Trump softens rhetoric on potential Syria strike

President Donald Trump on Thursday softened his rhetoric about potential airstrikes on Syria, a day after warning Russia that missiles “will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart.'”
In an early morning tweet and later in comments at the White House, Trump attempted to cloud the timing of military action — a day after indicating it was imminent — and said a final decision had not yet been made.

“Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!,” the President tweeted. Trump notably did not rule out plans to attack Syria in retaliation for the weekend’s suspected chemical attack on civilians at the hands of the Assad regime.

The President, however, did not specifically refer to the attack’s timing in his Wednesday tweet, though he warned Russia to “get ready.” In Thursday’s tweet, Trump also suggested he did not get enough credit for US gains against ISIS in the region, asking, “Where is our ‘Thank you America?'”

Speaking to reporters at the White House later in the day, Trump said a decision had not yet been made on a course of action.

“We’re looking very, very seriously, very closely, at that whole situation,” the President said during a meeting with farm state lawmakers. “We have to make some further decisions. So they’ll be made fairly soon.”

Secretary of Defense James Mattis echoed the President when he told lawmakers Thursday, “We have not yet made any decision to launch military attacks into Syria.”
The President will meet with his national security team at the White House on Thursday for further discussions on the US response.

Trump on Wednesday vowed to thwart Russia’s missile defense system in Syria, warning that rockets “will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart.'” In tweeting about a potential attack, Trump appeared to publicly telegraph military plans — something for which he heavily criticized former President Barack Obama back in 2013.

Mattis said Wednesday that the US is “still assessing the intelligence” on whether the Assad regime is to blame for the recent suspected chemical attack. Russia has blamed Syrian opposition forces for the attack.

Trump has consulted with US allies, particularly France and the United Kingdom, about a coordinated response to the suspected chemical attack, but officials say they have not reached a firm agreement on scale or timing. The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, was convening a meeting of her Cabinet on Thursday afternoon, at which she is expected to make the case for supporting the US in any military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned against a missile strike, writing on Facebook Wednesday that it could destroy evidence on the ground and interrupt the work of international investigators.

“Smart missiles should fly toward terrorists, not the legal government that has been fighting international terrorism for several years on its territory,” Zakharova wrote in response to Trump’s Wednesday tweet.

Should the President follow through on his warnings of an attack, two US Navy destroyers armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles are in position and ready to be called into action, among other assets including jets and submarines.

[CNN]

Trump Expels CNN’s Acosta From Oval Office For Asking Questions About Sh*tholegate: ‘Out!’

President Donald Trump ordered CNN’s Jim Acosta to be expelled from the Oval Office on Tuesday after the CNN White House correspondent tried to ask him questions during a press pool.

Trump allowed the media to join him today as he welcomed Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev to the White House. As Trump finished his statement, Acosta moved to inquire about the immigration meeting where Trump spoke of “sh*thole countries.”

When asked if he wants immigrants to come from Norway, Trump responded “I want them to come in from everywhere. Everywhere.” As Acosta tried to follow up by asking Trump if he wants more immigrants from white or caucasian countries, Trump pointed at him and said “out.”

Acosta spoke about this with Wolf Blitzer afterwards and said it was clear the president was ordering him out of the room. Acosta said he tried to ask his questions again when Trump and Nazarbayev gave a joint statement later on, but Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley “got right up in my face” and started shouting at him to block out any questions.

“It was that kind of a display,” Acosta recalled. “It reminded me of something you might see in less democratic countries when people at the White House or officials of a foreign government attempt to get in the way of the press in doing their jobs.”

[Mediaite]

Media

Trump Kicks Reporter Out of Oval Office After Wiretapping Questions

President Trump cut off an Oval Office interview with CBS anchor John Dickerson and gestured for him to leave the room when Dickerson repeatedly asked about the president’s unfounded wiretapping claims.

Trump signaled that he still believes, as he tweeted on March 4, that “Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory.”

Obama aides, intelligence community officials and some prominent Republican lawmakers have all disputed the claim. And the president has provided no evidence to back it up.

But when Trump brought it up during an interview taping on Saturday, and Dickerson followed up, Trump said, “I think our side’s been proven very strongly and everybody’s talking about it and frankly, it should be discussed.”

Trump added, “We should find out what the hell is going on.”

When Dickerson pressed him, Trump said: “You can take it any way — you can take it any way you want.”

Dickerson: “I’m asking you because you don’t want it to be fake news. I want to hear it from President Trump.”

Trump: “You don’t have to ask me. You don’t have to ask me.”

Dickerson: “Why not?”

Trump: “Because I have my own opinions, you can have your own opinions.”

Dickerson: “But I want to know your opinions. You’re the president of the United States.”

Trump: “That’s enough. Thank you. Thank you very much.”

The president walked away from Dickerson and sat down at his Oval Office desk.

The abrupt end to the tough interview was in marked contrast to some of the smoother interviews Trump has had recently. Media critics have pointed out his preference for friendlier outlets, like conservative-themed shows on Fox News.

Afterward, CBS anchor Gayle King remarked on the awkwardness of the abrupt ending: “Well, he was done with that conversation.”

King asked Dickerson if he was escorted out of the Oval Office.

“I think it was pretty clear that I was to escort myself out, or I would be escorted out — I would be moved along,” he said. “It was time for our conversation to be over.”

Later in the day on Saturday, however, Dickerson still traveled with the president as planned to a 100th-day rally in Pennsylvania.

The network’s morning show, “CBS This Morning,” was broadcast from the White House on Monday.

Several administration officials were interviewed live on the program, including Vice President Mike Pence, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump.

(h/t CNN)

Media

CBS

Donald Trump Attacks US Media at 100-Day Pennsylvania Rally

US President Donald Trump has launched a scathing attack on the media during a rally marking 100 days in office.

He told supporters in Pennsylvania that he was keeping “one promise after another”, dismissing criticism as “fake news” by “out of touch” journalists.

Mr Trump decided to skip the White House Correspondents’ Dinner – the first US leader to miss the annual event since Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Earlier, big rallies were held against Mr Trump’s climate change policies.

At the rally in Harrisburg, the president said the media should be given “a big, fat, failing grade” over their coverage of his achievements during his first 100 days and told the cheering crowd he was “thrilled to be more than 100 miles from Washington”.

He quipped that at the same time “a large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling themselves” at the correspondents’ dinner “that will be very boring”.

Until now, late president Ronald Reagan was the last US leader to miss the dinner, as he was recovering from a gunshot wound in 1981.

Turning to his election pledges, Mr Trump said the first 100 days had been “very exciting and very productive”.

He said he was “delivering every single day” by:

  • Ending “jobs theft” and bringing them back to the US
  • Easing regulations on energy exploration
  • Ending the so-called “war on coal”
  • Pulling out of international agreements not beneficial to the US, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Mr Trump also said the administration of Barack Obama had resulted in “a mess”, stressing that he was ready for “great battles to come and we will win in every case”.

On climate change, Mr Trump said “a big decision” would be taken within the next two weeks.

He earlier described climate change as a hoax, vowing to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement.

(h/t BBC News)

Reality

Trump usually runs away from criticism, like when he skipped a Fox News debate after receiving tough questions from moderator Megyn Kelly about his improper treatment of women.

Trump Will Be First POTUS to Skip White House Correspondents’ Dinner in Over 30 Years

President Donald Trump is skipping this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, he announced Saturday on Twitter, offering without any explanation: “Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!”

Slated to take place April 29, the annual dinner is traditionally attended by the president, first lady, members of the administration, the White House press corps and numerous media outlets. Proceeds raised by the dinner go toward scholarships and awards for aspiring journalists.

The gathering is typically hosted by a noted comedian who roasts the president and members of the media, and then lets the commander in chief crack his own jokes.

A number of publications — including Bloomberg, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair — have joined a growing list of news organizations that refused to host parties around the ceremonies, citing the president’s baseless claims that longstanding media organizations are spreading “fake news” or are “the enemy of the American people.”

The announcement comes after the president and his administration continue to maintain a public feud with the press and blocked multiple media organizations from attending an impromptu daily briefing with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Friday.

CNN, The New York Times and Politico were not able to attend the off-camera press gaggle with Spicer, while conservative media organizations were shown preference by the administration.

The White House Correspondents’ Association responded shortly after Trump tweeted and said they still planned to have the dinner despite his absence.

“The WHCA takes note of President Donald Trump’s announcement on Twitter that he does not plan to attend the dinner, which has been and will continue to be a celebration of the First Amendment and the important role played by an independent news media in a healthy republic,” association President Jeff Mason said in a statement.

“We look forward to shining a spotlight at the dinner on some of the best political journalism of the past year and recognizing the promising students who represent the next generation of our profession,” he added.

White House Strategist Steve Bannon told Conservative Political Action Conference attendees on Thursday that Trump would continue to attack the media, which Bannon described as “corporatist,” “globalist” and members of “the opposition party.”

Late-night comedy host Samantha Bee announced that she would host a dinner at the same night and time to compete with the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in protest of the Trump administration. Named “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” all proceeds raised will be donated to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Trump attended the dinner in 2011 when Barack Obama was president and was roasted by the then-president.

The first White House Correspondents’ Dinner occurred in 1921, and the first president attended — Calvin Coolidge — in 1924. Fifteen presidents have attended since.

Ronald Reagan was the last president to skip the dinner, according to the Reagan Library. In 1981, the newly elected president decided he wouldn’t attend because he was recovering from a gunshot wound in a failed assassination attempt on his life less than a month earlier.

Nevertheless, Reagan still called in to provide a few remarks.

“If I could give you just one little bit of advice,” Reagan quipped over the phone, “when somebody tells you to get in a car quick, do it.”

(h/t NBC News)

 

 

 

Fox Says Trump Wanted $5 Million Donation

Fox News logo

Fox News Channel accused Donald Trump of asking the network for a $5 million donation as a “quid pro quo” in return for Trump’s promise to appear in Thursday night’s Republican debate, as an extraordinary feud between the right’s best-known media platform and the Republican party’s presidential front-runner overshadowed the last debate before the Iowa caucuses.

“Roger Ailes had three brief conversations with Donald Trump today about possibly appearing at the debate – there were not multiple calls placed by Ailes to Trump.

 

In the course of those conversations, we acknowledged his concerns about a satirical observation we made in order to quell the attacks on Megyn Kelly, and prevent her from being smeared any further.

 

Furthermore, Trump offered to appear at the debate upon the condition that Fox News contribute $5 million to his charities. We explained that was not possible and we could not engage in a quid pro quo, nor could any money change hands for any reason.

 

We have accomplished those two goals and we are pleased with the outcome. We’re very proud to have her on stage as a debate moderator alongside Bret Baier & Chris Wallace.”

(h/t Chicago Tribune)

Reality

By shaking down Fox News for $5 million dollars in order to appear at their debate Donald Trump just committed a crime.

It’s also ironic that Trump refused to attend the debate by accusing Megyn Kelly of having a conflict of interest.

Trump Claims He Never Asked Megyn Kelly Removed As Moderator

If you read the news, Donald Trump’s boycott of the Fox News/Google debate is the result of his ongoing war with anchor Megyn Kelly.

Trump, however, says that’s not true. He says a biting Fox News release is why he pulled the plug.

“Well, I’m not a person that respects Megyn Kelly very much. I think she’s highly overrated. Other than that, I don’t care,” he told CNN an hour before the debate. “I never once asked that she be removed. I don’t care about her being removed. What I didn’t like was that public relations statement where they were sort of taunting. I didn’t think it was appropriate. I didn’t think it was nice.”

(h/t Politifact)

Reality

Donald Trump many times publicly demanded removal of Megyn Kelly as a moderator as a condition to attend the Fox News debate in Iowa.

Media

Full video:

 

 

Donald Trump Throws a Grand Old Party to Avoid a Debate

No one ever really doubted that Donald Trump could pull off a major counter-programing feat — even when competing with a GOP debate that was expected to draw millions of viewers.

He did it Thursday night, dazzling a crowd of hundreds of enthusiastic supporters by announcing that he had raised more than $6 million for veterans in one day — $1 million of it from his own checkbook. “We love our vets,” he said.

“You know, my whole theme is make America great again and that’s what we’re going to do — and we wouldn’t have even been here if it weren’t for our vets,” Trump said.

Even Trump seemed a bit surprised that he had pulled off his stunt: “Look at all the cameras. This is like the Academy Awards,” the real estate magnate said as he took the stage in an auditorium at Drake University about 20 minutes after the debate began a few miles away. “We’re actually told that we have more cameras than they do by quite a bit, and you know what that’s really in honor of our vets.”

The rally was a restrained performance by Trump standards. He dispensed with his usual riff about his poll numbers and mostly avoided jabs at his fellow candidates (with the exception of a “low-energy” shot at Jeb Bush).

Instead he delivered a speech mostly focused on the problems veterans have faced when returning from Iraq and Afghanistan — inadequate healthcare and housing, drug abuse, mental health issues and homelessness.

“Our vets are being mistreated. Illegal immigrants are treated better in many cases than our vets and it’s not going to happen any more. It’s not going to happen any more.”

Clearly enjoying his evening away from the debate, Trump also told the audience what could be another media sensation for his campaign: the fact that his daughter Ivanka is pregnant. “Ivanka, I said, it would be so great if you had your baby in Iowa. It would be so great — I’d definitely win!”

(h/t CNN)

Reality

Trump lost Iowa. He acknowledged that this event may have backfired. Voters in the Hawkeye State take their responsibly of being first seriously, and the debate that Trump skipped was the final, and critically important, debate ahead of the caucuses. “I think some people were disappointed that I didn’t go into the debate,” Trump said while in New Hampshire.

The fact is Trump did not attend the seventh Republican debate and instead hosted a rival event due to his intense fear of Megyn Kelly and the hilarious response by Fox News that mocked his inability to handle simple questions from reporters.

Trump was also criticized by also overselling the event and not managing it well. According to a statement by Drake University, the location for Trump’s Thursday night event, the auditorium is limited to a 700-person capacity, but the event had been “significantly over-ticketed by the Trump campaign.”

It is important to note that in 2012 when Michelle Bachmann skipped a debate hosted by Newsmax, someone had some choice critical words for her:

On the plus side, Trump raised a very impressive $6 million dollars for veterans. Or did he?

Media

 

Trump Blames Fox News For Skipping Debate

Bill O'Reilly attempts to convince Donald Trump to addend Fox News Iowa debate.

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly told Donald Trump that he’s making a “big mistake” by skipping Thursday’s GOP debate. But Trump is not budging.

O’Reilly pleaded with Trump to reconsider, even invoking Trump’s Christian faith and the tenet of forgiveness to say that Trump should forgive Megyn Kelly for tough questioning.

Trump responded by bringing up the “eye for an eye” principle.

The GOP frontrunner is planning to hold a “special event” to raise money for veterans at the same time Fox hosts the final primary debate before Monday’s Iowa caucuses.

“We’re going to have a tremendous event,” Trump said, adding that “a lot of money is going to be raised.”

O’Reilly seemed to be lobbying Trump on behalf of the network, even going so far as to say that “I don’t think not showing up for debate tomorrow is good for America.”

At the end of the conversation, he asked Trump to reconsider the 24-hour-old boycott.

“Consider it,” the host said.

Trump shot back that “you and I had an agreement that you wouldn’t ask me that.”

And he declined to reconsider. Then he plugged his 9 p.m. fund-raising event at Drake University.

He criticized Kelly on Fox just an hour before Kelly’s own show. “I have zero respect for Megyn Kelly,” Trump said. “I don’t think she is very good at what she does. I think she is highly overrated.”

O’Reilly did little to defend Kelly.

For days Trump has been calling Kelly “biased” and claiming she shouldn’t be allowed to moderate the debate. On Tuesday, after he taunted Kelly in an Instagram video and polled his Twitter followers about whether he should skip the debate, Fox fired off a statement that dripped with mockery.

He emphasized to Fox’s Bill O’Reilly that it was ultimately the network’s disrespectful statements that led to his decision:

“I was not treated well by Fox. They came out with this ridiculous P.R. statement, it was like drawn up by a child. And there was a taunt. And I said, you know, “How much of this do you take?” I have zero respect for Megyn Kelly. I don’t think she’s very good at what she does. I think she’s highly overrated. And, frankly, she’s the moderator, I thought her question last time was ridiculous.”

(h/t CNN)

Reality

The evidence has mounted and it is clear that Trump is avoiding Megyn Kelly. If it is out of fear or spite, doesn’t matter they are both unpresidential.

Media

http://video.foxnews.com/v/4725365820001

Links

The O’Reilly Factor Transcript

 

Fox News Mocks Trump’s Latest ’Twitter Poll’ With First-Rate Trolling

Fox News has issued a statement responding to Donald Trump‘s conduct on social media, calling The Donald out for his timidity with what can only be described as trolling of the highest order.

Trump has said that he might not attend Fox News’s GOP Iowa debate because, he says, co-moderator Megyn Kelly isn’t “fair” to him. He took his grievances to Twitter and Instagram Tuesday afternoon, asking fans, “Should I do the GOP debate?”

Fox News responded in a statement given to Mediaite, saying:

We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president — a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.

In a similar statement released Monday, a Fox News spokesperson said the network was “surprised he’s willing to show that much fear about being questioned by Megyn Kelly,” and suggesting that one day, the presidential candidate would have to learn that he doesn’t get to pick which journalists cover him.

Donald Trump tweeted his response later that afternoon, calling Fox News’s statement a “pathetic attempt” to build ratings:

(h/t Mediaite)

Reality

Trump has had an issue with Kelly since she moderated a Republican presidential debate in August. He accused her of being unfairly harsh on him by asking him valid questions about past sexist and misogynist comments. Fox News is standing by its anchor, calling the attacks on her “sexist verbal assaults.”

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