Trump congratulates Poland as it commemorates Nazi invasion

President Trump is known to make the odd comment here and there about foreign nations, often because he doesn’t seem particularly versed in what’s happening in them. But even by his standards, this was quite a weekend.

Trump was asked Sunday about the trip to Poland he canceled to monitor Hurricane Dorian. Asked if he had a message for that country, which was commemorating the anniversary of the start of World War II, Trump decided to … congratulate it?

Q: Mr. President, do you have a message for Poland on the 80th anniversary of the Second World War?

TRUMP: I do have a great message for Poland. And we have Mike Pence, our Vice President, is just about landing right now. And he is representing me. I look forward to being there soon.

But I just want to congratulate Poland. It’s a great country with great people. We also have many Polish people in our country; it could be 8 million. We love our Polish friends. And I will be there soon.

For those not versed in World War II history, Sunday was the anniversary of the day Nazi Germany invaded Poland, which led France and Great Britain to declare war two days later (i.e. 80 years ago Tuesday). Poland would wind up losing nearly one-fifth of its population in the war, according to estimates.

As such, it was more of a day for somber remembrance than a day of triumph. The German president asked for Poland’s forgiveness, for instance. And Trump’s comment struck a significantly different tone than the man sent to Poland in his stead, Vice President Pence.

[Washington Post]

Media

Trump doesn’t think he’s ‘ever even heard of a Category 5’ hurricane. Four such storms have threatened the US since he took office

President Donald Trump said Sunday that he’s “not sure that (he’s) ever even heard of a Category 5” hurricane, despite four such storms — including Hurricane Dorian — having threatened the US since he took office.

“We don’t even know what’s coming at us. All we know is it’s possibly the biggest. I have — I’m not sure that I’ve ever even heard of a Category 5. I knew it existed. And I’ve seen some Category 4’s — you don’t even see them that much,” Trump said at a briefing with officials at FEMA’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

“But a Category 5 is something that — I don’t know that I’ve ever even heard the term other than I know it’s there. That’s the ultimate, and that’s what we have unfortunately,” he added, in reference to Hurricane Dorian.

The comments from the President came just before Dorian, a dangerous Category 5 storm, made landfall on the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas. The storm is the most recent of four Category 5 hurricanes to endanger parts of the US since Trump assumed the Oval Office. As of Monday morning, Dorian is still battering the Abaco and Grand Bahama Islands. The hurricane — the strongest on the planet anywhere this year — lashed the region overnight and is forecast to continue through much of Monday. The storm is now expected to move northward and possibly bring hurricane-force winds to Florida Monday night before moving up the east coast.

In September 2017, nearly eight months into Trump’s presidency, Hurricane Irma, one of the strongest Atlantic basin hurricane ever recorded outside the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, affected at least nine US states. That same month, Hurricane Maria devastated the US territory of Puerto Rico, leaving behind an island that is still struggling to recover.

Last October, Hurricane Michael, which was originally designated as a Category 4, barreled into the Florida Panhandle as the third Category 5 hurricane to blast the US since Trump.

Trump has pledged to provide federal assistance to state and local officials to deal with Hurricane Dorian.

Not the first time Trump said he’s never heard of a Category 5

Trump has previously indicated several other times that Category 5 hurricanes are unprecedented weather events that either he or others had never heard of or witnessed.

In the days between the landfalls of Hurricane Irma and Maria, he said he “never even knew” they existed and said days later that “people (in Puerto Rico) had never seen anything like” the storm.

In October 2017, Trump claimed “nobody has ever heard of a (Category) 5 hitting land,” and earlier this year, he again said he had never heard of a hurricane of that intensity.

While the US has seen a number of Category 5 storms in recent memory — including Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — scientists estimate that Atlantic hurricanes could become more common in the coming years. And while researchers can’t definitively say the climate crisis is leading to more intense hurricanes, scientists have found that rising sea levels due to global warming can further exacerbate the impact of Atlantic hurricanes.

[CNN]

Trump causes confusion by saying Hurricane Dorian will hit Alabama, forcing national weather service to issue correction

Donald Trump has caused unnecessary confusion by saying Hurricane Dorian – now the joint most powerful storm to make landfall on record – was forecast to hit Alabama, when in fact the state is not among those experts believe is threatened.

Three other states – FloridaSouth Carolina and Georgia – are all ordering part or full evacuations of their coastal areas and North Carolinahas declared a state of emergency, but there are no evacuation orders in place in Alabama.

The US president generated additional bemusement, by saying he had “never even heard of a category 5 storm” before, despite making the same comment at least four times previously during his presidency.

Mr Trump tweeted: “In addition to Florida – South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated. Looking like one of the largest hurricanes ever. Already category 5. BE CAREFUL! GOD BLESS EVERYONE!”

This prompted US weather organisations to refute the president’s statement.

The US National Weather Service branch for Birmingham, Alabama responded to Mr Trump’s tweet saying: “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorianwill be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”

Mr Trump also claimed he had never heard of a category 5 hurricane, a remark he has made several times before – despite owning property in Florida, a state routinely affected by tropical storms.

[The Independent]

President Trump Tweets Sensitive Surveillance Image of Iran

President Trump has tweeted what experts say is almost certainly an image from a classified satellite or drone, showing the aftermath of an accident at an Iranian space facility.

“The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir [Space Launch Vehicle] Launch at Semnan Launch Site One in Iran,” the president said in a tweet that accompanied the image on Friday. “I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened at Site One.”

NPR broke the news of the launch failure on Thursday, using images from commercial satellites that flew over Iran’s Imam Khomeini Space Center. Those images showed smoke billowing from the pad. Iran has since acknowledged an accident occurred at the site.

Some of the highest-resolution imagery available commercially comes from the company Maxar, whose WorldView-2 satellite sports 46-centimeter resolution.

But the image shown in the president’s tweet appears to be of far better quality, says Ankit Panda, an adjunct senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, who specializes in analyzing satellite imagery. “The resolution is amazingly high,” says Panda. “I would think it’s probably below well below 20 centimeters, which is much higher than anything I’ve ever seen.”

Panda says that the tweet discloses “some pretty amazing capabilities that the public simply wasn’t privy to before this.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence referred questions about the image to the White House, which declined to comment.

The image shows the aftermath of the accident, which experts believe took place while the rocket was being fueled. Clearly visible is the truck used to transport and erect the rocket, and the words “The product of national empowerment,” which have been written along the edge of the pad. The picture also shows extensive debris and charring around the pad.

It was not entirely clear where the president’s photo came from. Panda believes it was most likely taken by a classified U.S. satellite. But Melissa Hanham, deputy director of the Open Nuclear Network at the One Earth Foundation, believes that the resolution is so high, it may be beyond the physical limits at which satellites can operate. “The atmosphere is thick enough that after somewhere around 11 to 9 centimeters, things get wonky,” she says.

That could mean it was taken by a drone or spy plane, though such a vehicle would be violating Iranian airspace. Hanham also says that the European company Airbus has been experimenting with drones that fly so high, they are technically outside the atmosphere and thus operating outside national boundaries. But she says she doesn’t know whether the U.S. has such a system.

Glare in the center of the image suggests the image in the tweet was itself a photo of a briefing slide. Panda suggests it could have been displayed on a computer screen in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. It’s also possible it was a photo of a piece of paper.

Either way, Panda notes that a small redaction in the upper left-hand corner suggests the intelligence community had cleared the image for release by the president.

But both he and Hanham question whether releasing it was a good idea. “You really risk giving away the way you know things,” Hanham says. “That allows people to adapt and hide how they carry out illicit activity.”

“These are closely held national secrets,” Panda adds. “We don’t even share a lot of this kind of imagery with our closest allies.” In tweeting it out to the world, Trump is letting Iran know exactly what the U.S. is capable of. He’s also letting others know as well, Panda says. “The Russians and the Chinese, you’re letting them know that these are the kind of things that the United States has the capability of seeing,” he says.

[NPR]

Trump Asks Woman Where Her Family Is After She Told Him Twice That They Were Killed by ISIS

President Donald Trump asked Nobel Prize-winning activist Nadia Muradwhere her family is now just seconds after Murad told him that they had all been killed by ISIS.

At an Oval Office event this week, Trump met with survivors of religious persecution and had a surreal exchange with Murad, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for her activism in preventing sexual assault after her escape from ISIS captivity.

As Murad stepped forward to speak to Trump, Ambassador Sam Brownback told Trump that she was a Nobel Peace Prize winner for a second time during the event, and Murad began to tell Trump the harrowing story surrounding her captivity.

“When ISIS attack us in 2014, they killed six of my brother,” Murad told Trump. “They killed my mom. They took me to captivity with my eleven sister-in-law, with all my sister and my nieces.”

She went on to explain that 3,000 Yazidi women and children are still missing and that the home from which she was abducted remains torn by violence between various factions.

“Now there is no ISIS, but we cannot go back because Kurdish government and the Iraqi government, they are fighting each other who will control my area,” Murad told Trump, and as she asked him to intercede with the factions, Trump interrupted.

“But ISIS is gone?” Trump asked. “And now it’s Kurdish and…”

“And Iraqi. Iraqi government,” Murad replied, then continued to explain her people’s current situation.

“My people cannot go back. We are not millions of people, we are only half million people. And after 2014, about 95 years — 95,000 years, Yazidi, they immigrate to Germany through a very dangerous way. Not because we want to be a refugee, but we cannot find a safe place to live,” Murad said.

“All this happened to me. They killed my mom, my six brothers,” Murad said, and as she continued, Trump interrupted her.

“Where are they now?” Trump asked, seconds after being told for a second time that they were all killed by ISIS.

“They killed them. They are in the mass graves in Sinjar,” Murad replied.

As she continued to explain, Trump interrupted her to claim, “I know the area very well, you’re talking about. It’s a tough — yeah,” then told her, “We’re going to look into it very strongly.”

Murad thanked Trump at which point he noted “And you had the Nobel Prize?”, then asked, “They gave it to you for what reason?”

As Murad explained her activism following her escape, Trump marveled, “Oh really? Is that right?”

[Mediaite]

Trump Blames Teleprompter Snafu for Airport Gaffe in Speech: ‘It’s Hard to Look at in the Rain’

President Donald Trump blamed a teleprompter malfunction for a bizarre tangent in his Fourth of July speech where he mentioned airports in the Revolutionary War.

“The teleprompter went out, it went kaput. So I could have said — and actually right in the middle of sentence it went out. That’s not a good feeling,” Trump told reporters Friday shortly before leaving the White House en route to his golf club in Bedminster, NJ.

“I knew the speech very well so I was able to do it without a teleprompter. But the teleprompter did go out. And it was actually hard to look at anyway because it was rain all over it. But despite the rain, that was just a fantastic evening.” he continued.

Trump has often lambasted politicians who use teleprompters for speeches.

“I’ve always said, if you run for president, you shouldn’t be allowed to use teleprompters,” Trump said in 2015. “Because you don’t even know if the guy is smart.”

In 2016, he softened his stance on the technology, saying of teleprompters ““They’re not bad. You never get yourself in trouble when you use a teleprompter. You know the problem is, it’s too easy. We have a president who uses teleprompters, it’s too easy. We should have non-teleprompter speeches only when you’re running for president.”

[Mediaite]

Reality

Trump bizarrely claims tariffs have previously paid for America’s highways and military in bonkers ‘no debt’ tweet

In a late Sunday morning tweet, President Donald Trump claimed that past administrations paid cash collected from tariffs to fund America’s military and build highways.

Skipping over U.S. taxation collections and government borrowing, the president claimed, “When our Country had no debt and built everything from Highways to the Military with CASH, we had a big system of Tariffs. Now we allow other countries to steal our wealth, treasure, and jobs – But no more! The USA is doing great, with unlimited upside into the future!”

You can see the tweet below:

[Raw Story]

Trump Invents Quote From Kevin McCarthy to Tout Support on Tariffs, Border Policy

It would appear that President Donald Trump drastically twisted a recent quote from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in order to claim he’s on solid political footing with his plans to put tariffs on Mexico.

On Wednesday, Trump thanked McCarthy on Twitter because he supposedly said this about the president’s plans:

There’s just a slight problem: that quote doesn’t seem to exist anywhere except in Trump’s tweet.

Politico traced the so-called quote to an interview McCarthy gave to Laura Ingraham on Tuesday night, during which, the Fox News host asked him about Trump’s tariffs.

Here are those remarks in full:

“No. No, we support this president. And why, when you’re about to have a meeting – the secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, is meeting with Mexico tomorrow. We want to solve this crisis at the border – Why wouldn’t you help them be as strong as they can be? Stand up with him, and you know what, if you give the president his strongest hand, you’ll never end up with tariffs and we’ll have a border that is secure.”

As you can see, this is rather different from how McCarthy supposedly said that support for Trump’s tariffs “makes any measure the President takes on the Border totally Veto proof.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Tweets Wildly Inflated Death Toll for Sri Lanka Bombings

President Donald Trump botched his initial statement about the deadly bombings in Sri Lanka on Sunday morning, tweeting that the death toll was in the hundreds of millions.

“Heartfelt condolences from the people of the United States to the people of Sri Lanka on the horrible terrorist attacks on churches and hotels that have killed at least 138 million people and badly injured 600 more. We stand ready to help!” Trump wrote in a tweet that was left up for at least 20 minutes before he corrected the number to 138, according to CNN’s Brian Stelter.

Before noticing the error and taking the tweet down, Trump then tweeted to wish the country a “Happy Easter.”

Trump’s condolences come in the wake of a brutal series of bombings at luxury hotels and churches in Sri Lankan cities of Colombo, Negombo, and Batticaloa on Easter Sunday. The latest reported death count estimated that 207 people had been killed in the blasts.

Police have made a handful of arrests, according to CNN, but no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

[Mother Jones]

Trump threatens an SNL Rerun with federal investigation for mocking him

Donald Trump is taking his fixation with Saturday Night Live to a new level.

The President tweeted in the early Sunday morning hours a threat to have the NBC late night comedy series investigated by a federal agency. The offense? Mocking him.

“It’s truly incredible that shows like Saturday Night Live, not funny/no talent, can spend all of their time knocking the same person (me), over & over, without so much of a mention of ‘the other side,’” the president wrote. “Like an advertisement without consequences. Same with Late Night Shows. Should Federal Election Commission and/or FCC look into this? There must be Collusion with the Democrats and, of course, Russia! Such one sided media coverage, most of it Fake News. Hard to believe I won and am winning. Approval Rating 52%, 93% with Republicans. Sorry! #MAGA”

Oddly, SNL didn’t even air a new episode last night, but rather a repeat that featured at least one Trump sketch (with Alec Baldwin reprising his role as Trump).

Of course, entertainment programming mocking newsworthy figures is protected as free speech. Trump seems to be referring to the “equal time rule” which mandates that U.S. broadcast TV stations give equal air-time opportunities to opposing political candidates in prime-time if requested. But Trump is president, not a candidate, and SNL is in late-night and, again, parody. There’s also FCC’s “fairness doctrine,” a regulation that required networks to give balanced coverage to matters of public controversy. The FCC eliminated the policy in 1987.

Trump has long slammed SNL, shown hostility toward mockery in general and is known to hardly ever laughthis link opens in a new tab (“I’ve never seen him laugh. Not in public, not in private,” former FBI Director James Comey told ABC). Trump’s former adviser Roger Stone has said Trump decided to run for president after President Obama mocked him at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner — a celebration and roast that Trump has refused to attend as president.  

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