Trump Suggests FBI Kept Carter Page’s Russia Ties Secret to ‘Spy’ on His Campaign

President Donald Trump suggested that the FBI may have tried to use Carter Page as “an excuse to SPY” on the Trump campaign, as they did not inform the then-candidate about Page’s ties to Russia.

“’Why didn’t the FBI tell President Trump that they had concerns about Carter Page? Is there a double standard here?’” Trump tweeted on Thursday, quoting comments made by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Fox News.

Trump then jumped in with his on commentary on the matter: “They told Senator Diane Feinstein that she had a spy – but not Trump. Is that entrapment or did they just want to use Page as an excuse to SPY?”

Just days before the election in 2016, the FBI filed a surveillance application on Page that said, “The FBI believes that Page has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government.”

Page responded to the allegations by denying his involvement with the Kremlin.

“I’ve never been an agent of a foreign power by any stretch of the imagination,” the former Trump campaign adviser said.

[Mediaite]

Reality

First, Carter Page left the Trump campaign in September 2016, the FBI sought another FISA warrant in October 2016 after Page left.

Second, the FBI informed Trump the Russians were trying to infiltrate his campaign in July 2016.

Trump is a liar.

Graham tweets about ‘spectacular’ Trump golf course

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted about golfing with President Trump at one of Trump’s courses shortly after the pair wrapped up their round.

“Trump International Golf Club is a spectacular golf course,” Graham tweeted.

“Great day of fun playing with @POTUS @realDonaldTrump.”

The pair golfed at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Sunday.

“The president is playing a round of golf with Sen. Lindsey Graham, where the two are discussing the tax cuts and reform legislation and the importance of fully funding our national security needs in upcoming government spending negotiations,” said White House spokesman Raj Shah.

Walter Shaub, the former head of the Office of Government Ethics, quickly replied to Graham’s tweet promoting Trump’s for-profit business.

Graham and Trump have golfed together before at Trump’s course in Virginia.

Graham told GOLF Magazine that Trump had shot a 73 during their game in October, a score the publication called “unlikely, to say the least.”

[The Hill]

Trump Falsely Claims Americans With Pre-Existing Conditions Are Guaranteed Coverage Under New Health Bill

President Donald Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill are trying to assure Americans their latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) covers people with pre-existing conditions.

Both the president and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) is co-sponsoring the health care bill known as the “Graham-Cassidy plan,” took to Twitter to defend the legislation, expected to be up for a vote on the Senate floor next week. “I would not sign Graham-Cassidy if it did not include coverage of pre-existing conditions. It does! A great bill,” Trump wrote Wednesday night. “Repeal & Replace.”

Graham quoted the president’s tweet later Wednesday, adding that any claims his bill doesn’t cover those with pre-existing conditions should be called “#FakeNews on steroids!”

Unlike former President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law, however, the new Republican bill would not guarantee coverage for people living with pre-existing conditions. Instead, the Graham-Cassidy plan would disproportionately harm sick people and Americans living with a variety of medical factors, who could see their insurance costs soar if the legislation were to pass.

The bill would allow states to opt to waive Obamacare rules requiring basic health benefits, essentially cutting protections for sick people in an effort to keep premiums from rising. The waivers allow states to charge more for health insurance offered to people with pre-existing conditions—including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s (or dementia), cerebral palsy and even pregnancy, among other medical factors that could have resulted in denied coverage prior to Obamacare—while continuing to receive federal block grant funding.

Experts say the bill could raise health care costs for those with pre-existing conditions to a point where insurance would be virtually unaffordable for millions of people.

The Graham-Cassidy plan would allow states to more easily gut protections for sick people than the previous Senate bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, as well as the House’s failed effort, the American Health Care Act. The earlier Senate bill would have let states request a reduction from the federal government in what was considered “essential health benefits,” while the House bill would have allowed states to charge more for people living with certain pre-existing conditions when searching for insurance.

The new bill—seen by House Majority Leader Paul Ryan as “our best, last chance” to repeal Obamacare—has received criticism from the even health care industry, which said it would damage existing benefits and do little to reduce insurance premiums that continue to tick upward for millions of Americans.

“The Graham-Cassidy plan would take health insurance coverage away from millions of people, eliminate critical public health funding, devastate the Medicaid program, increase out-of-pocket costs and weaken or eliminate protections for people living with pre-existing conditions,” Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Democrats are warning that if a sudden vote on the legislation is held before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) can issue a full report on it, there could be serious implications for years to come.

“Thus far, every version of Republicans’ effort to repeal and replace the ACA has meant higher health costs, millions of hard-working Americans pushed off coverage, and key protections gutted with devastating consequences for those with pre-existing conditions,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter Monday to CBO Director Keith Hall. “A comprehensive CBO analysis is essential before Republicans force a hasty, dangerous vote on what is an extreme and destructive repeal bill.”

So, while those with pre-existing conditions wouldn’t have their insurance suddenly ripped away, the Graham-Cassidy plan could make it increasingly difficult for sick Americans to afford any insurance at all. Until the CBO is able to fully assess the latest Republican-led attempt to overhaul the nation’s health care system, the bill’s total impact will remain unknown.

[Newsweek]

Reality

The key section lies in the bill’s rules for state waivers from many regulations in the Affordable Care Act (starting at page 8 in the bill.) If a state says it “intends to maintain access to adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions,” then it can allow insurance companies to charge sick people more than healthy ones.

Trump Lashes Out at Sen. Lindsey Graham For Comments on Charlottesville

President Donald Trump lashed out at Sen. Lindsey Graham on Thursday morning, claiming the Republican from South Carolina falsely stated his words about violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In a tweet on Thursday, Trump said “publicity seeking” Graham incorrectly stated that the president said “there is moral equivalency between the KKK, neo-Nazis & white supremacists. … and people like Ms. Heyer.”

Trump Lashes Out at Sen. Lindsey Graham For Comments on Charlottesville

Heather Heyer was killed after she was struck by a car driven into a crowd of people who were protesting a white nationalist rally in Virginia.

In a statement on Wednesday, Graham said Trump “took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. Heyer. I, along with many others, do not endorse this moral equivalency.”

Trump on Monday explicitly condemned white supremacists and “racist” violence, two days after he condemned hatred and violence “on many sides” without specifically denouncing white supremacist groups.

At a heated news conference on Tuesday, Trump doubled down on his initial response, blaming “both sides” for the violence.

[CNBC]

Reality

By claiming both sides were to blame for violence at the Unite the Right rally, Trump made a moral equivalence between Nazis and their protesters.

Republican Intel Chairman: No Evidence of Obama Wiretap of Trump Tower

With threats of subpoenas and efforts to block a top Justice nominee, congressional leaders are ramping up pressure on the Justice Department and FBI to acknowledge whether there is any information to support President Trump’s widely disputed claim that the Obama administration wiretapped his New York offices in advance of the November election.

The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee told reporters Wednesday he has seen no evidence to support the claim.

“We don’t have any evidence that that took place,” California Rep. Devin Nunes said during a news conference at the Capitol. “I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.”

Nunes said it was obvious that President Obama did not personally install listening devices in the building where Trump has offices and an apartment, so he said the committee has had to try to determine what the Trump did mean if his tweet could not be taken literally.

“If the White House or the president want to come out and clarify his statements more, it would probably, probably be helpful,” Nunes said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, indicated separately Wednesday that he has bipartisan support to seek subpoenas if FBI Director James Comey does not respond to Trump’s wiretap claims and outline the status of the bureau’s ongoing investigation into communications between Trump associates and Russian government officials.

“The bottom line is that a lot of Americans want to know what’s going on here,” Graham said at Senate hearing examining Russia’s efforts at undermining the U.S. political system and other democracies.

Graham said the FBI informed him late Wednesday that the bureau would be responding to lawmakers’ concerns in “a classified setting.”

If the request is not satisfied, Graham said there is Judiciary Committee support for issuing subpoenas to compel the information and to block the pending nomination of Rod Rosenstein, who is awaiting confirmation as the deputy attorney general.

Rosenstein’s position is especially crucial since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from overseeing the federal Russia inquiry after it was disclosed that the former Alabama senator — and Trump campaign adviser — had met twice with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the course of the general election campaign. Sessions did not disclose the meetings during his January confirmation hearings.

Earlier this week, the Justice Department, facing a separate deadline from the House Intelligence Committee to turn over information that might support Trump’s wiretap claims, asked for additional time to determine whether any information exists.

Nunes also said Wednesday he was demanding more answers from the intelligence community about efforts they make to prevent the release of the names of Americans who are caught on tape during surveillance of foreign officials.

He and Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who is the ranking member of the panel, released a letter seeking answers about “unmasked” American identities by Friday. Nunes and Schiff said the committee would use its subpoena power if it does not get answers.

Comey and Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, will testify at a public hearing the Intelligence Committee will hold Monday, Nunes said. Another hearing will be held March 28 to hear from other witnesses.

Schiff said Comey would be asked publicly whether he has seen any evidence that substantiates Trump’s claim.

“It deeply concerns me that the president would make such an accusation without basis,” Schiff said.

He said it could be Trump was just reacting to something he saw on television, and the White House reaction has evolved over time.

“You can’t level an accusation of that type without retracting it or explaining just why it was done,” Schiff said. “I think there are, from a national security perspective, great concerns if the president is willing to state things like that without any basis, because the country needs to be able to rely on him, particularly if we have a crisis.

Trump sought to expand the definition of “wiretap” on Wednesday, telling a Fox News interviewer that it can mean a lot of different types of surveillance.

“But wiretap covers a lot of different things,” Trump told Fox’s Tucker Carlson. “I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

Trump echoed his aides, who in recent days sought to expand the nature of Trump’s claims about Obama. While the president used the the term “wiretapping” in his March 4 tweets, spokesman Sean Spicer and other aides have said he was referring to “surveillance” in general.

On Wednesday, Spicer said Nunes said he has no evidence “at this time” and that a review is ongoing. “We’re still at the beginning stages of this,” Spicer said.

Spicer again said there was no connection between the Trump campaign and Russians who sought to hack the 2016 election. “There’s nothing there,” he said.

Shortly after Trump issued his wiretap claims in a series of tweets, Comey asked that Justice officials refute the president’s allegations. The Justice Department has not acted on that request. Separately, former director of national intelligence James Clapper has publicly denied that such surveillance of Trump Tower existed.

Also on Wednesday, Graham led a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism about how to keep Russians from interfering in future U.S. and European elections the way they did in the 2016 presidential election in America. The U.S. Intelligence Community issued a report in January concluding that the Russian government, at the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin,  interfered in the election to try to help Trump and defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. The intelligence agencies also concluded that there was no evidence that the Russians tampered with the actual vote-tallying equipment.

Graham asked former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, whose country has been a victim of Russian hacking, what will happen if the U.S. “decided to forgive and forget”  Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.

“I believe, sir, it would encourage them to continue,” Ilves told Graham, who supports stronger U.S. sanctions against Russia.

Kenneth Wainstein, former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, said America can expect more cyber attacks aimed at interfering in U.S. elections — not just from Russia, but also from China, Iran and North Korea. He added that the U.S. government should consider a wide range of counter measures, including possibly “hacking back” against Russia and other nations to discourage them from interfering in U.S. elections.

“The threat is real,” he said.

(h/t USA Today)

Donald Trump Gives Out Lindsey Graham’s Cellphone Number

Speaking in front of hundreds at a rally in South Carolina on Tuesday, Donald Trump read a number he said people could use to reach South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s private cell phone, telling his supporters to “try it.”

Media

Links

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/donald-trump-gives-out-lindsey-grahams-cell-phone-number-120414