Trump Wants Attorney General to Investigate Source of Anonymous Times Op-Ed

President Trump said on Friday that he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate the source of an anonymous Op-Ed piece published in The New York Times, intensifying his attack on an article that he has characterized as an act of treason.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One as he traveled to Fargo, N.D., Mr. Trump said, “I would say Jeff should be investigating who the author of that piece was because I really believe it’s national security.”

Mr. Trump said he was considering action against The Times, although he did not elaborate.

The president has raged against the column since The Times published it on Wednesday afternoon. But his latest remark indicates that he wants to use the Justice Department to root out the author of the column, which described some members of the administration in a state of near-mutiny against a president some view as dangerous and untethered from reality.

“We’re going to take a look at what he had, what he gave, what he’s talking about, also where he is right now,” he said.

[New York Times]

Reality

Remember, this is very similar to the Obama administration’s treatment of Fox News report James Rosen, who the Department of Justice treated as a co-conspirator and a criminal in their investigation of leaks.

Trump threatens to reveal classified info to punish political enemies: They’re ‘going crazy — wow!’

President Donald Trump threatened to declassify government documents to expose alleged “corruption” by his political enemies.

The president lashed out at the “Deep State” and the “Fake News Media” after the New York Times published an extraordinary op-ed by an anonymous senior administration official revealing what amounts to a coup within the White House.

“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” Trump tweeted. “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”

[Raw Story]

FBI Director Christopher Wray becomes the latest target of Trump’s ire

In recent conversations with confidants, President Donald Trump has added FBI Director Christopher Wray to his list of key members of his administration whom he complains about, three people familiar with the discussions tell NBC News.

Trump has criticized Wray as another figure in the Justice Department who is not protecting his interests — and is possibly out to undermine his presidency, these people said.

Trump is “in the worst mood of his presidency and calling friends and allies to vent about his selection of (Attorney General Jeff) Sessions and Wray,” said one person familiar with the president’s thinking. This person said the president was particularly focused on both men over the Labor Day weekend.

Trump has frequently tweeted about the Russia probe and more than once has criticized the Justice Department, the FBI and Sessions by name. But until now, the president has been cautious about publicly criticizing the person he appointed after firing former FBI Director James Comey.

Now he’s increasingly grouping Wray with Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the special counsel’s Russia investigation, all subjects of relentless criticism from the president.

Trump nominated Wray for the FBI post last summer, weeks after the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller and months after Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation.

Since then, Wray has largely avoided the president’s public ire. While Trump has criticized the FBI generally, saying the bureau is biased against him, he has not gone after Wray personally.

That has changed, the people familiar with the president’s thinking said, as Trump’s frustration with his Justice Department has escalated. He’s pointed to issues such as the resistance by the FBI to turn over documents to congressional Republicans. The FBI declined to comment for this story. NBC News has reached out to the White House for comment.

Wray has defended the FBI against Trump’s attacks. In December, after Trump said the FBI’s reputation was in “tatters,” Wray pushed back publicly.

“The FBI that I see is tens of thousands of agents and analysts and staff working their tails off to keep Americans safe from the next terrorist attack, gang violence, child predators, spies from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran,” he said during a congressional hearing.

Trump has at times been wound up by Tom Fitton, the president of the conservative advocacy group Judicial Watch, and a regular commentator on Fox News, who has been sharply critical of Wray and what he describes as corruption at the FBI.

Wray has reportedly threatened to resign at least once over potential pressure from the president to fire his then-deputy Andrew McCabe. Asked in July by NBC’s Lester Holt whether he’d ever reached a point where a line had been crossed and he threatened to resign, Wray did not deny he had.

“I’m a low-key, understated guy, but that should not be mistaken for what my spine is made out of. I’ll just leave it at that,” Wray said.

[NBC News]

Trump Warned Evangelical Leaders: If GOP Loses Midterms, Left Will ‘Violently’ Overturn Everything

President Donald Trump hosted evangelical leaders at the White House last night and, apparently rather bluntly, laid out high stakes for the midterm elections.

Despite Trump’s personal background and style, these religious leaders are mostly on the President’s side. Robert Jeffress said last night on Fox News, after the White House event, “We don’t support extramarital affairs, we don’t support hush money payments, but what we do support are these president’s excellent policies.”

Per NBC News, Trump talked to these leaders about being on the same side and laid out the midterm stakes in dramatic fashion:

“The level of hatred, the level of anger is unbelievable,” he said. “Part of it is because of some of the things I’ve done for you and for me and for my family, but I’ve done them….This November 6th election is very much a referendum on not only me, it’s a referendum on your religion, it’s a referendum on free speech and the First Amendment.”

If the GOP loses, he said, “they will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently, and violently. There’s violence. When you look at Antifa and you look at some of these groups — these are violent people.”

The New York Times‘ report on the meeting confirms these quotes, and notes that he also encouraged religious leaders to be vocal ahead of the midterms:

“You have people that preach to almost 200 million people — 150 to, close, depending on which Sunday we are talking about, and beyond Sunday, 100, 150 million people,” he said.

And in addition to the midterms, Trump also took a moment to address an issue he has exploited politically since the campaign days:

“Little thing – Merry Christmas. You couldn’t say Merry Christmas,” Trump said. “I’m telling you — when I started running I used to talk about it and I hate to mention it in August, but I used to talk about it. They don’t say Merry Christmas anymore.”

Trump added, to applause:

“They say merry Christmas a lot right now. It’s all changed. It’s all changed.”

Trump brought up the “war on Christmas” talking point again just last month at a rally.

[Mediaite]

Trump says it’s ‘very dangerous’ when Twitter, Facebook self-regulate content

President Donald Trump is again putting pressure on technology companies, telling Reuters in an interview published Monday that it’s “very dangerous” when social platforms like Twitter and Facebook self-regulate content.

“I won’t mention names but when they take certain people off of Twitter or Facebook and they’re making that decision, that is really a dangerous thing because that could be you tomorrow,” Trump said.

Major social media companies have for months been responding to claims that they censor conservatives. Trump last monthcalled Twitter “discriminatory” and accused the company of “shadow banning” prominent Republicans by de-emphasizing certain accounts from search results.

Trump’s latest comments come just two weeks after big tech companies suspended or banned conservative radio host Alex Jones for violating community policies. Facebook was among the earliest to remove a post by the InfoWars host after Apple took down several of his podcasts. Twitter was later to act, but ultimately suspended Jones for a week.

Both Twitter and Facebook are private companies, giving them the legal standing to ban accounts that they say violate their guidelines or terms of service.

Representatives for the companies have appeared before Congress several times in the last year to address claims of censoring conservatives. Twitter has repeatedly said it doesn’t shadow ban, and Facebook said it doesn’t moderate content based on political beliefs.

The companies have been ramping up content moderation and hiring more human fact-checkers to rein in abuse. During the 2016 presidential election, Facebook and Twitter were both used by foreign actors, who sought to play up political divisions around social issues.

Facebook said last month it detected similar interference ahead of November’s midterm elections, and Twitter announced a purge of abusive accounts.

[CNBC]

Trump Goes on Tweetstorm While Watching Fox News, Quotes Hannity and Mark Levin

President Donald Trump took to Twitter Wednesday evening to share criticism about ex-CIA director John Brennan that he heard on Fox News.

“’John Brennan is a stain on the Country, we deserve better than this.’” Former Secret Service Agent and author of new book, ‘Spygate, the Attempted Sabotage of Donald J. Trump,’ Dan Bongino,” Trump wrote, referring to the conservative commentator and frequent Fox News guest.

He added: “Thank you Dan, and good luck with the book!”

Bongino’s comments came during a discussion of Trump’s decision to yank Brennan’s security clearance just one day after Brennan criticized him on both Twitter and MSNBC citing Brennan’s “erratic behavior.”

Speaking to the Wall Street Journalearlier today, Trump pushed back on criticism of his decision, telling the WSJ, “[I] would put a Republican on, too, if I thought they were incompetent or crazy.”

Brennan also spoke out on Trump’s decision, calling Trump’s move an effort to “intimidate and suppress” his critics.

“I do believe that Mr. Trump decided to take this action, as he’s done with others, to try to intimidate and suppress any criticism of him or his administration,” Brennan said on Wednesday afternoon, after learning he had lost his clearance. “And revoking my security clearances is his way of trying to get back at me.”

In addition to using a Fox News quote to slam Brennan, Trump also tweeted out a remark from a Fox News guest who said Hillary Clinton “got a pass by the FBI.”

Then, later on Wednesday evening, he even tweeted quotes from Sean Hannity‘s show from Mark Levin and Hannity himself. Hannity said, “I’d strip the whole bunch of them. They’re all corrupt. They’ve all abused their power. They’ve all betrayed the American people with a political agenda.”

[Mediaite]

Trump accuses Twitter of targeting Republicans, offers no evidence

U.S. President Donald Trump accused Twitter Inc on Thursday of restricting the visibility of prominent Republicans on its platform, without providing evidence, and he promised to investigate.

“Twitter ‘SHADOW BANNING’ prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once!” the Republican president wrote in a Twitter post.

The practice involves limiting the visibility of a user in search results, specifically in the auto-populated dropdown search box on Twitter.

Trump’s comments followed a Vice news report on Wednesday that Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and other Republicans including Donald Trump Jr’s spokesman were being “shadow banned.”

“The notion that social media companies would suppress certain political points of view should concern every American. Twitter owes the public answers to what’s really going on,” McDaniel wrote on Twitter.

Twitter did not have a comment on Trump’s tweet but a spokesperson said the company does not “shadow ban.”

“We are aware that some accounts are not automatically populating in our search box, and we’re shipping a change to address this,” the spokesperson said in a statement.” Twitter said the technology used is based on user behavior not political views.

Twitter instituted a policy change on July 12 to increase the service’s credibility and reduce suspected fraud. That change cost its 100 most popular users about 2 percent of their followers, on average, according to social media data firm Keyhole.

The change cost former President Barack Obama 2 million followers by the morning after the change and singers Katy Perry and Justin Bieber each lost 3 million, The Washington Post reported, citing analytics company Twitter Counter.

The report said Trump’s account lost more than 200,000 of its 53 million followers.

Twitter shares, already lower in premarket trading after Facebook Inc’s disappointing earnings late Wednesday damped enthusiasm for technology and social media stocks, dipped a bit further and volume rose slightly after Trump’s tweet at 7:46 a.m. The stock was last down 3.2 percent. (Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Additional reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bangalore; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Susan Thomas)

[USA Today]

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: Cohen taping me ‘totally unheard of & perhaps illegal’

President Donald Trump claimed on Saturday that he “did nothing wrong” after reports surfaced that Michael Cohen, his former personal attorney, secretly recorded him shortly before the 2016 presidential election talking about buying the rights to the story of a former Playboy model who alleges she had an affair with Trump.

In his first public comments since a series of explosive reports in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal on Friday, Trump said it was “inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client — totally unheard of & perhaps illegal.”

The recording was seized in April when the FBI raided Cohen’s office and hotel rooms in Manhattan, The Times reported, citing lawyers and others familiar with the recording.

Laws on taping private conversations differ from state to state, and it is not clear where Cohen recorded Trump. New York state, for example, has a “one-party consent” law, which makes it a crime to record an in-person or telephone conversation unless one party participating in the conversation consents.

The Journal reported the conversation took place in September 2016, a month after American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, had purchased the rights to ex-Playmate Karen McDougal’s story of the alleged extramarital affair.

Cohen suggested that he and Trump consider buying the rights to her story themselves, which would have effectively reimbursed the Enquirer for its payments to McDougal. It is unclear why they didn’t, The Journal said.

McDougal has said that AMI agreed to pay her $150,000 for her story but then did not publish it.

David Pecker, the CEO and chairman of AMI, is a Trump supporter who reportedly described the president as a “personal friend.” Former AMI employees told The New Yorker that Pecker often buys the rights to a story in order to bury it — a tabloid-industry practice called “catch and kill.”

McDougal says she had an year-long affair with Trump more than a decade ago, which Trump has denied.

McDougal also has filed a lawsuit seeking the right to speak publicly about her alleged affair with Trump. Adult film star Stormy Daniels has also sued the president to nullify a nondisclosure agreement about an alleged affair, which the White House also has denied.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, said the recording demonstrated no wrongdoing by Trump.

“Nothing in that conversation suggests that [Trump] had any knowledge of it in advance,” Giuliani said. “In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence.”

Trump was “unaware” that Cohen was recording him, CNBC reported on Friday, citing a source familiar with the matter. The source also said other tapes exist, but the president’s legal team is not aware of any other “substantive tapes.” NBC News has confirmed that report.

The White House declined to comment.

Often described as Trump’s “fixer,” Cohen is the subject of a probe by the U.S. attorney in Manhattan.

Lanny Davis, an attorney for Cohen, said, “Obviously, there is an ongoing investigation, and we are sensitive to that. But suffice it to say that when the recording is heard, it will not hurt Mr. Cohen. Any attempt at spin can not change what is on the tape.”

Barbara Jones, the special master overseeing the review of evidence seized from Cohen, said on Friday she was provided with 4,085 items that Cohen, Trump or the Trump Organization marked as attorney-client privilege. But Jones pushed back on the designation of 1,452 of those items, so those will be handed over to government investigators.

Cohen’s lawyers found the recording when reviewing the seized materials from the raid and shared it with Trump’s lawyers, The Times said, citing three unnamed sources.

[NBC News]

Reality

New York is a “one-party consent” state, meaning as long as one party of the conversation, most likely you, agree to be recorded then it’s totally legal.

And of course Trump never heard of Michael Cohen’s secret tapes, that’s why they were secret tapes!

Trump Goes on Anti-Immigrant Rant: They’re ‘Changing The Culture’ of Europe

President Donald Trump, whose family once immigrated to the United States from Germany and Scotland, slammed immigrants coming into Europe for changing the continent’s “culture.”

Times editor Francis Elliott asked Trump about his remarks to The Sunthat Europe is “losing [its] culture” because of immigration.

“I think you are losing your culture. Look around. You go through certain areas that didn’t exist ten or 15 years ago,” he told The Sun, the last remark presumably referring to the fabled “no-go zones” of London dreamt up by Breitbart bloggers.

In the presser with Theresa May, Trump doubled down, stating immigration has “been very bad for Europe.”

“You see the same terror attacks that I do,” he said. “I just think it’s changing the culture. It’s a very negative thing for Europe.”

“It’s not politically not necessarily correct to say that, but I’ll say it, and I’ll say it loud,” he continued. “I think they better watch themselves because you are changing culture. You are changing a lot of things.”

Theresa May, the UK prime minister, had a different response to the question.

“The UK has a proud history of welcoming people who are fleeing persecution to our country,” she said. “We have a proud history of welcoming people who want to come to our country to contribute to our economy and contribute to our society. And over the years, overall immigration has been good for the UK. It’s brought people with different backgrounds, different outlooks here to the UK.”

“Of course what is important is that we have control of our borders, what is important is we have a set of rules that enable us to determine who comes into our country,” she added. “And of course that is what, as a government, we have been doing for a number of years and will continue to do in the future.”

[Mediaite]

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