Trump: ‘Mueller should not testify’

President Donald Trump said on Sunday that Robert Mueller “should not testify” before Congress, hours after a Democratic lawmaker confirmed that the House Judiciary Committee was still seeking to schedule a hearing with the special counsel for later this month.

“Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems!” the president wrote on Twitter, after excoriating Mueller’s 22-month investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in a previous post.

“After spending more than $35,000,000 over a two year period, interviewing 500 people, using 18 Trump Hating Angry Democrats & 49 FBI Agents — all culminating in a more than 400 page Report showing NO COLLUSION — why would the Democrats in Congress now need Robert Mueller to testify,” Trumptweeted.

“Are they looking for a redo because they hated seeing the strong NO COLLUSION conclusion? There was no crime, except on the other side (incredibly not covered in the Report), and NO OBSTRUCTION,” the president added.

Attorney General William Barr previously told Congress that he has no objection to Mueller, who is a Justice Department employee, testifying before lawmakers. Peter Carr, the special counsel’s spokesman, declined to comment on the president’s tweet.

Earlier Sunday, a Judiciary Committee member, Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), told “Fox News Sunday” that Mueller was tentatively scheduled to testify on May 15, but he later walked back that remark on social media.

“Just to clarify: we are aiming to bring Mueller in on the 15th, but nothing has been agreed to yet,” Cicilline wrote online. “That’s the date the Committee has proposed, and we hope the Special Counsel will agree to it. Sorry for the confusion.”

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) has said the committee is eyeing May 15 for Mueller to testify. The committee did not immediately respond to Cicilline’s comments.

The White House, Cicilline said in the Fox interview, has indicated it would not interfere with Mueller’s attempt to testify and “we hope that won’t change.”

As recently as last month, the request for Mueller to appear before the House Judiciary Committee was bipartisan; the panel’s top Republican, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, wrote to Nadler in April encouraging him to invite the special counsel to testify.

Trump’s tweet — if interpreted by the attorney general as a direct order to stifle Mueller’s testimony — could set up the most consequential legal question related to the special counsel’s probe: whether executive privilege can be used to stop an executive branch employee from testifying about an investigation into the president.

The president’s post also aggravates a partisan fight over Mueller’s findings that was already under way Sunday morning when Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) criticized the special counsel for not revealing sooner that he had not found that the Trump campaign and the Kremlin criminally conspired to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

“It couldn’t have taken Bob Mueller that long to find that out,” King told a New York radio show. “The reports we get are that they knew a year ago there was no collusion. Well, didn’t he have an obligation to tell the president of the United States that? To let the world know?”

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, later tweeted a news report on King’s comments, adding: “More evidence that Mueller probe was part of a political plan,ie., insurance policy, to remove or hurt ⁦@realDonaldTrump⁩. They failed because people wouldn’t lie.”

It is possible that Mueller could also appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, after Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked him in a letter Friday whether he “would like to provide testimony regarding any misrepresentation” by Barr concerning an exchange he had with the attorney general about the special counsel’s report.

Barr already faces a torrent of criticism from congressional Democrats after his testimony last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. At that hearing, he was grilled by lawmakers about a letter he received from Mueller that expressed disagreement with the way the Justice Department handled the release of the special counsel’s report.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday accused Barr of committing a crime by lying to Congress about similar concerns by Mueller’s investigators, and Nadler on Friday threatened to hold Barr in contempt of Congress if he did not grant access to Mueller’s unredacted report and its underlying documents by Monday morning.

The scrutiny of Barr is likely to intensify in the coming days, as Democratic lawmakers await a potential response from the attorney general to the president’s tweet.

The issue of executive privilege has featured prominently in debates concerning Mueller’s report since the special counsel concluded his investigation in mid-March and submitted his findings to the attorney general later that month.

Trump waived the privilege during the probe, allowing former White House counsel Don McGahn and other figures in his administration to cooperate with Mueller’s team of federal prosecutors. But it is now unclear whether the president will try to assert the power to block those officials from publicly testifying.

Asked on Wednesday whether he had any objections to McGahn appearing before Congress, Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee that McGahn was “a close adviser to the president” and remarked: “We haven’t waived executive privilege.”

Trump said Thursday that he did not want McGahn to testify.

“Congress shouldn‘t be looking anymore,” the president told Fox News. “This is all. It‘s done.”

[Politico]

Trump Erupts on Reporters, Claims Obama Built ‘Cages’ For Migrants: ‘Obama Separated the Children!’

Speaking with reporters in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump repeatedly stated migrants who were caught crossing the border were put in “cages” and separated from their families when Barack Obama was president.

“Obama separated the children, by the way. Just so you understand, President Obama separated the children,” Trump said.

“Those cages that were shown, I think they were very inappropriate. They were built by President Obama’s administration, not by Trump. President Obama had child separation. Take a look, the press knows it, you know it, we all know it,” he continued. “I didn’t have —I’m the one that stopped it. President Obama had child separation. Now, I’ll tell you something. Once you don’t have it, that’s why you see many more people coming. They’re coming like it’s a picnic, because let’s go to Disneyland.”

“President Obama separated children. They had child separation. I was the one that changed it, okay? Thank you very much. Thank you,” Trump added.

Trump also maintained he never said he was “cleaning house” at the Department of Homeland Security after the announcement of the resignation Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

[Mediaite]

Media

Trump blasts ‘fake news media’ as ‘absolute enemy’ in latest attack on press

President Trump on Tuesday said that “Fake News” is the “absolute Enemy” of the people and country as he renewed his attacks on the media.

Trump lashed out at the “Fake News Media” as “dishonest” and “corrupt,” lamenting that “there has never been a time like this in American History.”

“Very exciting but also, very sad!” he tweeted. “Fake News is the absolute Enemy of the People and our Country itself!”

It’s unclear what specifically triggered Tuesday morning’s barb toward the press, but Trump, who regularly derides coverage of his administration he considers unfavorable as “fake news,” has accused the news media of blaming him for last week’s deadly shootings at a pair of mosques in New Zealand.

Some U.S. media coverage has focused on the suspected gunman’s manifesto, which called Trump a “symbol of renewed white identity,” and some pundits have argued the president has stoked white nationalist fervor worldwide.

The president over the weekend lashed out at the media on multiple occasions.

He targeted “Saturday Night Live” after the sketch comedy show aired a rerun that included an opening that imagined the world if he never became president, suggesting the program should face consequences for its jokes at his expense.

In the same tweet on Sunday, he called it “hard to believe” he won the presidency with “such one sided media coverage.”

Later Sunday, Trump chastised a trio of Fox News anchors, suggesting they should work at competitor CNN instead. The message appeared to come after one of the individuals anchored a segment that highlighted economic concerns in parts of the Midwest.

The president routinely labels NBC, CNN and The Washington Post as “fake news” and has called The New York Times an “enemy of the people.” He has rarely targeted Fox News in his attacks.

[The Hill]

Trump: Saudi Arabia another case of ‘guilty until proven innocent’

President Trump on Tuesday criticized people blaming Saudi Arabia for the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying they are prejudging the case.

“Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that,” Trump said during an interview with The Associated Press.

The president likened the global outcry against Saudi Arabia to the controversy surrounding Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault during his confirmation process.

“We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “So we have to find out what happened.”

Trump’s latest comments are the furthest he has gone to defend the Saudi government from charges that it is responsible for the dissident journalist’s fate.

The president earlier Tuesday spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and vouched for his claimthat he has no knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi. But Trump said that the prince has agreed to “expand” an investigation into the incident.

Trump told the AP he hopes the Saudi investigation concludes in “less than a week.”

Khashoggi, a critic of Salman, has not been seen since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkish officials say the journalist was killed and dismembered inside the compound.

After speaking to the Saudi king on Monday, Trump said it is possible that “rogue killers” were responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The president said in the interview Tuesday that his comments were based on a “feeling” he got from the Saudi king and not a specific claim by Salman.

After meeting with Saudi leaders in Riyadh, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said they “strongly denied any knowledge of what took place” with Khashoggi but made a “serious commitment” to hold accountable anyone found to have been involved in the journalist’s disappearance.

At least four suspects identified by Turkey in the Khashoggi case have ties to Mohammed, according to The New York Times, a factor that could undermine any Saudi attempt to pin the journalist’s disappearance on rogue elements.

Trump’s fiery comments are a sign he views the criticism of the Saudis as damaging to himself and his administration.

Trump picked Saudi Arabia as the destination for his first foreign trip as president and has formed a close partnership with Mohammed’s government in the hopes of isolating Iran and forging a Middle East peace deal.

Trump’s remarks, however, are likely to spark a backlash on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers in both parties are pressuring the president to come down hard on Riyadh in response to Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Some have called on Trump to suspend roughly $110 billion in arms deal with the kingdom or impose sanctions on Saudi officials deemed responsible. The president has balked at stopping the arms deals, saying it would hurt U.S. jobs.

Trump also said that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin still planned to travel to Saudi Arabia for an investment conference, but could change his plans based on the results of the investigation.

“I think we’ll also be guided by what other countries are doing” if the Saudis are implicated, Trump said.

[The Hill]

Trump Goes After ‘Illegal Mueller Witch Hunt’ Again Following Manafort Deal: ‘Continues in Search of a Crime’

President Donald Trump went after Robert Mueller and the special counsel investigation this morning two days after the Paul Manafort deal was announced.

Trump didn’t tweet about Manafort specifically, but instead attacked the Mueller probe again as “illegal” and grasping at straws:

[Mediaite]

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 Swipes at ‘Pundits’ Talking About North Korea: They ‘Couldn’t Come Close to Making a Deal’

The President of the United States is once again going after TV pundits criticizing him on policy decisions.

President Trump directly called out Chuck Todd on this issue earlier today, tweeting, “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd of Fake News NBC just stated that we have given up so much in our negotiations with North Korea, and they have given up nothing. Wow, we haven’t given up anything & they have agreed to denuclearization (so great for World), site closure, & no more testing!”

Now he’s going more generally after “pundits”:

[Mediaite]

Trump touts Rasmussen poll results: ‘Higher than Cheatin’ Obama’

President Trump on Tuesday touted his job-approval rating in a conservative-leaning poll, saying it is now higher than former President Obama’s was during the same period of his presidency.

“Thank you to Rasmussen for the honest polling. Just hit 50%, which is higher than Cheatin’ Obama at the same time in his Administration,” the president tweeted.

Half of voters told Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll on Monday that they approve of Trump’s performance in office, 4 points higher than Obama scored on the same tracking poll on April 2, 2010.

Trump still faces a very polarized electorate heading into the November midterm elections, with Rasmussen finding that 49 percent of Americans disapprove of his performance.

The poll was taken after a number of developments in the Trump administration, including the departures of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin. A number of White House staffers have also recently exited, including communications director Hope Hicks, a longtime aide to Trump.

The president is also facing an ongoing battle with Stormy Daniels, an adult-film star who alleges a 2006 affair with the president shortly after his marriage to first lady Melania Trump.

Rasmussen’s daily tracking polls are conducted on a three-day rolling average basis and contain a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

[The Hill]

Trump appears to call out Samsung over missing FBI text messages

President Trump appeared to call out Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung for a missing trove of text messages between two senior FBI officials that was not retained by the agency.

“Where are the 50,000 important text messages between FBI lovers Lisa Page and Peter Strzok? Blaming Samsung!” Trump tweeted Tuesday.

The text messages between the two FBI employees, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, are among a larger trove of messages that were not saved by the FBI because of a software glitch on some Samsung 5 phones.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday that the Justice Department’s inspector general is reviewing why the messages were not retained and whether they are capable of being recovered.

Trump’s tweets came after Fox News host Sean Hannity addressed the issue on his Tuesday night show, though it is unclear if that is what prompted him to tweet. Trump is known to be an avid watcher of Fox News and often comments on matters shortly after they are addressed on air.

The text messages have come into focus as some Republicans raise concerns about political bias among the ranks of the FBI.

Strzok and Page reportedly exchanged text messages during the 2016 election expressing anti-Trump sentiments, and were both involved in the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.

[The Hill]

Update

The text messages were recovered a few hours after this tweet by the FBI using forensic tools.

Trump tweets support for GOP Pa. House candidate, raising funding questions

President Trump has endorsed Pennsylvania Republican state Sen. Rick Saccone in his bid to win a Pittsburgh-area House special election in March, an endorsement that came hours before Trump traveled to the district.

Trump tweeted his support for Saccone Thursday morning, arguing that he will help to move his agenda forward in Washington.

But the tweet could put the White House and the Republican National Committee (RNC) in a tricky spot ahead of the visit as the source of funding for the trip becomes an issue.

The taxpayers fund presidential travel for official trips but political parties are required to reimburse the White House for a portion of a trip that involves political activity.

The White House had framed Trump’s trip, which includes a speech at a manufacturing company touting the GOP’s successful tax-reform push, as official business and not a campaign stop. While Saccone is expected to attend, the White House had told The Associated Press that Trump wasn’t going to mention the GOP candidate explicitly.

With that speech set in the very district that is holding a special election in less than eight weeks, the subtext was clear.

Now, Trump’s tweet removes any of that subtext and could raise questions as to who is paying for the trip.

A 2012 report by the Congressional Research service explains that “when travel involves both official and political functions, the White House uses a formula to determine” the reimbursement from the political committee.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied the idea that the trip had political motivations in a statement to reporters, even as Trump called the visit “in order to give my total support to Rick Saccone.”

“The President is enthusiastic about today’s trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to discuss the incredible successes his tax plan is already achieving for the American people,” she said.

“While the President has made clear his support for Republican candidates throughout the country, including in Pennsylvania, the purpose of today’s visit is to promote the President’s successful agenda especially on taxes.”

The White House has not responded to questions as to whether it would seek reimbursement for any part of the trip, but the statement suggests it will not.
The Hill has reached out to the RNC to clarify whether the political portion of the trip will be reimbursed.

While running for president in 2016, Trump blasted then-President Obama for putting the taxpayers on the hook when he traveled to support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

[The Hill]

1 2