Rudy Giuliani says Trump is ‘honest’ because facts are ‘in the eye of the beholder’

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney delivered another doozy of a soundbite Tuesday night, telling CNN’s Chris Cuomo that “nowadays” facts “are in the eye of the beholder.”

Rudy Giuliani made the comment while defending Trump’s harsh words for former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman. Cuomo said other presidents faced criticism and adversity without resorting to insults.

“Maybe nobody has been as honest as him,” Giuliani said.

“If fact-counting is anything, we’ve never had anybody with the level of mendacity that he has,” Cuomo replied. “Not even close.”

“It’s in the eye of the beholder,” said a chuckling Giuliani.

 “No, facts are not in the eye of the beholder,” Cuomo said, shaking his finger.

“Yes, they are,” Giulini said. “Nowadays they are.”

Whether intended in humor or not, the former New York mayor’s remark feeds into a perception among critics that the Trump administration often rejects objective facts and tries to confuse the public about what is true.

Trump’s rejection of facts dates back at least to his refusal to accept that former President Barack Obama was a U.S. citizen despite being presented with conclusive evidence.

The perception that a fast and loose attitude toward reality followed Trump, and his staff, into the White House was sparked just after Trump took office. Press secretary Sean Spicer asserted that Trump’s inaugural crowd was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration – period,” when photos showed the crowd in Washington was much smaller than the one present for Obama’s inauguration.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway famously defended Spicer’s assertion by saying he was working with “alternative facts.”

Giuliani also repeated his statement that Trump did not speak to former FBI Director James Comey about the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, contradicting Comey’s claims.

[USA Today]

Media

Trump threatens ‘to get involved’ in manic conspiracy meltdown over ongoing FBI investigation

Out of nowhere — and possibly as a distraction to some upcoming news — President Donald Trump attacked the FBI on Saturday morning by demanding they turn over files on [Rformer FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to outside conservative advocacy group Judicial Watch.

Once again alleging a conspiracy, Trump tweeted, “Why isn’t the FBI giving Andrew McCabe text massages [sic] to Judicial Watch or appropriate governmental authorities. FBI said they won’t give up even one (I may have to get involved, DO NOT DESTROY). What are they hiding? McCabe wife took big campaign dollars from Hillary people.”

He later added, “Will the FBI ever recover it’s once stellar reputation, so badly damaged by Comey, McCabe, Peter S and his lover, the lovely Lisa Page, and other top officials now dismissed or fired? So many of the great men and women of the FBI have been hurt by these clowns and losers!”

You can see screenshots of the original tweets below which were deleted to correct the usual Trump typos:

[Raw Story]

Trump, citing politics, looking to revoke security clearances

President Donald Trump is considering stripping a half-dozen former national security officials of their security clearances, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday, calling their public commentary about the ongoing Russia probe inappropriate.

The list of former officials under consideration includes former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, according to Sanders.

“They’ve politicized and in some cases monetized their public service,” Sanders said during a press briefing. “Making baseless accusations of an improper relationship with Russia is inappropriate.”

Sanders would not say when the President would make the decision; she said only that the White House would provide updates when it had them.

The announcement came after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, tweeted that he planned to speak with Trump about removing Brennan’s security clearance. Brennan declared last week that Trump’s performance following a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki was “nothing short of treasonous.”

A decision to strip a former official of a security clearance would prove a striking use of presidential power. Even Michael Flynn, Trump’s onetime national security adviser who was fired during the Obama administration, maintained his clearance when he was acting as a campaign surrogate for Trump, often leading “lock her up” chants at political rallies.

Sanders did little to mask the political nature of Trump’s threat, indicating the President was frustrated by the former officials’ criticism of him.

“When you have the highest level of security clearance, when you’re the person that holds the nation’s deepest, most sacred secrets at your hands and you go out and you make false accusations against the President on the United States, he says that’s something to be concerned with,” Sanders said.

“We’re exploring what those options are and what that looks like,” she said of the process for removing the officials clearances.

When they leave government, national security officials routinely maintain their security clearances, partly to consult with those who replace them about ongoing situations or issues.

Officials also use their clearances to obtain high-paying consulting positions in the private sector.

“I think this is just a very, very petty thing to do. And that’s about all I’ll say about it,” Clapper said on CNN in the immediate wake of Sanders’ announcement.

“There is a formal process for doing this,” he added. “But, you know, legally the President has that prerogative and he can suspend and revoke clearances as he sees fit. If he chooses to do it for political reasons, I think that’s a terrible precedent and it’s a really sad commentary and its an abuse of the system.”

Hayden indicated being stripped of his clearance would be of little consequence to his commentary.

“I don’t go back for classified briefings. Won’t have any effect on what I say or write,” he tweeted.

It is the President’s prerogative to revoke security clearances, a former senior intelligence official said on Monday, who added that instances of such an occurrence were rare.

Usually former senior officials retain clearances so their successors can consult with theem on a pro bono basis, the former official said.

[CNN]

Trump casts doubt on Russian election meddling ahead of Putin summit

President Donald Trump continues to cast doubt on US intelligence assessments that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential contest, just as his aides announced details of his upcoming summit talks with President Vladimir Putin.

“Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday morning. He went on to question why US law enforcement agencies weren’t investigating other perceived influences on the election, which he has repeatedly said was rigged for his opponent Hillary Clinton.

“Where is the DNC Server, and why didn’t Shady James Comey and the now disgraced FBI agents take and closely examine it? Why isn’t Hillary/Russia being looked at? So many questions, so much corruption!” he wrote.

The President’s tweet was sent roughly a half hour before the White House announced the two leaders will meet on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland, where they will “discuss relations between the United States and Russia and a range of national security issues.”

Trump’s summit with Putin is likely to draw criticism from the US President’s domestic critics, who accuse him of currying favor with Putin, and jitter US allies, who fear Trump will take a less hawkish position with Russia on issues like the annexation of Crimea and military exercises near the Russian border in eastern Europe.

The summit takes place four days after a NATO meeting in Brussels, where Trump will meet leaders of US military allies. NATO members were worried that if the summit with Putin had taken place earlier, Trump might have agreed to something with the Russian leader that they would have been forced to go along with.

[CNN]

Trump Blasts FBI’s Strzok and Page Over IG Report, Praises Himself For Firing Comey: ‘Good Instincts

President Donald Trump weighed in on the newly released inspector general’s report on the FBI’s investigations during the 2016 election, focusing on the texts exchanged between agent-cum-paramours Peter Strzokand Lisa Page.

“FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who headed the Clinton & Russia investigations, texted to his lover Lisa Page, in the IG Report, that “we’ll stop” candidate Trump from becoming President,” Trump said on Twitter. “Doesn’t get any lower than that!”

The text exchange between Strzok and Page has been exhibit A for the FBI’s critics that the agency was rankled with anti-Trump bias during the 2016 election, and the latest text exchange is certainly explicit. A few months before the 2016 election, Page texted Strzok that she feared Trump would win, and he reassured her: “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”

Strzok was at the time serving as deputy head of counterintelligence at the FBI, and was working on the investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties as well as the Clinton email probe. But the inspector general concluded that despite Strzok’s clear and inappropriate bias, the was no evidence that he acted on his disdain for Trump.

In a subsequent tweet, Trump took aim at James Comey, calling the IG report “a total disaster” for the former FBI director and “his minions.”

“Comey will now officially go down as the worst leader, by far, in the history of the FBI,” Trump wrote, before praising his “good instincts” for “firing him.”

He also shouted out the current FBI director, Christopher Wray.

Comey brutalized Clinton’s campaign days before election day by publicly announcing the Clinton probe was being re-opened, while the FBI went to great lengths to keep the Trump-Russia probe quiet.

[Mediaite]

Trump suggests political bias to blame in Clinton email report’s delay

President Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that the release of a Justice Department inspector general report into the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information is being delayed in order to make it more sympathetic to those being investigated.

“What is taking so long with the Inspector General’s Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey. Numerous delays. Hope Report is not being changed and made weaker! There are so many horrible things to tell, the public has the right to know. Transparency!” Trump tweeted.

The much-anticipated report is not directed at reviewing Clinton’s actions, but will examine former FBI Director Comey and other senior officials at the Justice Department and FBI under the Obama administration. It will include a review of whether “certain underlying investigative decisions were based on improper consideration.”

A draft of the report has been completed, sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN last month, and has been sent to lawyers for the various individuals criticized in it so that they can review it with their clients and submit rebuttal points for consideration. Many submitted their feedback to the inspector general last week, the sources said.

Its public release is expected any day.

The report, which is headed by Inspector General Michael Horowitz and was launched in January 2017, has the potential to deliver the stiffest blow for officials who formerly occupied the highest positions within the FBI and Justice Department.

One potential preview of Horowitz’s findings on decisions by Comey was already outlined in a blistering memo written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, which detailed the ways Comey broke with long-standing department protocols and customs in the Clinton email investigation. Rosenstein’s memo, controversial in its own regard, was initially used to rationalize firing Comey, but then Trump later said he would have done it regardless of Rosenstein’s memo, and has since defended his decision as a “great honor.”

[CNN]

Giuliani: Trump Could Have Shot Comey And Still Couldn’t Be Indicted For It

Candidate Donald Trump bragged that he could shoot someone on New York’s Fifth Avenue and not lose any support, and now President Donald Trump’s lawyer says Trump could shoot the FBI director in the Oval Office and still not be prosecuted for it.

“In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted,” Rudy Giuliani told HuffPost Sunday, claiming a president’s constitutional powers are that broad. “I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is.”

Giuliani said impeachment was the initial remedy for a president’s illegal behavior ― even in the extreme hypothetical case of Trump having shot former FBI Director James Comey to end the Russia investigation rather than just firing him.

“If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day,” Giuliani said. “Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.”

Norm Eisen, the White House ethics lawyer under President Barack Obama and now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said the silliness of Giuliani’s claim illustrates how mistaken Trump’s lawyers are about presidential power.

“A president could not be prosecuted for murder? Really?” he said. “It is one of many absurd positions that follow from their argument. It is self-evidently wrong.”

Eisen and other legal scholars have concluded that the constitution offers no blanket protection for a president from criminal prosecution. “The foundation of America is that no person is above the law,” he said. “A president can under extreme circumstances be indicted, but we’re facing extreme circumstances.”

Giuliani’s comments came a day after The New York Times revealed that Trump’s lawyers in January made their case to special counsel Robert Mueller that Trump could not possibly have obstructed justice because he has the ability to shut down any investigation at any time.

“He could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired,” Jay Sekulow and John Dowd wrote in a 20-page letter. Dowd has since left Trump’s legal team, replaced by Giuliani.

The letter also admits that Trump “dictated” a statement that was then released by his son, Donald Trump Jr., regarding a meeting held at Trump Tower in June 2016 between top Trump campaign officials and Russians with links to that country’s spy agencies.

That meeting was scheduled after the Russians said they had damaging information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton that would be of use to the Trump campaign. The Trump-dictated statement falsely claimed the meeting was primarily about the adoption of Russian children by American families ― the same topic that Trump claimed had been the substance of a conversation he had had with Russian leader Vladimir Putin the previous evening in Germany.

The U.S. intelligence community concluded during the 2016 campaign that not only was Russia interfering in the U.S. election, but was actively trying to help Trump win.

Both Sekulow and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed, falsely, that Trump had not dictated the statement, but had merely offered his son suggestions. Sanders on Sunday referred questions about the matter to Trump’s outside legal team.

Giuliani said Sekulow was misinformed about the Trump Tower meeting, which in any case was not that significant. “In this investigation, the crimes are really silly,” he said, arguing that the firing of Comey last year could not be construed as obstruction of justice because Trump had the right to fire him at any time and for any reason. “This is pure harassment, engineered by the Democrats.”

Comey had been leading the FBI probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence until his dismissal, which led to the appointment of Mueller to take it over. Within two days of the firing, Trump told both NBC News and Russian officials visiting him in the Oval Office that he had done it because of the investigation.

Eisen said Giuliani’s assertion, taken to its logical conclusion, would mean that a mob boss under investigation by the FBI could give Trump a bribe to fire the FBI director, Trump could explain on television that he had done so “because of this Mafia thing,” and then not face criminal charges.

“Well, of course it would be appropriate to initiate a prosecution,” he said. “I think the legally correct answer is, as usual, the opposite of Giuliani’s answer.”

Giuliani, once the mayor of New York City and prior to that the U.S. attorney there, took charge of Trump’s outside legal team in April, saying then that he planned to wrap the whole thing up within a few weeks. Now he said he is not sure when it will end because Mueller is taking too long and not turning over material to Giuliani ― such as a report of what was learned from an FBI informant who made contact with several members of the Trump campaign with links to Russia.

Giuliani said he has so far met with Trump about 10 times and spoken to him on the phone another 40 or so times, totaling at least 75 hours of conversation. “I’m not billing by the hour, otherwise I could tell you exactly,” he joked about the case he has taken on for free.

Mueller’s investigation has so far resulted in the guilty pleas of five people, including three former Trump campaign staffers, and the indictment of 14 other people and three companies. That total includes 13 Russians, Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and the Internet Research Agency, a “troll farm” that was used to create and disseminate propaganda to help Trump win.

A related investigation by Giuliani’s former U.S. attorney’s office is examining the dealings of longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. A former business partner has agreed to cooperate in that probe and plead to New York state charges.

[Huffington Post]

Why didn’t FBI, DOJ tell me agents were ‘secretly investigating’ Manafort?

President Trump on Sunday blasted the FBI and Department of Justice for not telling him that agents were “secretly investigating” his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, during the 2016 election.

“As only one of two people left who could become President, why wouldn’t the FBI or Department of ‘Justice’ have told me that they were secretly investigating Paul Manafort (on charges that were 10 years old and had been previously dropped) during my campaign?” Trump asked in a tweet.

He added that Manafort “came into the campaign very late and was with us for a short period of time,” but said the campaign “should have been told that Comey and the boys were doing a number on him, and he wouldn’t have been hired!”

Trump named Manafort head of his campaign in May 2016, but the businessman stepped down in August of that year after media reports of his dealings with the Ukrainian government emerged.

CNN reported last year that Manafort had been under FBI surveillance before and after the 2016 election. He reportedly became the central subject of a probe that began in 2014.

Manafort faces several charges as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation, including tax fraud, bank fraud and money laundering. The charges largely relate to his work for Ukrainian politicians.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His business associate and former Trump campaign staffer Richard Gates reached a plea deal with Mueller’s team and has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel.

[The Hill]

Reality

First, at the time you weren’t the president.

Second, if your top guys including Manafort were meeting with Russian spies and some of Putin’s best friends, why didn’t you tell the FBI?

Trump lawyers’ secret memo argues president has complete control over federal investigations

Lawyers for President Donald Trump argued in a secret memo submitted to special counsel Robert Mueller III in January that Trump could not have obstructed the FBI‘s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election in part because, as president, he holds complete control over federal investigations.

The president has the power to “order the termination of an investigation by the Justice Department or FBI at any time and for any reason,” Trump lawyers John Dowd and Jay Sekulow argued in the letter to Mueller, which was published Saturday by the New York Times.

As the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, Trump could “even exercise his power to pardon if so desired,” they argued. A person familiar with the letter confirmed its authenticity.

The 20-page letter offered a sweeping assertion of the powers of the presidency as well as a detailed and robust defense of Trump’s actions in dealing with the unfolding Russia probe, including his firing of FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. It concluded that Trump’s actions were in keeping with the expansive powers of the presidency and could not constitute crimes.

Ultimately, Trump’s lawyers argued that the president should not be compelled to sit for an interview to assist Mueller’s effort, arguing that the White House provided full access to documents and interviews with other senior staff that was sufficient to answer Mueller’s questions about the Trump’s actions.

“The President’s prime function as the Chief Executive ought not be hampered by requests for interview. Having him testify demeans the Office of the President before the world,” they wrote.

The arguments parallel those that the president’s attorneys have pressed publicly for months, even as quiet negotiations over whether Trump might agree to sit voluntarily for an interview have continued. They help underscore the legal battle now underway between the White House and the special counsel. Should Mueller seek to compel Trump’s testimony with a subpoena, the arguments advanced in the letter could ultimately form the basis of a courtroom battle that would probably reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

After former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani replaced Dowd as Trump’s chief lawyer in March, he reopened negotiations with Mueller about forestalling that kind of public battle through a voluntary interview. Giuliani, at first, expressed confidence that he could resolve the matter within weeks.

But the debate has dragged on and, more recently, Giuliani has expressed wariness over having his client sit for an interview and said he would only agree if the special counsel’s office first turns over internal documents that shed light on the beginnings of the FBI’s probe in 2016, before Mueller’s appointment.

He told The Washington Post last week that Trump’s lawyers are drafting a letter to Mueller laying out those terms and that Jane and Marty Raskin, a husband-and-wife team from Florida assisting Trump’s defense, are in contact with Mueller’s office three times a week.

Mueller’s team has told the president’s lawyers that they think they have the power to issue Trump a subpoena and compel his testimony, but they have not yet sought to go down that route.

“They may do a subpoena. The subpoena would then be contested. That would be going on for months,” Giuliani said.

In a statement Saturday, Sekulow noted the consistency of Trump’s legal position while bemoaning the leaking of the internal document.

“We have maintained a consistent legal argument throughout the many months of this inquiry. Our legal team would not disclose internal communications with the office of special counsel. We continue to maintain cooperative relations with the office of special counsel,” he said.

Likewise, in a tweet sent shortly before the New York Times story was posted online, Trump questioned whether Mueller’s team might have been responsible for the leak. “Is the Special Counsel/Justice Department leaking my lawyers letters to the Fake News Media?” he asked.

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment.

The letter also provides new details about Trump’s actions in dealing with the Russia probe. For instance, his lawyers reveal that former national security adviser Michael Flynn twice told senior White House officials, including the vice president, before his firing in February 2017 that he had been informed that the FBI had closed its investigation into his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition.

Comey has said that Trump asked him to let the case against Flynn go in an Oval Office meeting the day after Flynn’s firing. In their letter, Trump’s lawyers contested that account, but also argued that the president could not have been attempting to interfere in an investigation he was not aware was underway.

Trump’s lawyers also argued that the president could not have obstructed justice by firing Comey several months later. Trump’s decision to dismiss the FBI director was an appropriate use of presidential power intended to exert oversight over the bureau as a result of its missteps in the 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton‘s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, they wrote.

They asserted that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is now supervising Mueller’s probe, “actually helped to edit” Trump’s letter terminating Comey and “actively advised the President accordingly.” At the time, Rosenstein also wrote his own memo criticizing Comey’s handling of the Clinton case.

Trump’s lawyers wrote that it would be “unthinkable” for a president acting under his constitutional authority and with the “overt participation” of his deputy attorney general to have obstructed justice.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

In another episode Mueller has been probing, Trump’s lawyers conceded for the first time that in July 2017, Trump “dictated” a statement to be released on behalf of his son Donald Trump Jr. about a meeting that the son had taken with a Russian lawyer during the campaign.

The Post first reported in July that the president had authored his son’s statement, which misleadingly said the meeting was “primarily” about Russian adoptions. In fact, Donald Trump Jr. had accepted the meeting after being told the lawyer would provide dirt about Clinton.

In their letter, Trump’s lawyers contended that the statement was “short but accurate,” and a “private” matter to be hashed out between the president and the New York Times, which had requested the statement, rather than an issue for federal prosecutors.

[Chicago Tribune]

Reality

Read the letter here.

 

Trump tweets he ‘never fired’ Comey over Russia, contradicting reports about memo

President Trump tweeted Thursday that he “never fired James Comey because of Russia” — despite past statements and recent reports that Russia did come into play.

“Not that it matters but I never fired James Comey because of Russia!” the president tweeted early Thursday. “The Corrupt Mainstream Media loves to keep pushing that narrative, but they know it is not true!”

The tweet followed reports first published by the New York Times Wednesday of a memo written by then-Acting Director Andrew McCabe that detailed a conversation with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein regarding former FBI Director James Comey. A source close to the matter told ABC that in the memo McCabe described how Rosenstein allegedly told him Trump asked him to mention Russia in his May 9 letter recommending Comey’s firing.

A representative for McCabe declined to comment for this story, and a Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last May, the White House said Trump used letters from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Rosenstein that cited Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email servers in his decision to fire Comey.

But Trump later seemed to contradict himself in an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt when said he considered “this Russia thing” in making the decision.

“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,'” Trump said in the interview.

It’s been over a year since Comey was fired and special counsel Robert Mueller began his investigation into possible Trump campaign ties with Russia.

[ABC News]

Media

NBC News

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