White House shuts down press availability after Trump tweet admits collusion

The White House announced on Monday that President Donald Trump would not take any questions after he admitted on Twitter that his son may have colluded with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

In a tweet over the weekend, Trump reversed course on his explanation of a 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower. The president had originally claimed that the meeting had been about adoptions. But in his Sunday tweet, Trump admitted that the purpose of the meeting had been to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee.

On Monday, White House correspondents reported that the White House had issued a “lid” on presidential travel and questions from the press.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also had not scheduled a Monday briefing by the time of publication.

[Raw Story]

Trump says Trump Tower meeting meant to obtain information on Clinton

President Trump tweeted Sunday morning about the now-infamous June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Russians and Trump campaign officials, including his son, Donald Trump Jr.

“Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!”

Why it matters: Trump and his son have repeatedly changed their stance on the purpose of the 2016 meeting. In a statement to The New York Times last July, which investigators now know was dictated by President Trump, Don Jr. said the meeting was primarily about Russian adoptions. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has also claimedthat the president approved the meeting ahead of time, contradicting continued denials by Trump and his legal team.

[Axios]

Trump bragged that his tower withstood a fire — but has been silent about the man who died in it

Depending on whom you followed more closely, there were two accounts of the fire Saturday night that tore through a 50th-floor apartment in Trump Tower, President Trump’s namesake building on Fifth Avenue in New York.

The first narrative unfolded through official alerts and images from the New York Fire Department, which painted a picture of an extraordinarily challenging — and ultimately fatal — blaze to contain and extinguish.

The fire broke out just before 6 p.m. Saturday, officials said. Soon, flames could be seen making their way across the unit as dark plumes of smoke billowed upward, obstructing many of the floors above.

By the time firefighters arrived at the 50th floor of the building, they found “the apartment was entirely on fire,” New York Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Saturday.

Forcing their way into the unit, firefighters pulled out one person, unconscious and unresponsive, who had been trapped inside, Nigro added.

The man was taken to the hospital in critical condition, police said. He later died.

In all, six firefighters — of the roughly 200 or so who had responded — suffered minor injuries fighting the blaze, Nigro said.

For the president, however, the fire seemed first a chance to boast of the construction quality of Trump Tower on Twitter, his preferred method of communicating with the public.

“Very confined (well built building),” Trump tweeted Saturday, about an hour after the fire broke out. “Firemen (and women) did a great job. THANK YOU!”

Trump also declared that the fire had been extinguished — before it actually had been.

The fire was still not considered to be under control then because of smoke conditions above the 50th floor, Nigro said Saturday. It was brought under control shortly before 8 p.m. Saturday, about an hour after Trump’s tweet, fire officials said.

[Washington Post]

Trump, Without Evidence, Accuses Obama of Wiretapping Trump Tower

President Trump on Saturday claimed President Obama had his “wires tapped” in Trump Tower before Election Day, tweeting the accusation without offering evidence.

“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” he wrote.

“Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!” he added in subsequent tweets. “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”

A spokesman for Obama issued a statement denying that his White House had interfered in Justice Department investigations or ordered surveillance on any American, much less Trump.

“A cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said.

“As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen,” he added. “Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”

It was not immediately clear whether Trump had any proof or was referencing a report. Breitbart News on Friday reported on conservative radio host Mark Levin’s claim that Obama executed a “silent coup” of Trump via “police state” tactics. White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon was the executive chair of Breitbart before joining Trump’s team.

Observers have noted the president’s tendency to tweet things — including a 2003 photo tweeted Friday of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) with Russian President Vladimir Putin — shortly after they were published on pro-Trump blogs like Gateway Pundit or conservative websites like Drudge Report.

Moments earlier, Trump had also linked Obama to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s meetings last year with Russia’s U.S. ambassador.

“The first meeting Jeff Sessions had with the Russian Amb was set up by the Obama Administration under education program for 100 Ambs,” he tweeted.

Sessions on Thursday said he would recuse himself from any investigations into Russia’s links to Trump’s team, after massive outrage over the revelations that he met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice during the campaign, then denied doing so during his confirmation hearings.

Trump on Saturday also blasted Obama for meeting with Kislyak 22 times while president, tweeting: “Just out: The same Russian Ambassador that met Jeff Sessions visited the Obama White House 22 times, and 4 times last year alone.”

Trump’s team has sought to push back on accusations of coziness with Russia by pointing out instances of Democrats meeting with Kislyak. Critics have responded that the issue isn’t that Sessions met with the ambassador, but that he falsely told Congress he hadn’t while under oath.

Former national security advisor Michael Flynn was ousted last month after revelations that he misled top White House officials about the nature of his conversations with Kislyak.

(h/t The Hill)

Reality

Donald Trump appears to have read this in an article from Breitbart news, who repeated claim from right-wing talk radio host Mark Levin. Both offered zero evidence for this claim.

If this is true then Trump’s claim would be important for two reasons:

  1. Presidents do not have the authority to wiretap a private citizen’s phone, Barack Obama would be the first.
  2. Since federal judges are the only once with the authority to wiretap a phone, and they can’t do it without probable cause, that means Trump did something very wrong and is under investigation.