Donald Trump ‘berated Theresa May in Air Force One phone call’

Donald Trump reportedly berated Theresa May in a phone call while he was on Air Force One.

The prime minster called the US president to congratulate him on the results of the US midterm elections last week, the Washington Post reported.

Mr Trump was on his way to Paris for events marking the centenary of  the end of the First World War.

According to the report Mr Trump berated Mrs May, saying she had not been doing enough to rein in Iran.

He was also said to have questioned her over Brexit, and to have complained that US trade deals with European nations were unfair.

Mrs May’s aides were said to have been taken aback by the president’s tone, the Washington Post reported, citing officials briefed about the call.

Downing Street has yet to comment on the report. After he arrived in Paris, Mr Trump faced criticism for cancelling a scheduled visit to a US ­military cemetery because of bad weather.

Mrs May’s relationship with Mr Trump has been a rocky one. She was the first foreign leader to visit Mr Trump at the White House after he became president, but people close to Mr Trump suggested there was a lack of “chemistry” between the leaders.

On his visit to the UK in July Mr Trump embarrassed Mrs May, attacking her handling of Brexit in a newspaper interview, and saying “she didn’t listen to me”. However, he went on to apologise and lavish her with praise.

[The Telegraph]

National security aide headed for exit after clash with Melania Trump’s office

A feud with the first lady’s office is expected to cost a senior national security adviser her job after she sparred with East Wing staff and other key members of the Trump administration.
The dispute spilled into public view in extraordinary fashion on Tuesday when the first lady’s office released a statement calling for deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel’s ouster as reports surfaced that President Donald Trump would fire the official.
A White House official confirmed to CNN that Trump has told people that Ricardel will be fired. But the official said she has been given some time to clear out her desk. It was not immediately clear when she would officially make her exit.
“It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that (Ricardel) no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,” the first lady’s communications director Stephanie Grisham said in a statement on Tuesday.
The statement amounted to a stunning public rebuke by a first lady of a senior official serving in her husband’s administration. It came after reports surfaced earlier Tuesday indicating Ricardel would be pushed out of her post after less than seven months on the job.
Neither Ricardel nor spokespeople for the National Security Council responded to CNN requests for comment.
Reflecting the fast-moving nature of the events, soon after a Wall Street Journal report surfaced Tuesday afternoon alleging Ricardel was fired and escorted off the White House grounds, a senior White House official denied the story to reporters.
The official said Ricardel was still in her office Tuesday afternoon. The official declined to speculate further about Ricardel’s future in the administration.
Her departure would leave national security adviser John Bolton without one of his key allies in the administration, a deputy who has also shared his penchant for bureaucratic infighting.
It was those sharp elbows that sources said led to the first lady’s stinging statement, with Ricardel most recently feuding with members of the first lady’s staff over her trip to Africa. One person familiar with the matter said Ricardel quarreled with the first lady’s staff over seating on the plane and use of National Security Council resources.
A White House official accused Ricardel of being dishonest about the feud and subsequently leaking stories to try to cover her behavior.
And before her spat with the East Wing, Ricardel butted heads repeatedly with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a rivalry that was well-known within the Trump administration. Her disputes with Mattis preceded her time as deputy national security adviser, going back to the presidential transition when Ricardel sought to block Mattis from hiring certain people who had been critical of Trump or were viewed as insufficiently loyal to Trump.
Tensions have also been rising between Ricardel and chief of staff John Kelly and his deputy Zach Fuentes in recent weeks, according to people familiar with the matter. Kelly and Fuentes believe Ricardel was leaking negative stories about them to the press, the people said.
The dispute made it difficult for Ricardel to land in a top post in the Trump administration, though she was ultimately tapped for the position of undersecretary of commerce for export administration. Ricardel then joined the National Security Council as Bolton’s deputy in April after he was named national security adviser.
Ricardel has been key to Bolton’s efforts to restructure the National Security Council and to help Bolton secure his place as an influential adviser to the President on all foreign policy matters
[CNN]

Trump Claims Report on North Korea’s Secret Missile Program ‘Inaccurate’: I’ll ‘Let You Know if Things Go Bad!’

Taking again to Twitter to bash The New York Times, President Donald Trump claimed without evidence that the outlet’s report that North Korea is secretly beefing up its ballistic missile program was false.

“The story in the New York Times concerning North Korea developing missile bases is inaccurate,” he said Tuesday about the Monday article. “We fully know about the sites being discussed, nothing new – and nothing happening out of the normal. Just more Fake News. I will be the first to let you know if things go bad!”

In its article, the Times used satellite images to reveal that the regime appeared to be “engaged in a great deception.”

“It has offered to dismantle a major launching site — a step it began, then halted — while continuing to make improvements at more than a dozen others that would bolster launches of conventional and nuclear warheads,” the report read. “The existence of the ballistic missile bases, which North Korea has never acknowledged, contradicts Mr. Trump’s assertion that his landmark diplomacy is leading to the elimination of a nuclear and missile program that the North had warned could devastate the United States.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Ramps Up Attacks on Macron, Hits ‘Very Low Approval Rating’: ‘MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!’

President Donald Trump has been on a tear against French President Emmanuel Macron since returning from his trip to France to commemorate the centennial of the end of WWI.

Early Tuesday morning, Trump mocked France’s performance in the two world wars. Later, he complained about wine tariffs between the two countries. Now, he’s ripping Macron’s approval rating in response to the French president’s rejection of nationalism, a term Trump has embraced.

“The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of almost 10%. He was just trying to get onto another subject. By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people-and rightfully so!” Trump tweeted.

“MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!” he added.

Macron rejected nationalism in a speech on Sunday, in what many considered a rebuke of Trump.

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” Macron said. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying our interests first … we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what gives it grace, and what is essential: its moral values.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Confused the Baltics with Balkans—and Accused Confused Leaders of Starting Yugoslav Wars

President Donald Trump confused the Baltic states in Europe with the Balkans—and chastised leaders of the former for starting wars in the 1990s that lead to the break-up of Yugoslavia, French daily Le Monde reported.

Trump reportedly made the mistake in a White House meeting with Dalia Grybauskaitė of Lithuania, Kersti Kaljulaid of Estonia and Raimonds Vējonis of Latvia in April.

The leaders were reportedly confused by the president’s accusation, and it took them a minute to realize he had confused the Balkans and the Baltics.

The Baltic states lie in northern Europe, on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea.

Around 1,000 miles away sits the Balkan region in south-eastern Europe. It comprises states including Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia.

Much of the region was incorporated into the state of Yugoslavia, which became a socialist state after German occupying forces were ousted following World War II.

In the 1990s Yugoslavia disintegrated and the region was torn apart in a series of civil wars, culminating with the Kosovo war of 1998-1999.

Trump’s mistake is perhaps more surprising given that his wife, Melania, was born in Slovenia, a state that was part of Yugoslavia until 1991.

Trump, according to the Le Monde report, remained “apparently uneducated in the matter by his wife, Melania, originally from the former Yugoslavia”.

The report comes with new tensions emerging this weekend between Trump and the U.S.’s traditional European allies. The president is in Europe this weekend for events marking the centenary of the end of the First World War.

On Friday, Trump attacked French president Emanuel Macron on Twitter, after the French leader said that Europe needed to take more responsibility for its own security.

The president faced widespread criticism Saturday for canceling a visit to Belleau, where 2,000 U.S. Marines were killed in combat in 1918, because it was raining.

In a speech in Paris on Sunday, Macron criticised nationalism—with self-declared nationalist Trump sitting only meters away.

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism,” said Macron, at the Armistice Day commemoration under the Arc de Triomphe.

“By pursuing our own interests first, with no regard to others’, we erase the very thing that a nation holds most precious, that which gives it life and makes it great: its moral values.”

[Newsweek]

Trump turns attention to Comcast over alleged antitrust violations

President Trump on Monday lashed out at Comcast after a group representing small cable providers asked the Department of Justice to investigate the company over antitrust concerns.

“American Cable Association has big problems with Comcast. They say that Comcast routinely violates Antitrust Laws,” Trump said in a tweet, adding that the group believes Comcast’s merger with NBC poses greater anticompetitive concerns than the recent AT&T-Time Warner merger.

The ACA wrote to the Justice Department last week arguing that vertical mergers where pay-TV providers like Comcast and AT&T combine with companies that offer programming give the merged firms the “incentive and ability to disadvantage rival distributors by raising the prices it charges these rivals for programming.”

“ACA expects – and there is every reason for DOJ to expect — Comcast-NBCU to act on its natural incentives and use its capabilities to harm rivals, unless the government somehow, either through structural or behavioral remedies, deals with them,” the group wrote.

The president’s attack comes after a Fox Business article suggested the Justice Department could be following through with an investigation.

A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment on the president’s tweet.

Comcast said in a statement that the American Cable Association’s complaint is “without merit” and “constitutes an inappropriate attempt to gain leverage in the commercial marketplace.”

“The video programming and distribution markets are incredibly competitive. New programmers and distribution platforms are offering consumers increasing choices on what and where to watch,” the company said in a statement to The Hill.

“At Comcast NBCUniversal, we are competing in this dynamic environment the way we always have — by continuing to innovate and conducting our business in compliance with antitrust laws and other legal requirements.”

Trump’s Justice Department is currently appealing a federal judge’s decision to approve the AT&T-Time Warner merger.

But the agency chose not to renew a set of behavioral restrictions it imposed on the Comcast-NBC tie-up in 2011 that expired in September.

The Justice Department said it would be monitoring Comcast now that the conditions were no longer in effect.

The president has routinely lashed out at the Comcast-owned NBC News over its coverage of his administration, even going so far as to suggest that it’s “license” should be revoked.

But the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t issue broadcasting licenses to networks, only to individual stations, and it doesn’t revoke them based on the content of the licensee’s programming.

Trump has no public events scheduled on Monday, and has tweeted on a number of subjects, including the heated Florida elections, the stock market and the deadly wildfires ravaging California.

[The Hill]

Trump Claims Prospect of ‘Presidential Harassment’ by Democrats Is Causing ‘Big Headaches’ for Stock Market

President Donald Trump claimed today that the stock market is having “big headaches” because of the Democrats.

The Democrats taking the House means they will be able to conduct investigations, and Trump borrowed a phrase that Mitch McConnell has used before – “presidential harassment” – only this time in reference to the market:

“The prospect of Presidential Harassment by the Dems is causing the Stock Market big headaches!” he tweeted.

Trump recently said at a jobs event that if the midterms didn’t go well for the GOP, “I think you’re going to lose a lot of money.”

Axios reported on Monday that “there are at least 85 topics that Democrats have said they’d target — or are expected to target — in the forthcoming torrent of investigations and subpoenas to be directed at the Trump White House.”

Those investigations could target everything from Trump’s tax returns to, as Rep. Adam Schiff said on Sunday, his administration’s alleged targeting of media outlets like CNN and the Washington Post.

[Mediaite]

Trump Confirms Chilly Relations With European Allies: ‘Ridiculously Unfair to the United States’

President Donald Trump returned from a weekend in Paris that featured much less diplomacy than citizens have come to expect from meetings with world leaders. The presidential visit to France was in part planned as an observation for Veteran’s Day and the 100th anniversary of World War I.

Amid criticism for the Commander in Chief’s decision to skip a ceremony to honor fallen American soldiers buried at a French cemetery, Trump appears to be trying to change the narrative with some Monday morning Tweets that appear to confirm cooled relations between the United States and our closest European allies.

The president notably skipped the “Peace forum” and was reportedly angered by French President Emmanuel Macron‘s suggestion of a European Army designed to protect itself from the United States. Macron also publicly called out “nationalism,” a term the Trump has used quite frequently on the campaign trail in recent weeks.

But according to Trump’s tweets, the chillier relations are a result of his claim that the “U.S. must be treated fairly”:

[Mediaite]

Trump Baselessly Continues Florida Voter Fraud Claims: ‘Honest Vote Count No Longer Possible’

President Donald Trump declared that “an honest vote count is no longer” in the controversial Florida midterm elections for the state’s governor and U.S. Senate positions, claiming without evidence that many of the ballots are “missing or forged.”

The two races, Florida Governor Rick Scott Scott versus Democratic Senator Bill Nelson for the Senate seat and former Rep. Ron DeSantis verses Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum for governor, appeared to be going for Republicans on election night. As more ballots were counted in Democratic-leaning areas, like Broward County and Palm Beach, additional votes started going to Democrats, which narrowed the GOP’s lead and triggered a recount.

“The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged,” Trump tweeted on Monday morning. “An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!”

The president did not include any evidence to back up his claims of voter fraud.

Florida does offer military and overseas voters “a 10-day extension exists for overseas voters” extension for their ballots to be counted, which is what the president may be talking about in his line about “new ballots” showing up “out of nowhere.”

“The overseas voter’s vote-by-mail ballot must be postmarked or dated by Election Day and received within 10 days of the election in order to be counted, provided the ballot is otherwise proper,” states Florida’s election information site. “This 10-day extension only applies in presidential preference primary elections, general elections, and special elections and special primary elections (by operation of section 100.191, F.S.)”

Florida officials have also noted that they have not seen any evidence of voter fraud taking place.

[Mediaite]

Trump threatens to pull federal funds for Calif. wildfires over forest ‘mismanagement’

With major wildfires still roaring out of control in California, President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to blame “gross mismanagement of the forest” for the catastrophe and threatened to withhold federal funds if the issue is not remedied.

It was his first tweet on the wildfires, now among the deadliest and most destructive in California history, although he earlier issued an emergency declaration providing federal funds for Butte, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

At least nine people have been killed and the entire town of Paradise, in northern California has been destroyed.

“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump tweeted. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”

His latest remarks were reminiscent of his tweets during another major outbreak of fires in California in August, when he blamed the wildfires on “bad environmental laws” and his claim that water from the north was “foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean.”

In that tweet burst, Trump also said California wildfires “are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized.”

At the time, The New York times noted a debate over the allocation of water for irrigation or fish habitat but none regarding water purportedly being diverted into the ocean.

The Times quoted Cal Fire officials as saying there is no shortage of water for fighting fires. Helicopters collect water from lakes and ponds to douse wildfires and have plenty at hand, they said.

Asked about that the president’s tweeted claim of water diversion, a spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown, Evan Westrup, told the Times in an email, “Your guess is as good as mine.”

The presidents of two professional firefighters associations have denounced President Donald Trump’s assertion that “gross mismanagement of the forests” is to blame.

California Professional Firefighters president Brian Rice called the President’s words “ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning” in a written statement.

Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said the comments were “reckless and insulting.”

“Moreover, nearly 60 percent of California forests are under federal management, and another two-thirds under private control. It is the federal government that has chosen to divert resources away from forest management, not California.”

The Trump tweet also prompted some harsh criticism from singer Katy Perry, a native Californian, who called his remarks “heartless.”

“This is an absolutely heartless response,” she tweeted. “There aren’t even politics involved. Just good American families losing their homes as you tweet, evacuating into shelters.”

Singer-songwriter John Legend, who lives in Los Angeles, also weighed in, tweeting, “Our National Embarrassment can’t bring himself to show some empathy to Californians dealing with a horrific disaster.”

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