Trump Says US Is ‘In Many Cases’ Like ‘A Third World Country’: It’s ‘An Embarrassment’

While speaking in front of union builders in Ohio today, President Donald Trump slammed America’s infrastructure system, claiming it is like “a third world country” and “an embarrassment.”

Trump, who focused the speech on his passion for construction and touted that he “was always very good at building,” made the comments while pushing his plan to roll out a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure plan. However, the “third world” comparison is a particularly noteworthy one, as Trump was under fire earlier this year for reportedly calling Haiti and developing African countries “shithole nations.”

“For most of our history, American infrastructure was the envy of the world,” said Trump. “Go back 30, 40, 50 years, they would look at us like — now, we are like in many cases a third world country. It’s an embarrassment.”

He continued by pointing back to American infrastructure achievements in the past:

“We are the ones who had the imagination and the drive to get it done. But we’ve got that again. Other nations marveled as we connected our shores with transcontinental railroads and brought power to our cities that lit up the sky like no other place on earth. We built mile after mile of Internet capabilities and interstate highways to carry American products all across the country and around the globe. Nobody did it like us.”

Trump concluded the segment of the speech with a call to “rebuild this nation,” saying Americans “must reclaim that proud heritage.”

[Mediaite]

White House staffer left email passwords on official stationery at bus stop

A White House staffer left the password to his encrypted email account at a bus stop in Washington, D.C., according to a new report.

Ryan McAvoy left his ProtonMail passwords and email address on a piece of White House stationery at a bus stop near the White House, The Intercept reported Saturday.

Someone reportedly found the piece of paper and turned it over to The Intercept, which said that it confirmed its authenticity. The aide, who works as a staff assistant in the White House, did not return The Intercept’s requests for comment.

House Intelligence Committee Democrats said Wednesday they are interested in filing a subpoena to see how Trump campaign officials used WhatsApp, a messaging service.

Democrats said they want to see how how senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and other campaign employees are using the messaging app and others such as iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Signal, Slack, Instagram and Snapchat on the encrypted networks.

The committee may consider adding ProtonMail to that list, The Intercept reported.

Last September, it was reported that six members of Trump’s administration used private email addresses while conducting government business.

President Trump and Republicans had attacked former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of State, calling it reckless.

Democrats on the Intelligence panel released a memo on Wednesday to lay out their responsibilities in the Trump-Russia investigation, which Republican members have said is wrapping up. Democrats, meanwhile, have pledged to continue their investigation.

[The Hill]

Trump’s national security advisers warned him not to congratulate Putin. He did it anyway.

President Trump did not follow specific warnings from his national security advisers when he congratulated Russian President Vladi­mir Putin Tuesday on his reelection, including a section in his briefing materials in all-capital letters stating “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” according to officials familiar with the call.

Trump also chose not to heed talking points from aides instructing him to condemn Putin about the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom with a powerful nerve agent, a case that both the British and U.S. governments have blamed on Moscow.

The president’s conversation with Putin, which Trump called a “very good call,” prompted fresh criticism of his muted tone toward one of the United States’s biggest geopolitical rivals amid the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russia’s election interference and the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian officials.

Although the Trump administration has taken a tougher stance toward Russia recently — including new sanctions last week on some entities for election meddling and cyber attacks — the president has declined to forcefully join London in denouncing Moscow for the poisoning of Sergie Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury this month. They remain critically ill.

Trump told reporters that he had offered his well wishes on Putin’s new six-year term during a conversation on a range of topics, including arms control and the security situations in Syria and North Korea. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Skripal’s case was not discussed. Information on Syria and North Korea were also provided to the president in writing before the call, officials said.

“We’ll probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future,” Trump said of Putin, though Sanders emphasized that nothing was planned.

The White House press office declined to comment on the briefing materials given to Trump. Two people familiar with the notecards acknowledged that they included instructions not to congratulate Putin. But a senior White House official emphasized that national security adviser H.R. McMaster did not mention the issue during a telephone briefing with the president, who was in the White House residence ahead of and during his conversation with Putin.

It was not clear whether Trump read the notes, administration officials said. Trump, who initiated the call, opened it with the congratulations for Putin, one person familiar with the conversation said.

The president’s tone drew a rebuke from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, who wrote on Twitter: “An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections. And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election.”

But Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, appeared less concerned, noting Trump has also offered congratulations to other leaders of more totalitarian states. “I wouldn’t read much into it,” Corker said.

Putin’s latest consolidation of power came in what foreign policy analysts said was a rigged election in which he got 76 percent of the vote against several minor candidates. Some world leaders have hesitated to congratulate Putin, since his reelection occurred in an environment of state control of much of the news media and with his most prominent opponent barred from the ballot.

[Washington Post]

Trump congratulates Putin on winning sham election

President Donald Trump spoke to Vladimir Putin over the phone Tuesday morning, after the Russian leader’s overwhelming re-election victory.

“I had a call with President Putin and congratulated him on the victory, his electoral victory,” Trump said later Tuesday. He added that the two leaders “will probably get together in the not-too-distant future” to discuss the international arms race.

Trump and Putin will also talk about North Korea, Ukraine and Syria, among “various other things,” the U.S. said.

The election win keeps Putin in office as Russia’s president for another six years. His closest rival in the election, which was held Sunday, scored nearly 12 percent of the vote, while his most vocal opponent, Alexei Navalny, was barred from running in the race.

Putin’s overwhelming victory and the circumstances leading to it have prompted criticism from Russia watchers. The White House, however, skirted the issue Tuesday.

“We’re focused on our elections. We don’t get to dictate how other countries operate,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at Tuesday’s White House press briefing. “What we do know is that Putin has been elected in their country.”

The arms race

Trump’s comment on the arms race came as the top nuclear commander for the U.S. made a case Tuesday for America adding another nuclear weapon to its arsenal.

“I strongly agree with the need for a low-yield nuclear weapon,” Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, said of the Pentagon’s request for a low-yield warhead for submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

“That capability is a deterrence weapon to respond to the threat that Russia in particular is portraying,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

Late last month, Putin made waves by boasting about an arsenal of new nuclear weapons, including an underwater drone, a new hypersonic missile and a cruise missile that has a “practically unlimited range.”

Hyten has previously called Russia the “most significant threat” to the U.S. because the the nation poses “the only existential threat to the country right now.”

Sanctions and election meddling

The call between Trump and Putin also comes as the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election intensifies. Trump has denied that his campaign colluded with Russia, and Putin has rejected accusations that the Kremlin had anything to do with any election interference.

The Trump administration announced last week that it was sanctioning several Russians and entities linked to the Kremlin for meddling in the 2016 election as well as for cyberattacks against U.S. infrastructure, such as the energy grid.

Trump had resisted calls to punish Russia for its malfeasance, despite U.S. intelligence agencies’ claims that Kremlin-backed operatives did interfere in the campaign.

On Tuesday, Sanders told reporters Tuesday that she doesn’t believe the subject of 2016 election meddling came up in the Putin-Trump phone call. “But it is something that we’ve spoken extensively about,” she said.

The war in Syria

Trump has expressed admiration for Putin dating back to the years before he ran for president, but he is not the only U.S. commander in chief to call the Russian leader after an election victory.

President Barack Obama called Putin in 2012 to congratulate him for his win that year, although Russia-U.S. relations were especially contentious during Obama’s administration due in large part to the conflict in Syria. Russia has backed Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brutal war.

Trump, for his part, has criticized Obama over his handling of the Syrian war. “President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a ‘red line’ against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing,” Trump said in August after a suspected chemical attack in Syria. “The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable attack.”

The war in Syria continues to rage, and a Russian military leader recently threatened action against U.S. forces there if Americans target Russian servicemen.

[NBC News]

Reality

Trump joins authoritarians, Xi Jinping, Rouhani, Mohammed bin Salman, Nicolas Maduro,  Evo Morales, Raul Castro, al-Sisi

  • China’s Xi Jinping
  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
  • Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
  • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
  • Bolivia’s President Evo Morales
  • Cuban President Raul Castro
  • Egyptian President Fatah al-Sisi

Sarah Sanders says Trump didn’t admit lying when he admitted lying to Canada’s prime minister

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Thursday conflicted with President Donald Trump’s own account of a misleading statement that he claimed to make up about trade with Canada.

According to The Washington Post, Trump “boasted in a fundraising speech Wednesday that he made up information in a meeting with the leader of a top U.S. ally, saying he insisted to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the United States runs a trade deficit with its neighbor to the north without knowing whether that was true.”

At Thursday’s press briefing, NPR correspondent Mara Liasson pointed out that the U.S. actually had a trade surplus with Canada.

Sanders asserted that Liasson’s figures did not “take into account some of the additional things like energy and timber.”

“It shows that there actually is a deficit,” she said. “The president was accurate because there was a trade deficit. He didn’t have to look at the specific figures because he knew there was a trade deficit.”

Sander admitted, however, that she did not have proof of the claims “in front of her.”

[Raw Story]

Media

Zinke criticized for ‘juvenile’ comment at hearing

Democrats rebuked Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Thursday for comments he made during a House budget hearing about planned cuts to grant programs that fund institutions focusing on the history of Japanese-Americans.

“The internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans is no laughing matter, @SecretaryZinke. What you thought was a clever response to @RepHanabusa was flippant & juvenile,” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Calif.) tweeted, sharing a clip of the exchange.

During the hearing, Zinke took a question from Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), who told the Interior chief that she only recently learned of her family’s history at the hands of internment camp officials due to the issue not being discussed by Japanese-Americans.

“I believe it is essential that we as a nation recognize our darkest moments so we don’t have them repeat again,” Hanabusa told Zinke.

“Oh, konnichiwa,” Zinke said in response before answering Hanabusa’s question.

“I think it’s still ‘ohayo gozaimasu’ [good morning], but that’s OK,” Hanabusa said, following a brief silence.

In a tweet Thursday evening, Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) said the comment was offensive whether Zinke meant it to be or not.

“No better example of why we need continued support for historical sites where the rights of Japanese Americans were violated b/c of race,” Chu wrote.

“Zinke’s comment betrayed a prejudice that being Asian makes you a perpetual foreigner. Intentional or not, it’s offensive. He should apologize,” she added.

Thousands of Japanese-Americans were interned by the U.S. government during World War II. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties act, formally apologizing for the program and granting $20,000 in compensation to any Japanese-American interned during the war.

Zinke said during the hearing Thursday that he was committed to preserving history, and that the funding may have been caught up in other budget cuts.

The Interior Department has faced criticism for its budgets under the Trump administration, in particular Zinke’s plan to raise the fee for entering national parks.

[The Hill]

Media

Trump Insists U.S. Has Trade Deficit With Canada After Tapes Leak of Him Admitting It Doesn’t

President Donald Trump is now apparently doubling down on false comments that he admitted saying to Canadian PM Justin Trudeau.

After The Washington Post obtained audio of Trump telling Republican donors about a meeting with Trudeau in which he asserted that we have a trade deficit with Canada, a claim that the president admitted he had “no idea” was right or wrong at the time, the president tweeted this statement:

“We do have a Trade Deficit with Canada, as we do with almost all countries (some of them massive),” Trump wrote. “P.M. Justin Trudeau of Canada, a very good guy, doesn’t like saying that Canada has a Surplus vs. the U.S.(negotiating), but they do…they almost all do…and that’s how I know!”

As many have pointed out, Trump’s own government acknowledges that U.S. has a trade surplus with Canada — of $12.5 billion:

To recap: The president had, by his own admission, “absolutely no idea” whether the U.S. had a trade deficit with Canada; he and Trudeau had to send people out of the room to find out the facts, they came back and said that, as Trudeau claimed, there was no trade deficit; then, Trump tweeted that there actually is a trade deficit with Canada, despite there being audio evidence of him admitting the opposite; his conclusion that there is a trade deficit is because “almost all countries” have one, “and that’s how I know!”

[Mediaite]

Reality

Trump’s own administration says we have a trade surplus with Canada..

 

Trump Confuses North and South Korea

Saturday night, in the middle of a comic speech at the Gridiron Club, President Trump wandered into a completely serious riff about North Korea. “It was headed for disaster and now we’re talking,” he announced. “They, by the way, called up a couple of days ago; they said, ‘We would like to talk,’” Trump said. “And I said, ‘So would we, but you have to denuke.’”

The claim that Trump had spoken with North Korea confounded foreign policy observers. “It was not clear whether Trump was describing a direct conversation or messages sent through diplomatic channels,” reported the Washington Post.

The answer turns out to be: neither. Trump was describing a conversation with South Korea. An official from the National Security Council tells Yonhap News Agency, a South Korean publication, that Trump “was referring to his March 1 phone call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.” So Trump was close, geographically, but instead of describing a breakthrough exchange with the totalitarian enemy that is developing nukes and threatening to kill us, he was describing the democratic ally that has no nukes and is trying not to be killed.

Trump was right that it was a Korea, but he had the wrong one. There are so many Koreas these days, it is hard to keep track.

[New York Magazine]

Reality

Remember when Trump claimed he had “one of the great memories of all time“?

Trump Misquotes Fox News Anchor to Slam ‘Total Phony’ Schiff: He ‘Omitted and Distorted Key Facts’

In a botched attempt to use information from Fox News to attack the Democrat’s rebuttal to the infamous GOP memo, President Donald Trump removed numerous words from a quote by one of the network’s anchors to paint Rep. Adam Schiff as “a total phony.”

After spending his Saturday night on Twitter slamming the Democrat’s claims that the FBI and DOJ did not inappropriately target Trump and his allies, the president picked up a quote from Fox News — falsely claiming the network’s anchor said “Congressman Schiff omitted and distorted key facts.”

“‘Congressman Schiff omitted and distorted key facts’ @FoxNews So, what else is new. He is a total phony!” Tweeted Trump.

However, the actual quote from the Fox News report went as follows:

“Congressman Schiff, he argues the Republican memo omitted and distorted key facts — it was initially meant to be mislead the public. And this Democratic memo was supposed to be the rebuttal that was meant to show what was left out. Was the Democratic memo released now, will it be seen as a success? Did they get their point across?”

The irony of Trump misquoting a Fox News anchor to accuse Schiff of omitting and distorting facts was first noticed by CNN media reporter Brian Stelter.

[Mediaite]

‘I just don’t know what that means’: Trump gets completely lost during meeting on school shootings

President Donald Trump on Thursday appeared to get completely lost during a discussion on preventing school shootings being held at the White House.

During the talk, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill talked about active measures that schools can take during shootings that can go into effect automatically without the police even being on the scene.

“We also have countermeasures that can be employed by the sheriff’s department within seconds to contain the attacker and in a sense turn the attack on them,” Hill said. “That is a critical piece.”

A confused Trump asked him to explain the concept of countermeasures.

“I just don’t know what that means,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t know what that means.”

Hill proceeded to give him an example to illustrate it.

“If you are in a hallway, with an active shooter in a hall, and he’s going around looking for targets, you got the doors locked, and somebody is monitoring and, for example, they have smoke canisters that can come in and blind to shooter, which distracts them,” he said. “That gives time and, you know, that critical time when he is allowed looking for targets.”

Trump still didn’t seem to understand the concept, however.

“In the meantime, he’s shooting everybody, though,” the president said.

“Well, in this particular school, they’re locked down,” Hill patiently explained.

[RawStory]

Media

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