Trump says he accepts US intel on Russia — then adds it ‘could be other people also’

President Trump on Tuesday sought to walk back his widely-criticized remarks at a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin a day earlier, saying he accepts the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

But Trump muddled the walk-back by saying that “other people” also could have been involved, a statement similar to remarks he’s made in the past casting doubt on Russia’s involvement.

“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said, reading from a prepared statement in front of reporters at the White House.

But he added: “Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”

Trump also claimed he misspoke on election meddling during his meeting with Putin, saying he meant to say that he sees no reason why Russia would not be responsible.

The president said the exact opposite on Monday: “I will say this, I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Trump said Tuesday he should have said, “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.”

“It should have been obvious,” he added. “So you can put that in and I think that probably clarifies things.”

In an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity after the summit, Trump did not indicate he misspoke.

The president’s latest comments come as he is facing intense pressure from Republicans and Democrats who blasted his refusal to confront Putin over election meddling.

Trump had previously shown no sign he was willing to clarify or take back his comments.

The president tweeted Tuesday morning that his meeting with the Russian leader was “even better” than his summit with NATO allies.

Lawmakers and U.S. allies have said Trump’s performance during his press conference with Putin undercut U.S. officials and provided a propaganda victory for the Russian leader.

The president said he has “full faith and support for America’s intelligence agencies,” even as he repeated his claim that “there is no collusion” between his campaign and Russia to interfere in the election, a matter that is still under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

[The Hill]

Media

President Trump attacks U.K. politicians, says ‘baby’ blimp makes him feel unwelcome in London

President Donald Trump came out swinging in a British tabloid interview Thursday, calling the mayor of London “soft on terrorism” and saying he felt unwelcome in the English capital.

In an interview with the British newspaper The Sun, Trump injected himself into a British political landscape still feeling the aftershocks of a cabinet shakeup fueled by a growing rift over Brexit. He said Boris Johnson, the former foreign minister who resigned this week in a split with Prime Minister Theresa May, “would make a great prime minister.”

The interview was so explosive in the United Kingdom that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a late-night statement, clarifying that “the president likes and respects Prime Minister May very much” and “is a really terrific person.”

Trump made clear he’s firmly on the side of Johnson and others who want the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. He said he warned British Prime Minister Theresa May not to work toward a so-called “soft Brexit” that would maintain political and economic ties with the continent.

“I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it but she didn’t agree, she didn’t listen to me,” he said.

And he even warned that May’s proposed compromise — in which the U.K. would maintain open borders with Europe while seeking more political autonomy — would kill the possibility of a U.S.-U.K. trade deal.

“If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal,” he said.

More: President Donald Trump arrives to Britain in ‘turmoil’

Trump will meet with May Friday, followed by a joint press conference and tea with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle before leaving for Scotland.

Trump called the 92-year-old queen — the longest-reigning monarch in British history — “a tremendous woman.”

“My wife is a tremendous fan of hers. She has got a great and beautiful grace about her,” Trump said in the interview, which took place in Brussels Wednesday morning but was published Thursday night.

More: Melania Trump stuns in sweeping Grecian-goddess J. Mendel gown for dinner at Churchill’s palace

Although Trump is staying at the U.S. ambassador’s London mansion during his two-day trip to London, all of his scheduled public events are outside the city.

“I used to love London as a city. I haven’t been there in a long time. But when they make you feel unwelcome, why would I stay there?” he said  “I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London.”

Trump was referring to the 20-foot “Trump Baby” balloon floating above protests in London.

Trump also lashed out at his longtime nemesis, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a Muslim who has criticized Trump’s ban on travel to the United States from several predominately Muslim countries.

“You have a mayor who has done a terrible job in London. He has done a terrible job,” Trump said “Take a look at the terrorism that is taking place. Look at what is going on in London.”

And Trump suggested that Khan’s criticism of him personally reflected a disrespect for the office he holds.

“He might not like the current president, but I represent the United States,” Trump said.

[USA Today]

Reality

Trump told May he wouldn’t come to England until he had a warm welcome. He didn’t get it.

Trump: I could pull out of NATO, but that’s “unnecessary”

President Trump was just asked directly he was threatening to pull out of NATO.

A reporter asked: “Are you still threatening to potentially pull the United States out of NATO for any reason, and do you believe you can do that without Congress’s explicit support and approval?

Here’s what Trump said:

“I think I probably can, but that is unnecessary. They have stepped up today like they have never stepped up before.”

[CNN]

Furious Trump unleashes unhinged tweet against ‘Ex-FBI LAYER Lisa Page’

Lisa Page has ignored a subpoena from Congressional investigators who have abandoned the Russia investigation and pivoted to investigating the FBI instead.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) threatened Page that he would enforce the subpoena, but has yet to do so.

“Ex-FBI LAYER [sic] Lisa Page today defied a House of Representatives issued Subpoena to testify before Congress! Wow, but is anybody really surprised! Together with her lover, FBI Agent Peter Strzok, she worked on the Rigged Witch Hunt, perhaps the most tainted and corrupt case EVER!” Trump ranted.

About an hour later, Trump tweeted out another accusation on what he now calls a “Rigged Witch Hunt,” as opposed to a regular witch hunt he previously called special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. It is unclear if by saying the investigation is rigged Trump believes the investigation should be restarted. That would mean it would continue for many more years.

[Raw Story]

Reality

This was, of course, a complete mis-characterization of Page’s lawyer’s answer to the subpoena. They requested more time to read the documents sent over by Congress, and will testify the following day.

Trump Kicks Off NATO Summit With Breakfast Rant: ‘Germany Is A Captive Of Russia’

President Donald Trump on Wednesday kicked off what is shaping up to be a contentious NATO summit by lashing out at Germany, saying the country is “captive to Russia” because of a gas pipeline deal.

In a bilateral breakfast meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in front of reporters, Trump immediately launched into a tirade about the pipeline.

“It’s very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia where we’re supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia,” he said.

“If you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia, because they supply ― they got rid of their coal plants, got rid of their nuclear, they’re getting so much of the oil and gas from Russia,” he added. “I think it’s something NATO has to look at.”

“Germany is totally controlled by Russia, cause they are getting 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline,” he said.

Trump’s comments referred to Berlin’s support for the construction of the $12 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline to bring gas across the Baltic Sea into the European continent. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the project is merely commercial, but the U.S. and other European Union members believe the pipeline could be a geopolitical incursion by Russia.

Stoltenberg responded by emphasizing NATO’s unity.

“NATO is an an alliance of 29 nations and sometimes there are differences and different views and also some disagreements, and the gas pipeline from Russia to Germany is one issue where allies disagree,” said Stoltenberg.

Trump is in Brussels for the NATO summit on Wednesday and Thursday, then will spend Friday and the weekend on a working visit to the UK, then will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.

There are concerns that Trump will alienate NATO members ― traditional allies of the U.S. ― while cozying up to Putin.

Ahead of the NATO summit, Trump sent letters to allies Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister Charles Michel of Belgium blasting them for not spending enough on defense ― an oft-repeated criticism of the alliance. Meanwhile, he told reporters on Tuesday that his meeting with Putin “may be the easiest of them all.”

Trump’s continued downplaying of Russian election interference has also deviated from broader international attitudes.

“Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!,” he tweeted last month before tearing into the FBI and its former director James Comey. The U.S. intelligence community, backed by a Republican-led Senate panel, has definitively concluded that Kremlin meddled in the 2016 election to help Trump win.

Trump also called Putin “fine” in a fiery speech last week in which he also attacked European allies.

Back in the U.S., the Senate on Tuesday voted 97-2 on a motion of support for NATO.

“Unfortunately, this motion has become necessary because some of our closest allies have come to question the US commitment to collective self-defense. President Trump has at times called the alliance ‘obsolete.’ Our allies are starting to wonder whether they can rely on the United States to come to their defense in a crisis,” said Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who authored the nonbinding motion.

[Huffington Post]

Media

President Trump at NATO Presser: Putin is ‘Not My Enemy’, It’s Not About ‘Enemy’, ‘He’s Not My Enemy’

During his surprise press conference today at the end of the NATO summit in Brussels, President Trump was asked if he admires Vladimir Putin since he compliments the latter so often.

Trump called the Russian leader a “competitor” rather than a friend or enemy at the start of this week, so a reporter wanted to know if he thinks the two will get along well once they hold their meeting in the next few days. Trump said he doesn’t “know Putin well enough” even though they got along during previous meetings together, but he mostly deferred to the “competitor” label again.

“He’s representing Russia. I’m representing the United States. So, n a sense, we’re competitors. Not a question of friend or enemies. He’s not my enemy, and hopefully someday, maybe he’ll be a friend. It could happen, BUT I just don’t know him very well.”

Russia was a recurring subject of interest throughout the presser, so Trump was asked about matters such as whether Russia is a “security threat,” and whether he’ll ask Putin if Russia interfered with the 2016 election.

[Mediaite]

Trump Mocks the #MeToo Movement During Montana Rally

Donald Trump, whom more than a dozen women have accused of sexual misconduct, has made no secret of his distaste for the #MeToo movement, defending both longtime pal Roger Ailes and ex-Fox mega-host Bill O’Reilly against charges of sexual misconduct (Ailes he called a “very, very good person,” while of O’Reilly he said, “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”). But in February, the president made his position on #MeToo even more explicit: the day after defending former staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned amid allegations of domestic abuse from two of his ex-wives, Trump tweeted that “lives are being shattered and destroyed” by “mere” allegations. “He says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that,” Trump said the day prior. “He said very strongly . . . that he’s innocent.” The comments inspired a wave of disquiet among those inclined to support women in speaking out about harassment and abuse. And on Thursday, the president revived his rhetoric during a bizarre rally in Montana ostensibly intended to stoke support for the state’s Republican Senate candidate.

Riffing on his nickname for Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose Native American heritage he has repeatedly questioned, Trump—who made no mention of the hasty same-day resignation of E.P.A. chief Scott Pruitt—told the crowd, “I want to apologize. Pocahontas, I apologize to you . . . to you I apologize. To the fake Pocahontas, I won’t apologize.”

He went on to suggest that if Warren won the 2020 Democratic primary, he would dare her to take an ancestry test during a televised debate. “We’ll take that little kit and say, we have to do it gently because we are in the #MeToo generation, so we have to be very gentle. And we will very gently take that kit, and we will slowly toss it” to Warren, “hoping it doesn’t hit her and injure her arm.” Trump added that he’d give $1 million to charity if the test “shows [Warren is] an Indian . . . I have a feeling,” he said, “she will say no.”

Nor did Trump confine himself to insulting a potential Democratic opponent—during the same speech, he also claimed that Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters had an I.Q. in the “mid-60s,” lobbed derogatory criticisms at journalists, and vouched for Russian President Vladimir Putin. After the rally, Warren fired back with a tweet, writing, “Hey, @realDonaldTrump: While you obsess over my genes, your Admin is conducting DNA tests on little kids because you ripped them from their mamas & you are too incompetent to reunite them in time to meet a court order. Maybe you should focus on fixing the lives you’re destroying.”

The president’s particular strain of misogyny has been on display for much of this week—earlier on Thursday, Trump told reporters that he doesn’t believe allegations that G.O.P. Rep. Jim Jordan knew about the sexual abuse of student athletes while he was a coach at Ohio State University. (Jordan himself has denied them.) “I don’t believe them at all,” Trump said of Jordan’s accusers, adding that he believes in Jordan’s innocence “100 percent”. Thursday also happened to be the day the White House officially hired Bill Shine, the former Fox News co-president who allegedly covered for Ailes for years. In making such statements, Trump seems to be indicating that no line of attack is off-limits—a tactic that successfully set him apart from a crowded Republican field in 2016.

He’s also setting a deeply toxic precedent for the 2020 presidential race—particularly if he faces off against another woman. And though this strategy is likely to appeal to his base, potentially deepening the gulf between people who believe women when they say they’ve been forced to endure sexual harassment and people who don’t, it is not without risk for Republicans. Not only could it further galvanize Democrats, but it could also alienate women voters who, according to a poll published on Friday, have a disproportionately negative view of the president: just 32 percent of women approve of his job performance, compared to 51 percent of men.

[Vanity Fair]

Trump repeats inaccurate claim that Reagan didn’t win Wisconsin

President Trump repeated on Thursday his inaccurate claim that former President Ronald Reagan didn’t win the state of Wisconsin during his presidential elections.

“Take Wisconsin, I just left Wisconsin,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Montana.

“Reagan had his big win. He won every state except one, the great state of Wisconsin,” Trump said. “I won Wisconsin, first time since Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.”

Reagan won the state in both 1980 and 1984. Minnesota was the only state that Reagan did not win in the 1984 election.

Eisenhower also won the state in his reelection in 1956. Former President Richard Nixon also won the state multiple times between Eisenhower’s and Trump’s elections.

Wisconsin is traditionally a blue state, but Trump narrowly picked it up in the 2016 election.

Hillary Clinton‘s lack of campaigning in Wisconsin has been widely cited as to why she lost the state.

Trump made a similar remark during an event in Wisconsin last week.

“And I won Wisconsin. And I like Wisconsin a lot but we won Wisconsin. And Ronald Reagan, remember, Wisconsin was the state that Ronald Reagan did not win,” Trump said at the time.

[The Hill]

Trump defends tweets, says he prides himself on his writing, misspells ‘pore’

President Trump on Tuesday defended his use of Twitter and his writing style in a tweet that slammed reporters for pointing out his grammatical and spelling errors.

“After having written many best selling books, and somewhat priding myself on my ability to write, it should be noted that the Fake News constantly likes to pour [sic] over my tweets looking for a mistake,” he wrote. “I capitalize certain words only for emphasis, not [because] they should be capitalized!”

The president would later correct the mistake, issuing a second tweet with the corrected spelling around the time he was speaking at a rally in West Virginia with the state’s Republican governor, Jim Justice.

Trump, who co-authored books about his business empire and real estate tactics before being elected president, is most famously known for his 1987 book “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” co-written by journalist Tony Schwartz.

Since taking office, Trump has faced criticism from Democrats and even some allies for his frequent use of Twitter and for using the platform to announce policies such as his ban on transgender people joining the military.

Trump, however, has refused to abandon his Twitter account, crediting it for allowing him to issue his messages without the filter of the media.

[The Hill]

Dutch Prime Minister Tells Trump “No!” and That He Is Wrong on Trade

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has dispensed with diplomatic niceties during a joint press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump.

The routine White House discussion with reporters took a slightly passive-aggressive turn as Trump extolled the virtues of his plan to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum coming into the U.S. from the European Union.

Trump said he would discuss the dispute with EU officials before saying: “If we do work it out, that’ll be positive, and if we don’t, it’ll be positive also because…” before Rutte interjected by saying “No!”

“Well, just think about those cars that pour in here, and we’ll do something, right?” Trump replied.

But Rutte was not having it and said through gritted teeth: “It’s not positive,” adding, “We have to work something out.”

Trump then moved to shake the prime minister’s hand and the awkward interaction was over.

It showed the level of discontent among European leaders at Trump’s trade move,which he is threatening to apply to cars.The EU has threatened to retaliate  with tariffs worth $294 billion on a number of U.S. exports.

In a paper released this week, the European Commission said Trump’s tariffs would be “self-defeating and would weaken the U.S. economy.

“The European Union would therefore caution the United States against pursuing a process which could result in yet another disregard of international law, which would damage further the reputation of the United States and which the international community cannot and will not accept,” the EU report said.

There is domestic concern, too, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce criticizing how Trump handled global disputes. It said that the tariffs he wants to impose could hurt the American economy. Trump is also threatening to impose tariffs on vehicles.

[Newsweek]

1 2 3 4 5 16