Trump tweets support for congressman not on the ballot

President Donald Trump issued one of his patented Twitter endorsements on Thursday, urging people to vote for a top political ally next week. But there was just one problem: He’s not on the ballot.

Trump tweeted that Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), who is leading House Republicans’ efforts to keep the chamber in this fall’s midterm elections, has earned his “full [and] total endorsement.” Stivers, Trump wrote, “has done a fantastic job” as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“Get out and vote for Steve on Aug 7th,” Trump wrote.

But Stivers isn’t up for reelection next Tuesday. The fourth-term incumbent was unopposed in his primary, all the way back in May. He will next go before voters on Nov. 6, when he faces Democrat Rick Neal.

Trump quickly deleted the tweet — but not before earning ridicule for the mix-up from other users of the platform.

It’s unclear whether Trump or his social-media team intended instead to tweet support for another Ohioan who ison the ballot Aug. 7: state Sen. Troy Balderson, the Republican nominee in next week’s closely watched special election in a neighboring district.

About a half-hour later, Trump teased his Saturday rally in Lewis Center, Ohio, where he will campaign for Balderson, who is facing Democrat Danny O’Connor — both next week and in the November general election.

“Looking forward to being in the Great State of Ohio on Saturday night where I will be campaigning hard for a truly talented future Congressman, @Troy_Balderson,” he tweeted, along with a link to sign up for tickets at a website set up for Trump’s reelection campaign.

[Politico]

Trump claims picture ID is required to buy groceries

President Trump on Tuesday made the claim that a photo ID is required to buy groceries as part of his argument for introducing stricter voter ID laws.

“You know if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card,” he said. “You need ID.”

The president made the comment while speaking at a campaign rally in Florida in support of GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis’s gubernatorial bid. It came as he was pushing for stronger voter ID laws, pointing to other instances where an American would need to show identification.

[The Hill]

Media

Trump says his poll numbers are higher than Lincoln’s – but polling didn’t exist then

President Trump on Sunday claimed his poll numbers are higher than “Honest Abe Lincoln” despite the fact that presidential polling didn’t begin until 1936.

“Wow, highest Poll Numbers in the history of the Republican Party. That includes Honest Abe Lincoln and Ronald Reagan,” Trump posted on his Twitter account. “There must be something wrong, please recheck that poll!”

It’s unclear which survey he was referring to, but Gallup became the first company to poll a presidential election in 1936.

In a survey released last month, it found Trump’s approval rate was at 42 percent and his disapproval rate at 54 percent.

Comparing Ronald Reagan’s numbers at the same point in his presidency, Gallup found Reagan’s approval rating also at 42 percent.

Among other Republican presidents in July of their second year, George W. Bush had a 72 percent approval rating and George H.W. Bush had a 62 percent approval mark.

But Republicans gave Trump an 88 percent approval rating, compared to 9 percent among Democrats.

[New York Post]

Trump threatens government shutdown over border security

President Trump warned on Sunday that he would be willing to “shut down” the government over border security.

“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT!” he said in a morning tweet.

“We need great people coming into our Country!” he added.

The president in an earlier tweet on Sunday morning said “many” border crossers are using children for “sinister purposes.” He also blasted existing U.S. immigration laws and urged followers to vote for Republicans.

“Please understand, there are consequences when people cross our Border illegally, whether they have children or not – and many are just using children for their own sinister purposes. Congress must act on fixing the DUMBEST & WORST immigration laws anywhere in the world! Vote ‘R,’ ” he said.

[The Hill]

Trump Celebrates ‘Record’ Sales of Nonexistent Health Insurance Policies

As usual, President Donald Trump is either ignorant or lying about his own policies. This time, it’s so ridiculously obvious that correcting the record might sound fake.

During an event Thursday at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Trump was very excited to report that “incredible” numbers of people were signing up for association health plans, a form of coverage his administration is making easier to buy. He’s right about one thing: That truly is incredible, in that it’s the opposite of credible.

Trump didn’t use the term ”association health plans” in his remarks, but he did repeatedly praise Alexander Acosta, the secretary of labor, whose department published the regulations governing these policies last month, so it’s clear what Trump is referring to.

“I hear it’s like record business that they’re doing,” Trump said. “We just opened about two months ago, and I’m hearing that the numbers are incredible. Numbers of people that are getting really, really good health care instead of Obamacare, which is a disaster.”

To recap: zero people have actually enrolled in this insurance because it is literally impossible to do so until Sept. 1 at the earliest. And as for Obamacare being a “disaster,” its current problems have a lot to do with Trump himself.

Association health plans are policies that allow small companies in the same industry to band together to buy health benefits for their employees. These already existed before Trump, and before the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010.

President Barack Obama’s administration made them comply with the Affordable Care Act’s rules requiring health plans to provide a minimum, basic set of benefits (things like prescription drugs and maternity care) and limited how insurers could set prices based on the health status of the workers.

The Trump administration is changing that. These association health plans could evade the benefit rules and also charge premiums based on workers ages, occupations and places of business.

Association health plans may save some employees and employers money because they offer skimpier benefits, although those savings could be negated if an employee needs care not covered by her plan and has to pay out of pocket.

And these plans are designed to attract healthy consumers, so the more of them that leave the Affordable Care Act exchanges to join association health plans, the more costly the exchange customer base becomes and the higher premiums for those customers will be.

[Huffington Post]

The EU reportedly used colorful flash cards to explain trade policy to Trump

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reportedly used colorful cue cards to explain issues of global-trade policy to President Donald Trump during their meeting earlier this week.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal on Thursday evening, Juncker and his team used the cards to simplify complex issues for the president as a means of getting their points across as effectively as possible.

The Journal’s report says Juncker “flipped through” more than a dozen cards, which had minimal information on them, and all focused on a single issue. These included the automotive trade, and regulatory standards for medicines, the report added, saying that there were a maximum of three figures per card.

“We knew this wasn’t an academic seminar,” a senior EU official who was at the meeting told the Wall Street Journal. “It had to be very simple.”

Trump and Juncker on Wednesday agreed to the beginnings of a deal that would end the previously growing trade tensions between the US and the EU.

During the meeting, the EU agreed to import more American soybeans and liquefied natural gas. Both sides agreed to work to decrease industrial tariffs and adjust regulations to allow US medical devices to be traded more easily in European markets.

“This was a very big day for free and fair trade,” Trump said at a press conference after the pair’s meeting.

The EU’s use of flash cards is not without precedent. Trump is well-known for his distaste for lengthy documents, and is said to prefer single-page memos when deciding on policy.

In May 2017, a report from Reuters said that Trump likes “single-page memos and visual aids like maps, charts, graphs and photos.” A source quoted by Reuters said aides also strategically put Trump’s name into “as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he’s mentioned.”

[Business Insider]

White House faces claims of fake weather news

A small change in President Trump’s travel plans on Thursday morning left some members of the press corps suggesting the White House literally lied about whether the sky was blue to avoid facing questions. The debate over the day’s weather was a dramatic illustration of the mounting tensions between the Trump administration and the reporters who cover it.

The latest controversy centers around whether canceling Trump’s helicopter ride to Andrews Force Base was a ruse to keep reporters away from the president. Trump’s walks to the presidential helicopter are one of the increasingly few venues where he takes questions from reporters.

Trump spent Thursday in Iowa, Missouri and Illinois, where he toured local businesses, participated in a roundtable discussion on workforce development and delivered a speech on trade. His departure from Washington came after 9 a.m. on a gorgeous morning with blue skies, but the White House said bad weather forced Trump to skip the planned helicopter ride and instead travel by motorcade to Joint Base Andrews for his flight.

The White House’s claim that Trump was grounded by bad weather on what appeared to be a beautiful day prompted consternation from the press corps. Several reporters strongly hinted the travel arrangements were an effort to limit press access as the president faces a slew of issues, including the emergence of a taped conversation between Trump and his former attorney Michael Cohen where they discussed a payment to a former Playboy Playmate who has alleged she had an affair with Trump.

McClatchy Newspapers White House correspondent Anita Kumar expressed skepticism in her press pool report announcing the president’s change of plans.

“On what appears to be the nicest day Washington has had all week, the White House has informed the pool that POTUS will motorcade to JBA because of bad weather,” Kumar wrote.

On Twitter, several other reporters speculated that the change was part of an effort to shield Trump from the shouted questions he would have faced if he had taken the presidential copter.

“The official reason, per the TV pool, is fog. But not having a Marine One departure to Andrews also means there won’t be an open press opportunity to try to ask the president questions on his way out,” wrote CBS News’ Steve Portnoy.

ABC White House reporter John Parkinson posted a photo of the clear blue skies outside the White House along with a pair of hashtags, “#noquestions #badweathercall.”

While the skies were clear when Trump left after 9 a.m., White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters told Yahoo News the decision to nix his helicopter flight was made earlier.

“Weather calls are made over an hour in advance of the planned departure time. Following a routine test flight this morning, a bad weather call was made at 7:39 a.m. due to ground fog at JBA,” Walters said.

Though the skies did appear clear, satellite maps showed there was low cloud cover — which can be dangerous for helicopters — in the area during the 7 a.m. hour. Thursday’s weather forecast for the D.C. area from the Washington Post also noted there would be “morning clouds.” CNN senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny, who initially accused Trump of dodging questions in a tweet, later posted a follow-up saying “our meteorologists note low cloud cover as well.”

In the end, Trump didn’t entirely dodge questions from the press corps. Before he boarded Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews. Members of the traveling press pool were allowed to wait by the plane’s wing and lobbed questions at the president as he boarded the aircraft. According to a pool report from HuffPost senior White House correspondent S.V. Date, Trump “ignored shouted questions about Michael Cohen, etc.” as he got on the plane.

The forecast fracas highlighted just how toxic the relationship has become between the White House and a press corps that Trump routinely derides as “fake news.”

Thursday morning’s cloud controversy came on the heels of an incident where a CNN reporter was banned from covering one of Trump’s appearances because the White House objected to questions she asked in the Oval Office. On Wednesday, CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins was brought into the Oval Office to witness a meeting between Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as a pool reporter for the television networks. While there, Collins questioned Trump about Cohen and his invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to come to Washington for a summit. Trump did not answer the questions, and afterward Collins said she was informed by White House communications director Bill Shine that she was “dis-invited” from a subsequent appearance with Juncker that Trump made in the Rose Garden.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement about the incident saying the administration took issue with Collins’s conduct, claiming she “shouted questions.” Sanders insisted, “We support a free press and ask that everyone be respectful of the presidency and guests at the White House.”

Reporters typically ask questions of Trump when they are allowed in the Oval Office.

The issues involving Trump’s Thursday White House departure and his meeting the day before in the Oval Office come as the White House has curtailed press access in other venues. Sanders has been holding few press briefings in recent weeks, and the ones that have taken place have been shorter than in prior administrations. Trump also has not held a solo press conference on U.S. soil since February 2017.

While the Trump administration has cut down engagement with the media in presidential press conferences and briefings, the president has regularly taken questions from reporters when he walks to helicopter flights and during pool visits to the Oval Office and Cabinet Room. The White House crackdown on Collins and the canceled flight raised the specter that the administration might be cutting down on these venues.

Yahoo News reached out to Sanders to ask if Trump will continue to take questions in the Oval Office and as he walks to Marine One.

“President Trump is the most accessible president in modern history,” Sanders said in response. “It’s absurd to suggest anything otherwise.”

[Yahoo News]

Reality

Weather.com put the day in DC as partly cloudy and sunny with a high of 89 degrees/

Trump Says ‘We Don’t Apologize For America’ a Week After Blaming U.S. For Bad Russia Relations

Today, President Donald Trump delivered a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas City, during which he told the largely military audience that unlike in the past, nobody is apologizing for America anymore.

“We don’t apologize for America anymore,” said the President to wild cheering. “We stand up for America. We stand up for the patriots who defend America.”

After a bit of applause, he added. “And we stand up for our national anthem.”

As CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed out on Twitter, Trump delivered this applause line just a week after tweeting that America was responsible for bad relations with Russia, and saying to the world that “the United States has been foolish” in foreign policy.

[Mediaite]

Attorney General Sessions joins ‘Lock her up!’ chant in front of high school students

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions briefly joined in during a “Lock her up!” chant while delivering a speech to a group of conservative high school students on Tuesday, marking the latest example of President Donald Trump and his aides making aggressive gestures toward their political rivals.

Sessions was speaking about freedom of speech on college campuses when the chant broke out at the Turning Point USA High School Leadership Summit at George Washington University.

“I like this bunch, I gotta tell ya, you’re not going to be backing down. Go get ‘em! Go get em’!” Sessions said, when the audience started yelling “Lock her up!” — a staple of Trump’s political rallies that refers to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

Chuckling and repeating the chant once himself, Sessions then attempted to move on before saying, “I heard that a long time over the last campaign.”

The remarkable comment by an attorney general of the United States follows other moves by Trump and his aides that have alarmed not only Trump critics but other fellow Republicans.

Trump set off a firestorm by expressing openness to handing over former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul to Moscow for an interrogation if special counsel Robert Mueller’s team was allowed to question a dozen Russian intelligence agents indicted earlier this month.

When Putin floated the idea, Trump called it an “incredible offer” during a news conference last week.

The White House caught more heat when press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump would consider revoking the security clearances of former intelligence and law enforcement officials who have publicly criticized the president, including former CIA Director John Brennan and former FBI Director James Comey.

Trump has also continued to revel in the “Lock her up!” chant at his rallies, and the high school student crowd at the leadership summit has broken out in the chant multiple times this week.

The summit runs through Thursday and features speakers such as Donald Trump Jr., Sen. Rand Paul, British politician Nigel Farage and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

[Politico]

Trump tweets old video of Clinton talking up ‘a strong Russia’

President Trump on Thursday tweeted a partial clip of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arguing eight years ago that a “strong Russia” is in the world’s best interest.

Trump asked if “Dems and Fake News” will “ever learn” as he faces ongoing criticism about his handling of Monday’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The clip is from a 2010 interview Clinton did with First Channel Television, which is partially owned by the Russian government.

“We want very much to have a strong Russia because a strong, confident, prosperous, stable Russia is, we think, in the interests of the world,” Clinton says in the brief clip.

The clip has recently been shared by some pro-Trump figures on Twitter, including actor James Woods.

Clinton was responding to a question about “America’s place in the modern world” when she made the remarks.

“Is it a force aimed at supporting the world’s equilibrium? Or is it a force aimed at changing the status quo?” interviewer Vladimir Pozner asked.

“It’s both in this way, Vladimir. It is a force to sustain an equilibrium that permits countries and individuals to progress, to become more self-realizing,” she replied. “I mean, we want very much to have a strong Russia because a strong, competent, prosperous, stable Russia is, we think, in the interests of the world.”

“But at the same time, there are countries and places where the status quo is just not acceptable,” she continued. “Last summer, I went to the Democratic Republic of Congo. I went to Eastern Congo where 5.4 million people had been killed in the last 15 years, the greatest death toll since the second world war. We don’t want that status quo to be sustained.”

Then-President Obama made similar remarks about Russia during a 2009 speech, calling for a “reset” in U.S-Russia relations and saying the world would benefit “from a strong and vibrant Russia.”

Trump has faced intense scrutiny for his handling of Russia this past week, after he sided with Putin’s denials of election interference during a press conference in Helsinki, Finland.

Trump attempted to walk back the comments on Tuesday, saying he believes the U.S. intelligence assessment that found Russia meddled in the election.

[The Hill]

Reality

The video was before Putin, before Russia illegally annexed Crimea, before Russia invaded Ukraine, before Russia tried to assassinate world leaders, before Russia jailed critics, murdered critics, before Russia tried to murder civilians in England, and apparently before high-definition television.

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