Trump On Trade Wars With China, U.S. Allies: ‘We’ve Been the Stupid Country for So Many Years’

During his broad-ranging interview with 60 Minutes, President Trump said America has been a “stupid country” in the past, while also defending his approach to international economics and foreign policy.

Lesley Stahl pressed Trump on his escalating trade wars with China and their retaliation across multiple markets. Trump disputed her “trade war” characterization and that eventually led to a chat on the Trump Administration’s tariffs against American allies.

“I mean, what’s an ally?” Trump said. “We have wonderful relationships with a lot of people. But nobody treats us much worse than the European Union.”

Stahl continued to ask about this “hostile” approach, and whether Trump would consider dissolving the western alliance under NATO.

“We’ve been the stupid country for so many years,” Trump said. “We shouldn’t be paying almost the entire cost of NATO to protect Europe, and then on top of that, they take advantage of us on trade.”

[Mediaite]

Trump says those who made ‘false statements’ about Kavanaugh ‘should be held liable’

Hours after his Supreme Court pick was sworn in Saturday, President Donald Trump said on Fox News that those who made up “false” stories about Brett Kavanaugh should be penalized.

Trump, talking with Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro, said he hated watching the slew of sexual assault allegations grow against Kavanaugh and dubbed all the accusations “fabrications” with “not a bit of truth.”

“I think that they should be held liable,” Trump told Pirro. “You can’t go around and whether it’s making up stories or making false statements about such an important position, you can’t do that. You can destroy somebody’s life.”

Pirro started the segment by congratulating the president on Kavanaugh’s swearing-in then asked about the accusations and whether any of those who came forward or promoted “falsehoods” should suffer “consequences.” She specifically asked about allegations brought by Julie Sweatnick, who was represented by lawyer Michael Avenatti.

Swetnick alleges she witnessed efforts by Kavanaugh and his classmate Mark Judge to get teenage girls “inebriated and disoriented so they could then be ‘gang-raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a ‘train’ of numerous boys.”

Avenatti has been dueling with the president for months in court representing porn star Stormy Daniels, who alleges an affair with Trump and signed a hush money deal to stay quiet.

[USA Today]

Trump suggests support for family separations, after earlier practice caused outcry

President Donald Trump suggested on Saturday that he believes the controversial policy of family separations could continue in the United States and that the practice could dissuade immigrants from entering the country illegally.

Trump’s comments come on the heels of a Friday report in The Washington Post that the White House is actively considering plans that could again separate parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The newspaper, which cited several administration officials it did not name, reported that one option under consideration would detain asylum-seeking families together for up to 20 days and then give parents a choice of staying in family detention with their child as their immigration cases proceed or allowing children to be taken to a government shelter so other relatives or guardians could seek custody.

“We’re looking at a lot of different things having to do with illegal immigration,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House.

“I will say this: If they feel there will be separation, they don’t come,” Trump said.

The practice of separating children from their parents at the border ignited a firestorm of criticism. Under pressure, Trump in June signed an executive order that said he said would end the practice and allow families to be detained together.

At least 2,600 children were separated from their parents under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that called for prosecuting everyone who entered the country illegally. A federal judge ordered families to be reunified, and in September the government reported it had reunified or released 2,251 children.

The policy, in effect from May 6 through June 20, did not put a significant dent in the number of families crossing the border, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Trump has made illegal immigration a centerpiece of his campaign and presidency. On Saturday he insisted he wants workers to come into the country but repeated his refrain that he wants a “merit-based” immigration system and that he opposes the current lottery system.

A bill proposed by Republicans in August would halve the number of legal immigrants allowed into the United States while moving to a “merit-based” system of entry. Trump has said he supports that bill.

[NBC News]

Trump administration proposes tough rules on protests

The Trump administration is proposing to overhaul rules for protests in front of the White House and at other iconic locations in Washington, D.C., in an effort that opponents say is aimed at shutting down free speech.

The National Park Service’s (NPS) proposal, for which public comments are due by Monday, would close much of the sidewalk north of the White House to protests, limit the ability for groups to have spontaneous protests without permits in that area and on the National Mall and open the door to potentially charging some demonstrating groups fees and costs for their events.

The plan was released in August with little fanfare. But civil rights groups have been sounding alarm bells in recent days as the comment period comes to a close.

In making the proposal, the NPS cites its mandate to protect land, saying that it wants to “provide greater clarity to the public about how and where demonstrations and special events may be conducted in a manner that protects and preserves the cultural and historic integrity of these areas.”

But opponents see a connection to President Trump’s disdain for protesters, and congressional Republicans’ denunciations of recent demonstrations against new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh as “mob rule.”

They argue that the iconic places in Washington, D.C., that hosted Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963 and the Occupy encampments in 2012 need to remain as welcoming as possible for the First-Amendment-guaranteed right to protest, not just for D.C. locals, but for people from around the country who travel to the nation’s capital.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, said that while most recent administrations have tried to crack down on protests covered by the NPS unit known as the National Mall and Memorial Parks, the Trump effort is more significant.

“This administration’s come in with the most bold and consequential overhaul. The consequences are enormous,” Verheyden-Hilliard told The Hill.

“There’s never been such a large effort at rewriting these regulations,” she said. “I don’t think there can be any question that these revisions will have the intent and certainly the effect of stifling the ability of the public to protest.”

While the proposal itself wouldn’t lead directly to fees being charged for protests, it asks the public to weigh in on the possibility.

Verheyden-Hilliard was particularly critical of a proposal to reduce distinctions between demonstrations and “special events,” which include concerts and festivals. Demonstrations have previously been subject to less scrutiny in permitting and can get their permits almost automatically.

Under the proposal, those protections could change, especially if anyone sings or dances at a protest.

“Speech plus music doesn’t lose its speech character,” she said. “If the event is focused on expressing views and grievances, it is a demonstration.”

The American Civil Liberties Union’s local chapter said in a blog post that major protests like King’s speech could become too expensive for their organizers.

“Managing public lands for the benefit of the American people is what Congress funds the National Park Service to do. That includes demonstrators just as much as tourists or hikers,” wrote Arthur Spitzer, co-legal director of the ACLU of D.C.

Top Democratic lawmakers are also getting involved.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.), the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, joined with Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), his counterpart for the House Judiciary Committee, and other Democrats this week in denouncing the fee idea in a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

“National parks must be accessible and open to the American public for peaceful assembly,” they wrote.

“While the recuperation of costs may be an appropriate standard for special events that are celebratory or entertainment-oriented, the proposed shift could have the disastrous result of undermining the freedoms of expression and assembly — which are fundamental constitutional rights — in one of our nation’s premier public parks.”

NPS spokesman Brent Everitt said any fee changes would require a separate regulatory proposal. But he nonetheless defended potential fees, citing as an example the 2012 Occupy protests in downtown D.C.’s McPherson Square and elsewhere, which cost the agency nearly $500,000.

“At this time, we want to have a genuine conversation with the public about updating a comprehensive plan to best facilitate use and enjoyment of the National Mall while preserving and protecting its monuments and memorials. Permit fees and cost recovery considerations are just one part of that overall conversation,” Everitt said in a statement.

He said the agency wants input on whether the costs to the agency are an “appropriate expenditure of National Park Service funds, or whether we should also attempt to recover costs for supporting these kinds of events if the group seeking the permit for the event has the ability to cover those costs.”

The myriad rules and standards for events on NPS land in the nation’s capital have been shaped largely by decades of litigation. And if the agency pursues a regulation like the one proposed, the lawsuits will only continue.

“If these regulations go through in current form or a substantially similar iteration, we are prepared to have them enjoined,” Verheyden-Hilliard said. “We believe that they are unconstitutional and fundamentally unsound. And moreover, they are unjustified.”

The NPS is taking comments through Monday on its regulations.gov portal.

[The Hill]

 

Trump: ‘Robert E. Lee was a great general’

President Trump praised Confederate General Robert E. Lee as “a great general” on Friday during a campaign rally in Lebanon, Ohio.

“So Robert E. Lee was a great general. And Abraham Lincoln developed a phobia. He couldn’t beat Robert E. Lee,” Trump said before launching into a monologue about Lee, Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.

“He was going crazy. I don’t know if you know this story. But Robert E. Lee was winning battle after battle after battle. And Abraham Lincoln came home, he said, ‘I can’t beat Robert E. Lee,'” Trump said.

“And he had all of his generals, they looked great, they were the top of their class at West Point. They were the greatest people. There’s only one problem — they didn’t know how the hell to win. They didn’t know how to fight. They didn’t know how,” he continued.

Trump went on to say, multiple times, that Grant had a drinking problem, saying that the former president “knocked the hell out of everyone” as a Union general.

“Man was he a good general. And he’s finally being recognized as a great general,” Trump added.

Trump has drawn criticism for his defense of Confederate statues, including those of Robert E. Lee.

He drew widespread condemnation last year following a deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., saying that white nationalist protesters were there to oppose the removal of a “very, very important” statue.

“They were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee,” Trump said at the time. “This week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”

Trump, speaking at another rally in Ohio last year, said that he can be one of the “most presidential” presidents to hold office. “…With the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held this office,” he said to a crowd in Youngstown.

[The Hill]

Trump Rails Against ‘Radical’ Democrats: They ‘Have Turned into An Angry Mob’

President Donald Trump started off his MAGA rally in Kansas on Saturday by praising Republicans and railing against the “radical” Democrats who he said have turned into an “angry mob.”

“I want to thank our incredible Republican senators refusing to back down in the face of the Democrats shameless campaign of political and personal destruction,” he began, before pointing fingers at “radical Democrats” for launching “a disgraceful campaign to resist, obstruct, delay, demolish and destroy right from the beginning.”

The crowd booed.

He added: “Brett Kavanaugh is a man of great character and intellect. He is a totally brilliant scholar who has devoted his life to the law. He is a loving husband, a devoted father, and a faithful public servant and he always has been.”

Then after calling what Kavanaugh endured at the hands of the Democrats “unthinkable,” Trump said: “The radical Democrats have turned into an angry mob, you saw that today with this screaming and the shouting, not from the 200 people or, you know what, those people couldn’t fit in the front row. Look what we have here tonight.”

His comments echo an earlier tweet where Trump referred to the protests outside the Supreme Court.

[Mediaite]

Now Trump is targeting Vietnamese refugees

In its insatiable quest to rid the U.S. of immigrants, the Trump administration has been rounding up Vietnamese refugees who have been in the country for more than a quarter of a century and trying to send them back to Vietnam — despite a formal bilateral agreement that refugees who arrived here prior to the 1995 normalization of relations between the two countries would not be sent home.

In a number of cases, the refugees have been held in detention centers for months as the government sought to obtain travel documents from the Vietnamese government, and despite a Supreme Court decision that said the government could not detain someone for an extended period of time if it was unlikely the home country would accept the deportee.

After the end of the Vietnam War, and after the North Vietnamese communist government unified the country, hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese — many of whom fought alongside or cooperated with American forces — fled for safety, often boarding rickety boatsto cross the South China Sea. In many cases, the refugees were stateless, because they were citizens of South Vietnam, a country that dissolved with the end of the war.

Nearly 1.3 million eventually settled in the U.S., some 200,000 in and around Orange County’s Little Saigon.

That large a population is bound to include some people who break the law, and upward of 10,000 Vietnamese have been ordered deported by immigration judges after being convicted of often serious crimes in American criminal courts. But for more than three decades after the war ended, the Vietnamese government refused to accept deportees from the U.S., viewing the refugees as political enemies or possible American spies.

That changed in 2008, when the George W. Bush administration reached an agreementunder which Vietnam would accept the return of deportees who had arrived in the U.S. after July 12, 1995. The wording of the pact is significant:

“Vietnamese citizens are not subject to return to Vietnam under this Agreement if they arrived in the United States before July 12, 1995, the date on which diplomatic relations were re-established between the U.S. Government and the Vietnamese Government. The U.S. Government and the Vietnamese Government maintain their respective legal positions relative to Vietnamese citizens who departed Vietnam for the United States prior to that date.”

For a decade that has been interpreted as a flat protection for the refugees. But the Trump administration argues in court filings — immigrant rights organizations are suing to halt the detentions and deportations — that the second sentence in effect negates the first, so the U.S. can deport Vietnamese refugees if they have committed acts that render them ineligible to remain in the U.S.

“The agreement does not in fact prohibit such removals,” the government argued in court documents. “Rather, it provides merely that pre-1995 aliens cannot be removed under the terms of the agreement itself.”

That’s a specious argument. Until the agreement, Vietnam would not accept any deportees from the U.S.; after the agreement, it began accepting what are called post-1995 deportees. So the only mechanism for returning people to Vietnam falls under the agreement, regardless of U.S. laws. The Trump administration is simply trying to break the terms of the deal — and so far has been successful in at least 11 cases, though it’s unclear why Vietnam agreed to let the deportees in. According to reports, the deportees have had trouble finding places to live and getting permission to work in Vietnam.

News accounts of the efforts have focused on refugees who arrived here as young (usually) men with limited social or family structure. A number of them fell in with gangs or individually committed crimes of varying seriousness, from drug possession to robbery and a few rare murders. Yet the issue here isn’t the crimes some refugees committed, but the circumstances of their arrival in the U.S., and the letter of the agreement with Vietnam.

This is yet another instance in which the Trump administration has just bulled its way forward to try to reduce the number of immigrants living in the U.S. If the government believes that it is in the nation’s best interest to deport Vietnamese refugees convicted of crimes, then it should reopen the 2008 agreement and create a lawful mechanism to do so.

[Los Angeles Times]

Trump suggests that protesting should be illegal

President Trump has long derided the mainstream media as the “enemy of the people” and lashed out at NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem. On Tuesday, he took his attacks on free speech one step further, suggesting in an interview with a conservative news site that the act of protesting should be illegal.

Trump made the remarks in an Oval Office interview with the Daily Caller hours after his Supreme Court nominee, Brett M. Kavanaugh, was greeted by protests on the first day of his confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill.

“I don’t know why they don’t take care of a situation like that,” Trump said. “I think it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protesters. You don’t even know what side the protesters are on.”

He added: “In the old days, we used to throw them out. Today, I guess they just keep screaming.”

More than 70 people were arrested after they repeatedly heckled Kavanaugh and senators at Tuesday’s hearing.

Trump has bristled at dissent in the past, including several instances in which he has suggested demonstrators should lose their jobs or be met with violence for speaking out.

In July, ahead of his visit to Britain, Trump told the Sun newspaper that reports of large-scale demonstrations against him in London — including a 20-foot-tall blimp depicting an angry baby Trump — had offended him.

“I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London,” Trump said. Months earlier, Trump had implicitly rejected reports that his initial plans to visit in the spring were scuttled because of fears of protests.

Last September, Trump called on NFL owners to fire players who kneel during the national anthem to protest systemic racial injustice.

And in several appearances during the 2016 campaign, when demonstrators interrupted his rallies, Trump at times appeared to encourage violence against them.

Trump has also prompted cries of “dictator envy” for remarks in which he seemed to emulate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. “He speaks, and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same,” Trump told Fox News Channel in an interview after his Singapore summit with the North Korean leader.

[The Washington Post]

Trump again threatens to ‘get involved’ in the Justice Department

President Trump on Thursday evening again threatened to “get involved” in the Department of Justice (DOJ) “if it doesn’t straighten out.”

Trump said during a rally in support of Indiana Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun that the DOJ and the FBI “have to start doing their job and doing it right and doing it now.”

“I wanted to stay out, but if it doesn’t straighten out … I will get involved and I’ll get in there if I have to,” Trump said.

The president’s comments echoed those he made in May, when he threatened to “get involved” in a rolling dispute between conservative House Republicans and the top DOJ official overseeing the Russia probe.

Trump has frequently attacked the DOJ and Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The president’s feud with the DOJ has escalated since last week, when he said during an interview on “Fox & Friends” that Sessions “never took control of the Justice Department.”

“The Dems are very strong in the Justice Department,” Trump said. “And I put in an attorney general that never took control of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions. Never took control of the Justice Department. It’s sort of an incredible thing.”

Sessions quickly fired back, saying in a statement that the DOJ “will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

Weeks before that interview, Trump wrote on Twitter that Sessions should stop the special counsel’s investigation “right now.” Trump has repeatedly cast the investigation as a “witch hunt.”

Sessions has long drawn the ire of Trump for recusing himself from the Russia investigation a month after being installed at the DOJ last year.

The president’s attacks against Sessions have continued to fuel speculation that he could move to fire the attorney general at some point.

Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) both predicted last week that Trump will eventually fire Sessions.

Trump told Bloomberg News earlier in the day Thursday that Sessions would remain in his job until at least the November midterm elections, but declined to say whether he would keep Sessions after the elections.

The president appeared in Indiana on Thursday night in an effort to boost Braun, who is seeking to unseat Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) in November.

[The Hill]

Media

Trump revives charge Obama spied on his campaign

President Donald Trump is reviving his unverified claims President Barack Obama spied on his campaign and touting the words of a conservative Fox News host who also claims there’s now a precedent for presidents to use the government to spy on political rivals.

Trump, in a series of early morning tweets, quoted Tucker Carlson, who claimed on his show Tuesday night that President Obama had spied on Trump’s campaign and later argued the ‘lunatics on the left’ created a model that future presidents could follow.

‘The Obama people did something that’s never been done…They spied on a rival presidential campaign. Would it be OK if Trump did it next? I am losing faith that our system is on the level. I’m beginning to think it is rotten & corrupt. Scary stuff Obama did.’ @TuckerCarlson DOJ’ Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning.

His ‘DOJ’ might have been an indication the tweet was meant for the Department of Justice, who he has heavily criticized for not reining in the investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 election and for not probing rival Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s looking into Russia’s role in the presidential contest – and whether or not Trump obstructed that investigation – remains on going.

Trump was quoting Carlson, a conservative pundit who as seen as one of the president’s staunchest defenders.

Carlson, in a conservation with Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist on his Fox show Tuesday night said: ‘The Obama people did something that’s never been done that I’m aware of, they spied on a rival presidential campaign and that’s okay with you. But would it be okay if the Trump did that to the next guy?’

He went on to argue there was now a precedent for presidents to use the government to spy on rival political campaigns.

‘What’s the next election is going to be like?’ he asked attorney Richard Goodstein, who was also a guest on his show. ‘I don’t want the Trump Administration to spy on rival campaigns, but you and the lunatics on the left have created a precedent that will allow them to, and future presidents to do that. I don’t want to live in that country, that’s all I’m saying.’

There has been no proof Obama spied on the Trump campaign. The FBI was investigating the campaign’s ties to Russia during the 2016 election, which Trump argues is evidence of a ‘deep red state’ conspiracy to keep him out of the White House.

In May, Trump demanded the Justice Department investigate his allegation that the Obama administration’s FBI ‘infiltrated or surveilled’ his 2016 campaign.

The agency directed its Office of Inspector General y to formally probe those claims, an investigation that remains ongoing.

Trump’s demand came after multiple reports that the FBI had sent an informant to speak with campaign advisers about matters related to possible Russia ties, which the president has used to claim Obama was spying on him.

Some reports named Stefan Halper, an American professor at Cambridge University, as the FBI informant who met with Trump campaign aidesCarter Page and George Papadopoulos.

Both aides were suspected of dealing with the Russians.

Halper also reportedly met with a third Trump campaign official, Sam Clovis, to whom he reportedly expressed interest in helping the president’s campaign.

The use of an information is common FBI practice in criminal investigations but there is no public evidence that Halper was an FBI informant, and official sources have refused to comment on the subject. Halper has not given any comment on the issue.

Papadopoulos revealed in a plea agreement to having been told by an apparent Russian agent that Vladimir Putin government had access to a raft of hacked Clinton emails before this was made public. He has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

Page, meanwhile, was under surveillance by the FBI at the time he met with the FBI informant.

Trump and his allies claim that FBI surveillance of Page was a done through a tainted FISA warrant that relied on the unverified Christopher Steele dossier, paid for by a law firm with ties to Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.

The dossier claimed the Russians had information on Trump that it could use for blackmail, which the president has denied.

Last month, documents released through a Freedom of Information Act request showed federal agents relied on more information than the Steele dossier to obtain the warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

But Trump on Tuesday morning quoted Carlson making another charge – that Clinton and the DNC paid for information from the Russians to use against the American government, likely in a reference to the Steele dossier.

‘Hillary Clinton and the DNC paid for information from the Russian government to use against her government – there’s no doubt about that!’ @TuckerCarlson,’ Trump wrote.

Carlson, on his Fox show Tuesday night told attorney Richard Goodstein:  ‘The Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC paid for information from the Russian government to use against their opponent. There is no debate about that.’

[Daily Mail]

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