Trump says NFL players who kneel during national anthem ‘maybe shouldn’t be in the country’

Taking a knee during the national anthem during a National Football League game should “maybe” be a deportable offense, President Donald Trump appeared to say in an interview that aired Thursday morning.

Speaking just moments after the NFL announced that all players who are on the field when the national anthem is heard before a game must stand and show respect — or can choose to remain in the locker room without penalty — Trump praised the new policy but also said it didn’t go far enough in punishing players who might continue to take a knee during the anthem.

“Well, I think that’s good. I don’t think people should be staying in locker rooms. But still, I think it’s good. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country,” Trump said in a wide-ranging sit-down with “Fox and Friends” that took place Wednesday but wasn’t aired until Thursday.

“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, and the NFL owners did the right thing,” he added.

Under the new policy, teams will be subject to a fine if a player does not comply.

The NFL had previously suggested that players should stand, but it stopped short of enforcing fines. The new policy says clubs can still develop their own work rules for players and personnel who don’t stand, but they must be “consistent with the above principles.” That means teams could choose to pass along fines to players.

The controversy over players who kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner” has raged since 2016, when Colin Kaepernick, then a quarterback with the 49ers, first refused to stand as a lone protest against police brutality, particularly against black Americans, and racial oppression. Protests expanded, prompting Trump to criticize the the kneeling as “disgraceful.”

Trump, in the interview with Fox, took credit for creating the issue but said it was “the people” who “pushed it forward.”

“I think the people pushed it forward, not me. I brought it out. it could have been taken care of when it first started,” he said.

Trump, in his interview, also discussed immigration, the MS-13 gang and his decision last year to fire former FBI Director James Comey.

“I’ve done done a great service for the country by firing him,” Trump claimed.

The president, who spoke to the network Wednesday following a roundtable discussion on MS-13 and immigration in New York, added that he would not consider an immigration bill that did not include provisions to build his border wall.

“Unless it includes a wall, I mean a real wall … there will be no approvals from me,” Trump said. He said he was “watching one or two” of the bills that are expected to be voted on in the House, following an expected forced vote process by moderate Republicans known as a discharge petition.

The petition would force a vote on bipartisan legislation unveiled in March that would allow for the consideration of four different proposals, including: a conservative immigration bill proposed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.; a bipartisan version of the Dream Act; and a bipartisan bill to protect people covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program while enhancing border security.

Trump, however, said, “it’s time to get the whole package,” referring to his desire that any immigration deal include not only money for his wall and protections people covered by DACA, but also increased border security measures like ending so-called “chain migration.”

[NBC News]

Trump demands ‘total transparency’ from Rosenstein, FBI on Russia documents

President Trump on Wednesday demanded that federal law enforcement officials show “total transparency” about sensitive information related to the earliest days of the Russia probe.

“What I want from Rod, from the FBI, from everybody — we want transparency,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, referring to his embattled deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.

The president spoke one day before senior law enforcement and intelligence leaders are set to meet with Republican lawmakers to discuss classified information related to a confidential source who helped advance the FBI probe into Trump’s campaign.

No Democrats were invited to the meeting, fueling criticism that the gathering is a politically motivated attempt by Trump and his allies to undercut the investigation — and perhaps fire Rosenstein.

[The Hill]

Trump Rails Against ‘SPYGATE’ In Wild Tweetstorm After Watching Evidence-Free Fox & Friends Segment

President Donald Trump has ramped up his attacks on the Russia investigation — floating out baseless accusations that an FBI “spy” was dispatched for political purposes to sabotage his campaign and elect Hillary Clinton — and Fox & Friends is eagerly cheering him on.

Fox & Friends opened the show Wednesday morning with a laughably uncritical reading of Trump’s latest tweets, which apparently set off the president on another wild tweetstorm in which he declared the investigation into his campaign, “SPYGATE.”

On Fox News, Brian Kilmeade started by noting that the FBI sent informants to Trump’s campaign in 2016 “to maybe go in there and find out, probe around and see where the Russians had gained access to.”

“And now we know exactly why,” Steve Doocydeclared. “The president sent out a couple tweets, probably why you were sleeping. The reason why the federal government put the spies in there, was so Crooked Hillary would win.”

The hosts of Fox & Friends continued to speculate wildly about the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties, with Doocy and Kilmeade agreeing that the whole thing looks like a “set up.”

The cycle continued later in the morning, when Trump responded to his favorite morning show in another tweet — which blasted “worlds dumbest former Intelligence Head” James Clapper:

“Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State,” Trump continued in his next tweet. “They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before!”

Trump also cited Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano, who appeared on Fox & Friends First and Fox Business Network Wednesday morning.

And, finally, we have a new word for this fresh shitshow… SPYGATE!

UPDATE: Matthew Gertz has the goods one where Trump’s quote came from… a Fox & Friends First chyron that — again, without a dash of evidence — boldly declared “NEW BOMBSHELL IN THE OBAMA SPYING SCANDAL”.

[Mediaite]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[The Hill]

Pruitt bars AP, CNN from EPA summit on contaminants, guards push reporter out of building

The Environmental Protection Agency barred The Associated Press and CNN from a national summit on harmful water contaminants on Tuesday — and guards forcibly shoved a female reporter out of the building.

The EPA blocked the media organizations, along with the environmental-focused E&E News, from attending the meeting in Washington, convened by EPA chief Scott Pruitt.

Guards barred an AP reporter from passing through a security checkpoint inside the building.

When the reporter, Ellen Knickmeyer, asked to speak to an EPA public-affairs person, the security guards grabbed the reporter by the shoulders and shoved her forcibly out of the EPA building. She said she was not injured and was later permitted to attend the meeting.

“The Environmental Protection Agency’s selective barring of news organizations, including the AP, from covering today’s meeting is alarming and a direct threat to the public’s right to know about what is happening inside their government,” said AP Executive Editor Sally Buzbee.

“It is particularly distressing that any journalist trying to cover an event in the public interest would be forcibly removed,” Buzbee added.

CNN said in a statement that its reporter also was turned away from covering the event “after multiple attempts to attend.”

“We understand the importance of an open and free press and we hope the EPA does, too,” CNN said, according to the AP.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox told the barred organizations they were not invited and there was no space for them, but gave no indication of why they specifically were barred.

“This was simply an issue of the room reaching capacity, which reporters were aware of prior to the event,” Wilcox told NBC News. “We were able to accommodate 10 reporters, provided a livestream for those we could not accommodate and were unaware of the individual situation that has been reported.”

The reporter threatened “negative coverage” if she couldn’t get in, Wilcox alleged.

Some media that had been permitted to attend said that there appeared to be a handful of open seats for the press in the room despite claims that there was no room left.

A reporter for E&E News tweeted about being shut out by the EPA.

Amid criticism for barring the media outlets, Wilcox announced later that the afternoon session of the meeting would be open to all press.

Following that decision, the AP said, “We are pleased that the EPA has reconsidered its decision and will now allow AP to attend the remainder of today’s meeting. The AP looks forward to informing the public of the important discussions at the water contaminants summit this afternoon.”

Pruitt spoke Tuesday as he opened a hearing on the contaminants, known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl. The chemicals were used in items like nonstick coating and firefighting foam and have contaminated some water systems nationwide. The compounds are linked to developmental defects and other health problems.

Pruitt has faced criticism in recent weeks over emails showing the EPA sought to intervene in a critical study on the contaminants.

Convening Tuesday’s session, Pruitt is pledging to work on establishing a maximum allowable level for the chemicals in drinking water.

Representatives of states, tribes, the chemical industry, environmental groups and others attended the session.

[NBC News]

Trump Goes Off: FBI ‘Spy’ on Campaign for ‘Political Reasons and to Help Crooked Hillary Win’

President Trump took to Twitter tonight to again go off on the FBI informant at the center of the latest political controversy concerning the Trump campaign.

On Sunday, Trump demanded the DOJ look into whether “the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”

Well, within just days of that tweet, the President has already reached some conclusions:

If the person placed very early into my campaign wasn’t a SPY put there by the previous Administration for political purposes, how come such a seemingly massive amount of money was paid for services rendered – many times higher than normal… Follow the money! The spy was there early in the campaign and yet never reported Collusion with Russia, because there was no Collusion. He was only there to spy for political reasons and to help Crooked Hillary win – just like they did to Bernie Sanders, who got duped!

[Mediaite]

Trump Team Moves To Lift Ban On ‘Extreme’ Hunting Tactics In Alaska

The Trump administration on Monday proposed rolling back a 2015 rule that bans aggressive predator control tactics in national preserves in Alaska, including shooting bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens ― a move immediately blasted by environmental groups.

The proposal, slated to be published Tuesday in the Federal Register, would amend the National Park Service’s current regulations to again allow for controversial sport hunting and trapping techniques on roughly 20 million acres of federal lands in Alaska. The park service, part of the Department of the Interior, said lifting the prohibitions would increase hunting opportunities on national preserve land, as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke called for in a pair of secretarial orders last year.

The proposed rule would allow hunters to lure brown and black bears with bait, hunt black bears and their cubs using artificial lights, shoot bear cubs and wolf and coyote pups in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears. It would also allow hunters to shoot swimming caribou from motorboats.

Environmental groups voiced disgust at the attempt to strip away protections.

“I’m outraged that [President Donald] Trump and his trophy-hunting cronies are promoting the senseless slaughter of Alaska’s most iconic wildlife,” said Collette Adkins, a lawyer and biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Cruel and harmful hunting methods like killing bear cubs and their mothers near dens have no place on our national preserves.”

Defenders of Wildlife said the 2015 park service rule prevented “extreme methods of killing predators.”

“The Trump administration has somehow reached a new low in protecting wildlife,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, the nonprofit’s president and CEO. “Allowing the killing of bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens is barbaric and inhumane. The proposed regulations cast aside the very purpose of national parks to protect wildlife and wild places.”

The park service said in an emailed statement the proposed rule would “establish consistency” with state regulations. 

“The conservation of wildlife and habitat for future generations is a goal we share with Alaska,” agency regional director Bert Frost said.

A 60-day public comment period begins Tuesday.

The proposal comes a little more than a year after Congress approved a measure to repeal an Obama-era rule that largely banned hunting of Alaska’s most iconic predators in Alaska’s national wildlife refuges. The Republican-sponsored legislation opened the door for the state to resume aggressive predator control tactics, including shooting bears and wolves from airplanes, on more than 76 million acres of refuge land.

Trump signed that bill into law in April 2017.

[Huffington Post]

Trump says China agreed to good deal for American farmers

President Trump touted in a tweet on Monday China’s promise to buy more US agricultural products following trade talks between the two countries, calling it a good deal for American farmers.

“China has agreed to buy massive amounts of ADDITIONAL Farm/Agricultural Products – would be one of the best things to happen to our farmers in many years!,” the president posted on his account, one of three tweets about China.

In another tweet, he questioned why former President Barack Obama failed to take action against China for the trade imbalance and suggested that he would work with Senate Democrats on developing fair trade policies.

“I ask Senator Chuck Schumer, why didn’t President Obama & the Democrats do something about Trade with China, including Theft of Intellectual Property etc.?,” Trump wrote. “They did NOTHING! With that being said, Chuck & I have long agreed on this issue! Fair Trade, plus, with China will happen!”

A third tweet said: “On China, Barriers and Tariffs to come down for first time. ”

About two hours later, he reiterated his earlier tweet that American farmers would benefit.

“Under our potential deal with China, they will purchase from our Great American Farmers practically as much as our Farmers can produce,” Trump said.

The final tweet said: “On China, Barriers and Tariffs to come down for first time. ”

In the joint US-China statement issued Saturday, China pledged to “significantly increase purchases of United States goods and services.”

“This will help support growth and employment in the United States. Both sides agreed on meaningful increases in United States agriculture and energy exports. The United States will send a team to China to work out the details,” it said.

The statement followed two days of talks involving Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

On Sunday, Mnuchin said the US was putting a trade war with China on hold by not imposing major tariffs after the concessions by Beijing.

“We’re putting the trade war on hold. So right now, we have agreed to put the tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework,” Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.” But Mnuchin and Lighthizer said that could change if China doesn’t follow through on its commitments.

“As this process continues, the United States may use all of its legal tools to protect our technology through tariffs, investment restrictions and export regulations,” Lighthizer said in a statement.

Trump during the presidential campaign railed about how China’s trade policies hurt American business, and his administration has been trying to get Beijing to take steps to lower its trade deficit with the US by at least $200 billion by the end of 2020.

[New York Post]

Reality

China agreed to the same deal we had before, with no commitment to buy a specific amount of any goods, and their “concession” was to buy the same products it was going to buy anyway.

Trump claimed he could easily win a trade war, yet got nothing he wanted, the trade gap hasn’t shrunk, and we just spent months harming US agriculture so we can be back to where we were before.

Trump Quotes ‘Fox & Friends’ in Claim Ex-CIA Director Could Go to Jail for Starting Russia Investigation

President Donald Trump quoted a conservative radio host who appeared on Fox & FriendsMonday morning for an attack on former CIA director John Brennan. The slamming of Brennan appeared to be in response to him challenging Republican leadership Sunday following Trump’s “demand” for the Justice Department to investigate whether his campaign was “infiltrated or surveilled” for “political purposes” or if any Obama administration officials had directed such an inquiry.

The president, who often cites information he’s viewed on Fox News’ morning program, took three tweets to sum up the accusations made by Dan Bongino about Brennan, who the former Secret Service agent called “disgraced” and “largely responsible for the destruction of Americans faith in the intelligence community…”

“John Brennan is panicking. He has disgraced himself, he has disgraced the Country, he has disgraced the entire Intelligence Community,” Trump tweeted citing Bongino. “He is the one man who is largely responsible for the destruction of American’s faith in the Intelligence Community and in some people at the top of the FBI. Brennan started this entire debacle about President Trump.”

Trump continued, quoting Bongino: “We now know that Brennan had detailed knowledge of the (phony) Dossier…he knows about the Dossier, he denies knowledge of the Dossier, he briefs the Gang of 8 on the Hill about the Dossier, which they then used to start an investigation about Trump. It is that simple. This guy is the genesis of this whole Debacle. This was a Political hit job, this was not an Intelligence Investigation. Brennan has disgraced himself, he’s worried about staying out of Jail.”

The president has in recent days increased his attacks on the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, exactly what one of his personal attorneys, Rudy Giuliani, said would happen at the one-year anniversary of Robert Mueller’s appointment.

Over the weekend, Trump referenced a New York Times report that detailed how his eldest child, Donald Trump Jr., had met with a representative for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in August 2016. Like a Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr. and other campaign representatives two months prior, they too were offering to help the Trump campaign.

“The Witch Hunt finds no Collusion with Russia – so now they’re looking at the rest of the World. Oh’ great!” Trump tweeted Sunday.

[Yahoo News]

John Bolton caught using a ‘shadow’ council to funnel new personnel into the White House

Donald Trump’s third national security adviser John Bolton has a group of associates outside the White House some call the “shadow” National Security Council for their influential role in shaping the adviser’s operations within the administration.

The New York Times reported Monday that Bolton’s “shadow NSC” includes Charles M. Kupperman, a former official in the Ronald Reagan administration that currently holds a temporary leadership position on the council. Three other Bolton associates — Frederick H. Fleitz, Sarah Tinsley and David Wurmser — are also in consideration for jobs on the NSC as well.

After being hired in March to replace H.R. McMaster, Bolton, the Times noted, “engaged in his own speeded-up transition process” with the help of his outside advisers. They work out of downtown D.C. offices associated with the adviser’s various conservative political organizations, and help provide advice on the NSC’s operations as well as assisting in vetting “prospective new hires for views that would be compatible with his own.”

Bolton’s use of temporary and informal advisers “has raised concerns among government watchdog organizations and N.S.C. veterans and scholars, who say it raises questions of conflicts of interest, and creates an echo chamber of identical views with little room for dissent at the agency charged with coordinating policy throughout the government’s military, foreign policy and intelligence communities and synthesizing the best advice for the president.”

One such associate is Matthew C. Freedman, a conservative operative Bolton met in the 1980’s considered to be the most influential of all the “shadow NSC” members.

“After his early foray in government,” the Timesreported, “Mr. Freedman went on to become a foreign lobbyist working with Paul Manafort in the 1980s and 1990s for sometimes unsavory but well-paying foreign leaders, including Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippine strongman.”

Freedman also worked on the Trump transition team, but was kicked off after he used an email address from one of his lobbying jobs to conduct government business. He interviewed potential NSC hires from one of Bolton’s DC offices, and has reportedly been a driving factor behind massive firings at the NSC since Bolton took over as national security adviser — an allegation Freedman denies.

[Raw Story]

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