Trump Claims He’s Heard FBI ‘Lovers’ Had a ‘Restraining Order,’ Admits He Has No Evidence

Not long after Donald Trump took to the stage at a rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday night, the president launched into one of his biggest crowd-pleasers: pillorying the “deep state,” particularly by performing fan-fic-style dialogue between the “FBI lovers” Lisa Page and Peter Strzok.

It’s a routine that he’s been honing on the re-election campaign trail for months, perhaps most famously during an October campaign event in Minneapolis, where he appeared to make orgasmic, panting noises—much to the audience’s delight—while doing a mock-dialogue between the two “lovers” about how much they “love” each other and hate that “son of a bitch” Trump.

And on Tuesday night, the president went a step further, claiming he’d “heard” gossip about previously unknown relationship woes between the two former FBI employees—though Trump conceded he could just be spreading pure disinformation.

“So FBI lawyer Lisa Page was so in love she didn’t know what the hell was happening,” Trump blared. “Texted the head of counterintelligence Peter Strzok, likewise so in love he couldn’t see straight! This poor guy. Did I hear he needed a restraining order after this whole thing to keep him away from Lisa? That’s what I heard. I don’t know if it’s true. The fake news will never report it, but it could be true.”

After pointing out the reporters gathered in the back so the audience could loudly boo them, the president continued to make the baseless claim that a restraining order was put in place. At the same time, Trump gave a contorted explanation of the alleged restraining order.

“Now that’s what I heard, I don’t know,” he added. “I mean, who could believe a thing like that? No, I heard Peter Strzok needed a restraining order to keep him away from his once lover. Lisa, I hope you miss him. Lisa, he will never be the same.”

It is unclear where, if anywhere, Trump got this. The White House did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

A source familiar with Page’s thinking told The Daily Beast on Tuesday night that Trump’s allegation is “absolutely untrue.”

On Wednesday morning, Page took to Twitter herself, saying “This is a lie. Nothing like this ever happened. I wish we had a president who knew how to act like one. SAD!”

Both Page and Strzok have become prominent bêtes noires for MAGA fans and Trumpworld, due to their illicit affair and the text messages they exchanged bashing Trump and discussing an “insurance policy” in the event the 2016 Republican nominee actually won against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

In an interview with The Daily Beast published this month, Page explained why she was choosing to publicly speak out now, stating: “Honestly, his demeaning fake orgasm was really the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

“I had stayed quiet for years hoping it would fade away, but instead it got worse,” she said, adding that “it had been so hard not to defend myself, to let people who hate me control the narrative. I decided to take my power back.”

Additionally, news broke earlier Tuesday that the former FBI attorney had sued the FBI and Department of Justice. “I take little joy in having done so. But what they did in leaking my messages to the press was not only wrong, it was illegal,” she alleged on Twitter.

[The Daily Beast]

Trump called the FBI ‘scum’ and hit out at the report that discredited his theory the Russia probe was a deep-state plot at a wild Pennsylvania rally

President Donald Trump at a rally in Pennsylvania on Tuesday night lashed out at the FBI, calling staff of the agency “scum.”

He also doubled down on discredited conspiracy theories following the release of a report that undermined the president’s claims that the Russia probe was a “deep state” plot meant to damage his presidency.

Trump repeated claims the FBI had “spied” on his 2016 campaign. The report, released the day before by the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, had found such a characterization to be groundless.

“When the FBI uncovered evidence showing that we did absolutely nothing wrong, which was right at the beginning, they hid that exonerating, you know that, they hid it,” Trump said.

That comment seemed to refer to a finding in the report that there were significant “omissions” in the FBI’s application for a wiretap of Carter Page, a Trump campaign official.

“They hid it so nobody could see it and they could keep this hoax going on for two more years,” Trump said. “They knew right at the beginning.”

The report in fact found that the Russia investigation was launched on the basis of multiple contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russians.

“The FBI also sent multiple undercover human spies to surveil and record people associated with our campaign,” the president said.

“Look how they’ve hurt people. They’ve destroyed the lives of people that were great people, that are still great people. Their lives have been destroyed by scum. OK, by scum.”

While Trump and his allies have often characterized the FBI’s surveillance as “spying,” the long-anticipated report found that the FBI followed its rules in opening an investigation into contacts between Russia and Trump officials and concluded that top officials were not driven by “political bias or improper motivation” in doing so.

It did, however, did find an improper handling of applications for surveillance warrants, such as Page’s.

Attorney General William Barr has criticized the report’s conclusions, a highly unusual move. Barr has tasked the Pennsylvania prosecutor John Durham with conducting a separate investigation into the origins of the Russia inquiry.

“I look forward to Bull Durham’s report, that’s the one I look forward to,” Trump said, referring to the 1988 baseball movie starring Kevin Costner in a riff on Durham’s name.

“And this report was great by the IG, especially since he was appointed by President Barack Hussein Obama,” Trump said. Using Obama’s middle name is often associated with a movement by the far right to falsely suggest Obama is Muslim.

[Business Insider]

In Chicago, Trump calls the city an embarrassment to the US

 Visiting Chicago for the first time as president, Donald Trump disparaged the city Monday as a haven for criminals that is “embarrassing to us as a nation.” The city’s top cop sat out Trump’s speech to protest the president’s immigration policies and frequently divisive rhetoric.

“There is one person who is not here today,” Trump told a friendly audience at a conference of police chiefs. “Where is he? I want to talk to him. In fact, more than anyone else, this person should be here because maybe he could learn something, and that’s the superintendent of the Chicago Police, Eddie Johnson.”

Johnson’s decision to boycott the event angered the city’s chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, which said in a Facebook post that “such a gesture would be an insult to both President Trump and the office of the presidency itself and would be a mark of disgrace upon the city throughout the entire nation, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot.”

But the Democratic mayor and Illinois’ Democratic governor stood in solidarity with Johnson, who announced days before the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference that he would not attend.

“This is the land of Lincoln and when you come to the state of Illinois you should respect all the people who live here in the state of Illinois,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Lightfoot also refused to meet with Trump, and said on Twitter that she supports Johnson.

“It’s no surprise that @realDonaldTrump brought his insulting, ignorant buffoonery to Chicago,” the mayor tweeted. “Luckily, in this city, we know the truth and we will not let anyone — no matter how high the office — denigrate who we are as a people or our status as a welcoming city.”

“Rather than belittle Chicago’s communities with hateful and dishonest rhetoric, he needs to go back to D.C. and face his fate,” Lightfoot said, apparently referring to the House impeachment inquiry against the president.

Trump has frequently criticized Chicago for its crime problems and status as a sanctuary city , one of scores of cities around the country that refuse to work with federal authorities to round up people who are living in the U.S. illegally.

At a news conference later Monday, Johnson said Trump had ignored a “double digit” reduction in violent crime in the city over the past three years.

Trump has long held up the nation’s third-largest city as the poster child of urban violence and dysfunctional Democratic politics.

At one point in the address, Trump turned his daily complaint about the impeachment inquiry into a swipe at “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, who authorities say fabricated a claim about being attacked by Trump supporters in Chicago earlier this year.

“You have the case of this wise guy Jessie Smollett … and he said MAGA country did it,” Trump said, using the acronym for his “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan. “It’s a real big scam, just like the impeachment of your president is a scam.”

The FOP Lodge 7, which represents rank-and-file Chicago police officers, announced that it had cast a vote of no confidence in Johnson. The union’s president, Kevin Graham, was first to greet Trump on the tarmac of O’Hare International Airport, after he landed in the city.

In the speech, Trump rattled off Chicago crime statistics and claimed that Johnson puts the needs of people living in the U.S. illegally above those of law-abiding residents of Chicago. “Those are his values and frankly those values to me are a disgrace,” Trump said. “I want Eddie Johnson to change his values and to change them fast.”

During the conference, Trump signed an executive order creating a presidential commission on law enforcement to study issues like substance abuse, homelessness and mental illness. The president also announced that the Justice Department will begin a “surge” to crack down on violent crime in the United States, targeting gang members and drug traffickers in high-crime areas.

Johnson, meanwhile, is under internal investigation after he was found sleeping in a city-owned vehicle earlier this month. Lightfoot said Johnson, who called for the investigation, told her he had “a couple of drinks with dinner” before he fell asleep at a stop sign while driving home. Johnson blamed the episode on a change in his blood pressure medication.

While in Chicago, Trump headlined a campaign luncheon at his hotel in the city, raising approximately $4 million for a joint fundraising committee benefiting Trump’s reelection effort and the Republican National Committee, according to the GOP.

Thousands of demonstrators rallied outside the hotel, waving colorful signs that said “Impeach Trump Now” and “Quid Pro Quo Trump Must Go.” They also shouted chants such as “Lock him up” and “Trump must go.”

Some said they came to protest out of a fear for the country they have never felt before.

“It will take decades to put things back in place,” said Caroline Mooney, a 61-year-old marketing analyst from the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park.

“If something doesn’t happen next November, we may not recover,” said her friend Steve Schaibley, who drove 2-1/2 hours from Livingston County.

The gathering was mostly peaceful. But two people were taken into custody after apparently attacking a man waving a Trump flag. The Trump supporter was bloodied but did not appear to have been seriously injured.

[Associated Press]

Media

Trump appears to do bizarre impression of FBI agent having sex

Donald Trump appeared to perform an impression of former FBI agent Peter Strzok and attorney Lisa Page having sex while the president was in the middle of a speech during a rally in Minnesota on Thursday.

Mr Trump slammed his hand on the podium and shouted “I love you, Lisa,” and “I love you too, Peter” before moaning “Lisa, I love you, Lisa! Lisa! Oh, God, I love you Lisa!”

The president had previously called Mr Strzok a “sick loser” amid investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in US elections. Mr Mueller removed Mr Strzok from his team after discovering anti-Trump text messages between Mr Strzok and Ms Page, who had an affair.

The president has falsely claimed that the texts had been deleted and has frequently argued that the messages amount to “corruption” within an investigation that followed Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 presidential election.

At his Minnesota rally, Mr Trump continued to mock the text messages: “And if she doesn’t win, Lisa, we’ve got an insurance policy, Lisa: we’ll get that son of a bitch out.”

[The Independent]

Media

Trump sues Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance over subpoena for his tax returns

President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Thursday against Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who subpoenaed Trump’s accounting firm for eight years of Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns earlier this month.

The subpoena stems from Vance’s criminal investigation into the Trump Organization about hush money payments made to two women who have alleged affairs with the president. Trump has strongly denied the affairs.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, names Vance and the president’s tax preparer, Mazars USA, as defendants. It argues that the Manhattan district attorney should not receive Trump’s tax returns because “‘[v]irtually all legal commenters agree’ that a sitting President of the United States is not ‘subject to the criminal process’ while he is in office.”

“The framers of our Constitution understood that state and local prosecutors would be tempted to criminally investigate the President to advance their own careers and to advance their political agendas,” the lawsuit adds. “And they likewise understood that having to defend against these actions would distract the President from his constitutional duties. That is why the Framers eliminated this possibility and assigned the task to supermajorities of Congress acting with the imprimatur of the nation as a whole.”

Jay Sekulow, the president’s lawyer, commented on the constitutionality of Vance’s probe in a statement Thursday, saying, “In response to the subpoenas issued by the New York County District Attorney, we have filed a lawsuit this morning in Federal Court on behalf of the President in order to address the significant constitutional issues at stake in this case.”

Vance’s spokesman Danny Frost said in response to the lawsuit,”We have received the plaintiff’s complaint and will respond as appropriate in court. We will have no further comment as this process unfolds in court.”

Vance’s office is probing hush money payments made during the 2016 election to adult film star Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of whom have alleged affairs with Trump, which he has denied.

In addition to Trump’s company, Vance’s office has also subpoenaed the publisher of the National Enquirer, The New York Times has reported. The publication was involved in negotiations with adult Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Giffords, and paid $150,000 to silence McDougal, according to federal prosecutors.

The president’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, admitted in August of last year to making an illegal $130,000 payment to Daniels in order to keep her quiet in the days ahead of the 2016 election. Cohen is currently serving a three-year prison sentence for tax evasion, bank fraud, breaking campaign finance laws with the hush money payments, and lying to Congress.

Prior to his congressional testimony earlier this year, Cohen released copies of two checks with the president’s signature, which he said was used to reimburse him for his payment to Daniels. NBC News has previously reported that Cohen was cooperating with prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

Last year, American Media Inc., the Enquirer’s parent company, entered into a nonprosecution agreement with federal prosecutors and admitted that it worked with the Trump campaign to buy the rights to the women’s stories in order to silence them. The practice, known in the industry as “catch-and-kill,” involves paying for the exclusive rights to stories with the intention of never actually publishing them.

At his sentencing last year, Cohen said that “time and time again, I felt it was my duty to cover up [Trump’s] dirty deeds.”

Trump tweeted after the sentencing that he “never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law. It is called ‘advice of counsel,’ and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made. That is why they get paid.”

[NBC News]

Trump Quotes Lou Dobbs Going Off on FBI Over Comey: The Nation Is ‘Disgusted With the FBI’

President Donald Trump tonight watched and tweeted quotes from Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs going off on the FBI and the president’s critics.

Dobbs was speaking with Alan Dershowitz and asking about when people like James Comey will be held accountable.

At one point Dobbs said, “The ideal here is that we have a nation right now that is disgusted with the FBI. The corrupt leadership…”

Dershowitz said he agrees.

“We have a crisis of confidence in the number one law enforcement agency in this country,” Dobbs continued. “And they’re behaving as if it’s a game.”

Trump watched Dobbs tonight and tweeted that quote from the segment, as well as another quote from Dobbs railing against Democrats opposing the president who he said “choose to hate America”:

[Mediaite]

Trump suggests watchdog report shows Mueller probe was ‘illegal’

President Trump on Tuesday suggested without evidence that last week’s Justice Department inspector general (IG) report criticizing former FBI Director James Comey over his handling of official memos proved that the special counsel’s Russia investigation was “illegal.” 

Trump also falsely claimed that Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference showed there was “no obstruction,” despite the special counsel not reaching a conclusion either way on whether the president obstructed the investigation.

“Based on the IG Report, the whole Witch Hunt against me and my administration was a giant and illegal SCAM,” Trump tweeted, using his common moniker for the Mueller investigation. 

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report on Thursday saying that Comey violated FBI policies and his employment agreement by mishandling memos detailing his conversations with Trump.

Comey gave one of the memos, which contained information about the ongoing investigation into ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, to a friend with instructions for him to leak it to a journalist. Comey has defended his decision, saying he did it in part to trigger the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation.

The inspector general issued a scathing rebuke of Comey’s handling of sensitive investigative information.

“By not safeguarding sensitive information obtained during the course of his FBI employment, and by using it to create public pressure for official action, Comey set a dangerous example for the over 35,000 current FBI employees — and the many thousands more former FBI employees — who similarly have access to or knowledge of non-public information,” the inspector general wrote. 

Horowitz did not, however, recommend whether Comey should face charges, and Attorney General William Barr decided against prosecuting him for any criminal wrongdoing.

The report by the inspector general, who is currently investigating other aspects of the Russia probe, did not include any criticisms of the Mueller investigation itself.

After Comey leaked the memo about the February Flynn conversation, the Justice Department appointed Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russia’s election interference and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to interfere in the election.

Mueller concluded the investigation in March without finding evidence to charge associates of the campaign in a broader conspiracy with Russia. Mueller also did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed the probe, but Barr has since determined the evidence to be insufficient to accuse the president of criminal wrongdoing. 

House Democrats have sought to pick up threads from Mueller for further investigation, including the House Judiciary Committee, which launched a sprawling investigation into alleged obstruction and abuses of power by Trump earlier this year. The White House has accused Democrats of attempting a “do-over” of the special counsel’s probe.

[The Hill]

Trump Champions Faulty Legal Analysis From Fox News Commentator

Following the release of the Justice Department Inspector General’s report pertaining to the conduct of James Comey’s handling of government information, President Donald Trump has been relentlessly attacking the former FBI director. Despite the IG finding that Comey’s conduct violated FBI regulations but not any criminal statutes, Trump on Friday reiterated his belief that Comey should have been charged criminally, a conclusion which appears to be based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the relevant law.

“’They could have charged Comey with theft of government documents, 641 of the Criminal Code, because the IG found these were not his personal documents, these were government documents,’” Trump tweeted Friday, quoting from an article written by attorney and Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett. “Comey’s claim that these were just his own personal recollections would not pass the laugh test, and the Inspector General just knocked that down.’”

While 18 U.S.C. 641 does make it a crime to “steal or knowingly convert” a government record “with intent to convert it to his use” or to convey it to another without authority, as Jarrett wrote, it is also only a part of any relevant analysis of the statute. Jarrett is a former defense attorney and adjunct law professor.

Attorney Bradley P. Moss, who specializes in national security, federal employment and security clearance law, responded by pointing out that the cited law is inapplicable to the circumstances at issue.

Moss is referring to the DOJ’s Resource Manual explanationdescribing the parameters of how 641 should and should not be applied, and reads as follows:

“[T]he [DOJ] Criminal Division believes that it is inappropriate to bring a prosecution under 18 U.S.C. § 641 when: (1) the subject of the theft is intangible property, i.e., government information owned by, or under the care, custody, or control of the United States; (2) the defendant obtained or used the property primarily for the purpose of disseminating it to the public; and (3) the property was not obtained as a result of wiretapping, (18 U.S.C. § 2511) interception of correspondence (18 U.S.C. §§ 1702, 1708), criminal entry, or criminal or civil trespass.”

According to Moss, Comey’s conduct clearly aligns with the exceptions laid out in the guidelines.

“Under this DOJ policy (which is not binding and could be ignored as a matter of discretion), the Comey Memoranda qualify as ‘intangible’ given that they exist solely as a memorialization of Comey’s conversations with the president,” Moss wrote in an email to Law&Crime explaining why the first prong of the guidelines in applicable to Comey’s conduct (the second and third prongs are self-evident).

Furthermore, the DOJ policy is specifically designed to protect whistle-blowers, stating that, “a government employee who, for the primary purpose of public exposure of the material, reveals a government document to which he or she gained access lawfully or by non-trespassory means would not be subject to criminal prosecution for the theft.”

Moss explained that while the criteria for defining a whistleblower is “malleable,” the section is essentially applicable to all persons seeking to divulge non-classified information for the purpose of informing the American public.

“The core premise is that Section 641 should not be used to prosecute unauthorized disclosures of information to the press that were done for transparency reasons,” Moss wrote, adding, “This policy in no way suggests prosecution is unwarranted under different statutory provisions if the information was classified, of course.”

[Law and Crime]

Trump Tweets Videos of Fox News Segments Trashing Comey, Decrying ‘Attempted Coup’

President Donald Trump‘s public complaints about Fox News this week have not stopped his his typical social media habit of sharing clips from the network.

Today he posted a number of videos from Fox News trashing former FBI director James Comey after the OIG report released yesterday. Comey was not charged, but he was criticized for setting a “dangerous example” with his actions.

This morning Trump shared a Fox & Friends segment with former CIA officer Bryan Dean Wright saying “in 2016, we had effectively a coup” going on:

This afternoon, he shared clips of both Congressmen Doug CollinsPeter King (who railed against an “attempted coup” too), and Jim Jordan:

[Mediaite]

White Supremacists Responsible for All Race-Based Domestic Terrorism Incidents in 2018 – DOJ Blocked Report

The Trump administration has known since at least April that alleged white supremacists were responsible for every single act of race-based domestic terrorism in the U.S. in 2018, yet not only took no action to combat the growing right wing violent extremism, but actually substantially reduced or even eliminated funding and programsthat combat white supremacist extremism, violence, and terrorism – and then blocked the data from reaching the hands of Congress.

“Domestic Terrorism in 2018,” a document (embedded below) prepared by the State of New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security Preparedness, “shows 25 of the 46 individuals allegedly involved in 32 different domestic terrorism incidents were identified as white supremacists,” Yahoo News’ Jana Winter and Hunter Walker report.

That document finds there were “32 domestic terrorist attacks, disrupted plots, threats of violence, and weapons stockpiling by individuals with a radical political or social agenda who lack direction or influence from foreign terrorist organizations in 2018.”

The report was “circulated” throughout the U.S. Dept. of Justice “and around the country in April just as members of the Senate pushed the DOJ to provide them with precise information about the number of white supremacists involved in domestic terrorism.”

The Justice Department, under President Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General Bill Barr, refused to hand over the data or the document to Congress.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in January of 2019 had already compiled a report, announcing that, “Right-Wing Extremism Linked to Every 2018 Extremist Murder in the U.S., ADL Finds.”

ADL reported that “Right-wing extremists were linked to at least 50 extremist-related murders in the United States in 2018, making them responsible for more deaths than in any year since 1995, according to new data from the ADL.”

1995 was the year domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma City federal building, slaughtering 168 people and injuring more than 680 others.

“The tally represents a 35 percent increase from the 37 extremist-related murders in 2017,” ADL reported, “making 2018 the fourth-deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970. Last year saw the highest percentage of right-wing extremist-related killings since 2012, the last year when all documented killings were by right-wing extremists.”

Why the Dept. of Justice and the White House blocked the data from reaching Congress is now yet another investigation Congress should take up.

Here’s the document the DOJ refused to hand over to Members of the House and Senate:

[New Civil Rights Movement]

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