Trump: I get why Barbara Bush disliked me — ‘Look what I did to her sons’

President Donald Trump says he understands why Barbara Bush wasn’t fond of him, saying that the former first lady was right to be “nasty” to him, because he was so critical of her sons.

“I have heard that she was nasty to me, but she should be. Look what I did to her sons,” Trump told the Washington Times in an interview published Thursday night about his comments about former president George W. Bush and former presidential candidate Jeb Bush.

“She’s the mother of somebody that I competed against. Most people thought he was going to win and he was quickly out,” Trump added, referring to Jeb, who he beat in the 2016 GOP primary. “I hit him very hard.

“That’s when his brother came to make the first speech for him,” Trump said. “And I said, ‘What took you so long?’”

As a candidate, Trump was aggressively critical of Jeb Bush — whom he blasted as having “low energy” — as well as the former president, who Trump repeatedly criticized for his handling of the war in Iraq.

Trump’s comments about Barbara Bush came after the late first lady’s intensely critical comments about him to USA Today reporter Susan Page for her biography “The Matriarch” became public.

Bush, who passed away last April, had told Page she so fiercely disliked Trump that she blamed his attacks on her son Jeb Bush for what she called a heart attack and, by the end of her life, no longer considered herself a Republican.

Excerpts of the book released last week detailed Bush’s long-standing scorn for Trump, which went back decades. In diary entries from the 1990s, which she made available to Page, she described Trump as “greedy, selfish, and ugly.”

[NBC News]

Trump tells Republicans they lost in 2018 because the election was rigged

President Donald Trump warned Congressional Republicans to be “paranoid” that Democrats were rigging elections.

Trump spoke at a fundraiser for the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC), the organization in charge of House elections for the GOP.

During his remarks, Trump denied that he was a reason why Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives during the blue wave of the midterm elections.

“I say, what the hell do I have to do with it?” Trump said, according to Washington Postnational political reporter Felicia Sonmez.

Trump then seemed to suggest the 2018 midterms were stolen.

[Raw Story]

Trump rips McCain, says he gave Steele dossier to FBI for ‘very evil purposes’

President Trump in an interview broadcast Friday criticized the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for giving the FBI a controversial dossier “for very evil purposes,” keeping up a weeklong series of criticisms of the former senator that has roiled the Republican Party.

Trump’s latest fight with McCain, which began over the weekend and almost seven months after McCain’s death, has centered on the president’s seemingly festering resentment that McCain gave to the FBI a dossier of unverified claims about Trump and Russia that had been compiled by a former British spy named Christopher Steele. 

“If you realize, about three days ago it came out that his main person gave to the FBI the fake news dossier. It was a fake and a fraud, it was paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. They gave it to John McCain, who gave it to the FBI for very evil purposes. That’s not good,” the president told Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business in the interview aired Friday. 

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nominee, and the Democratic National Committee tapped Washington firm Fusion GPS, which then turned to Steele, to conduct research about President Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin in 2016.

Trump also ripped into McCain for his vote in 2017 against GOP legislation to repeal ObamaCare. 

“He was horrible what he did with repeal and replace. What he did to the Republican Party and to the nation and to sick people who could have had great health care was not good. So I’m not a fan of John McCain, and that’s fine,” he said.

A number of Republican senators have defended McCain and criticized Trump, though many others have refrained from direct criticism of the president.

The president insisted his beef with the deceased senator was started by the media.

“I didn’t bring this up, you just brought it up,” he told Bartiromo. “When they ask me the question, I answer the question. But you people bring it up, I don’t bring it up. I’m not a fan.”

[The Hill]

Trump Overrules Own Experts on Sanctions, in Favor to North Korea

President Trump undercut his own Treasury Department on Friday with a sudden announcement that he had rolled back newly imposed North Korea sanctions, appearing to overrule national security experts as a favor to Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.

The move, announced on Twitter, was a remarkable display of dissension within the Trump administration. It created confusion at the highest levels of the federal government, just as the president’s aides were seeking to pressure North Korea into returning to negotiations over dismantling its nuclear weapons program.

“It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!”

The Treasury Department announced new sanctions on Friday against Iran and Venezuela, but not North Korea.

However, economic penalties were imposed on Thursday on two Chinese shipping companies suspected of helping North Korea evade international sanctions. Those penalties, announced with news releases and a White House briefing, were the first imposed against North Korea since late last year and came less than a month after a summit meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim collapsed in Hanoi, Vietnam, without a deal.

It was initially believed that Mr. Trump had confused the day that the North Korea sanctions were announced, and officials said they were caught off guard by the president’s tweet. Asked for clarification, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, declined to give specifics.

“President Trump likes Chairman Kim, and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary,” she said.

Hours later, two officials familiar with Mr. Trump’s thinking said the president was actually referring to additional North Korea sanctions that are under consideration but not yet formally issued.

That statement sought to soften the blow that Mr. Trump’s tweet had dealt to his most loyal aides. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, personally signed off on the sanctions that were issued on Thursday and hailed the decision in an accompanying statement.

“The United States and our like-minded partners remain committed to achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea,” Mr. Mnuchin said in the statement. He described the sanctions as part of an international campaign against North Korea that “is crucial to a successful outcome.”

Sanctions are one of America’s most powerful tools for pressuring rogue nations. Mr. Mnuchin has taken great pride in bolstering Treasury’s sanctions capacity and often says that he spends half of his time working on sanctions matters.

Tony Sayegh, a Treasury Department spokesman, referred questions about Friday’s sanctions confusion to the White House.

John R. Bolton, the president’s national security adviser, had also hailed the earlier action against North Korea in a tweet on Thursday: “Everyone should take notice and review their own activities to ensure they are not involved in North Korea’s sanctions evasion.”

Mr. Trump has been eager to strike a deal for North Korea to surrender its nuclear weapons arsenal and, in turn, hand him a signature foreign policy achievement that has eluded his predecessors. Hawks in the administration, such as Mr. Bolton, have been wary of trusting Mr. Kim despite Mr. Trump’s professed strong personal connection to the North Korean leader.

Last month, Mr. Trump was criticized for defending Mr. Kim over the death of Otto F. Warmbier, an American college student who died in 2017 after being imprisoned in North Korea. Mr. Trump said he believed Mr. Kim’s claim that he was not aware of Mr. Warmbier’s medical condition.

But in recent weeks there have been increasing signs that the thawing relations between the two countries could again turn frosty.

This month, a vice foreign minister of North Korea, Choe Son-hui, accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mr. Bolton of creating an “atmosphere of hostility and mistrust” despite the chemistry between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim.

In another sign of hardening on Friday, North Korea withdrew its stafffrom the joint liaison office it has operated with South Korea since September. The office was viewed as a potential first step toward the Koreas establishing diplomatic missions in each other’s capitals. But North Korea has expressed frustration with how South Korea has been handling its role as a mediator with the United States.

The talks between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim broke down because North Korea wanted the United States to roll back some of its most economically painful sanctions without the North immediately dismantling its nuclear program.

As the linchpin of the global financial system, the United States relies on sanctions as one of its most powerful tools for international diplomacy. Officials at the Treasury and State Departments, including career staff members and political appointees, spend months carefully drafting sanctions based on intensive intelligence gathering and legal research.

The North Korea sanctions were no different, and the White House held a formal briefing on Thursday afternoon to explain the rationale behind the actions.

During the briefing, senior administration officials pushed back on the idea that the sanctions sought to increase pressure on North Korea. Instead, they said, the new measures were meant to maintain the strength of existing sanctions.

But one of the senior administration officials strongly rebutted any suggestion that the administration would ease some sanctions as confidence building, or in return for smaller steps by North Korea.

“It would be a mistake to interpret the policy as being one of a step by step approach, where we release some sanctions in return for piecemeal steps toward denuclearization” said the administration official, who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity. “That is not a winning formula and it is not the president’s strategy.”

While it is not unusual for the White House to have comment and even final approval of major sanctions, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have expressed doubts about Mr. Trump’s ability to execute sanctions policy responsibly.

In 2017, Congress passed legislation imposing sanctions on Russia and limiting the president’s authority to lift them. Under pressure from his own party, Mr. Trump reluctantly signed the bill.

The reversal on the North Korea sanctions drew swift condemnation on Friday from Democrats, who accused the president of being reckless with national security.

“Career experts at the Treasury Department undertake a painstaking process before imposing sanctions,” said Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee. “For Donald Trump to overturn their decision via tweet because he has an inexplicable fondness for one of the world’s most brutal dictators is appalling.”

He added, “Without a well-conceived diplomatic strategy, Trump is simply undermining our national security by making clear that the United States is not a trusted foreign policy partner.”

Some Republicans also pushed back against the president, with Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado saying that North Korea sanctions should be imposed. “Strategic Patience failed,” he tweeted. “Don’t repeat it.”

Mr. Trump’s decision stunned current and former Treasury Department officials, some of whom wondered if the move was planned in advance as a gesture to Mr. Kim. Others feared that America’s vaunted sanctions regime had been compromised.

“For an administration that continues to surprise, this is another first — the president of the United States undercutting his own sanctions agency for imposing sanctions on Chinese actors supporting North Korea,” said John E. Smith, the former director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, who left the department last year. “It’s a win for North Korea and China and a loss for U.S. credibility.”

Sarah Bloom Raskin, who was deputy Treasury secretary under President Barack Obama, said the sudden backtracking on a decision that would normally be made with comment from intelligence agencies and the National Security Council was perplexing.

“Reversing sanctions decisions within hours of making the announcement that you would impose them in the first place is a head-spinner,” she said. “This reversal signals the injection of some peripheral consideration or factor that only the president seems to know about and that may have nothing to do with national security.”

The Trump administration did issue some new sanctions on Friday. The Treasury Department announced sanctions against Iran, targeting a research and development unit that it believes could be used to restart the country’s nuclear weapons program. It also imposed sanctions on Bandes, Venezuela’s national development bank, and its subsidiaries, as part of its effort to topple the government of President Nicolás Maduro.

[The New York Times]

Trump attacks McCain again, saying he didn’t get a ‘thank you’ for approving late senator’s funeral

President Trump on Wednesday escalated his unrelenting attacks on the late senator from Arizona and former GOP presidential nominee John McCain, who even in death has remained one of Trump’s top targets for abuse as fellow Republicans have repeatedly begged him to stop.

In a five-minute diatribe during an appearance at a General Dynamics tank factory in Lima, Ohio, Trump argued that McCain, a lifelong Pentagon booster and former prisoner of war in Vietnam, “didn’t get the job done” for veterans while also grousing that he did not receive proper gratitude for McCain’s funeral last September.

“I gave him the kind of funeral he wanted, which as president I had to approve,” Trump said inaccurately, an apparent reference to allowing the use of military transport to carry McCain’s body to Washington. “I don’t care about this, I didn’t get a thank-you, that’s okay. We sent him on the way. But I wasn’t a fan of John McCain.”

He added, “I have to be honest, I never liked him much. Hasn’t been for me. I’ve really, probably, never will.”

The full-throated repudiation of a deceased and revered member of his party was remarkable even for a president constantly at war with his rivals, and it came amid an outpouring of statements in recent days praising McCain in the face of Trump’s attacks.

“It’s deplorable what he said,” Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said in an interview with Atlanta-based Georgia Public Broadcasting earlier Wednesday, referring to previous Trump attacks on McCain. “It will be deplorable seven months from now, if he says it again, and I will continue to speak out. . . . We should never reduce the service that people give to this country, including the offering of their own life.”

Trump’s comments are part of a longtime pattern in which he lashes into those he sees as challenging him — whether prominent or obscure, alive or dead.

In recent days, the president has also attacked George Conway, the husband of senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway, calling him a “stone cold loser,” “a whack job” and a “husband from hell” after Conway raised questions about the president’s mental health on Twitter. Others who have drawn the president’s ire in recent days have included weekend Fox News hosts and “Saturday Night Live” writers and performers.

Some close to the president have attributed his frustrations to worrying over the looming report on Russian election interference from the special counsel’s office — which he mocked Wednesday on the South Lawn of the White House en route to Ohio — while others said he simply has fewer advisers to restrain him from airing his grievances.Trump: ‘I was never a fan of John McCain, and I never will be’

President Trump lashed out at late senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) on March 19. (Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Animosity between Trump, who received draft deferments from military service, and McCain stretches back decades and came to a head during the 2016 campaign when Trump declared that McCain was “not a war hero” because he had been captured after his plane was shot down over North Vietnam.

Aides say the new round of frustrations over McCain was fueled by a news report Trump saw recently about McCain’s role in handing over a copy of an intelligence dossier to the FBI after the 2016 election. Trump inaccurately blames the disputed document for kicking off the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the campaign to help Trump.

Trump has regularly railed about McCain in the nearly seven months since his death, complaining about the dossier and the senator’s vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act. Exasperated advisers have encouraged him repeatedly to drop the issue, but his grudge against McCain is particularly visceral, according to current and former aides.

Some of McCain’s supporters said the criticism would amuse McCain, who would have appreciated that the president was still tormented by his legacy. Mark Salter, McCain’s longtime friend and co-author, said that at first he was angered by the president’s mischaracterizations.

“It’s reaching a point of boredom for all of us. McCain is getting some kind of amusement out of it that he’s still in the guy’s head somewhere,” Salter said. “It doesn’t help him, but he can’t control himself. He obviously resents John. He obviously craves the admiration that John received in life. He may excoriate the establishment and fake news and everything else, but he craves its approval.”

At Trump’s event in Lima, Fred Creech, a 61-year-old welder from Wapakoneta, Ohio, said he was a Trump supporter who appreciated the president’s visit but said he was not thrilled by the extended anti-McCain diatribe.

“I can understand what he was saying, but I don’t know that it was totally necessary to explain all that to every single person out here,” Creech said.

Mike Phillips, 58, of Lafayette, Ohio, who works as a forklift driver at the plant, said he was a Trump supporter who appreciated the president’s political incorrectness. “We’ve got a president up there right now that has backbone,” he said. “And we’re sorry if we hurt a few feelings, if that’s the way it is, but we’ve got to be strong again.”

But Phillips was not eager to wade into the McCain controversy: “I do not have a comment on his comment. I’m not going there.”

Republicans have privately urged Trump to be more decorous about their late colleague, but most have done little in response to the continued attacks, aside from veiled criticisms. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) posted a tweet before Trump’s Ohio speech that praised McCain but did not mention the president.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who was close to McCain and remains close to Trump, said at an event in South Carolina on Monday that he had repeatedly counseled the president against attacking his late friend, to no avail.

“He’s an American hero, and nothing will ever change that in my eyes. I want to help this president, I want him to be successful,” he said. “ . . . I think the president’s comments about Senator McCain hurt him more than they hurt the legacy of Senator McCain.”

A number of Democratic presidential candidates on Wednesday sharply criticized Trump’s attacks on McCain, including South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who said Trump “faked a disability in order to avoid serving,” a reference to the president’s disputed medical deferment for bone spurs.

Beto O’Rourke, appearing at a campaign stop in Conway, N.H., pointed to McCain’s disavowal of racial attacks in the 2008 presidential race against Barack Obama.

“I think that kind of dignity and civility and mutual respect in our politics is missing right now,” O’Rourke said. “I hope that we go back to his example. Instead of focusing on the president’s comments I want to focus on Senator McCain and his example.”

The president is unlikely to change his posture toward McCain, aides say. He takes particular pride in the idea that GOP voters prefer him over McCain, and aides say he has bragged that Republicans might cringe but not punish him over the attacks.

On the day of McCain’s death, he scuttled issuing a statement drafted by White House aides honoring his life. He reluctantly lowered the U.S. flags over the White House briefly before they were raised — then under a fierce backlash, lowered them again.

The president also fumed about the wall-to-wall news coverage of McCain’s death and that he was not invited to the funeral at Washington National Cathedral, current and former administration officials said.

Trump said in Lima that he did not like McCain because he received a “fake and phony” dossier and handed it over to the FBI, “hoping to put me in jeopardy.” McCain had said he handed over the document after it was provided to him on the sidelines of a security conference because he thought it was important for law enforcement to investigate.

The president said, without providing examples or evidence, that McCain “didn’t get the job done for our great vets at the VA and they knew it.”

And he attacked McCain’s status as a longtime defense hawk who advocated a robust U.S. presence in the Middle East and Afghanistan. “We’re in a war in the Middle East that McCain pushed so hard,” Trump said.

After about five minutes of complaining about McCain, Trump seemed to realize he had flown to Ohio for another reason. Explaining his jeremiad, he said the news media had asked him about McCain — but only after he tweeted attacks on the late senator.

“Not my kind of guy, but some people like him and I think that’s great,” he said. “Now, let’s get back and get onto the subject of tanks and this economy.”

[Washington Post]

President Trump again blasts John McCain, says he was ‘never a fan’ and ‘never will be’

President Donald Trump again criticized the late Sen. John McCain Tuesday, pointing specifically to his vote against repealing Obamacare and saying was “never a fan” and “never will be.”

“I’m very unhappy that he didn’t repeal and replace Obamacare, as you know. He campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare for years and then they got to a vote and he said thumbs down,” Trump said. “Plus there were other things. I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be.”

The president’s comments came during an Oval Office meeting with the president of Brazil and after a series of weekend tweets in which Trump blasted the senator, who passed away battling brain cancer in last August.

Trump accused him of “spreading the fake and totally discredited dossier” and of sending it to the FBI and the media “hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election.” But the president’s claim is not accurate. McCain wasn’t made aware of the dossier until after the election when he passed it on to the FBI.

The dossier, compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Along with other explosive allegations, it alleged that Russians held compromising information about Trump that could be used to blackmail him.

On ABC’s “The View” on Monday, McCain’s daughter Meghan fired back at Trump, saying he “spends his weekend obsessing over great men” because “he will never be a great man” like her father.

[ABC News]

Trump Posts Tweet Telling Meghan McCain That He’s More Loved Than Her Dead Father

On Sunday, President Donald Trump retweeted a tweet from a supporter insisting that he’s more loved than Sen. John McCain.

Meghan McCain took a swipe at Trump suggesting ‘no one will ever love you like they loved my father’ WRONG Meghan!” Lori Hendrywhose Twitter description describes her as “Immigrated here legally•Proud American Citizen•Here to support TRUMP!” wrote in the tweet.

Hendry continued on: “Millions of Americans truly LOVE President Trump, not McCain. I’m one! We hated McCain for his ties to the Russian dossier & his vote against repealing Obamacare.”

Hendry was referring to a tweet sent out by Meghan McCain on Saturday.

“No one will ever love you the way they loved my father,” Meghan wrote. “I wish I had been given more Saturdays with him. Maybe spend yours with your family instead of on twitter obsessing over mine?”

Meghan’s tweet was prompted by Trump slamming her late father on Twitter, something Trump did again on Sunday despite being lambasted on Twitter for his first McCain disparaging tweet of the weekend.

[Mediaite]

Trump lashes out at McCain seven months after senator’s death

President Donald Trump on Saturday lashed out against an old nemesis, the late Sen. John McCain, for his crucial vote against repealing Obamacare in 2017.

Trump chastised McCain for his no vote on a bare-bones repeal of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation, wrongly describing it as a “thumbs down on repeal and replace after years of campaigning to repeal and replace!”

The legislation opposed by McCain did not have a replacement component.

Responding to reports in conservative media outlets that cite court documents that say a former aide to the Republican senator from Arizona was the source of a leak that put a Trump opposition-research dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele into the hands of multiple media outlets in late 2016, the president echoed former independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s remarks on Fox News.

The reports about the source of the leaks have not been confirmed by NBC News.

The dossier alleges the Trump campaign worked with the Russian government to defeat rival Hillary Clinton in 2016. The core allegations in the dossier compose the heart of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian influence on the presidential election.

“The more we find out the uglier it becomes,” Starr, referring to the alleged media leaks of the dossier, said recently on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” “The Steele dossier I think has been very substantially discredited.”

Starr said of McCain, “I think he was an American hero. But I’m very sorry he got implicated in this in terms of spreading this very nasty stuff around.”

The reports that McCain leaked the 35-page dossier, which was originally the product of funding by a conservative publication, are “unfortunately a very dark stain” on the former senator’s record, Starr said.

In December former U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said on MSNBCthat “the dossier holds up well. None of it has been disproven.”

Starr, a Republican, headed the investigation that led to the impeachment of President Clinton for lying about having sex with White House staffer Monica Lewinsky.

Trump lashed out at McCain again on Sunday, claiming McCain sent the dossier to the FBI and the media. McCain gave a version of the dossier to the FBI in December of 2016, after the presidential election, and asked if any of it was true, but he had denied being a source of the document for BuzzFeed, which published it in January of 2017.

[NBC News]

Trump Shares Video of Diamond & Silk Praising His Veto and Bashing GOP ‘Swampettes’ in the Senate

President Donald Trump shared videos today from Lou Dobbs‘ Friday night Fox Business show from guests praising his veto of the resolution against his national emergency declaration at the border.

Trump first shared video of former ICE director Thomas Homan telling Dobbs, “One of the greatest presidents of my generation did exactly what he should have done.”

He also shared video from Diamond & Silk’s appearance, in which the outspoken pro-Trump duo not only defended him, but blasted the Republican senators who voted to block the emergency declaration as “the new swampettes.”

He also shared video from Diamond & Silk’s appearance, in which the outspoken pro-Trump duo not only defended him, but blasted the Republican senators who voted to block the emergency declaration as “the new swampettes.”

And after addressing the vote in the House to release the Mueller report, the president also shared a clip from Fox News’ Outnumbered of Kennedy going off on Hillary Clinton:

[Mediaite]

Trump begs GOP to ‘stay united’ in support of border wall measure

President Trump on Wednesday implored Senate Republicans to “STAY UNITED!” and vote for his wall on the southern border, dismissing arguments raised to support blocking his national emergency declaration.

“Senate Republicans are not voting on constitutionality or precedent, they are voting on desperately needed Border Security & the Wall,” Trump posted on his Twitter page. “Our Country is being invaded with Drugs, Human Traffickers, & Criminals of all shapes and sizes. That’s what this vote is all about. STAY UNITED!”

The Democrat-controlled House voted last month to block Trump’s emergency declaration, a move the White House says would allow the president to divert money from the Pentagon construction fund for barrier construction.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said his chamber will vote on the resolution before lawmakers go on recess on March 15, but he said there aren’t enough votes to pass it.

Four Republicans have announced that they will vote against it – Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority.

[New York Post]

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