Trump Calls on Justice Department to Release Mueller Probe Documents: ‘Drain the Swamp!’

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to tout his latest theory that the “FBI or DOJ was infiltrating” his campaign during the 2016 election in order to sabotage it and allow for a Hillary Clinton victory.

This latest theory is based on a New York Times report that revealed the FBI launched an incredibly secretive investigation into the Trump campaign in 2016 and used an informant to glean info from four campaign affiliates: Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and George Papadopoulos.

That report was seized on by the Russia investigation’s chief critics in the media who argued it was evidence the FBI spied on the Trump campaign with the malicious intent of setting then-candidate Trump up and bringing him down (they clearly did not do a very good job of it, but that’s apparently beside the point). Trump himself has enjoyed this narrative, tweeting about it often, if always in the conditional.

Trump tweeted — erroneously, as no one reported that the informant was “implanted” into his campaign — on Friday:

“Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president. It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a ‘hot’ Fake News story. If true – all time biggest political scandal!”

Trump again wheeled out the “If” in his latest tweet Saturday evening:

“If the FBI or DOJ was infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign, that is a really big deal,” he wrote. “Only the release or review of documents that the House Intelligence Committee (also, Senate Judiciary) is asking for can give the conclusive answers. Drain the Swamp!”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has been engaged in a tense showdown with the Department of Justice over documents he has demanded that relate to special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties.

The DOJ has refused to hand over the documents, arguing they could endanger an intelligence source, Politico reported.

Now, while the New York Times and the Washington Post have omitted the name of that intelligence source from their reporting, it has become abundantly clear who he is. Hell, the Daily Caller reported on him three months ago, so the cat’s pretty much out of the bag.

[Mediaite]

Trump Accuses FBI of Spying on His Campaign on Mueller Anniversary: ‘If So, This is Bigger Than Watergate!’

It has been 365 days since Robert Mueller was appointed to head up the special counsel investigation into Russia’s 2016 election-meddling campaign.

Trump took to Twitter to ring in the first year, by suggesting the FBI spied on his campaign. He referenced a story by Andrew McCarthy — who appeared on Fox & Friends earlier — in the National Review saying Barack Obamaopened an FBI investigation in 2016 that targeted the Trump campaign for suspicion of working with Russian cyber-espionage efforts. This comes after New York Times released a separate report detailing how the FBI was looking into Trump’s campaign ever since George Papadopoulos rambled about Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton during a chat with an Australian diplomat.

Trump’s tweet also comes after Rudy Giuliani appeared on Fox & Friends Thursday morning to speculate about the FBI placing a spy in the Trump campaign — which the lawyer said “would be the biggest scandal in the history of this town.”

Oh course, the since the investigation has prompted lingering questions about national security and the nature of Trump’s relationship with Russia, the president also took a moment to mark the anniversary:

[Mediaite]

Reality

The tweet refers to the claim, increasingly popular among Trump’s most ardent defenders, that the FBI had a spy in his campaign. The theory was given more fuel Wednesday by a line in a New York Times story, which said “at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos,” referring to Trump campaign aides Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

After the Times piece was posted, Breitbart News ran a headline that said “Leakers to NYT Confirm FBI Ran Spy Operation Against Trump Campaign.” On Wednesday night, Trump’s newest lawyer Rudy Giuliani was talking about it on Fox News, telling Laura Ingraham that the FBI “possibly plac[ed] a spy in the Trump campaign.”

Then on Thursday morning former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy appeared on Fox & Friends to talk about the informant, which he’d previously written about for The National Review.

“What happened here is that they did not have a criminal predicate to open an investigation on Trump,” McCarthy said. “And what they did was use their counterintelligence powers covertly to investigate the Trump campaign, during the stretch run of the campaign, under circumstance where they did not have evidence that anyone had actually committed a crime.”

Giuliani also appeared on Fox & Friends Thursday morning to stoke the flames, saying that if the FBI had spied on the Trump campaign, “That would be the biggest scandal in the history of this town, at least involving law enforcement.” This morning’s Trump tweet confirms that the intended audience for that statement was watching.

Trump Tweets ‘Nothing Has Happened With ZTE Except As It Pertains To The Larger Trade Deal’

President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that the reversal on trade policy around ZTE Corp. does not indicate a slackened position on China trade negotiations.

Here’s what Trump said in a series of tweets:

“The Washington Post and CNN have typically written false stories about our trade negotiations with China. Nothing has happened with ZTE except as it pertains to the larger trade deal. Our country has been losing hundreds of billions of dollars a year with China…We have not seen China’s demands yet, which should be few in that previous U.S. Administrations have done so poorly in negotiating. China has seen our demands. There has been no folding as the media would love people to believe, the meetings…haven’t even started yet! The U.S. has very little to give, because it has given so much over the years. China has much to give!”

Why It’s Important

The president’s support of trade with ZTE had driven a spike in optical stocks exposed to the Chinese business. Some shares traded lower Wednesday on the clarified policy.

Acacia Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: ACIA) fell 4.3 percent and Oclaro Inc (NASDAQ: OCLR) 1.1 percent, while Applied Optoelectronics Inc(NASDAQ: AAOI) and Lumentum Holdings Inc(NASDAQ: LITE) dipped marginally.

What’s Next

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He arrived in Washington Tuesday for a five-day visit packed with trade talks. Reuters reported that several U.S. lawmakers U.S. lawmakers rejected any planby Trump to ease restrictions on ZTE Corp., calling the company a security threat and vowing not to abandon legislation clamping down on the company.

[Yahoo News]

Trump contradicts himself in a single tweet about leaks he claims are fake news

President Donald Trump went off on the “fake news” that claims leaks are coming out of the West Wing of the White House. First, he called it fake news, and then he denounced the leaks that were coming out.

“The so-called leaks coming out of the White House are a massive over exaggeration put out by the Fake News Media in order to make us look as bad as possible. With that being said, leakers are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are!” Trump tweeted Monday.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was bothered by the leak of the comment top aide Kelly Sadler made about Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). It has been reported that the communications department is searching for the leak.

When it was revealed that first lady Melania Trump underwent a procedure Monday on her kidney, pundits remarked that no one knew the procedure was coming. They compared the leaks in the East Wing, the first lady’s office, to the sieve in Trump’s West Wing.

[Raw Story]

Trump claims he saved almost $999,800,000 on US embassy in Jerusalem

President Donald Trump spent roughly 10 minutes of an hourlong speech Thursday night in Indiana telling the story of how he saved nearly $999,800,000 on controversial plans to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — a claim he has made before in the months leading up to the facility’s opening on Monday.

The administration did announce plans in February to designate a US consular facility in Jerusalem as the US Embassy but the process of building a new permanent embassy in the city will take years.

After opening the embassy next week, the US will build out additional office space at the consular facility by the end of 2019. But that space, too, will be temporary as the US works to identify a site and build a permanent embassy in Jerusalem.

“In parallel, we have started the search for a site for our permanent embassy to Israel, the planning and construction of which will be a longer-term undertaking,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in February.

But Trump once again failed to mention that distinction Thursday while telling the crowd that the US would spend only “$200,000 to $300,000” on the new embassy versus a $1 billion proposal he said he was initially presented with.

A State Department spokesperson told CNN on Friday that Nauert’s statement still stands but added that they have “started the process of site selection for a permanent embassy in Jerusalem and “are looking at all sites we currently lease or own.”

“We expect site selection, design, planning and permitting, and construction of a permanent embassy in Jerusalem to take seven to 10 years,” the spokesperson said, adding that it is too early to assess the likely cost.

Trump says he was asked to sign a $1 billion plan to build a new embassy nearly three months ago after announcing the US would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“So they walk up to my desk and they give me this beautiful folder and I’m supposed to sign. I said, ‘What is this?’ And I’m half signed. He said, ‘Sir, we are building an embassy in Jerusalem, sir.’ I said, ‘How much?’ ” Trump told the crowd on Thursday.

“They said — I kid you not — they said, ‘Sir, $1 billion,’ ” he said.

According to his recollection, Trump immediately stopped signing the proposal and called his ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who said that rather than building the embassy on a new site, he could renovate a building already owned by the US, and do it for just $150,000.

“I said, ‘David, you can do that for $150,000. … You know what, spend $200,000-$300,000 — that’s OK too,’ ” Trump said.

The State Department confirmed Friday that the cost of the initial modifications that were made to the interim site, allowing it to open on Monday, was under $400,000.

“As the President stated, the cost of initial modifications made to permit the embassy to open on Monday was under $400,000. We are also planning for construction of a new extension at the interim site as well as for additional security enhancements, at an additional cost. We’re still assessing the final costs,” a spokesperson for the State Department told CNN.

“The Arnona building from which the Embassy will initially operate opened in 2010. It is the newest and most secure US facility in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It has provided, and will continue to provide, consular services to American citizens and visa applicants. Those will continue uninterrupted after the May 14 opening as part of the new US Embassy,” the spokesperson said.

Trump also touted the timing of the embassy’s opening, joking that if he had agreed to the original proposal for a new complex, he would need an “extension on the presidency” to see the project through.

“The new embassy, I said, ‘When is it going to be open?’ ” Trump recalled. “They said, ‘Anywhere between five to 10 years.’ So I said, ‘Unless they give me an extension for the presidency.”

“So they said five to 10 years, and you know when they say five to 10 years they really mean 15 to 20 years, right? So we open the embassy next week — three months. Three months!” he exclaimed.

This is not the first time Trump has omitted certain details regarding plans for a US Embassy in Jerusalem: He made a similar claim in March while sitting alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office.

“We’ll have it built very quickly. A lot of people wouldn’t be doing it quickly like that. We’re going to have it built very quickly and very inexpensively,” Trump said at the time when asked about plans for the new embassy.

“They put an order in front of my desk last week for $1 billion. I said, ‘A billion? What’s that for? We’re going to build an embassy.’ I said, ‘We’re not going to spend $1 billion.’ We’re actually doing it for about $250,000. So check that out,” he said.

“Now, it’s temporary but it’ll be very nice,” Trump quickly added, turning to a visibly chuckling Netanyahu and saying, “$250,000 versus a billion dollars … is that good?”

[CNN]

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Calls Kelly Sadler’s John McCain Remarks A “Leak” & She Won’t Discuss It

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had quite the controversy to answer for on Friday. It was less than 24 hours after an administration official reportedly made a deeply offensive joke about cancer-stricken Arizona senator John McCain, but as it turned out, she wasn’t willing to get into any sort of specifics about it. Sanders ducked questions about Kelly Sadler’s “dying” John McCain joke during the press briefing, insisting that she wasn’t going to “validate a leak” about an internal administration meeting.

Sanders, who’s been the press secretary since the departure of Sean Spicer from the job last July, did not seem very pleased to be fielding the questions. It was on Thursday that Sadler, a special assistant to President Donald Trump, reportedly joked during an administration meeting that McCain’s opposition to CIA director nominee Gina Haspel was irrelevant, because “he’s dying anyway.”

McCain, 81, was diagnosed with glioblastoma last summer, a rare and highly aggressive form of brain cancer. It’s the same type of cancer that former Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy died from back in 2009, and McCain has been straightforward about just how poor his prognosis is.

“They said that it’s very serious, that the prognosis is very, very serious,” McCain told CBS’ 60 Minutes last year. “Some say 3 percent, some say 14 percent. You know, it’s a very poor prognosis.”

When repeatedly asked about Sadler’s remark ― and more specifically, whether Sadler still has a job at the White House ― Sanders more or less stonewalled, declining to address the substance of the reports.

“I’m not going to comment on an internal staff meeting,” she said. “I’m not going to validate a leak, one way or another, out of an internal staff meeting.”

Sadler’s reported remark has stirred controversy and outrage on social media, and in the mainstream media too. In particular, both McCain’s daughter Meghan and his wife Cindy have responded publicly, with Cindy sending a tweet to Sadler reminding her that he has a loving family.

Meghan, for her part, responded to the comment on Friday’s episode of The View, remarking that her father is actually “doing really well right now” before addressing Sadler directly.

“Kelly, here’s a little news flash, and this may be a little intense for 11 o’clock in the morning on a Friday, but, we’re all dying,” she said. “And it’s not how you die, it is how you live.”

According to reports, Sadler’s joke was met largely with silence, and a few uncomfortable laughs. The White House subsequently put out a statementexpressing “respect” for McCain’s service to his country, although it did not address Sadler’s remark.

The news came the very same day that a Fox Business on-air guest sparked controversy by voicing support for American use of torture, claiming it worked on McCain. Specifically, former Air Force officer Thomas McInerney told Fox Business’ Charles Payne that McCain, who was captured and held as a prisoner for more than five years during the Vietnam war, was proof that torture worked, derisively calling him “songbird John.”

For the record, there’s no evidence McCain ever surrendered valuable information to the Vietnamese throughout the years he was tortured and beaten, although that’s not even very relevant to the cruelty of the remark. Payne ultimately issued an apology over the incident, and it similarly drew a stern response from McCain’s wife, Cindy.

In short, McCain’s name has been in the press a lot the past few days, and not necessarily for happy reasons. For what it’s worth, however, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan chimed in on the conversation on Friday, calling the Arizona senator a “hero” who “gave his entire adult life for this country.”

[Bustle]

Media

Trump: We didn’t pay for release of prisoners from North Korea

President Trump on Thursday evening touted the release of three Americans prisoners from North Korea who arrived home this week, noting that the U.S. did not pay for their release.

“[North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un did a great service to himself and to his country by doing this. But those hostages came out, with respect, we didn’t pay for them,” Trump said during a rally in Elkhart, Ind.

“What he did was the right thing, but they came out for nothing and the others came out for $1.8 billion in cash,” Trump added.

Trump appeared to be referring to a January 2016 deal in which the Obama administration agreed to pay Iran $1.7 billion to settle a case related to the sale of military equipment before the Iranian revolution.

The payment coincided with the release of five imprisoned American citizens who were released in exchange for seven Iranians detained in the U.S.

The White House at the time disputed that it was a ransom payment.

Trump early Thursday morning greeted the three Americans who were freed from captivity in North Korea earlier this week. He has touted their release as an act of good will by Kim ahead of a planned summit between the two leaders on June 12 in Singapore.

“The relationship is good, and hopefully, I mean for all of us, for the world, hopefully something very good is going to happen,” Trump said at Thursday’s rally.

[The Hill]

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.

The $1.7 billion dollars Trump mentioned was a settlement of claims, and was announced by the State Department months before Iranian detainees were transferred back home to America.

Media

Trump incorrectly claims military pay hasn’t gone up for 10 years

President Trump on Wednesday inaccurately claimed numerous times that military personnel had not received a pay raise in 10 years, though the Pentagon has enacted raises every year for the past decade.

“We just approved $700 billion for our military so we’re going to be having the best equipment ever and next year $716 billion. … That also includes raises for our military. First time in 10 years,” Trump said while hosting military mothers and spouses at the White House.

Trump was referring to the fiscal 2018 defense spending bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed by Trump earlier this year, that included a 2.4-percent pay increase for troops.

The White House’s version of the fiscal year 2019 NDAA, which would set military policy for the coming year, includes a 2.6 percent pay raise as part of a total $716 billion for national defense.

The increase is supported by the House.

A 2.6-percent jump would be the highest increase in nine years, though military personnel have received at least a 1-percent pay raise every year for the past decade, according to Defense Department figures.

“Today I’m hear to tell you that my administration is totally committed to every family that serves in the United States armed forces. That is what earlier this year I was proud to sign that big pay raise that I’ve already spoken about,” Trump continued.

“And I am proud of it and I guess [there will] be others too. Would you like one sooner, or do you want to wait another 10 years?” he added.

Trump hosted the military mothers and spouses as part of a signing ceremony for an executive order meant to increase employment opportunities for military spouses, with the goal of bettering military recruitment.

“By taking this action today, we are leading by example and encouraging American businesses across the country to expand job opportunities for our intelligent … and highly valuable military spouses,” Trump said.

The order directs government agencies to make a combined effort to hire the spouses, as well as make them aware of job opportunities. Under current law, such individuals are already given preference for some federal positions, but the policies are not always followed.

[The Hill]

Trump suggests legal action coming against Mueller’s team

President Donald Trump suggested Monday that “angry Democrats” on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team could face legal action over alleged “conflicts of interest.”

“The 13 Angry Democrats in charge of the Russian Witch Hunt are starting to find out that there is a Court System in place that actually protects people from injustice…and just wait ’till the Courts get to see your unrevealed Conflicts of Interest!” Trump said.

Trump did not provide proof of the alleged conflicts. Although CNN has reported that several members of Mueller’s team have donated to Democrats, Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election also has been the subject of several Republican-led congressional inquiries. Mueller is a Republican who was appointed by President George W. Bush, and the man who appointed him as special counsel, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, was appointed by Trump.

The President also weighed in on other recent developments in the Russia investigation. He denied that he’s obstructed the probe, instead defending his actions and rhetoric as “fighting back” against “the Russia Witch Hunt.”

“There is no O, it’s called Fighting Back,” the President tweeted, later suggesting that the investigation was being dragged out so it could damage Republicans in the midterm elections.

Trump also asked why FBI special agent Peter Strzok is still at the bureau. Strzok’s text messages with Lisa Page, a former FBI lawyer who resigned last week, became fodder for conservatives who believed they revealed bias at the bureau.

Several leaked questions that Mueller is interested in asking Trump are related to possible obstruction of justice actions. Trump said last week that such questions amount to a “setup and trap” and that it would “seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened!”

Last month, Trump hinted to “Fox & Friends”that he might “at some point” step in and take action against the Justice Department, which is overseeing the special counsel investigation.

[CNN]

Trump slams Mueller Russia probe, accuses team of having ‘unrevealed conflicts of interest’

President Donald Trump on Monday railed against the federal probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, accusing special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of having “unrevealed conflicts of interest” and insisting that obstruction of justice is a “made-up phony crime.”

“The Russia Witch Hunt is rapidly losing credibility. House Intelligence Committee found No Collusion, Coordination or anything else with Russia. So now the Probe says OK, what else is there? How about Obstruction for a made up, phony crime.There is no O, it’s called Fighting Back,”

It wasn’t immediately clear what conflicts of interest Trump was referring to, although the president has repeatedly slammed the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt.” Mueller, a Republican, was appointed FBI chief by GOP President George W. Bush in 2001 and served until 2013.

The tweets come just days after a U.S. federal judge, T.S. Ellis, said he is skeptical about Mueller’s ability to bring charges against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Ellis, a Reagan appointee, hammered the special counsel’s office Friday, suggesting that the charges against Manafort have nothing to do with Russian election interference and that the special counsel is only interested in squeezing Manafort for information “that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his impeachment.”

Trump wrote in the first of two Monday morning tweets on the topic. Mueller’s team is reportedly probing whether Trump committed obstruction of justice by firing James Comey as FBI director last year.

Trump, referring to Mueller’s team, added, “The 13 Angry Democrats in charge of the Russian Witch Hunt are starting to find out that there is a Court System in place that actually protects people from injustice.”

“And just wait ’till the Courts get to see your unrevealed Conflicts of Interest!” Trump said.

Trump’s tweets, however, could also be part of a more combative legal strategy that the president’s newly reshuffled legal team is said to be taking against the Mueller probe.

Last week, Trump tapped Emmet Flood, who advised Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings, to assist in the Russia investigation after Ty Cobb, the lead White House attorney handling the probe, announced plans to retire. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a longtime Trump ally and ex-federal prosecutor in New York, also recently joined Trump’s legal team to provide advice on how to deal with the special counsel’s probe.

Mueller reportedly wants to question Trump in detail about his ties to Russia, the president’s firing of Comey and whether he tried to interfere with the investigation, according to a list of questions published by The New York Times last week.

In less than a year — Mueller was appointed special counsel in May 2017 — his team’s work has resulted in 19 individuals being charged with crimes. That number includes 13 Russian nationals and five people who pleaded guilty (among them Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos).

[NBC News]

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