Trump wishes ‘everyone’ a Happy New Year, ‘including the haters and fake news media’

President Donald Trump welcomed the dawn of 2019 on Tuesday with an all-caps tweet that wished “everyone” a Happy New Year — “including the haters and the fake news media.”

The president went on to say that 2019 would be a “fantastic” year for anyone “not suffering from Trump derangement syndrome” — an ailment he has diagnosed his critics with in the past.

Trump’s message was reminiscent of his tweet at the close of 2016, in which he wished a happy New Year “to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do.” At the close of 2014, he extended his well wishes to “all haters and losers.”

Trump had planned to spend the holidays at his private Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, but put his trip on hold when the partial government shutdown began on Dec. 22.

House Democrats unveiled a plan on Monday to re-open the federal government, but their proposal did not include the funding for a border wall that the president has demanded.

The Senate’s Republican leadership said on Monday that the Senate “is not going to send something to the president that he won’t sign.”

A little over an hour after issuing his first missive, the president sent out a simpler greeting on Twitter: “Happy New Year!”

[NBC News]

 

Trump Makes All-Caps New Year’s Decree: ‘MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL’

With the Federal government in its 10th day of a shutdown as President Donald Trump tries to secure funds in the budget for a Southern border wall, the commander-in-chief is reverting back to his original campaign promise about where the money is coming from.

In a Monday night tweet fired off just a few hours before the ball drop in Times Square, the president claimed that Mexico will be financing the wall by way of the trade pact they signed earlier in 2018.

“MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL through the many billions of dollars a year that the U.S.A. is saving through the new Trade Deal, the USMCA, that will replace the horrendous NAFTA Trade Deal, which has so badly hurt our Country,” Trump wrote. “Mexico & Canada will also thrive – good for all!”

Earlier, Trump also taped a brief New Year’s message for his followers:

“While I’m at the White House working, you’re out there partying tonight. But I don’t blame you. Enjoy yourselves. We’re gonna have a great year. Have a really, really Happy New Year.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Hits Back At ‘Failed Generals’ Who Were ‘Unable To Do The Job’ Over Syria Withdrawal

President Donald Trump is pushing back on criticism about the sudden announcement from a week and a half ago about plans to remove U.S. troops from Syria and that ISIS was defeated. This decision reportedly came despite advice from military and intelligence leadership and eventually led to the protest resignation from Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

On New Year’s Eve, President Trump apparently felt the need to clear the air and defend his position via a short series of tweets that explained his process as a simple fulfillment of his campaign promise. And, as his is wont, he included some not-so-subtle digs at his detractors.

Trump tweeted:

Following the announced plans to withdrawal, Trump has received bipartisan criticism for the planned withdrawal. Senator Lindsey Graham, a close Senate ally to the White House, notably was vocal in pushing back on this plan, though his rhetoric has softened more recently.

Trump’s dig at “some failed generals” is certainly a dig at Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who in a recent interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, spared little criticism for a president who he sees as “immoral.”

[Mediaite]

Reality

Trump’s plan to fight ISIS was actually Obama’s plan, just on a faster timeline.

Trump compares border wall to ‘Wall around’ Obama home

President Donald Trump compared his proposed border wall on Sunday with a fence-like barrier that surrounds the Washington home of Barack and Michelle Obama.

“President and Mrs. Obama built/has a ten foot Wall around their D.C. mansion/compound,” Trump tweeted on Sunday afternoon. “I agree, totally necessary for their safety and security. The U.S. needs the same thing, slightly larger version!”

The Obamas bought their home in the Kalorama neighborhood in 2017 for $8 million after renting it for 2½ years, according to TODAY.

TMZ first reported in 2017 that the couple was building a fence-like wall and published photos showing what appeared to be the construction of a few brick columns. The project has since been completed.

Another photo of the home in Town and Country magazine showed a metal gate and brick columns. The Obamas also added guard booths.

A spokeswoman for the Obamas declined to comment, but in her book “Becoming,” published in November, Michelle Obama wrote that Trump’s embrace of false conspiracy theories had made her fear for her family’s security.

“What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington?” she wrote. “What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk.”

Trump’s tweet comes amid a partial government shutdown that began Dec. 22 over his demand that Congress fund a $5 billion wall on the United States’ southern border. He threatened to “close” the border if the money was not approved.

Congressional Democrats, who take control of the House of Representatives after returning to Washington next month, have shown little interest in funding what incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff called an “immoral, ineffective and expensive wall — the wall that he specifically promised that Mexico would pay for.”

After a meeting with Trump on Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters that “on multiple fronts the president is in a good mood.”

“He feels like he’s got to deliver on the promise of securing our border,” Graham said, adding, “He’s very open minded about combining wall funding with other things to make it a win-win for the country.”

[NBC News]

Trump issues executive order freezing federal workers’ pay in 2019

President Donald Trump issued an executive order Friday freezing federal workers’ pay for 2019, following through on a proposal he announced earlier in the year.

The move, which nixes a 2.1% across-the-board pay raise that was set to take effect in January, comes as hundreds of thousands of federal employees are expecting to begin the new year furloughed or working without pay because of a partial government shutdown.
Trump told lawmakers he planned to scrap the 2019 pay bump for federal workers in August, saying the federal budget couldn’t support it. In addition to the 2.1% pay increase, the executive order also cancels a yearly adjustment of paychecks based on the region of the country where workers are posted, called the “locality pay increase,” that was due to take effect in January.

The move does not affect a 2.6% pay increase for US troops next year that was passed as part of the massive defense spending bill Trump signed in August.

Lawmakers could include a pay raise for 2019 in a spending bill to reopen the government, but negotiations have been at an impasse over money for Trump’s border wall.

About 380,000 federal employees are on furlough and 420,000 are working without pay as the new year approaches.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders in August, Trump described the pay increase as “inappropriate.”

“We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” the President wrote.

Trump also stressed that a pay freeze would not affect the federal government’s ability to attract qualified workers. He cited his statutory authority to adjust pay out of “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare.”

[CNN]

Trump Wrongly Says Democrats Are Responsible for Children’s Deaths at the Border

As Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen travels to the border in the wake of two children dying in Customs and Border Patrol’s custody, President Donald Trump is tweeting from the White House that Democrats are to blame for the deaths. (True to form, he is also blaming Democrats and Nancy Pelosi for the shutdown.)

His tweets are the president’s first public comment about the deaths of two children, an eight-year-old boy named Felipe Gomez Alonzo and a seven-year-old girl named Jakelin Caal, who were taken into custody with their parents after attempting a dangerous crossing into the United States at the Mexico border. “Any deaths of children or others at the Border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally. They can’t. If we had a Wall, they wouldn’t even try!” the president tweeted.

But that claim is absurd. It is Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy and restrictions on asylum seekers that is necessitating these children be held at government facilities that are not prepared to hold so many people, especially young children. And because they implemented these policies, the administration should have anticipated a need for medical services for migrants coming across. But only after two children have died is the administration even talking about making changes.

Earlier this week, Nielsen said that the agency “is considering options for surge medical assistance,” which is what it should have done as soon as the policy was implemented. But the Dr. Colleen Kract, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics says that physicians who have visited the facilities where children are held are disturbed by the conditions. “These children are not given the basic needs of food and water and medical care,” she told TIME.

Even Trump’s CPB Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told CBS This Morning that a child had not died in CPB custody in “more than a decade” and that the agency needs to take “a different approach” to how it manages children in its care.

Democrats, however, are refusing to take the blame and plan to hold hearings investigating the children’s deaths. “[Trump is] just making stuff up again. In January the House of Representatives will hold hearings with witnesses under oath and find out what happened,” Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) tweeted in response to the president.

[Rolling Stone]

Trump: I may be forced to seal southern border, cut off aid to Central America

President Donald Trump threatened on Friday to close the nation’s southern border if Congress doesn’t fund his border wall.

“We build the wall or,” Trump wrote in a string of tweets. ” … close the southern border.”

Mick Mulvaney, the incoming White House chief of staff, told reporters on Friday the president is “absolutely” willing to shut down the southern border, despite the enormous cost to the country.

“All options are on the table,” Mulvaney said. “Listen, it’s the only way we can get the Democrats’ attention.”

Trump also said he would cut off aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where violence and crime have motivated thousands of people to flee and seek asylum in the United States. He also said another migrant caravan is heading toward the U.S.

Trump’s string of tweeted threats comes as the partial government shutdown reaches its first full week amid a spending bill feud between Congress and the president.

Trump refused to sign a short-term funding bill last week that would have pushed the spending fight to February, insisting that Congress allocate billions for the border wall.

In a second tweet, the president claimed that building the wall would be a “profit making operation.” The president also complained about Mexico stealing American jobs and undermining the auto industry and said Central America’s violence-riddled Northern Triangle countries were “taking advantage of the U.S. for years.”

The San Diego Union Tribune reported on Thursday that another caravan of migrants from Honduras was forming, with as many as 15,000 migrants undergoing the lengthy asylum request process, potentially adding to the backlog of asylum-seekers who are currently in Tijuana, Mexico.

Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Friday on CBS that the president was willing to negotiate the amount of border funding Congress gives him.

“I’m not going to negotiate in the press, but the president has been willing to negotiate on this point,” she said. “And the Democrats have not been willing to do anything. And that’s the sad part, they care more about keeping our borders open than keeping our government open.”

On Fox News, Mulvaney said the administration had already offered Democrats a number “less than” $5 billion in negotiation, but Democrats had held firm to their offer of $1.3 billion dollars in border funding.

[NBC News]

Sarah Sanders Goes After CNN: They ‘Attack Anyone Who Supports’ Trump, Including Military

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is hammering CNN for reporting that military protocol might’ve been violated when President Donald Trump met with U.S. forces in his travels abroad.

During the president’s meetings with soldiers in Iraq and Germany, various members of the military were spottedas they took photos with Trump, displayed his paraphernalia, and asked him to sign MAGA hats.

Typically, U.S. troops are asked to conduct themselves in an apolitical manner, so CNN reported that some of yesterday’s interactions with Trump might’ve broken Defense Department rules on “partisan political activities.”

As critics from CNN and other outletsaccuse Trump of using his troop visits as a political exercise, Sanders is slamming the network by saying they will “attack anyone who supports President Trump.”

[Mediaite]

Trump misleads about military pay raises again

President Donald Trump incorrectly told troops in Iraq on Wednesday that he gave them their first pay raise in more than 10 years — a falsehood he has repeatedly told.

Speaking to troops at Al Asad Air Base during his surprise visit to Iraq, Trump told troops: “You protect us. We are always going to protect you. And you just saw that, ’cause you just got one of the biggest pay raises you’ve ever received. … You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years. More than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one. I got you a big one.”
In fact, military pay has increased every yearfor more than three decades. It was raised 2.4% in 2018 and then 2.6% in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. The 2.6% pay raise is the largest in the past 9 years.

[CNN]

A Trump Call That Went Rogue Hands Erdogan a Surprise Win on Syria

Donald Trump was supposed to tell his Turkish counterpart to stop testing his patience with military threats in Syria. That is, if the American president stuck to the script.

Instead, during a lengthy phone call earlier this month, Trump shocked even those in his inner circle by yielding to a suggestion from Recep Tayyip Erdogan to reverse the Pentagon’s Syrian strategy, handing the Turkish president his biggest diplomatic victory ever.

Erdogan pressed Trump on the Dec. 14 call to explain why American forces were still in Syria even after they met their objective of defeating Islamic State, according to people with direct knowledge of the conversation.

Erdogan had a point about the defeat of ISIS, Trump said, repeating his long-held conviction that American troops should be out of Syria anyway, according to the people, including an American official who spoke on condition of anonymity while discussing the call.

Then the American president dropped a bombshell, asking National Security Adviser John Bolton — whom he addressed as “Johnny” — about the feasibility of an immediate pullout, according to two of the people. He got a reassuring “yes” in response and the ball started rolling, the people said.

Days later, Trump announced the pullout of all 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, facing withering criticism from both sides of the political spectrum for leaving a key part of the Middle East exposed to Russian and Iranian influence. Then on Thursday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned.

While Trump faced political heat, Erdogan became a hero at home, seen as a leader who got his way with the world’s biggest superpower by convincing Washington to end its support for Turkey’s nemesis in Syria, a Kurdish militant group called the YPG. Erdogan says the group — which has allied with America for some of the toughest fighting in northern Syria — is linked to domestic terrorists he has long sought to wipe out.

The developments illustrate how Erdogan has managed to become a more central player in both Mideast politics and U.S. foreign policy, capitalizing on an American president eager to fulfill promises to extricate American troops from Middle East quagmires. They come just months after Trump and Erdogan were facing off over new American tariffs, Turkey’s refusal to release an American pastor and Erdogan’s demands that the U.S. extradite a cleric it views as behind a failed 2016 coup.

[Bloomberg]

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