Trump Says ‘Slippery’ Comey ‘Was Not Fired’ Because of Russia Probe, After Suggesting He Was

President Donald Trump pushed back on suggestions that he fired former FBI director James Comey because of the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia — a key tenet of allegations he sought to obstruct justice.

Of course, the president has not always been so clear on this front. After Comey was fired, the White House claimed it was based on a recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein over Comey’s handling of the Clinton email probe.

But then, Trump was interviewed by Lester Holt in May 2017, and said the following: “In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’” (Watch above.)

Trump also reportedly told Russian officials that his firing of Comey, who he called “a real nut job, took the “pressure” he was facing over the Russia probe off.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Trump said, according to a U.S. official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

In light of Comey’s media blitz to promote his new memoirs, A Higher Loyalty, Trump is attempting to set the record straight, tweeting: “Slippery James Comey, the worst FBI Director in history, was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation where, by the way, there was NO COLLUSION (except by the Dems)!”

[Mediaite]

Trump Responds to Sketch of Man Who Allegedly Threatened Stormy Daniels: ‘A Total Con Job!’

President Donald Trump replied to a Twitter troll on Wednesday morning who sent him a photo of the newly revealed sketch of the man who allegedly threatened porn star Stormy Daniels.

Stormy appeared with lawyer Michael Avenatti on The View on Tuesday, and revealed a composite sketch of a man she claims threatened her in Las Vegas in 2011.

According to Stormy, the threats came in response to a story she was working with Us Weekly on regarded her alleged affair with Trump in 2006.

“A guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone, forget the story,’” Stormy said on 60 Minutes. “And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone.”

Trump has now obviously weighed in on the sketch, which elicited wild speculation on the internet (it bears an uncanny resemblance to Tom Brady, Michael Avenatti with hair, Matt Damon’s character in Team America, and so on).

“A sketch years later about a nonexistent man,” Trump tweeted. “A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”

Stormy and her lawyer believe the man was sent by Trump’s lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen, who was the subject of a sweeping FBI raid last week.

[Mediaite]

Trump touts Rasmussen poll: ‘51% Approval despite the Fake News Media’

President Trump touted a conservative-leaning poll of his job approval on Tuesday while slamming surveys from news organizations, such as The Washington Post and CNN, as inaccurate.

“Rasmussen just came out at 51% Approval despite the Fake News Media,” Trump tweeted. “They were one of the three most accurate on Election Day.”

Rasmussen Reports, a right-leaning polling firm, routinely pegs the president’s approval ratings higher than other pollsters. As of Tuesday, Trump’s approval rating sat at 49 percent, according to the firm, and 50 percent disapprove.

RealClearPolitics, which averages data from a number of pollsters, had Trump’s current figure at about 42 percent on Tuesday.

Trump has seen relatively low approval ratings throughout much of his first 15 months in office, but has repeatedly insisted that many surveys are inaccurate.

Trump has long questioned the accuracy of public opinion polls, especially during the 2016 presidential race, when many pollsters projected a win for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

[The Hill]

Trump slams Comey as ‘weak and untruthful slime ball’

President Donald Trump slammed James Comey on Friday as a “weak and untruthful slime ball” and a “proven LEAKER & LIAR,” the day after explosive excerpts from the former FBI director’s tell-all book surfaced in media reports.

“James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR. Virtually everyone in Washington thought he should be fired for the terrible job he did-until he was, in fact, fired. He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted. He lied to Congress under OATH,” Trump tweeted. “He is a weak and untruthful slime ball who was, as time has proven, a terrible Director of the FBI. His handling of the Crooked Hillary Clinton case, and the events surrounding it, will go down as one of the worst “botch jobs” of history. It was my great honor to fire James Comey!”

Comey’s book “A Higher Loyalty,” of copy of which CNN obtained, details his conversations with the President, compares Trump to a mob boss, and slams the “forest fire that is the Trump presidency.”

Comey testified in June that he gave some of his memos of conversations he had with Trump to a Columbia University professor and that he had written the memos specifically to avoid including classified information.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also attacked Comey’s credibility Friday.
“One of the few areas of true bipartisan consensus in Washington is Comey has no credibility,” Sanders wrote on Twitter Friday morning.

Her post also included the link to a GOP video titled “Comey Not Credible, Just Ask Democrats.”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Friday also criticized the former FBI director.

“We find Mr. Comey has a revisionist view of history and seems like a disgruntlement ex-employee,” Conway told reporters outside the White House.

Trump’s allies have prepared an extensive campaign to fight back against Comey’s publicity tour, trying to undermine his credibility by reviving the blistering Democratic criticism of him before he was fired nearly a year ago.

The battle plan against Comey, obtained by CNN Thursday, calls for branding him “Lyin’ Comey” through a website, digital advertising and talking points to be sent to Republicans before his memoir is released next week.

The White House signed off on the plan, which is being overseen by the Republican National Committee.

[CNN]

 

Trump denies NYT report on firing Mueller in angry morning tweet — but also threatens to do it

President Donald Trump denied a New York Times report but confirmed its premise in an angry morning tweet.

The president logged into Twitter on Thursday morning to refute a Tuesday night report that he sought to fire special counsel Robert Mueller in December.

“If I wanted to fire Robert Mueller in December, as reported by the Failing New York Times, I would have fired him,” the president tweeted. “Just more Fake News from a biased newspaper!”

Republicans have said firing Mueller could trigger serious consequences, but they have refused to pass any legislative measures to protect the special counsel.

[Raw Story]

Trump: FBI raid on Cohen ‘a disgrace’

President Trump on Monday blasted the FBI for raiding the office of his personal attorney Michael Cohen, calling it a “disgrace” and a “pure and simple witch hunt.”

“It’s a real disgrace,” Trump told reporters at the White House as Vice President Mike Pence, national security adviser John Bolton and other officials looked on. “It’s an attack on our country in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.”

Trump also took aim at the Russia probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller, who reportedly made the referral that led to the raid, calling his team “the most biased group of people” for refusing to investigate 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

The president was clearly angry and frustrated at the raid, which reportedly seized records on topics that included a $130,000 payment Cohen made to the porn star who says she had sex with Trump in 2006. The

Speaking with his arms folded and shoulders slumped, Trump brought up the raid unprompted during a previously scheduled meeting with military leaders to discuss the apparent chemical weapons attack in Syria. He used the word “disgrace” to describe it at least five times.

The fiery comments from Trump immediately led to speculation that the FBI raid on Cohen’s office could lead Trump to fire Mueller, a step lawmakers in both parties have repeatedly warned the president would lead to a constitutional crisis.

“We’ll see what happens. … Many people have said ‘you should fire him,’ ” Trump said when asked if he will ax Mueller. “Again, they found nothing and in finding nothing, that’s a big statement.”

[The Hill]

Media

Trump criticizes FBI and Justice Dept., asks what they ‘have to hide’

President Donald Trump on Saturday accused the Department of Justice of slow-walking “documents relating to FISA abuse,” Hillary Clinton’s emails, former FBI Director James Comey and others, and asked what it and the FBI “have to hide.”

“Lawmakers of the House Judiciary Committee are angrily accusing the Department of Justice of missing the Thursday Deadline for turning over UNREDACTED Documents relating to FISA abuse, FBI, Comey, Lynch, McCabe, Clinton Emails and much more,” Trump wrote. “Slow walking – what is going on? BAD!”

“What does the Department of Justice and FBI have to hide?” Trump asked in a follow-up tweet. “Why aren’t they giving the strongly requested documents (unredacted) to the HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE? Stalling, but for what reason? Not looking good!”

Multiple media outlets reported this week that the Justice Department missed a subpoena deadline to provide the House Judiciary Committee documents related to an array of issues, including the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, alleged surveillance abuses under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director who was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month.

The Hill reported Thursday that Republicans on the House panel were “infuriated” over the missed deadline, which “they view as a stall by the Department of Justice (DOJ).”

CNN reported on Friday, however, that the Justice Department plans to produce 1,000 pages of information to the House Judiciary Committee on Monday.

Last month, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte announced that he had subpoenaed the Department of Justice for information relating to “charging decisions in the investigation surrounding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server, potential abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility recommendation to fire former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.”

After the subpoena had been issued, FBI Director Christopher Wray said last month that he would double the number of FBI staff charged with responding to House Republicans’ various requests for information. Wray acknowledged in a statement that “the current pace of production is too slow.”

The Justice Department said last month that about 3,000 documents had been produced since January.

Republican Rep. Mark Meadows vented his frustration over the missed deadline on Twitter this week.

“The deadline for the subpoena issued by Chairman Goodlatte was today at noon,” he wrote. “We got no documents from the Department of Justice. Just a phone call. This is unacceptable — it’s time to stop the games. Turn over the documents to Congress and allow us to conduct oversight.”

Last year, the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced a joint investigation into the conduct of the Justice Department in 2016. The announcement referenced a series of controversial actions taken by the FBI, including the bureau’s handling of the Clinton email probe.

[CNN]

Trump Says He’ll Take ‘Very Serious Look’ at Amazon’s Business

President Donald Trump said he will take a “very serious look” at Amazon.com Inc. and what he said is an “uneven playing field” the retailer enjoys against competitors.

“I’m going to study it and take a look,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Thursday. “We’re going to take a very serious look at that.”

Trump aides said earlier in the week that the White House wasn’t preparing punitive measures toward Amazon, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether the president’s comments indicated a potential shift.

Amazon was little changed in extended trading, dropping 0.1 percent to $1,451.75 at 5:43 p.m. in New York. While Trump’s broadsides against the company battered the stock last week and into Monday, investors have shrugged off his latest assaults and sent the shares up each of the past three days.

Trump has fired off a barrage of criticism against Amazon and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos in Twitter postings since last week, sinking the Seattle-based Internet retailer’s market value by as much as $55 billion at one point. Trump has argued the company receives favorable treatment on taxes and postal rates.

“You look at the sales tax situation which is going to be taken up I guess very soon, there’s going to be a decision from the Supreme Court,” Trump told reporters on Thursday. “So we’ll see what happens. The post office is not doing well with Amazon that I can tell you.

“The playing field has to be level for everybody,” he said as he returned from a trip to West Virginia.

Amazon collects sales tax in every state that has one. But Amazon’s policies don’t apply to third-party merchants selling goods through its website, and many of those transactions remain untaxed. Such sales make up about half of the company’s volume. Amazon has said it’s up to the sellers to collect any taxes and many don’t.

The Trump administration has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to let state and local governments collect billions of dollars in sales taxes from online retailers. The justices are scheduled to hear arguments next month centering on a South Dakota law that calls for collecting sales taxes from large internet retailers even if they don’t have brick-and-mortar stores in the state. A ruling is expected by late June.

While its contract with Amazon is confidential, the Postal Service has argued that its e-commerce services benefit the organization and its mail customers. It is legally prohibited from charging shippers less than its delivery costs. Further, taxpayers don’t directly support the Postal Service’s operations.

Amazon regularly uses the Postal Service to complete what’s called the “last mile” of delivery, with letter carriers dropping off packages at some 150 million residences and businesses daily. The company has a network of 35 “sort centers” where customer packages are sorted by zip code, stacked on pallets and delivered to post offices for the final leg of delivery.

The company remains exposed to government action on other fronts.

The Justice Department or Federal Trade Commission could open antitrust or consumer protection investigations. The company is also competing for a multi-billion-dollar contract to provide cloud computing services to the Pentagon.

Safra Catz, the chief executive of Oracle Corp., one of Amazon’s rivals for the Defense Department contract, criticized the bidding process in a private dinner with Trump Tuesday, complaining that it favored Amazon, people familiar with the plans said.

Trump heard her out and said he wants the contract competition to be fair, but made no indication he’d interfere in the bidding, the people said. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that Trump isn’t interfering in the contract decision.

[Bloomberg]

Homeland Security to Compile Database of Journalists, Bloggers

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security wants to monitor hundreds of thousands of news sources around the world and compile a database of journalists, editors, foreign correspondents, and bloggers to identify top “media influencers.”

It’s seeking a contractor that can help it monitor traditional news sources as well as social media and identify “any and all” coverage related to the agency or a particular event, according to a request for information released April 3.

The data to be collected includes a publication’s “sentiment” as well as geographical spread, top posters, languages, momentum, and circulation. No value for the contract was disclosed.

“Services shall provide media comparison tools, design and rebranding tools, communication tools, and the ability to identify top media influencers,” according to the statement. DHS agencies have “a critical need to incorporate these functions into their programs in order to better reach federal, state, local, tribal, and private partners,” it said.

The DHS wants to track more than 290,000 global news sources, including online, print, broadcast, cable, and radio, as well as trade and industry publications, local, national and international outlets, and social media, according to the documents. It also wants the ability to track media coverage in more than 100 languages including Arabic, Chinese, and Russian, with instant translation of articles into English.

The request comes amid heightened concern about accuracy in media and the potential for foreigners to influence U.S. elections and policy through “fake news.” Nineteen lawmakers including Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month, asking whether Qatar-based Al Jazeera should register as a foreign agent because it “often directly undermines” U.S. interests with favorable coverage of Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria.

The DHS request says the selected vendor will set up an online “media influence database” giving users the ability to browse based on location, beat, and type of influence. For each influencer found, “present contact details and any other information that could be relevant, including publications this influencer writes for, and an overview of the previous coverage published by the media influencer.”

A department spokesman didn’t immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment.

Responses are due April 13. Seven companies, mainly minority- or women-owned small businesses, have already expressed interest in becoming a vendor for the contract, according to the FedBizOpps web site.

[Bloomberg]

Trump Blasts Washington Post Over ‘Phony’ Headline on China Trade War Story: ‘Amazon’s Chief Lobbyist’

Earlier this week, Vanity Fair‘s Gabriel Sherman reported, through a source, that President Donald Trump has been consumed of late by the following question:

“[H]ow can I fuck with [Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos]?”

Trump’s answer, apparently, is to go after Amazon — and the Bezos-owned Washington Post for good measure — on Twitter.

In a Thursday morning Tweet, Trump blasted the paper for its headline on a story about the escalating trade conflict with China.

“The Fake News Washington Post, Amazon’s ‘chief lobbyist,’ has another (of many) phony headlines, “Trump Defiant As China Adds Trade Penalties.” WRONG!” Trump wrote. “Should read, “Trump Defiant as U.S. Adds Trade Penalties, Will End Barriers And Massive I.P. Theft.” Typically bad reporting!”

Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron has sought to dispel Trump’s notion that Bezos controls the paper’s reporting.

“It’s completely made up,” Baron said this week, in an appearance on CBS This Morning. “There isn’t anybody here who is paid by Amazon. Not one penny.”

[Mediaite]

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