Trump reverts to campaign-trail name-calling in Twitter rant calling for probe of DNC

President Trump issued a flurry of tweets over a five-hour span Friday urging the Justice Department to investigate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee over a joint fundraising agreement they signed in August 2015.

Trump’s accusations follow publication by Politico of an excerpt from former acting DNC Chair Donna Brazile’s upcoming book. Brazile alleges she found “proof” that the 2016 Democratic primary was rigged in Clinton’s favor.

Previous presidents have avoided even seeming to direct the Justice Department on whom to investigate — but not Trump.

Trump reverted to his campaign-trail name-calling of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), again referring to her as “Pocahontas.”

He also in one post called Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) “Crazy Bernie.” Trump has described this kind of rhetoric as “modern day presidential.”

Trump’s epic Twitter rant took place in the hours and minutes before he was set to depart the South Lawn via Marine One for his Air Force One flight to Hawaii to kick off his 12-day swing through Asia.

Implicit in the messages was more criticism of Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, though Trump did not mention the nation’s top prosecutor by name.

Asked later Friday if he would fire the attorney general if he doesn’t investigate Trump’s Democratic political rivals, the president said, “I don’t know.”

Two White House officials quickly cautioned against reading too much into Trump’s comments, reiterating that he has no plans to fire Sessions. And although the White House maintains that Trump’s tweets are “official record,” it says Trump has not ordered Sessions or the FBI to do anything related to Democrats.

The aides said the tweets were a media savvy way to deflect attention from the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

This week, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates, who also had a role in the campaign, were indicted on 12 counts, and former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying about his dealings with Russians who were offering “dirt” on Clinton.

[Los Angeles Times]

The Justice Department Declares War on Attorneys Who Dare to Oppose the Trump Administration

On Friday, the Department of Justice filed an astonishing appeal with the Supreme Court, urging the justices to intervene in the Jane Doe case that seemed to have ended last week. Doe, an undocumented 17-year-old in a federally funded Texas shelter, was denied abortion access by the Trump administration, which argues that it can force undocumented minors to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. On Oct. 24, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that Doe must be allowed to terminate her pregnancy, which she did the next day. Now the DOJ is urging the Supreme Court to vacate that decision—and punish the ACLU attorneys who represented Doe.

Make no mistake: With this filing, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department has declared war on attorneys and groups who dare to oppose it in court.

Because Doe obtained her abortion, Friday’s appeal might seem pointless, presenting no live controversy for the justices to adjudicate. But the DOJ has three goals here. First, it wants the Supreme Court to punish the D.C. Circuit for issuing a decision that it believes to be egregiously wrong by wiping the entire ruling off the books. Second, the DOJ wants to eradicate a decision that sets a legal precedent it despises. Doe’s lawsuit was initially brought as part of a class action, and the ACLU will continue to litigate its broader claim against the Trump administration’s absolute bar on abortion access for undocumented minors. As long as the D.C. Circuit’s decision remains on the books, those lawsuits are almost guaranteed to succeed. The Justice Department wants it gone so that it can litigate this issue anew.

Third, and most importantly, Friday’s appeal is a flagrant effort to crucify the individual attorneys who represented Doe, and to terrify likeminded lawyers into acquiescence. The DOJ thus asks the Supreme Court to force Doe’s lawyers to “show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken” against the ACLU—either by the court itself or by state bars—for “material misrepresentations and omissions” designed to thwart an appeal.

In other words, the DOJ is using the full weight of a government agency to threaten professional ruin upon the lawyers who defended Jane Doe’s constitutional right to abortion access.

The DOJ claims that after the D.C. Circuit ruled in Doe’s favor on Oct. 24, government attorneys believed they had until Oct. 26 until Doe got her abortion. Under Texas law, women must obtain “counseling” at least 24 hours before terminating her pregnancy, and this counseling must be performed by the same physician who performs the procedure. Doe had already received this counseling from a Texas doctor when the D.C. Circuit issued its decision. According to the DOJ, ACLU lawyers told the government that this physician would not be working and that Doe would receive another counseling appointment on the morning of October 25, and get the abortion to October 26. Government lawyers asked to be kept informed of the timing of the procedure, and they claim that ACLU lawyers agreed to comply with their request. They also say that the DOJ planned to ask for a stay on Oct. 25—but on that same morning, ACLU attorneys arranged for Doe to visit the doctor who had already counseled her, allowing him to perform the procedure.

Put differently, the government argues that the ACLU owed government lawyers a notification of when Doe’s legal abortion would occur. The end goal here seems to have been to try to continue to block the abortion until it would be illegal to terminate, even though she had secured an unqualified right to do so. (Doe was 16 weeks pregnant by that point; Texas bans abortion after 20 weeks, and the government had already delayed the abortion by a month.) The DOJ also claims that Doe’s lawyers had the responsibility to keep answering their phone calls to update them on her status: “Efforts to reach respondent’s counsel were met with silence, until approximately 10 a.m. EST, when one of her lawyers told the government that Ms. Does had undergone an abortion.”

What really seems to enrage the DOJ, however, is that Doe didn’t attend a second counseling session—which would have been duplicative and wasteful, and caused her yet more needless delay—because the physician who counseled her the first time later agreed to perform the procedure. If ever there were an indicator of the un-distilled bad faith at work here, it’s government lawyers insisting that a non-person with no rights undergo a second round of the same counseling, not for the purposes of medical advice, but so that they would have more time to thwart her choice.

These allegations of wrongdoing are laughably flimsy and outwardly vindictive. Even under the DOJ’s contorted narrative, it’s obvious that the ACLU simply acted efficiently, and the Trump administration is bitter and embarrassed that it lost. The government argues that the ACLU “at least arguably had an obligation to notify the government” that Doe would terminate on Oct. 25—an “incredibly significant development.” But that’s just not how this works. The government had sufficient time to ask the Supreme Court to stay the D.C. Circuit’s decision before Doe terminated. In fact, Texas was already prepared with its own amicus brief backing the DOJ. But the government didn’t act in time. And it’s not the ACLU’s fault that its client secured her constitutional rights while the government dallied in its efforts to exert control of her reproductive capacities. This week-late effort to blame the ACLU for its “arguable” responsibility to ensure that the government could continue to harm their client is not just an effort to save face, but also an attempt to warn attorneys that zealous effectuation of their duties to the clients will now be punished.

The Justice Department’s crusade against the ACLU is especially galling in light of the fact that there was sanctionable misconduct here—on the part of the government itself. Scott Lloyd, the official who blocked Doe and other minors from abortion access, likely violated a long-standing federal settlement agreement in his anti-abortion crusade. Under this agreement, undocumented minors like Doe must be allowed access to family planning services, which Lloyd intentionally and repeatedly withheld. He even instituted his anti-abortion views as official government policy in obvious violation of the federal settlement.

If anyone deserves to be punished here, it is surely Lloyd, who flouted the law for purely ideological purposes. But instead of investigating its own employee for potential misconduct, the government is going after Doe’s ACLU attorneys for defending her constitutional rights. This is a shocking assault on the nation’s civil rights attorneys, and an unprecedented effort by the DOJ to slander and shame those attorneys who defend their clients’ rights against the government’s abuse of the law. After today, lawyers who question the Trump administration’s legal views should be aware that they have targets on their backs.

[Slate]

Trump labels US justice system ‘laughing stock’

President Donald Trump called for “quick justice” and “strong justice” for terror suspects in the wake of the deadly New York City attack.

We have to come up with punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now. They’ll go through court for years. At the end, they’ll be — who knows what happens. We need quick justice, and we need strong justice. Much quicker and much stronger than we have right now, because what we have right now is a joke, and it’s a laughing stock. And no wonder so much of this stuff takes place.

Tuesday’s terror attack in New York was the city’s deadliest since 9/11. Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov drove a rented van down a bike path, law enforcement sources have said. The attack killed six victims instantly, while two others died later. New York politicians and officials quickly labeled the incident a terror attack.

[CNN]

Reality

As Vox points out, this is verifiably false pretty much from top to bottom.

There is no evidence that US courts are unable to prosecute terrorism suspects in a timely fashion. The opposite: Since 9/11, more than 620 individuals have been convicted on terrorism charges in 63 separate federal courts, according to a May 2017 count by Human Rights First. None of these terrorists have broken out of prison, and none of the courts have suffered retaliatory attacks.

Moreover, the US already tried to set up an alternative system — the military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that George W. Bush established after 9/11 — and it was a disaster.

Military courts are well equipped to try US service members who violate military laws, but aren’t set up to deal with complex and wide-ranging constitutional and classification issues raised by major terrorism prosecution. This makes them slower and puts verdicts on less sure legal footing. In the same time span that civilian courts convicted 620 individuals on terrorism charges, military commissions convicted a grand total of eight people.

Trump: Suspect Entered U.S. in ‘Diversity Visa Lottery’, Blames Schumer

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the Uzbek immigrant suspected of murdering eight people in New York City with a rental truck entered the U.S. through the “Diversity Visa Lottery Program” and the president charged Sen. Chuck Schumer and Democrats had loosened the nation’s borders.

Trump did not provide any supporting evidence for the claim about the visa program, which was being discussed on the morning TV program “Fox and Friends” that the president indicated in his tweets he was watching.

“The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based,” Trump tweeted.

“We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter) @foxandfriends,” Trump tweeted, citing the morning program whose hosts were discussing the visa lottery.

“Senator Chuck Schumer helping to import Europes problems, said Col.Tony Shaffer. We will stop this craziness! @foxandfriends,” Trump added, appearing to reference a retired U.S. Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel who appeared on the program Wednesday.

Moments later, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the the suspect in the attack had entered the U.S. “through a diversity program, a lottery program.” He did not elaborate.

Schumer, for his part, shot back at Trump on Twitter: “I guess it’s not too soon to politicize a tragedy.”

In a statement, the New York senator slammed Trump for “dividing America” and called on the president not to follow through on proposed cuts to “vital anti-terrorism funding.”

“I have always believed and continue to believe that immigration is good for America,” Schumer said. “President Trump, instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, should be focusing on the real solution — anti-terrorism funding — which he proposed cutting in his most recent budget.”

The Trump-Schumer back and forth came less than 24 hours after eight people were killed and about a dozen more were injured when a motorist in a rented pickup truck deliberately drove down a bike path in lower Manhattan and mowed down several people before crashing into a school bus in what officials said was a terrorist attack.

Police found a note inside the truck that was used indicating the suspect claimed to have carried out the attack for the Islamic State terrorist group.

The suspect was identified as a 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant named Sayfullo Saipov, who entered the United States in 2010, law enforcement officials said. It wasn’t immediately clear under what circumstances Saipov came to the United States.

According to The New York Times, he had obtained a green card, giving him permanent legal resident status in the U.S.

Trump, in his tweets Wednesday, was apparently referring to the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery, which was established by the Immigration Act of 1990. That bill was passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by then-President George H.W. Bush.

The program allows the State Department to offer 50,000 visas annually to immigrants from countries with low immigration rates.

Democrats quickly hit back against Trump’s claims.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that “it was kind of absurd (for Trump)…to be using it as a fulcrum for … this kind of a debate.”

“I don’t think this is the time to get political,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “There is no doubt we have to be smarter and have more intelligence… but there is also no doubt that is not the time to play politics, to foment hate, this is not the time to divide.”

At least one Republican defended the diversity visa lottery.

“To be honest with you, I’ve known a number of people in New York who come in under the lottery system, they’ve made outstanding contributions, they’ve become citizens,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a former House Homeland Security Committee Chairman, told Fox Business Channel. “So that really is separate from the idea of the vetting.”

According to the State Department, diversity visa lottery applicants must meet certain education and work experience requirements, like having obtained “at least a high school education or its equivalent” or “two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform.”

People who are not from an eligible country can also qualify if their spouse was born in an eligible country.

The State Department determines selectees through a randomized computer drawing, its website states.

In 2013, a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Eight” proposed an compromise immigration reform bill that would have eliminated the diversity lottery. The bill did not make it through Congress.

[NBC News]

John Kelly Says He Will “Absolutely Not” Apologize To Frederica Wilson

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told Laura Ingraham Monday night he was too busy to “watch very much in the TV” about the day’s indictments and guilty pleas by former Donald Trump campaign figures in Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian election meddling.

Ingraham, opened the debut of her Fox News Channel 10 PM program The Ingraham Angle, [you can watch debut below] with zippy thoughts on What Is America?, accompanied by photos of Old Frank Sinatra:

Politics is supposed to be a career devoted to public service…but for too long was dominated by special interest, big business and…media elites.

The politicians were supposed to…run the government, not to run you over with it!

Americans voted for Trump because they tired of being bullied by politicians and so called experts who gave us endless wars, saddles us with $20 trillion in debt, and left us with a border more wide open than Harvey Weinstein‘s bathrobe.

But the debut’s headline was her interview with Kelly, whose been MIA media-wise since his dramatic appearance at a White House press briefing, in which he savaged Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson. Ingraham first asked him about  the day’s indictments of the president’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort, his associate Rick Gates, and “another minor aide” in the Trump administration, aka foreign relations adviser George Papadopoulos.

“All of the activities, as I understand it, that they were indicted for was long before they ever met Donald Trump or, or had an association with the campaign,” Kelly answered, inaccurately.

Monday’s news on former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos was that he had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia while working for the Trump campaign, and has been cooperating with the special counsel investigation since his July arrest.

“But I think the reaction of the administration is, let the legal justice system work. Everyone’s presumed innocent and we’ll see where it goes,” he added.

Asked if the staff is “worried that when indictments start being handed down, that this is just the first, second, third shoe to drop, but there will be many more to follow?” Kelly answered, “I think the staff is very comfortable with simply serving the nation. The vast majority of the staff would have nothing to do with any of this kind of thing. So there’s no worry about it. Everyone is just doing the things that they were hired to do to serve the nation.”

Ingraham moved on to his comments about Rep Frederica Wilson after she claimed to have heard President Donald Trump telling La David Johnson’s widow her husband knew what he was signing up for, but that it hurt anyway. At a White House press briefing, Kelly slammed Wilson for listening in on that private moment, and recalled his previous encounter with the Florida congresswoman. Kelly called her an “empty barrel,”  claiming that, at the dedication of an FBI building named after two slain agents, Wilson took the podium to boast that she’d raised the funds for the building.

Ingraham noted clips of that dedication show did not brag about getting funding, though, she hastened to add, Wilson “certainly used the word ‘I’ a lot.”  Video showed Wilson actually boasted about getting quick action on naming the building after the two slain FBI agents.

Kelly wasn’t backing down, explaining Wilson did more talking before and after the formal ceremony.  “It was a package deal,” he said, adding, “I don’t want to get into it.”

“Do you feel like you have something to apologize for?” Ingraham wondered.

“No. Never,” Kelly shot back. “I’ll apologize if I need to. But for something like that, absolutely not. I stand by my comments.”

Last month, after FNC announced it had parted ways with Eric Bolling, the network announced Sean Hannity was moving from 10 PM ET to 9, to take on MSNBC’s ratings powerhouse Rachel Maddow. Ingraham got the 10 PM timeslot.

Media

Trump: ‘Sloppy Michael Moore show on Broadway was a total bomb’

President Trump on Saturday hit at documentary filmmaker Michael Moore following reports his anti-Trump Broadway show was closing after a 13-week run that fell short of its potential gross.

“While not at all presidential I must point out that the Sloppy Michael Moore Show on Broadway was a TOTAL BOMB and was forced to close. Sad!” Trump tweeted.

BroadwayWorld.com, a website that tracks Broadway ticket sales, pegged the show’s final gross at about $4.2 million.

In its first full week, “The Terms of My Surrender” grossed $456,195. But the show’s earnings gradually sank in the weeks that followed, before seeing a surge in its final weeks.

However, the show, as Trump claims in his tweet, was not forced to close.

Playbill fact-checked the president’s tweet writing: “While the show was not a box-office front-runner (grossing less than half of its potential most weeks and drawing in a capacity hovering in the mid 70 percentile), it did play its fully scheduled run.”

The anti-Trump, one-man show began previews at Broadway’s Belasco Theatre on July 28, and paid tribute to the liberal director’s career in film and political activism.

Moore has been an outspoken critic of Trump throughout his campaign and presidency, and in August led his Broadway audience through Manhattan to protest the president at Trump Tower over his remarks following the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

[The Hill]

 

Trump can’t even greet a group of journalists’ kids without taking a nasty swipe at their parents

President Donald Trump insulted the parents of children dressed in Halloween costumes during an Oval Office event.

“I can not believe the media produced such beautiful children,” Trump said of the photo-op when young kids of White House journalists visit in costume.

The comments came the same week Trump claimed he is not uncivil because he went to an Ivy League school.

“Do you know they are?” Trump asked as he pointed to the reporters against the sounds of motor-driven cameras clicking away.

“They’re the friendly media, that’s the press,” Trump told the children, one of whom started to cry.

“Are you going to grow up to be like your parents?” Trump asked one young girl. “Hmmmmm? Don’t answer, that can only get me in trouble, that question.”

“Nah, you have wonderful parents, right?” Trump reassured.

As President Trump began to hand out souvenirs, he again returned to his fixation on the media.

[Raw Story]

Media

Trump blasts ‘wacky & totally unhinged’ Tom Steyer after impeachment ad campaign

President Donald Trump blasted Tom Steyer on Friday, calling the Democratic megadonor “wacky” and “totally unhinged.”

“Wacky & totally unhinged Tom Steyer, who has been fighting me and my Make America Great Again agenda from beginning, never wins elections!” Trump tweeted Friday morning.

Steyer, a California billionaire activist, is launching a $10 million national ad campaign calling for the president’s impeachment. The 60-second TV spot began running last week, according to Forbes.

The ad played Friday morning on “Fox & Friends,” likely catching the president’s eye.

Steyer opens the ad narrating over clips of the president and a shot of North Korea. He says that Trump has brought the U.S. “to the brink of nuclear war” with North Korea and is “accused of obstructing justice” with his May firing of then-FBI Director James Comey and “of violating the Constitution by taking money from foreign governments and threatening to shut down news organizations that report the truth.”

“If that isn’t the case for impeaching and removing a dangerous president, then what has our government become?” says Steyer, speaking directly into the camera and identified onscreen as an “American Citizen.” “I’m Tom Steyer, and, like you, I’m a citizen who knows it’s up to us to do something. It’s why I’m funding this effort to raise our voices together and demand that elected officials take a stand on impeachment.”

Steyer adds that a Republican-led Congress “once impeached a president for far less, yet today people in Congress and his own administration know that this president is a clear and present danger who’s mentally unstable and armed with nuclear weapons, and they do nothing.”

He asks Americans to join him and tell their member of Congress “they have a moral responsibility to stop doing what’s political and start doing what’s right.”

“Our country depends on it,” he warns.

The ad encourages viewers to sign a petition at NeedToImpeach.com.

Immediately after tweeting about Steyer, Trump thanked Fox News’ morning show for its coverage.

“Thank you @foxandfriends,” Trump tweeted, just one minute after his tweet about Steyer. “Really great job and show!”

[Politico]

Media

Here is the ad Trump was likely responding to

Trump says his recollection of call with Gold Star widow is better than hers

President Trump on Wednesday said he has a better recollection of his condolence call to the widow of a U.S. soldier killed in Niger than she does.

Trump told reporters during a gathering at the White House that he used Sgt. La David Johnson’s name “right from the beginning” of the call and with “no hesitation.”

Trump added that he had a chart with the fallen soldier’s name in front of him during the call.

The president also said he has “one of the great memories of all time” while pointing to his own head.

Trump’s comments conflict with Myeshia Johnson’s account of the call. She said that the president did not remember her husband’s name during the call. “I was extremely nice to her. I’ve never seen her, I’ve never met her, but she sounds like a lovely lady. I was extremely courteous, as I was to everyone else,” Trump said Wednesday, referring to the Gold Star widow.

“I respect her, I respect her family, I certainly respect La David. Who I, by the way, called La David right from the beginning,” Trump added.

Myeshia Johnson backed up a description of the call by Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who said the president was disrespectful to the Johnson family.

Trump and White House chief of staff John Kelly have both repeatedly rejected Wilson’s claims.

[The Hill]

Media

Corker says White House should stay out of tax debate; Trump fires back with insult

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) admonished President Trump on Tuesday to stop interfering in the debate over tax legislation and said his volatility could lead the United States into war, prompting a slew of Twitter insults from the president and renewing a long-simmering feud just hours before he is scheduled to visit Capitol Hill.

“I would just like him to leave it to the professionals for a while and see if we can do something that’s constructive,” Corker said on Good Morning America, referring to the debate over restructuring the tax code. “If you start taking things off the table before you get started, you make it very difficult.”

Trump returned fire by insulting Corker on Twitter, saying the retiring senator “couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee.”

“Isn’t it sad that lightweight Senator Bob Corker, who couldn’t get re-elected in the Great State of Tennessee, will now fight Tax Cuts plus!” the president tweeted.

The feud lays bare tensions between Trump and congressional Republicans that are already complicating GOP efforts to advance tax cuts, the party’s last-ditch attempt at a major policy accomplishment this year.

Trump has promised changes to the tax code will not affect tax-deferred retirement plans, the mortgage interest deduction or the deduction for charitable contributions. Republicans like Corker, one of the GOP’s most vocal Trump critics, say these promises raise expectations prematurely while making it more difficult for lawmakers to make up the revenue that will be lost to tax cuts.

The strained relations between the president and Republican senators, which go far beyond Trump’s fight with Corker, add uncertainty to the GOP’s effort to cut taxes and enact other policy priorities.

[Washington Post]

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