Trump: ‘I could have fired everyone’ on Mueller team if I wanted to

President Trump on Thursday pushed back against questions about whether he may have obstructed the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, asserting that he could have “fired everyone,” including special counsel Robert Mueller, if he had so chosen. 

Trump quoted Fox News host Jesse Watters, who said on “The Five” that Trump “was being framed” and “fought back.”

“I had the right to end the whole Witch Hunt if I wanted,” the president tweeted. “I could have fired everyone, including Mueller, if I wanted. I chose not to. I had the RIGHT to use Executive Privilege. I didn’t!”

The president’s tweet came as he traveled aboard Air Force One to Palm Beach, Fla., where he will spend the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

A redacted version of Mueller’s full report was released Thursday morning. In it, the special counsel detailed 10 areas where investigators looked at whether Trump may have obstructed justice.

Mueller looked into, among other topics, Trump’s efforts to remove the special counsel, his conduct surrounding the firing of former FBI Director James Comey and his encouragement of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take control of the investigation.

The special counsel ultimately did not exonerate or implicate Trump on obstruction charges.

“[I]f we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment,” the report states.

Attorney General William Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein did not find sufficient evidence to prove obstruction of justice on the part of the president. 

Mueller’s report further established there was “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russian government, Barr said.

Trump’s tweet marked one of his few public comments in the wake of the report’s release.

The president briefly addressed the report’s findings at an event for wounded military service members, saying that he was “having a good day” and reiterating his stance the report found “no collusion. No obstruction.”

He also tweeted a photo inspired by the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones” showing him staring into a fog behind the statement: “No collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats—Game Over.”

Trump did not address reporters as he departed the White House for Florida.

[The Hill]

Trump attacks ‘very fake’ New York Times for tax law piece

President Trump on Monday attacked The New York Times as “very fake” for publishing an article pointing out most Americans will likely receive a tax cut under his 2017 law, even though a majority say they will not.

Speaking at a Tax Day event in Minnesota, Trump held up a printed copy of the Times article and voiced his displeasure with the headline “Face It: You (Probably) Got a Tax Cut.”

“In other words, they’re really pretty upset. You can tell where they’re coming from, come on,” the president said.

Noting the article pointed out a large majority of Americans are expected to receive cuts, something that is positive for him, Trump said “they must have made a mistake. I’m sure these writers will be fired very shortly.”

Trump continued to tout the effects of his tax law but later added that “nothing good comes from The New York Times,” drawing applause from an audience of supporters inside a trucking and equipment facility outside Minneapolis.

The White House staged Monday’s event in order to promote the tax law, which is Trump’s biggest legislative accomplishment and something he plans to tout during his 2020 reelection race.  

Multiple polls show that most Americans believe they are not benefiting from the law, which could limit its effect as a political asset next year. The Times article pointed out the disparity between popular opinion about the law and its actual effects.

“To a large degree, the gap between perception and reality on the tax cuts appears to flow from a sustained – and misleading – effort by liberal opponents of the law to brand it as a broad middle-class tax increase,” it says.

The president has routinely attacked his hometown paper, even though he has sat for multiple interviews with its reporters during his time in office.

His latest remarks came the same afternoon it was announced that the Times had won a Pulitzer Prize for its long-form article investigating Trump’s finances, which said the Trump family has been dodging taxes for years.

[The Hill]

Donald Trump posts video of IIhan Omar with footage of NYC 9/11 attack

President Donald Trump posted a video criticizing freshmen Rep. Ilhan Omar, using footage of the Twin Towers burning on 9/11 to denounce her recent comments about the attacks. 

The video was criticized by Democrats, who accused the president of using out-of-context comments and video of one of America’s most horrific and devastating terrorist attacks  to slam a political foe. 

The 43-second video, which Trump pinned to the top of his Twitter account, is set to dramatic music and shows the Twin Towers burning, New Yorkers covered in debris and the aftermath of the 2001 attack at the Pentagon. It is coupled with footage of Omar’s recent comments, referencing the attacks as, “something” done by “some people.” 

Omar has been heavily criticized by conservatives for the remarks, including by members of Congress and a Fox News host who questioned her allegiance to the United States. 

Democrats have argued the comments were taken out-of-context and Omar was attempting to differentiate terrorists from all Muslims. 

Trump’s video shows Omar’s comments repetitively then switches to a black screen with the words “some people did something?” The video then shows the moment one of the jetliners crashed into one of the towers and people running in fear as the buildings collapsed.

The video ends with the words “September 11, 2001. We remember” stretched across the screen. 

Democrats accused the president of jeopardizing Omar’s life with the post, arguing the content was geared to incite Trump followers. A New York man was arrested last week after allegedly threatening to kill Omar, one of the two first Muslim women elected to Congress, by putting a “bullet in her (expletive) skull.”

Fellow freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has also been a target of Trump and other Republicans, called on fellow lawmakers to denounce the president and his attack on Omar. 

“Members of Congress have a duty to respond to the President’s explicit attack today,” she wrote on Twitter. “@IlhanMN’s life is in danger. For our colleagues to be silent is to be complicit in the outright, dangerous targeting of a member of Congress. We must speak out.”

Along with the call to fellow lawmakers, Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., posted a photo of a display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. The photo showed a quote at the museum from a theologian who was imprisoned during Adolf Hitler’s rule in Germany. 

[USA Today]

Trump Says He Is Considering Releasing Migrants in ‘Sanctuary Cities’

President Trump said on Friday that his administration was “strongly” considering releasing migrants detained at the border into mostly Democratic “sanctuary cities,” suggesting that the idea should make liberals “very happy” because of their immigration policies.

“We are looking at the possibility, strongly looking at it to be honest with you,” he said on Friday in response to a question about the proposal.

“We might as well do what they always say they want,” Mr. Trump said if Democrats do not agree to new immigration policies. “We’ll bring them to sanctuary city areas and let that particular area take care of it,” he said, adding that California welcomed the idea of more people coming to the state.

“We can give them a lot. We can give them an unlimited supply,” he said.

The comments came a day after the administration said the policy proposal was never seriously considered. But after the president’s Twitter posts on Friday, a White House spokesman said Democrats should work with the administration to welcome migrants into their districts.

“Democrats say we must have open borders and that illegal immigrants have a right to be in this country at all costs,” the spokesman, Hogan Gidley, said, adding, “so they should be working with the administration to find the best ways to transport those illegal aliens that are already set for release, into communities in their districts and states.”

Democratic lawmakers do not want “open borders,” as the president has suggested. They favor improving border security, but they do not support many of Mr. Trump’s hard-line immigration policy proposals, such as building a wall along the southwestern border.

Last year, Trump administration officials had floated the idea of transporting migrants to sanctuary cities, which do not strictly adhere to federal immigration laws, as a way to address the influx of migrants crossing the border with Mexico.

One of the highest-profile sanctuary cities is San Francisco, home to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is one of the president’s top political rivals and a thorn in his efforts to change American immigration laws. The White House raised the proposal again in February, suggesting it could punish Democrats for rejecting budget requests for border security.

Ms. Pelosi’s office condemned the Trump administration for the idea, which the Department of Homeland Security said on Thursday was ultimately rejected.

But Mr. Trump’s tweets on Friday indicated it was not off the table, and the president appeared to revel in the Democratic outrage, saying, “The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!”

Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, a state with several sanctuary cities, criticized the president’s proposal.

“Trump’s plan to release migrants into ‘enemy’ cities as if they are some kind of contagion is reprehensible,” Mr. Markey tweeted. “Trump is obsessed with the border and sanctuary cities because he only wins by dividing people.”

There has been an influx of migrant families crossing the southern border into the United States, exceeding the staffing and resources available for immigration enforcement. And with a shortage of space in shelters and detention centers, immigration officials have been releasing migrants into the country as they wait to appear before an immigration court. Those courts are so backlogged with cases that it can be months or years before the migrants are called to appear before a judge.

[The New York Times]

Trump calls Mueller investigation ‘attempted coup’

President Donald Trump on Wednesday blasted special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation as an “attempted coup” that failed and praised Attorney General William Barr for saying he is investigating how the probe began — a move congressional Republicans have long advocated.

“This was an attempted coup. This was an attempted takedown of a president and we beat them. We beat them,” Trump told reporters at the White House ahead of his departure for Texas. “So the Mueller report, when they talk about obstruction, we fight back. You know why we fight back? Because I knew how illegal this whole thing was: It was a scam.”

At about the same time, Barr, on Capitol Hill, said “I think spying did occur: on the Trump campaign and he wanted to look into how it began and whether it was legally justified.

Trump also blasted what he called the “haters of Trump” and “dirty cops” and bad people” who worked on the investigation but, according to him, still found no evidence of the campaign colluding with Russia to influence the presidential election.

“What has been found during this period of time are the illegal acts of getting this whole phony investigation started. And hopefully that’s where people are going now. That’s where people are going, and it’s very interesting. It was an illegal investigation,” Trump said.

Trump said he still has not read the Mueller report and said he’s not interested in the report, beyond the possibility that the Justice Department could look into the origins of the investigation.

“As far as I’m concerned, I don’t care about the Mueller report. I’ve been totally exonerated. No collusion, no obstruction,” Trump said. “I am not worrying about something that never, ever should have taken place.”

[ABC News]

Trump Laments Troops at Border Can’t Get ‘Rough’ Because People Would ‘Go Crazy’

During a roundtable in Texas on Wednesday, President Donald Trumplamented that troops on the United States border can’t can’t get a little “rough.”

“You don’t need drones…but if you don’t have a wall it is never going to happen” Trump began.

He then said border people are “fantastic” before insisting he was going to have to call up more military.

Then the president said this: “Our military, don’t forget, can’t act like a military would act because if they got a little rough everybody would go crazy. So our military can’t act like they would normally act — or like, let’s say, another military from another country would act.”

The roundtable was held in San Antonio. Trump was joined by local officials and ranchers. Trump is also set to attend a second fundraiser in Houston on Texas. According to Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel the two fundraisers are expected to raise $6 million.

[Mediaite]

Stock Market Falls as Trump threatens tariffs on $11 billion of EU goods

U.S. stocks closed lower Tuesday, with the S&P 500 snapping its eight-day winning streak, on fears over escalation of trade tensions with the European Union and a weaker global outlook from the International Monetary Fund.

How did the benchmarks fare?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.72%  dropped 190.44 points, or 0.7%, to close at 26,150.58, while the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.61% fell 17.57 points. or 0.6%, to 2,878.20. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -0.56% declined 44.61 points, or 0.6%, to 7,909.28.

What drove the market?

The office of the U.S. Trade Representative threatened to levy tariffs on many European goods late Monday. The threat is a retaliation against European companies’ subsidies for aircraft manufacturer Airbus SE EADSY, -1.82% If the U.S. follows through, the proposed tariffs would affect about $11 billion in imports to the U.S., including helicopters, bicycles, cheese and wine.

Lighthizer said the Trump administration would wait for World Trade Organization clearance to implement the duties. President Donald Trump Tuesday morning tweeted that the EU has taken advantage of the U.S., adding that it would “soon stop!”:

The U.S.-EU tensions comes with the administration reportedly close to resolving a yearlong spat with China, which has roiled markets amid fears the clash between the world’s largest economies could disrupt global economic growth.

The IMF lowered the outlook for global economic growth in 2019 to 3.3% from 3.5% projected in January, marking its third reduction of growth expectations in six months. The decline has been broadly felt, with all advanced economies, including the U.S., and most major emerging-market economies seeing deterioration in their outlook.

Meanwhile, data pointed to a tightening of the U.S. labor market. The number of job openings in the U.S. fell by 538,000 to 7.1 million on the last business day of February, marking the smallest number of job openings since March of 2018.

The National Federation of Independent Business’s small-business optimism index edged up 0.1 point to a seasonally adjusted 101.8, marking the third month in a row in a narrow range.

What were strategists saying?

“The tariff threat is probably what’s moving markets negatively,” Karen Cavanaugh, senior market strategist with Voya Investment Management, told MarketWatch, though she noted that tariffs being discussed are relatively small. “We’re in an information vacuum before earnings season, and right now any little thing could move markets until we get something substantial to sink our teeth into.”

“Sentiment in continental Europe is holding up well, considering the heightened tensions between Washington, D.C., and Brussels in relation to the threat of $11 billion worth of tariffs being imposed on European imports,” wrote David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets, in a research note.

Which stocks were in focus?

Apple Inc. AAPL, -0.30%  surrendered early gains to fall 0.3%, bringing its nine-day win streak to a close as its effort to reclaim $1 trillion in market cap took a pause.

Shares of Wynn Resorts LtdWYNN, -3.86% dropped 3.9% after the company terminated talks to purchase Australia’s Crown Resorts.

Shares of Paris-listed Airbus SE AIR, -1.86%  were off 1.9% amid the U.S. tariff threat. U.S. listed shares EADSY, -1.82% also fell 1.8%.

Avaya Holdings CorpAVYA, +4.17% shares gained 4.2% after Bloomberg reported that the communications software company is organizing a sales process for the company, following the receipt of unsolicited bids.

General Electric CoGE, -2.85% shares slid 2.9% a day after J.P. Morgan analyst Stephen Tusa downgraded the stock.

Shares of American Airlines Group IncAAL, -1.68% fell 1.7% after the company cut its first quarter guidance.

How were other markets trading?

Markets in Asia closed on a mixed note, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 NIK, -0.61%adding 0.2%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, -0.35% rising 0.3%, while the Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, -0.39% lost 0.2%. European stocks were lower, with the Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP, -0.47% down 0.5%.

In commodities markets, the price of oil CLK9, +0.19% retreated from five-month highs, while gold futures GCM9, -0.13% settled higher. The U.S. dollarDXY, +0.02% was mostly unchanged.

[MarketWatch]

Trump Slams Nonexistent ‘Judge Flores’ for Landmark Immigration Ruling Actually Named After Migrant Teen

President Trump had a lot to say Friday about a landmark immigration ruling that limits how long the government can detain undocumented migrant children. Unfortunately, his argument took a turn for the incoherent as soon as he publicly called out a nonexistent judge for a 20-day cap on detaining immigrant minors.

Complaining about a build-up of migrants at the border while visiting Calexico, California, Trump blamed it on “some very bad court decisions,” singling out the “Flores decision” as a “disaster.”

“I have to tell you, Judge Flores, whoever you may be, that decision is a disaster for our country,” Trump said during a meeting with border patrol officials.

The “decision” the president was referring to was Reno v. Flores—otherwise known as the Flores Settlement—which protects migrant children from being held indefinitely in custody and grants them certain basic rights, like the right to food, medical assistance, drinking water, and toilets while in detention. The Trump administration tried unsuccessfully to modify the agreement last year to allow for longer detention periods for minors.

The agreement was named not after a judge, but 15-year-old Jenny Lisette Flores, who fled El Salvador in the 1980s and was detained upon trying to enter the U.S. to live with her aunt. The teen was the lead plaintiff in the case, which came before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. It was settled in 1997, with Clinton-era Attorney General Janet Reno as the defendant.

The Flores Settlement has been an obstacle for the Trump administration since their family separation policy rollout and for current immigration policies, with lawsuits claiming the government is holding children indefinitely and violating the settlement.

Trump’s criticism of the imaginary judge sparked a barrage of mockery on social media, where many were quick to point out the flub came in the same week the president claimed windmills cause cancer and falsely said his father was born in Germany.

Earlier Friday, the president also claimed those approaching the southern border to seek asylum in the U.S. were running a “scam” during his visit to Southern California.

“Asylum, you know I look at some of these asylum people, they’re gang members. They’re not afraid of anything… and they say ‘I fear for my life,’ they’re the ones causing fear for life. It’s a scam, it’s a hoax,” he said, before fitting in a jab at Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“I know about hoaxes, I just went through a hoax,” Trump said, referring to his previous remarks claiming the “Russia hoax” was “finally dead.”

Trump also claimed the United States no longer had the capacity to accept more asylum seekers or undocumented migrants entering through the southern border.

“The system is full. We can’t take you anymore. Whether it’s asylum. Whether it’s anything you want. It’s illegal immigration,” Trump said, according to CNN. “Can’t take you anymore. Can’t take you. Our country is full… Can’t take you anymore, I’m sorry. So turn around. That’s the way it is.”

[Daily Beast]

President Trump Ranted About ‘Getting Rid of Judges’

Apparently, we had something of an “episode” in the Oval Office Tuesday afternoon.

“Sure, it’s going to have a negative impact on the economy,” the president jovially admitted of his proposed shutdown. “It is one of the biggest trade deals in the world that we’ve just done with the USMCA. It is a very big trading partner. Trading is very important, the borders are very important, but security is what most important. I have to have security. And we’re going to have security in this country. That is more important than trade. Let me just give you a little secret, security is more important to me than trade, so we’re going to have a strong border, or we’re going to have a closed border. I’m totally prepared to do it.”

“Well I haven’t made that intention known and I’m ready to close it if I have to close it. Mexico has the strongest immigration laws in the world. Nobody has stronger. I guess some have the same but you can’t get any stronger than what Mexico has and we don’t want people coming up on this dangerous journey and coming in. And what we have to do is Congress has to meet quickly and make a deal. I could do it in 45 minutes. We need to get rid of chain migration, we need to get rid of catch and release and visa lottery and we have to do something about asylum and to be honest with you, I have to get rid of judges.”

Oh. And there were some pronunciation issues.

Meanwhile, those “rural voters” who, evidently, are the only voters that truly matter, are getting hammered all over the midwest. From NBC News:

Farmers will have to destroy any grains that were contaminated by floodwater, which could also prevent some growers from planting oversaturated fields. Near Crescent, Iowa, farmer Don Rief said the flood damaged more than 60,000 bushels of his grain, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. He tried to move the crops before the flood, but dirt roads were too soft from the storm to support trucks. “We were just hurrying like hell,” Rief said. “Hopefully USDA will come in and minimize some of the damage.” The USDA does not have a program that covers flood-damaged grain because farmers have typically received more advance notice of rising waters, allowing them to move crops and limit losses, said Tom Vilsack, who ran the agency under former President Barack Obama.

That’s going to have to change, it seems. We don’t get many warnings about sudden calamities anymore and, the ones we get, we don’t listen to anyway.

[Esquire]

Trump Curses Out Democrats on Live Television: ‘Defrauding the Public With Ridiculous Bullsh*t!’

As President Donald Trump tore into the Russia investigations throughout his frenzied speech in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Thursday night, he surely offended television censors at one point by cursing out Democrats for their “ridiculous bullshit.”

“So the Russia hoax proves more than ever that we need to finish exactly what we came here to do: Drain the swamp,” Trump said to wild cheers. He then exclaimed: “The Democrats have to now decide whether they will continue defrauding the public with ridiculous bullshit, partisan investigations, or ways they will apologize to the American people and it join us to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.”

Never a dull moment.

[Mediaite]

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