Trump, Republicans accuse top Dem of orchestrating whistleblower complaint

The intelligence community employee who has accused President Donald Trump of abusing his office filed his whistleblower complaint after first consulting with an aide to the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a committee spokesman acknowledged Wednesday, touching off a firestorm of criticism from Republicans.

But while President Trump and others accused House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., of orchestrating the complaint, Democratic committee aides told NBC News that what happened was rather routine, and no different from the two to three times a month an intelligence agency employee comes to them with concerns.

They said they did what they usually do in that situation: They instructed the future whistleblower to file a formal document with the inspector general, as called for in the law.

“Like other whistleblowers have done before and since under Republican and Democratic-controlled committees, the whistleblower contacted the committee for guidance on how to report possible wrongdoing within the jurisdiction of the Intelligence Community,” committee spokesman Patrick Boland told NBC News. “This is a regular occurrence, given the committee’s unique oversight role and responsibilities. Consistent with the committee’s longstanding procedures, committee staff appropriately advised the whistleblower to contact an Inspector General and to seek legal counsel.”

The sequence of events was first reported by the New York Times. The future whistleblower, a CIA officer, came to the committee after he had already filed a complaint with the CIA general counsel, and was concerned that the complaint was not being properly handled, Democratic committee aides said.

“At no point did the Committee review or receive the complaint in advance,” Boland said.

Trump, at a news conference, seized on the revelation and made an unsupported allegation that Schiff had helped prepare the complaint.

“He knew long before and helped write it, too. It’s a scam,” the president said.

The House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, claimed on Twitter that Schiff “just got caught orchestrating with the whistleblower before the complaint was ever filed. Democrats have rigged this process from the start.”

Boland and a lawyer for the whistleblower denied that Schiff played any role in writing the complaint.

However, Republicans focused on the veracity of a statement Schiff made on MSNBC’s Morning Joe a few days after he publicized the existence of the complaint.

“We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower,” Schiff said. “We would like to, but I’m sure the whistleblower has concerns that he has not been advised, as the law requires, by the inspector general or the Director of National Intelligence, just as to how he is to communicate with Congress.”

A committee aide said Schiff was referring to the committee writ large “officially interviewing the whistleblower,” as distinct from the brief conversation with a staffer. But Sam Stein, the Daily Beast journalist who asked the question, tweeted, “Schiff did appear to lie here in previously saying that his office had not spoken directly with the whistleblower.”

He added, “But if you care more about this stuff than the actual substance of the whistleblower complaint then you’re being a hack.”

Boland noted that the committee did not receive a copy of the complaint from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence until the night before the acting director of national intelligence’s testimony, more than three weeks after the legal deadline by which the committee should have received the complaint.

“The whistleblower should be commended for acting appropriately and lawfully throughout every step of the process,” he added. “The committee expects that they will be fully protected, despite the President’s threats. Only through their courage did these facts about the President’s abuse of power come to light. The committee encourages all whistleblowers to come forward and seek advice on how to make disclosures of serious or flagrant wrongdoing. The committee — and the nation — rely on brave members of the Intelligence Community to raise the alarm and avail themselves of established channels.”

Schiff does not know the identity of the complainant, the committee aides said, adding that the whistleblower passed on only a vague account of his or her concerns. They would not comment on whether Schiff knew they involved a Trump phone call with the Ukrainian president.

But one result of the heads up was that Schiff, alone among members of Congress, knew there was something important when the inspector general of the Intelligence Community notified the House and Senate intelligence committees that an “urgent concern” complaint was being withheld from them on legal grounds. On September 13, a Friday night, Schiff announced without warning that he was issuing a subpoena for the complaint, and suggested the complaint was being withheld to protect the president. Other Democrats did not appear to know what he knew.

The committee aides added that the bulk of the whistleblower’s complaint was marked unclassified, and that he therefore did not violate the whistleblower law that prohibits intelligence employees from conveying classified information to Congress without going through procedures, including filing a complaint with an inspector general.

A source close to the whistleblower’s legal team said there was no violation, and did not dispute the sequence of events as reported in the New York Times and confirmed by committee aides.

When the whistleblower first had a colleague convey his or her concerns in very general terms to the CIA’s general counsel, the CIA’s counsel briefed the White House Counsel’s Office about the complaint, a person familiar with the matter said. When the whistleblower learned about that, he became concerned the complaint was being swept aside, the New York Times reported.

“The intelligence community whistleblower followed the advice of legal counsel from the beginning,” Andrew Bakaj, lead counsel for the whistleblower, said. “The laws and processes have been followed.”

[NBC News]

After criticism by Paul Krugman, Trump just lashed out at American labor on Labor Day

For a newspaper that he constantly describes as “failing” and “Fake News,” Donald Trump pays an awful lot of attention to The New York Times.

A series of tweets by the paper’s Nobel Prize-winning economics columnist Paul Krugman referenced an article in the newspaper on how Trump’s establishment of “Opportunity Zones” — part of the Republican tax bill that gave billions in tax cuts to the already wealthy while offering pittances to everyone else — primarily benefited Trump’s associates and benefactors in a swampy mass of corruption as usual.

Krugman’s strong indictment of the Trump administration’s tax policies — coupled with The New York Times’ exposure of the dark underbelly of billionaire tax evasion schemes — was enough to set the president off on an epic Twitter rant, one not likely to earn him the Nobel Prize in economics that his critic already possesses.

With growing predictions of an impending economic recession looming, Trump defended his economic policies with the usual parcel of lies he offers in defense of his economic stewardship to his gullible followers.

Nothing says “truthiness” like a quote praising Trump from Fox News, at least in the president’s own eyes.

Trump went directly after Krugman in his next tweet.

Trump’s criticism of Krugman’s economic advice would certainly carry more weight if the figures he used in his tweet were anything close to the reality of the stock market performance.

No, the stock market hasn’t grown “over 50%” since Trump took office. The S&P 500 was up around 29% since the beginning of the president’s term until mid-August of this year — a figure that compares negatively to the index’s performance of a 46% gain at the same point in the Obama presidency.

Yet, any rise in the market during the Trump administration also ignores the fact that only slightly more than 50% of Americans actually own any stocks whatsoever and that the richest 10% of households controlled 84% of the total value of the stock market.

Trump says that anyone following Krugman’s advice would be doing “VERY poorly,” but their opinions about that advice will change dramatically when the poor market fundamentals caused by Trump’s trade wars and tariff impositions lead to an inevitable market collapse and wipe out the paper wealth that was generated during his term.

Unfortunately for America and the global economy, Trump is the one who doesn’t “get it.” With the U.S. Treasury bond yield curve still inverted — a historical sign that a market crash is imminent as investors flee the stock market to the safety of government bonds — chances are good that the US will enter a recession before the 2020 elections are held.

At that point, no amount of tweeted lies by Donald Trump will help reverse the economic damage his policies have caused. The smart money is following Krugman’s advice while the rich continue to exploit Trump’s tax policies to siphon money from government services that the rest of us depend on while driving up government debt to make their case to cut back or even eliminate those services.

[Occupy Democrats]

Trump says he’s ‘certain’ New York Times will endorse him in 2020

President Trump said he is “certain” that he will receive an endorsement from The New York Times in 2020 for the presidential election, he said in a tweet Sunday night.

His tweet appeared to be tongue in cheek.

“The New York Times will be out of business soon after I leave office, hopefully in 6 years,” Trump tweeted after returning to the White House from a vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

“They have Zero credibility and are losing a fortune, even now, especially after their massive unfunded liability. I’m fairly certain they’ll endorse me just to keep it all going!”

Times correspondent and MSNBC analyst Peter Baker responded to Trump’s tweet with a “fact check” on Twitter.

“Revenues up, subscriptions at a record high, profits at $37.9 million in the second quarter,” Baker said.

The tweet included a press release of The New York Times Company’s earnings in 2019.

Mark Thompson, Times’ president and chief executive officer, said in the press release that “we added 197,000 net new digital-only subscriptions, 131,000 of which came from our core news product and the rest from our rapidly expanding Cooking and Crossword products. Today, The Times has 4.7 million total subscriptions.”

[Fox News]

Trump snarls at NYT’s reporter for exposing his hospital visits as a ‘debacle’ in a Twitter meltdown

Donald Trump is already taking time out from his vacation to rage on Twitter, this time launching an assault on the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman who revealed on CNN on Friday that White House aides consider his trip to see victims of mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso a “debacle” that was hidden from the public.

Kicking off Saturday morning’s usual flurry of tweets, the president raged, “Maggie Haberman of the Failing @nytimes reported that I was annoyed by the lack of cameras inside the hospitals in Dayton & El Paso, when in fact I was the one who stated, very strongly, that I didn’t want the Fake News inside & told my people NOT to let them in. Fake reporting!”

[Raw Story]

Trump Attacks Tom ‘The Chin’ Friedman For Calling Him Racist: We Just Spoke and He ‘Kissed My A**’

President Donald Trump unleashed a tirade against Thomas Friedman on Twitter Friday morning, claiming the New York Times columnist had been friendly in a private call before deeming him a racist in print.

Trump kicked off his Twitter meltdown with an unflattering nickname for Friedman:

Thomas “the Chin” Friedman, a weak and pathetic sort of guy, writes columns for The New York Times in between rounds of his favorite game, golf. Two weeks ago, while speaking to a friend on his cell phone, I unfortunately ended up speaking to Friedman … he could not have been nicer or more respectful to your favorite President, me. Then I saw the column he wrote, “Trump Will Be Re-elected, Won’t He?” He called me a Racist, which I am not, and said Rhode Island went from economically bad to great in 5 years because the … Governor of the State did a good job. That may be true but she could not have done it without the tremendous economic success of our Country & the turnaround that my Administration has caused. Really Nasty to me in his average I.Q. Columns, kissed my a.. on the call. Phony!

While it’s difficult to know what transpired on their call — Trump tends to be an unreliable narrator and has claimed many a time that his critics kiss his ass in private — the president is correct about Friedman’s brutal column, which warned Democrats that Trump could win in 2020.

The searing line that likely piqued Trump’s ire: “I wasn’t surprised to hear so many people expressing fear that the racist, divisive, climate-change-denying, woman-abusing jerk who is our president was going to get re-elected, and was even seeing his poll numbers rise.”

[Mediaite]

Trump accuses NYT reporter of breaking the law by alerting FBI to Kushner meetings with Russians

President Donald Trump accused a New York Times reporter of breaking the law by tipping off the FBI to developments in the Russia investigation.

Times reporter Michael Schmidt alerted the FBI’s assistant director for public affairs in March 2017 that he and some colleagues had found out Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn had met in December 2016 with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who then set up a meeting between Trump’s son-in-law and a Russian banker.

Schmidt’s email was then forwarded to FBI special agent Peter Strzok, who was leading the bureau’s Russia investigation, and Jonathan Moffa, an FBI counterintelligence officer, reported the Washington Examiner.

Trump reacted with a pair of tweets suggesting that Schmidt had fed false information to the FBI.

“Just revealed that the Failing and Desperate New York Times was feeding false stories about me, & those associated with me, to the FBI,” Trump tweeted. “This shows the kind of unprecedented hatred I have been putting up with for years with this Crooked newspaper. Is what they have done legal?”

[Raw Story]

Trump calls newspaper report on Russia power grid ‘treason’

President Donald Trump has lashed out at The New York Times, saying it engaged in a “virtual act of treason” for a story that said the U.S. was ramping up its cyber-intrusions into Russia’s power grid.

The Times reported on Saturday that the U.S. has bored into Russian utility systems in an escalating campaign meant to deter future cyber activity by Russia. It comes as the U.S. looks for new ways to punish Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and prevent a recurrence.

The Times, in its official public relations account, called Trump’s accusation “dangerous” and said it had told officials about the story before it was published and no security issues were raised.

The newspaper, basing its reports on three months of interviews with current and former government officials, said this campaign was conducted under new cyber authorities granted by Trump and Congress. But it also reported that two administration officials believed the president had not been briefed in detail, fearing he might countermand the action against Russia or reveal sensitive information to foreign officials.

In a pair of tweets sent Saturday night, Trump asserted the story wasn’t true and denounced reporters as “cowards.”

“Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country,” he wrote.

The story reported the deployment of American computer code into Russia’s grid and other targets to act as a deterrent. The newspaper also said the U.S. Cyber Command, part of the Department of Defense, has explored the possibility that Russia might try to initiate selective blackouts in key states to disrupt the 2020 election.

In a second tweet, Trump added about the story: “ALSO, NOT TRUE! Anything goes with our Corrupt News Media today. They will do, or say, whatever it takes, with not even the slightest thought of consequence! These are true cowards and without doubt, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

The New York Times’ response also noted that the paper described the article to government officials before publication. “As our story notes, President Trump’s own national security officials said there were no concerns.”

The paper said there was no evidence the US had actually activated the cyber tools.

[Associated Press]

Trump says supporters could ‘demand’ he not leave office after two terms

In tweets on Sunday morning, President Donald Trump suggested supporters might not want him to leave office after two terms. 

“The good news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT),” Trump wrote. 

The president had also been criticizing the Washington Post and the New York Times, calling them “both a disgrace.” 

Trump has talked about the issue before. In March last year, according to a recording obtained by CNN, he told a closed-door fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago that “maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day,” in reference to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s abolishment of term limits. It was unclear if the comments were made in jest.  

The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution explicitly states that “no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice.” 

The only American president to serve more than two terms was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who died during his fourth term in office. 

Some progressive commentators have speculated about the possibility of Trump not leaving office if he loses the election narrowly. Last week, Bill Maher said on CNN that if Trump loses, “he won’t go.”  

To which conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg responded, “Refusing to leave would make him the crazy guy the Marines escort out of the building.”

[USA Today]

‘All of it is new’: Trump, administration officials defend deal with Mexico against reports saying little is new

President Donald Trump and senior members of his administration on Sunday defended the U.S. agreement with Mexico to avoid tariffs that Trump threatened to impose if the country did not stem the flow of migrants, disagreeing with critics who said the U.S. got little new in exchange for dropping the threat.

“All of it is new,” Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told “Fox News Sunday.” “We’ve heard commitments before from Mexico to do more on their southern border. The last time they deployed down there is about 400 or 500 officers. This is more than a tenfold commitment to increase their security.”

Democrats derided the deal as overblown and unnecessary.

“I think the president has completely overblown what he purports to have achieved,” said Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic presidential candidate, speaking on ABC’s “This Week” show. “These are agreements that Mexico had already made, in some cases, months ago. They might have accelerated the timetable, but by and large, the president achieved nothing except to jeopardize the most important trading relationship that the United States of America has.”

A senior administration official told NBC News that some key elements of the deal, announced Friday, had been agreed to months ago, but added that the two sides had agreed to expand on some of the previous commitments.

Mexican officials agreed to move more quickly to deter migrants than they had previously, the official said, adding that their commitment to deploy up to 6,000 troops was modestly larger than the earlier agreement, representing a promised personnel increase of about 10 percent.

The official also pointed to an expansion of the program allowing migrants to remain in Mexico while their asylum cases are processed as something new, with both sides agreeing to increase resources in the effort.

Mexico did not agree to accept what is called a “safe third country” treaty, which would have allowed the U.S. to reject asylum seekers if they had not first applied for refuge in Mexico — something the Trump administration had strongly pushed for.

The New York Times, citing U.S. and Mexican officials familiar with the negotiations, reported Saturday that while Trump excitedly presented the agreement as a groundbreaking deal, it contained actions largely agreed upon in earlier negotiations.

The Mexican government had already pledged to deploy its national guard to stem the flow of migrants during secret negotiations with then Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in March, the Times reported. And the agreement to expand a program that allows asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while their cases are processed was reached in December and announced by Nielsen to the House Judiciary Committee in a hearing that same month.

The president disputed the Times’ report in a Twitter post on Sunday, calling the article “another false report” and lamenting that he was not getting enough credit in the media for his dealmaking.

“We have been trying to get some of these Border Actions for a long time, as have other administrations, but were not able to get them, or get them in full, until our signed agreement with Mexico,” Trump wrote. “Additionally, and for many years, Mexico was not being cooperative on the Border in things we had, or didn’t have, and now I have full confidence, especially after speaking to their President yesterday, that they will be very cooperative and want to get the job properly done.”

Trump added that there were “some things” the countries agreed on that were “not mentioned” in his administration’s press release, but he did not say what those were.

In a tweet on Saturday, Trump said Mexico agreed to “immediately begin buying large quantities of agricultural product from our great patriot farmers!”

But in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Mexican ambassador to the U.S. Marta Bárcena Coqui did not confirm whether any such agreement regarding agricultural products was a part of the deal.

On Friday, the two countries reached an agreement after days of negotiations in Washington that led Trump to drop — at least temporarily — his threat of tariffs on Mexican goods that would have increased in 5 percent increments to 25 percent over a several-month span.

In announcing the agreement, the State Department said Mexico agreed to deploy its national guard, “giving priority to its southern border,” while expanding “migrant protection protocols” requiring those seeking asylum in the U.S. to stay in Mexico until their cases are processed. Many of the specifics of the agreement have yet to be released.

While Trump has hailed the agreement on Twitter, the White House is taking a wait-and-see approach to the deal. The senior administration official said the administration will monitor the flow of migrants at the border to see if Mexico is carrying out its promises and if it’s working to curb the flow of migration. If Trump feels enough progress has not been made, the deal may be re-evaluated.

After threatening substantial tariffs on Mexico, Trump had come under intense pressure from business leaders and top Republicans to retract the threat because of concerns such tariffs could cause substantial harm to the U.S. economy.

On “Fox News Sunday,” McAleenan said the threat of tariffs worked.

“People can disagree with the tactics,” he said. “Mexico came to the table with real proposals.”

[NBC News]

Trump fumes after NYT reports on his banking history

President Trump on Monday lashed out at the New York Times after the paper reported that anti-money-laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank flagged multiple transactions involving him and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in 2016 and 2017, and recommended they be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog.

Deutsche Bank executives rejected their employees’ advice, the Times said, and the suspicious transactions were never reported.

Trump, though, did not respond to that part of the report. The president, instead, fixated on the newspaper’s assertion that unlike Deutsch Bank, “most Wall Street banks had stopped doing business with him.”

“The Failing New York Times (it will pass away when I leave office in 6 years), and others of the Fake News Media, keep writing phony stories about how I didn’t use many banks because they didn’t want to do business with me,” Trump tweeted. “WRONG! It is because I didn’t need money. Very old fashioned, but true. When you don’t need or want money, you don’t need or want banks. Banks have always been available to me, they want to make money.”

The president accused the Times, without evidence, of using made-up sources in an effort to “disparage” him. He then repeated a familiar attack line (“FAKE NEWS is actually the biggest story of all and is the true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”) before returning to his Twitter tirade about the report.

“Now the new big story is that Trump made a lot of money and buys everything for cash, he doesn’t need banks,” the president continued. “But where did he get all of that cash? Could it be Russia? No, I built a great business and don’t need banks, but if I did they would be there.”

“DeutscheBank was very good and highly professional to deal with – and if for any reason I didn’t like them, I would have gone elsewhere,” Trump added. “There was always plenty of money around and banks to choose from. They would be very happy to take my money. Fake News!”

The president was tweeting so furiously, it seems, he missed a pair of missives.

“Two Tweets missing from last batch, probably a Twitter error,” Trump tweeted. “No time for a redo! Only the Dems get redos!”

That tweet was quickly deleted. It was unclear what the issue was.

Trump’s reaction to scrutiny of his relationship with Deutsche Bank comes amid efforts by Congress to get ahold of his tax and bank records.

Last month, the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees subpoenaed the German bank for documents related to any suspicious activities detected in Trump’s personal and business bank accounts since 2010.

Trump and his family then sued Deutsche Bank in an attempt to block it from sharing the documents. Although Trump once promised to publicly release his tax returns, he has refused to do so, claiming he is under audit.

Earlier this month, the Times obtained Trump’s tax returns from 1985 to 1994 showing his businesses lost more than $1 billion during that timespan.

[Yahoo News]

1 2 3 7