Trump blames ‘fake news’ media for aiding smugglers, human traffickers

President Trump on Tuesday blamed yet another entity for the growing immigration crisis on the U.S. southern border: the news media.

During a speech to a small-business group in Washington, Trump said the “fake news” reports about children being separated from their families at the border are aiding human traffickers.

“They are helping these smugglers and these traffickers like nobody would believe,” Trump said of the media. “They know exactly what they’re doing.”

The president accused news outlets of covering child separations more than congressional hearings about an inspector general report about the Hillary Clinton email probe “because those hearings are not good for them.”

“The whole thing is a scam,” he told members of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

The president also took aim at Mexico, accusing America’s southern neighbor of not doing enough to stop illegal border crossings.

“They come up through Mexico — Mexico does nothing for us,” Trump said. “They could stop it. They have very strong laws. Try staying in Mexico for a couple days see how long that lasts.”

The explosive remarks are the latest sign Trump is not backing down from his administration’s “zero tolerance” stance on illegal immigration, despite growing opposition at home and around the world.

Roughly 2,000 children have been separated from family members as a result of his administration’s decision to prosecute almost everyone who crosses the southern border illegally and jail them while awaiting trial.

The children are placed in juvenile detention facilities near the border because they cannot be held in custody with their adult guardians.

Trump is scheduled to meet with House Republicans later on Tuesday afternoon to discuss immigration measures slated for floor votes this week.

The president said he would be briefed on the proposals and then is “going to make changes” to them. That comment appeared to undercut his own staff, who said last week the president would sign both measures.

The president said he wants Congress to grant him “the legal authority to detain and properly remove families together as a unit,” a provision included in legislation written by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

“We have to be able to do this,” he said. “This is the only solution to the border crisis.”

He also questioned the need for more judges to handle immigration cases, something supported by lawmakers in both parties and his own Justice Department.

“I don’t want judges,” he said. “I want border security. I don’t want to try people. I don’t want people coming in.”

Trump also offered a confusing justification of the practice of separating children from their families at the border, something his top aides have also struggled to defend.

“I don’t want children taken away from parents,” Trump said, blaming the problem on a tangled web of “Democrat-supported loopholes” in immigration law he said he wants to close.

But in the next sentence, Trump said the separations are the intended consequence of a policy meant to deter illegal immigration.

“When you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away,” he said.

His comments reflect the contradictory remarks offered by members of his own team.

Department of Health and Human Services official Steve Wagner told reporters on Tuesday that “the new policy will result in a deterrence effect and we certainly hope parents stop bringing kids on this dangerous journey.”

That came one day after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsensaid she finds it “offensive” for reporters to suggest the child separations are an intended effect of the administration’s policy.

[The Hill]

Trump Explains That “You Have to Take the Children Away” in Unhinged Speech to Small-Business Owners

In a defensive and rambling speech in which the president was clearly venting frustration over the rising tide of bipartisan outrage over the policy that separates migrant families, Donald Trump told an audience of small-business owners a series of falsehoods and dramatic, fear-mongering warnings as he doubled down on his now familiar justifications for child separation.

While reserving blame for the Democrats (who, he said, support “open borders” because they consider MS-13 gang members future Democrat voters and who forced this outcome by building loopholes in the immigration laws) and Mexico (“They do nothing for us”), Trump still seemed to take some ownership of the policy, justifying it as a necessary step in protecting the border. “When you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away,” he said.

The speech, delivered to the National Federation of Independent Businesses on Tuesday, dealt much more with immigration than with small-business issues, as Trump has appeared to become increasingly agitated in the face of both Democrats and Republicanscalling his administration’s policy cruel and inhumane.

But the president did deliver a strange set of remarks about trade and tariffs, with a warning to Canada that its tariffs are too high, meaning “we’re treated horribly.” He shared a strange example:

The tariffs to get common items back into Canada are so high that they have to smuggle them in. They buy shoes, then they wear them. They scuff them up. They make them sound old or look old.

It’s unclear where he pulled this anecdote from. He concluded, “No, we have to change our ways. We can no longer be the stupid country. We want to be the smart country.”

But the president’s most inflammatory statements came when he spoke about Central American migrants, who, in one of his more fearmongering speeches, he described as violent people, often either bringing gang violence to the country or trafficking children. Some highlights from the speech:

People that come in violate the law, they endanger their children in the process, and frankly, they endanger all of our children. You see what happens with MS-13 where your sons and daughters are attacked violently. Kids that never even heard of such a thing are being attacked violently. Not with guns but with knives because it’s much more painful.

And remember, these countries that we give tremendous foreign aid to in many cases, they send these people up, and they’re not sending their finest. Does that sound familiar? Remember I made that speech and I was badly criticized? ‘Oh, that’s so terrible what he said.’ It turned out I was 100 percent right. That’s why I got elected.

Trump also cited some false or misleading facts in his speech to bolster his anti-immigrant views, including his assertion that since Germany began accepting a large number of refugees, the country’s crime has increased by 10 percent. Germany’s crime levels are actually at a 25-year low.

Trump also portrayed migrants as savvy and able to hire lawyers who tell them exactly what to say to be released, allowing them to leave and never return for their court date. In reality, many asylum-seekers are left to navigate the asylum process without the help of any legal counsel, and a significant percentage do return for their hearing.

And he rambled about the large number of judges “they” want at the border. It’s unclear who he was saying wanted “thousands and thousands” of judges, though Ted Cruz has said he would increase the number of judges in his proposed immigration plan.

And he finally made a promise that he would withhold aid from the migrants’ home countries:

Hundreds of millions of dollars we give to some of these countries, and they send them up. Well, I’m going to go very shortly for authorization that when countries abuse us by sending their people up – not their best – we’re not going to give any more aid to those countries. Why the hell should we?

And for a little personal color in his attack on Democrats, who, he said, did a terrible job of letting people know what they stood for, he said his opposing party united around an anti-Trump message which, essentially, was too mean. “I used to go home, I started disliking myself,” he said. “It’s true. I said, man, am I that bad?”

Trump also hit some of his other traditional points. He boasted about the economy. He bragged about his election, “a beautiful thing.” And he threw in accusations that the “fake news” media were actively aiding criminals: “They are helping these smugglers and these traffickers like nobody would believe,” he said. “They know it, they know exactly what they’re doing, and it should be stopped.”

[Slate]

Media

 

Donald Trump accuses Canadians of smuggling shoes home from U.S.

U.S. President Donald Trump has called Canada “brutal,” accused Canada’s prime minister of being “weak,” and taken aim at Canada’s supply management system for dairy.

Now he is calling Canadians shoe smugglers.

Speaking to the National Federation of Independent Businesses in Washington on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump claimed Americans are “treated horribly” by Canadians who return home with U.S.-purchased shoes they have smuggled across the border. (CHRIS KLEPONIS – POOL / GETTY IMAGES)

In the latest salvo in the president’s multi-front attack on Canadian trade practices, Trump told a story Tuesday about Canadians who cross the U.S. border to buy shoes. The tale left trade experts and apparel industry officials scratching their heads.

Trump launched into it while delivering a rambling speech, focused on illegal immigration, to the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

“There was a story two days ago in a major newspaper talking about people living in Canada coming to the United States and smuggling things back into Canada because the tariffs are so massive. The tariffs to get common items back into Canada are so high that they have to smuggle ‘em in,” Trump said, apparently referring to an essay in the New York Post by Canadian journalist Isabel Vincent. “They buy shoes, then they wear them. They scuff ’em up. They make them sound old or look old. No, we’re treated horribly.”

There was a grain of truth to the story. Crossing the border to shop in the U.S. and then sneaking an item or two past customs on the way back is a time-honoured Canadian pastime. On Twitter, several Canadians immediately confessed to making furtive attempts to make their new shoes look well-worn.

But there is no indication that any of this has anything to do with tariffs. And Trump’s claim that this shop-and-hide practice results in the U.S. being mistreated makes no sense at all, trade and apparel experts said.

The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, the U.S. industry’s lobby group, said in a statement: “The president seems misinformed about footwear trade.”

“On behalf of the American footwear industry, we welcome anyone from anywhere to come and purchase shoes in America. It helps both our brands and retailers grow. Period,” the group said. “We don’t care where they wear them, and if they get scuffed up all the better so we can sell them more.”

Under NAFTA, there are no Canadian tariffs on shoes manufactured in the U.S. Since more than 95 per cent of shoes sold in the U.S. are made abroad, any Canadian shoppers avoiding Canada’s tariffs upon their return home are actually avoiding tariffs on foreign-made items, mostly made-in-Asia goods.

In other words, Trump was complaining about Canadians spending money at U.S. stores and then refusing to pay the Canadian government for goods made in other countries — a process that does not victimize the U.S. in any way.

“There doesn’t seem to be an issue. I’m not sure why we’re talking about this. Yet again, we’re being led down this path when there really isn’t anything there,” said Bob Kirke, executive director of the Canadian Apparel Federation. “I feel like I’m going down the rabbit hole here.”

In a tweet to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the U.S. industry group added: “The US Footwear Industry welcomes you and all Canadians to come buy shoes in America! As many as you want — and scuff them up if you want, we can sell you more!”

Kirke said he doesn’t think “there’s any negotiation or discussion around footwear tariffs or rules of origin in the current NAFTA negotiation. Zero. Zip.” And he said lower shoe prices in the U.S. are a result of the competitiveness of the U.S. retail market, not tariffs.

“Both countries have tariffs on imported footwear,” said Karl Littler, vice-president of public affairs at the Retail Council of Canada. “His critique of Canada he might level at the U.S. system as well.”

Canadians don’t have to pay duties on their first $200 in purchases if they’re in the U.S. for 24 hours. They get an $800 exemption if they’re away 48 hours.

Another cross-border shopping issue has been significant in NAFTA talks: Canada’s $20 threshold, one of the lowest in the world, for duties on shipments mailed from abroad. The U.S. threshold is $800, and the Trump administration has called on Canada to raise its own.

On Tuesday, Trump again floated the idea of making separate deals with Canada and Mexico rather than preserving the North American Free Trade Agreement. He also made some of his usual false claims about the trade balance with Canada, and he again criticized Canada’s dairy tariffs.

“We can no longer be the stupid country. We want to be the smart country. So hopefully we’ll be able to work it out with Canada. We have very good relationships with Canada, we have for a long time, and hopefully that’ll work out, but Canada’s not going to take advantage of the United States any longer. And Mexico’s not going to take advantage of the United States any longer,” he said.

Trump also scoffed at Trudeau’s argument against the steel and aluminum tariffs that Trump imposed on “national security” grounds. Trudeau has invoked the Canadian soldiers who have fought and died with American soldiers. On Tuesday, Trump paraphrased the argument with a hint of mockery.

“By the way, Canada, they like to talk,” Trump said to laughter. “They’re our great neighbour. They fought World War II with us. We appreciate it. They fought World War I with us, and we appreciate it. But we’re protecting each other.”

[Toronto Star]

Trump busted lying about Germany

President Donald Trump on Monday made clearly false claims about Germany — which will likely only buttress support for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Trump made three claims about Germany.

“The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition,” Trump tweeted.

Jeremy Cliffe, the Berlin bureau chief for The Economist, reminded that, “Merkel remains the most popular politician in Germany.”

Ironically, Trump tweeting against Merkel actually shores up her domestic political support.

“The US president’s intervention could be useful domestically for Ms Merkel because of his unpopularity; just 11 per cent of Germany has a favourable view of Mr Trump, according to research by pollster Pew for the Germany public broadcaster DW,” The Independent noted.

In fact, Trump may have just thrown Merkel a life preserver.

“Nice of the president to help Angela Merkel by giving her exactly what she needed politically : a Trump endorsement of her opponents,” explained Hudson Institute fellow Benjamin Haddad.

Trump’s second claim was that, “crime in Germany is way up.”

Reuters national security correspondent Jonathan Landay explained how thoroughly Trump had misrepresented crime in Germany.

“This is another lie by Trump,” Landay reported. “Crime is at a 30-year low in Germany.”

Trump’s third claim was that it was a “big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!”

“Under Merkel, Germany opened its borders to welcome around 1 million asylum-seekers in 2015. At times more than 10,000 people were arriving daily in the country, which had a population of around 81 million,” NBC News reported Monday. “But according to official figures released last month, Germany last year recorded its lowest number of criminal offenses since 1992, with figures showing the crime rate is falling more quickly among non-German suspects.”

CNN political contributor Keith Boykin reminded how this particular lie has been used in the past.

“Germany last month reported its lowest crime rate since 1992,” Boykin reminded. “Austrian-born Adolf Hitler also used lies and misinformation about crime to complain about groups of people in Germany who had ‘changed their culture.’”

The host of the Michelangelo Signorile Show on SiriusXM had even hasher words.

“Crime is not up. This is another lie. And the last line is a chilling call to white supremacists,” Signorile observed. “He’s gone full on Nazi.”

[Raw Story]

Reality

Trump used his false claims to assert Europe is losing it’s white European culture, making a very clear appeal to white nationalism.

Trump Declares His Supporters the ‘Smartest, Strongest, Most Hard Working’ in America’s History

President Donald Trump just declared his supporters the “smartest” in the history of the country.

Writing on Twitter early Saturday, Trump said this: “My supporters are the smartest, strongest, most hard working and most loyal that we have seen in our countries history. It is a beautiful thing to watch as we win elections and gather support from all over the country. As we get stronger, so does our country. Best numbers ever!”

[Mediaite]

Trump embraces pro-Confederate anti-immigrant Senate nominee Corey Stewart

Trump tweeted about another GOP primary in a way that is sure to give Republicans heartburn.

While national Republicans are likely to distance themselves from Corey Stewart — the GOP nominee in Virginia’s Senate race who has embraced Confederate symbols and neo-Nazi figures — Trump congratulated Stewart on his win.

“Congratulations to Corey Stewart for his great victory for Senator from Virginia,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. “Now he runs against a total stiff, Tim Kaine, who is weak on crime and borders, and wants to raise your taxes through the roof. Don’t underestimate Corey, a major chance of winning!”

Trump’s praise of Stewart is far different from other Republicans, who lament the fact that Stewart won and have condemned Stewart’s embrace of Confederate symbols.

“I am extremely disappointed that a candidate like Corey Stewart could win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate,” Bill Bolling, a Republican and former lieutenant governor of Virginia, tweetedTuesday night. “This is clearly not the Republican Party I once knew, loved and proudly served. Every time I think things can’t get worse they do, and there is no end in sight.”

[Mic]

President hits back at Robert De Niro after ‘F–k Trump’ jab

President Trump hit back at “Punchy” Robert De Niro on Twitter on Tuesday, two days after the “Raging Bull” star unleashed a torrent of obscenities at the commander-in-chief at the Tony Awards.

“Robert De Niro, a very Low IQ individual, has received to [sic] many shots to the head by real boxers in movies. I watched him last night and truly believe he may be ‘punch-drunk,’” Trump tweeted at 4:53 p.m.

”I guess he doesn’t realize the economy is the best it’s ever been with employment being at an all time high, and many companies pouring back into our country. Wake up Punchy!”

The “Godfather” star was bleeped at the Tony Awards when he dropped a series of F-bombs about Trump while introducing Bruce Springsteen.

“First, I wanna say, ‘F–k Trump,’” De Niro said. “It’s no longer ‘Down with Trump,’ it’s ‘F–k Trump.’”

The crowd at New York’s Radio City Music Hall cheered his remarks, though he was later criticized for stooping to Trump’s name-calling level.

A day later, De Niro apologized — not to Trump but on America’s behalf to Justin Trudeau, whom Trump insulted as “very dishonest & weak” after the Canadian prime minister threw shade on the president’s trade policies.

“I just want to make a note of apology for the idiotic behavior of my president,” De Niro said in Toronto on Monday for the groundbreaking of the Canadian Nobu restaurant, where he was dining with celebrity chef and business partner Nobu Matsuhisa, The Globe and Mail reported.

“It’s a disgrace. And I apologize to Justin Trudeau and the other people at the G7. It’s disgusting.”

De Niro is a seven-time Academy Award nominee, and won Oscars for playing Vito Corleone in “The Godfather Part II” and Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull.”

In 2009, he was among the five recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors, presented by then-President Obama.

[Page Six]

Trump mocks press at North Korea summit

President Trump took a jab at the media on Tuesday in Singapore as he and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un headed into their historic meeting.

“The press, they never stop,” Trump told Kim, as reporters yelled out questions to the two leaders.

Trump and Kim met in person for the first time Monday after months of back-and-forth, in the first meeting in history between a North Korean leader and a sitting U.S. president.

Trump has long criticized the media, even laying into American reporters while out of the country. At the Group of Seven summit in Quebec last week, Trump responded to a CNN reporter’s question by calling his network “fake news.”

The Associated Press reported that the Trump administration restricted journalists’ access to multiple portions of the summit, including photo ops, breaking longstanding traditions on covering the commander in chief overseas.

“AP is troubled by the decision to curb media access at the Singapore summit,” said the news outlet’s director of media relations, Lauren Easton. “It is a disservice to the public, which deserves prompt, accurate and complete reporting on what may be one of the president’s most consequential meetings.”

Trump and Kim shook hands and briefly sat down in front of reporters before heading into their one-on-one meeting.

“We’re going to have a great discussion and I think tremendous success,” Trump said. “We’re going to be tremendously successful, and it’s my honor, and we will have a terrific relationship.”

Kim, through a translator, spoke of the “obstacles” that had to be overcome to reach the day of the summit.

“I’ll tell you when they’re out,” Trump said to Kim, apparently referring to the press in the room.

Later, ahead of a working lunch with Kim and both men’s advisers, Trump told photographers and cameramen from Singapore’s “Host TV” to be sure they captured the attendees’ good side.

“Getting a good picture everybody?” Trump asked. “So we look nice and handsome and thin? Perfect.”

[The Hill]

Trump Holds Solo News Conference, Defends Bashing Press

President Donald Trump stepped to the microphone alone Saturday to take reporters’ questions, just the second time he’d done so since taking office more than a year ago.

He talked about his desire for countries to remove all barriers to the free flow of goods. He looked ahead to the next big meeting on his schedule — a summit in Singapore next week with North Korea’s leader. Along the way, Trump bashed the U.S. press and defended why he does it.

“I’d like to ask you why you do that?” said a White House reporter from the news agency Agence France-Presse.

Trump, who is obsessed with his media coverage and has labeled the press “the enemy of the people,” defended the steady stream of attacks.

“Because the U.S. press is very dishonest. Much of it, not all of it,” Trump said. “Oh, I have some folks in your profession that are with the U.S., in the U.S., citizens, proud citizens; they’re reporters. These are some of the most outstanding people I know. But there are many people in the press that are unbelievably dishonest. They don’t cover stories the way they’re supposed to be. They don’t even report them in many cases if they’re positive. So there’s tremendous — you know, I came up with the term ‘fake news.’

“It’s a lot of ‘fake news,’ but at the same time I have great respect for many of the people in the press,” he said.

During an earlier point in the news conference, Trump referred to a CNN producer’s “fake friends at CNN.”

Unlike with a more formal news conference, typically announced days in advance, the White House gave journalists traveling with Trump little warning that he was coming to their workspace to make a statement and answer questions before leaving the Group of Seven summit in Quebec to fly to Singapore.

He answered questions from just the small group, or “pool,” of reporters who travel with him, not the much larger universe of reporters who cover the White House on a daily basis and would attend a less hastily arranged question-and-answer session.

Trump seems more fond of sparring with reporters when he can share the stage with a foreign counterpart, as he did this past week at the White House after meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who had stopped in Washington to consult with Trump before the G-7 and the upcoming Kim summit.

The president has also been more open to answering questions during brief appearances at the White House, such as at bill-signing ceremonies or meetings with lawmakers, or on the South Lawn when he leaves or returns from an out-of-town trip.

Trump last appeared solo before reporters in February 2017, less than a month into his presidency. It was a rollicking, quickly arranged, 77-minute free-for-all in the stately East Room of the White House during which he railed against the news media, defended his fired national security adviser and insisted that no one who advised his campaign had had any contacts with Russia.

[The New York Times]

EPA Chief Pruitt’s Spokesperson to Atlantic Reporter: ‘You’re a Piece of Trash’

The Environmental Protection Agency’s spokesperson, Jahan Wilcox, was not exactly in the mood when a reporter from The Atlantic called to ask him about the abrupt departure of an EPA staffer shortly after her Congressional testimony was made public.

In fact, in lieu of civility, Wilcox refused comment and said this to The Atlantic‘s Elaina Plott: “You have a great day, you’re a piece of trash.”

Wilcox’s remark to Plott came after the reporter asked about the departure of top EPA aide Millan Hupp.

While Hupp’s name may not be well-known outside of EPA circles, the director of scheduling and advance —  who will officially leave her post on June 8 — is at the center of a number of scandals plaguing EPA head Scott Pruitt from her non-House sanctioned pay raise to calling to inquire about a used mattress from a Trump hotel.

Her testimony also contributed to the growing laundry list of scandals surrounding Pruitt, from the aforementioned used mattress call to using work computers and time for Pruitt’s personal errands and his too good to be true sweetheart apartment rental.

The 26-year-old Hupp, who worked for Pruitt in Oklahoma before coming to Washington was reportedly tired of “being thrown under the bus by Pruitt,” according to the source that informed The Atlanticof her departure.

While Wilcox refused comment on Hupp’s leaving, The Atlantic also confirmed her departure via correspondence and a second EPA source.

UPDATE: In addition to Hupp’s resignation, Scott Pruitt’s counsel also reportedly resigned.

[Mediaite]

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