Trump: I’ve ‘Done More in Five Months Than Practically Any President in History’

President Donald Trump claimed Wednesday that the current mood in the White House is “fantastic,” despite recent pressure following allegations surrounding his son’s involvement with Russia during last year’s election campaign.

In a wide ranging interview with Reuters, the president also claimed that his administration “had done more in five months than practically any president in history.”

“If you look at Iraq and if you look at Syria and you see the progress we’ve made with ISIS, it’s been almost complete,” he said, referring to militant and terrorist group Islamic State, according to a transcript of the interview posted on Reuters’ website.

“The White House is functioning beautifully. The stock market has hit a new high. Job numbers are the best they’ve been in 16 years. We have a Supreme Court judge already confirmed. Energy is doing levels that we’ve never done before. Our military is doing well. We’re knocking the hell out of ISIS, which Obama wasn’t. There’s not a thing that we’re not doing well in.”

Trump’s assertion about the current mood in the White House flies in the face of media reports this week. The Washington Post said Wednesday, citing officials and outside advisors, his team had been thrusted into “chaos” after revelations of a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a lawyer characterized as linked to the Russian government.

Trump continues to split opinion in the U.S, and around the globe, and many would also question his comments on his team’s achievements. Speaking to CNBC on Wednesday, Barry Diller, chairman of IAC, said Trump’s presidency has so far been a “joke.”

“He hasn’t done anything, really. I think it’s just a joke. Hopefully it will be over relatively soon,” Diller said. “It inexplicably began and it will inexplicably end.”

[CNBC]

Reality

The claim that Trump has done more than any president in history to this point is a tired one that doesn’t comport with basically any objective measure. There has been no signature legislation, several courts halted his travel ban before the Supreme Court allowed part of it, and there have been several controversies. Trump made this same claim after 90 days, and it got four Pinocchios from The Post’s Fact Checker.

 

Trump Defends Trump Jr.: ‘I Applaud His Transparency’

President Trump on Tuesday praised his son, Donald Trump Jr., who is under fire for meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have compromising information about Trump’s Democratic rival in the presidential race, Hillary Clinton.

“My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency,” Trump said in a brief statement, which White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders read to reporters during an off-camera briefing.

Trump had previously remained silent on the growing controversy surrounding the meeting at the height of the campaign, which became public Saturday.

The revelation has shaken the White House, which for months has struggled to contain the fallout from a wide-ranging investigation into Russia’s election-meddling effort in 2016.

Sanders acknowledged that, “the president is, I would say, frustrated with the process of the fact that this continues to be an issue.”

“He would love for us to be focused on things like … the economy, on healthcare, on tax reform, on infrastructure and that’s the place that his mind is and that’s what he’d like to be discussing,” she said.

Sanders, however, did not dispute stunning new emails disclosed by Trump Jr. Tuesday detailing efforts to set up the meeting.

She was peppered with questions about the stunning disclosure during the 21-minute briefing, repeatedly referring reporters to attorneys representing the president and his eldest son.

The lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Sanders did engage some questions about the meeting, saying it’s “ridiculous” to use the words “treason” or “perjury” to describe Trump Jr.’s behavior, as some critics have alleged.

The spokesman stood by her Monday claim that Trump Jr. did not collude with Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

She said she was not able to say the last time the president spoke with his son and refused to say whether Trump now believes Russia interfered with last year’s election.

Sanders also denied that Vice President Pence was trying to distance himself from the Trump Jr. controversy by putting out a statement saying he is “not focused on stories about the campaign… especially those about the time he joined the ticket.”

“There is absolutely no distance between the president and the vice president,” she said.

Michael Flynn was fired in February as national security adviser in large part because he misrepresented his conversation with Russia’s U.S. ambassador to Pence. The vice president went on television and denied Flynn discussed sanctions with the Russian envoy, even though he did.

[The Hill]

Reality

Donald Trump Jr. didn’t release the emails out of some altruistic sense of transparency, the New York Times obtained the emails and asked him for a comment from him before releasing them to the public.

Trump Jr. never responded to the request, and instead released the emails, most likely in a self-server move to get out in front of the story.

If it really was about transparency, Trump Jr. would have released the emails months before the New York Times broke this story.

Trump accuses James Comey of breaking the law — based on a misleading Fox News report

President Trump’s first day back in the office after his brief trip to Europe began, as so many do, with a flurry of tweets. It seems that Trump, as he so often does, tuned in to “Fox and Friends” on Monday morning, the show on which he made regular Monday-morning phone-in appearances prior to his entry into politics. And, as he has in the past, Trump appears to have taken information out of context to level a serious charge against a political opponent.

The relevant sequence of events goes like this. In the show’s six-o’-clock hour, it ran a segment addressing a report from the Hill about memos FBI Director James Comey wrote documenting his conversations with Trump prior to being fired.

After that segment aired, the show’s social media team tweeted a clip:

The president retweeted it — following up with thoughts of his own.

In short order, adviser Kellyanne Conway was promoting the story on ABC, calling it the real bombshell of the day (unlike that story about Donald Trump, Jr.).

It’s obvious why Trump’s team embraced this idea that Comey had leaked classified information to his friend: It reinforces the president’s prior arguments that the man he fired was the real villain in their interactions. After Comey testified on Capitol Hill, Trump suggested that the testimony was a complete vindication of himself and that Comey was “a leaker.” This charge was based on the revelation that Comey had given one of those memos about his conversations with Trump to a friend to give to the New York Times. In a later tweet, Trump set the table for his enthusiasm Monday morning, asking if Comey’s use of the memos was “totally illegal?”

The “Fox and Friends” segment begins with a snippet of Comey’s testimony. A Fox News host then summarizes:

It turns out, he may actually have broken the rules. A brand-new bombshell report accuses Comey of putting our national security at risk. According to the Hill, the former FBI director’s personal memos detailing private conversations with President Trump contained top secret information.

In the tweet, that becomes “Report accuses material James Comey leaked to a friend contained top secret information.”

If Comey gave classified information to someone without security clearance to leak to the press, it’s problematic. But that’s not what the Hill’s report says.

That report says that there were a total of seven memos prepared by Comey after his nine conversations with Trump. Four of those memos are marked as classified at the “secret” or “confidential” level, officials told the Hill.

In other words, the pool of documents looks like this.

It’s true that “the former FBI director’s personal memos detailing private conversations with President Trump contained … secret information,” as the Fox report summarizes, though not, apparently, top secret material. (The levels of classifications go “confidential,” “secret” and then “top secret.”) But the wording on that Fox report is misleading. The memos contained classified information is true when considering the memos as a group. It is not true, though, that each memo contained classified information — or, at least, it’s not true that each memo was marked as being classified.

This issue came up during Comey’s June testimony, at which point Comey made clear that the memo he gave to his friend to leak, documenting a meeting on Feb. 14 of this year, was not one that included classified material.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.): I found it very interesting that, that in the memo that you wrote after this February 14th pull-aside, you made clear that you wrote that memo in a way that was unclassified. If you affirmatively made the decision to write a memo that was unclassified, was that because you felt at some point, the facts of that meeting would have to come clean and come clear, and actually be able to be cleared in a way that could be shared with the American people?


Comey:
Well, I remember thinking, this is a very disturbing development, really important to our work. I need to document it and preserve it in a way, and this committee gets this but sometimes when things are classified, it tangled them up.


Warner:
Amen.


Comey:
It’s hard to share within an investigative team. You have to be careful how you handled it for good reason. If I write it such a way that doesn’t include anything of a classification, that would make it easier for to us discuss within the FBI and the government, and to hold onto it in a way that makes it accessible to us.

He also during that testimony indicated that the same didn’t hold true for all of the memos he wrote.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.): The memos that you wrote, you wrote — did you write all nine of them in a way that was designed to prevent them from needing classification?


Comey:
No. On a few of the occasions, I wrote — I sent emails to my chief of staff on some of the brief phone conversations I had. The first one was a classified briefing. Though it was in a conference room at Trump Tower, it was a classified briefing. I wrote that on a classified device. The one I started typing in the car, that was a classified laptop I started working on.

(Note that Heinrich refers to nine memos, assuming that there was one for each of Comey’s interactions with the president.)

During his testimony, Comey refers to the memo he gave to his friend in the singular — “the memo.” There’s no indication that he asked that one of the classified memos be leaked. In fact, his testimony — under oath, remember — was the opposite.

In other words, Comey asserted that the scenario looked something like this:

The tweet from “Fox and Friends” based on the Hill report is incorrect. And so, too, is Trump’s tweet. If there was classified information in the memo that Comey asked his friend to leak to the Times, that’s not yet been reported.

Which is not to say that Comey’s behavior was without concern. FBI agents sign an agreement prohibiting unauthorized disclosures of certain types of material. The Hill’s report notes that the FBI apparently considers Comey’s memos to have been government documents, not his own personal memos as he asserted on Capitol Hill. The repercussions of that aren’t clear.

This is not the first time that Trump has seen a misleading bit of information on “Fox and Friends” and made the problem worse. In March, the show looked at data on the release of prisoners from Guantanamo, which Trump then used to attack President Barack Obama. One might have thought that Trump would have learned his lesson at that point.

But it appears that the opportunity to hammer his political opponents is often too urgent in his mind to ensure that he’s doing so accurately.

[Washington Post]

Update

Fox News issued a rare correction, stating they were wrong. No retraction yet from the President of the United States of America.

Trump: ‘Everyone’ at G-20 talking about Podesta not giving server to authorities

At this week’s G-20 summit in Germany, one subject the world’s most powerful leaders are discussing is why Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman did not cooperate with U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials as they investigated cyberattacks against the Democratic National Committee, President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter Friday morning.

“Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!” Trump wrote on Twitter Friday morning. He did not explain why Podesta, who did not work for the DNC, would have been responsible for its email server.

Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the DNC, noted that discrepancy in a post to Twitter, linking to Trump’s post and writing that “1) Podesta never ran the DNC. 2) DNC worked with FBI to kick out Russians. Worked with DHS. 3) Putin make you tweet this before mtg?”

Amid the months-long swirl of reporting surrounding Russia’s efforts to interfere in last year’s presidential election, as well as allegations that Trump associates may have colluded with Russia in those efforts, the president has sought to cast blame on the DNC, former President Barack Obama and others for not doing enough to stop the hacking.

And while he has eagerly accused Obama, the DNC and Podesta of negligence or worse, the president has stopped short of outright blaming Russia for launching the campaign of cyberattacks. Instead, he has said only that he thinks Russia was involved, but that other nations and individuals could have been involved as well.

Trump said Thursday at a press conference that “nobody really knows for sure” if Russia was behind the campaign of cyberattacks, even though the intelligence community he leads as president has expressed certainty that the Kremlin is to blame.

The president is scheduled to meet Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the pair’s first face-to-face meeting since Trump’s election. The White House has not said whether or not Trump plans to bring up Russia’s campaign of election-year cyberattacks.

[Politico]

Reality

At this week’s G-20 summit, Donald Trump again attacked an American while on foreign soil.

Two issues here:

  • Podesta worked for the Clinton campaign and did not work for the DNC, so he would not have been responsible for its email server.
  • Reporting about the DNC hack shows the FBI never asked for the servers. (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/us/politics/russia-hack-election-dnc.html)

Rick Perry Fails to Explain Supply and Demand

Energy Secretary Rick Perry attempted to offer up an economics lesson while touring a coal plant in West Virginia on Thursday. He somehow managed to only confuse people.

“Here’s a little economics lesson: supply and demand,” Perry said at the Longview Power Plant. “You put the supply out there and demand will follow.”

The former governor of Texas was responding to a question about the current popularity of shale gas, but he seemed to reference a 19th century economic theory to explain the boom.

According to Say’s law of markets, introduced in 1803 by the French economist Jean-Baptiste Say, production is the source of demand.

Only this economic rule has mostly been discarded by modern economists who argue that supplying a product does not necessarily create demand for it.

According to Perry’s law of markets, there will always be a demand for coal as long as the industry produces it.

This is obviously incorrect. A day could and likely will come when there is zero demand for coal and therefore coal will go unsold and there will be huge storage facilities filled with unused fossil fuels.

Perry’s economics lesson at the West Virginia coal plant this week will only go down as the second biggest flub in his political career. In 2011, during a debate between Republican presidential candidates, Perry said that he would cut three agencies from the federal government — except he could not remember one of the agencies

“And I will tell you, it’s three agencies of government when I get there that are gone — Commerce, Education, and, the, uh, what’s the third one there? Let’s see . . .” Perry said at the time.

The third agency Perry was looking for was the Department of Energy — the agency he now runs.

[Salon]

Media

 

Trump praises record-low July 4th gas prices

As travelers hit the road for the Fourth of July holiday, President Donald Trump touted record-low gasoline prices and expressed hope that they would continue to fall.

“Gas prices are the lowest in the U.S. in over ten years!” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “I would like to see them go even lower.”

AAA said Monday that the national average of $2.23 per gallon was the cheapest gas has been all year. The last time gas prices were this low on Independence Day was 2005.

Trump’s tweet came minutes after he wished his followers a “Happy 4th.”

“Getting ready to celebrate the 4th of July with a big crowd at the White House. Happy 4th to everyone. Our country will grow and prosper!”

[Politico]

Reality

Forgetting the fact that government actions typically have little impact on the fluctuation of gas prices, Trump was not exactly telling the truth.

While the national average gas price is at the lowest point they have been in the past ten years on the date of July 4th, beating last year by just a few pennies, Trump didn’t say that. He claimed gas prices are the lowest ever in over ten years, which is a distortion of the truth. A lie.

 

Sarah Huckabee Sanders raised eyebrows with the claim that Trump has never ‘encouraged violence’

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders raised eyebrows after she claimed during Thursday’s press briefing that President Donald Trump has never “encouraged violence.”

Sanders made the comments while addressing a question about Trump’s vicious Thursday-morning tweet aimed at MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski, who he said was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” during a trip to the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

The tweet was met with widespread condemnation on both the left and right, with a number of Republican members of Congress pointing to the recent shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise as a reason why such harsh rhetoric in American politics needs to be toned down.

“Some have suggested in their tweet, response, or public response that the president misconstrued one of the messages that should’ve been gathered from the shooting that involved Steve Scalise and others, that the hostility of the verbal environment can create an atmosphere of violence,” CBS White House correspondent Major Garrett said in prefacing his question, acknowledging that the shooting “affected” the White House. “Do you have any reaction to that sentiment?”

Sanders responded by saying Trump “in no way, form or fashion has ever encouraged violence, quite the contrary.”

“He was simply pushing back in terms of defending himself,” she added, having pointed to comments made by Brzezinski and co-host Joe Scarborough on the duo’s “Morning Joe” program.

But many were quick to note that Sanders’ comment was not exactly true.

Along the campaign trail, Trump seemed to encourage violence on a number of occassions when discussing protesters at his boisterous rallies.

In February of last year, Trump said he wished he could “punch” a protester “in the face” at a Las Vegas rally. The then-Republican presidential candidate also expressed a desire for a return to “the old days” when “they’d be carried out on a stretcher.”

“Oh, I love the old days, you know?” Trump said. “You know what I hate? There’s a guy, totally disruptive, throwing punches, we’re not allowed to punch back anymore. I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”

The crowd loudly cheered.

“You know, I love our police, and I really respect our police, and they’re not getting enough,” he continued. “They’re not. Honestly, I hate to see that. Here’s a guy, throwing punches, nasty as hell, screaming at everything else when we’re talking, and he’s walking out, and we’re not allowed — you know, the guards are very gentle with him, he’s walking out, like, big high fives, smiling, laughing — I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you.”

After a protester was roughhoused by attendees at an Alabama rally in November 2015, Trump said the protester “maybe” should’ve “been roughed up” because “it was an absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”

At a February 2016 rally in Iowa, Trump told supporters that “if you see someone getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you?”

“Seriously,” he continued. “Okay, just knock the hell … I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise.”

At a March 2016 rally in Michigan, Trump said those escorting a protester out of the rally should “try not to hurt him” although, if they did, “I’ll defend you in court.”

“Don’t worry about it,” he said.

And at a St. Louis rally last March, Trump explained that “part of the problem” and “part of the reason” it takes authorities so long to remove protesters from his rallies is because “nobody wants to hurt each other anymore, right?”

When asked about a number of violent episodes that took place at his rallies, Trump said he “certainly” did not “incite violence” and said that he doesn’t “condone violence.”

[AOL]

Trump Tweets Shocking Assault on Brzezinski, Scarborough

On Thursday morning, while MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” was on the air, Trump posted a pair of hateful tweets about co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

MSNBC responded with this statement: “It’s a sad day for America when the president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal attacks instead of doing his job.”

The president’s deputy press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, defended the tweets by saying Trump was responding to the “outrageous attacks that take place” on “Morning Joe” and other shows.

Trump refuses to be “bullied,” Sanders said on Fox News. “This is a president who fights fire with fire.”

Trump’s tweets in the 8 a.m. hour on Thursday said that “Morning Joe” is “poorly rated” (it’s not) and that the hosts “speak badly of me” (that’s true). He called both hosts disparaging names.

Trump claimed that Scarborough and Brzezinski courted him for an interview at Mar-a-Lago around the New Year’s Eve holiday.

“She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!” the president wrote.

He actually said yes, according to accounts of their meeting. Trump, Scarborough and Brzezinski mingled with guests and had a private chat.

For the record, photos from Mar-a-Lago do not show any blood or bandages on Brzezinski’s face.

Stunned commenters on social media noted that Trump targeted both hosts with his barbed tweets, but only opined on the physical appearance of the woman involved.

Democratic commentator Maria Cardona, speaking on CNN, said it was part of a pattern of misogynistic behavior by Trump.

“We should not normalize this,” she said, calling it “unacceptable and unpresidential.”

Lawmakers immediately condemned the president’s tweets, as well.

“Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America,” Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, tweeted.

But First Lady Melania Trump spoke up in defense of her husband.

“As the First Lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder,” her communications director Stephanie Grisham said in response to reporters’ questions.

Melania Trump has previously said that as First Lady she wants to focus on the problem of cyberbullying.

Critics say Trump uses his Twitter account as a powerful megaphone to bully people.

Observers also expressed a lot of skepticism about Trump’s Thursday morning claim that he doesn’t watch “Morning Joe” anymore.

The president is known to watch all the major morning shows, including the programs on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC’. He sometimes calls up pro-Trump guests to thank them for their remarks on the shows.

Trump had a friendly, jovial relationship with “Morning Joe” during the presidential campaign, but it turned sour over time.

At one point he called Brzezinski “very insecure” and threatened to expose her off-screen relationship with Scarborough.

Brzezinski and Scarborough were dating at the time, and they are now engaged.

Thursday’s anti-media tweets were astonishing — and part of a pattern.

On Tuesday his main target was CNN. Trump reveled in the fact that three CNN journalists resigned on Monday after their Russia-related story was retracted.

On Wednesday Trump went after two of the nation’s biggest newspapers, The New York Times and the Washington Post.

He mangled the facts several times, but his overall message came through loud and clear: Do not trust the people who are trying to hold my administration accountable.

Brzezinski responded to Trump Thursday morning with a tweet of her own, mocking him with a reference to “little hands,” a reference to a disparaging idea about him that has circulated for years.

Mark Kornblau, the head of PR for NBC News and MSNBC, also weighed in on Twitter, saying, “Never imagined a day when I would think to myself, ‘it is beneath my dignity to respond to the President of the United States.'”

[CNN]

 

Trump posts misleading tweet about Medicaid spending under the Senate Republican healthcare bill

President Donald Trump took exception Wednesday with a Democratic argument regarding Medicaid funding in the new GOP healthcare bill.

“Democrats purposely misstated Medicaid under new Senate bill – actually goes up,” Trump tweeted with a chart.

One of the biggest criticisms of the Senate healthcare bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), has been the projected cuts to future Medicaid spending under the legislation, which the Congressional Budget Office said would lead to 22 million fewer Americans being insured by 2026.

Trump’s tweet echoes an argument from Republicans that says the legislation doesn’t cut Medicaid spending.

But critics of the legislation note that the projected increase in funding from the federal government will be lower than the current projected rate of increase. This could have serious consequences for Medicaid recipients and state budgets.

Currently, the federal government provides states with a percentage of their Medicaid funding based on a formula of how much a state actually spends. Under the BCRA, states would receive a set amount of money based on the number of people on Medicaid in that state.

In other words, federal funding would grow in raw terms as the US population grows and the total number of people on Medicaid increases, but the amount per person would not be as generous as the current system.

The chart below shows the difference:

Also, the BCRA would end the Medicaid expansion program under the Affordable Care Act, the law better known as Obamacare, which would represent another significant decrease from the current path of funding.

The Congressional Budget Office projected that federal funding for Medicaid would decrease by $772 billion over the next 10 years compared to the current system.

According to analyses from The Brookings Institution, The Kaiser Family Foundation, and the CBO, the formula for the Medicaid growth rate under the BCRA would lead to increased financial stress on states and detrimental outcomes for Medicaid recipients.

[Business Insider]

Reality

Vox fixed the chart:

 

 

Trump on CNN Retraction: ‘What About All the Other Phony Stories They Do?’

President Trump blasted CNN early Tuesday after the network retracted a story published last week tying a top Trump ally to a Russian investment bank.

“Wow, CNN had to retract big story on ‘Russia,’ with 3 employees forced to resign,” Trump tweeted.

“What about all the other phony stories they do? FAKE NEWS!”

The president’s comments come after three CNN staffers resigned following the network’s retraction.

Thomas Frank, the author of the story, Eric Lichtblau, an editor in the CNN investigative unit that ran the story, and Lex Haris, who oversaw the unit, have all left CNN, the network reported Monday.

The retracted story connected Anthony Scaramucci, a top proponent of Trump, to a Russian investment fund run by a bank controlled by the Kremlin.

“In the aftermath of the retraction of a story published on CNN.com, CNN has accepted the resignations of the employees involved in the story’s publication,” a spokesman said Monday.

An internal CNN investigation reportedly found normal editorial processes weren’t followed in the stories editing and publication.

Trump often hits on CNN and refers to stories from the network as “fake news.”

Trump early Tuesday also retweeted a modified image of the network’s logo that refers to CNN as FNN, or the Fake News Network.

[The Hill]

Reality

So if Trump wants to play the morality game, when is he or his staff going to resign over the phony stories he pushed? Because by the time of this article we’ve cataloged 312 complete lies from Trump since his campaign began.

Some examples of phony stories by Trump include:

  • Claiming his inauguration crowd sizes were the largest of all-time.
  • Claiming Barack Obama “wiretapped” him.
  • Claiming he had “tapes” of his private conversation with James Comey where he asked to drop the FBI’s Russia investigation.
  • Claiming at various rallies and in interviews for over four months that he donated $1 million dollars to veterans charities, cutting a check only when a journalist uncovered his lie.
  • Claiming he did not personally know reporter Serge Kovaleski, after telling people “Now the poor guy, you should see this guy,” then mocked his disability.
  • Claiming “thousands and thousands” of people in New Jersey cheered during the 9/11 terror attacks.
  • Claiming President Barack Obama was born in Kenya.

You can take the high road and resign at any time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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