Trump repeats Ukraine conspiracy theory and more debunked lies on 53-minute “Fox & Friends” call

President Trump spent 53 minutes of his Friday morning on the phone with the hosts of “Fox & Friends” — his latest call-in to one of his favorite TV shows.

Driving the news: President Trump spent a chunk of the interview repeating a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election. “That’s what the word is,” he claimed without evidence.

  • The debunked conspiracy theory — frequently referred to as CrowdStrike, the security firm at its center — is based on the idea that Ukraine was complicit in the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee to create false electronic records that Russia was behind the hacking.
  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, said during his impeachment hearing that the Crowdstrike conspiracy theory is “a Russian narrative that President Putin has promoted.”
  • Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top Russia adviser, said during her impeachment hearing that the conspiracy theory is “a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”

Worth noting: Trump also said that Crowdstrike is owned by “a very wealthy Ukrainian,” but it’s actually a publicly-traded company. Its largest outside shareholder is Warburg Pincus, a New York City private equity firm from which Trump plucked one of his top economic advisors.

Impeachment-related highlights:

  • The president once again slammed former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, claiming she was “not an angel.” During her impeachment testimony , she agreed that it was Trump’s prerogative to fire ambassadors at will, but asked, “What I do wonder is why was it necessary to smear my reputation also?”
  • Trump said that during a Senate impeachment trial he only wants House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) to testify more than Hunter Biden.
  • Trump said that he knows “exactly” who the Ukraine whistleblower is — and insinuated that the “Fox & Friends” hosts did as well — prompting them to attempt to steer the conversation away from the topic live on air.

Other highlights:

  • Trump predicted that Speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t pass the USMCA trade deal, despite it being a priority for some Democratic lawmakers ahead of 2020.
  • He tried to find a middle ground between supporting pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong and not offending Chinese President Xi Jinping as the U.S. attempts to close a “phase one” trade deal with China. “We have to stand with Hong Kong, but I’m also standing with President Xi,” he said.
  • Trump denied rumors surrounding his health after a surprise visit to Walter Reed National Medical Center last weekend, calling it “fake, disgusting news.”

2020 lightning round:

  • Joe Biden: “I don’t know if Joe can make it mentally. He’s off.”
  • Pete Buttigieg: “I don’t see him dealing with President Xi. I don’t see him dealing with Kim Jong-un. But maybe he is.”
  • Elizabeth Warren: “I think Pocahontas has come up from the embers.”
  • Michael Bloomberg: “I think his time has come and gone.

[Axios]

Reality

There was multiple fact checks some could only refer to this call as “bananas.”

Media

Trump attacks Fox News for interviewing Swalwell

President Trump on Thursday renewed his attacks against Fox News over its coverage of the impeachment inquiry, taking issue with the network’s decision to interview Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell (Calif.) about the process. 

Trump singled out Fox News host Shannon Bream, asking why she would “waste airtime” by featuring a failed presidential candidate, referencing Swalwell’s short-lived 2020 campaign. 

“Fox should stay with the people that got them there, not losers!” he said. 

Beam interviewed Swalwell, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, following a day in which the panel heard testimony from three administration officials about the president’s dealings with Ukraine. 

The House impeachment inquiry has centered around allegations that the president pressured Ukraine to investigate 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden over unfounded allegations of corruption. House Democrats are also probing whether Trump tied military aid to Ukraine publicly announcing the investigations. 

While speaking on Fox News, Swalwell adamantly pushed back against Republicans’ argument that a quid pro quo didn’t take place because Ukraine eventually received the security aid. 

“The president got caught. The only reason the aid was released was because the whistleblower came forward,” Swalwell said, referencing a government whistleblower complaint that led to the launch of the impeachment inquiry. 

Swalwell also emphasized new statements from Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia and Ukraine, who testified that her staff received questions from the Ukraine Embassy about “security assistance” on July 25. That is the same day Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a phone call to open investigations. 

Trump has repeatedly dismissed allegations of wrongdoing, often characterizing officials testifying in the impeachment inquiry as “Never Trumpers.” In a separate tweet early Thursday morning, he claimed the “fake” and “corrupt” news media weren’t covering the impeachment hearings fairly. 

While Trump has enjoyed a cordial relationship with many of Fox News’s opinion hosts, he’s also shown a willingness to target some of its news anchors. Earlier this week, he blasted “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace as “nasty” and “obnoxious” over an interview in which he persistently grilled House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) about the implications of the impeachment inquiry. 

Trump claimed that the “dumb and unfair interview would never have happened” in the past, prompting a rebuttal from Wallace’s colleague Neil Cavuto. 

“The best we can do as journalists is be fair to all, including you, Mr. President,” Cavuto said on Fox News on Monday. “That’s not fake doing that. What is fake is not doing that. What is fake is saying Fox never used to do that. Mr. President, we have always done that.”

[The Hill]

Trump says he doesn’t want NYT in the White House

President Trump said Monday that he doesn’t want to have copies of The New York Times in the White House anymore and suggested he would terminate the subscription.

“We don’t even want it in the White House anymore,” Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity in an interview that aired Monday night. “We’re going to probably terminate that and the Washington Post.”

Trump also claimed that the Times apologized to its readers for its poor coverage of him, echoing his previous assertions about a letter the newspaper sent to its subscribers following the 2016 presidential election.

The Times has forcefully pushed back on Trump’s accusations as false. The Times’s publisher wrote in the letter to readers that news outlets underestimated Trump’s support among U.S. voters and described his victory as “unexpected.” The letter thanked subscribers and did not include an apology.

Trump, who regularly criticizes the media for unfair coverage of his White House, broadly described the media as “corrupt” during the exchange with Hannity. He also took a shot at CNN’s Anderson Cooper, accusing the anchor of lobbing a question to former Vice President Joe Biden about his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings during last Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate.

“I watch this crazy Anderson Cooper during the debate apologize for having to ask the question,” Trump told Hannity.

Cooper has faced some criticism from Republicans for the way he framed a question during last week’s debate. He introduced the question by saying that Trump had “falsely accused” Hunter Biden of impropriety while serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company and said there was “no evidence of wrongdoing” by either Biden. 

Trump’s allies, including his sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., have claimed Hunter Biden profited off of his father’s official position by obtaining lucrative business deals abroad. Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani have also accused Joe Biden of corrupt behavior in his dealings with Ukraine as vice president, without providing specific evidence of it.

House Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry focused on a July 25 phone call during which Trump encouraged Ukraine’s leader to look into the Bidens. 

[The Hill]

Trump hits Fox News’s Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage

President Trump on Sunday hit Fox News anchor Chris Wallace for his coverage of the phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s president that is at the center of the House’s impeachment inquiry.

“Somebody please explain to Chris Wallace of Fox, who will never be his father (and my friend), Mike Wallace, that the Phone Conversation I had with the President of Ukraine was a congenial & good one,” Trump tweeted.

“It was only Schiff’s made up version of that conversation that was bad!” he added.

House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry after details of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky became public.

According to a readout of the call released by the White House, Trump pressed Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his son Hunter Biden while discussing U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

Trump has defended the call as “perfect” and sought to frame the impeachment inquiry as a political move orchestrated by Democrats, including House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).

Wallace has said that the call and the intelligence community whistleblower complaint that brought attention to it show Trump pressing Zelensky.

Trump has in recent months ramped up attacks against several Fox News anchors, including Wallace, Ed Henry and Shepard Smith, who left the network this week.

Sunday was not the first time that Trump has criticized Wallace by invoking his father, veteran broadcaster Mike Wallace.

In May, Trump chastised Chris Wallace and Fox for giving airtime to Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, tweeting, “I like Mike Wallace better.”

A spokesperson for Fox News did not directly comment on Trump’s latest attack on Wallace, but pointed to a recent panel where the anchor responded to Trump saying he likes Mike Wallace better.

“To which my reaction is always: One of us has a daddy problem, and it’s not me,” Chris Wallace said.

[The Hill]

Trump Gloats About Shep Smith’s Fox News Exit

The question from a reporter to President Donald Trump on Friday night was, “Did you or your administration pressure Fox News to get rid of Shepard Smith?” 

Trump did not answer directly, but rather took the opportunity to gloat over his least-favorite Fox News anchor’s departure, saying, “No, I don’t know, is he leaving? Oh, that’s a shame.” 

“Did I hear Shepard Smith is leaving?” the president asked, soundly almost gleeful. “Is he leaving because of bad ratings? He had terrible ratings, is he leaving because of his ratings? If he’s leaving, I assume he’s leaving because he had bad ratings.” 

Smith, who has been the rare critical voice against the president on Fox, announced on Friday that he had requested to get out of his contract on leave the network, effective immediately. “Even in our currently polarized nation, it’s my hope that the facts will win the day,” Smith said in his final broadcast. “That the truth will always matter, that journalism and journalists will thrive.”

The move comes just two days after Attorney General Bill Barr met privately with Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch, prompting some speculation that the Trump administration had something to do with Smith’s exit. 

“Well, I wish him well,” Trump concluded. “I wish Shepard Smith well.” 

[The Daily Beast]

Media

Trump says Fox News ‘doesn’t deliver for US anymore’ after poll shows rising impeachment support

President Trump said on Thursday that Fox News “doesn’t deliver for US anymore” after the network’s latest poll showed growing support for his impeachment and removal from office.

“From the day I announced I was running for President, I have NEVER had a good @FoxNews Poll,” Trump tweeted. “Whoever their Pollster is, they suck. But @FoxNews is also much different than it used to be in the good old days.”

A Fox poll released Wednesday found 51 percent of respondents supported Trump’s impeachment and removal from office. Four percent of participants said the president should be impeached but not removed, and 40 percent were completely against impeachment. 

Trump on Thursday also lashed out at prominent Fox News employees who have been critical of him and his interactions with the president of Ukraine, which is at the heart of an impeachment inquiry by House Democrats. 

“@FoxNews doesn’t deliver for US anymore,” Trump tweeted. “It is so different than it used to be. Oh well, I’m President!”

He ripped retired Judge Andrew Napolitano, who argued that Trump had already confessed to a crime when he admitted to encouraging the Ukrainian president to look into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son.

Trump claimed that Napolitano, Fox News’s senior judicial analyst, wanted to be on the Supreme Court but that he turned the judge down. Politico reported in 2017 that Napolitano had told friends he was on Trump’s shortlist of potential nominees.

The president also ripped Fox News anchor Shepard Smith and contributor Donna Brazile. Trump has targeted both before, as Smith regularly fact checks or rebuts statements from the president during his hourly program and Brazile is the former interim leader of the Democratic National Committee.

Trump has had a hot-and-cold relationship with Fox News in recent months. He has complained about several of the network’s polls that showed him trailing his Democratic challengers in potential 2020 matchups and regularly lashes out at employees who are critical of him.

He tweeted in August that the cable network “isn’t working for us anymore” and that his supporters “have to start looking for a new News Outlet.”

But the president still regularly tweets out quotes from Fox News programming, his aides appear on Fox for interviews and former White House staffers have taken jobs at the network.

Moments after his criticism of Fox on Thursday, the president retweeted posts from Fox Business Network anchor Maria Bartiromo multiple times.

[The Hill]

TRUMP THREATENS “CIVIL WAR” IF HE’S IMPEACHED

Over the past two and a half years, Donald Trump has carved out a niche for himself as a manic, deranged tweeter the likes of which the Oval Office—nay, the world—has never seen. In times of great stress—the Special Counsel’s investigation, the blue-wave midterms, a Fox News host not sufficiently fellating him—the president has amped up his output, tweeting dozens of times a day. But Sunday may have set a new record when the leader of the free world fired off a whopping 46 messages to the universe, including retweets from random supporters and one from an account called “Trump But About Sharks,” which replaces random words from his tweets “to make them about sharks.”

Most notable, though, was the president’s quoting of pastor/Fox News contributor Robert Jeffress, who made a rather bold impeachment prediction on air:

For those of you keeping up at home, threatening a Civil War is an escalation from Trump’s go-to prediction regarding what will happen to the country if he loses power, which is typically a stockmarketcollapse. Democrats, characteristically, condemned the retweet, but it inspired noteworthy pushback from one Republican corner as well: “I have visited nations ravaged by civil war,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a veteran, tweeted back. “I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President. This is beyond repugnant.”

[Vanity Fair]

Trump Goes on Tweetstorm RTing People Trashing Fox News’ Ed Henry Over Mark Levin Clash

President Donald Trump went on Sunday morning Twitter binge by retweeting a bunch of random supporters who trashed Fox News host Ed Henry for asking tough questions to conservative radio host Mark Levin.

The confrontation happened when Levin gave an interview to Fox & Friends Sunday and Henry peppered him with questions about whether it was “okay” for Trump to ask the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden. Levin was visibly irritated by Henry’s line of questioning, telling the Fox host he was “not honest” as he launched into his full-throttle defense of Trump.

That segment made a splash among Trump supporters, so the president started retweeting random accounts who said Levin laid waste to Henry during their confrontation:

In the midst of all this, Trump chose to retweet Mediate’s coverage on the Henry-Levin dustup.

Kellyanne Conway: It’s unconstitutional for Democrats to ’embarrass this president’ with impeachment

White House aide Kellyanne Conway on Sunday insisted that Democrats do not have a “constitutional basis” to embarrass President Donald Trump by conducting an impeachment inquiry.

Conway made the remarks while speaking to FOX News Sunday guest host Bill Hemmer.

“Complete nonsense,” she said when asked about the impeachment proceedings. “They need to get a messaging meeting and they need to read the constitution of the Democratic Party.”

“Americans, the Congress, they work for you,” Conway continued, talking over the FOX host. “And they’re wasting your money and your time trying to impeach a president where there are no high crimes and misdemeanors.”

She added: “Stop the nonsense of harassing and embarrassing this president and the people around him when you have no constitutional or legal basis to do so.”

Democrats have argued that they have a constitutional duty to conduct an impeachment inquiry.

[Raw Story]

Media

Trump called Fox News correspondent into Oval Office to argue he wasn’t wrong about Alabama

Fox News senior White House correspondent John Roberts had just finished his 3 p.m. live shot on Thursday when President Donald Trump beckoned him into the Oval Office. 

The President had one argument to make, according to an internal Fox email Roberts sent about the meeting provided to CNN.

“He stressed to me that forecasts for Dorian last week had Alabama in the warning cone,” Roberts wrote. “He insisted that it is unfair to say Alabama was never threatened by the storm.”

Roberts’ analysis of the meeting was that the President was “just looking for acknowledgment that he was not wrong for saying that at some point, Alabama was at risk — even if the situation had changed by the time he issued the tweet” on Sunday morning, in which he said the state “will most likely be hit.” The President also provided Roberts with graphics to make his points.

Roberts referred CNN to Fox News’ public relations department when asked for comment, which did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

The White House also did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment. Trump has defended his tweet multiple times throughout the day on Twitter, repeatedly slamming the media for covering his statements and his use of an apparently altered chart showing the storm’s path extending into Alabama.

“Just as I said, Alabama was originally projected to be hit. The Fake News denies it!” Trump tweeted on Thursday, along with graphics from the National Weather Service from last week — days before his tweet — showing Alabama had a small chance of experiencing some effects from Dorian. By the time Trump tweeted, those forecasts had changed.

A White House aide familiar with the Oval Office meeting with Roberts said that Trump also voiced his displeasure about Fox News anchor Shepard Smith’s skeptical reporting about the Alabama map.

The President summoned Roberts “to hit back at Shepard Smith,” the White House aide said.

Roberts claimed in his email that he pointed out to the President that by the time of his tweet warning Alabama and other states of the storm — 10:51 am ET on Sunday — Dorian’s projected trajectory had moved much farther east and was no longer including any part of Alabama.

The President “seemed to agree that the forecast track had moved — but he was adamant that at some point, Alabama was at risk,” Roberts wrote. “He also reminded that on occasions in the past, forecast tracks have changed dramatically.”

As the President’s homeland security and counterterror adviser Rear Adm. Peter Brown claimed in a statement issued late Thursday afternoon, Roberts said that in his visit to the Oval Office he learned that Trump on Sunday had been shown a graphic showing Hurricane Dorian proceeding north through Florida and touching the southeastern tip of Alabama with tropical storm force winds.

A White House source told CNN on Thursday that Trump personally directed Brown to issue the statement. Brown reports to national security adviser John Bolton but Bolton did not ask Brown to release the statement, the source said.

[CNN]

1 2 3 24