Trump accuses NYT reporter of breaking the law by alerting FBI to Kushner meetings with Russians

President Donald Trump accused a New York Times reporter of breaking the law by tipping off the FBI to developments in the Russia investigation.

Times reporter Michael Schmidt alerted the FBI’s assistant director for public affairs in March 2017 that he and some colleagues had found out Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn had met in December 2016 with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who then set up a meeting between Trump’s son-in-law and a Russian banker.

Schmidt’s email was then forwarded to FBI special agent Peter Strzok, who was leading the bureau’s Russia investigation, and Jonathan Moffa, an FBI counterintelligence officer, reported the Washington Examiner.

Trump reacted with a pair of tweets suggesting that Schmidt had fed false information to the FBI.

“Just revealed that the Failing and Desperate New York Times was feeding false stories about me, & those associated with me, to the FBI,” Trump tweeted. “This shows the kind of unprecedented hatred I have been putting up with for years with this Crooked newspaper. Is what they have done legal?”

[Raw Story]

Trump threatened Time magazine reporter with prison time

President Trump reportedly appeared to threaten a Time magazine reporter with prison time after a photographer tried to take a picture of a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Time reports.

During an interview with the publication in the Oval Office on Monday, Trump asked the reporters to go off the record while he showed them the letter he received from Kim.

According to the interview transcript, the photographer appeared to try and snap a photo of the document, but White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it wasn’t allowed.

Later on in the interview, the publication asked Trump about former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who testified that the president, “under threat of prison time,” told him to direct former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his recusal from the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian election interference.

“Excuse me,” Trump said. “Under Section II — well, you can go to prison instead, because, if you use, if you use the photograph you took of the letter I gave you … confidentially, I didn’t give it to you to take photographs of it.

“So don’t play that game with me,” Trump said.

“I’m sorry, Mr. President,” the reporter responded. “Were you threatening me with prison time?”

“Well, I told you the following. I told you you can look at this off-the-record. That doesn’t mean you take out your camera and start taking pictures of it. O.K.?” Trump said. “So I hope you don’t have a picture of it.”

“You can’t do that stuff,” he continued. “So go have fun with your story. Because I’m sure it will be the 28th horrible story I have in Time magazine. … With all I’ve done and the success I’ve had, the way that Time magazine writes is absolutely incredible.”

[The Hill]

Trump calls newspaper report on Russia power grid ‘treason’

President Donald Trump has lashed out at The New York Times, saying it engaged in a “virtual act of treason” for a story that said the U.S. was ramping up its cyber-intrusions into Russia’s power grid.

The Times reported on Saturday that the U.S. has bored into Russian utility systems in an escalating campaign meant to deter future cyber activity by Russia. It comes as the U.S. looks for new ways to punish Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and prevent a recurrence.

The Times, in its official public relations account, called Trump’s accusation “dangerous” and said it had told officials about the story before it was published and no security issues were raised.

The newspaper, basing its reports on three months of interviews with current and former government officials, said this campaign was conducted under new cyber authorities granted by Trump and Congress. But it also reported that two administration officials believed the president had not been briefed in detail, fearing he might countermand the action against Russia or reveal sensitive information to foreign officials.

In a pair of tweets sent Saturday night, Trump asserted the story wasn’t true and denounced reporters as “cowards.”

“Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country,” he wrote.

The story reported the deployment of American computer code into Russia’s grid and other targets to act as a deterrent. The newspaper also said the U.S. Cyber Command, part of the Department of Defense, has explored the possibility that Russia might try to initiate selective blackouts in key states to disrupt the 2020 election.

In a second tweet, Trump added about the story: “ALSO, NOT TRUE! Anything goes with our Corrupt News Media today. They will do, or say, whatever it takes, with not even the slightest thought of consequence! These are true cowards and without doubt, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

The New York Times’ response also noted that the paper described the article to government officials before publication. “As our story notes, President Trump’s own national security officials said there were no concerns.”

The paper said there was no evidence the US had actually activated the cyber tools.

[Associated Press]

Trump in testy exchange with Stephanopoulos: ‘You’re being a little wise guy’


President Trump
 pushed back at ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos during a testy interview, calling him “a little wise guy.”

Stephanopoulos was pressing the president on not answering questions in person from special counsel Robert Mueller‘s team.

“Wait a minute. I did answer questions. I answered them in writing,” Trump said

“Not on obstruction,” Stephanopoulos replied.

“George, you’re being a little wise guy, OK, which is, you know, typical for you,” Trump hit back.

“Just so you understand. Very simple. It’s very simple. There was no crime. There was no collusion. The big thing’s collusion. Now, there’s no collusion. That means … it was a setup, in my opinion, and I think it’s going to come out,” he continued.

Stephanopoulos, 58, was a White House communications director and senior advisor for policy and strategy for President Clinton. 

He joined ABC News as a political analyst after Clinton’s first term in 1997 and is now ABC News’s chief anchor and host of “Good Morning America” and “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

[The Hill]

Trump tries to defend foreign dirt comments by noting he meets with world leaders all the time

President Trump is out with a defense of his foreign dirt comments, and it’s a real doozy.

Trump took to Twitter on Thursday after coming under fire for saying in an interview with ABC that he would accept dirt on an election opponent offered by a foreign government and wouldn’t necessarily alert the FBI.

Amid this firestorm, the president on Twitter suggested that taking dirt from a foreign government and holding meetings with heads of state are basically the same thing, sarcastically asking if he should call the FBI after meeting with Queen Elizabeth II or the Prince of Wales. Trump deleted and reposted the tweet after originally writing “Prince of Whales.”

Trump also complained about his “full answer” not being played on the news while not explaining what context or nuance is supposedly missing. In the interview, George Stephanopoulos specifically asked Trump whether 2020 candidates should accept information on their opponents from foreign governments, and he said that “I think I’d take it” and would only “maybe” go to the FBI if he “thought there was something wrong” while defending this as not being “interference.” ABC’s Meridith McGraw noted on Twitter that the network “did not edit” his answer.

[The Week]

Trump Snaps at April Ryan Over Future Meeting With Putin: ‘You People are So Untrusting’

President Donald Trump went off on White House reporter April Ryan on Wednesday as he took questions from journalists in the Oval Office.

As Trump sat beside Polish President Andrzej Duda, he was asked about how Russia has denied a recent statement of his that they are supposedly withdrawing military forces from Venezuela.

“Well, let’s just see who’s right,” Trump said. “You’ll see in the end whose right okay? You just watch it. And we’ll see who’s right. Ultimately, I’m always right.”

After that, Ryan got in a question about who Trump expects to meet with at the upcoming G20 summit. When she tried to follow up by asking if he’ll be flanked by national security officials when he meets Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, the president responded: “Well it’s probably easier because you people are so untrusting so it’s probably better.”

“Would you like to be in the room? I can imagine you would be,” Trump continued with visible agitation. “I think it’s probably easier if we have people in the room because you people don’t trust anything.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Defends ‘Fake Polls’ Claim: ‘We Are Winning In Every State We Polled’

President Donald Trump explained his dismissal of reports of poor polling numbers on Twitter Wednesday morning during an Oval Office press gaggle. The NY Times reported that Trump told aides to deny internal polling that showed him Trailing to Biden in key states.

When asked by an unidentified reporter about potential concerns about internal polling Trump offered, “we have great internal polling, there were fake polls released by somebody that is — it is ridiculous.”

He then offered insight that runs counter to most every other report, saying “we are winning in every single state that we polled. We’re winning in Texas very big, in Ohio very big, in Florida very big.” He then added, “they were fake polls that were either put out by the corrupt media, much of the media in this country is corrupt.”

Internal White House polling has reportedly confirmed what many other polls have revealed: that in a head-to-head race with many Democratic candidates, Trump comes up with the short end of the stick. As polling numbers have become more commonly reported, it appears that Trump is pushing back in an effort to diminish their impact.

Trump reopened a new front in his attacks on American institutions when he derided the very political polling that he reportedly told staffers to lie about. Trump tweeted:

If this anti-polling rhetoric seems familiar from Trump, he hit a similar note in the days just before the midterm elections of 2018

[Mediaite]

Trump repeatedly flashes piece of paper he claims is part of secret Mexico deal

President Donald Trump continued to insist Tuesday that there is a secret component of his migration deal with Mexico, even flashing a piece of paper to reporters that he claimed spelled out the undisclosed portion.

“In here is the agreement,” Trump said, pulling the paper from a coat pocket and repeatedly holding it up as he spoke to reporters. “Right here is the agreement, it’s very simple. In here is everything you want to talk about, it’s right here,” he said, without opening it up.

“This is one page. This is one page of a very long and very good agreement for both Mexico and the United States,” Trump said.

“Without the tariffs, we would have had nothing,” the president said.

“Two weeks ago, I’ll tell you what we had: We had nothing. And the reason we had nothing is because Mexico felt that they didn’t have to give us anything. I don’t blame them. But this is actually ultimately going to be good for Mexico, too. And it’s good for the relationship of Mexico with us,” he continued.

Trump said he couldn’t show reporters what was on the paper. “I would love to do it, but you will freeze action it. You will stop it. You will analyze it, every single letter. You’ll see. But in here is the agreement.”

The president said that it’s his “option” as to whether the undisclosed agreement will go into effect.

“It’s not Mexico’s, but it will go into effect when Mexico tells me it’s okay to release,” Trump said, adding that first Mexico has to ratify whatever agreement they’ve made. “It goes into effect at my option.”

Washington Post photographer Jabin Botsford captured and tweeted a photo of the piece of paper, a portion of which can be read to say “the Government of Mexico will take all necessary steps under domestic law to bring the agreement into force with a view to ensuring that the agreement will enter into force within 45 days.”

Despite the president’s insistence that there is a secret deal, the Mexican government has denied that there are any undisclosed parts of the U.S.- Mexico deal.

“Outside of what I have just explained, there is no agreement,” Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Monday.

[ABC News]

Trump claims ‘a National Holiday would be immediately declared’ if Obama made the deals he has


President Trump
 on Sunday claimed that “a National Holiday would be immediately declared” if former President Obama made the deals on immigration and the economy that he has. 

“If President Obama made the deals that I have made, both at the Border and for the Economy, the Corrupt Media would be hailing them as Incredible, & a National Holiday would be immediately declared,” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter. “With me, despite our record setting Economy and all that I have done, no credit!”

Trump in a series of tweets on Sunday morning touted his border security deal with Mexico, which averted tariffs on the U.S.’s southern neighbor, and knocked the media for its coverage of the agreement.

On Friday, he struck a deal with Mexico that called for the U.S. to drop plans to impose sweeping tariffs on the country in exchange for Mexico’s promise to crack down on illegal migration.

[The Hill]

‘All of it is new’: Trump, administration officials defend deal with Mexico against reports saying little is new

President Donald Trump and senior members of his administration on Sunday defended the U.S. agreement with Mexico to avoid tariffs that Trump threatened to impose if the country did not stem the flow of migrants, disagreeing with critics who said the U.S. got little new in exchange for dropping the threat.

“All of it is new,” Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told “Fox News Sunday.” “We’ve heard commitments before from Mexico to do more on their southern border. The last time they deployed down there is about 400 or 500 officers. This is more than a tenfold commitment to increase their security.”

Democrats derided the deal as overblown and unnecessary.

“I think the president has completely overblown what he purports to have achieved,” said Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic presidential candidate, speaking on ABC’s “This Week” show. “These are agreements that Mexico had already made, in some cases, months ago. They might have accelerated the timetable, but by and large, the president achieved nothing except to jeopardize the most important trading relationship that the United States of America has.”

A senior administration official told NBC News that some key elements of the deal, announced Friday, had been agreed to months ago, but added that the two sides had agreed to expand on some of the previous commitments.

Mexican officials agreed to move more quickly to deter migrants than they had previously, the official said, adding that their commitment to deploy up to 6,000 troops was modestly larger than the earlier agreement, representing a promised personnel increase of about 10 percent.

The official also pointed to an expansion of the program allowing migrants to remain in Mexico while their asylum cases are processed as something new, with both sides agreeing to increase resources in the effort.

Mexico did not agree to accept what is called a “safe third country” treaty, which would have allowed the U.S. to reject asylum seekers if they had not first applied for refuge in Mexico — something the Trump administration had strongly pushed for.

The New York Times, citing U.S. and Mexican officials familiar with the negotiations, reported Saturday that while Trump excitedly presented the agreement as a groundbreaking deal, it contained actions largely agreed upon in earlier negotiations.

The Mexican government had already pledged to deploy its national guard to stem the flow of migrants during secret negotiations with then Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in March, the Times reported. And the agreement to expand a program that allows asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while their cases are processed was reached in December and announced by Nielsen to the House Judiciary Committee in a hearing that same month.

The president disputed the Times’ report in a Twitter post on Sunday, calling the article “another false report” and lamenting that he was not getting enough credit in the media for his dealmaking.

“We have been trying to get some of these Border Actions for a long time, as have other administrations, but were not able to get them, or get them in full, until our signed agreement with Mexico,” Trump wrote. “Additionally, and for many years, Mexico was not being cooperative on the Border in things we had, or didn’t have, and now I have full confidence, especially after speaking to their President yesterday, that they will be very cooperative and want to get the job properly done.”

Trump added that there were “some things” the countries agreed on that were “not mentioned” in his administration’s press release, but he did not say what those were.

In a tweet on Saturday, Trump said Mexico agreed to “immediately begin buying large quantities of agricultural product from our great patriot farmers!”

But in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Mexican ambassador to the U.S. Marta Bárcena Coqui did not confirm whether any such agreement regarding agricultural products was a part of the deal.

On Friday, the two countries reached an agreement after days of negotiations in Washington that led Trump to drop — at least temporarily — his threat of tariffs on Mexican goods that would have increased in 5 percent increments to 25 percent over a several-month span.

In announcing the agreement, the State Department said Mexico agreed to deploy its national guard, “giving priority to its southern border,” while expanding “migrant protection protocols” requiring those seeking asylum in the U.S. to stay in Mexico until their cases are processed. Many of the specifics of the agreement have yet to be released.

While Trump has hailed the agreement on Twitter, the White House is taking a wait-and-see approach to the deal. The senior administration official said the administration will monitor the flow of migrants at the border to see if Mexico is carrying out its promises and if it’s working to curb the flow of migration. If Trump feels enough progress has not been made, the deal may be re-evaluated.

After threatening substantial tariffs on Mexico, Trump had come under intense pressure from business leaders and top Republicans to retract the threat because of concerns such tariffs could cause substantial harm to the U.S. economy.

On “Fox News Sunday,” McAleenan said the threat of tariffs worked.

“People can disagree with the tactics,” he said. “Mexico came to the table with real proposals.”

[NBC News]

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