Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!
President Trump has made a point of emphasizing that there were no obvious “white supremests” at protests across the U.S. this weekend.
Several peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody, as well as police brutality and systemic racism as a whole, had turned violent across the country as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters and as people destroyed buildings. It all prompted Trump to declare anti-facist activists domestic terrorists on Sunday, and to share Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade’s condemnation of the group.
On Monday’s show, Kilmeade declared that he didn’t “see any indication that there were any white supremest groups mixing in” to protests, blaming unrest instead on “antifa.” Trump tweeted that quote, and copied Kilmeade’s oft-used, made-up term “white supremest” instead of saying “white supremacist.”
Kilmeade didn’t explain how he was able to identify “white supremest groups” or distinguish them from antifa supporters. He also mischaracterized antifa as an “organization,” while it is rather a just a broad designation for activists who oppose the oppression of minority groups.
Right-wing groups are involved in the George Floyd protests as agitators and “accelerationists,” most notably setting fire to St. John’s church in Washington D. C.
Trump administration health officials on Tuesday defended the pace of diagnostic testing for the novel coronavirus while pushing back on criticism that the U.S. rejected a test from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The federal government has been criticized for not at least temporarily using the WHO test until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created its own. While officials have acknowledged there are still not enough tests to meet demand, they denied refusing other tests.
“No one ever offered a test that we refused,” said Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services. “This was a research-grade test that was not approved, not submitted to the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] … there was a small number that we have greatly surpassed in a very short period of time.”
The WHO test, which adopted a German test as its model, was developed soon after Chinese researchers publicly posted the genome of the coronavirus in January. It shipped millions of tests to countries around the world, but generally only those without the capability to develop their own.
The U.S. developed its own test around the same time, but manufacturing and quality control issues soon set it well behind the WHO.
CDC officials acknowledged that one of the three components of the initial test were faulty, but it took weeks before the agency approved a workaround.
Public health experts and some governors have also said bureaucratic red tape around approvals slowed the development of new tests in the U.S.
Administration health officials have been loosening regulations, and on Monday night the FDA said it would allow states to take responsibility for tests developed and used by laboratories in their states, without involving the federal government.
Deborah Birx, a State Department official coordinating the White House coronavirus task force, told reporters that the testing delays were due to the rigorous scientific process involved in approving U.S. diagnostic tests.
“We were adamant about having a high quality test based on our commercial vendors,” Birx said. “Over the next few months you’ll begin to see that other tests that were utilized around the world were not of the same quality, resulting in false positives and potentially false negatives.”
President Trump then doubled down on the defense.
“So number one, nothing was offered, number two, it was a bad test. Otherwise, it was wonderful,” Trump said.
Congressional Democrats have demanded the administration answer questions about why the WHO test was not used, but have not received a response.
During the Democratic presidential debate on Sunday, former Vice President Joe Biden also called out the administration for its alleged refusal to use the WHO test.
When asked on Tuesday about the remarks, Trump said Biden “made a mistake” by saying that the WHO offered test kits to the U.S.
“I assume he’ll apologize,” Trump said.
The tweets of Donald J. Trump are sometimes inane, sometimes scary, and sometimes baffling. On Saturday he made two that are the latter. Only a few days after inexplicably sharing a clip from Curb Your Enthusiasm that clearly mocked his supporters, the president decided to post something even more Mad Libs-weird: He quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Technically he was quoting someone else quoting Emerson: a piece from his dreaded New York Times that dropped back in early February. The headline was, alas, not exactly flattering: “While Stained in History, Trump Will Emerge From Trial Triumphant and Unshackled.” The article itself, by Peter Baker, wasn’t complimentary about the president’s newfound confidence after getting impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate. Perhaps Trump didn’t read the whole thing. But he did single out one passage.
“Ralph Waldo Emerson seemed to foresee the lesson of the Senate Impeachment Trial of President Trump. ‘When you strike at the King, Emerson famously said, “you must kill him.’ Mr. Trump’s foes struck at him but did not take him down,” the tweet read. “A triumphant Mr.Trump emerges from the biggest test of his presidency emboldened, ready to claim exoneration, and take his case of grievance, persecution and resentment to the campaign trail.” He then cited Baker, at-ed the NYT, and added one of his greatest go-tos: “The Greatest Witch Hunt in American History!
Trump’s out-of-context (but still far from positive) tweeting read as a boast, even if he was quoting a publication he routinely demonizes. The fact that the president was quoting someone quoting Emerson truly weirded some people out.
Others were horrified. After all, he was essentially referring to himself as a king, not a president.
Some pointed out that Trump had been reduced to quoting the “failing” (though actually thriving) New York Times.
Senior Trump administration official Mina Chang resigned from her job at the State Department two and a half hours after NBC News went to her spokesperson to ask about newly discovered false claims she had made about her charity work.
NBC News had previously reported that Chang, the deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stability Operations, had embellished her resume with misleading claims about her educational achievements and the scope of her nonprofit’s work — even posting a fake cover of Time magazine with her face on it.
“It is essential that my resignation be seen as a protest and not as surrender because I will not surrender my commitment to serve, my fidelity to the truth, or my love of country,” Chang wrote in her resignation letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “Indeed, I intend to fight for those things as a citizen in the days and years to come.”
Chang said she had been “unfairly maligned, unprotected by my superiors, and exposed to a media with an insatiable desire for gossip and scandal, genuine or otherwise.”
NBC News had reported that Chang, who assumed her post in April, invented a role on a United Nations panel, claimed she had addressed both the Democratic and the Republican national conventions, and implied she had testified before Congress.
She was being considered for an even bigger government job, one with a budget of more than $1 billion, until Congress started asking questions about her resume.
The newly discovered false claims include misrepresenting a trip to Afghanistan as a humanitarian mission, listing an academic who says he never worked for her nonprofit as an employee, claiming a nonexistent degree from the University of Hawaii, inflating an award and claiming to be an “ambassador” for the United Nations’ cultural agency UNESCO.
Chang had portrayed the 2015 trip to Afghanistan as a humanitarian mission for her nonprofit, but a defense contractor footed the bill and no aid was delivered, according to documents from the company and a former employee.
After the Afghanistan trip, Chang posted photos of herself meeting a group of Afghan women in a room. In a video posted on her charity’s website, she refers to the photo and says the Afghan women are “in hiding” at a secret location.
“This is in Afghanistan, I am sitting with women in our program, they are living in hiding. I can only say they are right outside of the Kabul area,” Chang said in an interview posted on her nonprofit’s website.
But the women were not part of any program run by her charity, Linking the World. They were wives of local employees of the defense contractor that paid for her trip, Automotive Management Services, and they were not in hiding, a former employee said.
“They were photo-ops,” the former employee said of Chang’s trip to Afghanistan, and another to Iraq.
Company documents obtained by NBC News show Chang was asked to help the firm manage an association of Afghan wives, whose spouses worked for the company. The plan would free up AMS to “focus on our commercial prospects,” according to a document outlining the project. AMS, which helped Afghan security forces maintain a fleet of armored vehicles, paid for Chang’s airfare and accommodation, according to documents and the former employees.
On her charity’s website, Chang posted photos from the Afghanistan trip, without indicating that the defense contractor bankrolled the visit and that her NGO conducted no aid work during the trip.
In an email to NBC News, Chang said her organization was helping the defense contractor “create shared value” in Afghanistan. “Our work was not ‘humanitarian aid,’ it was to help a company with critical presence on the ground incorporate [creating shared value] into their business model.”
Chang also continued to claim the women were “in hiding,” saying “it’s irresponsible for anyone to share someone’s identity who says they’re hiding from the Taliban.” However, the pictures of the women Chang shared with an interviewer show the women’s faces.
Ian Dailey, Linking the World’s chief of staff, did not respond to a request for comment about the AMS sponsorship of Chang’s trip to Afghanistan.
The data scientist
In promotional material for Linking the World, under the heading “Who We Are,” the group lists a “chief data scientist,” Michel Leonard, an adjunct professor at New York University and Columbia University.
But Leonard told NBC News that “I was never an employee of this organization.” He said he had never seen the document touting his expertise, didn’t initially recognize the name of the charity and performed no work for it.
Dailey of Linking the World told NBC News in an email, “Linking the World is a volunteer-based organization, so no persons addressed on our site were employees. At the time, Mr. Leonard was employed by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), and I was personally working with him on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two organizations, to share data, skills and analyzes (sic). However, Mr. Leonard left USIP before that MOU was completed.”
In her email to NBC News, Chang also said that Leonard was a volunteer like other advisers.
In numerous bios, including one when she was a fellow at the New America think tank in Washington, Chang said she had served as a “cross cultural ambassador” for UNESCO.
But Chang does not appear on a list of ambassadors for UNESCO. Spokesman Roni Amelan said the organization does not have a “cross-cultural ambassador” category.
President Donald Trump said he did not know his own former ambassador to Ukraine as the House released damaging testimony from Marie Yovanovitch in the impeachment inquiry.
“Was Marie Yovanovitch the target of a smear campaign by your allies?” a reporter asked Trump as he was leaving for a Kentucky rally Monday evening.
“I really don’t know her,” Trump responded. “If you look at the transcripts the president of the Ukraine was not a fan of hers either. He did not exactly say glowing things. I’m sure that she’s a very fine woman. I just don’t know much about her.”
“You have to take a look at the transcript,” Trump said.
It is true that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky criticized Yovanovitch, but he did so after Trump claimed she was “bad news” in the July 25 phone call–according to the transcript memo of the call released by the White House.
“The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news, and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that,” Trump said in the call.
“It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100%. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President, and she was on his side,” Zelensky told Trump, implying they had discussed Yovanovitch before.
“Well, she’s going to go through some things,” Trump responds to Zelensky. Yovanovitch told Congress that she interpreted this comment as a threat.
Trump did not answer a follow-up question about Yovanovitch expressing concern to the administration about what Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine.
President Donald Trump went on Sunday morning Twitter binge by retweeting a bunch of random supporters who trashed Fox News host Ed Henry for asking tough questions to conservative radio host Mark Levin.
The confrontation happened when Levin gave an interview to Fox & Friends Sunday and Henry peppered him with questions about whether it was “okay” for Trump to ask the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden. Levin was visibly irritated by Henry’s line of questioning, telling the Fox host he was “not honest” as he launched into his full-throttle defense of Trump.
That segment made a splash among Trump supporters, so the president started retweeting random accounts who said Levin laid waste to Henry during their confrontation:
In the midst of all this, Trump chose to retweet Mediate’s coverage on the Henry-Levin dustup.
With fall upon us, the Washington Post put out a report this past weekend on President Donald Trump‘s “lost summer.”
Per the Post:
What followed [July 4th] was what some Trump advisers and allies characterize as a lost summer defined by self-inflicted controversies and squandered opportunities. Trump leveled racist attacks against four congresswomen of color dubbed “the Squad.” He derided the majority-black city of Baltimore as “rat and rodent infested.” His anti-immigrant rhetoric was echoed in a missive that authorities believe a mass shooting suspect posted. His visits to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso after the gun massacres in those cities served to divide rather than heal.
Trump’s economy also began to falter, with the markets ping-ponging based on the president’s erratic behavior. His trade war with China grew more acrimonious. His whipsaw diplomacy at the Group of Seven summit left allies uncertain about American leadership. The president returned from his visit to France in a sour mood, frustrated by what he felt was unfairly negative news coverage of his trip.
Trump himself responded to the Post on Monday:
And now the official White House Twitter account has posted a video responding to that Washington Post report. It starts by asking, “Did the Amazon Washington Post take the summer off?”
It displays a big FAKE NEWS graphic before going through a list of the president’s accomplishments during the summer, touting, for example, a number of executive orders he signed and the success of the G7 summit.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham shared the video and added, “The WH provided @washingtonpost more than TWO DOZEN examples of all @realDonaldTrump has done over the summer, but they chose to put out a hit piece full of opinion rather than fact.”
President Trump on Wednesday spent a portion of the day at his New Jersey golf club blasting the Federal Reserve as stocks took a dive amid signs of a potential recession.
The president sent three tweets over a 90-minute span in which he quoted multiple Fox Business Network personalities who echoed Trump’s criticisms of the central bank and defended Trump’s tariff policy toward China.
Trump expressed agreement with Mark Grant, a guest on Stuart Varney’s show who suggested the Federal Reserve should act to boost the U.S. economy.
“Correct! The Federal Reserve acted far too quickly, and now is very, very late. Too bad, so much to gain on the upside!” Trump tweeted.
He later shared comments from Fox Business host Charles Payne, who criticized Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for his handling of the central bank.
“I agree (to put it mildly!)” Trump tweeted.
He also referenced a quote from Varney’s program which downplayed concerns over the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, arguing it had yet to negatively impact the American economy.
Stocks sank sharply Wednesday morning after the U.S. bond market signaled an impending recession. The dip came one day after Trump announced he would delay further tariffs on Chinese imports until after the bulk of the holiday shopping season, reflecting mounting fears that the trade war could derail the robust U.S. economy.
In a pair of tweets later in the afternoon, Trump emphasized that “China is not our problem,” saying the trouble lies with the Fed.
Trump is at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., for the week, and he had no public events listed on his schedule for Wednesday. He has repeatedly hammered the Fed and Powell for its decisions to raise or lower interest rates, arguing that its decisions have held back the economy.
“This guy has made a big mistake,” Trump said Tuesday at an event in Pennsylvania, referring to Powell. “He’s made a big mistake — the head of the Fed. That was another beauty that I chose.”
The constant critiques have worried critics, who note the central bank has historically been independent of politics.
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.”