Trump administration sues Bolton over memoir

The Trump administration on Tuesday filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent John Bolton from publishing a highly anticipated memoir describing his 17 months serving as President Trump’s national security adviser.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that Bolton’s book, due to be released on June 23, contains classified information that stands to compromise national security if published before a government review is completed.

“[Bolton] regularly came into possession of some of the most sensitive classified information that exists in the U.S. government,” the lawsuit states. “Within two months of his departure from government service, defendant had negotiated a book deal allegedly worth about $2 million and had drafted a 500-plus page manuscript rife with classified information, which he proposed to release to the world.”

The Department of Justice asked the court to declare that Bolton’s account of his time as a top Trump adviser from April 2018 to September 2019 violated his nondisclosure agreement.

The lawsuit also seeks to stop Bolton from disclosing contents from his memoir without U.S. government permission and to order his publisher, Simon & Schuster, to “retrieve and dispose of” any copies of the book held by third parties. Bolton’s attorney Chuck Cooper has denied that the book contains classified material.

“We are reviewing the Government’s complaint and will respond in due course,” Cooper said in an emailed statement early Monday. 

Simon & Schuster dismissed the lawsuit as “nothing more than the latest in a long running series of efforts by the Administration to quash publication of a book it deems unflattering to the President.” 

 “Ambassador Bolton has worked in full cooperation with the NSC in its pre-publication review to address its concerns and Simon & Schuster fully supports his First Amendment right to tell the story of his time in the White House to the American public,” the publishing company said in a statement. 

The move had been expected since Monday when reports surfaced that the administration was eyeing a lawsuit to prevent publication of the memoir, titled “The Room Where It Happened,” and comes exactly one week before it is due for public release. The book is said to offer a scathing account of the White House from the former national security adviser’s point of view.

“If he wrote a book, I can’t imagine that he can because that’s highly classified information,” Trump told reporters on Monday when asked about plans to file a lawsuit.

“I will consider every conversation with me as president highly classified. So that would mean if he wrote a book and if the book gets out, he’s broken the law and I would think he would have criminal problems,” Trump added, later claiming he hadn’t viewed the book’s contents.

The memoir’s release has been delayed for months as a result of a prepublication review process spearheaded by the White House National Security Council (NSC) that began when Bolton submitted the book for review in late December.

According to the Justice Department’s complaint, NSC official Ellen Knight had completed her review of Bolton’s book around April 27 “and was of the judgment that the manuscript draft did not contain classified information.” Knight informed Bolton that the process remained ongoing when he asked for an update thereafter, the complaint states.

It says that Michael Ellis, NSC’s senior director for intelligence, subsequently began a review of the manuscript on May 2 and raised concerns it contained classified information. An NSC attorney sent Bolton’s attorney Chuck Cooper a letter on June 8 saying the draft contained classified information and that the manuscript could not be published until the review was completed, after press reports said that Bolton planned to release the book on June 23.

After receiving that letter, Cooper penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal accusing the White House of a “transparent attempt to use national security as a pretext to censor Mr. Bolton, in violation of his constitutional right to speak on matters of the utmost public import.” 

The memoir is expected to contain details about Trump’s interactions with Ukraine related to his impeachment by the House of Representatives last December. Bolton has been an extremely controversial figure as a result of his refusal to testify before the chamber.

The former national security adviser later said he would testify before the GOP-controlled Senate if served a subpoena, but the upper chamber ultimately voted to bypass witnesses and eventually acquitted Trump of the impeachment charges in two largely party-line votes.

[The Hill]

Trump relaunches attack on 75-year-old protester who suffered fractured skull

Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old protester who suffered a fractured skull after being shoved to the ground by police in Buffalo, has once again become the target of President Donald Trump’s ire.

As flagged by CNN fact checker Daniel Dale, Trump told the Wall Street Journal this week that Gugino was a “professional agitator” who had put himself in harm’s way when he confronted officers during a protest against police brutality.

“I don’t like to see people hurt,” the president said. “But he put himself right into the midst of the soldiers. These police, they meant business. They were walking and he puts himself right there. And you could tell they knew him. They knew him. But he’s had a long history. Too bad he had to get hurt.”

Gugino is a longtime antiwar activist in the area, though there is no evidence that he is part of antifa or that he deliberately provoked police into shoving him to the ground, as the president has alleged.

Gugino is recovering from his wounds in an undisclosed location, as his attorney said this week that he has received several death threats since a video of him cracking his skull on the sidewalk after being shoved by an officer went viral.

[Raw Story]

Trump Says, ‘Fox Is Terrible!’ After Poll Shows Biden Surge

A day after Fox News’ latest national poll showed that presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden had opened up a 12-point edge over Trump, one of many such surveys in recent weeks that has Biden widening his lead, the president called the Fox poll fraudulent and claimed it was created by “haters.” 

CNN poll released last Monday showed Biden leading by a staggering 14-point margin. Shortly after, Trump took to Twitter to announce that he had hired conservative pollster McLaughlin & Associates to analyze that poll (and others), which he said is “FAKE based on the incredible enthusiasm we are receiving.” Two days later, as part of an effort to refute a recent flurry of unfavorable polling, the Trump campaign sent a cease-and-desist letter to CNN, demanding they apologize and retract the poll, which CNN refused to do. Earlier this month, he criticized a Washington Post poll, which showed him down 10 points, as a “heavily biased Democrat Poll, just like 2016.” 

“CNN Polls are as Fake as their Reporting. Same numbers, and worse, against Crooked Hillary. The Dems would destroy America!” Trump tweeted on June 8, correctly pointing out that multiple polls showed that Hillary Clinton held a seemingly insurmountable lead in the run-up to the 2016 general election, which Trump won.

[Forbes]

Trump defends officer who shot Rayshard Brooks as police call in sick

Donald Trump has defended the police officer who shot dead Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, as a number of officers called in sick after their colleague was charged with murder.

Garrett Rolfe, a white officer, shot Brooks, who is black, twice in the back as Brooks pointed a police Taser stun gun in his direction while running away. Rolfe faces 11 charges over the killing.

A significant number of officers did not show up for work on Wednesday night, the city’s police department said. Atlanta’s mayor suggested the city may have to call in officers from other jurisdictions.

Brooks’s death has prompted protests in the city and elsewhere as it emerged that Brooks, 27, was 18ft from Rolfe, and running away, when he pointed the Taser – which prosecutors say Rolfe knew was not functional – before being shot.

The protests over Brooks’s death have added to demonstrations against racism and police brutality across the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month, where the 46-year-old was killed when a white police officer kneeled on his neck.Advertisement

Amid the outrage, Trump appeared on Fox News, where he defended Rolfe and appeared to criticize Brooks.

“You can’t resist a police officer, and if you have a disagreement, you have to take it up after the fact,” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “It was out of control – the whole situation was out of control.”

Trump said police had been treated unfairly in the US.

He said: “It’s up to justice right now. It’s going to be up to justice. I hope he [Rolfe] gets a fair shake, because police have not been treated fairly in our country. But again, you can’t resist a police officer like that.”

The Atlanta police department sought to downplay the number of officers who did not report for duty, but admitted there were a significant number of absences.

“Earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate,” the department said in a tweet. “The department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call-outs with the incoming shift. We have enough resources to maintain operations & remain able to respond to incidents.”

Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, told CNN there were enough officers to cover the city, but said the department may have to call in police from other agencies.

She said: “We have other partners … so, we will be fine.”

The most serious charge against Rolfe, felony murder, carries a sentence of life in prison or the death penalty, should prosecutors choose to seek it.

On Thursday, a video interview that Brooks had conducted in 2019, as part of a project about criminal reform, was shared by the company Reconnect.

In it, Brooks described how the criminal justice system treats many people unfairly. He said: “Some people, they get a tap on the wrist [from the authorities]. But some people don’t.”

Brooks discussed how people who had spent time in jail were treated on their release. He said: “You get treated like an animal. Some of the system could look at us as individuals; we do have lives, you know.”

He added: “I’m trying, I’m not the type of person to give up. I’m going to keep going till I make it to where I want to be.”

Brooks’s funeral is due to take place at a church in Atlanta on Tuesday. Actor and director Tyler Perry, who lives in the city, has offered to pay for the funeral.

In an article for People magazine, Perry said he was grappling with how to explain racism in the US to his five-year-old son.

He wrote: “I know that as his father, a black man in America, it is my duty to prepare him for the harsh reality that awaits him outside of the watchful eyes of his loving parents. It will be a hard, heartbreaking conversation, but one that I must have and will have soon.”

[The Guardian]

Twitter labels video tweeted by Trump as ‘manipulated media’

Twitter labeled a video tweeted by President Donald Trump on Thursday night as “manipulated media” because it attributes to news media a nonexistent story on race.

The video depicts a fake CNN headline that states, “TERRIFIED TODDLER RUNS FROM RACIST BABY,” as a Black toddler runs ahead of a white toddler in the same direction and ominous music plays.

The video then displays the words, “WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED,” and shows the original clip of two children running toward each other on a sidewalk before embracing as Harry Connick Jr.’s version of the Carpenter’s “Close to You” plays.

“AMERICA IS NOT THE PROBLEM,” the video proclaims. “FAKE NEWS IS.”

“IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING,” it says. “ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FAKE NEWS DUMPSTER FIRES.”

The video of the toddlers went viral on social media last year. On CNN it was presented as what it was — a look at a friendship between two toddlers, identified as Maxwell and Finnegan.

“With all the racism and hate going on I just think it’s a really beautiful video,” Maxwell’s father, Michael Cisneros, said in a video CNN posted online and labeled as being from WPIX television in New York City.

CNN responded Thursday night to Trump’s post, saying on Twitter, “CNN did cover this story — exactly as it happened. Just as we reported your positions on race (and poll numbers). We’ll continue working with facts rather than tweeting fake videos that exploit innocent children. We invite you to do the same. Be better.”

The video tweeted by Trump appears to be watermarked Carpe Donktum, a Trump-supporting creator who has made other manipulated content. It comes as Trump faces criticism over his response to weeks of protests over the in-custody death of George Floyd.

[NBC News]

Trump Campaign Demands CNN Retract, Apologize for Poll Showing Joe Biden Leading

President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign demanded that CNN retract and apologize for a poll that showed Democratic candidate Joe Biden leading by 14 points. The campaign sent a cease and desist letter to CNN President Jeff Zucker Wednesday. The network immediately rejected the president’s demand. “We stand by our poll,” CNN spokesman Matt Dornic said.

In addition to showing Biden with a lead of 55 percent to 41 percent over Trump, the poll found the president’s approval rating to be 38 percent, the lowest it has been since January 2019, and his disapproval rating to be 57 percent. Trump tweeted Monday that he had hired Republican pollster McLaughlin & Associates to “analyze” the CNN poll, which he called fake. McLaughlin is regarded one of the least accurate pollsters.

[Daily Beast]

Update

CNN on Wednesday dismissed a demand from the Trump 2020 campaign that it withdraw a poll as “factually and legally baseless” and the type of threat that has “typically come from countries like Venezuela.”

Trump Declares Brutal CNN Poll ‘FAKE’, Says He’s Retained Another Pollster to Analyze It

President Donald Trump continued to rail against a new CNN poll showing him trailing Joe Biden, sharing a statement from “highly respected pollster” McLaughlin & Associates.

The new poll from CNN shows Biden 14 points ahead of Trump — 55 to 41 — and puts the president’s approval rating at 38 percent.

This morning Trump called CNN polls “as Fake as their Reporting”:

But hours later, the president tweeted again about the “FAKE” poll, this time sharing a statement from McLaughlin & Associates and saying, “I have retained highly respected pollster, McLaughlin & Associates, to analyze todays CNN Poll (and others), which I felt were FAKE based on the incredible enthusiasm we are receiving.”

The statement the president shared says in part, “The latest skewed media polls must be intentional. It’s clear that NBC, ABC and CNN who have Democrat operatives like Chuck Todd, George Stephanopoulos and other Democrats in their news operations are consistently under-polling Reppublicans and therefore, reporting biased polls… Ths bias seems to be an international strategy to suppress your vote.”

The president’s latest tweet about polling got a fair amount of social media attention, with reporters calling out his use of McLaughlin in particular:

[Mediaite]

Trump Snaps At PBS’ Yamiche Alcindor, Shushes Her for Asking About Rising Black and Asian Unemployment Rates

When PBS White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor asked President Donald Trump how the fact that both black and Asian American unemployment rates increased this month could be taken as a victory, he responded with a dismissive hand gesture, before adding, “you are something.”

“Mr. President, why don’t you have a plan for systemic racism? Why have you not laid out a plan for systemic racism?” Alcindor asked before Trump put his finger to his mouth, attempting to shush her.

The president noted that the signing of his bill would be the greatest thing to happen for all demographics in America, adding that his plan would be to have the strongest economy in the world, adding that they’re almost at that point.

Another reporter echoed Alcindor, asking how a better economy could have helped George Floyd, who was killed at the hands of police last week.

“Black unemployment went up by .1 percent, Asian American unemployment went up by .5 percent,” Alcindor pointed out. “How is that a victory?”

“You are something,” Trump replied before Alcindor repeated her question. “I have to say though it’s been a great achievement, I feel so good about it. This is just the beginning. The best is yet to come.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Calls Mattis Yet Another of His Terrible Hires

Last evening, President Trump’s first Defense secretary, James Mattis, wrote a scathing op-ed describing his former boss as a threat to the Constitution and lacking the maturity to govern. In response to these charges, possibly the most devastating indictment any Cabinet official has ever made of a president who appointed them to office, Trump characteristically advanced a series of countercharges:

Let us examine the argument in its constituent elements. First, Trump claims to have fired Mattis. In fact, Mattis resigned his position. At the time of his retirement, Trump praised him and said he was “retiring with distinction”:

Second, Trump described Mattis as “the world’s most overrated general.” This is a very different assessment than the generous one Trump made upon Mattis’s retirement. It also raises questions as to why Trump hired Mattis in the first place. Since his career as a general entirely preceded his tenure as secretary of Defense, it would seem to be a major error by Trump that he selected the world’s most overrated general for such an important position.

This would, however, fit the pattern of Trump selecting incompetent staff for key positions, according to Trump himself.

Third, Trump undercut what is (in Trump’s branding-obsessed mind) Mattis’s most valuable attribute (the nickname “Mad Dog”) by claiming that Trump himself came up with it. In fact, the nickname can be found in innumerable news accounts going back at least 20 years.

Finally, and most curiously, Trump claims Mattis “seldom ‘brought home the bacon.’” It is not clear what bacon he was supposed to have brought home but failed, unless perhaps Trump is accusing Mattis of failing to spend enough money at Trump-owned properties, as other officials have done.

To summarize the debate between the two men: Mattis claims Trump lacks the maturity and respect for the Constitution necessary to serve as president. Trump responds that he made an enormous error in selecting his first Defense secretary, who in addition to lacking qualifications for the job, has inappropriately claimed credit for a nickname Trump devised. Notably, Trump is not contesting either of Mattis’s claims about his unfitness for office, and seems instead to be confirming them.

[New York Magazine]

Trump calls governors facing unrest ‘weak’ and ‘fools,’ urges stronger police tactics

President Donald Trump on Monday lashed out at governors during a White House videoconference, telling them that “most of you are weak” after states grappled with another night of anger and unrest following the killing of George Floyd last week.

In audio of the call obtained by NBC News, Trump berated governors for their response to the protests, repeatedly criticizing New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, and urged law enforcement to crack down and make more arrests.

“You have to arrest people, you have to try people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again,” Trump said on the call.

Trump called the governors “fools” and expressed anger with Democratic mayors in particular over the protests and unrest ravaging cities nationwide. He was described by one person on the call as “losing it.”

“You have to dominate. If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time, they’re gonna run over you, you’re gonna look like a bunch of jerks,” the president said.

The president also called the initial response in Minnesota “weak and pathetic” and called the state a “laughingstock all over the world.”

Trump focused primarily on “antifa,” or anti-fascists, and Occupy Wall Street, which he said was handled well by comparison.

“This is like Occupy Wall Street. It was a disaster. Until one day somebody said, that’s enough,” Trump said.

Attorney General Bill Barr told the governors that the Justice Department believes protestors are heading to other states with less of a law enforcement presence “where they can go and overwhelm the local police forces.” Barr said there needs to be a focus on stopping “professional instigators and the leadership group.”

During the call, Trump claimed to have intelligence showing who the “bad actors” and professional instigators are, though he did not elaborate.

Trump also asked states to enact laws against flag burning saying the federal government would back them up if they did.

The White House billed the event as a “video teleconference with governors, law enforcement, and national security officials on keeping American communities safe.”

Several governors pushed back on Trump’s narrative, including J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, a Democrat, who told Trump he was “extraordinarily concerned about the rhetoric that’s been used by you. It’s been inflammatory.”

Maine Gov. Janet Mills, also a Democrat, said she was concerned about the president visiting her state this week because of security issues. Trump later said that the governor’s concerns made it more likely he would go to the state.

“You know, she’s tried to talk me out of it, I think she probably talked me into it,” Trump said. “She just doesn’t understand me very well.”

Maine is home to Puritan Medical Products, the company the administration compelled through the Defense Production Act to produce coronavirus testing swabs.

Maine is home to Puritan Medical Products, the company the administration compelled through the Defense Production Act to produce coronavirus testing swabs.

Trump’s response to the unrest has been to call for stronger law enforcement rather than calling for calm or addressing the concerns about police brutality and racism that many protestors say drove them to come out. Critics say an escalation in force would exacerbate already high tensions between protestors and the police.

After another night of protests led to fires and vandalism blocks from the White House, Trump spent Monday morning on Twitter blaming the unrest on antifa and accusing staffers of former Vice President Joe Biden of “working to get the anarchists out of jail.”

Trump had no public events scheduled for Monday, after not appearing in public on Sunday.

Trump’s advisers have been divided over what role the president should take in responding to the widest unrest the country has seen in decades. Some say the president should focus his message on Floyd, the black man who died last week at the hands of Minneapolis police, and urge calm.

Others say the top priority is stopping the violence and looting that have taken place in some areas, arguing that the best path to that end is strong police tactics, not presidential speeches.

[NBC News]

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