Donald Trump Tweets: No “Smocking” Gun Tying His Campaign To Russia

Monday morning and President Donald Trump is tweeting – this time cribbing from Fox News’ morning talk about Democrats’ inability to find a “smocking gun.”

“Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony,” Trump tweeted, in re GOP-ers in House Judiciary Committee having hauled Comey back in for a day’s worth of grilling, mostly about Hillary Clinton’s emails according to Comey, talking to reporters at end of Friday. Transcript to come.

“No Smocking Gun…No Collusion,” Trump boasted in his early morning tweeting.

“That’s because there was NO COLLUSION. So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly calling it a campaign contribution…which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s – but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me).

[Deadline]

Reality

A brief moment on Monday’s Fox and Friends First was the catalyst for an early-morning tweet from President Trump.

This is an amazing admission of guilt, and an amazing misspelling of “smoking” twice, but let’s also walk through the lies in this tweet.

First, James Comey testified in a closed door session a few days prior on the demands of House Republicans, who pulled him in to ask questions about Hillary Clinton and her use of a private email server. An obvious ploy to change the national conversation away from Trump by Republicans… not Democrats.

And second, a lawyer for the Department of Justice accompanied Comey to the hearing and any time a Republican Congressman asked him questions prying into the Robert Mueller probe, the lawyer instructed Comey he couldn’t comment about an ongoing investigation.

So Republicans and Fox News framed this very basic understanding of our justice system to their their viewers as “James Comey refused to answer questions.”

 

Trump tweets that tariffs are making the US “richer than ever before.” They’re not.

Either President Donald Trump isn’t sure how tariffs work or he’s being deliberately misleading about them.

The president fired off an early-morning tweet on Thursday declaring that billions of dollars are “pouring into the coffers of the United States” because of the tariffs his administration has put on some $250 billion in Chinese imports.

“If companies don’t want to pay Tariffs, build in the U.S.A.,” Trump wrote. “Otherwise, lets just make our Country richer than ever before!”

But that’s not really how tariffs work: The US may be generating some revenue from tariffs, but billions of dollars aren’t pouring in. Moreover, a lot of the money that is made off of tariffs comes from US consumers — not Chinese companies.

“If you think about who’s actually paying the tax, it’s like a sales tax. It’s like saying, ‘I put a sales tax on producers, isn’t this great we’re getting all this money?’ And then consumers say, ‘Wait, that’s from my wallet,’” said Michael Klein, a professor of international economic affairs at the Fletcher School at Tufts University and founder of the nonpartisan economics publication Econofact. “It’s just another example of taking where there’s a tiny germ of truth and blowing it up to the point where it’s absurd, for his own political purposes.”

On Thursday, Trump will travel to Buenos Aires for the G20 summit, where, among other agenda items, he’s expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping for a working dinner to discuss the countries’ relations, including trade. The sit-down is seen as high-stakes, given that the US has placed nearly $250 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods and China has levied retaliatory tariffs of its own. The escalating trade war poses a threat to both nations’ economies.

Tariffs don’t really work this way

The Trump administration has shown itself to be pretty into the idea of tariffs. It’s put tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from multiple countries as well as on several billion dollars of Chinese goods. The way tariffs work is that the goods marked for tariffs face a border tax when they’re imported into the US.

As Vox’s Matt Yglesias recently explained, the US government with its initial rounds of China tariffs was careful to make sure the products it targeted had foreign-made alternatives:

When that happens, US purchasers switch to non-Chinese alternatives, and then consumers from outside the US tend to switch around and start buying the Chinese products. The overall impact is slightly less efficient global supply chains, some real pain to Chinese firms that need to find new customers, and a limited impact on American prices.

In other words, thus far, things have been relatively tame. A recent study from EconPol Europe found that Trump’s first round of tariffs have increased the prices US buyers pay for Chinese-made goods by 4.5 percent and decreased the prices received by Chinese sellers of US-bound goods by 20.5 percent.

That means that thus far, the tariffs have been mostly, but not entirely, paid for by China, but it’s not going great for anyone. And if Trump’s meeting with Xi doesn’t go well and the trade war escalates, the economic effects of tensions could worsen.

And it’s not going to be making the US significantly richer, because the more tariffs, the less incentive to import the goods affected, and therefore the less money being collected.

“If the point of tariffs is to reduce what you’re buying, that means you’re not going to make that much money,” Klein said.

And much of the money that does come in will be from Americans themselves. Tariffs are often passed on to consumers, therefore driving up prices and, ultimately, inflation.

Trump, who is personally very wealthy, has been rather cavalier about the potential for prices going up. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal this week in which he appeared to float the idea of putting tariffs on iPhones and laptops, he said, “I mean, I can make it 10 percent, and people could stand that very easily.”

“Made in the USA” isn’t as easy as Trump makes it out to be

President Trump often makes the case that many of the United States’ trade and economic problems could be solved if companies would just do all of their manufacturing here. He’s attacked General MotorsApple, and Harley-Davidson, among others, for having operations outside the US.

But “build in America” (which, by the way, many of Trump’s companies didn’t) isn’t as easy as it sounds. Supply chains are global, so even when Trump thinks he’s hitting back at China over, say, the iPhone, he’s missing the fact that the product is sourced from a lot of places, and its supply chain spans many countries.

In an Econofact analysis last year, Klein and Harvard political economist Marc Melitz estimated that each iPhone 7 imported to the US was recorded as a $225 import from China, but of that amount, only $5 represents work performed in China, largely assembly. The remaining $220 corresponds to other parts of Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

“It always sounds good when a president sounds tough on trade and issues protectionist policies,” Wayne Lam, a principal analyst at the information and analytics firm IHS Markit, told me when discussing the iPhone earlier this year. “We just don’t have the sheer workforce size nor skill set to be good at consumer electronics manufacturing.”

[Vox]

Trump blasts Fed chair over stock market slide, GM layoffs

President Trump on Tuesday blamed Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for a string of negative economic developments, including the stock market’s recent slide and General Motors’s plan to shutter U.S. factories and lay off thousands of workers.
“I’m doing deals and I’m not being accommodated by the Fed,” Trump said in an interview with The Washington Post. “They’re making a mistake because I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.”
The comments mark an escalation of Trump’s criticism of Powell, whom he nominated last year to lead the central bank, over rising interest rates. They also indicate the president does not believe he bears responsibility for the negative economic news this week.

“So far, I’m not even a little bit happy with my selection of Jay,” Trump told the Post. “Not even a little bit. And I’m not blaming anybody, but I’m just telling you I think that the Fed is way off-base with what they’re doing.”
Trump has blasted Powell frequently since July for continuing a series of Fed interest rate hikes that began in December 2015. The Fed has raised rates eight times since the end of 2015, six times during Trump’s term and three times since Powell took over the central bank in February.
Trump is one of few Republican politicians and right-leaning officials opposed to the Fed’s efforts to bring interest rates back toward historically neutral levels. The president says he believes the Fed should keep interest rates low to stimulate the already-strong economy.
Interest rate hikes also suppress stock market gains — Trump’s preferred economic scorecard — by raising the price of borrowing and narrowing corporate profit margins.
U.S. stocks have erased their 2018 gains amid a Wall Street sell-off triggered in part by rising rates, along with fading economic growth and the mounting costs of Trump’s tariffs.
The president, however, expressed confidence that the U.S. economy would not enter a recession.
The president has repeatedly pointed to strong economic growth as evidence his policies, such as tax cuts and deregulation, are working.
GM’s announcement this week that it plans to cut 15 percent of its North American workforce could pose a political threat to Trump heading into the 2020 elections. Two plants it plans to shutter are located in Ohio and Michigan, two states Trump won in 2016.

Trump threatens to cut federal incentives for GM’s electric car

President Trump on Tuesday threatened to end General Motors’s federal tax credit for electric vehicles in retaliation for the company’s planned layoffs.

Trump tweeted that he is “very disappointed” with the company’s plans to close up to five manufacturing plants — four of them in the United States, one in Canada — and lay off about 15 percent of its workforce.

“We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, including … for electric cars,” he wrote.

GM’s share price fell on the New York Stock Exchange in the minutes after Trump’s tweet, reaching as low as 3.8 percent below Monday’s closing price.

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, the automaker said it appreciates “the actions this administration has taken on behalf of industry to improve the overall competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing” and that “many of the U.S. workers impacted” by Monday’s layoff announcement “will have the opportunity to shift to other GM plants.”

“GM is committed to maintaining a strong manufacturing presence in the U.S., as evidenced by our more than $22 billion investments in U.S. operations since 2009. Yesterday’s announcements support our ability to invest for future growth and position the company for long-term success and maintain and grow American jobs,” the company said.

Trump has blasted GM and its CEO, Mary Barra, since the Monday morning layoff announcements and has pledged to take action to prevent the job losses.

It’s unclear what other subsidies might be targeted by Trump, whether he would focus only on GM or end the tax credit altogether. Ending the subsidy would require Congress to pass a new law.

The federal government provides a $7,500 tax break to U.S. consumers who buy electric vehicles. Two GM vehicles qualify for the incentive: the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt and the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt.

Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, on Tuesday also mentioned potentially targeting the electric vehicle credit.

“We are going to be looking at certain subsidies regarding electric cars and others, whether they should apply or not. I can’t say anything final about that, but we’re looking into it,” Kudlow told reporters in a White House briefing before Trump’s tweet.

“Again, that reflects the president’s own disappointment regarding these actions,” he said of the plant closings.

At the same briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was noncommittal on when Trump might make good on his threat.
“I don’t know that there’s a specific timeline,” she said.
“As he said, he’s looking into what those options might look like,” she added. “The president wants to see American companies build cars here in America, not build them overseas, and he is hopeful that GM will continue to do that here.”

As of the third quarter of 2018, GM was less than 4,000 vehicles away from hitting the point at which federal tax credits start to phase out. The phase-out starts when a manufacturer sells 200,000 electric cars.

GM and other automakers are lobbying Congress to lift the 200,000-vehicle limit. Bills in both the House and Senate have been introduced but neither chamber has passed one of the measures.

Support for the tax credit generally falls along party lines, with Democrats in strong support and Republicans opposed. Nonetheless, Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who lost his reelection fight earlier this month, is the lead sponsor on one bill to lift the cap on the credit.

[The Hill]

Trump Solicits More Thanks for “President T”

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Trump administration conceded in a frightening climate change report that climate change could soon become irreversible and catastrophic, with hundreds of billions of dollars in economic damage forecasted by the end of the century. But President Donald Trump, himself, is thankful for fossil fuels—and wishes you would be, too.

“So great that oil prices are falling (thank you President T),” he tweeted Sunday morning, soliciting gratitude for his political agenda at the end of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. “Add that, which is like a big Tax Cut, to our other good Economic news. Inflation down (are you listening Fed)!”

Trump’s self regard appears to be instinctual, not ironic. When he was asked Thursday at Mar-a-Lago what he was thankful for, Trump briefly mentioned his family before turning to himself. “For having made a tremendous difference in this country,” he told reporters. “I’ve made a tremendous difference in the country. This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office that you wouldn’t believe it.

The economy and stock market are indeed up since Trump took office, as he frequently notes. But lower oil prices aren’t necessarily a fortuitous sign. One part of the reason is higher output from Saudi Arabia—a fact that Trump has explicitly linked to his decision to effectively exonerate Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the brutal killing and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. (“Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!” he wrote in a tweet on Tuesday, calling falling prices “a big Tax Cut for America and the World.”) Another is high output in the U.S. and exemptions from U.S. sanctions on Iran, increasing supply.

But lower prices also reflect weaker demand, raising concerns about the global economy and the prospect of a recession on the horizon. Perhaps that is why Trump paired his Thanksgiving weekend praise for himself with a warning shot at the Federal Reserve, which has been steadily raising interest rates, putting the brakes on the formerly white-hot Trump economy.

[Vanity Fair]

White House Correspondents Dinner organizers capitulate to Trump

For years, I helped write President Obama’s jokes for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. I spent weeks worrying about what the President would say.

But I also worried about what the night’s headliner, a professional comedian, would say about us. Over the last six decades some of America’s best-known entertainers — Bob Hope, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Paula Poundstone, Jay Leno, Wanda Sykes, and many more — have taken the mic just steps from the commander in chief. I can’t I say I looked forward to President Obama (and his team) being made fun of in public. Neither, I imagine, did President Nixon’s staff, or President Reagan’s, or President Bush’s. But if you’re the president, getting roasted once a year comes with the territory. It’s tradition.

Or at least, it was tradition. On Monday, after complaints from the Trump administration, the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) announced that its headliner for April 27, 2019, will be historian Ron Chernow.

Chernow’s biographies are many things: well written; best-selling; hefty enough to cause serious injury even in paperback. But funny? No. Subversive? Not unless you’re a long-dead detractor of Ulysses S. Grant. After years of pushing the envelope, the WHCA has decided to play it safe.

It’s a terrible choice. Not for comedy, which is doing just fine, but for democracy, which is in trouble. The Correspondents’ Dinner bills itself as a celebration of the First Amendment. But the 2019 dinner is shaping up to be a capitulation — a surrender to a president’s unprecedented attack on the free press.

Let’s get a few things straight. First, the decision to not invite a comedian didn’t come because President Trump skipped the dinner in 2017. I was in the room that year when the commander in chief and his staff were no-shows. The WHCA surely would have preferred that the President show up. But when he didn’t, they invited comedian Hasan Minhaj anyway, and it went well enough that they extended a similar invitation to Michelle Wolf the following year.

Which brings us to a second important point: While the White House didn’t like Wolf’s 2018 performance, the “outrage” that followed wasn’t genuine. After all, President Trump has mocked a disabled reporter. He once joked that a woman was too ugly for him to sexually assault. If you work for someone like that, there’s just no way you can credibly claim to be offended by something, Wolf said.

And to claim that these jabs were only made at the expense of Republicans would be to call on a revisionist version of comedic history. Those in the press surely remember Joel McHale joking about Nancy Pelosi getting plastic surgery in 2014, or Larry Wilmore going after Don Lemon’s journalistic abilities two years later. There was nothing fundamentally new about Wolf’s tone. What was new was the Trump White House’s response.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone. More than any past president, Democratic or Republican, Trump is seemingly terrified by the idea of being publicly disrespected — especially by those he holds in low regard. He loses his temper when African-American women journalists ask him tough questions. (Most recently he snapped at CNN reporter Abby Phillips when she asked him about the Mueller investigation, calling her question “stupid.”) His administration tried to pull CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass because of his alleged lack of “decorum.” He’s live-tweeted his criticism of Alec Baldwin’s impression of him on SNL.

Hard-hitting questions from journalists are different than hard-hitting jokes from comedians. But they both require the same bedrock freedom: the freedom to express oneself, even (and perhaps especially) when it makes powerful people uncomfortable.

That’s why the WHCA’s decision to nix a comedian next year is so disastrous. Whether intentional or not, it sends the message that the Correspondents’ Association is only committed to protecting free speech if it doesn’t make those in power uneasy. By treating an obviously bad-faith controversy as legitimate, the WHCA has given the White House incentive to manufacture even more bad-faith controversies going forward. And in abandoning core values in response to President Trump’s unfair attacks, they’ve invited even more unfair attacks in the months and years ahead.

[CNN]

Trump Boasts About Midterms in Which GOP Took Heavy Losses: ‘Epic Victory’

President Donald Trump declared the 2018 midterm elections an “epic victory” for the GOP on Twitter today, as he pimped out the two Senate seats earned by Republicans and attacked the media for focusing on Democrats taking the House.

“People are not being told that the Republican Party is on track to pick up two seats in the U.S. Senate, and epic victory: 53 to 47,” Trump tweeted this afternoon.

He then criticized the presiding media narrative on the midterms, which is that Democrats etched out a win since they took the House: “The Fake News Media only wants to speak of the House, where the Midterm results were better than other sitting Presidents.”

Trump has called the midterms a victory in the past.

Before many of the results had even come in, the president took to Twitter: “Received so many Congratulations from so many on our Big Victory last night, including from foreign nations (friends) that were waiting me out, and hoping, on Trade Deals. Now we can all get back to work and get things done!”

[Mediaite]

Trump says decreasing media favorability is a ‘great achievement’ of his presidency

Donald Trump said Wednesday that one of his great achievements as president is lowering the media’s favorability among Americans, claiming a victory in his crusade against what he considers unfair press coverage at the same time that CNN is suing his administration to restore one of its reporter’s revoked White House credentials.

The president, in an interview with the Daily Caller on Wednesday, said he believes Americans are starting to see many media outlets — Trump named CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC — as “fake news.”

“You look at what’s going on with the fake news and the people get it,” the president said. “And you know, they had a very high approval rating before I became president and I think it’s actually a great achievement of mine.”

“Their approval rating now is down as low as just about anybody,” the president continued.

The president has long had a contentious relationship with media, often labeling press coverage he does not like as “fake news.” Egged on by the president, supporters at Trump’s rallies also heckle reporters, sometimes chanting “CNN sucks.” Trump also argued at a press conference last week with CNN‘s Jim Acosta, refusing to answer the reporter’s questions in an exchange that prompted the administration to revoke Acosta’s press credentials. CNN has since filed a lawsuit against the president and other top White House officials to have those credentials returned.

Fifty-five percent of Americans trust national news networks, according to a Poynter Media Trust Survey released in August. In regards to national newspapers, 59 percent trust them, with 47 percent trusting online-only organizations.

Trump also claimed that media approval rating is “much lower than your president.”

The president’s approval rating is at 43.2 percent, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average, which takes the average of nine major polls. That same polling average showed a 52.9 percent disapproval of Trump’s handling of the presidency.

“I actually have good approval ratings, which nobody ever writes,” he said.

[Politico]

Donald Trump Thinks You Need ID To Buy Cereal

President Donald Trump expressed the extent of his knowledge on voter ID laws Wednesday when he said that buying a box of cereal requires identification.

As midterm election votes for the governor of Georgia continue to be counted, along with a recount of votes for governor and Senate positions in Florida, Trump has baselessly claimed that Democratic operatives are attempting to steal the election. Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) himself said late last week that there was no evidence of voter fraud.

 

He doubled down in an interview with The Daily Caller on Wednesday when he called for more voter ID laws.

“The Republicans don’t win and that’s because of potentially illegal votes,” Trump said, without evidence. “When people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again. Nobody takes anything. It’s really a disgrace what’s going on.”

He then added, “If you buy a box of cereal — you have a voter ID.”

There’s a lot to unpack here, which The Daily Caller did a very thorough job of not doing. Is the president saying buying cereal requires identification? Maybe he’s referencing that some businesses require a photo ID when paying with a personal check? Or maybe he means to suggest that for certain individuals, a box of cereal itself could act as identification (we’re looking at you, Toucan Sam, Tony the Tiger, Cap’n Crunch and that Trix rabbit).

This is at least the second time the president has suggested identification is needed to buy groceries. In a July rally in Florida, Trump boasted about his supposed knowledge of both identification laws and grocery shopping.

“You know, if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card. You need ID,” Trump said at the time.

The July statement caused even The New York Times to ask: Has this man ever shopped at a grocery store before? The publication talked to close friends and personal associates of Trump, who could not confirm the president has ever shopped at a grocery store.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

[Huffington Post]

Donald Trump Makes Absurd Claim That Illegal Voters Change into Disguise in Their Car and That’s Why Republicans Lose

Illegal voters, after having already cast their ballots, head to their cars and change outfits in order to vote again, according to President Donald Trump in an interview released Wednesday. The president also stressed what he believed to be the necessity for voter IDs in elections.

The president made his claims just over a week removed from major Republican losses in the House and in governor’s races, with Democrats picking up 33 seats in the House and flipping control for the first time since 2010.

Trump pegged Republican losses to voter fraud, similar to his unfounded excuse for not winning the popular vote over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

“The Republicans don’t win and that’s because of potentially illegal votes,” Trump said in an interview with The Daily Caller, a conservative news and opinion site. “When people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again. Nobody takes anything. It’s really a disgrace what’s going on.”

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the United States.

Several reports have indicated the president was angry over losing the House to Democrats, and a week ago he even called out Republicans who lost their seats for not accepting his “embrace.”

The president also reiterated previous false statements about voters requiring identification to purchase food, and thus should have the same requirement when voting.

“If you buy a box of cereal—you have a voter ID,” Trump told the conservative news outlet. “They try to shame everybody by calling them racist, or calling them something, anything they can think of when you say you want voter ID. But voter ID is a very important thing.”

Trump also called for the firing of Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes, as she faced accusations of impropriety while the county continues to tally ballots.

llegal voters, after having already cast their ballots, head to their cars and change outfits in order to vote again, according to President Donald Trump in an interview released Wednesday. The president also stressed what he believed to be the necessity for voter IDs in elections.

The president made his claims just over a week removed from major Republican losses in the House and in governor’s races, with Democrats picking up 33 seats in the House and flipping control for the first time since 2010.

Trump pegged Republican losses to voter fraud, similar to his unfounded excuse for not winning the popular vote over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

“The Republicans don’t win and that’s because of potentially illegal votes,” Trump said in an interview with The Daily Caller, a conservative news and opinion site. “When people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again. Nobody takes anything. It’s really a disgrace what’s going on.”

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the United States.

Several reports have indicated the president was angry over losing the House to Democrats, and a week ago he even called out Republicans who lost their seats for not accepting his “embrace.”

The president also reiterated previous false statements about voters requiring identification to purchase food, and thus should have the same requirement when voting.

“If you buy a box of cereal—you have a voter ID,” Trump told the conservative news outlet. “They try to shame everybody by calling them racist, or calling them something, anything they can think of when you say you want voter ID. But voter ID is a very important thing.”

Trump also called for the firing of Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes, as she faced accusations of impropriety while the county continues to tally ballots.

[Newsweek]

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