Trump Trashes Kellyanne Conway’s Husband: ‘He’s Just Trying to Get Publicity For Himself’

During his Friday pool spread with the White House press corps, President Trump took shots at Kellyanne Conway‘s husband for saying it was “unconstitutional” of him to appoint Matt Whitaker as acting attorney general.

George Conway co-wrote a New York Times piece on Thursday which not only argued that Whitaker’s appointment was “illegal,” but also that anything he tries to do in his new position is constitutionally “invalid.” When Trump was asked about this, the president directed the question to Conway’s wife while writing him off as a publicity-seeker.

“He’s just trying to get publicity for himself,” Trump said. “Why don’t you do this, why don’t you ask Kellyanne that question, all right? She might know him better than me. I really don’t know the guy.”

Fun fact: reporters have tried asking Mrs. Conway about her husband’s regular criticisms of Trump, to which she reacted with deep displeasure.

[Mediaite]

Trump claims deceptively edited video distributed by White House wasn’t altered

President Donald Trump claimed on Friday that a White House-released video depicting contact between a staffer and a CNN reporter wasn’t altered, and he seemingly threatened to revoke the White House press credentials of more reporters.

Trump insisted that the video distributed by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was simply a “close-up” and “was not doctored.”

“Nobody manipulated it. All that is is a close-up,” said the president, who then attacked the reporter for asking the question and called him “dishonest.”

A frame-by-frame comparison with an Associated Press video of the same incident from Trump’s postelection news conference Wednesday shows that the video tweeted by Sanders appears to speed up CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s arm movement when he makes contact with a White House intern who was trying to take away Acosta’s microphone. The speedup appears to make the gesture more threatening.

Trump, in remarks Friday, also did not back off his administration’s decision to suspend Acosta’s press credential, which allows the CNN correspondent access to the White House grounds.

“He’s a very unprofessional guy. I don’t think he’s a smart person but he has a loud voice,” Trump told reporters in a testy 20-plus-minute exchange before he left for Paris and a World War I commemoration ceremony. “You have to treat the White House with respect. You have to treat the presidency with respect.”

The president said he had not decided if Acosta’s pass would be reinstated and he suggested there “could be others” who lose their credentials. He belittled several of the reporters gathered around him. He said one had asked “a stupid question,” and he singled out April Ryan, a correspondent for Urban Radio Networks, calling her “very nasty” and “a loser.”

Ryan, who is also a CNN contributor, tweeted in response: “I love this country and have the most respect for the Office of the President. I will continue to ask the questions that affect America, all of America.”

Trump’s latest attacks on the media came in the wake of his free-wheeling and contentious news conference two days earlier, and followed demands by several journalists and organizations — including the American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press Media Editors and the White House Correspondents Association — that Acosta’s press pass be reinstated.

“It is the essential function of a free press in every democracy to independently gather and report information in the public interest, a right that is enshrined in the First Amendment,” said Julie Pace, AP’s Washington bureau chief. “We strongly reject the idea that any administration would block a journalist’s access to the White House.”

The New York Times editorialized in favor of restoring Acosta’s pass, saying it signaled Trump’s view that asking hard questions disqualifies reporters from attending briefings. The newspaper said that if Sanders was so offended by physical contact, “what did she have to say when her boss praised as ‘my kind of guy’ Rep. Greg Gianforte of Montana, who was sentenced to anger management classes and community service for body-slamming a Guardian reporter last spring?”

It’s rare for the White House to pull the media credentials.

During Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, the Secret Service denied clearance to Robert Sherrill, a reporter for The Nation who had gotten into physical fights with government officials. During the George W. Bush presidency, Trude Feldman, who worked for various news outlets, was suspended for 90 days after security cameras recorded her looking through a press aide’s desk late one night. In the 1970s, President Richard Nixon tried to get Washington Post reporters banned from the White House.

Despite losing his White House pass, Acosta traveled to Paris this weekend to cover Trump’s trip to meet with world leaders. He tweeted a photo of himself standing in front of the Eiffel Tower early Friday.

Abba Shapiro, an independent video producer who examined the Wednesday footage at AP’s request, noticed that frames in the tweeted video of the exchange at the news conference were frozen to slow down the action, allowing it to run the same length as the AP one.

Sanders, who hasn’t said where the tweeted video came from, noted that it clearly shows Acosta made contact with the intern. In her statement announcing Acosta’s suspension, she said the White House won’t tolerate “a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job.”

While the origin of the manipulated video is unclear, its distribution marked a new low for an administration that has been criticized for its willingness to mislead.

CNN has labeled Sanders’ characterization of Acosta’s exchange with the intern as a lie. Its position has been supported by witnesses, including Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason, who was next to Acosta during the news conference and tweeted that he did not see Acosta place his hands on the White House employee. Rather, Mason said he saw Acosta holding on to the microphone as the intern reached for it.

[Associated Press]

Trump Baselessly Alleges Florida Election Fraud in Wild Rant: ‘You Notice the Votes Never Go the Other Way…’

During a White House pool spray on Friday morning, President Donald Trump went off on a wild rant baselessly floating the idea of foul play in the narrow elections in Florida for Senate and Governor — which soon spun off into a rant about corruption at large.

Speaking with reporters before departing for Paris, Trump baselessly claimed that votes tend to go for Democrats in contested elections.

“You notice the votes never go the other way?” Trump said. “They hire lawyers, and the votes don’t ever seem to go the Republican way…I don’t know. You tell me. It’s always the Democrats.”

Those comments led to the rant about “crooked stuff.”

“It’s always GPS Fusion,” the president said. “It’s always crooked stuff. Look at what happened. How many FBI are gone, how many Justice Department people are gone that I found out?…There’s a lot of bad stuff going on in this country, and we’re finding out. And I’m getting to the bottom of it. And I’ve done a hell of a job.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Blasts ‘Disgrace’ Jim Acosta, ‘Loser’ April Ryan, Suggests More Reporters Could Lose Credentials

President Donald Trump ripped Jim Acosta on Friday, after the CNN chief White House correspondent had his press pass suspended over false allegations he acted inappropriately with an intern.

“I think Jim Acosta’s a very unprofessional man,” Trump said. “He does this with everybody. He gets paid to do that, you know he gets paid to burst in. He’s a very unprofessional guy, whether it’s me or Ronald Reagan or anybody else, he would’ve done the same thing. I don’t think he’s a smart person, but he’s got a loud voice.”

Trump said he hasn’t made a decision on the fate of Acosta’s press credentials, adding “there could be others also” that could lose their access.

“This is a very sacred place, this is a very special place,” Trump continued. “You have to treat the White House with respect. You have to treat the presidency with respect.”

Trump called Acosta a “disgrace,” before turning his ire towards another White House reporter, April Ryan.

“You talk about somebody that’s a loser, she doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing,” Trump said. “She gets publicity, and then she gets a pay raise, or she gets a contract with, I think CNN.

“But she’s very nasty and she shouldn’t be,” he added.

[Mediaite]

Media

Trump and Rick Scott Spread Claims of Fraud Without Evidence

Days after midterm voting, as ballots are still being counted, Republican lawmakers holding onto tight leads in midterm states are alleging foul play and voter fraud. The claims were amplified by President Trump, without evidence, on Friday morning.

“You mean they are just now finding votes in Florida and Georgia — but the Election was on Tuesday?” he wrote in a tweet. “Let’s blame the Russians and demand an immediate apology from President Putin!”

Current Florida Gov. Rick Scott, locked in a tight Senate race, said in a press conference Thursday night that “the people of Florida deserve fairness and transparency and the supervisors are failing to give it to us.”

“Every Floridian should be concerned there may be rampant voter fraud in Palm Beach and Broward Counties,” he said. “I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida.”

Scott’s race against Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson seems to be headed toward triggering a mandatory recount. Florida law says any race within a 0.5 percent margin must go to a recount, and as of 9 a.m. Friday, Nelson trailed Scott by 0.18 percent.

Previous claims of widespread voter fraud, including Trump’s claim that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016, are considered false by voting experts. One investigation, published in 2014, found 31 possible cases of in-person voter fraud out of more than a billion ballots cast over a 14 year period.

Scott claimed victory Tuesday night and has filed lawsuits against two county elections officials, in Palm Beach and Broward Counties, alleging their offices have withheld voting records.

Nelson’s election attorney Marc Elias tweeted Friday that “as the counties continue their work, I expect that margin will narrow further. And then the State will conduct an orderly recount.”

Trump has a history of calling out fraud, without providing evidence to back up his claims. No widespread claim of voter fraud by the president has ever been proven true. Trump even created a commission to investigate alleged fraud after the 2016 election, but it dissolved without releasing any findings.

“They’re finding votes out of nowhere, and Rick Scott who won by — it was close, but he won by a comfortable margin, he easily won but every hour it seems to be going down,” Trump said outside the White House Friday. “I think that people have to look at it very, very cautiously.”

In the case of Florida still counting ballots more than 48 hours after polls closed, David Becker, the executive director for the Center for Election Innovation and Research, told NPR it is extremely common for a voting jurisdiction to be taking as long as Broward County is.

“Election officials are literally just counting the ballots. This isn’t corruption or fraud,” Becker said. “It is literally the best of democracy. Let election officials do their job and count the ballots.”

[NPR]

Trump Blasts Macron For Proposing ‘European Army’ Upon Arrival in France: ‘Very Insulting!’

President Donald Trump ripped French President Emmanuel Macronon Friday upon his arrival in France, calling him out for proposing a European military.

“President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia,” Trump tweeted Friday.

Trump is set to meet with Macron Saturday morning at the Élysée Palace in Paris, per USA Today.

Macron proposed, in an interview earlier this week, a “real European army” to protect against “China, Russia and even the United States of America.”

“When I see President Trump announcing that he’s quitting a major disarmament treaty which was formed after the 1980s euro-missile crisis that hit Europe, who is the main victim? Europe and its security,” Macron said.

“We will not protect the Europeans unless we decide to have a true European army,” he continued. In response to threats from Russia, Macron argued: “We need a Europe which defends itself better alone, without just depending on the United States, in a more sovereign manner.”

[Mediaite]

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted a doctored video of the Jim Acosta mic-grab that was shared hours earlier by the far-right site Infowars

The White House is accused of using a video of CNN’s Jim Acosta doctored by the conspiracy-theory outlet Infowars as justification for suspending the journalist’s press pass on Wednesday.

Acosta, the chief White House correspondent for CNN, was engaged in a tense exchange with President Donald Trump during a press conference at the White House when a White House intern walked up and tried to take the microphone away from him. Acosta held on to the microphone and kept trying to question Trump.

Acosta was holding the microphone in his right hand. At one point, the intern reached under Acosta’s left arm to try to grab the microphone, and he appeared to gently block her with his arm. Here is the moment as broadcast live on NBC:

A video shared on Twitter by the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, however, makes Acosta’s movement appear more violent.

What appears to be the same video was shared two hours earlier by Paul Joseph Watson, the editor-at-large of Infowars.com, a far-right conspiracy outlet whose content has been barred from almost every major tech content distributor, including Apple, Facebook, Spotify, and YouTube, generally for violating their policies on hate speech.

The CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter asked Sanders for the source of the video. “Surely you don’t trust InfoWars…?” he said on Twitter.

Other Twitter users showed Sanders’ video side-by-side with the original broadcast to argue the one she posted had been doctored.

The White House suspended Acosta’s press credentials after the press conference, limiting his access to the White House grounds. Sanders said on Twitter that the White House would “never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern,” though no video evidence has so far supported that claim.

[Business Insider]

White House suspends credentials for CNN’s Jim Acosta

The White House has suspended the credentials of a CNN journalist hours after a testy exchange with US President Donald Trump.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders says a reporter’s access was removed because he put “his hands on a young woman”.

Mr Acosta, chief White House correspondent for CNN, was called a “rude, terrible person” by Mr Trump at a press conference on Wednesday.

A staff member tried to take his microphone during the exchange.

However, Mr Acosta refused to give it up as he attempted to ask the president a further question.

Video of the incident quickly appeared online.

What did the White House say?

Ms Sanders, in a statement posted in a Twitter thread, said the White House would “never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job”.

“The fact that CNN is proud of the way their employee behaved is not only disgusting, it’s an example of their outrageous disregard for everyone, including young women, who work in this Administration,” she said.

“As a result of today’s incident, the White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice.”

Mr Acosta called Ms Sanders’ assertion that he placed his hands on the woman “a lie”.

He also posted a tweet saying he was stopped by the Secret Service from entering White House grounds.

What happened at the earlier press conference?

President Trump insulted Mr Acosta after the reporter challenged his recent assertions about a migrant caravan heading to the US from Central America.

It was during this exchange the female staff member attempted to take the microphone from Mr Acosta.

“That’s enough, that’s enough,” the president said, before telling Mr Acosta to sit down and to put down his microphone.

“CNN should be ashamed of themselves, having you work for them,” he said. “The way you treat Sarah Huckabee [Sanders] is horrible.”

[BBC]

Media

Trump Preemptively Threatens Retaliatory Investigations Against Democrats

President Donald Trump will soon be on the receiving end of something he didn’t see much from a Republican-led Congress: orders, backed up by subpoenas, for officials to answer questions on controversial policies like the dispatch of thousands of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Two can play that game!” Trump wrote Wednesday on Twitter.

Now that Democrats have won control of the U.S. House of Representatives, they will be able to force administration officials to testify and provide documents. That will subject Trump’s decision-making — as well as his personal finances and potential conflicts of interest — to deeper public and private examination by key committees, as the national focus shifts to the 2020 presidential election.

[Time]

Trump boasts GOP defied midterm odds, knocks losers who didn’t ’embrace’ him

President Trump on Wednesday took a victory lap after the midterm elections, saying Republicans defied the odds by stopping a so-called “blue wave” of Democrats from taking control of both chambers of Congress.

“There was a big day yesterday. Incredible day,” Trump said during a White House news conference. “The Republican Party defied history to expand our Senate majority while significantly beating expectations in the House.”

Trump suffered a major blow on Tuesday when the GOP lost control of the House, but the president has downplayed that defeat, arguing he feels vindicated by the results in the Senate, where Republicans look like they’ll gain three or four seats.

The president noted that of the 11 candidates he campaigned with during the final week of the race, nine won.

“This vigorous campaigning stopped the blue wave,” he said. “History will really see what a good job we did in the final few weeks.”

Trump blamed GOP losses in the House on the high number of retirements and large fundraising totals for Democrats, as well as negative media coverage that he said “set a new record.”

He also called out several House lawmakers by name, saying their failure to embrace him led to their defeats even though they ran in districts where he is unpopular.

“Too bad Mike,” Trump said of Rep. Mike Coffman (R), who lost in Colorado. The president also appeared delighted that GOP Reps. Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), Barbara Comstock (Va.) and Mia Love (Utah) were all defeated while distancing themselves from him.

“Mia Love gave me no love. And she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that Mia,” he said.

Taking over the House is a major victory for Democrats, allowing them their first chance to act as a check on Trump. They are expected to carry out aggressive investigations of Trump’s businesses and administration, a dynamic that could pose a real challenge for a president who has not had to worry about a political opponent with power.

But Trump immediately went on the offensive to try to turn the public against the coming onslaught of House oversight probes, painting them as an “investigation fatigue” designed to cause gridlock and stymie his agenda ahead of the 2020 election.

“If that happens, then we’re going to do the same thing and government comes to a halt. And I would blame them,” he said.
Trump appeared to be sending a warning to Democrats that he could use them as a foil, but also dangled the possibility of bipartisan deals on infrastructure and drug pricing.

“It really could be a beautiful bipartisan type of situation,”  Trump said.

[The Hill]

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