Trump Claims Report on North Korea’s Secret Missile Program ‘Inaccurate’: I’ll ‘Let You Know if Things Go Bad!’

Taking again to Twitter to bash The New York Times, President Donald Trump claimed without evidence that the outlet’s report that North Korea is secretly beefing up its ballistic missile program was false.

“The story in the New York Times concerning North Korea developing missile bases is inaccurate,” he said Tuesday about the Monday article. “We fully know about the sites being discussed, nothing new – and nothing happening out of the normal. Just more Fake News. I will be the first to let you know if things go bad!”

In its article, the Times used satellite images to reveal that the regime appeared to be “engaged in a great deception.”

“It has offered to dismantle a major launching site — a step it began, then halted — while continuing to make improvements at more than a dozen others that would bolster launches of conventional and nuclear warheads,” the report read. “The existence of the ballistic missile bases, which North Korea has never acknowledged, contradicts Mr. Trump’s assertion that his landmark diplomacy is leading to the elimination of a nuclear and missile program that the North had warned could devastate the United States.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Refutes iPhone Usage in Angry Tweet Sent From iPhone

President Trump began his Thursday morning by blaming the attempted assassination of his political adversaries on the media. He’d said as much the night before at a rally in Wisconsin, but his early-morning tweet seems to be inspired by New York Times report about the president’s careless cell phone use, which has allowed China and Russia to listen in on his calls.

Less than half-an-hour before he attributed the “Anger we see today in our society” to the “Fake News,” Trump railed against the story in the Times.

Trump followed up his capitalized show of reverence to “Government Phones” by noting that he rarely even uses cell phones, preferring the far more dignified “Hard Lines.”

In April, CNN reported that Trump was beginning to use his cell phone with increasing frequency, and that, according to a senior White House official, he “is talking to all sorts of people on it.” The tweets he wrote Thursday morning refuting the story in the Times were sent using an iPhone.

Trump’s refusal to abandon his personal phone has been well documented, but this latest report from the Times delves into the implications of the president’s indifference to securing his communications. The report notes that U.S. intelligence has found that the Chinese are often listening when Trump rings up his friends, “putting to use invaluable insights into how to best work the president and affect administration policy.”

In May, Politico reported that the president uses an unsecured cell phone that is susceptible to hacking and surveillance, and that he has ignored staffers who have insisted he strengthen the security of his communications. According to administration officials, Trump has two cell phones, one for Twitter and one for making calls, and has gone as long as five months without having the latter checked by security experts. The report notes that President Obama swapped out his phone every 30 days. Both Politico and now the Times reported that Trump has refused to do the same, calling the practice too “inconvenient.” The Times also noted that in addition to the two White House cell phones, Trump also maintains a personal iPhone with no security protections because he is able to store his contacts in it.

Though a White House official assured Politico that Trump’s “devices are more secure than any Obama-era devices,” not everyone agrees. “Foreign adversaries seeking intelligence about the U.S. are relentless in their pursuit of vulnerabilities in our government’s communications networks, and there is no more sought-after intelligence target than the president of the United States,” said Nate Jones, who served as a counterterrorism director on the National Security Council under President Obama. The Times report from Wednesday notes that intercepting calls is “a relatively easy skill for governments,” which is why most heads of state refrain from using cell phones.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that both China and Russia have been listening in on the president’s calls. The Times reports that China in particular is using the calls to determine how to influence the president, especially as the trade war between the two superpowers intensifies. Because some of the business magnates with whom the president regularly speaks have interests in China, the nation’s government is attempting to use other business figures to lobby them to nudge the president in a direction they deem beneficial to China. “The strategy is that those people will pass on what they are hearing, and that Beijing’s views will eventually be delivered to the president by trusted voices,” officials told the Times, noting that “they can only hope” the president doesn’t divulge any sensitive information.

The president has reportedly been warned that the adversaries are listening to his phone calls, but has refused refused to change his practices. Meanwhile, Trump’s supporters continue to call for Hillary Clinton to be jailed over her use of an unsecured private email server. Questions surrounding Clinton’s emails served as the foundation of Trump’s attacks against her during the 2016 campaign. “We can’t hand over our government to someone whose deepest, darkest secrets may be in the hands of our enemies,” Trump said that June.

[Rolling Stone]

Reality

Use Twitter’s TweeDesk service, do a search for @realDonaldTrump, find the tweet.

After Trump Swipes at ‘Failing’ NYT in Presser, Reporter Responds: We’re ‘Thriving Not Failing’

President Donald Trump took a few shots at the “failing” New York Times during his press conference today, and a Times reporter responded when Trump finally let him have a question.

Trump went on a tangent about the Times minutes earlier, and reporter Mark Landler jumped in to get Trump to give the Times a question.

Landler took a moment to tell Trump, “We’re kind of thriving, not failing these days.”

“You’re doing very well,” the President said. “Say thank you, Mr. Trump.”

Landler responded, “I think I’ll stop short of that.”

Trump teed off on the “negative” stories he gets from the Times before saying “I still love the paper.”

Landler proceeded to ask Trump about China.

[Mediaite]

White House Reiterates Trump Call for Investigation of Anonymous Opinion Writer

The White House press secretary on Monday called for the Justice Department to investigate who wrote an anonymous opinion column last week that was critical of President Trump, echoing the president’s demand for such a probe.

“If that individual is in meetings where national security is discussed or other important topics, and they are attempting to undermine the executive branch, that would certainly be problematic and something that the Department of Justice should look into,” Sarah Sanders told reporters at Monday’s briefing.

Mr. Trump last week said he wanted Attorney General Jeff Sessions to launch an investigation into who in his administration penned the column in the New York Times, which was attributed only to a senior administration official and said there was a secret resistance movement at work in Mr. Trump’s administration that aims to curtail his “worst inclinations.”

The president said he was concerned the author may be involved in discussions about national security issues. “I don’t want him in those meetings,” he said.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on Monday. When Mr. Trump raised the prospect of an investigation last week, a department spokeswoman said the agency doesn’t confirm or deny investigations.

Presidents typically avoid calling for Justice Department investigations, particularly ones related to their own administrations, to avoid the perception they are interfering in department matters. Mr. Trump has done so on multiple occasions.

A parade of senior members of Mr. Trump’s administration publicly denied writing the column last week.

Ms. Sanders declined on Monday to say what crime the author of the column may have committed. “I’m not an attorney,” she said. “It’s the Department of Justice’s job to make that determination, and we’re asking them to look into it.”

Asked whether the president was aware that the column was protected under the First Amendment, Ms. Sanders said: “It’s less about that part of it, and whether or not somebody is actively trying to undermine the executive branch of the government and a duly elected president.”

She declined to say whether the White House was launching an internal search for the column’s author, whom she called “gutless.” “We’re certainly focused on things that actually matter,” she said.

[Wall Street Journal]

Trump Boasts of New York Times Report on Republican Party

On Saturday, President Donald Trumptook to Twitter to brag about a New York Times report on the Republican Party’s loyalty to him.

“So true!” Trump wrote before quoting Nicholas Fandos, who wrote in the Times, “Mr. Trump remains the single most popular figure in the Republican Party, whose fealty has helped buoy candidates in competitive Republican primaries and remains a hot commodity among general election candidates.”

Of course, it is ironic that Trump is tweeting out a comment made in the Times, the paper he has gone to war with in recent days over the anonymous op-ed from a senior White House official who questioned his fitness for office.

In fact, just days ago he slammed them as the “Failing New York Times.”

He also suggested that they use phony sources.

Trump also clearly didn’t read the full  New York Times article which he cited which also talked about how he “raged”and “lashed out” in recent days in wake of the Times op-ed.

[Mediaite]

Trump Wants Attorney General to Investigate Source of Anonymous Times Op-Ed

President Trump said on Friday that he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate the source of an anonymous Op-Ed piece published in The New York Times, intensifying his attack on an article that he has characterized as an act of treason.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One as he traveled to Fargo, N.D., Mr. Trump said, “I would say Jeff should be investigating who the author of that piece was because I really believe it’s national security.”

Mr. Trump said he was considering action against The Times, although he did not elaborate.

The president has raged against the column since The Times published it on Wednesday afternoon. But his latest remark indicates that he wants to use the Justice Department to root out the author of the column, which described some members of the administration in a state of near-mutiny against a president some view as dangerous and untethered from reality.

“We’re going to take a look at what he had, what he gave, what he’s talking about, also where he is right now,” he said.

[New York Times]

Reality

Remember, this is very similar to the Obama administration’s treatment of Fox News report James Rosen, who the Department of Justice treated as a co-conspirator and a criminal in their investigation of leaks.

Trump threatens to reveal classified info to punish political enemies: They’re ‘going crazy — wow!’

President Donald Trump threatened to declassify government documents to expose alleged “corruption” by his political enemies.

The president lashed out at the “Deep State” and the “Fake News Media” after the New York Times published an extraordinary op-ed by an anonymous senior administration official revealing what amounts to a coup within the White House.

“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” Trump tweeted. “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”

[Raw Story]

Trump demands NYT turn anonymous source over to government ‘for National Security purposes’

President Trump on Wednesday lashed out at The New York Times in a tweet over the paper’s publishing an op-ed by an anonymous Trump administration official.

Hours after the piece was published, Trump questioned whether the official exists and demanded that the paper turn the author over to the government, saying it is a national security issue.

“Does the so-called “Senior Administration Official” really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source?” he tweeted. “If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!”

Trump also appeared to question earlier Wednesday whether the official had committed “treason” by writing the piece.

The op-ed was written by an anonymous source claiming to be part of the “resistance” inside the Trump administration. The individual describes in the piece internal efforts among aides and cabinet officials to combat Trump’s “misguided impulses.”

The blistering article sent shockwaves through Washington and frustrated the administration.

The Times published the piece along with an editor’s note stating that the person’s identity was known to the Times, and that publishing the column anonymously was “the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers.”

[The Hill]

Trump is accusing his administration’s anonymous op-ed writer of treason. That’s nonsense.

Early Wednesday evening, the president issued the following official statement:

While, in isolation, the tweet is maddeningly enigmatic, most observers immediately recognized that President Trump was referring to a New York Times op-ed written by an anonymous senior official in his administration.

In the op-ed, the official describes themselves and their colleagues as “thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office,” decries the president’s decision-making as “half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless,” and says that early in the Trump presidency, there were “whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president.”

The last part, presumably, is why Trump is calling the author a traitor.

Treason has a very specific constitutional definition

While there’s obviously a colloquial sense in which “traitor” is used as a general descriptor of disloyal people, the term also has a formal legal definition in the Constitution, and as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was swift to note, the op-ed doesn’t qualify:

Graham is right. The op-ed author isn’t guilty of treason. Nor is Trump or any member of his administration or 2016 campaign guilty of treason because of their ties to a Russian election meddling operation.

Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution defines treason as follows:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

As UC Davis’s Carlton Larson, one of the few experts on treason law in academia today, explained to me in 2013, this language provides for two types of treason prosecutions.

The first is an “aid and comfort” prosecution, in which the defendant is accused of aiding the war effort of a country presently at war with the United States. Not just “rivals” but literally at war. Aldrich Ames, the CIA officer turned Soviet spy, got at least 10 people killed through his actions, and FBI Russian spy Robert Hanssen indirectly got at least three killed, but neither was charged with treason because the US was not at war with the Soviet Union/Russian Federation at the time of their actions.

By contrast, successful aid-and-comfort prosecutions include those of American Nazi propagandist Robert Henry Best and of Iva Toguri, who was accused of being “Tokyo Rose,” an English-language Japanese propaganda broadcaster meant to lower American service members’ morale in the Pacific (she was later exonerated and received a presidential pardon).

The second type of treason involves “levying war,” in which the defendants themselves waged war against the United States or an individual state. Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson’s first vice president, was prosecuted for treason on these grounds and acquitted, after being accused of assembling forces to create an independent state in the center of North America. John Brown, the abolitionist revolutionary, was convicted of treason against the state of Virginia on levying war grounds after his raid on Harpers Ferry.

The anonymous senior administration official doesn’t meet either standard

Now, the op-ed author is obviously not going to be prosecuted for levying war. That leaves the claim that he or she provided aid and comfort to our enemies by undermining Trump in print.

For that to be the case, though, one would have to determine that the op-ed was designed to aid a specific foreign enemy with whom the US is at war, and there is no such country in the world right now.

Attempting to help al-Qaeda or any associated violent extremist groups might qualify under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed after 9/11, and indeed, an American-born al-Qaeda operative was indicted for treasonin 2006 for aiding the organization. The indictment cites the AUMF as well as Osama bin Laden’s statements that al-Qaeda is at war with the United States to demonstrate that by adhering to al-Qaeda, the operative in question, Adam Yahiye Gadahn, was helping a group with which the US was at war.

But the op-ed author rather obviously did not write the New York Times piece with the express purpose of aiding al-Qaeda. Even if he did want to help al-Qaeda (a claim that, again, is preposterous), the treason allegation would be iffy. Consider the Supreme Court case of Cramer v. United States, in which Anthony Cramer, an American man who met with Nazi agents in the US, saw his treason conviction overturned on the grounds that merely meeting the enemy isn’t enough to count as treason.

In his opinion in that case, Justice Robert Jackson asserted that only a defendant who can be found to have “adhered to the enemy” and “intended to betray” the US could be found guilty of treason — even if he did provide aid and comfort to the enemy.

Proving that the op-ed author not only provided aid and comfort to al-Qaeda by the mere act of writing the op-ed, but also consciously intended to betray the United States of America, would be basically impossible. That holds even in the incredibly unlikely world where those were the intentions of, say, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley or White House chief economist Kevin Hassett or Russia Ambassador John Huntsman or any of the many other officials floated as being the op-ed author.

Treason is a very limited crime. It’s rarely prosecuted outside of wartime; Gadahn was the first person charged with treason since World War II. And it definitely doesn’t apply to this case.

[Vox]

Trump Rages Against ‘Gutless’ White House Official Who Wrote Stunning NYT Op-Ed

President Donald Trump tore into the anonymous source who penned the shocking New York Times op-ed from a senior White House official who admitted to trying to “stop” the president.

Speaking at a White House event on Wednesday, Trump raged against the unnamed person.

“Nobody has ever done in less than a two-year period what we have done,” he said. “So when you tell me about some anonymous source within the administration, probably who’s failing, and probably here for all the wrong reasons…”

Trump pivoted from there to blast the Times. But later, he doubled back to what he termed the “gutless editorial.”

“So if the failing “The New York Times” has an anonymous editorial — can you believe it?” Trump said. “Anonymous. Meaning gutless. A gutless editorial.”

In the Times op-ed, the unnamed official wrote that they and others within the Trump administration are working to “stop” the president.

“The dilemma — which [Trump] does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,” the official wrote. “I would know. I am one of them.”

[Mediaite]

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