Trump Adviser Floats Claims Minnesota Mosque Bombing Was Staged

A senior White House official’s suggestion that the bomb attack on a mosque in the US state of Minnesota could have been staged has sparked derision on social media.

Sebastian Gorka, a senior adviser to US President Donald Trump, told MSNBC on Tuesday that some recent hate crimes were fake.

He failed to give examples to back his allegations.

The comments led to criticism of the official, who has ties to far-right activists in Hungary and was sacked from a consultancy role by the FBI over his anti-Islam rhetoric, according to US outlet, the Daily Beast.

When asked by anchors whether the White House would be commenting on the Minnesota bombing that took place in the early hours on Saturday, Gorka said it would but only after an investigation into who was behind the attack.

“There’s a great rule, all initial reports are false, you have to check them, you have to find out who the perpetrators are,” said Gorka.

“We’ve had a series of crimes committed, alleged hate crimes by right-wing individuals, in the last six months, which turned out to be actually propagated by the left.”

“People fake hate crimes in the last six months with some regularity. I think it’s wise to find out what exactly is going on before you make statements,” he added.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre, which documents hate crimes, noted 1,863 incidents between Trump’s election in November 2016 and April 2017.

In May, two men were killed by a white supremacist in Oregon when they tried to stop him abusing two Muslim girls on a bus.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) noted a 91 percent rise in anti-Muslim hate crime since the start of the year.

The comments by the Trump official on MSNBC prompted criticism online.

[Al Jazeera]

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No, Trump Did Not ‘Modernize’ U.S. Nukes

Amid growing anxiety about North Korea’s nuclear weapon capabilities, President Donald Trump tweeted on Wednesday that one of the first things he did on assuming the presidency was to “modernize” the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

But there’s no evidence that the president has upgraded the nation’s nuclear arsenal in his mere seven months in office.

What’s more, because of how Congress works, any changes the president could have made to the nuclear arsenal could not take effect before next year anyway. In fact, the arsenal Trump is boasting about is the one maintained by President Barack Obama.

Let’s break it down and review the facts.

Trump ordered a rebuilding of the American military and assessing its readiness on January 27th, a week into office. In that order, Trump called for a “Nuclear Posture Review,” an analysis designed to help the new administration understand its existing arsenal and how it meets strategic needs.

Neither have any direct effect on the nuclear arsenal that the nation has today.

“Under the Constitution, Congress controls nuclear modernization as part of its power to organize, equip, and fund of our armed forces. President Trump’s requests related to nuclear weapons modernization have not yet passed Congress, and nothing he has done would even begin to take effect until 2018,” said Rep. Adam Smith, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, in an email.

“The only thing he has done so far is sign a presidential memorandum requiring a nuclear posture review, but the review is nowhere near complete,” he added.

Col. Jack Jacobs, an NBC News military analyst and Medal of Honor recipient, likened the president’s order to Obama’s efforts to close the prison Guantanamo Bay, which were ultimately unsuccessful.

“In order to make something happen, Congress has to approve it and approve an authorization bill that authorizes the expenditure of the money and, separately, an appropriations bill that directs the government to write the check for it,” he said. “Neither one of those things have occurred.”

Obama undertook gradual upgrades to the nuclear arsenal and he supported a $1 trillion process for modernization last year. Trump has requested a huge uptick in nuclear spending — a 11 percent increase over the current year’s appropriation. But for now those plans are simply that.

[NBC News]

Reality

Trump’s first order as president was on Obamacare, not the nuclear arsenal.

Trump Vows North Korea Threat Will Be Met With ‘Fire and Fury’

Amid sharply escalating tensions with North Korea, President Donald Trump on Tuesday promised “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if the country continues to threaten the United States.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” the president warned, responding to a reporter’s question at his Bedminster Golf Club, where Trump has spent the last several days. “They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

Trump’s remarks came just hours after reports that North Korea had developed a nuclear weapon small enough to fit on a missile.

The president also said North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has been “very threatening” recently.

U.S. officials believe North Korea now has the capability to put a nuclear weapon on a missile, NBC News reported on Tuesday, confirming a report in The Washington Post. According to a U.S. official briefed on the assessment, the advance does not mean North Korea has a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can survive reentry accurately.

Last month, North Korea proved its missile capabilities have reached a point where U.S. cities are within “target range.”

The Dow dropped Tuesday, in response to the president’s warning, thus ending a 10-day streak of nine record closes in a row.

In dealing with North Korea, the Trump administration has relied heavily on China to intervene with Pyongyang and convince Kim to stop his nuclear program, but outreach and action have stalled in recent months.

Top White House advisor Kellyanne Conway called Trump’s remarks on North Korea “strong and obvious,” declining to comment further on the strategy while briefing reporters in New Jersey on the administration’s efforts against the opioid crisis.

The White House continues to insist that all options are on the table in dealing with North Korea.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., criticized Trump’s comments as further isolating North Korea — a strategy she says has not worked to advance American goals in the region.

“The United States must quickly engage North Korea in a high-level dialogue without any preconditions,” Feinstein said in a statement, stating “in my view, diplomacy is the only sound path forward.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement: “We need to be firm and deliberate with North Korea, but reckless rhetoric is not a strategy to keep America safe.”

And Arizona Sen. John McCain said he took “exception to the President’s comments because you’ve gotta be sure you can do what you say you can do.”

Ret. Navy Admiral James Stavridis, in an appearance on MSNBC Tuesday, called the escalation with North Korea the “biggest crisis” that this Trump administration has yet to face on the global stage.

Trump has previously vowed to confront North Korea “very strongly” for testing missile launches, telling reporters during a trip last month to Warsaw, Poland that “I have some pretty severe things that we’re thinking about,” in terms of potential responses.

While Trump has said he does not “draw red lines” — a criticism he often levels of former President Barack Obama’s stated threshold in Syria — Trump’s comments Tuesday seem to draw a line at continued threatening rhetoric from North Korea.

[NBC News]

Trump Retweets Fox News Story Containing Classified Info

President Donald Trump’s retweet of a Fox News story claiming US satellites detected North Korea moving anti-cruise ship missiles to a patrol boat is raising eyebrows on Tuesday after US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley indicated that the information in the report is classified and was leaked.

“I can’t talk about anything that’s classified and if that’s in the newspaper that’s a shame,” Haley said Tuesday on “Fox and Friends” when asked about the story that cites two anonymous sources.

Pushed on whether the information was leaked, Haley said “it’s one of those things I don’t know what’s going on. I will tell you it’s incredibly dangerous when things get out into the press like that.”

But just a few hours before Haley’s appearance on Fox, Trump retweeted a post from the Fox News morning show promoting the story said to contain classified information.

CNN has not independently verified the Fox News report and the White House has not responded to a request for comment.

Trump’s motive for retweeting the Fox News story remains unclear but the decision to promote a report that — according to the US ambassador to the United Nations — contains classified information leaked to the press by anonymous sources comes just days after the President praised Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ plan to combat that very practice in the name of national security.

“After many years of LEAKS going on in Washington, it is great to see the A.G. taking action!” Trump tweeted. “For National Security, the tougher the better!” Trump tweeted over the weekend.

Tuesday’s retweet also coincided with the release of a series of new polls that not only call Trump’s Twitter habits into question but also reveal major concerns around the President’s trustworthiness and ability to effectively manage the standoff with North Korea.

According to a new CBS News poll only a third of those surveyed having confidence in Trump’s ability to handle the situation with North Korea.

A new CNN poll shows that a majority (52%) of Americans say Trump’s tweets are not an effective way for him to share his views on important issues, and 72% say they do not send the right message to other world leaders.

Further, 62% overall say that Trump’s statements and actions since taking office have made them less confident in his ability to be president.

In May, Trump was criticized after The Washington Post reported that he shared highly classified information with the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador to the US in a White House meeting.

Despite statements from top administration officials that called the report “false,” two former officials knowledgeable of the situation confirmed to CNN at the time that the main points of the Post story were accurate.

[CNN]

Trump renews attack on Democratic senator, calling him a ‘Vietnam con artist’ on Twitter

President Trump on Monday launched a renewed attack on Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), calling him “a phony Vietnam con artist” on Twitter after the senator appeared on television.

Trump’s tweets came after Blumenthal voiced support on CNN for continuing the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election and expressed concern about the Justice Department’s increased focus on rooting out administration officials who leak information damaging to Trump.

“Politicizing the Department of Justice for personal ends, I think, is a disservice to the law, and it’s also potentially a violation of the spirit of the First Amendment,” Blumenthal said, suggesting that the department was “weaponizing” laws against leaking sensitive information.

“Never in U.S.history has anyone lied or defrauded voters like Senator Richard Blumenthal,” Trump wrote on Twitter shortly afterward. “He told stories about his Vietnam battles and … conquests, how brave he was, and it was all a lie. He cried like a baby and begged for forgiveness like a child.”

Trump was referencing a 2010 controversy over Blumenthal’s military service. During his Senate campaign, Blumenthal came under sharp criticism for repeated remarks over the years that he had “served” in Vietnam, even though he did his full Marine service in the United States.

Blumenthal was granted several deferments between 1965 and 1970 and then joined the Marine Corps Reserve but did not serve in Vietnam. He later said he misspoke and intended to say that he was in the Marine Reserve during the Vietnam conflict.

Blumenthal responded to Trump on Twitter later Monday morning, writing, “Mr. President: Your bullying hasn’t worked before and it won’t work now. No one is above the law.”

In an interview later Monday on CNN, Blumenthal said Trump’s tweets reinforce the need for legislation he is pushing that would prevent the president from firing Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel looking into allegations of Russian meddling in the election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Trump’s tweets appeared to overstate what had happened with Blumenthal. NBC News said its analysis found no evidence that Blumenthal had bragged about his Vietnam battles nor that he had cried about the controversy during his 2010 campaign:

“No and no,” a Blumenthal spokesman told NBC on Monday when asked whether the senator had bragged or cried.

Trump returned to the issue later Monday, offering a suggestion to Blumenthal in an afternoon tweet: “I think Senator Bluementhal should take a nice long vacation in Vietnam, where he lied about his service, so he can at least say he was there.”

Trump has attacked Blumenthal on the same issue on past occasions.

In February, Trump pointed to the episode in trying to undermine Blumenthal’s credibility after he publicly shared that Trump’s then-Supreme Court nominee, Neil M. Gorsuch, had told him that he found Trump’s attacks on the federal judiciary “disheartening” and “demoralizing.” Gorsuch later acknowledged having those concerns.

[Washington Post]

Reality

This isn’t the first time Trump, who himself deferred military service, attacked a veteran.

He once said Senator John McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was captured, he said veterans suffering from PTSD “were not strong”, attacked Gold Star parents, and for  four months claimed he donated one million dollars to veterans charities when he only did once he was caught in a lie.

Trump Retweeted Twitter Bot Who Praised Him

President Donald Trump is staunchly proud of his use of social media.

The 45th president of the United States has defended his habit of tweeting about policy changes and using the platform to throw barbs at foreign rivals as being  “modern-day presidential.” Trump, who has more than 35 million Twitter followers, has said the medium allows him direct access with the American people without having to pass through the prism of what he dubs the “fake news media.”

But perhaps Trump is not the Twitter expert he claims to be. In his haste to share a positive message from a purported supporter on Saturday, he appears to have retweeted a bot, or at the least, a fake account. More than a day later, the message is still up on the president’s timeline.

The account retweeted by the president used the handle @protrump45 and was run under the name Nicole Mincey. As of Monday, the account has been suspended. A Twitter spokesperson told Newsweek: “We do not comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.” Twitter regularly suspends fake accounts or accounts that have been hacked.

The original tweet showed an image of the president emblazoned with the message “Trump fights for us.” The user had shared the image in a reply to Trump that read “Trump working hard for the American people….thanks,” followed by emojis of a heart and the U.S. flag.

Soon after Trump had shared @protrump45’s tweet late on Saturday, other users began to suspect something was awry. A Twitter user with the handle @Rschooley, linked to American screenwriter Bob Schooley, posted a thread that appeared to show that @Protrump45 was a bot account created to share pro-Trump messages. @Protrump45 regularly tweeted messages criticizing the “fake news” of outlets such as CNN or The Washington Postboth of which have been criticized by Trump in the past—and appeared to use a stock image as its profile photo.

Eliot Higgins, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, said the Twitter user appeared to be running an advertising campaign linked to a site selling pro-Trump merchandise.

After Trump retweeted the message, the user @Protrump45 changed its handle to @AlexandriaM0ra. The account also removed the name Nicole Mincey, replacing it with a single period before it was suspended.

The account was linked to a website, protrump45.com, which sells merchandise associated with the Trump campaign, such as T-shirts and hoodies carrying messages like “Make America Great Again!” or “Deplorable Lives Matter.” The website also has a blog consisting of a collection of posts celebrating Trump’s actions as president and decrying the mainstream media’s coverage of him. Many of the posts are written by users with Twitter handles—such as @bryant4trump, @kendra_manii and @mtsaintmarys—that have been suspended by the social media site.

A June 22 blog post says that protrump45.com was created by Nicole Mincey, described as “an african american trump supporter…from Camden NJ and humble beginnings.” Mincey is described as an “ex democrat who switched to republicanism due to the failures of the obama administration.”

It is not clear yet whether the @Protrump45 account was run by a bot or a real person using it to promote the merchandise. According to Heavy.com, the account was originally created under the name of a New Jersey college student who said her identity had been stolen. The student told Heavy.com that her real name and Facebook account had been used to set up pro-Trump sites and social media accounts under the persona of Nicole Mincey.

A press release announcing the unveiling of ProTrump45 appeared on media networking site Digital Journal on July 4, listing Nicole Mincey as the media contact. Newsweek called the listed contact number and left a message and emailed the listed address, but received no replies.

A significant proportion of Trump’s social media following is thought to be bots and fake accounts used to promote the president’s agenda. A Newsweek investigation in May found that of the 31 million accounts following Trump at the time, 49 percent (or more than 15 million) were fake.

Cybersecurity experts warned of an uptick in Russia propaganda accounts and fake profiles on social media well in advance of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Pro-Trump bots and fake accounts are extremely active and have regularly targeted articles published by media outlets, dubbing them fake news while seeking to defend Trump against attacks.

The president regularly uses Twitter to engage with followers and share favorable coverage of his administration. But after jumping into the rabbit hole associated with @Protrump45, Trump may wish he wasn’t so “modern-day presidential.”

[Newsweek]

Reality

Analysts have shown that about 13 million of Trump’s 35 million Twitter followers are fake accounts and bots.

Trump Administration Looking Into Jailing Journals For Publishing Leaks

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, taking up an issue that has infuriated President Donald Trump, went on the attack against leaks on Friday, and said that the government was reviewing policies on compelling journalists to reveal sources.

“One of the things we are doing is reviewing policies affecting media subpoenas,” Sessions told reporters as he announced administration efforts to battle what he called a “staggering number of leaks undermining the ability of our government to protect this country.”

“We respect the important role that the press plays and will give them respect, but it is not unlimited,” he said.

A media subpoena is a writ compelling a journalist to testify or produce evidence, with a penalty for failure to do so. The fact the administration is reviewing its policy leaves open the possibility of sentencing journalists for not disclosing their sources.

Trump has repeatedly voiced anger over a steady stream of leaks to the media about him and his administration since he took office in January. Some have been related to probes into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, others have concerned infighting in the White House.

Speaking to reporters after the media event with Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the department was just starting to review the policy on media subpoenas and could not say yet how it might be changed. But he did not rule out the possibility of threatening journalists with jail time.

Under U.S. law, a government attorney must seek the attorney general’s approval before issuing a subpoena to attempt to force a member of the news media to divulge information to authorities.

New York Times reporter Judith Miller was jailed in 2005 for refusing to reveal a source about stories on Iraq, but she cut a deal with prosecutors before she was formally charged.

In addressing the wider issue of leaks, Sessions said the Justice Department has tripled the number of investigations into unauthorized leaks of classified information and that four people have already been charged.

“We are taking a stand,” said Sessions, who in recent weeks has been publicly criticized by Trump for his performance in the job, including for what Trump called his weakness on the issue of going after leakers. “This culture of leaking must stop,” Sessions said.

It is not illegal to leak information, as such, but divulging classified information is against the law.

Some of the more high-profile leaks in the Trump administration have revealed White House infighting in articles that would appear not to involve divulging classified information.

Sessions did not immediately give the identities of the four people charged, but said they had been accused of unlawfully disclosing classified information or concealing contacts with foreign intelligence officers.

Rosenstein did not give the exact number of leak investigations the Justice Department is currently handling, only that this number has tripled under the Trump administration.

In the latest major leak to the media, the Washington Post published transcripts on Thursday of contentious phone calls that Trump had in the early days of his administration with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“No government can be effective when its leaders cannot discuss sensitive matters in confidence or to talk freely in confidence with foreign leaders,” Sessions said of that case.

One tool Sessions has for prosecuting leakers is the Espionage Act, a World War One-era law that was designed to stop leaks to America’s enemies. Federal prosecutors have used it 12 times to charge individuals for disclosing information to the media, eight of them under Democratic former President Barack Obama.

The most recent case, and the first under Trump, was the Justice Department’s indictment in June of Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a U.S. intelligence contractor accused of leaking a classified National Security Agency report about Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election.

[Reuters]

Kellyanne Conway Says Russian Interference is Not ‘An Issue of National Security’

In a late-night Thursday interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, senior counselor Kellyanne Conway tap danced around any questions concerning the grand jury investigation, subpoenas and the meeting between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russians.

Conway maintained that the American people didn’t care about Russia or the scandals surrounding it. Cuomo explained to her that sometimes the news has to cover issues that are important but not always popular. However, polling reveals that Americans do care about the Russia investigation and ensuring that it moves forward ethically.

“This investigation isn’t about Russian interference,” said Conway about the investigation on Russian interference.

“Sometimes you have to cover things even when they are not popular,” he said. “This is an issue of potential national security.”

“How is that though?” Conway asked. “How is it an issue of potential national security? What is the basis for saying that?”

Cuomo explained that when a foreign adversary hacks and election and tries to influence an election and meet with one candidate over another, it’s concerning.

As Conway has done many times before, she attacked Cuomo and CNN for not covering anything other than the Russia scandal. She specifically bashed the network for not talking about what Trump supporters care about. That’s when the conversation got a little heated. CNN regularly does panels with Trump voters. Some were even aired on Cuomo’s morning show “New Day.”

A frustrated Cuomo informed Conway he’s deeply invested in every issue, most specifically the opioid epidemic, explaining that he’s working on a documentary for CNN that focuses on the crisis in New Hampshire, a state that voted overwhelmingly for Trump last November

[Raw Story]

Media

Trump Argues He Won New Hampshire Because It Is a ‘Drug-Infested Den’

President Donald Trump, in a conversation with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, labeled New Hampshire “a drug-infested den,” according to a transcript of Trump’s January 27 call that was published by The Washington Post on Thursday.

During the call, according to the Post, Trump lashed out at Peña Nieto for the quantity of illegal drugs that come into the United States from Mexico.

“We have a massive drug problem where kids are becoming addicted to drugs because the drugs are being sold for less money than candy,” Trump said.

He later bragged that he won the Granite State because of the opioid epidemic.

“I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den,” he said.

Asked by CNN to comment on the transcript, Michael Anton, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said only that he “can’t confirm or deny the authenticity of allegedly leaked classified documents.”

Trump did, in fact, win the Republican primary in New Hampshire, more than doubling the vote total received by his nearest competitor, Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Trump, however, narrowly lost the state to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Trump seized on the opioid epidemic while campaigning in New Hampshire throughout 2015 and 2016, promising the people of the state that he would boost local clinics, help those who are already hooked on opioids and stop the flow of drugs coming into the state.

The issue was so critical to Trump that he headlined an event in New Hampshire focused strictly on opioids days before the 2016 election.

“I just want to let the people of New Hampshire know that I’m with you 1,000%, you really taught me a lot,” he said before promising to help people who “are so seriously addicted.”

And he has made similar comments in the past about how inexpensive drugs can be.

“We’re becoming a drug-infested nation,” Trump said in February. “Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars.”

Trump’s comments about New Hampshire drew a quick rebuke from the state’s two Democratic senators.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen tweeted that Trump needed to apologize to the state of New Hampshire and “then should follow through on his promise to Granite Staters to help end this crisis.”

“It’s absolutely unacceptable for the President to be talking about NH in this way — a gross misrepresentation of NH & the epidemic,” she wrote.

Sen. Maggie Hassan called Trump’s comments “disgusting.”

“As he knows, NH and states across America have a substance misuse crisis,” Hassan wrote. “Instead of insulting people in the throes of addiction, [Trump] needs to work across party lines to actually stem the tide of this crisis.”

New Hampshire is one of the states most directly impacted by the opioid crisis. According to the NH Drug Monitoring Initiative, drug overdose deaths have climbed in the state since 2012 and it expected to again hit an all-time high once data from 2016 is tabulated.

A national study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 25% of all drug overdose deaths were related to heroin in 2015. That number was just 6% in 1999.

In response to the epedemic, Trump created a White House panel tasked with looking into how the federal government should respond. The panel, which is being led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, released its interim report earlier this week and suggested that Trump declare a state of emergency to combat opioids.

“Our citizens are dying. We must act boldly to stop it,” read its report. “The first and most urgent recommendation of this Commission is direct and completely within your control. Declare a national emergency.”

The report added: “America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks,” noting the fact that 142 Americans die from drug overdoses every day.

[CNN]

Trump Urged Mexican President to Help Him Keep Up Border Wall Scam

President Donald Trump boasted about his election victory, pressured his Mexican counterpart to remain quiet about a border wall and called New Hampshire a “drug-infested den” in a phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, according to a transcript of the conversation revealed on Thursday by The Washington Post.

The transcript of Trump’s conversation with Mexico’s leader was one of two phone calls revealed on Thursday, which provide a rare glimpse into the private conversations of a new US president testing his negotiating powers on foreign counterparts.

The January 27 phone call with Peña Nieto came seven days after Trump entered office. In it, he focused mainly on issues of trade and immigration, with contentious moments coming in his insistence that Mexico will eventually pay for a wall along with US southern border. Peña Nieto has insisted publicly his country will not pay for the wall’s construction, but Trump demanded he cease making that claim.

“You cannot say that to the press,” Trump said on the phone call. “The press is going to go with that and I cannot live with that. You cannot say that to the press because I cannot negotiate under those circumstances.”

A day later, Trump carried out a phone conversation with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, which grew sour when Trump rejected an agreement to take in refugees. The transcript shows Trump growing progressively more agitated, eventually telling his Australian counterpart the call was the most irksome of the day.

“I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day,” Trump told Turnbull. “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous.”
Trump later ended the phone call abruptly.

The two conversations show a President still working through the complicated nature of bilateral US relationships, often suggesting to his counterparts that he had campaign promises to fulfill in his early days in the White House.

Trump ran for office promising to build a Mexican-funded wall along the southern border. But since taking office, Trump has said that the US will pay for initial construction, with reimbursement from Mexico coming later.

In his conversation with Peña Nieto, Trump said he was willing to say publicly that he and Mexican authorities would continue to negotiate over the wall’s payment, which he said “means it will come out in the wash and that is OK.”

But he maintained his insistence that Peña Nieto remain quiet about the issue.

“You cannot say anymore that the United States is going to pay for the wall,” he said. “I am just going to say that we are working it out. Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important talk about.”

Asked to comment on the transcripts, Michael Anton, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said only that he “can’t confirm or deny the authenticity of allegedly leaked classified documents.”

[CNN]

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