Trump says U.S. will stand by Saudi Arabia, despite CIA’s conclusion about Khashoggi killing

President Trump vowed to stand by Saudi Arabia, whatever the CIA concludes about the involvement of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Mr. Trump released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying, “Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

He added, “That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi…the United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region.”

The CIA has intelligence substantiating an assessment that the crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s killing. The CIA’s assessment appeared to be largely based on the control held by bin Salman. In other words, the thinking is the murder could not have been carried out without the knowledge of bin Salman, often referred to by his initials, MBS.

A U.S. intelligence official says the president has been provided with the intelligence community’s assessment on the matter.

Mr. Trump conceded that the “crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone.” And he said the U.S. has taken “strong action” against alleged participants, pointing to the recent sanctions announced against 17 Saudis “known to have been involved.”

But he allowed that “representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.” However, he added, “[M]y decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime.”

The president argued that the relationship with Saudi Arabia is vital to U.S. interests and national security and important to the U.S. economy. The president pointed to Iran as a force to be kept in check — and Saudi Arabia’s role in helping do that.

Mr. Trump also repeated assertions that the Kingdom agreed to spend $450 billion in the U.S., with $110 billion to be spent on military equipment from U.S. defense contractors.

“If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business,” the statement said. “It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!”

The president also said that he understood there were lawmakers in Congress “who would like to go in a different direction — and they are free to do so.” He said he would consider ideas presented to him, “but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America.”

On Saturday, the president had said his administration would release a “full report” on Khashoggi’s death in the next two days. But three days later, his administration has no details on what such a report will entail or when it would be released — or even confirmation that such a report exists.

[CBS News]

Trump Dismisses Report on Ivanka: She ‘Did Some Emails,’ They Weren’t Classified Like Hillary’s

President Donald Trump dismissed the Washington Post report on his daughterIvanka Trump, accessing and sending government-related emails on her private email account.

“Early on, and for a little period of time, Ivanka did some emails,” the president said. “They weren’t classified like Hillary Clinton. They weren’t deleted like Hillary Clinton, who deleted 33 [thousand] … She wasn’t doing anything to hide her e-mails.”

Trump claimed that his daughter’s emails were in the presidential record. The Washington Post piece was unclear on that point.

“Using personal emails for government business could violate the Presidential Records Act, which requires that all official White House communications and records be preserved as a permanent archive of each administration,” the piece read.

“What Ivanka Trump did, all in the presidential records, everything is there,” Trump said. “There was no deletion, no nothing. What it is is a false story. Hillary Clinton deleted 33,000 e-mails, she had a server in the basement, that is the real story.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Boasts About Midterms in Which GOP Took Heavy Losses: ‘Epic Victory’

President Donald Trump declared the 2018 midterm elections an “epic victory” for the GOP on Twitter today, as he pimped out the two Senate seats earned by Republicans and attacked the media for focusing on Democrats taking the House.

“People are not being told that the Republican Party is on track to pick up two seats in the U.S. Senate, and epic victory: 53 to 47,” Trump tweeted this afternoon.

He then criticized the presiding media narrative on the midterms, which is that Democrats etched out a win since they took the House: “The Fake News Media only wants to speak of the House, where the Midterm results were better than other sitting Presidents.”

Trump has called the midterms a victory in the past.

Before many of the results had even come in, the president took to Twitter: “Received so many Congratulations from so many on our Big Victory last night, including from foreign nations (friends) that were waiting me out, and hoping, on Trade Deals. Now we can all get back to work and get things done!”

[Mediaite]

Donald Trump Makes Absurd Claim That Illegal Voters Change into Disguise in Their Car and That’s Why Republicans Lose

Illegal voters, after having already cast their ballots, head to their cars and change outfits in order to vote again, according to President Donald Trump in an interview released Wednesday. The president also stressed what he believed to be the necessity for voter IDs in elections.

The president made his claims just over a week removed from major Republican losses in the House and in governor’s races, with Democrats picking up 33 seats in the House and flipping control for the first time since 2010.

Trump pegged Republican losses to voter fraud, similar to his unfounded excuse for not winning the popular vote over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

“The Republicans don’t win and that’s because of potentially illegal votes,” Trump said in an interview with The Daily Caller, a conservative news and opinion site. “When people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again. Nobody takes anything. It’s really a disgrace what’s going on.”

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the United States.

Several reports have indicated the president was angry over losing the House to Democrats, and a week ago he even called out Republicans who lost their seats for not accepting his “embrace.”

The president also reiterated previous false statements about voters requiring identification to purchase food, and thus should have the same requirement when voting.

“If you buy a box of cereal—you have a voter ID,” Trump told the conservative news outlet. “They try to shame everybody by calling them racist, or calling them something, anything they can think of when you say you want voter ID. But voter ID is a very important thing.”

Trump also called for the firing of Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes, as she faced accusations of impropriety while the county continues to tally ballots.

llegal voters, after having already cast their ballots, head to their cars and change outfits in order to vote again, according to President Donald Trump in an interview released Wednesday. The president also stressed what he believed to be the necessity for voter IDs in elections.

The president made his claims just over a week removed from major Republican losses in the House and in governor’s races, with Democrats picking up 33 seats in the House and flipping control for the first time since 2010.

Trump pegged Republican losses to voter fraud, similar to his unfounded excuse for not winning the popular vote over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

“The Republicans don’t win and that’s because of potentially illegal votes,” Trump said in an interview with The Daily Caller, a conservative news and opinion site. “When people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again. Nobody takes anything. It’s really a disgrace what’s going on.”

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the United States.

Several reports have indicated the president was angry over losing the House to Democrats, and a week ago he even called out Republicans who lost their seats for not accepting his “embrace.”

The president also reiterated previous false statements about voters requiring identification to purchase food, and thus should have the same requirement when voting.

“If you buy a box of cereal—you have a voter ID,” Trump told the conservative news outlet. “They try to shame everybody by calling them racist, or calling them something, anything they can think of when you say you want voter ID. But voter ID is a very important thing.”

Trump also called for the firing of Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes, as she faced accusations of impropriety while the county continues to tally ballots.

[Newsweek]

Trump Suggests He Will Call For New Election in Arizona: ‘SIGNATURES DON’T MATCH’

The President of the United States is floating the possibility of throwing out the results of an entire Senate election and calling for a new vote — alleging electoral corruption.

In a Friday afternoon tweet sent from somewhere over the Atlantic — as he’s currently on board Air Force One en route to France — President Donald Trump floated the possibility of a new election in Arizona, where the votes are still being tabulated in the Senate contest between Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Martha McSally (R). The reason for the drastic action, according to Trump? “Electoral corruption.”

“Just out — in Arizona,” Trump wrote. “SIGNATURES DON’T MATCH. Electoral corruption – Call for a new Election? We must protect our Democracy!”

The presidential dispatch was sent at 3:33 p.m. ET. Twenty-seven minutes earlier, a report on the Arizona Senate contest aired on Fox News. In it, correspondent Dan Springer stated the following:

“There are still just under 500,000 votes to count. Nearly all are in Maricopa [County]. And that’s where a legal drama is brewing. The Republican party sued over the handling of ballots where the signature either wasn’t there or didn’t match…a short time ago, the Republican Party chairman accused the Maricopa County recorder — a Democrat — of destroying evidence by mixing in disputed ballots in with all the others.”

[Mediaite]

President Trump signs order denying asylum to illegal border crossers

President Donald Trump on Friday invoked extraordinary national security powers to deny asylum to migrants who enter the country illegally, tightening the border as caravans of Central Americans slowly approach the United States.

Trump is using the same powers he used to push through a version of the travel ban that was upheld by the Supreme Court. The proclamation puts into place regulations adopted Thursday that circumvent laws stating that anyone is eligible for asylum no matter how he or she enters the country.

“We need people in our country but they have to come in legally and they have to have merit,” Trump said Friday as he prepared to depart for Paris.

The measures are meant to funnel asylum seekers through official border crossings for speedy rulings, officials said, instead of having them try to circumvent such crossings on the nearly 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border. But the busy ports of entry already have long lines and waits, forcing immigration officials to tell some migrants to turn around and come back to make their claims.

The move was spurred in part by caravans of Central American migrants slowly moving north on foot but will apply to anyone caught crossing illegally, officials said Thursday. It’s unknown whether those in the caravan, many fleeing violence in their homeland, plan to cross illegally.

Administration officials said those denied asylum under the proclamation may be eligible for similar forms of protection if they fear returning to their countries, though they would be subject to a tougher threshold. Those forms of protection include “withholding of removal” — which is similar to asylum, but doesn’t allow for green cards or bringing families — or asylum under the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

The announcement was the latest push to enforce Trump’s hardline stance on immigration through regulatory changes and presidential orders, bypassing Congress. But those efforts have been largely thwarted by legal challenges and, in the case of family separations this year, stymied by a global outcry that prompted Trump to scrap them.

The new changes were likely to be met with legal challenges, too. Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said Thursday they were clearly illegal.

“U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry. It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree,” he said.

Curbing immigration has been a signature issue for Trump, who pushed it hard in the days leading up to Tuesday’s midterm elections, railing against the caravans that are still hundreds of miles from the border.

He has made little mention of the issue since the election but has sent troops to the border in response. As of Thursday, there are more than 5,600 U.S. troops deployed to the border mission, with about 550 actually working on the border in Texas. The military is expected to have the vast majority of the more than 7,000 troops planned for the mission deployed by Monday, and that number could grow.

Trump also suggested he’d revoke the right to citizenship for babies born to non-U.S. citizens on American soil and erect massive “tent

The administration has long said immigration officials are drowning in asylum cases partly because people falsely claim asylum and then live in the U.S. with work permits.

The asylum section of the Immigration and Nationality Act says a migrant is allowed to make a claim up to a year after arriving in the U.S., and it doesn’t matter how they arrive — illegally or through a border crossing.

Migrants who cross illegally are generally arrested and often seek asylum or some other form of protection. Claims have spiked in recent years, and there is a backlog of more than 800,000 cases pending in immigration court. Generally, only about 20 percent of applicants are approved.

Trump has long said those seeking asylum should come through legal ports of entry. But many migrants are unaware of that guidance, and official border crossings have grown clogged.

Officials have turned away asylum seekers at border crossings because of overcrowding, telling them to return later. Backlogs have become especially bad in recent months at crossings in California, Arizona and Texas, with some people waiting five weeks to try to claim asylum at San Diego’s main crossing.

In 2017, the U.S. fielded more than 330,000 asylum claims, nearly double the number two years earlier and surpassing Germany as highest in the world.

It’s unclear how many people en route to the U.S. will even make it to the border. About 4,800 migrants are sheltered in a sports complex in Mexico City, some 600 miles from the U.S. border. Several smaller groups were trailing hundreds of miles to the south; officials estimated about 7,000 in all were in the country in the caravans. The migrants are largely poor people and many say they’re fleeing violence; more than 1,700 were children under 18, and more than 300 were children under age 5.

Similar caravans have gathered regularly over the years and have generally dwindled by the time they reach the southern border. Most have passed largely unnoticed.

[Chicago Tribune]

White House suspends credentials for CNN’s Jim Acosta

The White House has suspended the credentials of a CNN journalist hours after a testy exchange with US President Donald Trump.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders says a reporter’s access was removed because he put “his hands on a young woman”.

Mr Acosta, chief White House correspondent for CNN, was called a “rude, terrible person” by Mr Trump at a press conference on Wednesday.

A staff member tried to take his microphone during the exchange.

However, Mr Acosta refused to give it up as he attempted to ask the president a further question.

Video of the incident quickly appeared online.

What did the White House say?

Ms Sanders, in a statement posted in a Twitter thread, said the White House would “never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job”.

“The fact that CNN is proud of the way their employee behaved is not only disgusting, it’s an example of their outrageous disregard for everyone, including young women, who work in this Administration,” she said.

“As a result of today’s incident, the White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice.”

Mr Acosta called Ms Sanders’ assertion that he placed his hands on the woman “a lie”.

He also posted a tweet saying he was stopped by the Secret Service from entering White House grounds.

What happened at the earlier press conference?

President Trump insulted Mr Acosta after the reporter challenged his recent assertions about a migrant caravan heading to the US from Central America.

It was during this exchange the female staff member attempted to take the microphone from Mr Acosta.

“That’s enough, that’s enough,” the president said, before telling Mr Acosta to sit down and to put down his microphone.

“CNN should be ashamed of themselves, having you work for them,” he said. “The way you treat Sarah Huckabee [Sanders] is horrible.”

[BBC]

Media

Trump boasts GOP defied midterm odds, knocks losers who didn’t ’embrace’ him

President Trump on Wednesday took a victory lap after the midterm elections, saying Republicans defied the odds by stopping a so-called “blue wave” of Democrats from taking control of both chambers of Congress.

“There was a big day yesterday. Incredible day,” Trump said during a White House news conference. “The Republican Party defied history to expand our Senate majority while significantly beating expectations in the House.”

Trump suffered a major blow on Tuesday when the GOP lost control of the House, but the president has downplayed that defeat, arguing he feels vindicated by the results in the Senate, where Republicans look like they’ll gain three or four seats.

The president noted that of the 11 candidates he campaigned with during the final week of the race, nine won.

“This vigorous campaigning stopped the blue wave,” he said. “History will really see what a good job we did in the final few weeks.”

Trump blamed GOP losses in the House on the high number of retirements and large fundraising totals for Democrats, as well as negative media coverage that he said “set a new record.”

He also called out several House lawmakers by name, saying their failure to embrace him led to their defeats even though they ran in districts where he is unpopular.

“Too bad Mike,” Trump said of Rep. Mike Coffman (R), who lost in Colorado. The president also appeared delighted that GOP Reps. Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), Barbara Comstock (Va.) and Mia Love (Utah) were all defeated while distancing themselves from him.

“Mia Love gave me no love. And she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that Mia,” he said.

Taking over the House is a major victory for Democrats, allowing them their first chance to act as a check on Trump. They are expected to carry out aggressive investigations of Trump’s businesses and administration, a dynamic that could pose a real challenge for a president who has not had to worry about a political opponent with power.

But Trump immediately went on the offensive to try to turn the public against the coming onslaught of House oversight probes, painting them as an “investigation fatigue” designed to cause gridlock and stymie his agenda ahead of the 2020 election.

“If that happens, then we’re going to do the same thing and government comes to a halt. And I would blame them,” he said.
Trump appeared to be sending a warning to Democrats that he could use them as a foil, but also dangled the possibility of bipartisan deals on infrastructure and drug pricing.

“It really could be a beautiful bipartisan type of situation,”  Trump said.

[The Hill]

Trump accuses CNN of ‘Fake Suppression Polls and false rhetoric’

President Trump on Monday accused CNN of promoting “fake Suppression Polls and false rhetoric” one day before the 2018 midterm elections.

“So funny to see the CNN Fake Suppression Polls and false rhetoric,” Trump tweeted. “Watch for real results Tuesday.”

“Don’t fall for the Suppression Game,” he added. “Go out & VOTE.”

He ended the tweet by touting the country’s impressive economic growth.

Trump’s tweet came hours after a new CNN poll showed Democrats continuing to hold a double-digit lead over Republicans in a generic congressional ballot among likely voters.

The poll also found Trump’s approval rating at 39 percent overall, with a 55 percent of those polled disapproving of his job performance. That is the worst pre-election approval rating for any president ahead of their first midterm election, CNN reported.

Other polls indicate slightly higher approval ratings for Trump, with polling analysis website FiveThirtyEight placing him at a 41.9 percent approval rating on Nov. 5.

A Harvard-Harris poll released last week found Trump’s approval rating at 44 percent among registered voters and 46 percent among likely voters.

Thirty-three percent of registered voters in the poll said their midterm election votes will be a signal of support for Trump while 40 percent said it will be a signal of opposition to the president. Twenty-seven percent said they are not voting according to their disposition on Trump.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in late October found Trump’s approval rating ahead of the midterm elections at a higher level than former President Obama’s ahead of the 2010 midterms.

The poll found Trump’s approval rating at its highest level for that poll yet, at 47 percent. Obama’s approval rating was at 45 percent around the same time in 2010, according to a similar NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken in late October 2010.

The new CNN poll surveyed 1,151 likely voters between Nov. 1-3 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Most polls have Democrats at an advantage on generic congressional ballots and the party is widely expected to win back the House on Tuesday.

[The Hill]

Trump Says Pittsburgh Shooter and Mail Bomber Stopped His ‘Incredible’ Midterm Momentum

On Thursday, President Donald Trump said the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter and the mail bomber who sent packages to CNN and Democratic targets stopped his “incredible” midterm momentum.

“Now, we did have two maniacs stop a momentum that was incredible. Because for 7 days, nobody talked about the elections. It stopped a tremendous momentum.” Trump said, before adding, “More importantly, we have to take care of our people, and we don’t care about momentum when it comes to a disgrace like just happened to the country, but it did nevertheless stop a certain momentum.”

He then said the momentum is once again picking up.

During the same rally, Trump also declared the election the “election of Kavanaugh” and “caravans.”

[Mediaite]

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