OPEC ‘At It Again,’ Trump Says

In another tweet, Trump complained about the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, saying the cartel was “at it again.” OPEC has teamed up with Russia and other major oil CLK8-0.04%  producers to restrain output, something that has pushed crude back up to late 2014 levels.

“No good and will not be accepted!” Trump complained. But while he’s hardly the first politician to take aim at OPEC, there’s little that can be done about its actions, as MarketWatch reports.

Read: Why Trump is tweeting about OPEC — and what he can do about oil prices.

[MarketWatch]

President says Flynn’s life ‘destroyed’ as Comey cashes in

Trump compared the situations of his ex-aide Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents, and former FBI Director James Comey, in a tweet, saying Comey is making “lots of money from a third rate book” while Flynn’s life has been “totally destroyed.”

Memos written by Comey, which were released Thursday night, match things he has said previously, including that Trump asked him to end a probe into Flynn. “The guy has serious judgment issues,” Trump said about Flynn, according to the memos. Trump has attacked Comey over the former FBI chief’s critical memoir, dubbing him a “slimeball.”

[MarketWatch]

 

Trump claims vindication after release of Comey memos

President Trump late Thursday night trumpeted the release of a series of memos written by former FBI Director James Comey, claiming they exonerated him of allegations that he obstructed justice and colluded with Russia.

“James Comey Memos just out and show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION,” Trump tweeted. “Also, he leaked classified information. WOW! Will the Witch Hunt continue?”

Comey’s memos have become a flashpoint in an increasingly bitter partisan fight on Capitol Hill tied to whether Trump tried to obstruct justice in the ongoing probe into possible ties between his campaign and Russia.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) was forced to hand over the memos to Congress on Thursday or face a subpoena from House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). He and other Republicans, including Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), have been investigating alleged anti-Trump bias at the DOJ in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.

Following the release of the memos, which mostly contained details already known to the public thanks to Comey’s testimony on Capitol Hill and leaked excerpts from his autobiography, the three Republicans released a statement saying the memos provided clear evidence there was no obstruction of justice.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, meanwhile, claimed they “provide strong corroborating evidence of everything [Comey] said about President Trump” and show a “blatant effort to deny justice.”

In his tweet, Trump was also apparently referring to the fact that Comey had provided one unclassified memo to a friend who then gave it to The New York Times. Comey did so in order to trigger the appointment of a special counsel in the Russia probe.

Trump has repeatedly railed against the probe, frequently referring to it as a “witch hunt.” He has also stepped up his attacks on Comey in recent days, as the ex-FBI director mounts a media blitz in order to promote his new book.

[The Hill]

Trump Judicial Nominee Appears to Have Called Undocumented Immigrants “Maggots”

Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the nomination of Michael Truncale, whom Donald Trump selected to sit on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. A longtime Republican donor and activist, Truncale built his career opposing progressive policies, including the Affordable Care Act, gun control, and abortion access. He also appears to have referred to undocumented immigrants as “maggots.”

Truncale made this comment in 2012, when running for Congress in Texas’ 14th Congressional District, a seat that came open upon the retirement of Rep. Ron Paul. (He ultimately lost, coming in third place in the GOP primary.) During a candidate forum hosted by the Galveston County Republican Party and the Republican Network of Galveston County, Truncale said that the state’s Southern border is “very porous.” He continued:

And as a result of the nature of that border we have all sort of bad influences coming in. We have drugs, we have illegal gangs, there is the possibility of bombs from a host of other countries and people from overseas and we must secure that border. I think we should do it with boots on the ground. As a citizen taxpayer, I think that we should take some of the equipment that is coming back from Iraq that citizens have already paid for and instead of sending it to some warehouse in Nebraska or some place, let’s get it to the border patrol. … There can be some fencing, there can be electronic surveillance, and things of that nature to secure the border. But that’s the first thing.

Truncale then added that “with regard to immigration, we must not continue to have the maggots coming in.”

It is difficult to read this statement, first flagged by Harsh Voruganti of the nonpartisan legal blog the Vetting Room, as anything other than a reference to undocumented immigrants. The apparent slur raises obvious questions about Truncale’s impartiality in cases involving Latinos and immigrants, as well as his overall fitness for the bench. Judges may hold strong feelings about border security. But Truncale’s decision to publicly malign unauthorized immigrants raises doubts about his ability to separate personal prejudices from his professional duties.

In that respect, Truncale resembles Jeff Mateer, Trump’s previous nominee to the Eastern District of Texas. Mateer notoriously calledtransgender children part of “Satan’s plan.” (The White House eventually withdrew his nomination.) Like Mateer, Truncale was recommended to Trump by Texas Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. Presumably, Cruz and Cornyn chose him because of his enduring support for the GOP: Truncale served on the executive committee of the Texas Republican Party from 2006 to 2014 and has donated nearly $7,000 to Cornyn’s campaigns over the past dozen years. (He also gave Cruz $1,000 in 2015.) Moreover, Truncale served as a Republican delegate for John McCain in 2008 and volunteered for the Trump campaign. (He has spent his legal career at the firm Orgain, Bell & Tucker, practicing civil defense and white-collar criminal defense.)

Cornyn and Cruz might’ve hoped that Truncale would prove to be less controversial than Mateer. But he is likely to face tough questions at his hearing next week, as Democrats and some Republicans have lost their patience with openly biased nominees.

[Slate]

Trump threatens to pull funding for California National Guard deployment

President Donald Trump lashed out at California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday, insisting that his administration won’t pay for the state’s National Guard deployment unless the troops help enforce US immigration laws at the border.

“Governor Jerry Brown announced he will deploy ‘up to 400 National Guard Troops’ to do nothing,” Trump tweeted. “The crime rate in California is high enough, and the Federal Government will not be paying for Governor Brown’s charade. We need border security and action, not words!”

Later Thursday, Trump tweeted more about immigration policy.

“Sanctuary Cities released at least 142 Gang Members across the United States, making it easy for them to commit all forms of violent crimes where none would have existed. We are doing a great job of law enforcement, but things such as this make safety in America difficult!”

Trump’s tweets comes less than 24 hours after Brown, a Democrat, agreed to send more National Guard troops to the US-Mexico border. Brown said that the mission would be limited.

“Let’s be crystal clear on the scope of this mission,” Brown said. “This will not be a mission to build a new wall. It will not be a mission to round up women and children or detain people escaping violence and seeking a better life. And the California National Guard will not be enforcing federal immigration laws.”

Trump’s comments seemingly contradict an earlier tweet from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

“Just spoke w @JerryBrownGov about deploying the @USNationalGuard in California,” Nielsen wrote on Wednesday. “Final details are being worked out but we are looking forward to the support. Thank you Gov Brown!”

Asked for comment on Trump’s tweet, Brown’s office pointed to Nielsen’s comments.

[CNN]

Reality

Violent crime across the country is at an all time low.

Trump Reportedly Growing Suspicious of UN Amb Nikki Haley’s Ambitions, Possibly For His Job

President Trump may have a bone to pick with yet another member of his administration: UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

A new report from The New York Times alleges that the president “grew angry” at Haley’s Sunday show appearances, specifically when she stated that the U.S. would be placing fresh new sanctions against Russia. However, he supposedly is questioning her “political ambition, jealousy, resentment and loyalty.”

Since the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Haley has become the face of foreign policy, especially since the chemical attack that took place in Syria. However, the White House has been keeping her out of the loop, which led to the public dustup between her and WH economic advisor Larry Kudlow.

But according to administration officials and insiders, he has “grown exasperated by her outspokenness” about Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Who wrote that for her?” Mr. Trump reported yelled at his television during a Sunday show appearance. “Who wrote that for her?”

Per the NYT:

Mr. Trump has grown suspicious of her ambition, convinced that she had been angling for Mr. Tillerson’s position and increasingly wondering whether she wants his own job.

Republicans close to the White House whisper about the prospect of an alliance between Ms. Haley and Vice President Mike Pence, possibly to run as a ticket in 2020.

Aides to both scoff at such suggestions, but the slightest hint of such a pairing would be likely to enrage Mr. Trump, who has made it clear that he plans to run for re-election. The talk was exacerbated in recent days when Mr. Pence named Jon Lerner, Ms. Haley’s deputy, as his new national security adviser, while allowing him to keep his job at the United Nations.

[Mediaite]

Trump Says ‘Slippery’ Comey ‘Was Not Fired’ Because of Russia Probe, After Suggesting He Was

President Donald Trump pushed back on suggestions that he fired former FBI director James Comey because of the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia — a key tenet of allegations he sought to obstruct justice.

Of course, the president has not always been so clear on this front. After Comey was fired, the White House claimed it was based on a recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein over Comey’s handling of the Clinton email probe.

But then, Trump was interviewed by Lester Holt in May 2017, and said the following: “In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’” (Watch above.)

Trump also reportedly told Russian officials that his firing of Comey, who he called “a real nut job, took the “pressure” he was facing over the Russia probe off.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Trump said, according to a U.S. official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

In light of Comey’s media blitz to promote his new memoirs, A Higher Loyalty, Trump is attempting to set the record straight, tweeting: “Slippery James Comey, the worst FBI Director in history, was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation where, by the way, there was NO COLLUSION (except by the Dems)!”

[Mediaite]

Trump Responds to Sketch of Man Who Allegedly Threatened Stormy Daniels: ‘A Total Con Job!’

President Donald Trump replied to a Twitter troll on Wednesday morning who sent him a photo of the newly revealed sketch of the man who allegedly threatened porn star Stormy Daniels.

Stormy appeared with lawyer Michael Avenatti on The View on Tuesday, and revealed a composite sketch of a man she claims threatened her in Las Vegas in 2011.

According to Stormy, the threats came in response to a story she was working with Us Weekly on regarded her alleged affair with Trump in 2006.

“A guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone, forget the story,’” Stormy said on 60 Minutes. “And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone.”

Trump has now obviously weighed in on the sketch, which elicited wild speculation on the internet (it bears an uncanny resemblance to Tom Brady, Michael Avenatti with hair, Matt Damon’s character in Team America, and so on).

“A sketch years later about a nonexistent man,” Trump tweeted. “A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”

Stormy and her lawyer believe the man was sent by Trump’s lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen, who was the subject of a sweeping FBI raid last week.

[Mediaite]

Trump blasts ‘breeding’ in sanctuary cities. That’s a racist term.

What exactly did President Donald Trump mean by “breeding” when he tweeted Wednesday about cities that will not cooperate with the federal government to deport the undocumented.

This is Donald Trump. He meant exactly what you think.

The tweet, offered Wednesday morning, argued that Californians prefer his hard-line policies to those of Gov. Jerry Brown.

“There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept. Jerry Brown is trying to back out of the National Guard at the Border, but the people of the State are not happy. Want Security & Safety NOW!”

It is true that the government of Orange County has voted twice now to opt out of the state’s so-called “sanctuary” law.

Whether there is full-blown “Revolution” in California seems less likely.

But it’s the next part of the tweet that is more difficult to understand.

“Sooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept,” according to the President.

What exactly does he mean by “breeding concept?” It appears to be a new addition to his rhetoric on immigration. He doesn’t appear to have used it before on Twitter or in recent public remarks on sanctuary cities.

There is great danger in trying to dissect every word of a Trump tweet, but in this case it is worth trying to figure out. CNN has reached out to the White House to figure out exactly what he meant.

The tweet has not been deleted at the time of this writing, so he means for those words to remain out there. In other words, it’s not likely to be at typo. He has been known to correct those in the past.

A simple Google search doesn’t uncover any specific mention of a “breeding concept” with regard to sanctuary cities in the conservative media, so it’s a little unclear what he’s referring to.

Taken literally, the most likely explanation is that he’s talking about sanctuary cities as places where undocumented immigrants breed.

If that’s right, there’s a racial undertone in the comment should slap you in the face.

Fear of immigrants from certain countries “breeding” has been a staple of nativist thought for hundreds of years. The “breeding” fear has been affixed to Jews from Eastern Europe, Catholics from Ireland and Italy, Chinese and, now, Latinos, Filipinos, Africans and Haitians. This is dog-whistle politics at its worst.

“Breeding” as a concept has an animalistic connotation. Dogs and horses are bred. So his use of it is, at best, dehumanizing to the immigrants he appears to be referring to.

The other possible definition of the word has to do with manners passed down through generations. In that case, Trump is saying people in sanctuary cities weren’t raised right. That doesn’t seem to work within the context of the tweet.

Plus, there is Trump’s obsession with the idea of immigrants flooding the US. He’s insisted that immigration reform end the concept of what opponents call “chain migration.”

“Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives,” Trump said during his State of the Union address. Politifact called that claim “misleading.”

At the outset of his presidential campaign, he seemed in tent on challenging the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship.

“What happens is they’re in Mexico, they’re going to have a baby, they move over here for a couple of days, they have the baby,” he told Fox News in August 2015 as he was taking command of the Republican field. “Many lawyers are saying that’s not the way it is in terms of this,” and went on to say, “They are saying it is not going to hold up in court. It will have to be tested but they say it will not hold up in court.”

In an interview around the same time with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, he said, “You have people on the border and in one day, they walk over and have a baby and now all of the sudden, we’re supposed to pay the baby.”

Changing interpretation of the 14th Amendment is not an issue he’s pursued as President, but it’s clear from those early interviews that he has at times wanted to pursue it and that he’s been nervous about immigrant children.

More recently, he’s raised concerns that immigrant women coming into the US have, in large numbers, been raped.

All of those things put together suggest Trump’s “breeding concept” tweet, consciously or not, is in line with his efforts use ever more divisive rhetoric on immigration.

[CNN]

Trump touts Rasmussen poll: ‘51% Approval despite the Fake News Media’

President Trump touted a conservative-leaning poll of his job approval on Tuesday while slamming surveys from news organizations, such as The Washington Post and CNN, as inaccurate.

“Rasmussen just came out at 51% Approval despite the Fake News Media,” Trump tweeted. “They were one of the three most accurate on Election Day.”

Rasmussen Reports, a right-leaning polling firm, routinely pegs the president’s approval ratings higher than other pollsters. As of Tuesday, Trump’s approval rating sat at 49 percent, according to the firm, and 50 percent disapprove.

RealClearPolitics, which averages data from a number of pollsters, had Trump’s current figure at about 42 percent on Tuesday.

Trump has seen relatively low approval ratings throughout much of his first 15 months in office, but has repeatedly insisted that many surveys are inaccurate.

Trump has long questioned the accuracy of public opinion polls, especially during the 2016 presidential race, when many pollsters projected a win for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

[The Hill]

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