Bob Corker says Trump ‘utterly untruthful president’

Influential Republican Senator Bob Corker has unleashed a blistering attack on US President Donald Trump, calling him “utterly untruthful”.

In a series of television interviews, Mr Corker accused the president of lying, adding that he debased the US and weakened its global standing.

Mr Trump fired back on Twitter, calling the Tennessee senator a “lightweight” who “couldn’t get re-elected”.

The pair met at a Senate lunch on Tuesday to discuss tax reform.

“He is purposely breaking down relationships we have around the world that had been useful to our nation,” Mr Corker said on CNN after the Republican president criticised him on Twitter.

“I think the debasement of our nation is what he’ll be remembered most for,” he said.

The Foreign Relations Committee chairman, who was an early supporter of Mr Trump, added that the president has “great difficulty with truth”.

The good news for Donald Trump is he’s managed to push his feud with a grieving war widow out of the headlines. The bad news is he’s done it by pushing a stake through Republican unity at a time when the party needs to come together to pass big-ticket tax reform through Congress.

The latest blistering exchange between Republican Senator Bob Corker and the president has all the hallmarks of one of Mr Trump’s classic intra-party campaign spats.

There’s the quick Twitter trigger finger, the derogatory nicknames (“liddle” Bob Corker), the over-the-top hyperbole (“he couldn’t get elected dog catcher”).

Republicans – including those who bore the brunt of Mr Trump’s vitriolic attacks – largely shrugged off those earlier rows as primary-season posturing and unified behind their unlikely standard-bearer in the autumn general election.

Mr Corker, on the verge of Senate retirement, isn’t backing down, however. And the president is once again raising the voltage.

The party is learning the hard way that there’s only one Donald Trump – whether he’s a real-estate mogul, a reality TV star, a candidate or a president.

If you question his leadership, his views or his attitude, he’ll unleash the whirlwind, no matter the consequences.

When asked if he regretted supporting Mr Trump during the 2016 election, the senator said: “Let’s just put it this way, I would not do that again.”

His comments came after Mr Trump lashed out at the Republican in a series of tweets.

Last month Mr Corker announced that he would not seek re-election at next year’s mid-term elections.

Mr Corker had voted against the 2015 agreement to curb Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, calling it “flawed”, but later said Mr Trump should not “tear up” the pact.

Mr Trump’s tweets on Tuesday appeared to be in response to Mr Corker’s comments on ABC News’ Good Morning America, in which he suggested the president should stop interfering in the debate on tax legislation.

The president went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday in an attempt to rally Senate Republicans around a White House-backed tax reform plan.

A protester was detained by police after he hurled Russian flags at Mr Trump as he walked through the building with top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell.

“Trump is treason!” shouted the demonstrator, who identified himself as Ryan Clayton from Americans Take Action, a campaign group calling for Mr Trump’s impeachment.

“This president conspired with agents of the Russian government to steal an election!” he cried. “We should be talking about treason in congress, not about tax cuts!”

Mr Corker’s support for the tax plan could be crucial as Republicans seek to pass the legislation in the upper chamber.

The lawmaker also raised concern with the president’s behaviour toward North Korea, saying Mr Trump “continues to kneecap his diplomatic representative, the secretary of state”.

He added that when it comes to diplomacy with Pyongyang, Mr Trump should “leave it to the professionals for a while”.

Following Mr Trump’s attack, Mr Corker fired back on Twitter.

The spat reignites an ongoing feud between the two men, which blew up earlier this month when Mr Corker responded to an attack from Mr Trump saying: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center.

“Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

[BBC News]

Trump spars with widow of slain soldier about condolence call

Myeshia Johnson, the widow of a soldier killed earlier this month in Niger, said Monday that a condolence call from President Donald Trump “made me cry even worse,” prompting Trump to immediately push back against part of her emotional account via Twitter.

“The president said that he knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyways and I was — it made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it. He couldn’t remember my husband’s name. The only way he remembered my husband’s name was because he told me he had my husband’s report in front of him and that’s when he actually said ‘La David,’” Johnson told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name and that’s what hurt me the most because if my husband is out here fighting for our country, and he risks his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name? And that’s what made me upset and cry even more because my husband was an awesome soldier.”

An hour after Johnson’s ABC interview aired, Trump responded on Twitter to rebut a portion of her account. “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!” Trump claimed in his online post.

The interview and Trump’s online response to it drags the controversy surrounding the president’s condolence call to Johnson into its second week, prolonging a news cycle that has resurfaced questions about the president’s treatment of Gold Star families. The issue of Trump’s conversation with Johnson has mushroomed just as the White House has sought to focus attention on the president’s proposed tax cuts and reforms and has brought back memories of Trump’s feud with the Gold Star Khan family, who railed against the president at last summer’s Democratic National Convention.

The phone call between Johnson and the president became a point of contention last week when Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), a family friend who was traveling with the widow when she took Trump’s call on speakerphone, told reporters that the president had struggled to remember Army Sgt. La David Johnson’s name and said the slain soldier knew what he signed up for when he enlisted.

As the week wore on, the White House lashed out at Wilson, accusing the hat-wearing congresswoman of being “all hat, no cattle” and suggesting that she had sought to politicize the soldier’s death. Trump himself, in a post to Twitter, wrote that Wilson had “totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!”

The Trump administration’s most powerful defense came last Thursday from White House chief of staff John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, who shared with reporters what happens when a service member dies and recalled details from the death of his own son, a Marine who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. Kelly shared the words of condolence that his friend, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, had offered him on his son’s death — that “he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed” — a similar sentiment to what Trump sought to express on his call with Johnson.

Kelly, in his briefing room remarks, also lashed out at Wilson, referring to her as an “empty barrel” as he recalled the 2015 dedication of an FBI office in Miami, where he said the Florida lawmaker inappropriately boasted that she had been instrumental in securing the funding for the facility. But the chief of staff’s criticism was quickly discredited: Wilson had not yet been elected to Congress when the money for the FBI building was appropriated, and video of her remarks from the ceremony shows her celebrating the bipartisan legislation she spearheaded to name the new FBI building after two agents killed in a 1986 firefight, not to secure funding for the building.

The White House stood behind Kelly’s statement and Sanders told reporters Friday that “If you want to go after Gen. Kelly, that’s up to you. But I think that if you want to get into a debate with the four-star Marine general, I think that’s something highly inappropriate.”

Despite the White House’s insistence that Wilson had mischaracterized and fabricated the tenor of Trump’s call, Myeshia Johnson’s account of the conversation aligned with the lawmaker’s account.

“Whatever Ms. Wilson said was not fabricated. What she said was 100 percent correct,” she said, explaining that six people, including Wilson, had heard the call as the family made its way to meet the slain soldier’s remains at Dover Air Force Base. “The phone was on speakerphone. Why would we fabricate something like that?”

The widow said she was left “very, very upset and hurt, very” by the president’s call.

She also said that many of her questions surrounding her husband’s death have not yet been answered by the military and that she has not been allowed to view her husband’s body. She said she has not been told how he was killed or why it took two days from the time La David Johnson’s unit was attacked for the military to recover his body.

“Why couldn’t I see my husband? Every time I asked to see my husband, they wouldn’t let me,” she said. “I need to see him so I will know that that is my husband. I don’t know nothing. They won’t show me a finger, a hand. I know my husband’s body from head to toe, and they won’t let me see anything. I don’t know what’s in that box. It could be empty for all I know, but I need — I need to see my husband.”

[Politico]

Trump’s feud with Dem lawmaker over phone call stretches into fifth day

President Trump on Saturday referred to a Democratic congresswoman as “wacky” and said she “is killing the Democrat party.”

His comments are the latest response to a controversy that Trump’s Saturday morning tweet is now stretching into its fifth day.

Trump also offered faint praise to the “Fake News Media” for covering the story of his feud with Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) over a phone call to a military family following the death of a soldier in Niger.

“I hope the Fake News Media keeps talking about Wacky Congresswoman Wilson in that she, as a representative, is killing the Democrat Party!” he tweeted.

Wilson earlier this week described a Tuesday phone conversation between Trump and the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger. Trump initially called Wilson “wacky” in a Thursday tweet, accusing her of lying about the content of the call after “secretly” listening in.

Wilson was in a car with the fallen soldier’s family when Trump called, and the family confirmed her description of the call, which took place on speakerphone.

Wilson said the president told the widow her late husband “knew what he signed up for … but when it happens it hurts anyway.” Johnson’s mother told The Washington Post that the president disrespected the family with his call.

The White House later appeared to confirm what Trump said during the call but has accused Wilson of politicizing a “sacred” issue.

“It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. I would have thought that was sacred,” White House chief of staff John Kelly said Thursday.

He went on to slam the Florida lawmaker for taking credit for securing “$20 million” in funding for a FBI field office in Miami in 2015, saying it demonstrated her true nature.

“A congresswoman stood up, and in a long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there in all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call, he gave the money — the $20 million — to build the building, and she sat down, and we were stunned,” Kelly said.

Wilson pushed back, calling Kelly’s accusations “crazy” and said that the building “was funded long before I got to Congress.”

The White House stood by Kelly’s criticism despite newly released video showing he misrepresented her remarks.

“As Gen. Kelly pointed out, if you are able to make a sacred act like honoring American heroes all about yourself, you are an empty barrel,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday.

“If you don’t understand that reference, I’ll put it a little more simply — as we say in the South, all hat no cattle,” she added.

Wilson is known in Congress for her ornate hats.

“I feel very sorry for him because he feels such a need to lie on me and I’m not even his enemy,” Wilson told The New York Times of Kelly on Friday. “I just can’t even imagine why he would fabricate something like that. That is absolutely insane. I’m just flabbergasted because it’s very easy to trace.”

She has promised to keep pressing the administration for answers on what happened in Niger, which is now the subject of an investigation by the Pentagon and the FBI. Militants ambushed the U.S. soldiers in the incident, and questions linger about the quickness of the U.S. response.

“I will always speak up for my constituents…and the truth!” Wilson tweeted Friday night.

[The Hill]

Trump calls lawmaker ‘wacky,’ says she told ‘total lie’ about military call

President Donald Trump on Thursday again rebutted a Florida congresswoman’s account of a call between him and the widow of a soldier killed in Niger, accusing her of listening in on the conversation and telling a “total lie” to the media.

“The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!” the president tweeted late Thursday.

The comments come as another direct rebuke of Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida, who on Tuesday said that during a call with the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, Trump had said that “he knew what he signed up for … but when it happens, it hurts anyway.”

Trump on Wednesday morning quickly denied the claims, saying Wilson “totally fabricated” the comments and that he had “proof” to the contrary — proof he has yet to unveil. Wilson returned fire by calling Trump “a liar” and saying that the conversation had been put on speakerphone and overheard by four witnesses.

“The sad part about it is, he didn’t know La David’s name,” Wilson told POLITICO on Wednesday.

Cowanda Jones-Johnson, the mother of the soldier’s mother, told The Washington Post Wednesday that she was present during the call and that she stood by Wilson’s description.

The White House said Wednesday that it did not have a recording of the conversation.

The nasty exchange between public officials ignited a furor over the White House’s response to fallen military officers, just days after Trump insinuated that his predecessors had not always extended the same courtesies to military families while in office.

White House chief of staff John Kelly on Thursday delivered an impassioned defense of the president’s conversation with the Johnson family, but also didn’t deny that Trump uttered the words that Wilson said he used. Kelly did rebuke Wilson, calling her “selfish” for criticizing the president’s words during a condolence call.

“I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning and brokenhearted at what I saw a member of Congress doing,” he told reporters at the White House press briefing. “A member of Congress who listened in on a phone call from the president of the United States to a young wife — and in his way tried to express that opinion that he’s a brave man, a fallen hero.”

[Politico]

Trump threatens NBC, then says it’s ‘disgusting’ press can ‘write whatever it wants’

President Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon that he found it “frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.”

Asked later whether he believed there “should be limits on what the press should write” — which would likely conflict with the First Amendment, which guarantees both free expression and a free press — Trump said, “No. The press should speak more honestly.”

Still, his comment raised eyebrows, especially because it was the latest remark in a string of heightened attacks Trump has leveled against the press in recent days.

Just Wednesday morning, Trump had tweeted that media companies which report critically on him should be punished by having their television station licenses revoked.

In a tweet, the president decried the supposed “fake news coming out of NBC and the Networks.” He asked, “At what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!”

Trump seems to have been furious over an NBC News report that said he wanted a tenfold increase in the U.S.’ nuclear arsenal. Earlier in the morning he claimed the story was “pure fiction” and “made up to demean.”

Trump’s veiled threat may contribute to the increasingly chilly atmosphere journalists in the U.S. are working under during his administration. But his threat is essentially toothless.

First of all, there is no single license for NBC or any other national television network. Licenses are granted to individual local stations — and NBC doesn’t even own most of the stations that broadcast its content across the country. And it is extremely unusual for any station’s license to be taken away for any reason, much less for a political vendetta.

The licenses for local television stations are subject to review by the Federal Communications Commission every eight years.

It would not be possible for Trump or his allies to challenge all of the licenses held by NBC in one fell swoop. Individuals who reside in the areas the local channel airs would have to submit complaints to the FCC.

There is precedent for political allies of a president challenging local licenses. It happened under Richard Nixon in the 1970s, when a friend of Nixon’s tried to take over a license held by the Washington Post. Nixon’s ally did not succeed in his bid.

Short of gross misconduct on the part of a challenged station, it’s unlikely any other such attempt now would be successful either.

“Whatever other legal problems [NBC parent] Comcast may have, this is not one of them,” Andrew Jay Schwartzman, an attorney who works at the Georgetown University Law Center and specializes in telecommunications law, told CNN. “Comcast knows full well that the FCC will never, ever, deny its license renewal applications.”

The FCC is technically an independent body, not subject to the president’s orders. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai — who is a Republican appointed to his current post by Trump — said in March that his job is not to be a “political actor.”

“It is simply to be somebody at the FCC who, as I said, is administering the laws of the United States,” Pai said. “I’m simply not going to wade into that kind of political debate.”

Neither Pai nor an FCC spokesperson immediately responded to requests for comment about Trump’s tweet. But former FCC officials were quick to skewer the president.

“To me it’s just incomprehensible that because of the content of NBC News that somehow their license would be at risk,” Alfred Sykes, a Republican who served as chairman of the FCC under George H.W. Bush, told The Wrap.

“This madcap threat, if pursued, would be blatant and unacceptable intervention in the decisions of an independent agency,” echoed Michael Copps, a Democrat who served as FCC commissioner under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, in a statement to HuffPost. “The law does not countenance such interference. President Trump might be happier as emperor, but I think the American people would strip him of his clothes on this issued.

A spokesperson for NBC declined to comment.

Trump has increased his attacks on the media in the past week. Last week, he urged the Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate news outlets for publishing supposed “fake” stories. Over the weekend, he hinted it was perhaps time for a law that would require broadcasters to give equal time to both sides of the political debate when discussing public policy.

“At what point are we going to silence media critical of the President?” tweeted Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “When we cease to have a First Amendment and a democratic government.”

[CNN]

Media

Trump threatens to revoke NBC’s broadcasting license for reporting he wants tenfold increase in nukes

President Donald Trump angrily lashed out at NBC News over its report that he wanted to dramatically increase the United States’ nuclear arsenal by threatening to go after the network’s broadcasting license.

“With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License?” Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning. “Bad for country!”

The president also said that NBC “made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold” increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal,” which he described as “pure fiction, made up to demean.”

According to the original NBC report, Trump “said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest ranking national security leaders.” The president was reportedly incensed by a chart showing that the U.S. has actually been reducing its nuclear arsenal since the late 1960s.

According to NBC’s sources, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “moron” after this particular meeting. Additionally, the sources claim both Tillerson and the joint chiefs of staff pushed back against Trump, and told him why it would be unwise to start a massive nuclear arms race.

[Raw Story]

Reality

The president’s and the government’s power in this area could be limited anyway. According to the FCC’s own guidelines, the commission only licenses individual broadcast stations, not entire “TV or radio networks (such as CBS, NBC, ABC or Fox).”

Trump: NYT ‘set Liddle’ Bob Corker up by recording his conversation’

President Donald Trump wrote online Tuesday that “Liddle'” Sen. Bob Corker had been unwittingly recorded by The New York Times, the newspaper to which the prominent Republican lawmaker offered a scathing criticism of the president.

“The Failing @nytimes set Liddle’ Bob Corker up by recording his conversation. Was made to sound a fool, and that’s what I am dealing with!” Trump tweeted Tuesday, pinning a diminutive nickname to the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In an interview published Sunday by the Times, Corker (R-Tenn.) said Trump is treating the presidency “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something” and expressed concern that the president could put the nation “on the path to World War III.” Corker, once under consideration to be Trump’s secretary of state, told the Times that the president “concerns me” and “would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”

Despite the president’s assertion that Corker was unaware he was being recorded, excerpts from the interview’s transcript indicate that the senator knew the conversation was on the record. Jonathan Martin, the Times reporter who interviewed Corker, wrote online that two of the senator’s aides had sat in on the phone call and “made sure after it ended that I was taping, too.”

Earlier Sunday, Trump and Corker launched criticisms at each other via Twitter, with Trump firing the first salvo, writing that “Corker ‘begged’ me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee. I said ‘NO’ and he dropped out (said he could not win without my endorsement).” In another post, Trump added that the Tennessee senator “also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said ‘NO THANKS.’ He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!”

Corker quickly responded with his own online post, writing that “it’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

The feud between the two men seemed to grow slowly in recent weeks as Corker, who has announced he will not seek reelection in 2018, grew increasingly public with his criticisms of the president. In a particularly sharp barb last week, Corker praised Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and White House chief of staff John Kelly as “those people that help separate our country from chaos.”

[Politico]

Trump targets Jemele Hill following ESPN anchor’s suspension

Donald Trump lashed out at ESPN anchor Jemele Hill on Tuesday morning, one day after she was suspended by her employer for her public criticism of two NFL owners’ directives over silent player protests during the national anthem.

The Disney-owned broadcaster suspended Hill for two weeks on Monday for a series of tweets in response to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ comments that he would have benched any Cowboys player who “disrespects the flag” by kneeling during the national anthem. Hill had previously tweeted that Trump is a “bigot” and “a white supremacist”.

Hill, who had said that those who took objection to Jones’ remark should look at the team’s advertisers, later tweeted that she was not urging an NFL boycott but pointing out the “unfair burden” for players on teams with rules against protesting the anthem. She also referenced Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, whose team will now be required to stand for the anthem or remain in the locker room after “Trump changed that whole paradigm of what protest is”.

Trump took aim at the ESPN veteran in a tweet on Tuesday morning, writing: “With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have ‘tanked,’ in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry!”

Hill’s co-anchor on the nightly SportsCenter highlight show, Michael Smith, sat out Monday night’s telecast in a decision a network source characterized as mutually made by Smith and ESPN. He will anchor the show alone for the duration of Hill’s suspension, the network said.

“Jemele Hill has been suspended for two weeks for a second violation of our social media guidelines,” the network said in a statement. “She previously acknowledged letting her colleagues and company down with an impulsive tweet. In the aftermath, all employees were reminded of how individual tweets may reflect negatively on ESPN and that such actions would have consequences. Hence this decision.”

Hill’s initial criticisms of Trump last month prompted also a response from the White House, albeit through press secretary Sarah Sanders, who said during a briefing that Hill’s comments about Trump were “a fireable offense by ESPN”.

“I think that’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make,” Sanders said at the time.

The NFL Players Association has defended players’ right to protest.

Trump’s former Democratic rival in the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton, also backed the players, saying in a speech on Monday, “They are protesting racism and injustice, and they have every right to do so.”

The president continued his broadside on the National Football League in a separate tweet on Tuesday morning, saying the league should not be given tax breaks, a long-simmering controversy surrounding America’s richest league, which is expected to take in $14bn in revenue this year.

“Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!” Trump wrote.

It was not clear what exactly Trump was demanding, and representatives for the White House did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The NFL gave up its federal tax-exempt status in 2015, according to media reports, although US states and localities still offer the multi-billion dollar league tax breaks in order to attract teams and to finance stadiums.

Trump has been on a tear for weeks against NFL players who kneel during the national anthem played before games, saying the gesture disrespects the country. His strongly worded call last month for players who did this to be fired touched off an initially sharp response, including from some team owners and coaches.

The players’ silent demonstration, which began last year in protest against police violence toward racial minorities, was embraced more widely in reaction to Trump’s more recent comments, with more players taking the knee while others chose to lock arms.

A number of Republican lawmakers suggested in September that tax sweeteners should end given the protests, the Washington Post reported.

On Sunday, vice president Mike Pence walked out of an NFL game after some players knelt. The next day, Trump himself invoked the episode in a fundraising email.

Critics of Trump, a Republican, have said he is fanning a controversy over the national anthem at NFL games to distract from pressing issues his administration is dealing with, from a powerful hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico to tensions with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

The first amendment of the US Constitution bars the government from limiting free speech, including prohibiting protests around the national anthem or punishing people who choose not to stand. The national anthem is played before every NFL football game and many other sporting events.

[The Guardian]

Trump calls for tax law changes for NFL over protests

President Donald Trump on Tuesday called for changes to U.S. tax law affecting the National Football League, fueling a feud with the league and its players over protests that he says disrespect the nation.

“Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.

The world’s top-grossing sports league gave up its tax-free status two years ago. Its owners are preparing to address the anthem issue at their fall meeting in New York Oct. 17-18, NFL chief spokesman Joe Lockhart told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday.

“Everyone at this point is frustrated by the situation,” Lockhart said. “The commissioner and the owners do want the players to stand. We think it is an important part of the game.”

The protests, in a league where African Americans make up the majority of players, have continued through the season, with some players taking a knee when the anthem is played and others standing arm-in-arm in solidarity.

Current policy calls for players to stand for the anthem and face the flag, but no player has been disciplined for a protest, Lockhart said.

“We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo to team owners.

The White House supported the idea of asking players to stand, said spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

“We are glad to see the NFL taking positive steps in that direction,” she said at a news briefing.

Asked to explain Trump’s comment on the NFL and taxes, Sanders said, “The federal tax law doesn’t apply here, but certainly we know that they receive tax subsidies on a variety of different levels.”

Trump last month called on NFL team owners to fire players who kneel during the anthem to protest police violence against black Americans.

Critics contend Trump is fanning the controversy to distract from issues including devastation in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, tensions with North Korea and difficulties in pushing healthcare and tax overhauls through the U.S. Congress.

Vice President Mike Pence walked out of a NFL game on Sunday after some players knelt, an action some critics called a publicity stunt.

Trump won the presidency with less support from black voters than any other president in at least four decades.

Trump has squared off against the NFL before, having owned a team in the upstart United States Football League in the 1980s. That league folded in 1985 after an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL failed.

Trump has refused to disclose his own tax history, departing from a practice of U.S. presidents going back more than 40 years. Trump has said nobody cares about his tax returns, but critics say they could show conflicts of interest.

[Reuters]

Trump Lashes Out at GOP Sen. Corker — Who Then Calls White House ‘an Adult Day Care Center’

President Donald Trump and Sen. Bob Corker traded jabs in a series of tweets on Sunday, with the president first saying the Tennessee Republican “didn’t have the guts to run” for re-election and Corker then calling the White House “an adult day care center.”

Later on Sunday, in an interview with The New York Times, Corker suggested Trump was putting the nation on the path to “World War III” and said Trump acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.”

Trump tweeted Sunday morning that Corker “begged” him to endorse him to re-election and the president said “NO.” Trump then said that Corker dropped out because he did not think he could win without his endorsement.

“He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said “NO THANKS,” Trump wrote in another tweet.

In a third tweet, Trump said that hence he would expect Corker to “be a negative voice” and stand in the way of his political agenda, adding that the Tennessee senator “Didn’t have the guts to run!”

Corker fired back, tweeting that “the White House has become an adult day care center” and that “Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

The Twitter feud came after Corker said earlier this week that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly “are those people that help separate our country from chaos.”

“I deal with people throughout the administration and he from my perspective is in an incredibly frustrating place,” Corker said of Tillerson, later adding, “He ends up not being supportive in the way that I would hope a Secretary of State would be supported, and that’s just from my vantage point.”

“They work very well together to make sure the policies we put forth across the world are, you know, sound and coherent,” he said of Tillerson, Mattis and Kelly. “There are other people within the administration in my belief that don’t. OK? Sorry,” he said with a laugh.

Corker told The Times that he is concerned about Trump and said that many of his fellow Senate Republicans shared those concerns.

“Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” Corker said. “Of course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”

He added that Trump has hurt American diplomacy and negotiations with his Twitter usage.

“I don’t think he appreciates that when the president of the United States speaks and says the things that he does the impact that it has around the world, especially in the region that he’s addressing,” Corker said. “And so, yeah, it’s concerning to me.”

A top aide for Corker also refuted Trump’s tweets, saying that the president called Corker on Monday afternoon and asked that the senator reconsider his decision not to run for re-election.

“Last week President Trump called Senator Corker and asked him to reconsider his decision not to seek re-election and said I would have endorsed you,” Corker’s Chief of Staff Todd Womack told NBC News on Sunday.

Womack said Corker and Trump had a similar conversation in September, when Trump said he would campaign for Corker if he decided to run again.

He also took issue with Trump’s comment regarding the Iran nuclear deal, where the president said Corker was “also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!”

“We led the opposition to the Iran deal and there would have been no vote in Congress had it not been for Corker’s bill,” Womack said, referring to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.

“We forced a vote on the Iran deal, [the Obama Administration’s] plan was to go around Congress,” Womack said.

Womack characterized Corker as an opponent to the deal.

Nevertheless, Trump tweeted later on Sunday afternoon that Corker “gave us the Iran Deal, & that’s about it.”

“We need HealthCare, we need Tax Cuts/Reform, we need people that can get the job done!” he said.

Earlier Sunday, before the Corker tweets, Mick Mulvaney, the White House’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he enjoys working with Corker and, now that he isn’t seeking re-election, “I think it sort of unleashes him to do whatever, and say whatever, he wants to say.”

“But I don’t think we’re that close to chaos anyway,” he said, adding, “I’m in the White House every single day and I’ve never seen the chaos that gets reported outside. I’ve never seen the infighting, the back-biting.”

Late last month, Corker announced that he would not see re-election, fueling speculation that he might challenge the president in a GOP primary.

And Sunday’s comments come after reports last week that Tillerson was on the verge of resigning this past summer amid mounting policy disputes and clashes with the White House.

[NBC News]

 

 

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