases if they’re positive. So there’s tremendous — you know, I came up with the term ‘fake news.’

“It’s a lot of ‘fake news,’ but at the same time I have great respect for many of the people in the press,” he said.

During an earlier point in the news conference, Trump referred to a CNN producer’s “fake friends at CNN.”

Unlike with a more formal news conference, typically announced days in advance, the White House gave journalists traveling with Trump little warning that he was coming to their workspace to make a statement and answer questions before leaving the Group of Seven summit in Quebec to fly to Singapore.

He answered questions from just the small group, or “pool,” of reporters who travel with him, not the much larger universe of reporters who cover the White House on a daily basis and would attend a less hastily arranged question-and-answer session.

Trump seems more fond of sparring with reporters when he can share the stage with a foreign counterpart, as he did this past week at the White House after meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who had stopped in Washington to consult with Trump before the G-7 and the upcoming Kim summit.

The president has also been more open to answering questions during brief appearances at the White House, such as at bill-signing ceremonies or meetings with lawmakers, or on the South Lawn when he leaves or returns from an out-of-town trip.

Trump last appeared solo before reporters in February 2017, less than a month into his presidency. It was a rollicking, quickly arranged, 77-minute free-for-all in the stately East Room of the White House during which he railed against the news media, defended his fired national security adviser and insisted that no one who advised his campaign had had any contacts with Russia.

[The New York Times]

Trump says he’s ‘not above the law’ but insists he can pardon himself

President Donald Trump said Friday he is “not above the law” while insisting he has the “absolute right” to pardon himself should criminal wrongdoing be unearthed in the probe into Russian election meddling in the 2016 election.

Top Democratic lawmakers expressed deep concern after Trump claimed earlier this week he was entitled to pardon himself, blasting the probe by special counsel Robert Mueller into contacts between his campaign officials and Russia as “unconstitutional.” Trump’s assertion was further undercut by House Speaker Paul Ryan, who on Wednesday said Trump “obviously” shouldn’t pardon himself because “no one is above the law.”

The president, speaking to reporters outside the White House on Friday, expressed a similar sentiment when asked about the topic.

“No, I’m not above the law, I never want anybody to be above the law,” Trump said.

But Trump went on to stress that pardons “are a very positive thing for a president.” And the president reasserted his belief that he is entitled to pardon himself, even as he denied any wrongdoing.

“Yes, I do have an absolute right to pardon myself, but I’ll never have to do it because I didn’t do anything wrong and everybody knows it,” Trump said.

Trump has repeatedly slammed the probe by Mueller into Russian election interference as a “witch hunt,” and the White House and his legal team have called for the special counsel to wrap up its investigation.

[Politico]

Trump: DOJ must not let Wasserman Schultz, aide ‘off the hook’

President Donald Trump on Thursday urged the Justice Department to not let Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and one of her former aides “off the hook,” suggesting the imbroglio over IT staffer Imran Awan allegedly committing fraud on a home equity loan is “a key to much of the corruption we see today.”

“Our Justice Department must not let Awan & Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the hook,” the president tweeted. “The Democrat I.T. scandal is a key to much of the corruption we see today.”

The remarks come amid reports Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, are poised to strike a plea dealover the investigation into their alleged conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

Trump has publicly criticized his own Justice Department over the ongoing federal probe into Russian election meddling in 2016 and ties to his campaign while questioning why it has not more aggressively pursued alleged crimes by Democrats. “The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues,” Trump tweeted of the investigation last week, adding, “Should be looking at Dems corruption instead?”

He has upended norms with his apparent attempts to pressure the Justice Department and has repeatedly denigrated Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe.

In a statement provided by her spokesman, Wasserman Schultz replied to the president’s tweet: “I’m focused on doing my job. Donald Trump should focus on doing his.”

Wasserman Schultz — part of the target of his most recent attack — was notably a vocal supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 elections, during which she served as chair of the Democratic National Committee. Schultz resigned after the Democratic National Convention in 2016 amid criticisms of her handling of the primary bout between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and after the scandal surrounding the hacked DNC server.

Awan, a former House Democratic aide to Wasserman Schultz, was arrested on a bank fraud charge while trying to leave the country to travel to Pakistan in July. Accused of seeking to defraud the Congressional Federal Credit Union by obtaining a home equity loan for a rental property, in violation of the credit union’s policies, Awan pleaded not guilty to the charge.

In August, a grand jury widened the scope of the criminal indictment, with Awan and his wife facing new charges including conspiracy to commit bank fraud, making false statements on a loan or credit application, carrying out unlawful monetary transactions and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions. They pleaded not guilty to the charges in September.

Conservative legislators and lawmakers have panned Wasserman Schultz for continuing to employ the IT staffer for months after he became the subject of criminal investigation. Awan was on the payroll for Wasserman Schultz until his indictment in July. Awan, who has worked for over two dozen House Democrats, has been at the center of a criminal probe related to alleged procurement theft on Capitol Hill.

House Republicans have raised questions over whether Awan’s work posed a national security threat.

Trump on Thursday implicated efforts to strike a plea deal in the Awan case as part of a conspiracy to obscure information on Democratic servers.

“They want to make a ‘plea deal’ to hide what is on their Server. Where is Server? Really bad!” Trump added on Twitter.

[Politico]

Trump lashes out at ‘unfair’ and ‘vicious’ Melania coverage

President Trump on Wednesday lashed out at recent media coverage of first lady Melania Trump, calling speculation surrounding her whereabouts in the weeks following a kidney surgery “unfair” and “vicious.”

“The Fake News Media has been so unfair, and vicious, to my wife and our great First Lady, Melania,” Trump tweeted.

“During her recovery from surgery they reported everything from near death, to facelift, to left the W.H. (and me) for N.Y. or Virginia, to abuse. All Fake, she is doing really well!”

Trump claimed in another tweet that “four reporters spotted Melania in the White House last week walking merrily along to a meeting” but “they never reported the sighting because it would hurt the sick narrative that she was living in a different part of the world, was really ill, or whatever.”

“Fake News is really bad!” he added.

CNBC reporter Eamon Javers had tweeted on May 30 that he had seen the first lady “walking with her aides in the West Wing” the day prior.

“Not that this will deter the conspiracy theorists, but I saw the First Lady walking with her aides in the West Wing yesterday afternoon,” Javers wrote.

Melania Trump attended a ceremony for Gold Star families on Monday that was closed to the press. It was slated to be her first public appearance since she underwent surgery at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on May 14.

The first lady is slated to appear at a Federal Emergency Management Agency event Wednesday afternoon with the president.

Speculation surrounding the Trump’s whereabouts in the weeks after her surgery has been the subject of several tweets and discussions on cable news.

One Rolling Stone writer speculated that she was “concealing abuse,” and The Atlantic’s David Frum posed a hypothetical about President Trump having “punched the First Lady in the White House.”

CNN also discussed Melania Trump’s whereabouts on its weekly media affairs program “Reliable Sources,” which included a graphic with a calendar of the number of days the first lady was absent.

[The Hill]

Trump’s ‘great night for Republicans’ in the California primaries wasn’t so great after all

On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump congratulated himself — and, oh yeah, his party — for its showing in Tuesday’s California primaries.

“Great night for Republicans!” tweeted Trump. “Congratulations to John Cox on a really big number in California. He can win. Even Fake News CNN said the Trump impact was really big, much bigger than they ever thought possible. So much for the big Blue Wave, it may be a big Red Wave. Working hard!”

Trump gets one thing right in this tweet: John Cox, until relatively recently a resident of Illinois, did qualify for one of the top two spots in the California governor’s race — alongside Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. (The problem for Republicans, of course, is that a one-on-one matchup between Newsom and Cox is likely to heavily favor the Democrat, given the lean of the Golden State.)

Even if you give Trump that Cox victory, however, his claims about Tuesday’s results in California suggesting a “big Red Wave” are badly misguided.

Going into Tuesday’s vote, there were major concerns among Democratic strategists that the state’s odd “jungle primary” system could spell doom for their side. Under the primary system, which was approved by voters in a ballot initiative in 2010, all candidates run on the same ballot. The top two vote-getters, regardless of their party affiliations, advance to the November election.

Because of the massive outpouring of Democratic candidates in the wake of Trump’s election in 2016, the party was faced with the very real possibility in a number of swing congressional districts of splintering the vote between so many candidates that the more limited number of Republicans running secured both of the top two spots.

This, from the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, set those stakes clearly:

“The intricacies of the top-two format explain why the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and its allies have had to dump several million dollars (so far) into three Republican-held Southern California seats, CA-39, CA-48, and CA-49, before the primary because the Democrats are worried about not advancing candidates to the general election in one or more of those districts. This is why the California primary is by far the most important House primary this year, and not just because California has the largest share of U.S. House seats (about one-eighth of the 435 total, 53). Rather, it’s mostly because the California primary could decide races in June.”

That nightmare didn’t come to pass on Tuesday. Far from it. As Cook Political Report House editor David Wasserman tweeted early Wednesday morning:

That means that in all seven — yes, seven — Republican-held California House seats that Hillary Clinton won in the the 2016 election, Democrats will have a candidate. That’s a very big deal — particularly when you consider that if Democrats can win five or six of these seats that amounts to one-quarter (or close) of the total of 23 seats they need to net to win back the majority in November.

Also, not for nothing: It appears as though Republicans will be shut out of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s re-election race — as the incumbent led the field with almost 44% of the vote and state senator Kevin de Leon appears to have secured the second slot.

Now, California is among the most Democratic states in the country. That Democrats did well in the state on Tuesday isn’t a massive surprise. But there were real — and valid — concerns heading into Tuesday’s primaries that the party might well cut off its nose to spite its face in the Golden State.

That simply didn’t happen. Democrats preserved virtually all of their opportunities on Tuesday night in California. And that means their solid chances of retaking the House majority in the fall remain very much intact.

Sorry, President Trump.

[CNN]

Trump Promotes Fox News Host’s Book After She Defends His Ability to Pardon Himself

Donald Trump promoted the book of Fox News host Harris Faulkner, who just a few hours prior defended Trump’s ability be his own judge in a democracy and pardon himself.

From ThinkProgress:

During an interview on Monday, Fox News host Harris Faulkner and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) vigorously agreed that President Trump has the power to pardon himself.

The two were discussing a tweet Trump posted earlier in the day stating that “I have the absolute right to PARDON myself.” As ThinkProgress detailed, a Department of Justice analysis written a month before President Nixon resigned concluded that presidents do not in fact have that power.

But during the interview with Biggs, Faulkner made it seem as though legal experts are in broad agreement with Trump’s position.

“Everything from what I’ve read and legal experts I’ve talked with have said, ‘well yes, the president could do that,’” she said.

Biggs responded to Faulkner’s comment by claiming that he thinks discussion of a self-pardon is “premature” because “you have to have a crime before you pardon yourself.” (His analysis is incorrect — Nixon was pardoned despite not being charged with any crimes.) But Biggs then said that “if you look at it, there is no constitutional constraint on the power to pardon of the president.”

“And so I think there is a constitutional authority for the president to pardon himself,” Biggs said.

Before Faulkner changed topics, both she and Biggs noted that while they think Trump has the power to pardon himself, doing so would create political problems. But notably, Biggs stopped short of saying that a self-pardon would result in Trump’s impeachment.

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