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]

Army discharging some immigrant recruits

The U.S. Army has begun quietly discharging some immigrant members, a move that could put those member’s immigration status at risk, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

Immigration attorneys told the AP that they knew of more than 40 immigrant recruits and reservists who had been discharged from their service or whose status is now at question.

Some of the military members told the AP that they did not know why they were discharged. Others said they were told they were labeled a “security risk” because of relatives abroad and or because their background checks were incomplete.

Spokespeople for the Pentagon and the Army told the news outlet that they could not comment on the discharges or say if there have been any policy changes due to pending litigation.

The Defense Department told the AP in a statement that “[a]ll service members (i.e. contracted recruits, active duty, Guard and Reserve) and those with an honorable discharge are protected from deportation.”

The immigration attorneys told the AP that many of the immigrants received an “uncharacterized discharge,” putting into question their ability to remain in the U.S.

Immigrant military members can obtain citizenship if they receive an honorable discharge. The AP reported that basic training has been delayed for discharged immigrant soldiers, which means they can’t become naturalized citizens.

Recruits must have legal status in the U.S. before enlisting in the Army. About 10,000 immigrants are currently serving in the military, with most going to the Army, according to the outlet.

The reports comes amid a Trump administration crackdown on immigration, including a “zero tolerance” policy mandating that all undocumented immigrants caught at the border face prosecution.

[The Hill]

Trump Demands Mueller Team Disclose Any Conflicts of Interest

Donald Trump wants Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller to list any conflicts he and members of his team have in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

“When is Bob Mueller going to list his Conflicts of Interest?” Trump said in a Twitter posting Thursday. “Why has it taken so long? Will they be listed at the top of his $22,000,000 Report…And what about the 13 Angry Democrats, will they list their conflicts with Crooked H? How many people will be sent to jail.”

In follow-up post, the president said allies were being “persecuted” and facing charges that are old or unrelated to the election. “What is going on in the FBI & DOJ with Crooked Hillary, the DNC and all of the lies? A disgraceful situation!”

While Trump and supporters often cite how many Democrats are on Mueller’s team, the special counsel is a longtime Republican.

Trump’s latest attacks on Mueller come as the White House announced that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold their first bilateral summit July 16 in Helsinki, Finland, as they try to reverse a downward spiral in relations that’s been exacerbated by findings of Russian election meddling.

The White House and the Kremlin disclosed details of the meeting in simultaneous statements issued a day after U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton was in Moscow for talks.

Trump has pushed for improving the relationship, inviting Putin to the White House in a March phone call after the Russian leader’s re-election to a fourth term as president. The mere fact of the summit is a boost to Kremlin efforts to ease its international isolation, though officials have played down hopes for any breakthrough.

[Bloomberg]

Trump embraces pro-Confederate anti-immigrant Senate nominee Corey Stewart

Trump tweeted about another GOP primary in a way that is sure to give Republicans heartburn.

While national Republicans are likely to distance themselves from Corey Stewart — the GOP nominee in Virginia’s Senate race who has embraced Confederate symbols and neo-Nazi figures — Trump congratulated Stewart on his win.

“Congratulations to Corey Stewart for his great victory for Senator from Virginia,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. “Now he runs against a total stiff, Tim Kaine, who is weak on crime and borders, and wants to raise your taxes through the roof. Don’t underestimate Corey, a major chance of winning!”

Trump’s praise of Stewart is far different from other Republicans, who lament the fact that Stewart won and have condemned Stewart’s embrace of Confederate symbols.

“I am extremely disappointed that a candidate like Corey Stewart could win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate,” Bill Bolling, a Republican and former lieutenant governor of Virginia, tweetedTuesday night. “This is clearly not the Republican Party I once knew, loved and proudly served. Every time I think things can’t get worse they do, and there is no end in sight.”

[Mic]

Trump lashes out at ’13 angry Democrats’

President Trump on Sunday lashed out on Twitter at special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation, referring to the “13 Angry Democrats” on the probe and writing that they should have been working to investigate Hillary Clinton controversies.

The Sunday tweet comes as the president has expressed anger and frustration about the FBI’s use of an informant in its investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. Trump and his allies have claimed the use of the informant was an act of politically motivated espionage.

“Why didn’t the 13 Angry Democrats investigate the campaign of Crooked Hillary Clinton, many crimes, much Collusion with Russia?” he tweeted. “Why didn’t the FBI take the Server from the DNC? Rigged Investigation!”

Trump has used the “13 angry Democrats” term to refer to people on Mueller’s probe who he believes are biased against him.

The president, most recently, sent a pair of tweets Saturday night lashing out at those members and casting doubt on Mueller’s investigation into reported ties between Trump’s campaign and Moscow.

“This whole Russia Probe is Rigged. Just an excuse as to why the Dems and Crooked Hillary lost the Election and States that haven’t been lost in decades. 13 Angry Democrats, and all Dems if you include the people who worked for Obama for 8 years. #SPYGATE & CONFLICTS OF INTEREST!” Trump wrote.

Mueller, a lifelong Republican, is in talks with Trump’s legal team to set up a potential interview with the president, which could lead to the investigation’s conclusion.

The use of the informant predated his appointment, though Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani on Sunday said it still “tainted” Mueller’s probe.

[The Hill]

Trump on Abused Immigrant Children: “They’re Not Innocent”

In April of 2017, when Donald Trump ordered his first missile strike in Syria, the president said that he was moved by the images of children killed in suspected chemical attacks. It was a rare moment of Trump being moved by compassion, and it hasn’t been replicated.

Now the Trump administration, and John Kelly in particular, have been criticized for its decision to break up families crossing the border illegally, and for their careless planning about what to do with those children one they’re shoved into detention centers on military bases. But Trump is doubling down, claiming that those children are nothing more than criminals in the future. Per the Washington Post:

Immigrant advocates have long said that the children, primarily from Central America, are fleeing violence in their home countries and seeking safe harbor in the United States. But the Trump administration has used their plight to justify cracking down on policies that allow these migrants to be released and obtain hearings before immigration judges, rather than being deported immediately.

“We have the worst immigration laws of any country, anywhere in the world,” Trump said at the roundtable held at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center. “They exploited the loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors.”

Trump added:

“They look so innocent. They’re not innocent.”

Trump’s not alone in thinking that. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein claimed that the gang activity that happened during his tenure U.S. attorney for Maryland was fueled by undocumented children. According to Rosenstein, those children roam the streets like Oliver Twist until they’re absorbed into criminal organizations. “We’re letting people in who are creating problems. We’re letting people in who are gang members. We’re also letting people in who are vulnerable.”

First and foremost, this is Minority Report nonsense. The argument that we have to treat as criminals anyone who might be a criminal is the logic of a full-on police state. It’s also maddening that Rosenstein would claim that it’s immigrants who are creating problems when, broadly speaking, they’re fleeing violence, economic instability, and political corruption that the U.S. exported in the first place. But what’s most infuriating is that he would use the vulnerability of children and families as a cudgel against them, essentially arguing that they need help too badly to be allowed in the country.

On the same day that Trump and Rosenstein explained why children have to be treated as a national security threat, the ACLU released a report detailing a long history of child abuse at detention centers for immigrants. According to 30,000 pages of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the ACLU alleges that Customs and Border Patrolofficials are responsible for sexual abuse, physical assault, and denial of medical care, clean water and food. A small sample of the abuses committed by officials includes:

Denied detained children permission to stand or move freely for days and threatened children who stood up with transfer to solitary confinement in a small, freezing room

Denied a pregnant minor medical attention when she reported pain, which preceded a stillbirth

Subjected a 16-year-old girl to a search in which they “forcefully spread her legs and touched her private parts so hard that she screamed”

Left a 4-pound premature baby and her minor mother in an overcrowded and dirty cell full of sick people, against medical advice

Threw out a child’s birth certificate and threatened him with sexual abuse by an adult male detainee.

Officials have denied the allegations, calling them “unfounded and baseless.” All of these reports pre-dated the Trump administration, and there’s no reason to assume that CBP has become more transparent or accountable since then. Besides, this fits nicely into Trump and Kelly’s entire reasoning for the need to imprison children in the first place: subject them to so much cruelty that others won’t try to come to the US at all.

[GQ]

Reality

First, “pre-crime” is something you would find in a sci-fi dystopian nightmare society, such as in Phillip K. Dick’s “Minority Report.”

Finally, Trump regularly falsely conflates “immigrant” with “criminal”, which primes his already xenophobic base to be more suspicious of non-Americans. The reality is immigrants contribute to our society, even illegal ones, and commit crimes at lower rates than native populations.

Trump: ‘Illegal’ and ‘disgrace’ if spies were on my campaign

President Trump said Tuesday it would be “illegal” and a “disgrace” if the FBI had spies embedded in his campaign.

“A lot of people are saying they had spies in my campaign. If they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace to this country,” he said. “It would be very illegal, aside from everything else.”

“I hope they weren’t,” Trump added, because “that would be unprecedented in the history of our country.”

The comments come as Trump is escalating his attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump has repeated conservative claims that federal law enforcement spied on his campaign, perhaps at the direction of senior leaders in the Obama administration, in an effort to sink his chances of winning the 2016 presidential election.

Media reports have said FBI agents used an informant to speak with a trio of Trump campaign advisers after the bureau heard they had suspicious contacts with Russia. There is no evidence a spy or mole was embedded in the Trump campaign.

Critics say Trump is using the allegations to muddy the waters in the Russia probe, which is looking into whether his campaign colluded with Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the election and if the president obstructed the probe.

Trump has repeated conservative claims that federal law enforcement spied on his campaign, perhaps at the direction of senior leaders in the Obama administration, in an effort to sink his chances of winning the 2016 presidential election.

Media reports have said FBI agents used an informant to speak with a trio of Trump campaign advisers after the bureau heard they had suspicious contacts with Russia. There is no evidence a spy or mole was embedded in the Trump campaign.

Critics say Trump is using the allegations to muddy the waters in the Russia probe, which is looking into whether his campaign colluded with Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the election and if the president obstructed the probe.

[The Hill]

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