Trump Afraid to Say He Doesn’t Trust Kim Jong Un Because ‘It Would Be Very Insulting To Him’

President Donald Trump said that even if he no longer trusted North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, he would not say so because “it would be very insulting to him,” but thankfully for Kim’s feelings, Trump went on to say that he does still trust Kim.

In yet another telling exchange during his series of interviews with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Trump closely guarded the relationship he has cultivated with the dictator whom Trump says he has fallen “in love” with.

During a sit-down in the Rose Garden, Stephanopoulos asked Trump about his blunt declaration, one year ago, that “there’s no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.”

“But there is a nuclear threat today, isn’t there?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“Well, it could change,” Trump replied. “I would say not much. There’s been no testing, no anything. But it could change.”

North Korea conducted two short-range missile tests within the space of a week in early May, which Trump would acknowledge during the interview.

“But they have stockpiles,” Stephanopoulos interrupted. A recent study estimated that North Korea possesses a stockpile of up to 30 nuclear warheads.

In an exchange that was edited from the broadcast of the interview, but included in the transcript, Trump then offered to show Stephanopoulos a letter he had received from Kim, and praised the dictator as “tough” and “smart.”

“I will actually show you the letter,” Trump said. “But– I’d show it to you a little bit off the record. But it was– a very nice letter. But I’ve received many very nice letters. And he’s a very tough guy. He’s a very smart person. He doesn’t treat a lot of people very well, but he’s been treating me well. Now, at some point that may change. And then I’ll have to change, too. But right now, we have a very good, you know, relationship. We have a really very strong relationship.”

“So you still trust him?” Stephanopoulos asked, a question which was included in the broadcast.

“Well, look, I, I don’t, I — first of all, if I didn’t, I couldn’t tell you that,” Trump said, adding “It would be very insulting to him.”

“But the answer is, yeah, I believe that he would like to do something,” Trump continued. “I believe he respects me. It doesn’t mean it’s going to get done. This has been going on for many, many decades with the family. But I get along with him really well, I think I understand him, and I think he understands me.”

Asked if he still believes Kim is building nuclear weapons, Trump replied: “I don’t know. I hope not. He promised me he wouldn’t be. He promised we– me he wouldn’t be testing.”

And in another portion that was edited from the broadcast, Trump said, “I think he’d like to meet again. And I think he likes me a lot. And I think– you know, I think that we have a chance to do something.”

Trump has gone out of his way to praise Kim Jong Un, and recently shared his love of heckling former Vice President Joe Biden with the dictator.

[Mediaite]

Trump is Just Tweeting Out Fox News Chyrons Now

Indeed, that is what’s happening.

It’s well established that President Donald Trump not only loves binging on his favorite cable news program, but also that he loves to tweet out favorable Fox News clips. On Monday, several hours after Trump said all polls showing him down to Democrats are “Fake”, the president offered up this out of context note:

Of course, our first instinct was to check in on Fox News. Sure enough, it appears the president was watching the network’s reporting on the escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Minutes before Trump’s tweet came out, Fox ran the chyron – “Iran to defy Uranium Stockpile Limits” – as Julie Banderas spoke to former CIA Chief of Station Daniel Hoffman about the tensions between Washington and Tehran.

[Mediaite]

Trump calls newspaper report on Russia power grid ‘treason’

President Donald Trump has lashed out at The New York Times, saying it engaged in a “virtual act of treason” for a story that said the U.S. was ramping up its cyber-intrusions into Russia’s power grid.

The Times reported on Saturday that the U.S. has bored into Russian utility systems in an escalating campaign meant to deter future cyber activity by Russia. It comes as the U.S. looks for new ways to punish Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and prevent a recurrence.

The Times, in its official public relations account, called Trump’s accusation “dangerous” and said it had told officials about the story before it was published and no security issues were raised.

The newspaper, basing its reports on three months of interviews with current and former government officials, said this campaign was conducted under new cyber authorities granted by Trump and Congress. But it also reported that two administration officials believed the president had not been briefed in detail, fearing he might countermand the action against Russia or reveal sensitive information to foreign officials.

In a pair of tweets sent Saturday night, Trump asserted the story wasn’t true and denounced reporters as “cowards.”

“Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country,” he wrote.

The story reported the deployment of American computer code into Russia’s grid and other targets to act as a deterrent. The newspaper also said the U.S. Cyber Command, part of the Department of Defense, has explored the possibility that Russia might try to initiate selective blackouts in key states to disrupt the 2020 election.

In a second tweet, Trump added about the story: “ALSO, NOT TRUE! Anything goes with our Corrupt News Media today. They will do, or say, whatever it takes, with not even the slightest thought of consequence! These are true cowards and without doubt, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

The New York Times’ response also noted that the paper described the article to government officials before publication. “As our story notes, President Trump’s own national security officials said there were no concerns.”

The paper said there was no evidence the US had actually activated the cyber tools.

[Associated Press]

Trump Cites AOC to Say He Shouldn’t be Impeached, AOC Responds: ‘I’ll Call Your Bluff’

President Donald Trump attempted to cite Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(D-NY) to put down talk of impeachment, but the progressive lawmaker quickly responded “I’ll call your bluff any day of the week.”

Trump tweeted out a partial quote from AOC’s interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl Sunday morning, using it to argue against impeachment.

Her full quote was “I think that we have a very real risk of losing the presidency to Donald Trump if we do not have a presidential candidate that is fighting for true transformational change in the lives of working people in the United States.”

Ocasio-Cortez herself later responded directly to the president via his favored medium.

“Opening an impeachment inquiry is exactly what we must do when the President obstructs justice, advises witnesses to ignore legal subpoenas, & more,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

[Mediaite]

Trump campaign fires multiple pollsters after unflattering numbers leak

President Donald Trump‘s campaign fired several pollsters after internal polling numbers that showed the President lagging behind Democratic presidential candidates in key states were made public, according to multiple sources.

CNN and other outlets first reported the numbers — which showed Trump trailing Joe Biden in states like Michigan and Wisconsin — weeks ago, but a purge of the polling team was proposed after Trump grew angry about coverage of the numbers in recent days. Campaign officials were frustrated after the detailed numbers of four of the 17 states polled leaked to outlets like ABC last week.

Michael Baselice, the president and CEO of Baselice & Associates Inc., is one of the pollsters the Trump campaign has let go, a Republican familiar with the matter told CNN. Baselice, who is based in Austin, Texas, joined the Trump campaign near the end of the 2016 election cycle and had been close to Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale, the person said. Adam Geller, who was also a pollster for the Trump campaign in 2016, was another who was let go, according to another Republican familiar with the situation.

The campaign also cut ties with Brett Lloyd, president and CEO of The Polling Company, the former firm of White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway, a source familiar with the matter said.

Baselice and Geller are expected to begin working instead with America First, the pro-Trump super PAC, the source said. Lloyd is not expected to continue working with any Trump-affiliated entities.

A person familiar with the purge said the firings were less about the accuracy of the polling and more about meeting the President’s demands. Another person with knowledge of the discussions refuted this, saying it was about the leaks.

“Leaks from the campaign are unacceptable,” the second person said.

Two officials familiar with the discussions said the top two pollsters, Tony Fabrizio and John McLaughlin, are expected to stay on.

NBC News first reported on the campaign’s decision to oust some pollsters.

The existence of the 17-state survey, which contained bad news for Trump in battleground states, was reported by CNN and others weeks ago, as aides weighed plans for his reelection launch.

A more detailed accounting of the unflattering polls later appeared in The New York Times while the President was heading to Iowa to travel the state on the same day as Biden.

But days before the kickoff date, specific numbers related to head-to-head matchups between Trump and Biden in four states leaked to ABC on Friday, prompting a more forceful response from the campaign. Previously, the campaign had downplayed the leaked aspects of the internal polls, but did not deny the numbers.

Internal polling became a sensitive subject last week after Trump blew up at several campaign officials, telling them the numbers they had were incorrect and not an accurate reflection of how he’s polling throughout the country, one person familiar with his reaction told CNN. He has become fixated on the numbers in recent days, asking for regular updates or newer polls.

“It’s incorrect polling,” Trump told Fox News in an interview Friday. “Yes, it’s incorrect.”

In turn, campaign officials have spent the last several days rebutting the numbers, claiming they were old or incomplete. One person lamented that the campaign has become more focused on containing the leak than the President’s dismal numbers in key battleground states.

The fallout from the numbers comes as Trump is preparing to launch his reelection bid inside a 20,000-person arena in Orlando on Tuesday night, where he will be joined by first lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence.

The President has held several rallies already this year throughout the Rust Belt and in Florida, but his campaign is hoping to draw some attention away from the expansive Democratic presidential field by staging a monster-sized rally in a state that will be a must-win.

Those close to the President say Biden has occupied his head space more than any other candidate in the Democratic field, because Trump fears Biden poses a more serious threat to the blue-collar appeal that helped him win the 2016 election. Trump has continued to regularly phone aides and allies in the early morning hours to quiz them about Biden — and ask whether he poses a threat to his staying power in the White House.

While some aides have advised the President to refrain from attacking Biden by name, suggesting he “sit back and enjoy the show,” others say Trump enjoys having a foil, no matter how far away the general election is. He has attacked Biden from the South Lawn of the White House, while standing next to the Japanese Prime Minister during a news conference in Tokyo and often from his favorite platform, Twitter.

[CNN]

TRUMP INSISTS THE CONSTITUTION’S ARTICLE II ‘ALLOWS ME TO DO WHATEVER I WANT

President Donald Trump insisted that Article II of the U.S. Constitution “allows” him to do “whatever” he wants, arguing that he never planned to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller but had every legal right to do so.

The president made the remarks during an exclusive interview with ABC News’ host George Stephanopoulos, part of which was released last week and another part of which was released ahead of its airing on Sunday.

Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on specific allegations of obstruction of justice, as many legal experts have defined them, laid out in the second portion of Mueller’s report. One of the primary examples that critics of the president often point to, is the allegation that Trump directed White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller.

“Number one, I was never gonna fire Mueller,” Trump insisted. “I never suggested firing Mueller.”

Stephanopoulos pushed back, pointing out that McGahn’s testimony to the special counsel and the report told a different story.

“I don’t care what he says,” Trump replied. “It doesn’t matter. That was to show everyone what a good counsel he was. Now he may have got confused with the fact that I’ve always said to anybody that would listen: Robert Mueller was conflicted.”

The president also argued that McGahn lied under oath about being told to fire Mueller because he “wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer” or perhaps misunderstood Trump, because he constantly criticized the special counsel. “Robert Mueller had a total conflict of interest,” the president argued.

“Look, Article II [of the Constitution], I would be allowed to fire Robert Mueller,” he asserted. “Assuming I did all the things… Number one, I didn’t. He wasn’t fired … But more importantly, Article II allows me to do whatever I want. Article II would have allowed me to fire him,” Trump claimed.

Again, the president insisted that he “wasn’t gonna fire” Mueller, pointing out that actions like that did not go very well for former President Richard Nixon, who resigned from office back in 1974. “I watched Richard Nixon go around firing everybody, and that didn’t work out too well,” he said.

Article II of the Constitution outlines the powers given to the president of the United States. The duties outlined in the article include making treaties in conjunction with the Senate, commanding the U.S. military and delivering the annual State of the Union address.

Legal experts disagree over whether or not Trump legally could fire the special counsel. Some have argued that he would have had to tell a Justice Department official to make the call, and they would have had to choose if they would carry out the demand. Others have contended, as Trump did to Stephanopoulos, that he had the legal authority to simply fire Mueller whenever he wanted to. However, many have viewed such an action as obstructing justice, as the special counsel was specifically tasked with investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether or not the Trump campaign conspired in that effort.

[Newsweek]

Trump says supporters could ‘demand’ he not leave office after two terms

In tweets on Sunday morning, President Donald Trump suggested supporters might not want him to leave office after two terms. 

“The good news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT),” Trump wrote. 

The president had also been criticizing the Washington Post and the New York Times, calling them “both a disgrace.” 

Trump has talked about the issue before. In March last year, according to a recording obtained by CNN, he told a closed-door fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago that “maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day,” in reference to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s abolishment of term limits. It was unclear if the comments were made in jest.  

The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution explicitly states that “no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice.” 

The only American president to serve more than two terms was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who died during his fourth term in office. 

Some progressive commentators have speculated about the possibility of Trump not leaving office if he loses the election narrowly. Last week, Bill Maher said on CNN that if Trump loses, “he won’t go.”  

To which conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg responded, “Refusing to leave would make him the crazy guy the Marines escort out of the building.”

[USA Today]

Trump in testy exchange with Stephanopoulos: ‘You’re being a little wise guy’


President Trump
 pushed back at ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos during a testy interview, calling him “a little wise guy.”

Stephanopoulos was pressing the president on not answering questions in person from special counsel Robert Mueller‘s team.

“Wait a minute. I did answer questions. I answered them in writing,” Trump said

“Not on obstruction,” Stephanopoulos replied.

“George, you’re being a little wise guy, OK, which is, you know, typical for you,” Trump hit back.

“Just so you understand. Very simple. It’s very simple. There was no crime. There was no collusion. The big thing’s collusion. Now, there’s no collusion. That means … it was a setup, in my opinion, and I think it’s going to come out,” he continued.

Stephanopoulos, 58, was a White House communications director and senior advisor for policy and strategy for President Clinton. 

He joined ABC News as a political analyst after Clinton’s first term in 1997 and is now ABC News’s chief anchor and host of “Good Morning America” and “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

[The Hill]

Emails show Trump official consulting with climate change deniers to challenge scientific findings

A Trump administration official consulted with advisers to a think tank skeptical of climate change to help challenge widely accepted scientific findings about global warming, according to emails obtained by The Associated Press.

William Happer, a member of the National Security Council, made the request to policy advisers with the Heartland Institute this March.

Happer and Heartland Institute adviser Hal Doiron discussed Happer’s scientific arguments in a paper attempting to knock down climate change as well as ideas to make the work “more useful to a wider readership” in a March 3 email exchange.

Happer also said he had discussed the work with another Heartland Institute adviser, Thomas Wysmuller, according to the emails obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request by the Environmental Defense Fund.

The National Security Council declined to comment on the emails. 

Jim Lakely, interim president of Heartland Institute, told The Hill that the government’s stances on climate change are not above question.

“As for Wysmuller and Doiron, they are unpaid policy advisors and friends of The Heartland Institute and have known Dr. Happer for many years,” he said.

“It would be hard to find a group of men with more qualifications or experience to criticize NASA’s alarmist public statements on the climate than Happer, Doiron, and Wysmuller.”

The Trump administration is reportedly considering creating a new panel headed by Happer to the question the broad scientific consensus that climate change is driven by human activity and is potentially dangerous.

Democratic lawmakers have raised concerns over the proposed panel, saying it would fly in the face of scientific evidence.

Happer is a well-known climate change skeptic, having argued that carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas from the burning of coal, oil and gas, is good for humans and that carbon emissions have been demonized like “the poor Jews under Hitler.”

[The Hill]

Trump says he will not fire Kellyanne Conway for Hatch Act violations

President Trump said Friday he will not fire Kellyanne Conway as White House counselor for violating the Hatch Act, rebuking the recommendation of a top federal watchdog.

“No, I’m not going to fire her. I think she’s a terrific person,” Trump said during a call-in interview on “Fox & Friends.”

The president’s comments came one day after the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) publicly said Conway should be removed from office, calling her a “repeat offender” who has flouted the law barring federal employees from engaging in political activity in their official duties.

The office is not related to special counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russia investigation.

Trump said he will “get a very strong briefing” on Conway’s Hatch Act violations, but suggested he will not recommend that she change her behavior.

“It looks to me they’re trying to take away her right from free speech and that’s just not fair,” he said.

A 17-page report submitted to the White House found that Conway violated the law in more than half a dozen television interviews and tweets by “disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity.”

The White House argued the OSC applied the law too broadly and violated Conway’s First Amendment rights. The Hatch Act bars the vast majority of federal employees from using their “official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.” It was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1947 and 1973.

[The Hill]

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