Trump: ‘I could have fired everyone’ on Mueller team if I wanted to

President Trump on Thursday pushed back against questions about whether he may have obstructed the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, asserting that he could have “fired everyone,” including special counsel Robert Mueller, if he had so chosen. 

Trump quoted Fox News host Jesse Watters, who said on “The Five” that Trump “was being framed” and “fought back.”

“I had the right to end the whole Witch Hunt if I wanted,” the president tweeted. “I could have fired everyone, including Mueller, if I wanted. I chose not to. I had the RIGHT to use Executive Privilege. I didn’t!”

The president’s tweet came as he traveled aboard Air Force One to Palm Beach, Fla., where he will spend the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

A redacted version of Mueller’s full report was released Thursday morning. In it, the special counsel detailed 10 areas where investigators looked at whether Trump may have obstructed justice.

Mueller looked into, among other topics, Trump’s efforts to remove the special counsel, his conduct surrounding the firing of former FBI Director James Comey and his encouragement of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take control of the investigation.

The special counsel ultimately did not exonerate or implicate Trump on obstruction charges.

“[I]f we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment,” the report states.

Attorney General William Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein did not find sufficient evidence to prove obstruction of justice on the part of the president. 

Mueller’s report further established there was “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russian government, Barr said.

Trump’s tweet marked one of his few public comments in the wake of the report’s release.

The president briefly addressed the report’s findings at an event for wounded military service members, saying that he was “having a good day” and reiterating his stance the report found “no collusion. No obstruction.”

He also tweeted a photo inspired by the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones” showing him staring into a fog behind the statement: “No collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats—Game Over.”

Trump did not address reporters as he departed the White House for Florida.

[The Hill]

Trump tears into ‘Crazy’ Bernie Sanders after Fox News town hall

President Trump lit into Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a series of tweets on Tuesday, in which he attacked the senator as “crazy” and took aim at his wealth.

“Many Trump Fans & Signs were outside of the @FoxNews Studio last night in the now thriving (Thank you President Trump) Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for the interview with Crazy Bernie Sanders,” Trump said in the first of a string of tweets on Tuesday evening.

“Big complaints about not being let in-stuffed with Bernie supporters. What’s with @FoxNews?” he claimed without evidence. 

The president went on to call out the senator over his wealth after Sanders recently revealed that he has become a millionaire from the profits he received from his best-selling book. 

“Bernie Sanders and wife should pay the Pre-Trump Taxes on their almost $600,000 in income. He is always complaining about these big TAX CUTS, except when it benefits him,” Trump tweeted.

“They made a fortune off of Trump, but so did everyone else – and that’s a good thing, not a bad thing!” Trump, who has an estimated net worth of $2 billion and proclaims to be a self-made billionaire, also wrote.

He also predicted in another tweet that both Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, who have emerged as front-runners in a crowded field of Democratic presidential contenders, would be the “two finalists to run against maybe the best Economy in the history of our Country.”

“I believe it will be Crazy Bernie Sanders vs. Sleepy Joe Biden as the two finalists to run against maybe the best Economy in the history of our Country (and MANY other great things)!” he wrote. 

“I look forward to facing whoever it may be. May God Rest Their Soul!” the president added.

Trump’s criticism arrives as the Vermont Independent leads Democratic presidential contenders in a new Emerson poll, which has him at 29 percent in the lead compared to the 24 percent Biden now holds in second place.

[The Hill]

Reality

Trump seemed to be referring to a group of people holding American flags and Trump flags outside the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks while the hour-long program was being shot inside before an audience who cheered Sanders.

Trump cuts all direct assistance to Northern Triangle countries Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala

In a stunning about-face, State Department officials said that President Donald Trump is cutting off all direct assistance to the so-called Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

“At the Secretary’s instruction, we are carrying out the President’s direction and ending FY [fiscal year] 2017 and FY 2018 foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle,” a State Department spokesperson told ABC News, referring to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “We will be engaging Congress as part of this process.”

These three countries are the primary source of migrants to the U.S., but for years the U.S. has worked with them to stabilize their political environments and economies and end violence and corruption so that migrants wouldn’t leave in the first place.

Trump hinted at the cuts earlier on Friday, telling reporters,”I’ve ended payments to Guatemala, to Honduras, and to El Salvador. No money goes there anymore.”

While the president has threatened these cuts before, this time the administration is actually following through.

Trump said the funds totaled $500 million, but it wasn’t clear Friday if that figure was accurate. The State Department announced in December that the U.S. would mobilize $5.8 billion in public and private american investment to these three countries.

“We’re not paying them anymore because they haven’t done a thing for us,” he added.

[ABC]

Trump says wind power doesn’t work because ‘it only blows sometimes’

President Trump late Wednesday repeated his opposition to wind power, pushing a misleading claim that it would not work as an energy source because the wind “only blows sometimes.”

The president made the comments during a phone interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity, as part of his remarks on how his presidency has been “tougher … on Russia” than any other past presidents.

“It’s what we have done with energy and oil and gas. That’s all competition from, for Russia,” Trump said. “You look at the Ukraine. You look at so many different levels. You look at our military.”

“You look at the fact that we would have been powered by wind, which wouldn’t have worked by the way because it only blows sometimes and lots of problems come about.”

The comment echoes Trump’s repeated past criticisms of wind power. Just one week earlier, he mocked the concept of wind power by mimicking a man telling his spouse: “Turn off the television darling, please. There’s no wind, please turn off the television quickly.”

The Department of Energy explains on its website that power grids are designed to accommodate variability from energy generation sources, such as wind and solar, without having to rely on “backup” energy sources.

Trump, who campaigned on restoring coal jobs to the U.S., has long opposed wind turbines based on a number of arguments, including saying that the “windmills” will decrease property values and that turbines are a “killing field” for birds.

The Energy Department also notes that bird deaths from wind turbines are rare and pale in comparison to bird deaths from collisions with buildings and declining habitats from infrastructure development.

According to a new study released this week by a nonpartisan think tank, solar and wind power are on track to phase out coal as cheaper energy alternatives within the next few years.

[The Hill]

Reality

Trump slams media for coverage of investigations into ‘all time favorite duly elected President’

President Trump tore into the media over its coverage of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which concluded without sufficient evidence that the president’s campaign had colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. 

“The Fake News Media has lost tremendous credibility with its corrupt coverage of the illegal Democrat Witch Hunt of your all time favorite duly elected President, me! T.V. ratings of CNN & MSNBC tanked last night after seeing the Mueller Report statement. @FoxNews up BIG!” Trump tweeted Tuesday evening. 

Trump and his conservative allies on Capitol Hill and in the media seized on Attorney General William Barr’s announcement that Mueller found no evidence of collusion, using it to slam mainstream outlets for what they said was speculative reporting that implied Trump’s guilt.

“The Mainstream Media is under fire and being scorned all over the World as being corrupt and FAKE. For two years they pushed the Russian Collusion Delusion when they always knew there was No Collusion. They truly are the Enemy of the People and the Real Opposition Party!” Trump tweeted early Tuesday morning. 

The president has long had an acrimonious relationship with the press, often hammering outlets that reported negative news of the White House as “fake news” and at times even speculating whether he should revoke the press credentials of certain publications’ employees.

Fox News, a staunch defender of the president in its primetime hours, saw a boost in its viewership in the aftermath of the Mueller news, more than quadrupling CNN’s ratings.

[The Hill]

Trump Blasts ‘Lowest Rated’ Shepard Smith and Other Fox Anchors: ‘Should Be Working’ at CNN

President Donald Trump lashed out at several Fox News anchors Sunday, writing in a tweet they “should be working” at CNN.

In a day packed with Twitter missives, Trump’s latest attack takes aim at Smith, a weekday anchor, and Leland Vittert and Arthel Neville, both weekend anchors at the president’s favorite network.

“Were @FoxNews weekend anchors, @ArthelNeville and @LelandVittert, trained by CNN prior to their ratings collapse?” Trump wrote. “In any event, that’s where they should be working, along with their lowest rated anchor, Shepard Smith!”

Trump’s attack on the hard news side of Fox News comes hours after he called for Jeanine Pirro — the opinion host suspended by the network for suggesting a congresswoman’s hijab meant she was anti-American — to be brought back on air.

[Mediaite]

Trump defends Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro after Islamophobic comments

President Trump came to Fox News anchor Jeanine Pirro’s defense on Sunday in response to the network taking her off the air without explanation, one week after she implied Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) use of a hijab was antithetical to the U.S. Constitution.

“Bring back @JudgeJeanine Pirro. The Radical Left Democrats, working closely with their beloved partner, the Fake News Media, is using every trick in the book to SILENCE a majority of our Country. They have all out campaigns against @FoxNews hosts who are doing too well. Fox must stay strong and fight back with vigor. Stop working soooo hard on being politically correct, which will only bring you down, and continue to fight for our Country. The losers all want what you have, don’t give it to them. Be strong & prosper, be weak & die! Stay true to the people that got you there. Keep fighting for Tucker, and fight hard for @JudgeJeanine. Your competitors are jealous – they all want what you’ve got – NUMBER ONE. Don’t hand it to them on a silver platter. They can’t beat you, you can only beat yourselves!”

Context: The string of tweets comes one day after authorities said “an immigrant-hating white supremacist” killed at least 50 people at a pair of mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Trump issued a single tweet on the day of the attack extending his sympathies to the people of New Zealand, but he did not condemn the shooter’s racial motives or acknowledge the targeting of Muslims.

  • When asked on Friday if he believes white nationalism is a “rising threat,” Trump said he believes “it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.” Far-right extremists have killed more people in the U.S. since 9/11 than any other organized terrorist group.

The big picture: A series of damning incidents over the past several weeks has seen Pirro, fellow host Tucker Carlson and Fox News as an entity come under fire for charges of racism and coziness with the Trump administration.

[Axios]

Trump lashes out at McCain seven months after senator’s death

President Donald Trump on Saturday lashed out against an old nemesis, the late Sen. John McCain, for his crucial vote against repealing Obamacare in 2017.

Trump chastised McCain for his no vote on a bare-bones repeal of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation, wrongly describing it as a “thumbs down on repeal and replace after years of campaigning to repeal and replace!”

The legislation opposed by McCain did not have a replacement component.

Responding to reports in conservative media outlets that cite court documents that say a former aide to the Republican senator from Arizona was the source of a leak that put a Trump opposition-research dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele into the hands of multiple media outlets in late 2016, the president echoed former independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s remarks on Fox News.

The reports about the source of the leaks have not been confirmed by NBC News.

The dossier alleges the Trump campaign worked with the Russian government to defeat rival Hillary Clinton in 2016. The core allegations in the dossier compose the heart of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian influence on the presidential election.

“The more we find out the uglier it becomes,” Starr, referring to the alleged media leaks of the dossier, said recently on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” “The Steele dossier I think has been very substantially discredited.”

Starr said of McCain, “I think he was an American hero. But I’m very sorry he got implicated in this in terms of spreading this very nasty stuff around.”

The reports that McCain leaked the 35-page dossier, which was originally the product of funding by a conservative publication, are “unfortunately a very dark stain” on the former senator’s record, Starr said.

In December former U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said on MSNBCthat “the dossier holds up well. None of it has been disproven.”

Starr, a Republican, headed the investigation that led to the impeachment of President Clinton for lying about having sex with White House staffer Monica Lewinsky.

Trump lashed out at McCain again on Sunday, claiming McCain sent the dossier to the FBI and the media. McCain gave a version of the dossier to the FBI in December of 2016, after the presidential election, and asked if any of it was true, but he had denied being a source of the document for BuzzFeed, which published it in January of 2017.

[NBC News]

Trump Shares Video of Diamond & Silk Praising His Veto and Bashing GOP ‘Swampettes’ in the Senate

President Donald Trump shared videos today from Lou Dobbs‘ Friday night Fox Business show from guests praising his veto of the resolution against his national emergency declaration at the border.

Trump first shared video of former ICE director Thomas Homan telling Dobbs, “One of the greatest presidents of my generation did exactly what he should have done.”

He also shared video from Diamond & Silk’s appearance, in which the outspoken pro-Trump duo not only defended him, but blasted the Republican senators who voted to block the emergency declaration as “the new swampettes.”

He also shared video from Diamond & Silk’s appearance, in which the outspoken pro-Trump duo not only defended him, but blasted the Republican senators who voted to block the emergency declaration as “the new swampettes.”

And after addressing the vote in the House to release the Mueller report, the president also shared a clip from Fox News’ Outnumbered of Kennedy going off on Hillary Clinton:

[Mediaite]

Trump quotes daughter-in-law’s Fox News appearance to defend himself against ’81 subpoenas’

President Donald Trump quoted a Fox News appearance by his daughter-in-law to defend himself from an onslaught of document requests issued by House Democrats against his family and associates.

The president tweeted out a quote from Lara Trump’s appearance the previous evening on Sean Hannity’s program, where she said the widening congressional investigations into possible criminal wrongdoing simply showed Democrats feared her father-in-law.

“Democrats are frantic to throw something else at the president,” Lara Trump, a re-election campaign adviser to her father-in-law, who then tweeted out her remarks. “That’s why you saw those 81 subpoenas. It’s ridiculous. Just because you’re still upset over an election that happened 2 1/2 years ago, you should not be allowed to ruin people’s lives like this.”

The recipients have until March 18 to comply with the requests, and the committee plans to issue subpoenas if the requested documents aren’t turned over.

[Raw Story]

Media

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