Donald Trump calls Omarosa Manigault Newman ‘that dog’

Donald Trump has escalated a bitter row with his former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, praising his chief of staff, John Kelly, for “quickly firing that dog”.

Manigault Newman, a former adviser to the US president and contestant on the reality TV show The Apprentice, has released three secret recordingsrelated to her firing as she promotes her memoir, Unhinged.

Her TV appearances, and her claim to have heard a tape of Trump using the N-word and other racial slurs during filming for The Apprentice, have annoyed the president, who levelled another barrage of attacks at her on Tuesday, tweeting: “When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”

On Tuesday morning, Manigault Newman revealed on CBS News a third tape that she says records a 2016 conference call among Trump campaign aides who are discussing how to address potential fallout from the release of tapes that allegedly show Trump using the N-word.

The campaign aides had previously denied that any such conversations took place.

On Monday, Trump denied claims of racism and said Manigault Newman was a liar for claiming he used the N-word: “I don’t have that word in my vocabulary and never have. She made it up.”

When Kelly fired Manigault Newman in December in the White House situation room, she secretly taped it, in an apparent breach of security protocol.

In the recording, which she played on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Kelly told Manigault Newman the firing was the result of “significant integrity issues” and that she could face damage to her reputation if she did not make it a “friendly departure”.

On Monday, Manigault Newman released another recording in which Trump appeared to express surprise that she had been fired. “Omarosa? Omarosa, what’s going on? I just saw on the news that you’re thinking about leaving? What happened?” Trump says on the tape, played on NBC’s Today show.

In a later interview on Monday, Manigault Newman said she “absolutely” had more tapes in her possession and warned that there were more to come.

The controversy has raised questions about whether she could face legal repercussions for recording in the situation room.

Defending her actions, Manigault Newman said the recordings were necessary in a White House “where everybody lies”.

Trump’s scathing attack on Manigault Newman is the latest in a string of insults directed at prominent African American people. This month, Trump questioned the intelligence of the basketball star LeBron James, who had criticised the president in an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon. Trump called Lemon the “dumbest man on television”.

Days earlier, Trump said the black California congresswoman Maxine Waters, a Democrat, had a “very low IQ”.

[The Guardian]

John Kelly defended separating children from their families at the border as a deterrent

Last week, White House Chief of staff John Kelly went on National Public Radio to make it clear that despite repeated bald-faced statements to the contrary, the Trump administration does not view immigrants as dangerous criminals. Regrettably, Kelly didn’t stop there. A second later, he defended the practice of separating children from their families at the border as a deterrent to illegal immigration. He then explained that the children torn from their mothers and fathers would be handled by “foster care or whatever,” a flippant phrase that betrayed the dismissiveness of not only Kelly but Jeff Sessions and the architects of the Justice Department program to the suffering of children.

The phrase was enough of a rhetorical roadblock that it prompted many to stop and further inspect the logic of the Justice Department program, which is being touted as a humane deterrent, which is an oxymoron. The program is designed to deter border crossings by presenting a profound threat to parents. It is fully intended to terrify. If it weren’t, it would not make sense as a program. The idea then that Americans should not see the separation as an act of retribution perpetrated against families, is ludicrous. For hardliners, the suffering of Guatemalan children might be an appropriate price for a secure border, but there’s little reason to think most Americans are sympathetic to that perspective. With the Pew Research Center uncovering a net outflow of migrants — more are leaving than coming in — America could afford a more humane approach.

Instead, the word of the day is “tough.” That’s John Kelly’s macho go-to. “It could be a tough deterrent — would be a tough deterrent,” he told NPR.

At one point in his interview Kelly, who is a father, evinced sympathy for migrants and acknowledged that they were heading to America for understandable reasons. He did not dive into the specifics of the violence families flee or the specific threats to children that exist in places like El Salvador, but he gestured in the direction of empathy. He publically faced the truth that these people are willingly staring down very long odds and will keep coming.

So, again, what is a “tough deterrent” but the promise of future violence, an assurance that America will not be safer for your children than wherever you started walking.

[Yahoo]

Kelly says undocumented immigrants ‘don’t have the skills’ to assimilate into US society

White House chief of staff John Kelly said he believes the vast majority of undocumented immigrants crossing the southern border into the US do not assimilate well because they are poorly educated.

“Let me step back and tell you that the vast majority of the people that move illegally into United States are not bad people. They’re not criminals. They’re not MS13,” Kelly told NPR in an interview released late Thursday, referring to the criminal gang. “But they’re also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society.”

The former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security said the undocumented immigrants don’t speak English and are “overwhelmingly rural people” from countries where “fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations are kind of the norm.”

don’t integrate well; they don’t have skills. They’re not bad people. They’re coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws,” he went on to say.

According to NPR, Kelly supports DHS’ decision in ending temporary protected status (TPS) for Haiti, El Salvador, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sudan, and more recently Honduras.

However, he floated the idea of finding a path to citizenship for the more than 425,000 immigrants, many of whom have lived in the US legally for decades under TPS.

“I think we should fold all of the TPS people that have been here for a considerable period of time and find a way for them to be on a path to citizenship,” Kelly said.

Kelly, who is seen inside the Trump administration as a “hardass” on immigration, was previously accused of degrading undocumented immigrants in February, when he suggested that some were “too afraid” or “too lazy” to sign up for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“There are 690,000 official DACA registrants and the President sent over what amounts to be two and a half times that number, to 1.8 million,” he said on Capitol Hill after meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to audio posted by The Washington Post.

“The difference between 690 and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn’t sign up,” Kelly added.

After another meeting on Capitol Hill, Kelly later said some people who were DACA eligible but didn’t sign up had reasons but most probably “needed to get off the couch.”

[CNN]

Trump ramps up personal cell phone use

President Donald Trump is increasingly relying on his personal cell phone to contact outside advisers, multiple sources inside and outside the White House told CNN, as Trump returns to the free-wheeling mode of operation that characterized the earliest days of his administration.

“He uses it a lot more often more recently,” a senior White House official said of the President’s cell phone.

Sources cited Trump’s stepped-up cell phone use as an example of chief of staff John Kelly’s waning influence over who gets access to the President. During the early days of Kelly’s tenure, multiple sources said, Trump made many of his calls from the White House switchboard — a tactic that allowed the chief of staff to receive a printed list of who Trump had phoned. Kelly has less insight into who Trump calls on his personal cell phone.

While Trump never entirely gave up his personal cell phone once Kelly came aboard, one source close to the White House speculated that the President is ramping up the use of his personal device recently in part because “he doesn’t want Kelly to know who he’s talking to.”

The senior White House official said Trump “is talking to all sorts of people on it,” noting Trump’s barrage of private calls is a “recent development.”

‘The walls are breaking’

Three sources familiar with the situation said Trump has also increased his direct outreach to GOP lawmakers over the past several weeks, sometimes employing his cell phone.

“Basically, at this point, he’s just sort of engaging on his own,” observed a source familiar with Trump’s calls to congressional allies.

“Kelly used to be more clearly the gatekeeper than he is now from a Hill standpoint,” that source added, noting members would typically call Kelly’s office if they wanted to set up a talk with Trump rather than dial the President directly.

“I don’t know that he even is running it by the chief of staff anymore,” the staff said.

Some White House allies said they see Trump’s more frequent solicitation of advice outside the West Wing as a sign that Kelly’s status as a gatekeeper for the President has diminished.

“Definitely, the walls are breaking,” one source close to the White House said of the procedures Kelly initially established to regulate access to Trump. Another source close to the White House added that “a lot of meetings, a lot of things have happened lately without Kelly being in the room.”

Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has been one notable beneficiary of Kelly’s loosened grip. One source said Lewandowski recently bragged to friends that he now enjoys “unfettered” access to the President — including a recent dinner in the residence with Trump, according to two sources. Upon his arrival last year, Kelly attempted to limit Lewandowski’s access to Trump from the nearly unchecked privileges he enjoyed at the start of the administration, although Kelly’s efforts were never entirely successful. Lewandowski did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump has also made clear that Larry Kudlow, his new economic adviser, and John Bolton, his new national security adviser, are “direct reports” to him and not to Kelly, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN. Their predecessors, however, reported directly to the chief of staff or at least looped Kelly in after a meeting with the President — a potential sign of Trump’s shift toward controlling more of what goes on in his own White House.

A senior White House official said Kelly’s absence from phone calls and meetings in recent weeks is more a reflection of the balance Trump and his chief of staff have struck since Kelly took the job.

“They’ve grown into some level of comfort,” the official said. “There used to be a level of babysitting, and it wasn’t organized.” The source added Kelly “spent months” fixing the operational process and noted now, Kelly doesn’t need to insert himself into as many issues.

Security questions

Former President Barack Obama was permitted to use a Blackberry during his presidency. However, the White House said at the time that the device given to Obama was outfitted with enhanced security to protect potentially classified talks.

Mary McCord, who used to head the Justice Department’s national security division, says smartphones are notorious for their security vulnerabilities.

“Because the smartphones of high-level government officials — including the President — are obvious targets for foreign intelligence services, the government goes to significant effort to ensure that government-issued smartphones are constantly updated to address security vulnerabilities,” she said. “Use of personal smartphones, which may not have all of the security features of government-issued smartphones or be regularly updated to address newly discovered vulnerabilities, present an obvious potential security risk.”

Another security expert said the President’s increased cell phone use makes his calls more vulnerable to eavesdropping from foreign governments.

“All communications devices of all senior government officials are targeted by foreign governments. This is not new,” said Bryan Cunningham, executive director of the Cybersecurity Policy and Research Institute at the University of California-Irvine.

“What is new in the cell phone age is the ease of intercepting them and that at least our last two presidents … have chafed at not being able to use their personal cell phones,” Cunningham added. “Of course, calls are only secure if both parties use a secure device.”

Another implication of Trump’s private cell phone use, Cunningham noted, is the possibility that Trump’s conversations may not be “captured for the purposes of government accountability and history.”

[CNN]

Multiple White House employees — including one Melania aide — fired over security clearance issues

The White House has either fired or reassigned multiple employees over problems with their security clearances, according to ABC News.

According to ABC News’ sources, the list of fired or reassigned employees includes “at least one individual employed in the Office of the First Lady,” although the report does not go into detail about exactly whom has been let go.

In addition to the staffers that have already been fired, ABC News’ sources say that there is “a list of several other individuals with security clearance issues that are under consideration for possible termination or reassignment in the coming days.”

White House chief of staff John Kelly has reportedly been making lists of White House employees with security clearance problems in the wake of the debacle surrounding former staff secretary Rob Porter, who was fired last month after it was revealed that he allegedly beat his two ex-wives.

Kelly has also downgraded the security clearance of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who can now no longer access top-secret classified information. Despite this, however, the president still sent Kushner to meet with Mexican officials as a diplomatic envoy on Wednesday.

[RawStory]

Trump chief of staff John Kelly suggests some Dreamers ‘too lazy’ and ‘too afraid’ to sign up for DACA

Some immigrants may have been “too afraid” or “too lazy” to sign up for the Obama-era program that offered protection from deportation, White House chief of staff John Kelly said Tuesday as he defended President Donald Trump’s proposal aimed at breaking the impasse on immigration.

In remarks to reporters, Kelly described Trump’s plan, which would provide a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million people — more than Democrats had sought. He noted extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was “beyond what anyone could have imagined.”

“There are 690,000 official DACA registrants and the president sent over what amounts to be two and a half times that number, to 1.8 million,” he said.

“The difference between (690,000) and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn’t sign up,” Kelly said.

Kelly spoke as lawmakers have deadlocked in an effort to reach a bipartisan deal on protecting from deportation recipients of the program, known as “Dreamers.”

Barring a last-minute agreement — which seems unlikely — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said his chamber will begin considering the issue, a debate that GOP leaders expect to start next week.

Kelly said Trump would likely reject an effort to pass a short-term extension for the program, which is set to expire on March 5.

But he also noted the March 5 deadline may not have immediate impact. He said immigrants currently protected won’t be priorities for deportation as long as they do not commit crimes.

Kelly said lawmakers need a deadline to force action.

“What makes them act is pressure,” he said.

Kelly in remarks to reporters later Tuesday seemed to double down on his earlier comments about those eligible for DACA, saying “some of them just should’ve probably gotten off the couch and signed up.”

But Kelly added, “But that doesn’t really matter now because President Trump has given them the status,” referring to Trump’s proposal.

In exchange for making citizenship a possibility, Trump wants $25 billion for border security, including money to build parts of his coveted wall along the U.S.-Mexico boundary. He also wants to curb legal immigration, restricting the relatives that legal immigrants could sponsor for citizenship and ending a lottery that distributes visas to people from diverse places like Africa.

“I can’t imagine men and women of good will who begged this president to solve the problem of DACA” would oppose Trump’s proposal, said Kelly, using the program’s acronym. He added, “Right now, the champion of all people who are DACA is Donald Trump.”

A court ruling earlier this month also has blunted the deadline. A federal judge has indefinitely blocked Trump from terminating DACA’s protections for the so-called Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. as children and are living here illegally. The program shields them from deportation and gives them the right to hold jobs.

Still, many lawmakers are uneasy about what might happen to the Dreamers after March 5, and Democrats — and Trump himself — are using that uncertainty as leverage to help force a deal. Kelly’s remarks seemed aimed at easing worries that major deportations of Dreamers could begin right away — a scenario that could be damaging to members of both parties.

“They are not a priority for deportation,” Kelly said of Dreamers who’ve not accumulated criminal records.

[NBC News]

John Kelly Says He Will “Absolutely Not” Apologize To Frederica Wilson

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told Laura Ingraham Monday night he was too busy to “watch very much in the TV” about the day’s indictments and guilty pleas by former Donald Trump campaign figures in Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian election meddling.

Ingraham, opened the debut of her Fox News Channel 10 PM program The Ingraham Angle, [you can watch debut below] with zippy thoughts on What Is America?, accompanied by photos of Old Frank Sinatra:

Politics is supposed to be a career devoted to public service…but for too long was dominated by special interest, big business and…media elites.

The politicians were supposed to…run the government, not to run you over with it!

Americans voted for Trump because they tired of being bullied by politicians and so called experts who gave us endless wars, saddles us with $20 trillion in debt, and left us with a border more wide open than Harvey Weinstein‘s bathrobe.

But the debut’s headline was her interview with Kelly, whose been MIA media-wise since his dramatic appearance at a White House press briefing, in which he savaged Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson. Ingraham first asked him about  the day’s indictments of the president’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort, his associate Rick Gates, and “another minor aide” in the Trump administration, aka foreign relations adviser George Papadopoulos.

“All of the activities, as I understand it, that they were indicted for was long before they ever met Donald Trump or, or had an association with the campaign,” Kelly answered, inaccurately.

Monday’s news on former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos was that he had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia while working for the Trump campaign, and has been cooperating with the special counsel investigation since his July arrest.

“But I think the reaction of the administration is, let the legal justice system work. Everyone’s presumed innocent and we’ll see where it goes,” he added.

Asked if the staff is “worried that when indictments start being handed down, that this is just the first, second, third shoe to drop, but there will be many more to follow?” Kelly answered, “I think the staff is very comfortable with simply serving the nation. The vast majority of the staff would have nothing to do with any of this kind of thing. So there’s no worry about it. Everyone is just doing the things that they were hired to do to serve the nation.”

Ingraham moved on to his comments about Rep Frederica Wilson after she claimed to have heard President Donald Trump telling La David Johnson’s widow her husband knew what he was signing up for, but that it hurt anyway. At a White House press briefing, Kelly slammed Wilson for listening in on that private moment, and recalled his previous encounter with the Florida congresswoman. Kelly called her an “empty barrel,”  claiming that, at the dedication of an FBI building named after two slain agents, Wilson took the podium to boast that she’d raised the funds for the building.

Ingraham noted clips of that dedication show did not brag about getting funding, though, she hastened to add, Wilson “certainly used the word ‘I’ a lot.”  Video showed Wilson actually boasted about getting quick action on naming the building after the two slain FBI agents.

Kelly wasn’t backing down, explaining Wilson did more talking before and after the formal ceremony.  “It was a package deal,” he said, adding, “I don’t want to get into it.”

“Do you feel like you have something to apologize for?” Ingraham wondered.

“No. Never,” Kelly shot back. “I’ll apologize if I need to. But for something like that, absolutely not. I stand by my comments.”

Last month, after FNC announced it had parted ways with Eric Bolling, the network announced Sean Hannity was moving from 10 PM ET to 9, to take on MSNBC’s ratings powerhouse Rachel Maddow. Ingraham got the 10 PM timeslot.

Media

Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly Says ‘Lack of Compromise’ Led to Civil War

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly waded into the long-simmering dispute over the removal of memorials to Confederate leaders saying in a televised interview on Monday night that “the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War.”

In the interview on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle,” host Laura Ingraham asked Kelly about the decision by Christ Church, an Episcopal congregation in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, to remove plaques honoring President George Washington and Robert E. Lee, the commander of Confederate forces during the Civil War.

“Well, history’s history,” said Kelly, whom President Donald Trump moved from secretary of homeland security to be his chief of staff in July. “You know, 500 years later, it’s inconceivable to me that you would take what we think now and apply it back then. I think it’s just very, very dangerous. I think it shows you just how much of a lack of appreciation of history and what history is.”

Confrontations over removal of Confederate monuments have exposed deep rifts in American society between advocates who argue that the Civil War is a foundation stone of American history whose combatants acted out of conscience and those who contend that the memorials honor Southern defenders of slavery who betrayed their country by launching an armed rebellion.

A subset of pro-memorial advocates includes so-called alt-right political activists and white nationalists, who were blamed for violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August when a car drove into a group of counter-protesters, killing one person and injuring 19 other people.

Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville drew condemnation after he said “both sides” were to blame for the violence and that there are “two sides to a story.”

Kelly on Monday night explained the Civil War’s genesis by saying “men and women of good faith on both sides” took a stand based on their conscience.

“Robert E. Lee was an honorable man,” Kelly said, adding: “The lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War.”

Kelly during the interview was also asked about whether he would apologize to Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., for making inaccurate statements about her after she criticized Trump’s condolence call this month with a fallen soldier’s wife.

Kelly accused her of grandstanding during a 2015 ceremony to dedicate a new FBI field office in Miami and said she wrongly took credit for securing federal funding for the building. She did not take credit for it.

Still, Kelly held his ground Monday.

“Oh, no,” Kelly said. “No. Never. Well, I’ll apologize if I need to. But for something like that, absolutely not. I stand by my comments.”

The following is the full transcript of Kelly’s remarks on the removal of Confederate statues:

Well, history’s history. And there are certain things in history that were not so good and other things that were very, very good.

I think we make a mistake, though, and as a society, and certainly as individuals, when we take what is today accepted as right and wrong and go back 100, 200, 300 years or more and say, ‘What Christopher Columbus did was wrong.

You know, 500 years later, it’s inconceivable to me that you would take what we think now and apply it back then. I think it’s just very, very dangerous. I think it shows you just how much of a lack of appreciation of history and what history is.

I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.

Media

Sarah Huckabee Sanders warns reporter not to question a 4-star general amid mounting John Kelly controversy

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders sidestepped questions about the validity of chief of staff John Kelly’s claim that Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida had bragged about securing funds for an FBI field office in 2015.

“[Kelly] said there was a lot of grandstanding,” Sanders said during Friday’s White House press briefing. “He was stunned she had taken that opportunity to make it about herself.”

When pressed as to whether Kelly could elaborate further, Sanders said he “addressed that pretty thoroughly yesterday.”

But the reporter noted that the money was secured before Wilson was in Congress, which prompted Sanders to invoke Kelly’s military career.

“If you want to go after General Kelly that’s up to you but I think that if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that’s something highly inappropriate,” Sanders said.

After Wilson suggested that President Donald Trump was inappropriate on a phone call with the widow of a US Special Forces soldier killed in Niger, Kelly criticized the Democratic congresswoman in an attempt to clarify the White House’s account of the call.

On Friday, the South Florida Sun Sentinel released a video of Wilson’s speech, which showed that she did not brag about securing the buildings funds, but did boast about rushing through Congress the renaming of the building in honor of two fallen FBI agents, Jerry L. Dove and Benjamin P. Grogan.

[Business Insider]

Reality

Old tweets posted by President Trump in which he attacked generals resurfaced Friday after the White House said it was “inappropriate” to criticize them.

Media

 

Trump: Ask Gen. Kelly If Obama Called When His Son Died

President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended his false claim that his predecessor didn’t call the families of soldiers killed in action by alluding to former Gen. John Kelly’s son, a Marine who died in Afghanistan.

“You could ask General Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?” Trump said in a radio interview with Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade.

Kelly, who came on as Trump’s chief of staff in July, does not often speak about the son he lost in 2010. 1st Lt. Robert Michael Kelly, 29, was killed in combat in Afghanistan after stepping on a landmine.

“I don’t know what Obama’s policy was. I write letters and I also call,” Trump said, adding he has called “virtually everybody” during his past nine months as commander in chief.

Trump’s comments Tuesday come a day after he falsely claimed that President Barack Obama did not call the families of soldiers killed in action after being asked why he had not yet addressed the deaths of American troops killed in Niger earlier this month.

When pressed by NBC News on how he could make that claim, Trump said he was told that Obama “didn’t often” call families of fallen soldiers.

“President Obama, I think, probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn’t. I don’t know. That’s what I was told. All I can do — all I can do is ask my generals,” he said.

According to a 2011 profile in The Boston Globe, Kelly has avoided speaking publicly about his son so as not to draw attention.

“We are not inclined to make ourselves out to be any different, just because I’m a lieutenant general in the Marines,” Kelly said then. “We are just one family. It’s not worse for us; it’s not easier for us.”

A White House official told NBC News on Tuesday that Obama did not call Kelly after the death of his son. But a person familiar with the breakfast for Gold Star Families at the White House on May 30, 2011, told NBC News that Kelly and his wife attended the private event and were seated at first lady Michelle Obama’s table.

A former senior Obama administration official disputed Trump’s initial claim on Monday that Obama didn’t call Gold Star families, calling it “wrong.”

“President Obama engaged families of the fallen and wounded warriors throughout his presidency through calls, letters, visits to Section 60 at Arlington, visits to Walter Reed, visits to Dover, and regular meetings with Gold Star Families at the White House and across the country,” the ex-official told NBC.

Trump said Tuesday that he had to allow a little time to pass but he “will be calling, have called, and will be calling the parents and loved ones, wives of the soldiers that recently were killed.”

The White House said later that the president was scheduled to call the families of the four soldiers killed in Niger on Tuesday.

[NBC News]

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