In public fight with Democrats, Trump says he would be ‘proud’ to shut down government over border wall

President Donald Trump and Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi bickered at length on Tuesday in an explosive public meeting at the White House over the president’s promised border wall and threat to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t fund it.

“If we don’t get what we want one way or the other … I will shut down the government,” Trump said during a highly unusual fight that played out in front of the press before the official meeting began. “I am proud to shut down the government for border security. … I will take the mantle of shutting it down.”

If Trump and Congress can’t agree to a funding bill by Dec. 21, large parts of the federal government will run out of operating authority. The Defense Department, however, is funded through the end of next September.

Trump said it was unlikely that he would strike a deal Tuesday with Pelosi, a California Democrat who is expected to become House speaker next month, and Schumer, a New York Democrat who is the Senate minority leader.

“We may not have an agreement today,” he said. “We probably won’t.”

The House Freedom Caucus, a group of Trump’s Republican allies in Congress, demanded Monday night that $5 billion be included for the wall in any spending bill, while the Democratic leaders have been open to accepting less than $2 billion.

Earlier in the day, according to two sources who spoke to NBC News on the condition of anonymity, Pelosi told House Democrats that she and Schumer would offer the president a deal to pass six appropriations bills and a yearlong extension of current funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

Short of that, she said, they would agree to a basic extension of funding through Sept. 30, 2019, for all seven appropriations bills, including the one that funds Homeland Security.

Before Trump took ownership of a possible shutdown, Pelosi took an early dig at him in her opening remarks and noted that his party still controls both the House and Senate until January.

“We must keep the government open,” she said. “We cannot have a Trump shutdown.”

“A what?” he snapped at her.

“You have the White House, you have the Senate, you have the House of Representatives,” Pelosi responded.

But, she noted, not all Republicans are on board with his plans to build a physical barrier.

“There are no votes in the House, a majority of votes, for a wall,” Pelosi said.

“If I needed the votes for the wall in the House, I would have them in one session,” Trump countered. “It would be done.”

But for two years, he has been unable to muster those votes for his core campaign promise during the 2016 election — a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border that Trump vowed Mexico would pay for.

Vice President Mike Pence watched Tuesday’s spectacle unfold in silence as Trump and the Democrats also fought over the results of last month’s midterm elections and their meaning.

Outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly and presidential advisers Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller were also in the room for the meeting.

Pelosi urged the president to stop bickering in front of the media.

“This is spiraling downward,” she said.

The private portion of the discussion was brief, as Pelosi and Schumer emerged quickly to talk to reporters outside the White House.

Schumer said Trump threw a “temper tantrum.”

Later, back at the Capitol, he said the meeting was “productive” in that “the president showed what he wanted: shutdown.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a top Trump ally, cheered the president on from the sidelines of Twitter.

“Great job sticking to your guns on border security, Mr. President!” he wrote. “You are right to want more border security funding including Wall money. They are WRONG to say no.”

Graham also advocated for Trump to add into the mix a provision protecting certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children from deportation to put pressure on Democrats to approve money for the wall.

Likewise, some Democrats took to social media to back their leaders.

“Remember when Mexico was going to pay for the President’s wall?” Rep. Val Demings of Florida tweeted. “Shutting down the government over this foolish idea would be wildly irresponsible. A shutdown would cripple the economy and degrade transportation security during the holidays.”

[NBC News]

Reality

Donald Trump lied multiple times and threw a very public temper tantrum during a photo op at the White House with Senator Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi over the southern border wall funding and averting a government shutdown, which Trump said he would take full credit for.

Trump, who promised his supporters Mexico would pay for a wall, instead demanded the American taxpayers pay for his wall.

Some of the lies include:

* Trump claiming parts of his wall has been built. Even his supporters know this is a lie.

* Trump said illegal traffic is down in areas where a wall was built. Again no construction has been completed.

* Trump said 10 terrorists have been apprehended. This is a lie.
* Trump repeated white nationalist and KKK talking points when he claimed immigrants bring crime and disease.

Media

Donald Trump Tweets: No “Smocking” Gun Tying His Campaign To Russia

Monday morning and President Donald Trump is tweeting – this time cribbing from Fox News’ morning talk about Democrats’ inability to find a “smocking gun.”

“Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony,” Trump tweeted, in re GOP-ers in House Judiciary Committee having hauled Comey back in for a day’s worth of grilling, mostly about Hillary Clinton’s emails according to Comey, talking to reporters at end of Friday. Transcript to come.

“No Smocking Gun…No Collusion,” Trump boasted in his early morning tweeting.

“That’s because there was NO COLLUSION. So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly calling it a campaign contribution…which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s – but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me).

[Deadline]

Reality

A brief moment on Monday’s Fox and Friends First was the catalyst for an early-morning tweet from President Trump.

This is an amazing admission of guilt, and an amazing misspelling of “smoking” twice, but let’s also walk through the lies in this tweet.

First, James Comey testified in a closed door session a few days prior on the demands of House Republicans, who pulled him in to ask questions about Hillary Clinton and her use of a private email server. An obvious ploy to change the national conversation away from Trump by Republicans… not Democrats.

And second, a lawyer for the Department of Justice accompanied Comey to the hearing and any time a Republican Congressman asked him questions prying into the Robert Mueller probe, the lawyer instructed Comey he couldn’t comment about an ongoing investigation.

So Republicans and Fox News framed this very basic understanding of our justice system to their their viewers as “James Comey refused to answer questions.”

 

President Trump takes 8-car motorcade across the street to greet Bushes

President Donald Trump is taking criticism for using an eight-car motorcade to travel about 250 yards to welcome the Bush family at Blair House, the guest quarters across the street from the White House.

Washington Post article cited a former Obama administration official who said previous presidents, including Barack Obama, “have made that walk before.”

“Bone spurs?” CNN national security analyst Sam Vinograd sarcastically wondered, referring to a medical condition cited as the explanation for Trump’s fifth deferment from the draft during the Vietnam War.

But observers suggested that the Secret Service likely requested Trump take the motorcade. Twitter users pointed out to a passage from former first lady Michelle Obama’s new book “Becoming” in which she said the Secret Service would sometimes request she and her husband take a motorcade across the street.

Post reporter David Nakamura tweeted that while he found six examples of Obama walking across the street to visit Blair House, he had not yet been able to find an example of him using a motorcade to do so.

[USA Today]

Stock markets plunge after Trump’s ‘Tariff Man’ tweet

Stocks took a nosedive on Wall Street as investors worried that a US-China trade truce reached over the weekend wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank almost 800 points Tuesday.

Boeing and Caterpillar, two major exporters which would have much to lose if trade tensions don’t ease, weighed the most on the Dow.

Bond prices soared sharply, sending yields lower, as traders shoved money into lower-risk investments.

The sharp drop in yields hurt banks because it makes it harder to earn money from lending. JPMorgan Chase sank 4.5 percent.

The S&P 500 lost 90 points, or 3.2 percent, to 2,700.

The Dow dropped 799 points, or 3.1 percent, to 25,027. The Nasdaq fell 283 points, or 3.8 percent, to 7,158.

The markets plunged after President Donald Trump unleashed a threatening tweet Tuesday morning.

“President Xi and I want this deal to happen, and it probably will. But if not remember, I am a Tariff Man,” Trump tweeted.

[New York Post]

Trump Calls U.S. Defense Spending “Crazy” in Apparent Change of Heart on Military Budget

President Donald Trump blasted the United States’ defense spending in a Monday morning tweet, despite long being a champion for increased military spending.

Trump took to Twitter to say that the U.S. has spent $716 billion on defense this year—an amount he called “crazy.” However, last August, the president signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which approved that exact amount for defense spending in the fiscal year 2019.

At the time, Trump said the increase in spending was to provide the U.S. military with resources “better than any military on earth.” The bill provided the largest military pay raise in nine years.

On Monday, Trump seemed to have a change of heart, lamenting the country’s high defense spending and blaming it on an arms race with Russia and China. The president said he would aim to meet with the leaders of these two nations “at some time in the future” to stop the “uncontrollable Arms Race.”

The Trump administration has been critical of Russia’s ballistic missile program recently, even threatening to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in October. China, too, has upped its military development in recent years.

Defense spending is at record highs around the world, with China’s military budget falling just behind that of the U.S. at $228 billion in 2017. The U.S. spends about 17% of its $4 trillion federal budget on national defense.

[Yahoo]

Trump Greets Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, Promptly Walks Off Stage

President Donald Trump continued to represent the U.S. on Saturday when he walked off stage during what was supposed to be a photo opportunity for him and other world leaders at the G20 summit.

In video captured during this weekend’s summit in Argentina, Trump is seen strolling up to Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, shaking his hand briefly, then wandering away.

Macri can be seen gesturing for Trump to return before an aide chased after the U.S. president to get his attention. Both presidents were scheduled to take photos together with other world leaders, according to The Guardian.

As Splinter News points out, this is not Trump’s first time walking away aimlessly; nor is it his second, nor his third.

[Huffington Post]

Media

Trump says May’s Brexit plan could hurt UK-US trade deal

Donald Trump has suggested Theresa May’s Brexit agreement could threaten a US-UK trade deal.

The US president did not specify which aspect of the deal concerned him but told reporters the withdrawal agreement “sounds like a great deal for the EU”.

No 10 insisted the deal is “very clear” the UK would have an independent trade policy so that it can sign trade deals with countries around the world”.

Mrs May fought off heavy criticism of her Brexit deal from MPs on Monday.

Insisting the agreement “delivered for the British people” by regaining control of laws, money and borders, she said it would be put to an MPs vote on 11 December.

Hours later, Mr Trump told reporters outside the White House: “We have to take a look seriously whether or not the UK is allowed to trade.

“Because right now if you look at the deal, they may not be able to trade with us. And that wouldn’t be a good thing. I don’t think they meant that.”

It would appear Mr Trump was suggesting the agreement could leave Britain unable to negotiate a free-trade agreement with the United States.

However, responding to Mr Trump’s comments, a Downing Street spokesman said the Brexit withdrawal agreement struck on Sunday would allow the UK to sign bilateral deals with countries including the US.

“We have already been laying the groundwork for an ambitious agreement with the US through our joint working groups, which have met five times so far,” the spokesman added.

The BBC’s North America Editor Jon Sopel said Mr Trump’s comments were provocative, given trade would “carry on in much the same way as before” for the time being.

“Donald Trump knew exactly what he was doing with these remarks,” he said.

“There is a very open line of communication between senior members of his administration and prominent Eurosceptics.”

During Mr Trump’s UK visit in July – days after the British prime minister unveiled the proposals that formed the basis of the Brexit agreement – the US president had suggested an “ambitious” US-UK trade deal would “absolutely be possible”.

Billions of pounds in trade already flows between the UK and US – Britain’s largest single export market.

EU trade rules currently prevent the UK forging what some might view as a more advantageous bilateral trade deal with Washington.

Under the deal agreed in Brussels, the UK would continue to trade with the US under EU rules until at least the end of the “transition period” in December 2020.

During this transition – designed to allow businesses and others to prepare for the moment new post-Brexit rules kick in – the UK will be able to negotiate and strike deals with the US.

However, they will be unable to come into force until 1 January 2021 and could be delayed further if the backstop is triggered.

Tory Brexiteers fear the “backstop” written into the withdrawal agreement – which aims to prevent the return of customs posts on the Irish border in the event no UK-EU post-Brexit trade deal being agreed – could result in Britain being tied to EU rules for the long term.

In the Commons on Monday, Mrs May acknowledged the backstop was an “insurance policy no-one wants to use” but insisted the UK would have the right to determine whether it came into force.

She faced sustained criticism of the deal from MPs on all sides of the Commons.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mrs May had brought home a “botched deal” that would “leave the UK worse off”.

The SNP’s Iain Blackford said the agreement was “full of ifs and buts” which would result in Scottish fishermen being “sold out” while the Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas both called for another referendum.

And the DUP’s Nigel Dodds said the backstop “was bad for the United Kingdom and bad for the economy” and absolute certainty was needed over its legal application.

Tory backbencher Mark Francois was among a host of MPs to urge PM to think again, claiming the agreement was “as dead as a dodo” and “would not get through” Parliament.

Trump Solicits More Thanks for “President T”

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Trump administration conceded in a frightening climate change report that climate change could soon become irreversible and catastrophic, with hundreds of billions of dollars in economic damage forecasted by the end of the century. But President Donald Trump, himself, is thankful for fossil fuels—and wishes you would be, too.

“So great that oil prices are falling (thank you President T),” he tweeted Sunday morning, soliciting gratitude for his political agenda at the end of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. “Add that, which is like a big Tax Cut, to our other good Economic news. Inflation down (are you listening Fed)!”

Trump’s self regard appears to be instinctual, not ironic. When he was asked Thursday at Mar-a-Lago what he was thankful for, Trump briefly mentioned his family before turning to himself. “For having made a tremendous difference in this country,” he told reporters. “I’ve made a tremendous difference in the country. This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office that you wouldn’t believe it.

The economy and stock market are indeed up since Trump took office, as he frequently notes. But lower oil prices aren’t necessarily a fortuitous sign. One part of the reason is higher output from Saudi Arabia—a fact that Trump has explicitly linked to his decision to effectively exonerate Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the brutal killing and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. (“Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!” he wrote in a tweet on Tuesday, calling falling prices “a big Tax Cut for America and the World.”) Another is high output in the U.S. and exemptions from U.S. sanctions on Iran, increasing supply.

But lower prices also reflect weaker demand, raising concerns about the global economy and the prospect of a recession on the horizon. Perhaps that is why Trump paired his Thanksgiving weekend praise for himself with a warning shot at the Federal Reserve, which has been steadily raising interest rates, putting the brakes on the formerly white-hot Trump economy.

[Vanity Fair]

President Trump says raking can prevent fires: Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö denies the conversation

While touring a town ravaged by the Northern California Camp Fire on Saturday, President Trump said Finland’s president claimed the country doesn’t have many problems with forest fires because it spends “a lot of time on raking.” Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö said the topic of raking never came up in their conversation.

Mr. Trump was visiting Paradise, California, this weekend with California Gov. Jerry Brown, California Governor-elect Gavin Newsom and Paradise Mayor Jody Jones when he was asked what could be done to prevent a similar disaster in the future. The wildfire has been called the deadliest and most destructive in the Golden State’s history.

“You gotta take care of the floors. You know? The floors of the forest. Very important,” said Mr. Trump. “I was with the President of Finland and he said, ‘We have a much different — we’re a forest nation.’ He called it a ‘forest nation.’ And they spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things, and they don’t have any problem. And when it is, it’s a very small problem.”

Niinistö said he doesn’t remember mentioning raking leaves with Mr. Trump, but did say the two leaders spoke about the California wildfires when they met in Paris in early November.

“I mentioned [to] him that Finland is a land covered by forests and we also have a good monitoring system and network,” Niinistö told lta-Sanomat, Finland’s second-largest paper on Sunday. He also told the newspaper that he remembers uttering the phrase “we take care of our forests” during their conversation.

Twitter quickly learned of the raking comments, with many from Finland ridiculing Mr. Trump by tweeting images of themselves or others raking in the forest. Some used the hashtag #haravointi, which is translated to #Raking in english.

The Camp Fire in Butte County in Northern California, one of two major blazes in California, has scorched some 150,000 acres of land, killed 77 people and led to at least 1,000 missing people.

The Woolsey Fire in Southern California has burned 96,949 acres and killed three people.

[CBS News]

Media

Trump Just Blurted Out, Unprompted, That He Installed His Pet Attorney General Over the Russia Probe

Wednesday, we explored the career timeline of Matthew Whitaker, the man whom Donald Trump, American president, appointed acting attorney general after firing Jeff Sessions the day after the midterms. Trump passed over multiple Senate-confirmed officials in the actual line of succession to pick Whitaker, who’d become Sessions’s chief of staff close to a year earlier after repeatedly going on CNN to defend Trump against the Russia probe with the expressed intent of getting the president’s attention and a job. Even some conservative legal commentators have suggested his appointment was unconstitutional, and the state of Maryland is suing to that effect.

This was about as blatant a move to obstruct the investigation as the president could have made. Whitaker is an obvious Trump loyalist and longtime Republican operative who time after time attacked the special counsel’s investigation, including by promoting a story suggesting Robert Mueller’s team was a “lynch mob.”Whitaker has close ties to Sam Clovis, a grand-jury witness in the probe who advised him to start going on CNN to catch Trump’s eye.

After he got the job as Sessions’s chief of staff, Whitaker was described by Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly as the White House’s “eyes and ears” in the Justice Department—an assault on the department’s independence and the rule of law. And even well before all this, Whitaker allegedly politicized a federal investigationas a U.S. attorney in Iowa, participated in scams and grifts in his business dealings, and once flexed his background in federal law enforcement to run protection for a company—of which he was on the board—that the Federal Trade Commission fined $26 million and shuttered as a criminal enterprise.

Still, no matter how clear something is, it helps to hear it from the horse’s mouth. The President of the United States, who once said on national television he was considering “the Russia thing” when he fired FBI Director James Comey, was happy to oblige in a typically freewheeling interview with The Daily Caller. As first flagged by journalist Brian Beutler, Trump seized on a softball question to spill the beans on Whitaker’s appointment.

THE DAILY CALLER: Sure. Could you tell us where your thinking is currently on the attorney general position? I know you’re happy with Matthew Whitaker, do you have any names? Chris Christie —

POTUS: Matthew Whitaker is a very respected man. He’s — and he’s, very importantly, he’s respected within DOJ. I heard he got a very good decision, I haven’t seen it. Kellyanne, did I hear that?

WHITE HOUSE ADVISER KELLYANNE CONWAY: 20 pages.

POTUS: A 20 page?

THE DAILY CALLER: It just came out right before this, sir.

POTUS: Well, I heard it was a very strong opinion. Uh, which is good. But [Whitaker] is just somebody who’s very respected.

I knew him only as he pertained, you know, as he was with Jeff Sessions. And, um, you know, look, as far as I’m concerned this is an investigation that should have never been brought. It should have never been had.

It’s something that should have never been brought. It’s an illegal investigation. And you know, it’s very interesting because when you talk about not Senate confirmed, well, Mueller’s not Senate confirmed.

THE DAILY CALLER: Right.

Right.

The president just admitted, unprompted, that he fired the head of the Justice Department and installed a loyalist over a Justice Department investigation into him and his associates. This is obstruction. This is corrupt. This is an untenable assault on the rule of law in a democratic republic. And the Republican majorities in Congress—to say nothing of his base—will happily let him get away with it.

Oh, and by the way: Trump’s claim he only knows Whitaker through Sessions is a blatant lie. And not just because Trump’s chief of staff said Whitaker was their “eyes and ears.” Here’s Trump on October 11, 2018—a month ago:

“I can tell you Matt Whitaker’s a great guy,” President Trump said in a Fox News interview. “I know Matt Whitaker.”

This is not the first time he’s lied about knowing Whitaker since appointing him to, incredibly obviously, interfere in the Mueller investigation.

All that said, there is a beautiful symmetry here. The rear-end of Donald Trump, a lifetime grifter who’s just trying to lie his way to the end of each day while his brain is steadily melted by television, may ultimately be protected by a ‘roided-out Mr. Clean who came to him through the teevee—and who once threatened peopleon behalf of a company peddling Big Dick Toilets. America the Beautiful.

[Esquire]

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