Trump Adviser Floats Claims Minnesota Mosque Bombing Was Staged

A senior White House official’s suggestion that the bomb attack on a mosque in the US state of Minnesota could have been staged has sparked derision on social media.

Sebastian Gorka, a senior adviser to US President Donald Trump, told MSNBC on Tuesday that some recent hate crimes were fake.

He failed to give examples to back his allegations.

The comments led to criticism of the official, who has ties to far-right activists in Hungary and was sacked from a consultancy role by the FBI over his anti-Islam rhetoric, according to US outlet, the Daily Beast.

When asked by anchors whether the White House would be commenting on the Minnesota bombing that took place in the early hours on Saturday, Gorka said it would but only after an investigation into who was behind the attack.

“There’s a great rule, all initial reports are false, you have to check them, you have to find out who the perpetrators are,” said Gorka.

“We’ve had a series of crimes committed, alleged hate crimes by right-wing individuals, in the last six months, which turned out to be actually propagated by the left.”

“People fake hate crimes in the last six months with some regularity. I think it’s wise to find out what exactly is going on before you make statements,” he added.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre, which documents hate crimes, noted 1,863 incidents between Trump’s election in November 2016 and April 2017.

In May, two men were killed by a white supremacist in Oregon when they tried to stop him abusing two Muslim girls on a bus.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) noted a 91 percent rise in anti-Muslim hate crime since the start of the year.

The comments by the Trump official on MSNBC prompted criticism online.

[Al Jazeera]

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White House Just Doxxed Americans Critical of Trump’s Election Commission

The White House just responded to concerns it would release voters’ sensitive personal information by releasing a bunch of voters’ sensitive personal information.

Last month, the White House’s “election integrity” commission sent out requests to every state asking for all voters’ names, party IDs, addresses, and even the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, among other information. The White House then said this information would be made available to the public.

A lot of people did not like the idea, fearing that their personal information could be made public. So some sent emails to the White House, demanding that it rescind the request.

This week, the White House decided to make those emails from concerned citizens public through the commission’s new website. But the administration made a big mistake: It didn’t censor any of the personal information — such as names, email addresses, actual addresses, and phone numbers — included in those emails.

In effect, the White House just released the sensitive personal information of a lot of concerned citizens giving feedback to their government. That’s made even worse by the fact that the White House did this when the thing citizens were complaining about was the possibility that their private information would be made public.

As of Friday afternoon, the emails are still uncensored and available on the White House’s website. They include all sorts of feedback, from concerns about privacy to outright insults of the Trump administration. One email just links to an image of the terrifying pornographic meme Goatse. (Do not Google this if you value your eyes.)

“DO NOT RELEASE ANY OF MY VOTER DATA, PERIOD,” said one person whose full name and email address were subsequently released in the collection of emails.

The White House website does now warn about the possibility of personal information going public: “Please note that the Commission may post such written comments publicly on our website, including names and contact information that are submitted.” But it’s not clear if the people who sent emails to the White House knew of this before the commission’s website went up this week.

It isn’t atypical to release some personal information with public comments. The Federal Communications Commission, for example, posts commenters’ addresses on its filing website. But the White House’s move quickly caught people’s attention on social media.

A spokesperson for Vice President Mike Pence, who’s helping head the commission, defended the move.

“These are public comments, similar to individuals appearing before commission to make comments and providing name before making comments,” Marc Lotter, press secretary to the vice president, said. “The Commission’s Federal Register notice asking for public comments and its website make clear that information ‘including names and contact information’ sent to this email address may be released.”

The White House’s “election integrity” commission has been criticized more broadly because it’s widely believed to be an attempt to justify voter suppression. The group was set up after President Donald Trump, on Twitter and elsewhere, complained that he lost the popular vote due to millions of fraudulent votes. The best research shows that voter fraud is incredibly rare in the US — in 2016, for example, an investigation in North Carolina found that just one out of nearly 4.8 million total votes in the state was potentially a credible case of in-person voter fraud.

But Republicans, with Trump now included, have used exaggerated fears of voter fraud to pass legislation that would add new barriers to voting — which disproportionately affects low-income and minority voters who just so happen to lean Democrat. For more on all that, read Vox’s explainer.

[Vox]

Trump Thinks He Got ‘Total Vindication’ From Comey. Except He Didn’t.

President Trump ended his Twitter silence early Friday, claiming ex-FBI Director James Comey vindicated him and accusing Comey of improperly leaking details of their discussions.

“Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication…and WOW, Comey is a leaker!” Trump tweeted.

Comey told a Senate committee Thursday that he believes Trump fired him over the Russia probe, and he accused the White House of lying about the details of the dismissal. He also admitted that he had leaked to the press memos describing his talks with Trump, saying he hoped the stories would spur the appointment of a special counsel to take over the investigation of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia.

The former FBI director also appeared to confirm Trump’s statements that, on three occasions, Comey told the president he was not personally under investigation with regard to Russia.

While Trump’s attorney issued a statement defending Trump and attacking Comey for the leak, and Trump’s son Don Jr. tweeted throughout the hearing, the president himself remained silent on the subject and did not tweet all day.

That changed early Friday.

One source of the Trump-Comey dispute: Comey’s memos.

The former FBI director said he he kept notes on his meetings with the president because he was concerned Trump might lie about the nature of their conversations.

After his dismissal, Comey testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee, he told a friend about his memos and asked him to leak the information about them to reporters.

Trump and aides pounced on that revelation, accusing Comey of improperly leaking privileged conversations. They also disputed Comey’s assertion that Trump asked the FBI director for a pledge of personal loyalty to the president.

The president and his aides backed other parts of Comey’s testimony, however, including portions where the then-FBI director told the president he was not personally under investigation over Russia.

The FBI is investigating links between associates of Trump during last year’s campaign and Russians who sought to influence the election by hacking Democrats. Comey said that Trump asked him specifically whether he could drop the investigation with respect to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who Trump fired for withholding information about his contacts with foreign governments.

The president’s critics said Comey’s claims that Trump asked him about dropping the Russia investigation could amount to obstruction of justice.

Reality

Comey was fired by Trump on May 9th. All of his unclassified memos were sent to the press on May 16th, after his dismissal and after Donald Trump talked about them.

 

 

President Trump Scolds Kathy Griffin: She ‘Should Be Ashamed’

President Donald Trump lashed out at Kathy Griffin on Twitter early Wednesday, telling the caustic comedian that she “should be ashamed of herself” and think of “my children” for posing with a fake bloodied and decapitated head made in his likeness.

“Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!” Trump tweeted.

First lady Melania Trump weighed in on the graphic image, saying that she found the images “very disturbing.”

“As a mother, a wife, and a human being, that photo is very disturbing,” she said. “When you consider some of the atrocities happening in the world today, a photo opportunity like this is simply wrong and makes you wonder about the mental health of the person who did it.”

Griffin sent shock waves through social media on Tuesday night after images of her holding a bloodied, decapitated model of what appeared to be Trump’s head began circulating online.

Griffin posted a short video of herself raising the head on her Twitter account.

Griffin added in a follow up that she does “not condone ANY violence” but that she was simply “mocking the Mocker in Chief.”

As the picture began to make the rounds, Trump’s son Donald Trump, Jr., among others, posted the image on Instagram to express his disgust.

CNN hosts Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper both said the image was inappropriate. In a statement, CNN said it found Griffin’s actions “disgusting and offensive,” and said it is evaluating its New Year’s Eve coverage, which Griffin co-hosts with Cooper.

As the backlash mounted, Griffin changed course and apologized.

“I sincerely apologize. I’m just now seeing the reaction of these images. I’m a comic. I crossed the line. I move the line, then I cross it. I went way too far,” Griffin said.

She went on to say the image was too graphic and that she had taken it down and asked the photographer do the same.

“It wasn’t funny. I get it. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my career. I will continue,” Griffin said.

Griffin’s ad campaign with Squatty Potty, a Utah-based bathroom products company, had been suspended, the company said.

Reality

You are right to hold the position that this clearly crossed the line and you are right to point out that this was only a piece of art captioned, “Blood coming out of wherever” that mocked Trump’s own sexist comments towards Megyn Kelly and art shouldn’t be censored. Ultimately this photoshoot by Tyler Shields, who is known for his provocative images, clearly had its intended effect to shock an audience.

However, that debate aside, what we should take away and learn from this incident is how disturbing it is that we hold our artists and comedians at a higher level of standards than our elected officials.

 

DOJ Retaliating Against Immigration Lawyers Who Fought Trump’s Travel Ban

The Department of Justice is instructing lawyers to stop representing immigrants in need of legal assistance for President Donald Trump’s travel ban and for ICE deportations.

According to an investigative report from The Nation, four weeks ago the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) in Seattle received a “cease and desist” letter from the DOJ demanding they drop their clients and close down programs or face disciplinary action. The DOJ is accusing the NWIRP of requiring clients pay them and then dropping the cases after receiving the money.

The NWIRP disputes the DOJ’s accusations.

Viewers of TV crime shows are familiar with the police recitation, “You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you by the court.” Any immigrant facing deportation is not entitled to such an attorney because they haven’t technically been charged with a crime. This results in crowded immigration courts in which few defendants have attorneys.

Non-profit groups work to ensure those in the hearings have access to attorneys through volunteers at big law firms. At the same time, there are thousands of dishonest attorneys who do take money from immigrants promising to help defend them before walking off with their money. NWIRP isn’t one of those, according to The Nation, yet under Attorney General Jeff Sessions the DOJ intends to pursue a disciplinary review of them and other non-profits.

They’re not entitled to an attorney or provided with one but can accept the work of an attorney that will agree to help if the case ends up being a long one. If it’s short they’re not allowed to have any help in filling out legally binding documents. Any attorney that tries to help will be sanctioned.

NWIRP, however, has worked with immigration officials to ensure they can run programs to help people fill out forms or assist with legal proceedings with advice and explanation.

The organization has been on the frontline of fighting Trump’s travel ban with volunteer lawyers at Seattle’s SeaTac airport. There are many other groups who did the same.

Sending the cease and desist letter frightened employees volunteering for the cases and concerned the firm that they might become a target by the DOJ for other projects. If the pro-bono lawyers stop providing the service it’ll result in silencing the bar and diminishing the work of the groups providing people with important services around the U.S.

Lawyers sprang into action when airports began restricting access to citizens on planes arriving in the U.S. from countries on Trump’s ban list. Their stories dominated the news cycle and it’s assumed that Trump took offense to defying the order. Other institutions like the FBI, Justice Department, and courts all seem to be under attack, according to The Nation.

[Raw Story]

Donald Trump Threatens James Comey, Implies He Illegally Taped Conversations

President Donald Trump implied on Friday that he may have recorded conversations with former FBI Director James Comey.

In a tweet, Trump issued a threat to Comey over “leaking to the press.”

Trump’s tweet seems to stem from his frustration over the fallout from his firing of FBI Director James Comey earlier this week. Trump told NBC on Thursday that he was looking for an excuse to fire Comey, who was leading an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

Comey could testify during an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, meaning the president’s tweet could be seen as witness intimidation.

The White House has been inconsistent in its explanation of Comey’s firing, pointing on Tuesday to a memo written by deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that suggested Comey’s handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails had prompted his departure.

On Wednesday, Trump said Comey was let go because he “wasn’t doing a good job.” Later that day, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointed to “atrocities” she says Comey committed in the Clinton email investigation.

But Comey’s firing came days after he reportedly asked for more resources to advance the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election. Trump questioned that investigation again Friday morning, calling it a “witch hunt.”

During his Twitter rant Friday morning, Trump also suggested he may stop press briefings, threatened the “fake media” and excused his aides for not giving journalists accurate information.

[Huffington Post]

 

Donald Trump just trolled Rosie O’Donnell. Not Good.

As his White House continued to struggle to get its story straight regarding the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the unwanted photo-op of the president and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Wednesday, Donald Trump took time out to troll longtime nemesis Rosie O’Donnell.

On Thursday afternoon, Trump retweeted a two-word tweet the actress sent in December 2016 that read: “FIRE COMEY.” He added this comment: “We finally agree on something Rosie.”

Reminder: Donald Trump is the president of the United States, the head of the US military and, arguably, the single most powerful person in the world.

O’Donnell and Trump have a loooooong history — dating all the way back to 2006. Trump refused to de-crown (not sure that’s a word) Miss USA Tara Conner after reports of her past alcohol and drug use surfaced. O’Donnell, at the time a co-host of “The View,” blasted Trump the following day — calling him “a snake-oil salesman on Little House On The Prairie” among many other things.

But, only one of these two people are president of the United States. Only one of them is making decisions about sending missiles into a Syrian airfield or dropping the “mother of all bombs” on Afghanistan. Or making final calls on the number of troops in Afghanistan. Or developing tax policy and trade policy with far-reaching impacts on the US economy. Or representing the US on the world stage.

On Thursday, O’Donnell responded: “u don’t even realize the kind of trouble u r in – comeys people believe in him – for real – they have the proof – u r a sadistic man #USA”

Now, it’s easy to laugh at Trump’s decision to re-engage his long-simmering feud with O’Donnell. (It’s a good tweet and an expert troll, after all.)

But, it should also give everyone pause. This is the president of the United States we are talking about. (I know I have said that three times. But it bears repeating!) He — and his administration — are in the midst of a self-inflicted crisis over the reasons for his decision to fire Comey. That he made time to troll Rosie O’Donnell says something about where his priorities and focus lie. And what it says is nothing good.

[CNN]

Reality

Trump and Republicans would be correct to point out liberal hypocrisy over the firing of James Comey if today was November 9th. At that time we would have absolutely cheered the release of the FBI Director who helped hand Trump a White House victory.

But since November 9th we’ve learned, from James Comey, that he and the FBI are investigating Trump and his administration for collusion with Russia, and just a week prior was asking for more resources for his investigation.

So let’s cut that talking point to shreds right now.

Trump Attacks Union Boss Who Fact Checked Him

Chuck Jones, president of United Steelworkers Local 1999, has been critical of Trump’s claim to have saved 1,100 jobs at the Indianapolis plant since Tuesday.But shortly after Jones appeared on CNN’s “Erin Burnett Out Front” program Wednesday night, the president-elect appeared to blame union leaders like him for companies leaving the U.S.

“Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!” Trump wrote.

He followed up with another attack just over an hour later: “If United Steelworkers 1999 was any good, they would have kept those jobs in Indiana.”

Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is also the governor of Indiana, gave a very different description of the union back in March. He tweeted a photo of a meeting he had about Carrier with Jones and Local 1999 members, calling them “hardworking.”

Jones has complained that Trump has fallen short of his campaign promise to keep Carrier from moving 1,400 jobs to Mexico.

“You made a promise to keep all these jobs. You half-way delivered,” Jones told CNNMoney in an interview earlier Wednesday. “We expect you go back and keep all the jobs.”

Jones added that Trump should also help the 350 workers at an Indianapolis plant owned by another company, Rexnord, which is also slated to move to Mexico. Workers there are also members of USW Local 1999.

“Trump said no companies would be allowed to go to Mexico,” Jones said. “There are more than 300 people over there at Rexnord. He needs to deliver for them as well.”

Jones did not get to speak with Trump when the President-elect visited Carrier last week. But he said he was angry when Trump praised Carrier for “keeping 1,100 people” in jobs that won’t move to Mexico. The real number is 800.

To get the higher number, Carrier and Trump are counting 300 administrative and engineering jobs at a different facility in Indianapolis that were never at risk of being shipped to Mexico.

Carrier is still shifting about 600 jobs building fan coils to Mexico sometime next year. Under the deal with Trump, Carrier only agreed to keep the part of the plant that builds furnaces open, saving the 800 jobs in Indianapolis.

Carrier confirmed to CNNMoney on Friday that it never planned to move the 300 administrative and engineering positions.

“He’s lying his a– off,” Jones said about Trump’s claim of saving 1,100 jobs. “That’s not just my feeling. The numbers prove he’s lying his a– off. It’s a damn shame when you come in and make a false statements like that.”

Later Wednesday Jones elaborated in an interview with Erin Burnett.

Jones said many of the workers whose jobs may now be saved are grateful to Trump, but that some workers who are still worried about losing their jobs are angry.

“We have a lot of our members, when word was coming out… they thought they would have a job. Then they found out Friday, that most likely they weren’t,” he said.

Burnett asked if Jones thought Trump should apologize, and he said, “I think he ought to make sure he gets all the facts straight before he starts talking about what he’s done.”

“I’m extremely grateful for what he did. There’s 800 people who have jobs… It’s not all one sided. I just wished it had been handled in more of a professional matter.”

The Trump transition team did not respond to a request for comment about the jobs still moving to Mexico.

Jones said he hopes the company will offer workers the chance to leave voluntarily with the severance package that was previously negotiated — one week of pay for every year of service.

Ideally, more senior workers at the plant would take the package and retire, which would save the jobs of younger workers. The plant has a large number of senior employees.

“For workers who have 40 years in and were getting close to retirement, that 40 weeks pay might look pretty good,” Jones said. But severance talks have yet to start.

(h/t CNN)

Update

Jones wrote a follow-up explaining his side.

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