Trump Blasts ‘Da Nang Dick’ Blumenthal After Senator Talks Mueller Bill and Don Jr’s Testimony on MSNBC

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D- CT) is working with Senator Chuck Grassley(R- IA) to push a Special Counsel Transparency Act to ensure that any the work of special counsel, including Robert Mueller, would be “made available to both Congress and the public.”

Blumenthal joined Rachel Maddowtonight to talk about it and he started off by praising Grassley for his commitment to transparency.

But after talking about the bill, Maddow brought up the issue of people lying to Congress––given the indictment against Roger Stone––and asked, “Can you tell us if other Judiciary Committee witnesses have had their testimony sent over to Mueller, sent to the special counsel’s office as yet?”

Blumenthal said this in response:

“Very simply, Rachel, I’m barred from saying whether any testimony has been conveyed to the special counsel, but I can tell you this much. I was in the room when a great many of these witnesses appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee behind closed doors. I think many of them should be called back to testify in public and I hope that will be true of other congressional committees as well, because behind closed doors, there arose––in my mind very clearly––questions, serious issues concerning their truthfulness and that issue pertained particularly to Donald Trump Jr. in a number of his contentions before our committee. So I think this common thread of lying to Congress and particularly to congressional committees may ensnare a number of other potential targets in the special counsel’s investigation and become a matter of criminal action.”

[Mediaite]

Trump accuses Hillary Clinton of being behind Russia dossier in Twitter rant after Roger Stone arrest

Donald Trump attacked the media and Hillary Clinton following the arrest of his former adviser Roger Stone, accusing the 2016 Democratic candidate of paying for the infamous dossier alleging ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The president sent out a series of angry tweets attempting to distance himself from his campaign ally and divert attention towards Ms Clinton late on Saturday.

The FBI arrested Mr Stone on seven charges in connection with Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, including giving false statements and witness tampering.

“CBS reports that in the Roger Stone indictment, data was ‘released during the 2016 Election to damage Hillary Clinton,’” Mr Trump tweeted. “Oh really! What about the Fake and Unverified ‘Dossier,’ a total phony conjob, that was paid for by Crooked Hillary to damage me and the Trump Campaign? What…”

The Russia dossier, also known as the Steele dossier, refers to a private report compiled by former MI6 officer Christer Steele on behalf of Fusion GPS which came to the attention of US intelligence services, setting out allegations of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

In his following tweet, Mr Trump went on to accuse the “fake media” and “crooked Hillary” of being in cahoots in alleged attempts to damage him during the 2016 race.

“…about all of the one sided Fake Media coverage (collusion with Crooked H?) that I had to endure during my very successful presidential campaign,” he added on Twitter. “What about the now revealed bias by Facebook and many others. Roger Stone didn’t even work for me anywhere near the Election!”

Mr Stone’s arrest could have serious implications for the president. The charges reveal the special counsel’s intertest in how exactly the Trump campaign might have sought information about hacked emails related to Ms Clinton and the Democrats during the 2016 presidential election.

But Mr Stone told Fox News he plans on pleading not guilty, claiming several aspects of his indictment “are simply not true.” He also told CNN he has never contacted Mr Trump about a potential pardon.

He is the sixth former Trump associate implicated in Mr Mueller’s investigation into his campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election.

After leaving the courthouse on Friday, Mr Stone – who has a tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back – raised his arms in Mr Nixon’s infamous double “V” pose.

The Nixon Foundation attempted to distance itself from Mr Stone following his arrest, pointing out he was only “a junior scheduler on the Nixon re-election committee”.

[Yahoo News]

Trump says he is considering using emergency powers to build wall

President Donald Trump said Friday that he is considering using emergency powers which would allow him to use military funding to build a wall on the US-Mexico border, saying “I can do it if I want.”

“We can call a national emergency because of the security … I haven’t done it. I may do it but we can call a national emergency and build it very quickly,” he said during remarks in the White House Rose Garden.

Trump has repeatedly talked about declaring a national emergency in recent months but hasn’t followed through yet, allowing the government to shut down over funding the wall rather than declaring one.

On Friday, he seemed to indicate that he would prefer to secure the funding through Congress.

“If we can do it through the negotiating process, we’re giving that a shot,” he said.

However, Trump also said he believes he doesn’t need congressional approval to build the wall.

“Absolutely,” Trump replied. “We can call a national emergency. I haven’t done it. I may do it. I may do it. We can call a national emergency and build it very quickly. It’s another way of doing it.”

Asked if that was a threat to Democrats, Trump said: “I never threaten anybody, but I am allowed to do it — call a national emergency.”

“If we can do it through the negotiating process, we’re giving that a shot,” he said.

In December, defense officials from the Homeland Defense section of the Pentagon visited the White House for a meeting to discuss the possibility, three US officials have told CNN.

The meeting, which included officials from the Department of Homeland Security, focused on options that would allow Trump to build the border wall by tapping into military funding if he was unable to secure the money he wants from Congress.

[CNN]

Trump threatens to extend partial government shutdown for years

President Trump on Friday threatened to keep roughly a quarter of the federal government closed for years amid a dispute over border-wall funding, the latest sign the president and congressional Democrats remain far apart on resolving the two-week-long shutdown.

Trump confirmed after a heated, closed-door meeting that he “absolutely” told Democrats the shutdown could last more than a year, which was first revealed by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) following the negotiation session inside the White House Situation Room.

“We told the president we needed the government open,” Schumer told reporters on the West Wing driveway after the meeting. “He resisted. In fact, he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years.”

Addressing the news media later in the Rose Garden, the president expressed hope that the shutdown would not last that long, citing what he believes is Democrats’ willingness to strike a deal.

Despite the Democrats’ description of the two-hour meeting as “contentious,” Trump called it “productive” and said he appointed a working group of top administration officials to continue talks with lawmakers through the weekend.

“I thought it was really a very, very good meeting. We’re all on the same path in terms of wanting to get government open,” the president said during a news conference that lasted roughly an hour.

But the president refused to back away from what he called his “very firm” demand for $5.6 billion in funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats have repeatedly rejected that demand.

Trump also threatened to use emergency powers to build the wall, a move that would inflame tensions with Congress, where Democrats have taken control of the House, and raise legal questions about his executive authority.

“Yes, I have,” Trump said when asked if he is considering declaring a national emergency to start wall construction if he doesn’t receive funding from Congress. “We can do it. I haven’t done it. I may do it. I may do it.”

The government has been partially shut down since Dec. 22, when Trump backed away from a spending agreement that he was expected to sign into law, one that didn’t include wall funding.

Around 800,000 workers across more than half a dozen agencies are closer to missing their next paycheck because of the funding lapse, and government services and museums have begun to shutter.

In one of their first acts in the majority, Democrats on Thursday passed a spending package that would reopen the vast majority of the closed parts of government while funding the Department of Homeland Security, which enforces immigration laws, through Feb. 8 to buy more time for spending talks.

“We cannot resolve this until we open up government,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said after emerging from the White House on Friday.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to bring the House-passed measure to the floor for a vote, citing a veto threat from the White House.

Trump rejected Pelosi’s proposal to reopen most of the closed parts of government while wall talks continue, saying, “We won’t be opening until it’s solved.”

[The Hill]

Trump Hits Back At ‘Failed Generals’ Who Were ‘Unable To Do The Job’ Over Syria Withdrawal

President Donald Trump is pushing back on criticism about the sudden announcement from a week and a half ago about plans to remove U.S. troops from Syria and that ISIS was defeated. This decision reportedly came despite advice from military and intelligence leadership and eventually led to the protest resignation from Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

On New Year’s Eve, President Trump apparently felt the need to clear the air and defend his position via a short series of tweets that explained his process as a simple fulfillment of his campaign promise. And, as his is wont, he included some not-so-subtle digs at his detractors.

Trump tweeted:

Following the announced plans to withdrawal, Trump has received bipartisan criticism for the planned withdrawal. Senator Lindsey Graham, a close Senate ally to the White House, notably was vocal in pushing back on this plan, though his rhetoric has softened more recently.

Trump’s dig at “some failed generals” is certainly a dig at Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who in a recent interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, spared little criticism for a president who he sees as “immoral.”

[Mediaite]

Reality

Trump’s plan to fight ISIS was actually Obama’s plan, just on a faster timeline.

Trump Wrongly Says Democrats Are Responsible for Children’s Deaths at the Border

As Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen travels to the border in the wake of two children dying in Customs and Border Patrol’s custody, President Donald Trump is tweeting from the White House that Democrats are to blame for the deaths. (True to form, he is also blaming Democrats and Nancy Pelosi for the shutdown.)

His tweets are the president’s first public comment about the deaths of two children, an eight-year-old boy named Felipe Gomez Alonzo and a seven-year-old girl named Jakelin Caal, who were taken into custody with their parents after attempting a dangerous crossing into the United States at the Mexico border. “Any deaths of children or others at the Border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally. They can’t. If we had a Wall, they wouldn’t even try!” the president tweeted.

But that claim is absurd. It is Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy and restrictions on asylum seekers that is necessitating these children be held at government facilities that are not prepared to hold so many people, especially young children. And because they implemented these policies, the administration should have anticipated a need for medical services for migrants coming across. But only after two children have died is the administration even talking about making changes.

Earlier this week, Nielsen said that the agency “is considering options for surge medical assistance,” which is what it should have done as soon as the policy was implemented. But the Dr. Colleen Kract, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics says that physicians who have visited the facilities where children are held are disturbed by the conditions. “These children are not given the basic needs of food and water and medical care,” she told TIME.

Even Trump’s CPB Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told CBS This Morning that a child had not died in CPB custody in “more than a decade” and that the agency needs to take “a different approach” to how it manages children in its care.

Democrats, however, are refusing to take the blame and plan to hold hearings investigating the children’s deaths. “[Trump is] just making stuff up again. In January the House of Representatives will hold hearings with witnesses under oath and find out what happened,” Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) tweeted in response to the president.

[Rolling Stone]

Trump, Angry Over Mattis’s Rebuke, Removes Him 2 Months Early

President Trump said on Sunday that he would remove Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who issued a stinging rebuke of the president when he announced his resignation last week, from his post by Jan. 1, two months before he had planned to depart.

Mr. Trump, in a Twitter post, said that Patrick M. Shanahan, Mr. Mattis’s deputy, would serve as the acting defense secretary.

Aides said that the president was furious that Mr. Mattis’s resignation letter — in which he rebuked the president’s rejection of international allies and his failure to check authoritarian governments — had led to days of negative news coverage. Mr. Mattis resigned in large part over Mr. Trump’s hasty decision to withdraw American forces from Syria.

When Mr. Trump first announced that Mr. Mattis was leaving, effective Feb. 28, he praised the defense secretary on Twitter, saying he was retiring “with distinction.” One aide said that although Mr. Trump had already seen the resignation letter when he praised Mr. Mattis, the president did not understand just how forceful a rejection of his strategy Mr. Mattis had issued.

The president has grown increasingly angry as the days have passed, the aide said. On Saturday, Mr. Trump posted a tweet that took a jab at Mr. Mattis, saying that “when President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance. Some thought I shouldn’t, I thought I should.”

Mr. Mattis, a retired four-star general, led the United States Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, from 2010 to 2013. His tour there was cut short by the Obama administration, which believed he was too hawkish on Iran.

Mr. Shanahan, who, like Mr. Mattis, is from Washington State, is a former Boeing executive. Aides say that Mr. Trump likes him in part because he often tells the president that he is correct to complain about the expense of defense systems.

[The New York Times]

Trump Downplays US Envoy Brett McGurk Quitting Over Syria Pullout: ‘A Nothing Event’

President Donald Trump said on Twitter Saturday night that he doesn’t even know Brett McGurk, the US envoy who resigned over Trump’s planned Syria pullout. He also downplayed reports that McGurk quit over Syria, claiming he was supposed to leave anyhow.

In an email announcing his resignation to his colleagues and obtained byThe New York Times, McGurk called the recent decision by the president “a shock” and “a complete reversal of policy that was articulated to us.”

McGurk added: “I worked this week to help manage some of the fallout but — as many of you heard in my meetings and phone calls — I ultimately concluded that I could not carry out these new instructions and maintain my integrity.”

Yet, in an attempt to rewrite the narrative of McGurk’s exit, Trump claimed he did not even know McGurk and insisted that the Obama appointee was supposed to leave in February anyhow.

“Brett McGurk, who I do not know, was appointed by President Obama in 2015,” Trump wrote. “Was supposed to leave in February but he just resigned prior to leaving. Grandstander?”

The president then blamed the media for stirring the pot: “The Fake News is making such a big deal about this nothing event!”

[Mediaite]

Trump lashed out at Whitaker after explosive Cohen revelations

President Donald Trump has at least twice in the past few weeks vented to his acting attorney general, angered by federal prosecutors who referenced the President’s actions in crimes his former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Trump was frustrated, the sources said, that prosecutors Matt Whitaker oversees filed charges that made Trump look bad. None of the sources suggested that the President directed Whitaker to stop the investigation, but rather lashed out at what he felt was an unfair situation.

The first known instance took place when Trump made his displeasure clear to acting attorney general Matt Whitaker after Cohen pleaded guilty November 29 to lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow. Whitaker had only been on the job a few weeks following Trump’s firing of Jeff Sessions.

Over a week later, Trump again voiced his anger at Whitaker after prosecutors in Manhattan officially implicated the President in a hush-money scheme to buy the silence of women around the 2016 campaign — something Trump fiercely maintains isn’t an illegal campaign contribution. Pointing to articles he said supported his position, Trump pressed Whitaker on why more wasn’t being done to control prosecutors in New York who brought the charges in the first place, suggesting they were going rogue.

The previously unreported discussions between Trump and Whitaker described by multiple sources familiar with the matter underscore the extent to which the President firmly believes the attorney general of the United States should serve as his personal protector. The episodes also offer a glimpse into the unsettling dynamic of a sitting president talking to his attorney general about investigations he’s potentially implicated in.

Whitaker and William “Bill” Barr, Trump’s nominee to replace Sessions, are facing increased scrutiny this week for their criticisms of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling. Whitaker refused to recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe. And a memo from Barr came to light in which he wrote that Trump’s decision to fire former FBI director James Comey did not amount to obstruction.

Trump has already shown a willingness to use the Justice Department to settle political scores. As CNN previously reported, the President questioned Whitaker about the progression of the investigation against Hillary Clinton when Whitaker was Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff.

“It seems very clear that the only reason that Matt Whitaker was ever appointed to this role was specifically to oversee the Mueller investigation,” Mueller biographer Garrett Graff said on Friday in an interview on CNN’s Newsroom.

With Sessions, Trump ranted publicly about how he did nothing to curtail the Mueller investigation. Sessions had recused himself from oversight because of his role on the Trump campaign.

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now,” the President tweeted in August.

The Justice Department declined to comment on any discussions between Whitaker and the President.

The President’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, could not confirm the conversations with Whitaker but said the President views the SDNY prosecutors as out of control. “The president and his lawyers are upset about the professional prosecutors in the Southern District of New York going after a non-crime and the innuendo the president was involved,” Giuliani said in a statement to CNN Friday.

One source close to Whitaker pushed back on the notion that the Cohen situation caused tension between the two, emphasizing that Whitaker and the President have a “great relationship.”

[CNN]

Trump Reacts to Ingraham’s Claim He Gets ‘No Credit’ for Middle East Wins: ‘So True, Thank You Laura!’

President Donald Trump was watching Fox News Wednesday night and liked what he heard so much, he decided to tweet about it.

During a segment on the Middle East, Fox host Laura Ingraham was joined by Col. Jim Carafano, who heaped praise on Trump for his work to help defeat ISIS while the chyron below him read, “Left freaking out over Syria Troop Withdrawal.”

“When Trump came into office, ISIS was still running amuck in the Middle East. When Trump came into to office, there were over a million refugees that had poured into Western Europe and none of that is happening today and that’s all due to Trump,” he said.

Ingraham replied by saying its a “smart use of military power” before the conversation continued with pro-Trump talking points and Barack Obama blame.

Then, a little while later,  Ingraham lamented that Trump gets “no credit” for what he has done in the Middle East.

The president approved  and tweeted out both quotes from the Fox News show, adding after Ingraham’s remarks, “So true, thank you Laura!”

Trump’s tweet comes just hours after not only the left but Republicans — including Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham — slammed Trump’s decision to announce he was withdrawing troops from Syria via a tweet.

[Mediaite]

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