Trump warns Iran’s President Rouhani: ‘NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN’

U.S. President Donald Trump threatened his Iranian counterpart in a late Sunday evening Twitter post:

The tweet from the president follows Iranian President Hassan Rouhani cautioning the American leader on Sunday about pursuing hostile policies against Tehran, saying: “War with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

Still, he did not rule out peace between the two countries.

“You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran’s security and interests,” Rouhani said, in an apparent reference to reports of efforts by Washington to destabilize Iran’s Islamic government.

Ahead of Trump’s Twitter-posted threat, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeolaunched a rhetorical assault on Iran’s leaders on Sunday, comparing them to a “mafia” and promising unspecified backing for Iranians unhappy with their government.

Pompeo, in a California speech to a largely Iranian-American audience, dismissed Iranian Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who negotiated a nuclear deal with the United States and five other countries, as “merely polished front men for the ayatollahs’ international con artistry.”

Trump withdrew in May from the 2015 nuclear accord designed to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

[CNBC]

Trump tries to spin Justice Department documents outlining Carter Page’s Russia contacts

President Donald Trump took to Twitter Sunday morning to try and hit back against the Justice Department’s release of documents outlining Carter Page’s contacts with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.

On Saturday, the Justice Department released a warrant application the FBI had made to get permission to conduct surveillance on Page, a former Trump campaign adviser. The application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, made in October 2016, alleged that Page “has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government.”

The non-redacted portions of the 400-page FISA document make serious claims about Page’s ties to the Russian government. The Justice Department alleges in the documents that the former adviser “has established relationships with Russian government officials, including Russian intelligence officers” and that the “FBI believes the Russian government’s efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election were being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with [Trump’s] campaign.”

“The FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government,” the warrant says. After a redacted line, the document then continues, “undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election in violation of U.S. criminal law. Mr. Page is a former foreign policy adviser to a candidate for U.S. president.”

Trump responded to the documents Sunday morning, relying on his claim of “witch hunt” to describe the investigation into his campaign.

“As usual they are ridiculously heavily redacted but confirm with little doubt that the Department of ‘Justice’ and FBI misled the courts,” Trump tweeted about the FISA documents Sunday. “Witch Hunt Rigged, a Scam!”

In a subsequent tweet, Trump hit back against the Steele dossier, which alleges the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and that the Russians have compromising information on the now-president. Trump quoted Fox News as saying, “Source #1 [for the FISA warrant] was the (Fake) Dossier. Yes, the Dirty Dossier, paid for by Democrats as a hit piece against Trump, and looking for information that could discredit Candidate #1 Trump. Carter Page was just the foot to surveil the Trump campaign …”

The president then tied the FISA warrant to the outcry sparked by his recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, claiming he “had a GREAT meeting with Putin and the Fake News used every bit of their energy to try and disparage it. So bad for our country!”

Page himself has denied the allegations, describing the FISA application as “spin” and a “complete joke” in an interview Sunday on CNN.

“I’ve never been an agent of a foreign power by any stretch of the imagination,” Page alleged Sunday.

The heavily redacted FISA documents, which enabled the government to surveil Page, were released Saturday after news organizations including the New York Times and USA Today filed lawsuits to obtain them through the Freedom of Information Act. Its release marks the first time a FISA application for surveillance has been released, the Washington Post noted, and such documents are considered to be highly classified.

The application previously made waves in February, as Republicans alleged in a memo that the FBI improperly relied on the dossier compiled by Christopher Steele to obtain the FISA warrant — which Democrats then rebutted in a separate report.

Republicans have previously pointed to the warrant’s reliance on the Steele dossier — which was initially commissioned by a firm that had been contracted by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign — as evidence that the warrant was improperly granted, due to the dossier’s alleged bias. An initial Republican memo about the FISA warrant also claimed that the dossier’s origins were not mentioned in the warrant.

The now-released document, however, does disclose that the “U.S. person” who hired Steele “was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit [Trump’s] campaign,” and added that the FBI believes Steele’s reporting “to be credible.” Some details of the Steele dossier have been corroborated, although the document’s most salacious claims remain unverified.

David Kris, a former assistant attorney general for national security and associate deputy attorney general, wrote in a post for the Lawfare Institute that the page-long footnote dedicated to the potential bias behind the Steele dossier means “there is literally no way the FISA court could have missed it.”

“The FBI gave the court enough information to evaluate Steele’s credibility,” Kris wrote, also noting that the judges who signed off on the FISA applications were all appointed by Republican presidents.

Democrats are pointing to the now-released application as evidence that the FBI’s investigation into Page and the Trump campaign was legitimate. Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement quoted by the Washington Post that the FISA documents “underscore the legitimate concern [the] FBI had about Page’s activities as it was investigating Russia’s interference.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement: “Despite President Trump’s repeated claims, these documents provide clear evidence of ‘Russia’s coordination with Carter Page,’ a high-ranking Trump campaign official, ‘to undermine and improperly and illegally influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.’

“The GOP must cease their attacks on our law enforcement and intelligence communities, and finally decide where their loyalty lies,” Pelosi added.

[Mic]

Trump wants suspensions for NFL players who kneel during anthem

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that National Football League (NFL) players who do not stand for the national anthem should be suspended for the season without pay.

The comments come a day after the NFL and the union representing its players said they were working on a resolution to the league’s national anthem policy.

The policy, which was announced in May, followed Trump’s denunciation of pregame protests which were intended to call attention to what critics say is often brutal treatment of minorities by U.S. law enforcement.

Trump and others have blasted the gesture as a sign of disrespect to the U.S. flag and the military.

“The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again – can’t believe it!,” Trump said on Twitter.

“First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay.

“The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand,” he said in reference to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The players union, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), recently filed a grievance over the league’s new requirement that players stand for the national anthem or wait in their dressing rooms.

The NFLPA claimed the new policy was inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringed on player rights.

The NFL and NFLPA said on Thursday no new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while the confidential discussions are ongoing.

[Reuters]

Reality

Two days prior, Fox News begged Donald Trump to tweet something out to distract everyone from his failure in Helsinki. Trump took their advice.

Trump tweets old video of Clinton talking up ‘a strong Russia’

President Trump on Thursday tweeted a partial clip of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arguing eight years ago that a “strong Russia” is in the world’s best interest.

Trump asked if “Dems and Fake News” will “ever learn” as he faces ongoing criticism about his handling of Monday’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The clip is from a 2010 interview Clinton did with First Channel Television, which is partially owned by the Russian government.

“We want very much to have a strong Russia because a strong, confident, prosperous, stable Russia is, we think, in the interests of the world,” Clinton says in the brief clip.

The clip has recently been shared by some pro-Trump figures on Twitter, including actor James Woods.

Clinton was responding to a question about “America’s place in the modern world” when she made the remarks.

“Is it a force aimed at supporting the world’s equilibrium? Or is it a force aimed at changing the status quo?” interviewer Vladimir Pozner asked.

“It’s both in this way, Vladimir. It is a force to sustain an equilibrium that permits countries and individuals to progress, to become more self-realizing,” she replied. “I mean, we want very much to have a strong Russia because a strong, competent, prosperous, stable Russia is, we think, in the interests of the world.”

“But at the same time, there are countries and places where the status quo is just not acceptable,” she continued. “Last summer, I went to the Democratic Republic of Congo. I went to Eastern Congo where 5.4 million people had been killed in the last 15 years, the greatest death toll since the second world war. We don’t want that status quo to be sustained.”

Then-President Obama made similar remarks about Russia during a 2009 speech, calling for a “reset” in U.S-Russia relations and saying the world would benefit “from a strong and vibrant Russia.”

Trump has faced intense scrutiny for his handling of Russia this past week, after he sided with Putin’s denials of election interference during a press conference in Helsinki, Finland.

Trump attempted to walk back the comments on Tuesday, saying he believes the U.S. intelligence assessment that found Russia meddled in the election.

[The Hill]

Reality

The video was before Putin, before Russia illegally annexed Crimea, before Russia invaded Ukraine, before Russia tried to assassinate world leaders, before Russia jailed critics, murdered critics, before Russia tried to murder civilians in England, and apparently before high-definition television.

Trump Says Obama was a ‘Total Patsy’ for Russia

In an excerpt of an interview with CNBC that was published Thursday afternoon, President Donald Trump says that he will be Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s “worst enemy” if their relationship and their dealmaking doesn’t work out, unlike President Barack Obama who he called Putin’s “patsy.”

Speaking to CNBC in an interview that will air in full on Friday, Trump said this about Putin if the dealings don’t work out: “I’ll be the worst enemy he’s ever had.”

He also said in the same interview, according to CNBC, that Obama had been a “total patsy” on Russia.

“Obama didn’t do it, Obama was a patsy for Russia, Obama was a total patsy,” Trump opined.

Trump also insisted that as the current president he has been “far tougher on Russia than any president in many, many years” and the toughest president on Russia “maybe ever.”

Trump’s tough talk was somewhat mitigated, however, by Trump’s desire to make things work out between him and the Russian leader which he insisted was a positive thing.

“Getting along with President Putin, getting along with Russia, is positive, not a negative,” he told CNBC’s Joe Kernen, in the released excerpts before his warning about turning enemy if the relationship sours.

[Mediaite]

White House: Trump will consider letting Russia question investor, former ambassador

President Donald Trump will consider allowing Russian investigators to question U.S.-born investor Bill Browder, former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and others after President Vladimir Putin floated the idea, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday.

“He said it was an interesting idea. He didn’t commit to anything,” Sanders said at the daily press briefing. “He wants to work with his team and determine if there’s any validity that would be helpful to the process…It was an idea they threw out.”

Later in the day, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called the concept “absolutely absurd.”

“The fact that they want to question 11 American citizens, and the assertions that the Russian government is making about those American citizens — we do not stand by those assertions,” Nauert said.

In a joint press conference with Trump Monday, Putin proposed that the U.S. allow Russian officials to interview Americans in exchange for Russia allowing U.S. officials to interview Russians, such as the 12 people recently indicted for their role in hacking Democratic computer systems in 2016.

“This kind of effort should be a mutual one,” Putin said Monday. “We would expect that the Americans would reciprocate.”

The idea was “an incredible offer,” Trump said.

The Russian leader mentioned Browder, whom, he said, “we have an interest of questioning” over tax issues. Browder has been at odds with the Kremlin for years, including because of his advocacy for efforts to sanction Russians suspected of committing human rights violations.

On Tuesday, the Russian Prosecutor General’s office released a wishlist of potential people to extradite, including members of the State and Homeland Security departments and members of the CIA. McFaul, a former ambassador who had strained relations with the Kremlin and has since said he was banned from traveling to Russia, was also included.

“I hope the White House corrects the record and denounces in categorical terms this ridiculous request from Putin,” McFaul tweeted Wednesday. “Not doing so creates moral equivalency between a legitimacy US indictment of Russian intelligence officers and a crazy, completely fabricated story invented by Putin.”

It would be an extraordinary step to allow Russian investigators access to current or former U.S. officials. Browder, though born in the U.S., is now a British citizen, so it is unclear how a deal involving him would work.

[Politico]

Trump Bashes Media for Russia Coverage: Press Didn’t Cover My Private Meeting

President Donald Trump sat down for an interview with CBS News’ Jeff Glor at the end of whirlwind tour of Europe that culminated in the widely panned press conference with Vladimir Putin — and trashed the media for its coverage of his summit with the Russian autocrat.

After declaring “I think I did great at the news conference,” Trump embarked on a rambling anti-press diatribe:

“I don’t know what the fuss is all about. I think we did extremely well. I think the press makes up — look it’s fake news that people understand. I think the press largely makes up a lot of the fuss about a lot of things. And I’m not talking about one of it I’m talking about everything, it’s crazy. You do something that’s positive, and they try and make it as negative as possible.”

Trump went on to say that “some of the most honorable people I know, some great people are reporters, journalists etc.,” before adding “but the level of dishonesty in your profession is extremely high.”

Glor pointed out that the press simply covered the statements Trump made in his televised press conference with Putin.

Trump dismissed that point, arguing that the press should have covered his private one-on-one meeting with Putin.

“They didn’t cover my meeting, the important thing frankly was the meeting,” Trump said.

[Mediaite]

Trump, When Asked if Russia is Still Targeting America: ‘No’

President Donald Trump seems to be walking back his walk back with regard to his comments on Russian meddling in the 2016 election in his press conference with Vladimir Putin.

As the president held a meeting with cabinet officials at the White House today, reporters asked him if Russia is still targeting America. Trump’s answer: “No.”

He continued:

“There has been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia. All you have to do is look at the numbers, look at what we’ve done, look at sanctions, look at ambassadors not there. Look at unfortunately that what happened in Syria recently. I think President Putin knows that better than everybody, certainly a lot better than the media. He understands it, and he’s not happy about it. He shouldn’t be happy about it because there’s never been a president as tough on Russia as I have been.”

This directly contradicts what DNI chief Dan Coats said on Monday: that the intelligence community stands by its assessment that Russians meddled with the 2016 election and have “ongoing pervasive efforts” to try and undermine American democracy.

[Mediaite]

Trump: ‘People at the higher ends of intelligence loved’ my performance

President Trump said in an early morning tweet on Wednesday that “people at the higher ends of intelligence loved” his press conference performance alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was widely condemned.

“So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki,” he said. “Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting. We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match. Big results will come!”

[The Hill]

President Trump blames media for criticism over Putin news conference

The day after his ill-fated news conference with Vladimir Putin drew criticism even from supporters, a defiant President Donald Trump said Tuesday he had a great meeting with the Russian leader and blamed the news media for the poor reception.

“While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia,” Trump tweeted after returning from a weeklong trip to Europe. “Sadly, it is not being reported that way – the Fake News is going Crazy!”

Having watched the president’s performance, lawmakers across the ideological spectrum criticized Trump for taking Putin’s word over that of U.S. intelligence officials who report that Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Like Trump, the critics showed no signs of backing down.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, said he was glad to see criticism from both parties. A day after saying that Putin probably celebrated the Trump meeting with caviar, Corker called for legislation to counter some of the president’s foreign policy moves, including tariffs on imports.

“As the president taxes Americans with tariffs, he pushes away our allies and further strengthens Putin,” Corker tweeted. “It is time for Congress to step up and take back our authorities.”

During his morning tweet session, Trump also defended the Putin news conference by citing the thoughts of a rare supporter who stuck up for him: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

“Thank you @RandPaul, you really get it!” Trump tweeted, citing a comment by the Kentucky senator that “the President has gone through a year and a half of totally partisan investigations – what’s he supposed think?”

Paul was one of the few Republicans to defend the president after he accepted Putin’s denials that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, despite the conclusions of U.S. intelligence officials that Russians hacked Democratic officials and pushed fake news to help Trump.

While taking Putin’s side, Trump also condemned the ongoing investigation of Russia as a “disaster” driving a wedge between the United States and Russia.

[USA Today]

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