Trump said Haitian immigrants ‘all have AIDS’

The White House strongly pushed back on a report that President Donald Trump spoke about immigrants in a dismissive and demeaning fashion during a June meeting with top administration officials.

The denial came in response to explosive reporting from the New York Times, which wrote that, according to two unnamed officials, Trump said during a meeting in June that people coming from Haiti “all have AIDS,” that recent Nigerian immigrants would never “go back to their huts” in Africa and that Afghanistan is a terrorist haven.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement blasting the paper and denying that Trump had made the comments.

“General Kelly, General McMaster, Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Nielsen, and all other senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims and it’s both sad and telling the New York Times would print the lies of their anonymous ‘sources’ anyway,” Sanders said.

The report said the Oval Office meeting during the summer included Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and senior officials, including White House adviser Stephen Miller, who the Times said had provided Trump with a list of how many immigrants received visas to enter the United States in 2017.

he Times report said Kelly and Tillerson tried to respond by saying many of the visas were for short-term travelers, but that as Trump continued, Kelly and Miller “turned their ire” against Tillerson, who threw his arms up and retorted that perhaps he should stop issuing visas altogether.

The Times said its report was the product of more than three dozen interviews. The explosive and disparaging remarks about immigrants attributed to the president were sourced to a pair of unnamed officials, one who the Times said was present in the meeting, and another who was briefed about the comments by a second attendee. But the Times says several other participants told them they “did not recall” the President using those words.

[CNN]

Trump bizarrely responds to article suggesting he criticizes black people for racist reasons

President Donald Trump on Thursday offered a bizarre but familiar response to a tweet with an article from The Washington Post’s liberal-leaning Plum Line blog suggesting that he criticizes prominent black people to play on racist sentiment within his base.

The article’s author, Greg Sargent, tweeted, “Trump regularly attacks high-profile African Americans to feed his supporters’ belief that the system is rigged for minorities,” to which Trump responded, “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.”

Earlier this week, Trump went after LaVar Ball — the father of LiAngelo Ball, one of the three UCLA basketball players released from detention in China after Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this month — on Twitter.

After Ball refused to thank Trump for the president’s role in the release of the three players, who were accused of shoplifting from several stores in China, Trump called Ball an “ungrateful fool” and compared him to a “poor man’s version of Don King.”

Sargent’s article linked this to Trump’s other criticisms of well-known black people in sports and politics, calling it “a gratuitously ugly pattern.” It ended by suggesting that Trump engages in a “pattern of race-baiting” that “might be designed to resonate with” his supporters.

Throughout his career, Trump has gone after dozens of politicians, media personalities, and sports stars of many races, but his response to Sargent’s tweet was bizarre because, minutes later, he tweeted the same thing on its own.

Trump has previously tweeted things erroneously. For example, in late October, he wished a happy birthday to Lee Greenwood, the singer who wrote “God Bless the USA,” but tagged another Lee Greenwood who appeared to have protested Trump’s immigration ban.

[Business Insider]

Reality

Trump could have been unaware of a new UI change to the Twitter app, where if you are viewing a tweet the “new tweet” button won’t create a new tweet but issue a reply. But this tweet hasn’t been deleted.

Trump, who labeled Rubio a ‘choke artist’ for needing water during speech, needs water during speech

A few years back, Sen. Marco Rubio got a little parched and needed to awkwardly swig from a bottle of water during his Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. For this, Donald Trump relentlessly ridiculed Rubio — spotlighting the incident at least eight times.

On Wednesday, President Trump met karma.

While speaking at the White House about his trip to Asia, Trump bent down behind the podium briefly before reemerging and explaining that there was no water down there. “They don’t have water,” Trump said. “That’s okay.”

Eventually, someone produced a bottle of water, which Trump gladly accepted and drank from. Then he did it again a couple minutes later.

This is something that would be unacceptable to the Old Donald Trump — a sign of a weak constitution.

In February 2016, Trump gesticulated while imitating Rubio: “ ‘I need water. Help me. I need water. Help.’ ”

He then added: “This is on live television. This total choke artist. …” He later tossed the bottle over his shoulder as the crowd roared.

Apparently, Trump believes people who need water during speeches are choke artists. In other words, by extension …

And then there are the tweets:

Trump also referenced Rubio’s need for hydration in a September 2015 appearance on “Morning Joe.”

“I’ve never seen a person sweat — I’ve never seen a guy down water like he downs water,” Trump said. “I’ve never seen — they bring it in buckets for this guy.”

How embarrassing.

Rubio, meanwhile, did a brief, more dignified victory dance.

[Washington Post]

Media

Full campaign speech remarks:

Trump tweets condolences to wrong town after mass shooting

Late Tuesday evening, President Trump tweeted condolences for a mass shooting to the incorrect town.

Tuesday, a gunman with a semi-automatic rifle and two handguns opened fire on four victims at multiple locations in the small Northern California town of Rancho Tehama. The suspect wounded more victims at an elementary school before law enforcement shot and killed him.

Mr. Trump’s Twitter response, which has since been deleted from his account but is timestamped at 11:34 p.m. on November 14, mentioned another mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which occurred on November 5, killing 26 people and injuring 20 more.

“May God be with the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI and Law Enforcement has arrived,” Mr. Trump wrote in the tweet, offering thoughts and prayers to the wrong town.

It appears the response Mr. Trump intended for the victims of the violent incident in California was informed by his initial tweet regarding the Sutherland Springs shooting.

“May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas,” the November 5 tweet reads. “The FBI & law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan.”

[CBS News]

Trump Wonders Why Japan, ‘A Country Of Samurai Warriors,’ Didn’t Shoot Down Missiles

Donald Trump’s trip to Asia has demonstrated at least one firm fact about his foreign policy: He’s not afraid to make his point using stereotypes.

On Sunday, the president expressed surprise that Japan didn’t shoot down North Korean missiles that flew over the country in late August.

The missiles ended up landing in the Pacific Ocean, but Trump is reportedly bewildered by how officials responded to the potential crisis.

Trump said he could not understand why a country of samurai warriors did not shoot down the missiles, according to sources who spokes to the Kyodo News Agency.

Perhaps the president meant the comment as a compliment to one part of Japan’s cultural heritage, but it’s similar to calling England “a country of knights in shining armor,” Mongolia “a country of huns on horseback” or Switzerland “a land of clockmakers that have knives with many accessories.”

According to the Kyodo News Agency, officials from Japan’s Self-Defense Forces explained that they didn’t try to intercept the missiles because experts who had monitored the rockets from launch determined they would not land on Japanese territory.

In addition, the missiles were flying at a speed and altitude that would have made destroying them in flight very difficult, the Japan Times noted, adding that any failure to intercept would have embarrassed Japan while encouraging North Korea.

Shooting down the missiles might also have been interpreted by North Korea as an act of war, further escalating the conflict needlessly, according to an article in Slate.

Of course, Trump has not been shy about making aggressive remarks toward North Korea.

Gizmodo noted that in a speech before the trip, Trump told the troops, “We dominate the sky. We dominate the seas. We dominate the land and space.”

He then added, “Every once in a while, in the past, they underestimated us. It was not pleasant for them, was it? It was not pleasant.”

However, Trump has also shown a small dose of humility during his Asia trip.

On Monday, he gave a speech to Japanese dignitaries and conceded he may not have been completely prepared for the presidency, and that may have negatively affected relations with Japan in the early part of his presidency.

“So my relationship with [Japanese Prime Minister] Shinzo [Abe] got off to quite a rocky start because I never ran for office, and here I am,” Trump said, according to Raw Story. “But I never ran, so I wasn’t very experienced. And after I had won, everybody was calling me from all over the world. I never knew we had so many countries.”

[Huffington Post]

Media

Perry links fossil fuel development to preventing sexual assault

Energy Secretary Rick Perry suggested Thursday that expanding the use of fossil fuels could help prevent sexual assault.

Speaking during an energy policy discussion about energy policy with “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd and Axios CEO and founder Jim VandeHei, Perry discussed his recent trip to Africa. He said a young girl told him that energy is important to her because she often reads by the light of a fire with toxic fumes.

“But also from the standpoint of sexual assault,” Perry said. “When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will on those types of acts.”

Perry said that using fossil fuel to push power into remote villages in Africa is necessary and will have a “positive role” in peoples’ lives.

President Trump has called for expanding domestic production of fossil fuels for export.

The Department of Energy says Perry’s statement was meant to highlight the way electricity will improve the lives of people in Africa.

“The secretary was making the important point that while many Americans take electricity for granted there are people in other countries who are impacted by their lack of electricity,” Shaylyn Hynes, an agency spokeswoman said.

In Africa for an energy conference last week, “one person told him about how light can be a deterrent to sexual assault and security in remote areas,” Hynes said. “Another leader told him about how women in their country have to go to the store every day for a new carton of milk because they don’t have a working refrigerator. Those powerful stories stuck with him and that is what he was sharing with the crowd in Washington today.”

[The Hill]

Trump Promises ‘No Change to Your 401(k)’ as Congress Considers a Contribution Cap

President Trump said early on Monday that his proposed tax plan would not prompt any changes to Americans’ tax-deferred retirement plans, pushing back against reports that the Republicans are weighing a proposal that would significantly reduce the income workers can save in these popular programs.

Mr. Trump’s shutdown of the proposal is the first of what many Republicans privately fear could be a presidential pattern that disrupts their efforts to pass a sweeping overhaul of the tax code. In it, Mr. Trump appeared to rule out a politically difficult idea, which, if enacted, would have provided some revenue to help pay for the tax plan.

Republicans’ ability to win passage of a tax package hinges on its ability to survive a complex set of legislative restrictions in the Senate. Republicans are attempting to cut business tax rates deeply, and also to cut individual tax rates, using a legislative route that allows them to bypass a Democratic filibuster and pass a bill with a simple Senate majority. To do that, they will need to make some tough political choices, eliminating some popular tax breaks, or employing some budgetary accounting tricks, in order to offset lost revenues from rate cuts.

Mr. Trump’s tweet concerned one of those accounting maneuvers, which would have allowed Republicans to effectively borrow tax revenues from the future to offset some rate cuts today. Reducing 401(k) contribution limits would force retirement savers to pay more in taxes today, as they sock away money, but less in the future, when they began withdrawing retirement funds tax-free.

Republicans had not decided whether to include a reduced cap on contributions in their final version of the tax bill even before Mr. Trump’s tweet.

Details of the Republicans’ tax bill have been closely held, and they would not comment on Friday about possible changes to 401(k) policies. It was not clear from Mr. Trump’s Twitter post on Monday whether he meant that he would not support a bill including alterations to 401(k) limits or that he knew the Republicans’ draft bill did not include such changes. Several sources said last week that such changes were under consideration as House Republicans prepare to release a tax bill in the coming weeks.

Democrats and other critics of Mr. Trump’s tax plan have said it would not help middle-class Americans, despite White House and Republican promises. “Tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans should not be paid for by increasing taxes on middle class Americans saving for retirement,” a group of Democratic senators, led by Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, wrote to the administration in September.

Any plan to cap 401(k) savings could bolster those arguments.

Republicans are discussing proposals that would potentially cap worker contributions at $2,400 annually for 401(k) retirement accounts, lobbyists and consultants have said. Currently, workers can put away $18,000 a year in tax-deferred plans; workers who are over 50 years old can save up to $24,000.

Advocacy groups have sprung up in Washington to fight any proposed change to those limits. One of those groups, the Save our Savings Coalition, said in a statement on Monday that it was “thrilled to see the President’s statement today, though we will continue to fight to ensure lawmakers do right by the middle class by preserving and expanding our retirement system as tax reform moves through Congress.”

[The New York Times]

Aides ‘hustled’ after Trump interview to secure list of fallen soldiers: report

White House aides were “hustling” to secure an up-to-date list of soldiers who died this year after President Trump claimed in an interview earlier this week that he had contacted the families of “virtually everybody” in the military who was killed since he took office, Roll Call reported Friday.

An email exchange between the White House and Defense Secretary James Mattis’ office reportedly shows the White House asking the department for information regarding the families of service members killed after the president’s inauguration in January.

The White House asked for the information on surviving family members so Trump could make sure to contact all of them, according to Roll Call.

The report said that the email exchange came hours after the president said in a Fox News Radio interview Tuesday that he had called nearly all of the families of those killed since he took office.

“I have called, I believe, everybody — but certainly I’ll use the word virtually everybody,” he said.

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said earlier this week that Trump had “made contact with all of the families that have been presented to him through the White House Military Office.”

A White House spokesman echoed that language in an email to Roll Call on Friday night, writing, “The White House ensured that the President had contacted all families of soldiers killed in action that had been presented to him through existing protocols.”

Multiple media organizations began reaching out to Gold Star families this week after Trump claimed during a press conference on Monday that Barack Obama and other past presidents didn’t call the families of fallen soldiers.

The White House was pushed to defend Trump’s handling of such calls after Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) said that Trump told the widow of one of the four U.S. soldiers killed in Niger earlier this month that he “knew what he signed up for.”

The Democratic congresswoman claimed that Trump was insensitive during the call to the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson. The soldier’s mother later said that she felt disrespected by the president.

White House chief of staff John Kelly appeared at the White House briefing on Thursday to defend Trump’s call to the family and others.

[The Hill]

Trump to widow of Sgt. La David Johnson: ‘He knew what he signed up for’

President Donald Trump told U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson‘s widow Tuesday that “he knew what he signed up for … but when it happens, it hurts anyway,” when he died serving in northwestern Africa, according to U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida.

“Yeah, he said that,” Wilson said. “So insensitive. He should have not have said that. He shouldn’t have said it.”

The president called about 4:45 p.m. and spoke to Johnson’s pregnant widow, Myeshia Johnson, for about five minutes. She is a mother to Johnson’s surviving 2-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. The conversation happened before Johnson’s remains arrived at Miami International Airport on a commercial Delta Airlines flight.

“The president’s conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private,” a top advisor later told Local 10 News.

Wilson watched as the widow, who is expecting their third baby in January, leaned over the U.S. flag that was draping Johnson’s casket. Her pregnant belly was shaking against the casket as she sobbed uncontrollably. Their daughter stood next to her stoically. Their toddler waited in the arms of a relative.

There was silence.

Local politicians, police officers and firefighters lined up to honor Johnson for his service and for the efforts and discipline that got the former Walmart employee to defy all odds and become a 25-year-old member of the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Johnson, who participated in a mentorship program Wilson founded in 1993, died during a mission fighting alongside Green Berets. Islamic militants ambushed them on Oct. 4 with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. The team reportedly didn’t have overhead armed air cover and was in unarmored pickup trucks. Reuters reported the lack of planning upset the French.

Trump didn’t discuss any of the details of the ambush or say that the Pentagon was conducting an investigation. Instead, he focused on questions about whether or not he had offered his condolences to the families of the fallen.

“I will, at some point, during the period of time, call the parents and the families, because I have done that, traditionally,” Trump said during a news conference last week.

Wilson criticized Trump for failing to acknowledge Johnson’s death after he was left behind during the evacuation. It took nearly two days to find his body in the Republic of Niger’s desert. Johnson’s body made it to the U.S. on Oct. 7 when Trump was playing golf with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Amid the controversy, Trump later said President Barack Obama and other presidents didn’t make calls to the relatives of all fallen servicemen and women. Aides for both President George W. Bush’s and Obama reacted on Twitter and in The Huffington Post, saying the president misspoke.

Trump later backpedaled the claim during an interview with NBC’s Peter Alexander.

“President Obama, I think, probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn’t. I don’t know. That’s what I was told. All I can do, all I can do is ask my generals. Other presidents did not call. They’d write letters. And some presidents didn’t do anything,” Trump said. “But I like the combination of, I like, when I can, the combination of a call and also a letter.”

The Atlantic’s David A. Graham believes Trump used the controversy to distract reporters. Despite the criticism, Trump continued the discussion on Fox News Radio when he raised doubt about whether or not Obama called his chief of staff, John Kelly, when Kelly’s son died.

Graham said it was Trump’s strategy to distract reporters from the important questions about the deadly ambush in Africa.

“The broader question, of what the soldiers who were killed were doing and what went wrong, remains unaddressed by the president, and Trump’s jab at other presidents may, unfortunately, help to keep it that way,” Graham wrote.

After an emotional procession from Miami-Dade County to Broward County, Johnson’s remains were at a funeral home in Hollywood. There will be a public viewing from 4 to 8 p.m.  Friday and a funeral service from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, at the Christ The Rock Church at 11000 Stirling Road in Cooper City. The internment will be at the Hollywood Memorial Gardens, at 3001 N. 72 St.

According to officials with the Department of Defense, the other three victims of the attack were Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia.

[ABC]

Reality

Trump later tweeted Rep. Wilson fabricated the statement, but once it was confirmed by Johnson’s own mother, the White House changed its story and now say Trump was simply “misunderstood.”

Trump says he spoke to Virgin Islands’ ‘president’ — which is him

President Donald Trump accidentally referred to the Virgin Islands’ governor as their President during a speech Friday — even though he is technically their President.

“I will tell you I left Texas and I left Florida and and I left Louisiana and I went to Puerto Rico and I met with the President of the Virgin Islands,” he told the audience of the Values Voter Summit in Washington.

“We are one nation and we all hurt together, we hope together and we heal together,” he said, later adding, “The Virgin Islands and the President of the Virgin Islands, these are people that are incredible people, they suffered gravely and we’re be there, we’re going to be there, we have really, it is not even a question of a choice.”

Trump appeared to be referring to Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp, instead of the “President” who is Trump himself. The Virgin Islands is a US territory.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment. But in the official White House transcript after the speech, his reference to Mapp as President was corrected to “governor.”

He was referring to how the Virgin Islands was hit first by Hurricane Irma, then Hurricane Maria, which ravaged the island.

[CNN]

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