Trump blames Florida school shooting on Russia investigation

President Donald Trump’s attacks on the FBI hit a new low on Saturday evening, when the president suggested in a tweet that the bureau had failed to prevent Wednesday’s mass shooting at a Florida high school because of its ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. While it’s true that the FBI had been alerted about Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, there’s absolutely no evidence that the bureau missed anything because of its investigation into the Trump team’s possible collusion with Russia.

“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable,” Trump wrote. “They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

The FBI acknowledged on Friday that a person close to Cruz contacted their tip line on January 5, a month before the shooting, to provide information about his gun ownership, desire to kill people, and his disturbing behavior. FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement that he is investigating what happened. The GOP, however, isn’t happy. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chair of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter to Wray asking the bureau brief their committees on why the FBI didn’t act on the tip, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also asked the agency to brief his staffers. Florida Gov. Rick Scott this week went so far as to call for Wray’s resignation over the matter. “We constantly promote ‘see something, say something,’ and a courageous person did just that to the FBI. And the FBI failed to act,” Scott said.

On Saturday, At a rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Emma Gonzalez, a student who survived the shooting, delivered an impassioned speech and addressed the president directly. (Beyond blaming the FBI, Trump on Thursday tweeted that neighbors and classmates knew Cruz “was a big problem” and should have reported him to authorities — which they did.) “How about we stop blaming the victims for something that was the shooter’s fault?” she asked. “If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.”

[Vox]

Reality

Before the start of his big Russia tweetstorm, President Trump reportedly dined with Geraldo Rivera.

The reality is, the FBI employs 35,000 people, only as small handful, about 36 people, are working on the Russia investigation

Trump Touts Comments from Fox & Friends Guest Who Says POTUS Was ‘Victimized’ by Obama Admin

President Trump watched Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton on Fox & Friends this morning and touted his comments this afternoon.

Fitton has defended Trump on the Russia probe, and on the Fox News morning program today, he talked about the dossier and ties between Hillary Clinton and the Russians.

At one point, he said the following remarks, tweeted by POTUS:

[Mediaite]

Media

Trump Claims His SOTU Had The Highest Ratings In History. It Didn’t.

In a tweet, President Trump claimed the largest audience ever tuned in for his State of the Union address. That’s not true.

“Thank you for all of the nice compliments and reviews on the State of the Union speech,” Trump tweeted just after 7 a.m. ET Thursday. “45.6 million people watched, the highest number in history. @FoxNews beat every other Network, for the first time ever, with 11.7 million people tuning in. Delivered from the heart!”

Though the specific numbers he cites in his tweet are correct, Trump’s audience on Tuesday night wasn’t close to being the highest in history for a State of the Union.

Quick note: The speech a president gives just after taking office looks like a State of the Union but is actually a joint address to Congress. But just for the purposes of this article, we will call those big speeches early in the first year of a presidency SOTUs, too, as a shorthand.

Let’s look at the numbers. Nielson counts the number of people who watch the speeches on broadcast networks, cable and PBS, either live or on the same day.

Nielson reported yesterday that an estimated 45.6 million people tuned in to Trump’s address on Tuesday night. Compared with other SOTUs since 1993, that total puts Trump’s speech in ninth place.

The SOTU with the largest audience was Bill Clinton’s 1993 speech, which drew a whopping 66.9 million viewers.

And if you look at the combined household rating, rather than combined number of viewers, Trump’s 26.9 rating nets him 16th place, tied with G.W. Bush’s 2006 address. (Clinton’s 1993 speech also wins on the rating front, with a 44.3.)

But despite the president’s obsession with ratings, it’s worth remembering that methods for counting television viewers are imperfect. The New York Times notes that the figures don’t include streaming.

Obama’s first official State of the Union, a year into his presidency, drew 48 million viewers and a 29.8 rating — higher on both metrics than Trump’s speech on Tuesday.

It’s not clear where Trump got the notion that his SOTU numbers were the highest. But CNN’s Brian Stelter notes that a segment on “Fox and Friends,” which Trump reportedly watches, Thursday morning mentioned the 45.6 million total, and that Fox had a record number of viewers.

Following the president’s morning tweet, Fox News Research tweeted Nielson’s viewership numbers for SOTUs back to 1993, along with a photo of Trump.

[NPR]

Trump appears to call out Samsung over missing FBI text messages

President Trump appeared to call out Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung for a missing trove of text messages between two senior FBI officials that was not retained by the agency.

“Where are the 50,000 important text messages between FBI lovers Lisa Page and Peter Strzok? Blaming Samsung!” Trump tweeted Tuesday.

The text messages between the two FBI employees, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, are among a larger trove of messages that were not saved by the FBI because of a software glitch on some Samsung 5 phones.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday that the Justice Department’s inspector general is reviewing why the messages were not retained and whether they are capable of being recovered.

Trump’s tweets came after Fox News host Sean Hannity addressed the issue on his Tuesday night show, though it is unclear if that is what prompted him to tweet. Trump is known to be an avid watcher of Fox News and often comments on matters shortly after they are addressed on air.

The text messages have come into focus as some Republicans raise concerns about political bias among the ranks of the FBI.

Strzok and Page reportedly exchanged text messages during the 2016 election expressing anti-Trump sentiments, and were both involved in the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.

[The Hill]

Update

The text messages were recovered a few hours after this tweet by the FBI using forensic tools.

Trump’s FISA tweets throw Washington into chaos

President Donald Trump’s sunrise tweet casting aspersions on the domestic surveillance program his own intelligence officials have called essential set off a thunderclap of concern in Washington — and underscored the pitfalls of the President’s morning television tweet-alongs.

Phones at the White House began ringing almost immediately after Trump wrote at 7:33 a.m. ET that the FISA program up for reauthorization in the House on Thursday may have been used to “badly surveil” his campaign.

On the blinking lines: Republican lawmakers and top intelligence officials perplexed that Trump had appeared to contradict more than a week of public statements from the administration in support of the reauthorization, which allows the government to conduct warrantless spying on US soil.

Ultimately, the measure passed handily. But not until after a 101-minute long scramble to clean up the President’s position ahead of the midday vote, which Republican leaders had been eying with optimism after spending weeks rounding up votes and batting down demands from the conservative and libertarian elements of their conference.

“(Chief of staff John) Kelly’s phone was ringing off the hook,” said one senior Republican official close to intelligence matters on Capitol Hill.

“No one could believe it,” another Republican supportive of the FISA reauthorization said.

[CNN]

Reality

Trump was simply responding to a segment of Fox and Friends, a TV show he retweets regularly.

Trump’s morning tweetstorm appears to have been inspired by ‘Fox & Friends’

President Trump unleashed a tweetstorm Sunday morning, saying that the FBI’s reputation was “in tatters” following the tenure of former Director James B. Comey, who was fired seven months ago.

The president also suggested bias against him in the investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, after news accounts said an agent was removed from Mueller’s team following an internal investigation of text messages interpreted as critical of Trump.

The agent, Peter Strzok, reportedly helped lead the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of State.

Trump’s comments closely echoed language used during Sunday morning’s episode of Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” which aired a report on Strzok under the banner, “Agent’s role in Clinton probe under review.”

At another point during “Fox & Friends,” the banner read, “Report: Anti-Trump FBI agent led Clinton email probe.”

“Now it all starts to make sense!” Trump responded.

The “Fox & Friends” hosts repeatedly referenced Comey in their discussion of Strzok, with co-host Ed Henry describing Strzok as “very close to” the former FBI director.

The morning show team also suggested that Strozk’s alleged bias was evidence that he and Comey had colluded to improperly clear Clinton of criminal charges in the email probe while somehow implicating the president’s associates in wrongdoing related to the special counsel’s Russia investigation.

Co-host Pete Hegseth summarized his concerns, saying: “Comey’s being briefed on Hillary Clinton’s email investigation by a guy who’s in the tank for Hillary Clinton, which is the greatest fear that we all have: that the deep state has infiltrated the so-called Justice Department or the FBI.”

The president appeared to echo that criticism in his tweets.

[Los Angeles Times]

Trump asks why ‘deep state authorities’ aren’t investigating Clinton emails

President Trump on Tuesday asked why “deep state authorities” aren’t looking into the handling of the investigation into then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails, referencing a guest who had just appeared on Fox News.

“Charles McCullough, the respected fmr Intel Comm Inspector General, said the public was misled on Crooked Hillary Emails,” Trump tweeted. “Why aren’t our deep State authorities looking at this? Rigged and corrupt?”

McCullough, who was appointed to his post by former President Obama, said in an interview on Monday with Fox News that he experienced pushback from Democrats when he tried to explain the seriousness of the investigation into Clinton’s emails.

“I’ve heard people say this is overblown, I’ve heard people say this is much ado about nothing. Had the information been released, there would have been harm to national security,” McCullough said in the interview.

“There was personal blowback. Personal blowback to me, to my family, to my office,” McCullough told Fox News.

McCullough appeared Tuesday on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to reiterate his claims, roughly an hour before Trump’s tweet.

The FBI concluded last year that it would not pursue criminal charges against Clinton for her “extremely careless” handling of classified materials while she was secretary of State.

Trump throughout the 2016 presidential campaign said Clinton should be prosecuted for using a personal server to handle classified emails.

Republican lawmakers have in recent weeks pressed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a special prosecutor to look into how the email case was handled.

[The Hill]

Trump: Suspect Entered U.S. in ‘Diversity Visa Lottery’, Blames Schumer

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the Uzbek immigrant suspected of murdering eight people in New York City with a rental truck entered the U.S. through the “Diversity Visa Lottery Program” and the president charged Sen. Chuck Schumer and Democrats had loosened the nation’s borders.

Trump did not provide any supporting evidence for the claim about the visa program, which was being discussed on the morning TV program “Fox and Friends” that the president indicated in his tweets he was watching.

“The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based,” Trump tweeted.

“We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter) @foxandfriends,” Trump tweeted, citing the morning program whose hosts were discussing the visa lottery.

“Senator Chuck Schumer helping to import Europes problems, said Col.Tony Shaffer. We will stop this craziness! @foxandfriends,” Trump added, appearing to reference a retired U.S. Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel who appeared on the program Wednesday.

Moments later, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the the suspect in the attack had entered the U.S. “through a diversity program, a lottery program.” He did not elaborate.

Schumer, for his part, shot back at Trump on Twitter: “I guess it’s not too soon to politicize a tragedy.”

In a statement, the New York senator slammed Trump for “dividing America” and called on the president not to follow through on proposed cuts to “vital anti-terrorism funding.”

“I have always believed and continue to believe that immigration is good for America,” Schumer said. “President Trump, instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, should be focusing on the real solution — anti-terrorism funding — which he proposed cutting in his most recent budget.”

The Trump-Schumer back and forth came less than 24 hours after eight people were killed and about a dozen more were injured when a motorist in a rented pickup truck deliberately drove down a bike path in lower Manhattan and mowed down several people before crashing into a school bus in what officials said was a terrorist attack.

Police found a note inside the truck that was used indicating the suspect claimed to have carried out the attack for the Islamic State terrorist group.

The suspect was identified as a 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant named Sayfullo Saipov, who entered the United States in 2010, law enforcement officials said. It wasn’t immediately clear under what circumstances Saipov came to the United States.

According to The New York Times, he had obtained a green card, giving him permanent legal resident status in the U.S.

Trump, in his tweets Wednesday, was apparently referring to the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery, which was established by the Immigration Act of 1990. That bill was passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by then-President George H.W. Bush.

The program allows the State Department to offer 50,000 visas annually to immigrants from countries with low immigration rates.

Democrats quickly hit back against Trump’s claims.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that “it was kind of absurd (for Trump)…to be using it as a fulcrum for … this kind of a debate.”

“I don’t think this is the time to get political,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “There is no doubt we have to be smarter and have more intelligence… but there is also no doubt that is not the time to play politics, to foment hate, this is not the time to divide.”

At least one Republican defended the diversity visa lottery.

“To be honest with you, I’ve known a number of people in New York who come in under the lottery system, they’ve made outstanding contributions, they’ve become citizens,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a former House Homeland Security Committee Chairman, told Fox Business Channel. “So that really is separate from the idea of the vetting.”

According to the State Department, diversity visa lottery applicants must meet certain education and work experience requirements, like having obtained “at least a high school education or its equivalent” or “two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience to perform.”

People who are not from an eligible country can also qualify if their spouse was born in an eligible country.

The State Department determines selectees through a randomized computer drawing, its website states.

In 2013, a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Eight” proposed an compromise immigration reform bill that would have eliminated the diversity lottery. The bill did not make it through Congress.

[NBC News]

Trump blasts ‘wacky & totally unhinged’ Tom Steyer after impeachment ad campaign

President Donald Trump blasted Tom Steyer on Friday, calling the Democratic megadonor “wacky” and “totally unhinged.”

“Wacky & totally unhinged Tom Steyer, who has been fighting me and my Make America Great Again agenda from beginning, never wins elections!” Trump tweeted Friday morning.

Steyer, a California billionaire activist, is launching a $10 million national ad campaign calling for the president’s impeachment. The 60-second TV spot began running last week, according to Forbes.

The ad played Friday morning on “Fox & Friends,” likely catching the president’s eye.

Steyer opens the ad narrating over clips of the president and a shot of North Korea. He says that Trump has brought the U.S. “to the brink of nuclear war” with North Korea and is “accused of obstructing justice” with his May firing of then-FBI Director James Comey and “of violating the Constitution by taking money from foreign governments and threatening to shut down news organizations that report the truth.”

“If that isn’t the case for impeaching and removing a dangerous president, then what has our government become?” says Steyer, speaking directly into the camera and identified onscreen as an “American Citizen.” “I’m Tom Steyer, and, like you, I’m a citizen who knows it’s up to us to do something. It’s why I’m funding this effort to raise our voices together and demand that elected officials take a stand on impeachment.”

Steyer adds that a Republican-led Congress “once impeached a president for far less, yet today people in Congress and his own administration know that this president is a clear and present danger who’s mentally unstable and armed with nuclear weapons, and they do nothing.”

He asks Americans to join him and tell their member of Congress “they have a moral responsibility to stop doing what’s political and start doing what’s right.”

“Our country depends on it,” he warns.

The ad encourages viewers to sign a petition at NeedToImpeach.com.

Immediately after tweeting about Steyer, Trump thanked Fox News’ morning show for its coverage.

“Thank you @foxandfriends,” Trump tweeted, just one minute after his tweet about Steyer. “Really great job and show!”

[Politico]

Media

Here is the ad Trump was likely responding to

Trump repeats Fox News attack on Maddow verbatim

President Donald Trump on Sunday reused talking points from Fox & Friends after the conservative morning show blasted MSNBC host Rachel Maddow over a story about the killing of four U.S. service members in Niger.

The hosts of Fox & Friends began their 7 a.m. ET hour by lambasting Maddow for a theory linking the Trump administration’s travel ban to the lack of support for Sgt La David Johnson and three other troops killed in Niger. Maddow suggested that Chad had pulled a large contingent of forces out of Niger recently in response to Trump’s ban on travel from the nation.

If you lean forward and you use your pen and you pause and you look thoughtful into the camera, then you must be saying something substantive,” co-host Pete Hegseth joked in a jab at Maddow. “Or maybe you’re widely [sic] spinning a conspiracy theory as the leader of the left.”

“This is what’s dangerous,” co-host Abby Huntsman opined. “It’s dangerous when the media starts having conversations about this and putting in their own theories that are completely unrelated to what actually happened. It’s dangerous, not only for us in terms of figuring out what did happen. But it’s dangerous to the families that lost loved ones over there because they’re the ones who should be the focus of this conversation and somehow we go down these roads oftentimes and it’s such a distraction and it’s such a disservice to this country and what our job is in the media.”

“We all have to be vigilant,” she added. “Do your job well, and if there is some connection, then talk about it and help people understand. But these conspiracy theories, that it where it gets completely, completely dangerous.”

“That’s why people tune it out,” Hegseth said. “And President Trump calls it fake news and you saw that poll from Politico where 46 percent think the news just makes up stuff about President Trump, 17 percent unsure.

Huntsman agreed: “I can’t tell you how many of my friends I talk to, it’s like, they have no idea where to go to figure out what’s actually going on. I hear that from my family, my friends, people I just talk to on the streets. The American people are frustrated because it used to be you could just tune in to the media and get at least a bit of a sense of what’s going on and now — this is a perfect example that you can’t.”

Within minutes, Trump tweeted, citing the very same Politico poll quoted by Hegseth and echoing the hosts’ attack on the “fake news” media.

[Raw Story]

Media

 

 

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