Trump Says U.S. Was ‘Cocked And Loaded’ Before He Called Off Strike On Iran

President Trump confirmed that he approved a strike on Iran on Thursday after it shot down a U.S. drone but called off the operation after the initial moves were underway. Trump said he canceled the attack after being told 150 people would likely be killed.

“We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die,” Trump said in a series of tweets Friday.

Upon hearing the projected toll, Trump said, he decided that the strike was not “proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.” The president said he put a halt to the operation 10 minutes before the strike was set to begin.

Trump’s pullback was first reported by The New York Times, which described how — even as late as as last as 7 p.m. ET Thursday — military and diplomatic officials were still expecting an attack to proceed.

“Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down,” the Times reported, citing multiple senior Trump administration officials.

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 ordered military strike on Iran, but reversed at last second

President Donald Trump ordered a military strike on Iran late Thursday, but reversed his decision after a plan was already underway, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The sources tell ABC News the president’s reason for changing course was unclear, but the reversal was against the advice of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton.

The plan and reversal was first reported by The New York Times.

Iran shot down a U.S. drone early Thursday, claiming it had flown into the country’s airspace. The U.S. government claims it was operating in international airspace.

Trump called Iran’s decision to shoot down the drone “loose and stupid” when speaking to the press following a discussion with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The comments came following a morning meeting with his top national security advisers over the downing of what the U.S. military said was an unarmed and unmanned U.S. RQ-4A Global Hawk drone flying over the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz.

Shortly before, Trump had tweeted that “Iran made a very big mistake” after a top Iranian commander warned Iran was “ready for war.”

Top politicians from the Senate and House, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, met with administration officials over the downed drone Thursday afternoon.

Pelosi called it a “dangerous situation” and cautioned the president that the U.S. “cannot be reckless in what we do.”

Gen. Hossein Salami, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, offered a strongly worded threat to the U.S. after the drone was downed.

“Shooting down the American spy drone had a clear, decisive, firm and accurate message,” he said, translated from Farsi. “The message is that the guardians of the borders of Islamic Iran will decisively respond to the violation of any stranger to this land. The only solution for the enemies is to respect the territorial integrity and national interests of Iran.”

[ABC News]

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 says supporters could ‘demand’ he not leave office after two terms

In tweets on Sunday morning, President Donald Trump suggested supporters might not want him to leave office after two terms. 

“The good news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT),” Trump wrote. 

The president had also been criticizing the Washington Post and the New York Times, calling them “both a disgrace.” 

Trump has talked about the issue before. In March last year, according to a recording obtained by CNN, he told a closed-door fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago that “maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day,” in reference to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s abolishment of term limits. It was unclear if the comments were made in jest.  

The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution explicitly states that “no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice.” 

The only American president to serve more than two terms was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who died during his fourth term in office. 

Some progressive commentators have speculated about the possibility of Trump not leaving office if he loses the election narrowly. Last week, Bill Maher said on CNN that if Trump loses, “he won’t go.”  

To which conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg responded, “Refusing to leave would make him the crazy guy the Marines escort out of the building.”

[USA Today]

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 Rages at ‘Criminal’ Pelosi: ‘A Fascist Statement’ to Accuse Me of Cover-Up

President Donald Trump is going after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for accusing the commander-in-chief of participating in a criminal cover-up.

Pelosi made the remark at a news conference on Thursday.

“I believe that he’s been involved in a criminal cover-up,” she said.

Friday on Fox & Friends, Trump — in response to Pelosi — referenced and echoed comments made by conservative radio host Mark Levin earlier in the show.

“I will go with what Mark Levin said ’cause nobody could say it better. It’s a fascist statement, it’s a disgraceful statement,” Trump said. He added, “For her to make a statement like that, it’s outrageous.”

Later in the segment, Trump circled back to Pelosi — this time accusing her of a criminal act for opposing the construction of a southern border wall.

“We won a big lawsuit on the wall, brought by Nancy Pelosi,” Trump said. “This one was brought by Nancy Pelosi. And maybe that’s criminal — that she’s allowing drug dealers and gang members into our country, maybe that’s criminal when you talk about it. Because what’s happening on the border is…we’re getting it straightened out. You know how easy it would be to solve it? If we met 15 minutes with Democrats, you could solve the asylum problems and the loopholes in 15 minutes, and they know it.”

[Mediaite]

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]

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