Trump Surrogate Admits Falsifying Military Service and College Degree

A top Donald Trump surrogate admitted to falsifying some of his professional accomplishments after a contentious confrontation with CNN anchor Victor Blackwell.
South Carolina preacher Mark Burns, who regularly introduces Trump at his campaign events, had listed on his church’s website that he had a Bachelor of Science degree and served six years in the Army Reserve.

Burns, however, was never in the Army Reserve. He was in the South Carolina National Guard, from which he was discharged in 2008, CNN found.

As far as a Bachelor’s degree, North Greenville University told CNN he only attended the school for one semester. Burns admitted that he did not finish his degree when CNN asked him about it.

When CNN confronted Burns about the various professional and social exaggerations he had featured on his biography, Burns first said the page had “obviously” been either “manipulated or either hacked or added.”

But the site host, Wix, said there was no evidence of a hack.

“This is not fair at all,” Burns told Blackwell during the interview. “I thought we were doing a profile and all of a sudden you’re here to try to destroy my character.”

“I’m not here to destroy your character,” Blackwell replied.

At one point, Burns told Blackwell he believed the interview was off the record, to which Blackwell responded, “I didn’t agree to that.”

Burns abruptly ended the interview by walking away.

CNN followed up with the Trump campaign and was provided with a statement from Burns:

“As a young man starting my church in Greenville, South Carolina, I overstated several details of my biography because I was worried I wouldn’t be taken seriously as a new pastor. This was wrong, I wasn’t truthful then and I have to take full responsibility for my actions,” Burns’ statement reads.

Burns said he did not know if he had been vetted by the Trump campaign.

(h/t CNN)

Reality

Donald Trump wants to have “extreme vetting” for immigrants, but he can’t even successfully vet his own team.

Media

After Reigniting His Immigration Tough Talk, Trump Flip-Flops Again on Softening

Just hours after reviving his harsh rhetoric on immigration, Donald Trump on Thursday morning insisted that there is actually “quite a bit of softening” in how he’s approaching his signature campaign issue.

The Republican nominee’s latest comment — to conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham, no less — makes it even harder to pin down just where Trump is landing on the hot-button issue, and amplifies the pick-what-you-want-to-hear nature of his talk on immigration.

“You’re going to be asked this, so I might as well ask it,” Ingraham said to Trump during a radio interview. “The line last week [was] you were softening on immigration, then you come out with a very specific, very pro-enforcement plan last night. Where’s the softening?”

Passing on the chance to disavow the prior “softening” narrative, Trump insisted instead, “Oh, there’s softening. Look, we do it in a very humane way, and we’re going to see with the people that are in the country. Obviously I want to get the gang members out, the drug peddlers out, I want to get the drug dealers out. We’ve got a lot of people in this country that you can’t have, and those people we’ll get out.”

“And then we’re going to make a decision at a later date once everything is stabilized,” Trump continued. “I think you’re going to see there’s really quite a bit of softening.”

The comments came after Trump consoled grieving immigration hard-liners worried Trump was flirting with amnesty for undocumented immigrants, as he delivered a fiery speech that could have been ripped from his early campaign days.

Speaking from Phoenix after having visited with the Mexican president, Trump railed for nearly 90 minutes about how undocumented immigrants are hurting America. He promised to build his border wall, make Mexico pay for it, and to empower a massive new “deportation task force” of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to round up undocumented immigrants.

“People will know that you can’t just smuggle in, hunker down, and wait to be legalized. Those days are over,” Trump declared.

“Wow. This doesn’t sound like ‘softening.’ GO, TRUMP!!!” tweeted conservative commentator Ann Coulter on Wednesday night.

“I think it’s arguably the best day of his campaign,” said Brent Bozell, a prominent conservative.

Trump’s hard-edged speech also managed to alienate several of his Hispanic supporters, who quickly distanced themselves from the Republican nominee.

“I was a strong supporter of Donald Trump when I believed he was going to address the immigration problem realistically and compassionately,” said Jacob Monty, a member of Trump’s National Hispanic Advisory Council who has aggressively made the Latino case for Trump. “What I heard today was not realistic and not compassionate.”

But embedded in Trump’s speech, underneath all the bluster, was still some of the talk that days before had generated a flood of headlines that Trump was easing up on his severe immigration policies.

While Trump had previously threatened to use a deportation force to round up all 11 million undocumented immigrants, the billionaire on Wednesday night emphasized that his new deportation task force would focus on deporting criminals — an approach very similar to President Barack Obama’s.

“Our enforcement priorities will include removing criminals, gang members, security threats, visa overstays, public charges,” Trump said.

And he said that “anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation,” but he did not say that all undocumented immigrants would have to live in fear of having their door knocked on by his triple-strength ICE deportation team.

While much of Trump’s talk on immigration has been difficult to parse, some of the elements of Wednesday night’s speech sounded similar to his comments to Fox News’ Sean Hannity and CNN’s Anderson Cooper that landed him in hot water with conservatives last week.

“It’s a process. You can’t take 11 [million] at one time and just say ‘boom, you’re gone,'” Trump told Cooper last Thursday, as he defended his latest immigration comments. “I don’t think it’s a softening. I’ve had people say it’s a hardening, actually.”

Trump on Ingraham Thursday morning again paired his talk to being “very humane” with tougher talk of securing the border — throwing meat to conservatives and independents alike.

Trump added that he feels “strongly that we have to stabilize the border, we have to absolutely stabilize the border and we have to have a strong border, otherwise we don’t have a country.”

Later in the show, a caller tried to explain what Trump meant by those remarks, as conservatives continue to try to bend Trump’s comments to their liking.

“I don’t want people to freak out about that. He’s just talking about there’s not gonna be those Bill Clinton and Elian Gonzalez kid from Cuba-type stories going around, going into houses with machine guns and stuff,” a man from Florida said.

Ingraham concurred, adding her own interpretation in the process.

“Yeah, I think what he’s saying is the previous record of open border isn’t gonna exist, and you know, we’re not gonna be running around with vans, throwing people into vans, unless they’re hardened criminals,” she said. “And if you’re arrested for a crime, you can’t stay in the country. But the idea that you’re gonna just run around with vans and throw fruit-pickers into the back of the vans, that’s not gonna happen. So I think that’s what he was talking about.”

(h/t Politico)

Media

Trump Ditches Press For Mexico Trip

Members of the press corps assigned to cover Donald Trump’s campaign have criss-crossed the country on the trail with the GOP nominee for months, but they won’t be in Mexico for Trump’s big meeting on Wednesday with President Enrique Peña Nieto.

The last-minute jaunt, which was announced late Tuesday, further strained the campaign’s relations with the press corps. Although there is a chartered plane for members of the Trump press corps, it was redirected to Phoenix ahead of the GOP nominee’s scheduled speech on immigration there on Wednesday evening.

A New York Times reporter tweeted that journalists got no heads-up about the trip and the campaign made no effort to get them to Mexico:

The move left reporters “seething” on a daily press call with Trump spokesman Jason Miller, who said only that the journalists’ complaints were “noted,” an anonymous source on the call told Politico.

The source also told Politico that the campaign didn’t reach out to the five major TV networks about covering the meeting until 3 a.m. Wednesday. Although some reporters were weighing the possibility of chartering their own flight to Mexico, they ultimately decided against it, in part because they say the campaign hadn’t indicated there would be any press availability:

During a Wednesday morning appearance on “Fox and Friends,” campaign manager Kellyanne Conway further roiled frustrated members of the press by saying Trump would take questions from the Mexican and American press during the visit after all.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond Wednesday morning to a request from TPM seeking clarification on the decision.

Here’s what some other members of the press were saying about the Mexico trip:

(h/t Talking Points Memo)

Mexican president fact-checks Trump then disputes him over border wall payment discussion

Donald Trump flew into a nation he has constantly berated during his campaign to meet President Enrique Peña Nieto and said they discussed a wall Trump has vowed to build on the US southern border, but not his demand that Mexico pay for it — an assertion the Mexican president later disputed.

“Who pays for the wall? We didn’t discuss,” Trump had said when asked by a reporter during a news conference following their meeting in Mexico City. “We did discuss the wall. We didn’t discuss payment of the wall. That’ll be for a later date.”

But Peña Nieto later claimed the two had discussed the wall and who would pay for it — and he had “made it clear” to Trump it wouldn’t be Mexico.

“At the start of the conversation with Donald Trump, I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall,” Peña Nieto tweeted, after their meeting Wednesday.

He added that his conversation with the Republican nominee then moved on to other topics in a respectful fashion.

Jason Miller, Trump’s senior communications adviser, called the meeting “the first part of the discussion and a relationship builder” between the two men, after Peña Nieto tweeted.
“It was not a negotiation, and that would have been inappropriate. It is unsurprising that they hold two different views on this issue, and we look forward to continuing the conversation,” he said in a statement.

In subsequent interviews in Mexico, Peña Nieto reiterated his version of events. He told CNN affiliate Televisa in an interview late Wednesday some of the positions Trump has taken “are a threat to Mexico.”

He also told the outlet he was very clear with Trump about the subject of a wall at the border and insisted Mexico would not pay for it and he made Trump aware that the people of Mexico had been “very insulted.”

Peña Nieto, speaking alongside Trump during their joint appearance, twice stressed the “responsibility” he has to defend Mexican people around the world and said Trump has made “assertions that regrettably had hurt and have affected Mexicans.”

“The Mexican people have felt hurt by the comments that have been made. But I am sure that his genuine interest is to build a relationship that will give both of our society’s better welfare,” Peña Nieto said.

Trump apparently left his tough deal-making persona at home as he received a presidential-style news conference on foreign soil while on a high-risk trip to Mexico on Wednesday.

The visit appeared to be an attempt to bolster Trump’s credentials as a potential world leader, following searing attacks on his temperament by his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. The spur-of-the-moment trip also came hours before Trump was due to deliver a speech in Arizona meant to clarify his murky immigration policy amid signs he is softening his prior promise to deport 11 million undocumented migrants.

Trump’s claim that they didn’t discuss who would pay for the wall — despite his call for Mexico to finance it being a central theme of his campaign and one he frequently uses to fire up his supporters — appeared to be a noteworthy omission from Wednesday’s conversation when he mentioned it at their joint appearance.

The cost is one that Peña Nieto has previously refused to shoulder, just one of many issues where the two men have clashed. Peña Nieto, who has previously compared Trump to Adolf Hitler, greeted him courteously and said he was committed to working with whomever Americans elect as their next president in November.

But turning the tables on Trump, he gave the billionaire an earful on trade, said illegal immigration from Mexico to the US peaked years ago and complained of the torrent of guns that he said crossed the border and worsened Mexico’s drug wars.

Nieto said in an interview late Wednesday that some of the positions Donald Trump has taken “are a threat to Mexico.” He told CNN affiliate Televisa that he made Trump aware that the people of Mexico had been “very insulted” by his comments.

Trump’s backers were left to defend his decision not to mention his demand that Mexico pay for the border wall after the visit. Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio told CNN’s Jake Tapper: “What difference does it make? The wall’s important no matter who pays.”

While Trump’s decision not to raise who would pay for the wall appeared to undercut his deal-making swagger, it could also reassure some wavering Republican voters who dislike Clinton but are not yet convinced Trump possesses the restraint and sobriety required of a US president.

The sight of Trump alongside the Mexican president provided the photo-op that the campaign appears to have banked on despite not knowing how the candidate would be received.

Still, the Clinton campaign came out swinging, accusing Trump of failing to make good on his pledge to make Mexico pay for the wall by not raising the issue.

“Donald Trump has made his outlandish policy of forcing Mexico to pay for his giant wall the centerpiece of his campaign. But at the first opportunity to make good on his offensive campaign promises, Trump choked,” Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said in a statement.

“What we saw today from a man who claims to be the ultimate ‘deal maker’ is that he doesn’t have the courage to advocate for his campaign promises when he’s not in front of a friendly crowd,” Podesta said, before accusing Trump of wanting to build a costly wall at American taxpayers’ expense.

Podesta later added: “It turns out Trump didn’t just choke, he got beat in the room and lied about it.”

Peña Nieto began his remarks alongside Trump by saying the two held a constructive exchange of views even though “we might not agree on everything.”

He then launched into a detailed defense of US-Mexican trade and its benefit to both countries delivered by the North American Free Trade Agreement — a common punching bag for Trump on the campaign trail.

The Mexican leader told Trump that both the US and Mexico had benefited from NAFTA, saying more than six million US jobs rely on exports to Mexico.

“I don’t think that commerce must be considered a zero sum game, so that only one wins and the other one loses,” he said, though added he was prepared to make the two-decades-old deal, which also includes Canada, better for both nations.

Trump was also told by his host that Mexicans deserve everybody’s respect wherever they are, in an apparent reference to the GOP nominee’s harsh rhetoric towards undocumented migrants.

Trump, who listened to his host’s long remarks with a somber look on his face while a woman stood beside him at the podium translating for him, said that Mexicans were “spectacular” people when it was his turn to talk.

But he laid bare disagreements between the two men when he said it was imperative to stop the “tremendous outflow” of jobs from the United States over the southern border, and that NAFTA had benefited Mexico more than the US. And he stood up for America’s right to build a “physical barrier or wall” on its territory to stop illegal immigration and drug traffickers. Trump warned that NAFTA would have to be renegotiated.

Trump’s calls for deporting all undocumented workers, labeling many Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “criminals,” and plan to build a wall along the border — that Mexico would pay for — have earned him withering criticism from Peña Nieto, as well as many independents and moderate Republicans.

But they are central pillars of his campaign, which has galvanized his white working class base behind his White House bid. Those most fervently opposed to immigration have pushed back against the rumored “softening” in his stance that he could articulate on Wednesday night.

Trump, speaking from prepared remarks, was far more measured than in his campaign trail appearances. Though he mostly stuck his positions on renegotiating NAFTA and halting illegal immigration, he was also conciliatory. He referred to illegal immigration from Central America rather than just from Mexico. He said a secure border barrier would benefit both nations. And he spoke of the flight of jobs not from the United States but from also from Mexico and Central America to overseas economies.

It is not unusual for presidential candidates to venture abroad during a campaign. Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney made trips to bolster their foreign policy credentials in 2008 and 2012.

But Trump’s approach — like the rest of his campaign — is highly unorthodox. Presidential candidates do not typically show up in foreign capitals for talks with leaders without intense preparation and highly choreographed game plans. Often, the parameters of a meeting are settled in advance. This trip was announced Tuesday night.

In addition, they usually visit strong allies where they are assured of a warm reception that will make for positive media coverage rather than sitting down with a leader who has compared them to Hitler and has disparaged their policy proposals.

Trump’s style, however, is more impulsive and unpredictable. He had never before met a foreign leader in an official capacity. So his trip represented something of a risk. Even though the meeting with Peña Nieto was private, he has no control over how the Mexican leader will address the public and how his officials will brief journalists about it afterward.

The trip was also unusual for not including his traveling press corps and coming against the advice of US diplomats.

The campaign’s decision to travel to a foreign country — one rife with security risks for a candidate who has stoked tensions with his rhetoric on Mexican immigrants — without reporters following close behind marks an unprecedented moment in the coverage of major party presidential nominees.

In addition, staff at the US Embassy in Mexico advised the Trump campaign against making such a hastily arranged trip, suggesting it would be logistically difficult to organize on such short notice, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

(h/t CNN)

Trump campaign says it is sad “Crooked” Hillary’s campaign resorted to name calling

Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway laced into David Plouffe on Tuesday, days after the former campaign adviser to Barack Obama called the GOP nominee a “psychopath.”

Responding to that comment and Hillary Clinton’s speech tying Trump to white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan last week, Conway had three words on Fox News Radio’s “Kilmeade & Friends”: “Shame on them.”

“I mean, the name-calling has reached a fever pitch and it just tells ya, they got nothin’. They got no game,” Conway told host Brian Kilmeade, suggesting that if Clinton “were really strong on the issues” and if Plouffe “was that proud of his boss Barack Obama’s Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, then he would go out there and he’d talk about that.”

Rather than calling Trump a “psychopath,” a notion against which “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd pushed back Sunday, Conway remarked that Plouffe would have said that Clinton’s opponent “shouldn’t win, because Obamacare’s going so well, everybody’s so happy, United HealthCare and Aetna didn’t just realize billions of dollars in losses and pull out of 40-some exchanges.”

“They can’t. They don’t have the issue set that favors them” and thus they resort to name-calling, Conway said. “And I have to say, look, politics is not a tea party. It’s rough and tumble. We all get that, Brian. But to go out there and do guilt by association and to accuse people of having malice in their heart towards other people with no evidence, and then to do exactly what the American Psychological Association has asked people not to do, which is to, which is to certify somebody as mentally unfit or a psychopath. It’s just beyond the pale, and nobody calls them on it.”

Conway then thanked Kilmeade for calling out the issue, turning her ire to the media’s recent coverage of Trump after he repeatedly proclaimed that Clinton is a “bigot” for her treatment of African-American and Hispanic voters.

“All week long, it’s that Donald Trump referred to Hillary Clinton with one word and everybody, you know, their hair is on fire. Donald Trump is called every name in the book plus, before he gets out of bed in the morning. And yet that’s justifiable, that’s acceptable,” Conway remarked sarcastically. “Brian, look at these articles that are everywhere in the last week or two where mainstream media, so-called reporters, quote unquote, are outwardly saying that Donald Trump pushes their limits of objectivity, that they are challenging each other to cover him more aggressively because they believe he should not be president and commander in chief. Guess what, folks? That’s not their job. Their job is to report the news to you and not decide who should and who should not be president and then try to make that conclusion a reality.”

(h/t Politico)

Reality

If you can’t tell by the title of this article, Conway’s assertion is pretty bold coming from a campaign that was built on insulting and name-calling its way to the top. At Republican debates and during various campaign stops, Trump would roll out clever nicknames for his political rivals. Among them; “Lyin’ Ted” (Ted Cruz), “Little Marco” Marco Rubio), “Crooked Hillary” (Hillary Clinton), and “Goofy Elizabeth Warren.”

Here are a few other examples of Trump hurling insults:

JUNE 16, 2015 – Trump officially threw his clown hat into the circus that would soon be the 2016 race with a jaw-dropping, ad-libbed speech in which he insulted Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” derided foreign countries and lambasted President Obama and other American leaders as “losers.”

JULY 18, 2015 – In one of his cruelest, and strangest attacks, Trump, at a conservative summit in Iowa, ripped John McCain, a former prisoner of war. “He’s not a war hero,” Trump said dismissively of McCain, who spent more than five years being tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and suffered permanent injuries as a result. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

AUG. 6, 2015 – Tenacious moderator Megyn Kelly kicked off the event by reminding Trump that he’d called “women you don’t like, ‘fat pigs, ‘dogs, slobs and disgusting animal.’ Trump interjected, “Only Rosie O’Donnell,” setting off tensions between he, the conservative news network, and the entire GOP establishment that have yet to fully cool.

AUG. 7, 2015 – Trump, clearly affected by Kelly’s aggressive questioning of him during the initial GOP debate, was quick to go on the attack against the respected journalist. In an interview the night after the debate, Trump blasted Kelly for bringing up his years of piggish, anti-women remarks, as she questioned him during the Republican debate. He even suggested disgustingly that her ire was a product of menstrual cycle. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her – wherever,” Trump said

NOV. 24, 2015 – Trump mocked reporter’s physical handicap. “Now the poor guy, you ought to see the guy,” Trump said, mimicking New York Times (and former Daily News) reporter Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from arthrogryposis, a congenital condition that limits the movement of the joints and weakens the muscles around them. “‘Uhh, I don’t know what I said. I don’t remember,'” Trump said, gyrating his arms as he mocked Kovaleski’s movements.

AUG 1, 2016 – Trump insults Khizr and Ghazala Khan, whose son, Army Captain Humayun Khan, died in the line of duty in 2004, after they criticized him during a speech at the Democratic National Convention. Trump bizarrely claimed his real estate empire was a “sacrifice” and questioned why Ghazala Khan stayed silent on stage while her husband spoke. “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably – maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me,” Trump said, suggesting that the Khans’ Muslim faith barred the woman from speaking out.

Trump on Kaepernick: Maybe he should find another country

49er Quarterback Colin Kaepernick

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has weighed in on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to refuse to stand for the playing of the national anthem in protest of what he deems as racial injustice in the United States in addition to recent comments from the quarterback on Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“I have followed it and I think it’s personally not a good thing. I think it’s a terrible thing, and you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him, let him try, it’s not gonna happen,” Trump told The Dori Monson Show on Monday, per Buzzfeed.

Kaepernick has refused to stand during the national anthem during the Niners’ three preseason games this summer, telling NFL Media’s Steve Wyche that his decision is based on perceived societal wrongdoings against African-Americans and minorities in the U.S.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Steve Wyche Friday night. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Kaepernick reiterated his stance during an 18-minute long media session in the Niners locker room Sunday, during which he told reporters he planned to continue to sit during the playing of the national anthem. Kaepernick also was critical of both Trump and Clinton when he met with the media.

“I think the two presidential candidates that we currently have also represent the issues that we have in this country right now. You have Hillary who’s called black teens or black kids super predators. You have Donald Trump who is openly racist. We have a presidential candidate who deleted emails and done things illegally and is a presidential candidate. That doesn’t make sense to me. Because if that was any other person, you’d be in prison. So what is this country really standing for?”

The Niners released the following statement this weekend regarding Kaepernick’s decision:

“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”

(h/t NFL.com)

Reality

We will not wade into the discussion surrounding Colin Kaepernick’s controversial protest, but we will take issue with Trump’s moronic logic of “if you don’t like American then get out.

Trump is committing a major logical problem called the “false dilemma” fallacy, otherwise known as “black-and-white thinking.” It assumes that there are only two viable options available: namely, show an unflinching and blind love and patriotism for America or move out of the US to some foreign country.

Obviously, restricting to these two options are not justified. One can live in this country and still criticize it without any contradiction. Consider a third option, which is one of the duties of any citizen, American or not, to try and make their country more perfect.

It is also important at this time to point out that Donald Trump himself has many times been very critical of the United States. He claims America “doesn’t win anymore,” has “weak leaders,” and during his convention speech described America as falling apart, a nation devoid of jobs, brimming with illegal immigrants and rampant with crime. It was a bleak indictment of the nation.

And according to polls, Trump supporters said they like the candidate because of his willingness to state blunt truths about America and “tell it like it is,” unburdened of the perceived niceties of “political correctness.”

So Trump supporters wearing their “Make America Great Again” hats shouldn’t be so quick to defend him over his hypocritical and illogical reasoning.

Donald Trump is wrong that ‘inner-city crime is reaching record levels’

As part of Donald Trump’s declared outreach to black voters, the Republican presidential nominee has painted a dire picture of American “inner cities” rife with crime, and stated only he can make them safe.

(h/t Wall Street Journal)

Reality

PolitiFact gave Trump’s claim a “Pants on Fire,” their worst truth rating, and even the conservative-leaning Wall Street Journal corrected Trump on his disregard for the facts.

While crime has indeed ticked up recently, according to FBI data it remains near historic lows, even in America’s largest cities like Mr. Trump’s hometown of New York City.

And even if crime isn’t hitting record levels, there is growing evidence that there has been a one-year uptick, at least in certain cities. Trump’s supporters have seized on this as evidence that Trump isn’t totally off base in claiming that crime is on the rise.

Even if the recent one-year spike proves durable, the rates of homicides and violent crime in general have fallen so much in the past 25 years that the recent increases will not push them up to “record” levels at any time in the near future.

 

Trump spreads claim that Clinton’s ‘mentor’ was ‘KKK member’

Donald Trump on Saturday pushed back against Hillary Clinton’s efforts to link him to the Ku Klux Klan.

The Republican nominee retweeted a supporter’s post that the Democratic nominee “said a KKK member was her mentor.” And speaking later in Des Moines, Iowa, he dredged up Clinton’s use of the term “super predators” in the 1990s to argue that he, not Clinton, offered African-Americans the best choice for president.

Trump’s retweet and his latest appeals to black voters capped off a week of increasingly ugly and racially charged accusations between the two leading presidential candidates, during which Trump called Clinton a “bigot” and the Democratic nominee charged that Trump’s campaign was built on “prejudice and paranoia” while also tying him to the KKK.

“@DiamondandSilk: Crooked Hillary getting desperate. On TV bashing Trump. @CNN, she forgot how she said a KKK member was her mentor,” Trump tweeted Saturday.

Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson — better known as Diamond and Silk, two African-American sisters supporting Trump who frequently speak at his rallies — confirmed to CNN that the tweet referred to the late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, a former KKK member whom Clinton mourned in 2010 as “a true American original, my friend and mentor.”

“Donald J. Trump can’t help who embraces his campaign but Hillary Clinton could’ve helped who she embraced,” the duo said in a statement to CNN.

A Trump spokesman, Jason Miller, declined to comment, and a message left with Clinton’s campaign was not returned.

Trump’s surrogates in recent days have pointed to Clinton’s relationship with Byrd in response to accusations that Trump’s campaign stokes racial tensions.

Thursday night, Trump supporter Scottie Nell Hughes also cited Byrd, telling CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “(Clinton) sat there and praised Sen. Byrd saying that he was her mentor, that he should be respected and he was a leader of the KKK.”

And on Friday, Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany, speaking to CNN’s Jim Sciutto on “The Lead,” said Trump’s campaign was not engaging in Clinton’s “gutter politics.”

“You have heard no language to this level coming out of the Trump campaign,” McEnany said. “They could be digging into her past with Robert Byrd.”

(h/t CNN)

Reality

Yes it is true that Senator Robert Byrd was a mentor to Hillary Clinton when she joined the senate. Yes it is true that Senator Byrd was a member of the KKK, but what Trump is deceitfully neglecting to mention is that Byrd was a member, as in, used to be a member, in his youth decades before meeting Clinton. By the time Hillarly Clinton joined the Senate, Robert Byrd had disavowed the Klan decades ago, explained it was wrong, and had such an exemplary civil rights voting record he was graded at 100% by the NAACP.

When Senator Byrd died in 2010, the NAACP released a statement praising Byrd, saying that he “became a champion for civil rights and liberties” and “came to consistently support the NAACP civil rights agenda”.

These are the facts, I’m sorry. Donald Trump and his surrogates did not tell the entire story.

It also glosses over the fact Donald Trump was endorsed by the actual KKK , he failed to condone former Grand Wizard David Duke’s endorsement, had multiple known white supremacists representing him at the Republican National Convention, and Trump’s own father was caught at a KKK rally.

The New Birthers: Trump Pushes Hillary Clinton Health Conspiracy

From Donald Trump and his top surrogates to the right-wing media and its engine rooms of outrage in the blogosphere, Hillary Clinton’s opponents are ramping up efforts to sow doubt over the candidate’s health.

The campaign — which goes back years — has escalated to shouting over the summer, as Trump spiraled in the polls while mostly failing to connect with voters outside his base demographic. Now, as the race enters a crucial phase, there has been a growing push to fundamentally undermine Clinton’s candidacy.

Much in the way “birthers” (Trump was among the most prominent) sought similar ends by questioning President Barack Obama’s citizenship, the “healthers” are using junk science and conspiracy theories to argue that Clinton is suffering from a series of debilitating brain injuries.

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday” this weekend, former New York City mayor and Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani first accused the mainstream media of hiding evidence, then encouraged doubters to “go online and put down ‘Hillary Clinton illness.'”

There is absolutely no credible evidence to backstop any of these claims, including on the “videos” Giuliani cited. Clinton’s physician — the only person to speak on the record who has actually examined her — has repeatedly affirmed the former secretary of state’s health and fitness for the highest office in the land.

During an appearance Monday night on the Jimmy Kimmel show, Clinton called the GOP claims about her health a “wacky strategy.”

“I don’t know why they are saying this,” she said. “I think on the one hand, it is part of the wacky strategy, just say all these crazy things and maybe you can get some people to believe you.”

But for those who want to believe, the structure of the lie borders on impenetrable — baked into its “medical” assertions is the tightly held belief that the press is in cahoots with Clinton, protecting her political prospects by working overtime to hide her imagined ailment.

(h/t CNN)

Reality

The facts, though, tell a very different story. This is it.

The roots of the health conspiracy theory go back to late 2012

Days before she was first scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill about the Benghazi terror attack in December 2012, Clinton suffered a concussion after becoming dehydrated and fainting. Her appearance, scheduled for December 20, was pushed back as she recovered.

In a bit of dark irony, Clinton’s political opponents then, most notably the Republican former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, suggested that Clinton was faking it — that the secretary of state, as Bolton put it, had come down with a “diplomatic illness” in order to avoid the congressional inquiry.

In the weeks after the injury, Clinton would be hospitalized and prescribed blood thinners to dissolve a blood clot located in a vein behind her right ear. The diagnosis was made during a follow-up exam related to her concussion. The clot did not, per Clinton’s doctors, result in a stroke or any other neurological complications.

On January 23, 2013, a little more than a month after she was first slated to appear before Congress, Clinton testified at length to Senate and House committees about the Benghazi attacks.

Karl Rove helped plant the seeds in 2014

In May 2014, more than a year after Clinton left the State Department, Republican strategist Karl Rove made headlines by suggesting Clinton had suffered brain damage in 2012.

“Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury?” he said, according to a New York Post report. “We need to know what’s up with that.”

Rove would attempt to walk back his comments a day after they were made public, telling Fox News of the brain damage comment that he “never used that phrase.”

He also conceded that Clinton had not, as he first said, spent a month in the hospital. She was there for about three days. Politifact also slapped a “False” tag on Rove’s claim that Clinton’s prismatic glasses indicated her injuries had been worse than initially let on.

The talk would mostly die down over the next year. In July 2015, Clinton’s longtime physician, Dr. Lisa Bardack, delivered her a clean bill of health.

“(Clinton) had follow-up testing in 2013, which revealed complete resolution of the effects of the concussion as well as total dissolution of the thrombosis,” Bardack wrote. “Mrs. Clinton also tested negative for all clotting disorders.”

The alleged ‘seizures’

The rumors have traveled with remarkable speed through the pipeline connecting small conservative and right-wing blogs to larger outlets like Breitbart, Infowars and Fox News.

First, there was the muffin shop.

During a June photo op in Washington, Clinton turned back reporters’ questions with what AP correspondent Lisa Lerer in a first person account titled “Video proves Clinton suffering seizures? Not so, I was there,” described as “an exaggerated motion, shaking her head vigorously for a few seconds.”

“After the exchange,” Lerer wrote, “(Clinton) took a few more photos, exited the shop and greeted supporters waiting outside.”

End of story? Not quite.

More than a month later, pro-Trump blogger Jim Hoft picked up the video and, on his Gateway Pundit site, ran a headline blaring, “Wow! Did Hillary Clinton Just Suffer a Seizure on Camera?” She had not, of course, as had been clear to everyone present. But the video soon went viral. Less than a week later, after Clinton delivered her convention address, he was back at it, publishing a GIF of the nominee’s amused face (there were a lot of balloons falling) under a similar title: “Wow! Media Missed This=> Did Hillary Suffer Another Seizure After Her DNC Speech?”

In the coming days and weeks, conservative media and the Trump campaign itself began to pick up the thread. Fox News host Sean Hannity, an unabashed supporter of the GOP nominee, dove in with particular gusto, gathering panels of “experts” to examine video clips of Clinton coughing and, again, batting her head at the D.C. muffin shop.
None of the physicians convened by Hannity had examined Clinton and at least one, Fox News medical correspondent Dr. David Samadi, is a urologist. When an actual neurologist, Dr. Fiona Gupta, joined the group, she mostly dismissed Hannity’s questions, saying, “It’s just so hard to speculate based on snippets (of video).”

When he pressed on (“It almost seems seizure-esque to me”), another Fox News contributor, Dr. Marc Siegel, an internist, pushed back.

“Well I’m not a neurologist,” Siegel said, “and I don’t think that necessarily looks like a seizure.”

The ‘fall’

At around the same time Hannity was hosting his panels, a blog called the American Mirror and the Drudge Report gave a boost to a photograph that had been floating around for months. Taken back in February, the image shows Clinton being helped up a flight of stairs outside a halfway house in in North Charleston, South Carolina.

“The questionable health condition of Hillary Clinton should be a major issue of the 2016 campaign,” the American Mirror post begins. “The latest evidence comes in the form of Clinton being helped up a set of stairs by multiple individuals outside what appears to be a home.”

But the Getty Images photo caption — filed months earlier — tells a very different story.

It reads: “Democratic Presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slips as she walks up the stairs into the non-profit SC Strong, a 2 year residential facility that helps former felons, substance abusers, and homeless move into self-sufficiency.

The “syringe” and fake medical records

As the conspiracy theories took flight, boosted by Trump’s repeated assertions that Clinton is too chronically tired or weak to handle the White House workload, “questions” from right-wing bloggers and gadflies about Clinton’s security detail began to focus in on a single piece of equipment carried by one agent.

On Twitter and on assorted blogs, conspiracy theorists began to focus on images they believed to show, as one headline put it, “Hillary’s Handler Carrying Auto-Injector Syringe For Anti-Seizure Drug Diazepam.”

But again, this was simply not the case. Hannity broadcast the story to his millions of viewers, citing the Gateway Pundit and its sources, with no evidence of his own.

Indeed, the Secret Service has weighed in repeatedly when asked. On Monday morning, spokeswoman Nicole Mainor dismissed the report in an email to CNN.

“The item in the Detail Leader’s hand is a flashlight,” she said.

The rumors took a more serious turn around this time, when a since-deleted Twitter account called @HillsMedRecords shared what purported to be leaked medical record showing Clinton having been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Snopes.com, a fact-checking website, quickly snuffed them out and Clinton’s doctor — whose letterhead was used in the images featuring the fake reports — put out a statement explaining that the documents are “false, were not written by me and are not based on any medical facts.”

The Trump-Breitbart connection

Breitbart News has been a house organ for Trump since the early days of his run, but the union became more formal last week when the media company’s executive chairman, Steve Bannon, was hired as campaign CEO.

It has also been among the most consistent and highly trafficked peddlers of the conspiracy theories surrounding Clinton’s health. When she was slightly late returning to a debate stage in December — there had been a hold up entering the bathroom — Breitbart published a story weeks later citing “a law enforcement source with inside connections” who said Clinton “was missing from the stage due to health issues stemming from a previous brain injury.”

Trump himself has begun to allude more and more baldly to these suggestions, most notably in a pair of speeches last week when he questioned Clinton’s “mental and physical” stamina. On Friday, he tweeted: “#WheresHillary? Sleeping!!!!!”

All this as Drudge doubled down by bannering its site with an absurd Heat Street post, titled, “MUST SEE: Photos of Hillary Clinton Propped Up on Pillows.” The images, with arrows superimposed to point out the pillows, show Clinton — fully alert, engaged, sometimes addressing large audiences — in the presence of small pillows that she sometimes placed behind her back when she was seated.

By the end of last week, at least one prominent Republican Trump supporter had heard about enough. After “Fox and Friends” played a clip of Dr. Drew Pinsky, of “Celebrity Rehab” semi-fame and HLN host, discussing his “grave concern” for Clinton, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich lost his patience.

“With all due respect to television doctors, when you have a doctor who has never seen the patient begin to give you a complicated, fancy-sounding analysis based on what?” Gingrich said.

“I mean, I would be very cautious and I would recommend to doctors for professional reasons to be very cautious deciding you’re going to start analyzing people.”

Reality

The sad truth is that Trump and his campaign continues to promote baseless conspiracy theories even in the face of overwhelming evidence. From a rigged election, to a link between vaccines and autism, to climate change denial, there seems to be no conspiracy theory they won’t try to push on voters who may not be informed of the facts or may be intentionally adverse to accepting new information that does not conform to their preconceived beliefs.

New Trump Campaign Manager No Longer Wants Him to Release His Tax Returns

Donald Trump’s new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said that she does not want the Republican presidential nominee to release his tax returns until an audit by the Internal Revenue Service is completed, abandoning a position that she took five months ago, when she didn’t work for the campaign and urged Trump to “be transparent” and release the filings.

“I’ve learned since being on the inside that this audit is a serious matter and that he has said that when the audit is complete, he will release his tax returns,” Conway said during an interview on ABC’s “This Week” that aired Sunday morning. “I also know as a pollster that what concerns people most about quote ‘taxes’ is their own tax liability, and so we appreciate people being able to see Hillary Clinton’s plan and Donald Trump’s plan and figure out who will really get the middle-class tax relief.”

According to Trump’s attorneys, his tax returns filed since 2009 are under audit but those from 2002 to 2008 are no longer under audit. Conway said Sunday in an interview on CNN that she does not want Trump to release those returns, either.

On ABC, Conway also took a swipe at Clinton over transparency: “I’m glad that he’s transparent about a number of things, and we’re certainly running against the least accountable, least transparent, I think, joyless candidate in presidential political history.”

Trump is the first major presidential nominee from either party since 1976 to not release tax returns. Last summer, Clinton released returns from 2007 to 2014, and her campaign shared her 2015 return this month, as well as 10 years of returns from her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, has said that he plans to release his tax returns, with a spokesman telling CNN that this would happen before the election.

In April, Conway appeared on CNN and defended a short-lived alliance between Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) to stop Trump, a strategy that she considered “fair game.”

“Of course it’s fair game,” Conway said. “Oh, absolutely. It’s completely transparent. Donald Trump’s tax returns aren’t, and I would like to see those be transparent.”

During the Sunday interview on CNN, Conway said she didn’t understand why Trump’s tax returns have become such a big issue.

“This entire tax return debate is somewhat confounding to me, in the following sense: I don’t think that it creates one job, gets one more individual who does not have health insurance covered by health insurance, particularly under the disaster that has been Obamacare with these private insurers pulling out our exchanges now and reporting billions of dollars of losses,” Conway said. “If we want transparency, if we want specifics, the most relevant thing that people can look at is what is his plan for their tax bill.”

(h/t The Washington Post)

Reality

Trump had a contradictory position 4 years ago when he demanded Mitt Romney to release his tax returns.

As for the “audit” excuse, the fact remains that this rationale has never made any sense: an IRS audit doesn’t preclude someone from sharing their returns.

Since Watergate, every presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican, has released his or her tax returns. It’s not required by law, but there’s a tradition of disclosure that Americans have come to count on during the presidential vetting process: candidates for the nation’s highest office are expected to release information related to their personal health and their tax filings.

Indeed even Richard Nixon, during his presidency, released his tax materials in the midst of an IRS audit. Trump could, if he wanted to, release these returns whenever he feels like it. For reasons he won’t explain, the GOP candidate just doesn’t want to.

It’s as if the campaign has decided to wave a big, unmistakable sign that reads, “We have something to hide.”

Media

ABC This Morning – 8/21/2016

CNN – 8/21/2016

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