Trump ramps up attacks on media: ‘Crazed lunatics’

President Trump on Monday ramped up his attacks against the press, calling the media “crazed lunatics” that have “given up on the TRUTH.”

Trump also said in a trio of tweets that the “Fake News” has “never been worse” and accused members of the press of intentionally making up stories to make him and his administration look bad.

“With all of the success that our Country is having, including the just released jobs numbers which are off the charts, the Fake News & totally dishonest Media concerning me and my presidency has never been worse. Many have become crazed lunatics who have given up on the TRUTH!” he tweeted.

“The Fake News will knowingly lie and demean in order make the tremendous success of the Trump Administration, and me, look as bad as possible. They use non-existent sources & write stories that are total fiction. Our Country is doing so well, yet this is a sad day in America!” Trump continued in a subsequent tweet.

In a third tweet, Trump labeled the press the “enemy of the people” and the “opposition party,” comments he has made before.

“The Fake News Media in our Country is the real Opposition Party. It is truly the Enemy of the People! We must bring honesty back to journalism and reporting!” he wrote.

Trump did not specify what reporting sparked the series of tweets.

His tweets come as an ongoing partial government shutdown, which is now in its third week, has continued to dominate the news cycle.

The shutdown was prompted when Trump refused to sign a spending bill last month that didn’t include his requested $5 billion in funding for a wall along the southern border. Democrats have vowed not to approve any funding for the wall and have offered $1.3 billion for border security.

The president has frequently lashed out against the press during his presidency, labeling negative stories “fake news” while targeting some media organizations as “the enemy of the people.”

He tweeted or retweeted the phrase “fake news” nearly 200 times last year and has already used the phrase several times on Twitter in the first days of 2019.

[The Hill]

Trump Twitter rants at press for exposing lack of support for his wall

President Donald Trump got an early start on Twitter on Saturday morning, saying he has ‘great support” for his border wall and government shutdown, while at the same time lashing out at the press for publishing reports that show otherwise.

On Twitter, Trump wrote: “Great support coming from all sides for Border Security (including Wall) on our very dangerous Southern Border. Teams negotiating this weekend! Washington Post and NBC reporting of events, including Fake sources, has been very inaccurate (to put it mildly)!”

[Raw Story]

Trump falsely claims Mexico is paying for wall, demands taxpayer money for wall in meeting with Democrats

President Trump rejected a plan from Democrats on Wednesday to reopen key parts of the federal government, as a meeting of the country’s top political leaders disbanded with no sign of progress toward ending the partial shutdown.

The president is demanding more than $5 billion to build a new wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. House Democrats plan to advance legislation that would reopen key parts of the government but deny Trump any additional money for a wall, as one of their first acts after they take control of the chamber on Thursday.

But Trump told congressional leaders he will not sign the measure, said incoming House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who attended the meeting.

“The president’s not going to sign it . . . Now’s the time to come together, find common ground and solve this problem,” Mc­Carthy said. “I didn’t find the Democrats were wanting to negotiate today.”

Trump has invited congressional leaders back to the White House on Friday for more discussions. But neither side offered any indication that a deal was within reach.

The jostling from Trump and top Democrats reflects how Washington’s new balance of power will not break the impasse that has shuttered large parts of the government since Dec. 22. And with no obvious path to a compromise, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday said the shutdown could drag on for “weeks.”

The 12-day government shutdown has entered a new and unruly phase. Before the meeting, Trump leveled a series of false claims about immigration and the federal budget. Democrats countered by accusing the president of intransigence and said they would not yield to his demands.

“We have given the Republicans a chance to take ‘yes’ for an answer,” incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said after the meeting. Earlier, Trump said the shutdown would go on “as long as it takes.”

The shutdown began Dec. 22, and its effects are spreading, particularly in the Washington region. The Smithsonian Institution closed its museums and the National Zoo on Wednesday. Trash and human waste are piling up at national parks.

The District of Columbia has stopped issuing marriage licenses because of cutbacks to its funding, and the Internal Revenue Service, Securities and Exchange Commission, and a number of other agencies have suspended or scaled back a range of services for families and businesses.

As Trump and Democrats scrap over the wall, both sides have all the power they need to block the other. Democrats can use their House majority — or a Senate filibuster — to stall any legislation that includes additional money for a wall. Trump can veto any bill that doesn’t, and Senate Republicans have said they won’t advance any legislation that lacks the president’s blessing.

Trump wants $5.6 billion for the construction of 200 miles of wall along the Mexican border. Some Republicans have suggested he would be willing to accept a lesser amount, but he tried to dismiss this idea on Wednesday.

He also rejected the negotiating position of his own top advisers. Vice President Pence in December approached Democrats with a compromise offer of $2.5 billion for border security and wall improvements. But Trump on Wednesday said he would never accept that deal.

“Somebody said $2.5 (billion),” Trump said to reporters. “No. Look, this is national security we’re talking about.”

Democrats have signaled a willingness to approve $1.3 billion for border security as part of a broader spending bill, and a portion of that money could be used to replace and repair existing sections of wall and fencing. But they have drawn the line at the use of any additional taxpayer money for the construction of a new wall.

The president on Wednesday continued to advance false claims about where the wall money would come from and why it is needed.

He said the wall would be paid for by Mexico through savings to the United States under a new North American trade agreement. But the trade agreement has yet to be approved by Congress, and trade experts said such savings are uncertain.

He also wrote in a Twitter post that “Much of the Wall has already been fully renovated or built.” This is also not true. Some wall and fencing has been replaced during the Trump administration, but there is little evidence that new barriers have been established along the 2,000-mile border.

And in remarks to reporters during a televised cabinet meeting, Trump estimated there are between 30 million and 35 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. That number is roughly triple the estimate his own Department of Homeland Security offered several weeks ago.

Pelosi is under extreme pressure from liberal groups not to give in to White House pressure for any wall funding. McCarthy said Trump wanted to have the next meeting on Friday, after leadership elections in Congress, and Trump has suggested Pelosi is opposing money for the border wall because she is worried about losing support from liberals.

But Pelosi has rejected the notion she is opposing the wall for purely political purposes, and many Democrats have rallied to her defense.

Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign and earlier in his presidency, Trump told voters he said he would build a concrete wall, 30 feet tall in most places, to keep people out. He also promised Mexico would pay for the wall. Since becoming president, though, he has shifted this promise, saying the money must come from U.S. taxpayers.

During the shutdown, Trump has offered much different descriptions of the barrier he wants to build along the Mexico border. He has said at times it would be a traditional wall, but he has also rejected the idea of a wall and described it as a series of “steel slats.” He recently offered a picture on Twitter of vertical posts with pointy tips, but other government officials said they were not planning to erect anything that looked like this.

The shutdown began after Trump rejected bipartisan congressional efforts to fund many operations through Feb. 8, insisting that any deal must contain wall money. His demand infuriated many Republicans who had been working to avoid a shutdown, but most have followed his lead and are insisting Democrats broker some sort of compromise.

Democrats on Wednesday sought to ramp up pressure on Republicans to reopen the government, even suggesting they push off a debate about the border wall to a later date.

“I said, ‘Mr. President, give me one good reason why you should continue your shutdown,’” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said after the White House meeting. “He could not give a good answer.”

Two congressional aides briefed on the exchange said Trump told Schumer the president would “look foolish” if he backed down now. White House officials didn’t respond to requests for comment on this exchange.

Despite the far-reaching impacts of the shutdown, much of the federal government has not been touched. Major agencies like the Pentagon and the Department of Health and Human Services have already been funded through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, thanks to spending bills passed by Congress last year.

House Democrats on Thursday plan to pass two bills: one to fund the Homeland Security Department at its current level through Feb. 8, which would continue the $1.3 billion in border barrier funding; and the other to fund the rest of the government through Sept. 30, at levels negotiated on a bipartisan basis in the Senate.

That would make it possible for McConnell to send Trump a bill to reopen most of the government, while setting aside the fight over the wall.

Trump and some conservative Republicans have said the fight over wall funding is necessary now because it’s the best point of leverage, believing Democrats will rush to fund government programs and offer up some money in return for GOP votes. That has proved not to be the case.

Wednesday’s meeting was crafted by the White House as an opportunity for DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to brief Democrats on problems along the Mexico border, but Democrats quickly interjected and said they wanted to talk about efforts to reopen the government.

The last time Schumer and Pelosi met Trump at the White House, on Dec. 11, it turned into a bizarre televised squabble during which Trump claimed he would be “proud” to shut down the government over the wall and insisted he would take ownership of any shutdown. The agencies that are unfunded and in shutdown mode include the Homeland Security, which pays for the wall; as well as the departments of Agriculture, Justice, Interior, Transportation, State, and Housing and Urban Development. NASA is also partially shut down, along with the National Park Service and an array of smaller agencies.

Some 800,000 federal workers are affected, including around 350,000 who have been furloughed while the rest stay on the job wondering whether they will end up getting paid. In past shutdowns, Congress has approved retroactive pay once the impasse has been resolved. But the many government contractors affected may never make up their lost paychecks.

The current shutdown is the longest since a 16-day partial shutdown in 2013 over the Affordable Care Act.

[Washington Post]

All Of The Made-Up, Nonsensical, Hypocritical Highlights From Trump’s Cabinet Meeting

President Donald Trump ranted about immigrants, attractive generals, the difficulty of being president and more on Wednesday in his first televised appearance of the year.

In a rambling and often disjointed conversation, the president led reporters and members of his Cabinet through his thinking on issues ranging from immigration to military strategy to the very role of the presidency.

Here are some of the standout moments from the over 90-minute meeting:

Trump claimed there are more than 30 million undocumented immigrants.

That number is about three times greater than experts’ estimates. Pew Research Center estimated there were 10.7 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. as of 2016.

He said Afghanistan was responsible for turning the Soviet Union into Russia, then said he would have been a good general.

In one extended rant, Trump put forth his theory that Afghanistan was responsible for turning the Soviet Union into Russia, shared his thoughts on military strategy to fight terrorism and then claimed he would have been a good general. Trump avoided the draft five times.

Trump said he works too hard, despite taking more vacation days than any other president in recent history.

Former President Barack Obama was harshly criticized for taking vacation days ― including by Trump. But Trump has far surpassed Obama in the number of days he’s spent golfing during his presidency.

He repeated a number he made up for what unauthorized immigration costs the U.S.

Trump has a long history of spouting greatly inflated or invented numbers for how much illegal immigration costs the U.S. During his presidential campaign, he often claimed it cost $100 billion. That number has risen steadily over the years, unattached to any apparent research or reports, as The Washington Post’s Philip Bump has documented.

Trump summed up the deadly, devastating and years-long conflict in Syria with a minimizing statement.

After abruptly announcing plans in December to withdraw all American troops from war-torn Syria, Trump backpedaled somewhat on Wednesday, saying it might take longer than previously expected. “We’re talking about sand and death,” he said. “That’s what we’re talking about.”

The president commented on the physical attractiveness of a group of generals he once met with at the Pentagon.

This one pretty much speaks for itself, but “computer boards,” anyone?

He complained about being ‘all alone’ over the holidays, ‘except for all of the guys out on the lawn with machine guns.’

Trump threatened to take unilateral action on a number of his top priorities and then seemed to taunt, ‘Wouldn’t that be scary?’

[Huffington Post]

Trump Makes All-Caps New Year’s Decree: ‘MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL’

With the Federal government in its 10th day of a shutdown as President Donald Trump tries to secure funds in the budget for a Southern border wall, the commander-in-chief is reverting back to his original campaign promise about where the money is coming from.

In a Monday night tweet fired off just a few hours before the ball drop in Times Square, the president claimed that Mexico will be financing the wall by way of the trade pact they signed earlier in 2018.

“MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL through the many billions of dollars a year that the U.S.A. is saving through the new Trade Deal, the USMCA, that will replace the horrendous NAFTA Trade Deal, which has so badly hurt our Country,” Trump wrote. “Mexico & Canada will also thrive – good for all!”

Earlier, Trump also taped a brief New Year’s message for his followers:

“While I’m at the White House working, you’re out there partying tonight. But I don’t blame you. Enjoy yourselves. We’re gonna have a great year. Have a really, really Happy New Year.”

[Mediaite]

Sarah Sanders Goes After CNN: They ‘Attack Anyone Who Supports’ Trump, Including Military

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is hammering CNN for reporting that military protocol might’ve been violated when President Donald Trump met with U.S. forces in his travels abroad.

During the president’s meetings with soldiers in Iraq and Germany, various members of the military were spottedas they took photos with Trump, displayed his paraphernalia, and asked him to sign MAGA hats.

Typically, U.S. troops are asked to conduct themselves in an apolitical manner, so CNN reported that some of yesterday’s interactions with Trump might’ve broken Defense Department rules on “partisan political activities.”

As critics from CNN and other outletsaccuse Trump of using his troop visits as a political exercise, Sanders is slamming the network by saying they will “attack anyone who supports President Trump.”

[Mediaite]

Trump misleads about military pay raises again

President Donald Trump incorrectly told troops in Iraq on Wednesday that he gave them their first pay raise in more than 10 years — a falsehood he has repeatedly told.

Speaking to troops at Al Asad Air Base during his surprise visit to Iraq, Trump told troops: “You protect us. We are always going to protect you. And you just saw that, ’cause you just got one of the biggest pay raises you’ve ever received. … You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years. More than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one. I got you a big one.”
In fact, military pay has increased every yearfor more than three decades. It was raised 2.4% in 2018 and then 2.6% in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. The 2.6% pay raise is the largest in the past 9 years.

[CNN]

Donald Trump Tweets Picture of Himself at His Desk Signing a Blank Sheet of Paper

On December 21, Donald Trump posted a tweet to his official Twitter account: “Some of the many Bills that I am signing in the Oval Office right now. Cancelled my trip on Air Force One to Florida while we wait to see if the Democrats will help us to protect America’s Southern Border!”

Trump has been butting heads with Democrats over his demand for $5.7 billion to fund a 215 mile wall along the Mexican border.

He accompanied the tweet with a picture of himself in the Oval Office, surrounded by a massive stack of black folders, signing his name to a piece of paper.

The problem? The paper appeared to be completely blank.

[Second Nexus]

President Trump orders all US troops out of Syria, declares victory over ISIS

President Donald Trump called Wednesday for a U.S. withdrawal from Syria over the apparent objections of military advisers and a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

The withdrawal of the more than 2,000 troops is based on Trump’s decision that the mission against ISIS is complete, a U.S. official told USA TODAY.

Trump tweeted out a video statement in which he said U.S. “heroes” should be brought home because they have accomplished the mission of defeating ISIS. “Now we’ve won,” Trump said. “It’s time to come back … they’re getting ready; you’re going to see them soon.”

Military leaders, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, in recent weeks and months have spoken of the need for U.S. troops to remain in the eastern part of the country to help stabilize it and allow for peace negotiations to proceed.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., derided Trump’s decision to withdraw, likening it to those made by former President Barack Obama to announce ahead of time plans to reduce forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Withdrawal of this small American force in Syria would be a huge Obama-like mistake,” Graham tweeted.

In a statement, Graham added that Trump’s action would represent a “big win for ISIS, Iran, Bashar al Assad of Syria, and Russia.”

“I fear it will lead to devastating consequences for our nation, the region, and throughout the world,” Graham said.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted that the move was a “major blunder” and against the Pentagon’s advice.

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, top Democrat on the Foreign Relations panel, called it a “dangerous decision” that would destabilize the region, endanger Kurdish allies and embolden America’s enemies.

“We’re leaving the Kurds at risk, we’re creating a vacuum, and we’re doing it in a way that puts Israel at risk” because of Iran’s presence in Syria, Menendez said.

In Russia, a foreign ministry spokesperson applauded Trump’s decision, saying it could help create “a real prospect for a political solution” in Syria, according to TASS, the Russian state-owned news agency.

Trump’s announcement should not surprise anybody because he has promised it, according to a senior administration official who was not authorized to speak publicly. The official would not say why Trump apparently didn’t inform high-ranking officials of his decision. The Pentagon is developing the timeline for the removal of troops.

The U.S. will continue to apply pressure on  Assad and his Iranian allies, the official said, but referred questions to the Pentagon about whether U.S. warplanes would continue to strike ISIS targets.

In statements later Wednesday, White House and Pentagon spokeswomen equivocated on the “defeat” of ISIS that Trump referred to.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday that the U.S. has “defeated the territorial caliphate.”

“These victories over ISIS in Syria do not signal the end of the Global Coalition or its campaign,” Sanders said in a statement. “We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign.” She did not offer details on what the next phase was.

Dana White, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman, went even further, saying the fight against ISIS continues.

“The Coalition has liberated the ISIS-held territory, but the campaign against ISIS is not over,” White said in a statement. “We have started the process of returning U.S. troops home from Syria as we transition to the next phase of the campaign.”

Yet in  his tweet earlier Wednesday, Trump declared victory.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” he wrote.

Despite Trump’s assertion, fighting by U.S.-led forces continues in Syria.

On Saturday, warplanes  struck ISIS targets 47 times, U.S. Central Command announced early Wednesday. The bombs struck 20 fighting units and destroyed petroleum tanks, a tunnel, a vehicle and a mortar-firing position, the military said.

According to a recent report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, ISIS is far from obliterated. The Washington-based think tank estimates 20,000 to 30,000 Islamic State militants may still be in Iraq and Syria.

As recently as last week, officials said U.S. troops may need a longer stay to ensure that the military’s accomplishments are “enduring.”

“I think it’s fair to say Americans will remain on the ground after the physical defeat of the caliphate, until we have the pieces in place to ensure that that defeat is enduring,” said Brett McGurk, special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declined earlier in December to put a timeline on withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, suggesting they would be needed for some time to establish conditions for a long-term peace agreement.

“We still have a long way to go, and so I’d be reluctant to give a fixed time,” Dunford said in a forum held by the Washington Post.

The U.S.-led coalition has been fighting ISIS in the countries since 2014.

U.S. troops, most of them special-operations units, have been training local security forces in eastern Syria.

In September, Mattis told reporters that declaring victory and leaving Syria would be a mistake.

“I think that getting rid of the caliphate doesn’t mean you then blindly say OK, we got rid of it, march out, and then wonder why the caliphate comes back and how many times have we seen – look at even Iraq where they’re still on the hunt for them.  And they’re still trying to come back.”

[USA Today]

Trump and Rudy Giuliani tweeting bogus claims about missing texts from ex-FBI agents Strzok and Page

President Donald Trump tweeted out a blatantly false claim intended to undermine the federal investigation of his campaign ties to Russia.

The president and his attorney Rudy Giuliani each passed along bogus claims that 19,000 texts between two former FBI officials had been destroyed by investigators — which contradicted new findings by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

“How can Mueller’s gang get away with erasing over 19,000 texts of Trump haters Stroyk and Page?” Giuliani tweeted early Saturday, misspelling former FBI agent Peter Strzok’s last name. “They say it was DOJ policy to destroy evidence? I guess Mueller’s angry Democrats fall under the Hillary exception to obstruction of justice. She erased over 30,000 emails.”

Giuliani continued tweeting misleading claims about the story, citing conservative media reports, throughout Saturday morning, and then Trump chimed in.

“Wow, 19,000 Texts between Lisa Page and her lover, Peter S of the FBI, in charge of the Russia Hoax, were just reported as being wiped clean and gone,” Trump tweeted, taking a pass on spelling out Strzok’s name. “Such a big story that will never be covered by the Fake News. Witch Hunt!”

[Raw Story]

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