Trump blames Florida school shooting on Russia investigation

President Donald Trump’s attacks on the FBI hit a new low on Saturday evening, when the president suggested in a tweet that the bureau had failed to prevent Wednesday’s mass shooting at a Florida high school because of its ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. While it’s true that the FBI had been alerted about Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, there’s absolutely no evidence that the bureau missed anything because of its investigation into the Trump team’s possible collusion with Russia.

“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable,” Trump wrote. “They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

The FBI acknowledged on Friday that a person close to Cruz contacted their tip line on January 5, a month before the shooting, to provide information about his gun ownership, desire to kill people, and his disturbing behavior. FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement that he is investigating what happened. The GOP, however, isn’t happy. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chair of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter to Wray asking the bureau brief their committees on why the FBI didn’t act on the tip, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also asked the agency to brief his staffers. Florida Gov. Rick Scott this week went so far as to call for Wray’s resignation over the matter. “We constantly promote ‘see something, say something,’ and a courageous person did just that to the FBI. And the FBI failed to act,” Scott said.

On Saturday, At a rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Emma Gonzalez, a student who survived the shooting, delivered an impassioned speech and addressed the president directly. (Beyond blaming the FBI, Trump on Thursday tweeted that neighbors and classmates knew Cruz “was a big problem” and should have reported him to authorities — which they did.) “How about we stop blaming the victims for something that was the shooter’s fault?” she asked. “If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.”

[Vox]

Reality

Before the start of his big Russia tweetstorm, President Trump reportedly dined with Geraldo Rivera.

The reality is, the FBI employs 35,000 people, only as small handful, about 36 people, are working on the Russia investigation

Trump blames Obama, lashes out at Schiff and Democrats, but spares Russia criticism in weekend tweet storm

President Donald Trump has lashed out at his critics, political rivals, American institutions and even his own national security advisor in a weekend tirade about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Yet the president spared Russia itself from his harshest criticism.

Trump zeroed in on his predecessor in the Oval Office, Barack Obama, for not doing enough to stop Russian operations intended to sow chaos in the American political system.

“Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing,” Trump posted Sunday morning on Twitter.

Trump was referring to comments from Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own probe into Russia’s election-interference efforts.

Schiff, an outspoken critic of Trump, said Friday that the Obama administration shared some responsibility in the Russia controversy, because it should have been more aggressive and revealed the operation to the public.

“We should have called them out much earlier,” Schiff said Friday morning. “While I respect the motive in terms of the Obama administration, they didn’t want to be seen as meddling, the American people had a right to know what was going on and could be trusted to do the right thing with it. And they should have defended being more public and aggressive at the time, at least in my view.”

Schiff made his comments ahead of several federal indictments of Russian nationals and entities by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

The indictments revealed Friday did not include any allegation that Russia efforts actually had any effect on the outcome of the election, but it did not conclude otherwise, either. The charges allege that the Russians waged “information warfare” on the U.S. political system to aid Trump’s campaign.

The latest developments in the case compelled Trump to acknowledge that Russia had interfered. Previously, he described the Russia plot as a “hoax” and the investigation into it a “witch hunt.” In his Sunday tweet storm, he stated that he always meant that the “Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!”

[CNBC]

Reality

It is very easy to look backwards and say we could have done better, especially knowing now the scope of the election interference and we also didn’t know then. But we did know enough, enough that Obama wanted to release a bipartisan statement to the public alerting them of Russian involvement, but Mitch McConnell flatly refused to cooperate.

We also know that when Jeh Johnson, Obama’s secretary of homeland security, contacted people in charge of elections in various states whose election data had been possibly compromised, the Republicans in those states blew him off.

And as Joe Biden pointed out, “Can you imagine if the president of the United States called a press conference in October with this fella, and Stephen Bannon and company, and said ‘tell you what, the Russians are trying to interfere in our elections and we have to do something about it.’”

Trump calls for DOJ to investigate Obama over Iran

President Donald Trump was up early Sunday morning, tweeting that he can’t understand why former President Barack Obama was not investigated for the Iran deal before then launching an attack on House intel member Adam Schiff (D-CA).

Hours after undermining his own National Security Adviser on Twitter, Trump went after Obama.

“Never gotten over the fact that Obama was able to send $1.7 Billion Dollars in CASH to Iran and nobody in Congress, the FBI or Justice called for an investigation!” Trump wrote.

You can see the tweets below:

[Raw Story]

Reality

In 1979, Iran’s then-monarch Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi paid $400 million to the United States government to purchase military parts. But that year’s revolution toppled the shah, and the military parts were never delivered.

To regain its funds, Iran filed a claim against the United States in 1981 in the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, which adjudicates disputes between the two nations. The body, located at the Hague, was established amid negotiations to end the 1979-81 Iran hostage crisis, in which pro-revolution students took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

Trump criticizes national security advisor HR McMaster’s comments about Russian meddling in the 2016 election

President Donald Trump, in a late-night tweet, criticized remarks his national security advisor made earlier Saturday about Russian interference in the 2016 election.

H.R. McMaster, who is also a lieutenant general in the U.S. Army, told a conference in Germany that there was “incontrovertible” evidence that Russia had meddled in the U.S. election.

He was citing Friday’s federal indictments, stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, that said Russian operatives conducted a sophisticated internet campaign to sow chaos in the American political scene.

Trump eventually responded to his national security advisor by saying McMaster left out some details from his comments.

“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems,” Trump tweeted late Saturday night.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Friday that these particular indictments did not include allegations that the Russian efforts affected the election’s results. Trump saw the latest development in the case as a vindication.

The indictments released Friday allege, in part, that the Russians sought to disparage Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and help Trump win. The Russian operatives, according to the charges, attempted to convince some Americans to vote for third-party candidate Jill Stein over Clinton, and also sought to discourage minority turnout at the polls.

McMaster’s comments Saturday were part of a testy exchange with a Russian delegate at the conference.

“As you can see with the FBI indictment, the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain,” McMaster said. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday dismissed reports of interference as “blather.”

Trump has repeatedly denied that his campaign colluded with Russians to sway the election in his favor, and has often called the special counsel’s investigation a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.” Russian authorities have also rejected claims of collusion.

The president’s tweet targeting McMaster came soon after he suggested in another tweet that the Russia probe had somehow distracted the FBI from seeing warning signs leading to Wednesday’s shooting massacre at a high school in south Florida.

[CNBC]

 

Trump concocted a story about a border agent’s death. The truth won’t catch up.

This is the autopsy of a lie.

On the night of Nov. 18, Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez was found dying on the side of an interstate in West Texas. There were immediate signs it had been an accident. Martinez’s partner, Stephen Garland (who suffered a head injury and doesn’t recall the incident), had radioed for help, saying he thought he ran into a culvert.

But President Trump and his allies saw an opportunity to whip up anti-immigrant fervor. At a Cabinet meeting Nov. 20, Trump announced, with cameras rolling, that “we lost a Border Patrol officer just yesterday, and another one was brutally beaten and badly, badly hurt. . . . We’re going to have the wall.” He also issued a similar tweet.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, offered a reward “to help solve this murder” and to “help us catch this killer.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) declared the incident “a stark reminder of the ongoing threat that an unsecure border poses.”

And then there was Fox News, reporting that “a border patrol agent was brutally murdered” and going with the headline “Border Patrol agent appeared to be ambushed by illegal immigrants, bashed with rocks before death.” Fox News host Tucker Carlson reported that Martinez was “attacked at the border in the most gruesome possible way.”

The FBI swung into action, mobilizing 37 field offices, and this week it announced its findings. Although the investigation “has not conclusively determined” what happened, “none of the more than 650 interviews completed, locations searched, or evidence collected and analyzed have produced evidence that would support the existence of a scuffle, altercation, or attack on November 18, 2017.”

Compared with the original allegations, the findings got little attention. There was no corrective tweet from Trump or the others and no retraction by Fox News, which buried the FBI’s findings with brief mention. Fox News, which had previously reported immigrants to be guilty of rape allegations that were later dropped, continued to report the border union’s claim of assault “despite FBI finding no scuffle.”

It has been more than 300 years since Jonathan Swift wrote about the utility of falsehood: “If a lie be believed only for an hour, it hath done its work, and there is no farther occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect . . . like a physician, who hath found out an infallible medicine, after the patient is dead.”

Swift could not have better described Trump’s America in the 21st century, when allegation substitutes for evidence. Let us pretend that Russia isn’t interfering in our elections — and therefore let us decline to impose sanctions approved by Congress. Let us concoct stories about “illegal immigrant” murderers and rapists to justify a border wall. And let us tell Americans they can have a free lunch — a $1.5 trillion tax cut and $500 billion in additional spending, all paid for with borrowed funds — and suffer no adverse consequences. By the time people discover what has really happened, it will be too late.

Most Americans will never learn what investigators found about the border attack — because they were being exposed to a new hoax this week: that the key to the United States’ success is in borrowing more. “JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!” Trump tweeted in celebration after the two-year budget deal cleared Congress Friday morning.

But the economy is already near full employment — exactly the wrong time to enact a stimulus, typically done to jolt an economy out of recession. The deal gives the military even more than Trump sought and, with interest, will add almost $420 billion to the deficit, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. The tax cut and spending spree leave the government with less power to combat a recession. And a recession is exactly what Wall Street fears as the overstimulated economy forces up inflation and interest rates.

When recession comes, it will be too late. The fiction of a free lunch will already have wasted $2 trillion in the cause of overheating the economy, just as the fiction about the attack on Martinez and Garland has already furthered Trump’s attempt to portray immigrants as criminals.

There was reason to be skeptical early on in that case. Culberson County Sheriff Oscar Carrillo, one of the first responders on the scene, told The Post shortly after the incident that he doubted it was an attack. He has speculated that it was a fall, or that the two were accidentally sideswiped by a tractor-trailer.

But that didn’t fit Trump’s narrative about murderous immigrants. Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it.

[Washington Post]

Kellyanne Conway Says Sen. Gillibrand, Who Was First Elected in ’06, ‘Protected’ Clinton During Impeachment

Following White House staff secretary Rob Porter’s resignation amid allegations that he abused two ex-wives, President Donald Trump told reporters that he wished Porter well and that Porter has said the accusations are false. He also stated that Porter was “very sad” over the situation and hoped the ex-aide had a “wonderful career.”

During today’s broadcast of ABC’s This Week, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was pressed on the president’s response to the controversy and his weekend tweet seemingly doubling down on it in which he cited due process. Host George Stephanopoulos brought up reaction from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who said that Trump has shown that he “doesn’t value women.”

Conway brushed off Gillibrand’s criticism by invoking President Bill Clinton’s indiscretions with women and late ’90s impeachment. After noting that Trump’s accusers had “their day” when they were “trotted out” on television, Conway said the following:

“I don’t need a lecture from Kirsten Gillibrand on anybody else who protected and defended and harbored a sitting president who had sexual relations in the Oval Office and was impeached for lying. I don’t need a lecture from her or anybody else.”

Only one problem with Conway’s counterpoint to Gillibrand — Gillibrand was first elected to Congress in 2006 and didn’t actually get to Washington until January 2007, years after Clinton was impeached over the Lewinsky affair. This fact wasn’t lost on some media figures.

[Mediaite]

Donald Trump’s DACA Tweet Gets it All Wrong

Donald Trump seemed to spend most of his day on Saturday glued to Twitter, and following a morning of tweets musing about the “unfairness” of abuse accusations to the men accused and playing up his own victimhood, the president went on the offensive attacking both Democrats and facts, all in one Tweet (the new 240 character limit goes a long way).

There are multiple problems with this, beginning with the fact that DACA—the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that offers legal status to undocumented immigrants who arrived to the US as children—did not exist until 2012.

Some quick background that Trump did not seem to have access to before he tweeted: since the early 2000s, several variations of a bill known as the DREAM Act, which was designed to offer temporary legal status to individuals who were children when they arrived in the United States, were introduced in Congress. It wasn’t until September 2007, when Democrats controlled the House and Senate, but notably not the White House, that the bill seemed to have any real shot. It passed the House and won a majority of votes in the Senate but was blocked by a Republican filibuster. In 2010, when the Democrats did control all three branches, the bill was supported by a majority of both houses and President Barack Obama, but, again, blocked by a Republican filibuster. Notably, while some Republicans crossed party lines to support that version of the bill, the current top three House Republicans did not support it, and the current GOP Senate leadership cadre, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, voted against killing the filibuster that Democrats needed to beat to make the bill a law.

The DACA program itself was created in 2012 when Obama issued an executive order to enforce the provisions of what had been proposed in the legislation.

[Mother Jones]

Reality

So many things wrong:

  1. The White House, the Senate and the House are not the three branches of government.
  2. Obama wasn’t president in 2008.
  3. Republicans blocked DACA legislation in 2010.
  4. DACA executive order didn’t exist until 2012.
  5. It was Trump who unilaterally broke the program.

Trump Touts Comments from Fox & Friends Guest Who Says POTUS Was ‘Victimized’ by Obama Admin

President Trump watched Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton on Fox & Friends this morning and touted his comments this afternoon.

Fitton has defended Trump on the Russia probe, and on the Fox News morning program today, he talked about the dossier and ties between Hillary Clinton and the Russians.

At one point, he said the following remarks, tweeted by POTUS:

[Mediaite]

Media

Donald Trump thinks not clapping for him is ‘treasonous’

President Donald Trump wasn’t — and, apparently, still isn’t — happy that Democrats in Congress didn’t stand to applaud him in his State of the Union address last week.

Here’s what Trump told a crowd in Cincinnati in a speech on Monday afternoon:

“They were like death and un-American. Un-American. Somebody said, ‘treasonous.’ I mean, Yeah, I guess why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean they certainly didn’t seem to love our country that much.”

So, here we are. Again.

Let’s quickly define “treason,” shall we?

Here’s how Merriam-Webster does it:

“The offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign’s family.”

Trump loyalists will dismiss all of this as much ado over nothing. He was joking! He didn’t even say that it was treasonous! He was just agreeing with people who said it was treasonous!

Fine. Also, wrong. And missing the point in a major way.

The point? It’s this: Not standing during applause lines for the State of the Union isn’t treasonous or un-American. Not even close.

If it was, all of the Republicans in that chamber are treasonous and un-American as well because when former President Barack Obama would tout his accomplishments in office — as Trump was doing last Tuesday night — lots and lots of Republican legislators would sit on their hands while the Democratic side of the aisle erupted in cheers. And so on and so forth for every president before him (and after).

Then there is the fact that the specific “treasonous” instance Trump was referring to had to do with his touting of historically low African-American unemployment — a bit of a cherry-picked fact based off of a single month’s economic report. By the time the new report for January came out last Friday, black unemployment had ticked up almost a point and was no longer close to a historic low.

Treason is Benedict Arnold. (Side bar: Read Nathaniel Philbrick’s “Valiant Ambition” about Arnold and George Washington.) Treason isn’t refusing to applaud when the President of the United States thinks you should.

Like with many things Trump says or tweets, there’s a natural tendency to just shrug it off. To do that, however, is to miss something very important — and concerning — at work here.

What Trump is saying is that dissent — which is what Democrats are doing when they choose not to clap for a line in his speech — is traitorous and/or un-American. That if these non-clappers really loved the country, they would be applauding when he touted how low black unemployment had dipped under his tenure.

If you think that’s totally OK, flip the script. Put a Democratic president in office. And have him or her chastise Republicans as treasonous because they didn’t applaud for the fact that something close to universal health care has been achieved. Would that be a reasonable charge? Or is it possible that while Republicans agree that more people having health insurance is a good thing, they fundamentally disagree with the way in which it was implemented?

You don’t have to imagine it. Because that’s what happened during several of President Obama’s State of the Union addresses. Except that Obama never suggested those non-clapping Republicans didn’t love America.

Even the suggestion of criminalizing dissent should send a chill down the spine of anyone who counts themselves as a fan of democracy. The right to dissent — without fear of retribution — sits at the heart of what differentiates America from authoritarian countries around the world.

When you have a president float the idea that not clapping at moments when he believes clapping is appropriate sends a very powerful message to the country about how we do (and should) deal with those who disagree with us. And that goes for whether he was “joking” or not.

It’s a very bad message — no matter whether you agree with Trump or not.

[CNN]

Media

Trump tweets memo ‘totally vindicates’ him in Russia inquiry

President Donald Trump said Saturday that the memo released by the House Intelligence Committee the day before has vindicated him and proved that the special counsel’s Russia investigation is an “American disgrace.”

In a tweet posted Saturday morning, Trump continued his attacks against his own FBI and Justice Department for its investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

“This memo totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe,” the president tweeted. “But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on.”

Trump’s tweet appeared to support contentions made by Democrats like Rep. Adam Schiff of California that the memo’s release was merely a partisan attempt to undermine the Russia investigation.

On Saturday, Schiff responded to Trump’s tweet by claiming that — far from vindicating the president — the memo in fact proved “quite the opposite.”

“The most important fact disclosed in this otherwise shoddy memo was that FBI investigation began July 2016 with your adviser, Papadopoulous, who was secretly discussing stolen Clinton emails with the Russians,” tweeted Schiff, who is the ranking member on the committee.

On Friday, after more than a week of speculation and partisan infighting, the White House declassified a memo written by House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and staffers.

FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials fought hard against the memo’s release, even issuing a rare statement claimingthat they had “grave concerns” about inaccuracies and misleading conclusions in the document.

In an interview with Fox News on Friday, Nunes said although he helped write the controversial memo, he had not read the FISA application under question.

Instead, as part of an agreement with DOJ officials, Nunes said one Democrat and one Republican were allowed to read the documents. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., a former federal prosecutor, and Schiff were selected.

House Republicans have touted the memo as proof that the premise of the Russia investigation is flawed. The memo argues that the FBI misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court about the basis for its application to eavesdrop on Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

The memo states that the decision to spy on Page was based on a dossier written by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who Republicans claim had an overt anti-Trump bias.

But after analyzing the four-page document, many political analysts noted that the memo does not shed light on what role, if any, the dossier played in the special counsel’s inquiry. Others note that Page came under surveillance in October 2016, after the Russia investigation was well under way.

Trump continued to tweet about the Russia investigation Saturday evening. Trump touted what he called “great jobs numbers” and rising wages, but “nobody even talks about them.”

“Only Russia, Russia, Russia, despite the fact that, after a year of looking, there is No Collusion!” the president tweeted.

[NBC News]

Reality

The two congressmen who actually saw the classified evidence in the Nunes memo, Trey Gowdy and Adam Schiff, both say Trump is wrong.

Trump’s own FBI and DOJ both say the Nunes memo is factually inaccurate.

By no objective measure does this vindicate Trump of anything.

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