Trump goes off script at opioid summit: ‘I know about rigging the system because I had the system rigged on me’

President Donald Trump alleged on Wednesday that the U.S. justice system had been “rigged” against him.

While speaking at an event on opioid abuse, the president argued that pharmaceutical companies are giving European countries better prices than they give U.S. customers.

Trump vowed to stop the practice and called his promise “a big deal.”

“At long last we’re stopping drug companies in foreign countries from rigging the system,” Trump said before straying from his prepared remarks.

“I know all about the rigging of the system because I had the system rigged on me,” the president said, likely referring to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

“I think you know what I’m talking about,” Trump added. “Unfortunately, that will be your soundbite tonight but that’s okay. The system was rigged!”

[Raw Story]

Trump says he would challenge impeachment in Supreme Court

President Trump on Wednesday said that he would attempt to challenge impeachment in the Supreme Court if Democrats carried out such proceedings, though it’s unclear the high court would hear such a case.

“The Mueller Report, despite being written by Angry Democrats and Trump Haters, and with unlimited money behind it ($35,000,000), didn’t lay a glove on me. I DID NOTHING WRONG,” Trump tweeted.

“If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court. Not only are there no ‘High Crimes and Misdemeanors,’ there are no Crimes by me at all,” he continued.

The president accused Democrats, Hillary Clinton and “dirty cops” of being guilty of criminal activity.

“We waited for Mueller and WON, so now the Dems look to Congress as last hope!” Trump concluded.

The House holds the power to carry out impeachment proceedings, while the Senate is responsible for whether to convict the individual in question. The chief justice of the Supreme Court, currently John Roberts, would preside over the Senate trial.

There is little precedent to support the idea of the Supreme Court weighing in on the merits of impeachment, as a sitting president has not previously challenged impeachment proceedings in the high court.

The Supreme Court ruled in the 1993 case of federal Judge Walter Nixon that whether the Senate properly conducted an impeachment trial was a political question, and therefore nonjusticiable.

Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, rejected the possibility of Trump taking an impeachment to the Supreme Court.

“Not even a SCOTUS filled with Trump appointees would get in the way of the House or Senate, where [Chief Justice] Roberts would preside over Trump’s Impeachment Trial,” tweeted Tribe, an outspoken critic of the president.

The president has been fixated in recent days on pushing back against the specter of impeachment proceedings, while maintaining that he is “not even a little bit” concerned about the possibility of removal from office.

Democratic leaders have largely said they don’t yet support starting the impeachment process, but remained open to the possibility in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller‘s full report.

In the partly redacted document, investigators did not establish that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 election, but did not exonerate Trump on the question of obstruction of justice. 

Investigators instead detailed 10 episodes they reviewed for potential obstruction by the president, with Mueller saying that Congress has the authority to conduct potential obstruction probes.

Talk of whether to carry out impeachment hearings has split Democrats, and discussions have intensified in the aftermath of Mueller’s report.

“I do believe that impeachment is one of the most divisive forces, paths that we could go down to in our country,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday. “But if the facts, the path of fact-finding takes us there, we have no choice. But we’re not there yet.”

House Democrats have launched a flurry of investigations into the president, seeking to review his finances, potential abuse of power and corruption within the administration.Trump later asserted in a pair of tweets that he had been cooperative with the Mueller investigation, and suggested Congress should focus on legislation instead of seeking additional information from the White House as part of its own probes. “Millions of pages of documents were given to the Mueller Angry Dems, plus I allowed everyone to testify, including W.H. counsel. I didn’t have to do this, but now they want more,” Trump tweeted. “Congress has no time to legislate, they only want to continue the Witch Hunt, which I have already won. They should start looking at The Criminals who are already very well known to all. This was a Rigged System – WE WILL DRAIN THE SWAMP!”

[The Hill]

‘So True’: Trump Tweets Out Seven Fox News Segments in One Day in Wake of Mueller Report

Today President Donald Trump has been sharing a number of clips from Fox News and Fox Business segments on the Mueller report.

The main Fox News account may have stopped tweeting since November as of now, but the president’s Twitter feed today has featured plenty of Fox content.

Trump shared clips of Mark LevinSteve HiltonByron YorkLou Dobbs, and Gregg Jarrett talking about the Mueller report and the fallout from the past few days:

[Mediaite]

Trump: ‘I could have fired everyone’ on Mueller team if I wanted to

President Trump on Thursday pushed back against questions about whether he may have obstructed the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, asserting that he could have “fired everyone,” including special counsel Robert Mueller, if he had so chosen. 

Trump quoted Fox News host Jesse Watters, who said on “The Five” that Trump “was being framed” and “fought back.”

“I had the right to end the whole Witch Hunt if I wanted,” the president tweeted. “I could have fired everyone, including Mueller, if I wanted. I chose not to. I had the RIGHT to use Executive Privilege. I didn’t!”

The president’s tweet came as he traveled aboard Air Force One to Palm Beach, Fla., where he will spend the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

A redacted version of Mueller’s full report was released Thursday morning. In it, the special counsel detailed 10 areas where investigators looked at whether Trump may have obstructed justice.

Mueller looked into, among other topics, Trump’s efforts to remove the special counsel, his conduct surrounding the firing of former FBI Director James Comey and his encouragement of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take control of the investigation.

The special counsel ultimately did not exonerate or implicate Trump on obstruction charges.

“[I]f we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment,” the report states.

Attorney General William Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein did not find sufficient evidence to prove obstruction of justice on the part of the president. 

Mueller’s report further established there was “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russian government, Barr said.

Trump’s tweet marked one of his few public comments in the wake of the report’s release.

The president briefly addressed the report’s findings at an event for wounded military service members, saying that he was “having a good day” and reiterating his stance the report found “no collusion. No obstruction.”

He also tweeted a photo inspired by the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones” showing him staring into a fog behind the statement: “No collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats—Game Over.”

Trump did not address reporters as he departed the White House for Florida.

[The Hill]

Trump Curses Out Democrats on Live Television: ‘Defrauding the Public With Ridiculous Bullsh*t!’

As President Donald Trump tore into the Russia investigations throughout his frenzied speech in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Thursday night, he surely offended television censors at one point by cursing out Democrats for their “ridiculous bullshit.”

“So the Russia hoax proves more than ever that we need to finish exactly what we came here to do: Drain the swamp,” Trump said to wild cheers. He then exclaimed: “The Democrats have to now decide whether they will continue defrauding the public with ridiculous bullshit, partisan investigations, or ways they will apologize to the American people and it join us to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.”

Never a dull moment.

[Mediaite]

Trump spent Friday morning offering sympathy to himself

After offering his condolences to the victims of the mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand, President Trump on Friday morning lamented the fate of another victim: himself.

Trump cited a report from One America News Network ostensibly about newly released testimony from former FBI agent Peter Strzok, then launched into a three-tweet thread about how unfair the investigation into Russian collusion was from the outset. It’s a neatly compacted distillation of Trump’s thoughts about the probe by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — which appears to be nearing its conclusion — and is worth fleshing out in detail.

Here’s what the president wrote.

“New evidence that the Obama era team of the FBI, DOJ & CIA were working together to Spy on (and take out) President Trump, all the way back in 2015.” A transcript of Peter Strzok’s testimony is devastating. Hopefully the Mueller Report will be covering this.

So, if there was knowingly & acknowledged to be “zero” crime when the Special Counsel was appointed, and if the appointment was made based on the Fake Dossier (paid for by Crooked Hillary) and now disgraced Andrew McCabe (he & all stated no crime), then the Special Counsel should never have been appointed and there should be no Mueller Report. This was an illegal & conflicted investigation in search of a crime. Russian Collusion was nothing more than an excuse by the Democrats for losing an Election that they thought they were going to win.

THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO A PRESIDENT AGAIN!

That One America report doesn’t actually say what Trump quotes. It’s more of a broad overview of the focus of the segment, which aired shortly after 5 a.m.

Believe it or not, the segment is less comprehensible and focused than Trump’s tweet about it. It’s pegged to the release of the Strzok testimony but is actually about a conspiracy theory that emerged in the summer. That theory focused on a text message sent from Strzok to FBI attorney Lisa Page, asking her whether she had gotten “all our oconus lures approved.” It was an apparent reference to setting up foreign (OCONUS, or “outside the continental U.S.”) informants (lures) for use in an investigation. But nothing about the text suggests it was related to Trump at all.

Nonetheless, OANN’s Pearson Sharp concluded that the text messages offered proof that “the FBI took steps to infiltrate Trump’s campaign with spies in December 2015.” Therefore former FBI director James B. Comey was lying under oath when he said the investigation began in July 2016 and the FBI broke its own rules about when it could use confidential informants. And, therefore, “it seems clear that Obama’s CIA, Department of Justice and the FBI were all working to take down President Trump in 2015, well before the FBI opened an official investigation,” Sharp said. That’s basically what Trump tweeted.

It is unmitigated nonsense predicated on a mistake (and citing as one source, the vastly discredited conspiracy site Gateway Pundit). It is either the laziest news report I’ve ever seen or the best example of what Trump would have decried as “fake news” had it not bolstered the message he hoped to hear.

So then, a bit later, he starts his riff, which picks up various threads from conservative media and his own tweets over a few days.

“. . . if there was knowingly & acknowledged to be ‘zero’ crime when the Special Counsel was appointed”: Trump has a habit of picking up bits of evidence that he likes and inflating them outward so he looks the way he wants.

Several days ago, he picked up on the idea that Mueller’s appointment came at a point when the FBI was still collecting evidence about possible collusion between his campaign and the Russian government. In testimony Page offered to Congress, she made that point.

Now, you’ll remember that investigations aren’t criminal trials and are meant to collect the evidence to determine whether a crime has been committed. If you couldn’t start an investigation until you could prove a crime, you wouldn’t need an investigation. And investigations often fail to uncover evidence of crimes.

But Trump picked up this Fox News report and used it to stipulate that no crime had occurred because no direct proof of a crime was available at the outset of looking into the crime. That then became a “knowing” “acknowledgment” of “’zero’ crime” having occurred, which is obviously untrue.

“ . . . if the appointment was made based on the Fake Dossier (paid for by Crooked Hillary) and now disgraced Andrew McCabe (he & all stated no crime)”: Trump has also repeatedly focused on a dossier of reports compiled by former British intelligence official Christopher Steele. Those reports were written for Fusion GPS, a company that, at the time, was being paid by a law firm that did work for the Democratic National Committee and the campaign of Hillary Clinton (“Crooked Hillary,” in Trump’s phrasing). The dossier includes raw intelligence that was not verified at the time it was produced and which subsequently has only spottily hit the mark in describing what happened.

It was not, however, the basis of Mueller’s appointment as special counsel. Trump’s confusing his inaccurate arguments here. The dossier was alleged to have been the primary source for a warrant that the FBI obtained to surveil a former Trump campaign adviser, not for Mueller.

The Mueller appointment was spurred by Trump’s firing of Comey and Comey’s subsequent allegation that Trump had pressured him to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe discusses the appointment in his recently released book, but it was the ultimate determination of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein — a Trump appointee.

McCabe and “all” have also not stated that no crime took place in relation to Trump’s campaign.

“ . . . the Special Counsel should never have been appointed and there should be no Mueller Report”: The special counsel was appointed, according to McCabe, to ensure that Trump couldn’t interfere further with the investigation into his campaign, wherever it led.

But Trump tips his hand here: He’s clearly mostly worried about the release of Mueller’s final report on his investigation. Trump’s been effective at inoculating his base against whatever it might reveal, but he’s clearly still worried enough about it to claim that it shouldn’t come out at all.

“This was an illegal & conflicted investigation in search of a crime”: There is nothing remotely illegal about the Mueller investigation, which was established under Justice Department guidelines and which has been upheld in court.

Trump simply likes to describe things he doesn’t like or that he feels threatened by as “illegal.” In January of last year we tallied the things that he’d described as “illegal,” including Clinton’s email server, her emails, a fundraising notice from the Republican Party, Barack Obama’s amnesty order, the State Department’s defense of Clinton, the sharing of CNN town hall questions with the Clinton campaign, Comey sharing an unclassified document and so on.

The president has made a concerted effort to cast the probe as biased against him, criticizing the attorneys working for Mueller and claiming that Mueller is hopelessly conflicted because, years ago, Mueller left one of Trump’s golf clubs because of a fee dispute. Seriously.

Mueller’s team has been largely quiet, not offering defenses against these charges. But it’s worth noting that any significant action that Mueller’s team takes had to be signed off by Rosenstein or, now, Attorney General William P. Barr.

“Russian Collusion was nothing more than an excuse by the Democrats for losing an Election that they thought they were going to win”: Trump’s made this claim before. Here’s a question: If the Democrats created allegations of Russian collusion to excuse losing the 2016 presidential election, how did the investigation start in December 2015, as OANN sloppily claimed? How did it even start in July 2016, as Comey testified under oath (and as all evidence suggests is true)?

The FBI saw a number of red flags during the 2016 election that spurred it to launch the probe in late July. Among those flags was a report from an Australian diplomat that he’d been told by a Trump campaign adviser that Russia had emails incriminating Clinton. Among those flags was that Trump’s campaign chairman at the time had obvious and established links to Russian oligarchs. Among those flags was that another adviser had traveled to Moscow earlier that month.

The Democrats really put in some effort laying the groundwork on this thing, I guess.

“THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO A PRESIDENT AGAIN!”: The good news is that, as presented, this never happened to a president in the first place.

[Washington Post]

Trump falsely claims vindication on collusion

President Donald Trump is falsely asserting that the latest trial of his former campaign chairman proved there was no collusion with Russia. That’s twice in two cases that Trump claimed vindication that did not occur.

The ex-campaign chief, Paul Manafort, was sentenced to nearly 3½ years in prison Wednesday on top of a nearly four-year sentence given by another judge last week.

As if anticipating Trump would claim exoneration from the case, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson reminded her courtroom during the sentencing hearing Wednesday that the case before her was unrelated to questions about whether the Trump campaign worked with Russians to tilt the 2016 election.

“The ‘no collusion’ mantra is simply a non sequitur,” she said, scolding Manafort’s lawyers for bringing it up during the trial. It’s not accurate, she continued, because “the investigation is still ongoing.”

She said pointedly: “Court is one of those places where facts still matter.”

The president was undeterred.

TRUMP: “I can only tell you one thing: Again that was proven today, no collusion.” — remarks to reporters at the White House.

THE FACTS: There was no such proof in either trial. Whether collusion happened was not a subject of the charges against Manafort. It’s one of the central issues in a separate and continuing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

In the case that produced Manafort’s first prison sentence, he was convicted of tax and bank fraud related to his work advising Ukrainian politicians. Judge T.S. Ellis III neither cleared nor implicated the president, instead emphasizing that Manafort was “not before this court for anything having to do with collusion with the Russian government.”

Trump ignored that point afterward, tweeting Friday: “Both the Judge and the lawyer in the Paul Manafort case stated loudly and for the world to hear that there was NO COLLUSION with Russia.” He misquoted the lawyer as well as the judge.

On Wednesday, Jackson sentenced Manafort for misleading the government about his foreign lobbying work and for encouraging witnesses to lie on his behalf. Again, the case did not turn on his leadership of Trump’s campaign.

As with other Americans who were close to Trump and have been charged in the Mueller probe, Manafort hasn’t been accused of involvement in Russian election interference. Nor has he been cleared of that suspicion. The same is true of Trump.

[The New York Times]

Trump slams Democrats over probe he calls harassment

President Donald Trump is claiming Democrats “have gone stone cold CRAZY” with their investigations of him and his surrogates.

Trump has been grumbling about “harassment” a lot lately, but obviously, his newest tweet is a response to the new investigation House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has launched against his administration. Between the scope of the probe and the number of people who’ve been asked to turn over documents of interest, it seems the increased levels of oversight could become a new, lasting source of frustration for Trump.

[MarketWatch]

Trump Rails Against Mueller: Trying to Take Me Down With ‘BullshIt!’

President Donald Trump railed against Special Counsel Robert Mueller, his team of investigators and former Attorney General Jeff Sessionsduring a lengthy and profane tirade at CPAC on Saturday.

During an extensive improvised riff, Trump praised his own election victory in 2016, calling it “the greatest of all time.”

“You put the wrong people in a couple of positions…and all of a sudden, they are trying to take you out with bullshit!” Trump said, which drew rapturous applause and chants of “Bullshit!” from inside the hall, per reports.

“Robert Mueller never received a single vote,” Trump said, of the investigator appointed to lead a probe into his campaign’s ties with Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump then turned his ire to Sessions, who served as attorney general through several years of presidential Twitter abuse, after he recused himself from the Russia investigation given his work on the 2016 campaign.

[Mediaite]

Media

Trump continues ranting ‘witch hunt must end’ — even as Mueller reportedly nears probe’s completion

President Donald Trump insisted investigators would find no evidence of collusion, even as special counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly neared completion of his Russia probe.

The White House reportedly expects Mueller to turn in his report any day now to newly confirmed attorney general William Barr, and the president tweeted out an all-caps denial of wrongdoing during the 2016 election involving Russian interference.

“Highly respected Senator Richard Burr, head of Senate Intelligence, said, after interviewing over 200 witnesses and studying over 2 million pages of documents, ‘WE HAVE FOUND NO COLLUSION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA,’” Trump tweeted. “The Witch Hunt, so bad for our Country, must end!”

[Raw Story]

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