Japan’s PM nominated Trump for Nobel Peace Prize on U.S. request

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominated U.S. President Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize last autumn after receiving a request from the U.S. government to do so, the Asahi newspaper reported on Sunday.

The report follows Trump’s claim on Friday that Abe had nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize for opening talks and easing tensions with North Korea.

The Japanese leader had given him “the most beautiful copy” of a five-page nomination letter, Trump said at a White House news conference.

The U.S. government had sounded Abe out over the Noble Peace Prize nomination after Trump’s summit in June last year with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the first meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting U.S. president, the Asahi said, citing an unnamed Japanese government source.

A spokesman for Japan’s Foreign Ministry in Tokyo said the ministry was aware of Trump’s remarks, but “would refrain from commenting on the interaction between the two leaders.”

The White House had no immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

The Nobel Foundation’s website says a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize may be submitted by any person who meets the nomination criteria, which includes current heads of states. Under the foundation’s rules, names and other information about unsuccessful nominations cannot be disclosed for 50 years.

[Reuters]

Trump Urges ‘Retribution’ Against Saturday Night Live and ‘Many Other Shows’

Donald Trump‘s Sunday morning rage-tweet began with the suggestion of “retribution” against Saturday Night Live after the sketch show lampooned his “national emergency” press conference, in a pair of tweets that could serve as the script for next week’s show.

Trump slammed SNL and “many other shows,” called for “retribution,” and suggested that comedy shows be investigated for “collusion”:

Saturday night’s episode of SNL featured a cold-open that tore into the press conference at which Trump admitted his national emergence was not a national emergency while he was declaring a national emergency. There was also a biting segment during Weekend Update in which Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi rubbed Trump’s nose in the border compromise deal.

This is not the first time Trump has levelled accusations of “collusion” and suggested action against this particular television program. In December, Trump said that SNL and “unfair news coverage” should be “tested in courts.”

It is unclear what, exactly, Trump wants investigated, or what “retribution” he thinks is in order, but the First Amendment appears to protect comedy shows, even if they all make fun of the same guy.

[Mediaite]

Trump Brags of 52% Approval Rating, From a Single Day in a Single Republican Daily Poll, Several Days Ago

n Trump’s third tweet this morning he cited numbers from an unnamed poll that he claims shows a 52 percent approval rating, 93 percent among the Republican Party: “Pretty amazing considering that 93% (also) of my press is REALLY BAD. The PEOPLE are smart!”

[Palm Beach Daily News]

Reality

Trump is cherry picking the Republican-leaning Rasmussen polls again. This number is from a single daily poll from one polling company… from several days ago.


Trump warns Europe he will free ISIS fighters if allies won’t prosecute them

President Donald Trump threatened Sunday to release hundreds of Islamic State fighters being held in Syria if allies in Europe don’t agree to take custody of the militants.

“The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,” Trump said in a late-night tweet. “The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them.”

Trump, who intends to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria, said the likely destination for the militants would be European countries. “The U.S. does not want to watch as these ISIS fighters permeate Europe, which is where they are expected to go,” Trump said.

During the civil war in Syria, hundreds of militants flooded into the country, many coming from Europe to join ISIS’ ranks. It’s unclear how many of the militants Trump is referring to are actually European citizens.

Trump’s comments come as global leaders wrap up three days of security talks in Munich, where the conflict in Syria was among the agenda items.

James Jeffrey, the U.S.’s special representative on Syria issues, said in Munich that the U.S. will leave northeastern Syria, but the troop pullout will not be abrupt.

“It will be an orderly step-by-step withdraw,”Jeffrey said without offering a timeline.

In December, Trump called for a complete withdraw of U.S. forces in the country. And on Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence reiterated that the U.S. still plans to wind down the mission in Syria.

Still, the U.S. said it intends to keep its coalition together and wants allies to play a larger role in the broader campaign to root out ISIS elements.

Jeffrey said there are hundreds of ISIS cells scattered throughout the region. U.S. air power will remain ready to respond when needed, he said.

Trump has essentially declared victory over the group, which has been forced out of all its former strongholds in Iraq and Syria. But there remain concerns that ISIS could regroup if the U.S. pulls out. Trump said the time has come for other countries to pick up the slack.

“We do so much, and spend so much – Time for others to step up and do the job that they are so capable of doing. We are pulling back after 100% Caliphate victory!,” Trump tweeted.

[Stars and Stripes]

Reality

Trump promised in the campaign he had a secret plan to defeat ISIS in 90 days. Instead:

1. 90 days came and went.

2. Said you’ll have a plan soon.

3. Your plan was to give the generals 90 days to formulate a plan.

4. Their plan was Obama’s strategy.

5. You take credit for #winning.

Federal judge halts Trump attempt to discharge service members deemed ‘unfit’ only because they are HIV-positive

A federal judge has issued a ruling from the bench halting the Trump administration’s attempts to discharge service members merely due to their HIV-positive status. The order goes into effect immediately for the U.S. Air Force after two airmen sued Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.

“The two Airmen serving as plaintiffs, who filed pseudonymously, were given discharge orders at the end of last year after being found ‘unfit for continued military service’ despite compliance with medical treatment and physical fitness requirements,” Lambda Legal announced Friday.

The lawsuit was filed by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN, with partner law firm Winston & Strawn.

“These decisions should be based on science, not stigma, as today’s ruling from the bench demonstrates,” Lambda Legal’s Scott Schoettes said, calling the judge’s decision, ” a major victory.”

Equality Cases Files published a copy of the ruling here.

[Raw Story]

Trump just tweeted a video of Democrats looking sad set to REM’s “Everybody Hurts.” Really.

After declaring a national emergency to get his wall at the US-Mexico border on Friday, President Donald Trump took a little time on Twitter to mock his Democratic critics — and Mitt Romney.

The tweet features a video of Trump’s State of the Union last week, with REM’s “Everybody Hurts” playing in the background, and shots of various Democrats — Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and more — looking sad while they watched Trump speak. There is also a cut to Romney, who’s at times critical of Trump.

The video is credited to @Carpedonktum, a pro-Trump meme-maker — making it even weirder, since presidents usually don’t promote random Twitter accounts’ content.

Sure, this is funny — if, say, The Daily Showor Stephen Colbert does something like it.

But for the president to tweet it, it’s alarming. In the past, presidents have tried to keep at least a bit of an appearance that they respected and were willing to work with the other party. With his tweet, Trump is doing nothing of the sort; he’s just mocking his Democratic rivals.

It’s another example of how strong negative partisanship — or, in conservative parlance, “owning the libs” — has become. On both sides of the aisle, people love dunking on the other team. As American politics becomes more and more polarized, and Republicans in particular move in more extreme directions, this is becoming a bigger problem — one that’s fracturing both sides’ ability to work together to pass legislation and solve problems.

This even showed up in Trump’s State of the Union speech. Peter Baker reported for the New York Times that the initial speech was supposed to promote a more unified, bipartisan message, but Trump tried to edit it to make it meaner to Democrats — because, Baker wrote, Trump was still “stung by his failure to use a partial government shutdown to pressure Congress into paying for his border wall.”

And we’ve seen it in governments’ inability to really function in recent years, with various threats that the debt ceiling won’t be increased and multiple government shutdowns.

All of that may lead to some funny, unexpected tweets. But those tweets are a symptom of America’s broken politics.

[Vox]

Trump just declared a national emergency at the border

After battling for weeks over funding for a border wall, overseeing the longest government shutdown in US history, and finally signing on to a deal to fund the government, President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency over a contrived crisis at the US-Mexico border.

On Friday, Trump invoked his power to declare a national emergency in a unilateral effort to make progress on the border wall Congress has thus far denied him. He initially demanded $5 billion for the construction of about 200 miles of barrier at the border, and Democrats in Congress have repeatedly refused to go anywhere near that figure. He got about $1.3 billion for border fencing in the deal he finally agreed to, a far cry from the desired amount. So he’s going with a national emergency to get more.

“We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border, and we’re going to do it, one way or another, we have to do it,” he said in a speech at the White House Rose Garden on Friday.

Trump will try to cobble together funds from a number of areas and redirect them toward border wall construction. White House officials ahead of the announcement on Friday said he would redirect about $600 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund, an account funded by money seized by the US government; $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense’s counter-drug activities; and $3.6 billion from other military construction accounts. Trump won’t try to take anything from disaster relief.

“I didn’t need to do this,” Trump said on Friday. “But I’d rather do it much faster.”

That the president has finally decided to declare an emergency isn’t entirely surprising — he has been wavering on the idea for weeks.

So why declare a national emergency in addition to the spending deal? The short answer is that Trump doesn’t want to admit he lost. He’s already getting less for border fencing than was in the original spending bill he refused to sign in December — and caused a 35-day government shutdown over — so he’s looking to executive action instead.

There has been some debate about whether Trump can indeed declare an emergency at the border considering there isn’t really one, and the answer, at least initially, seems to be that he can.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor on Thursday that he would support the emergency declaration.

[Vox]

Trump cited Putin to push back on North Korea long-range missile reports

Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe wrote in his new book that President Trump did not believe U.S. intelligence reports about North Korean missile advances because of claims he’d heard from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Washington Post reported that McCabe’s book, “The Threat,” details an instance in July 2017 where Trump did not believe information in an Oval Office briefing that North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time. 

McCabe wrote that Trump called the launch of the long-range missile a “hoax,” telling officials he knew North Korea did not have the ability to launch that type of missile “because Vladimir Putin had told him so.”

Asked for comment, the White House pointed to a statement earlier Thursday from press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that said McCabe “has no credibility and is an embarrassment to the men and women of the FBI and our great country.”

Those remarks came in response to an interview in which McCabe revealed he opened a probe into whether Trump obstructed justice when the president fired James Comey as FBI chief in 2017 amid the Russia investigation.

Trump ripped McCabe on Thursday morning, tweeting that the former FBI official “pretends to be a ‘poor little Angel’ when in fact he was a big part of the Crooked Hillary Scandal & the Russia Hoax.”

McCabe was fired last year after an internal watchdog report found he had a “lack of candor” with investigators looking into FBI leaks about its probe into the Clinton Foundation during the 2016 presidential race.

The former deputy director’s account of the 2017 meeting is the latest instance calling into question Trump’s relationship with Putin. Democrats and critics of the president have repeatedly chastised Trump for his friendly rhetoric toward Russia and the Putin.

Special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has so far implicated six former Trump associates. The president has repeatedly decried the investigation as a “witch hunt,” and denied colluding with Russia.

The president’s defenders have argued that Trump has been tougher on Russia than past administrations, pointing to various sanctions.

[The Hill]

Trump demands California pay him for funds sent for high-speed rail

Always one to attack the state of California, President Donald Trump demanded the state send him $3 billion after Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) said that the project is on hold while the state figures out some of the problems facing the state.

“California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars. They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now. Whole project is a ‘green’ disaster!” Trump tweeted.

Newsome announced in his first state of the state address that he would scale back plans. The decision isn’t a surprise as California is grappling with one of the largest fires in their history, sparked in part by the main energy company. PG&E is steps from bankruptcy to avoid the billions of dollars courts have ordered them to pay to repair and maintain their electrical lines.

“We’re going to make high-speed rail a reality for CA,” Newsome said on Twitter. “We have the capacity to complete the rail between Merced and Bakersfield. We will continue our regional projects north and south. Finish Phase 1 enviro work. Connect the Central Valley to other parts of the state.”

[Raw Story]

Trump Touts Fox News Poll … That Found 50 Percent Oppose Border Wall

President Donald Trump tonight tweeted out a screengrab from Fox News on the results of the network’s latest poll regarding border security, days ahead of the deadline to pass the compromise bill and avert a shutdown.

Fox News’ Special Report tonight covered part of the poll––finding that 66 percent of people support a border deal that “includes money for some form of a border barrier and other border security measures as well as money for humanitarian relief.”

And the president’s Twitter account posted the graphic tonight:

The full poll from Fox News finds that 46 percent support a border wall but 50 percent oppose it. 38 percent would favor Trump declaring a national emergency to get the wall built and 56 percent would oppose it.

When asked whether Trump or Nancy Pelosi ended the shutdown stronger politically, 35 percent said Trump and 43 percent said Pelosi.

[Mediaite]

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