President Donald Trump invited Democratic Party leaders to the White House on Wednesday and proceeded to have what those leaders described as a “meltdown” in front of them. Before the lawmakers left early, Trump managed to rail against communists, his own former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom he called “a third-rate politician,” according to the Democratic leaders and sources’ descriptions of the meeting.
Shortly after the brief, cross-partisan meeting with the president in the Cabinet Room—which was convened to discuss Syria- and Turkey-related matters—Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) emerged to give a readout to reporters on what was, in Schumer’s words, Trump’s “nasty diatribe.”
“What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown—sad to say,” Pelosi told reporters. “I think that vote, the size of the vote—more than two-to-one of the Republicans voted to oppose what the president did [on troops in Syria]—it probably got to the president, because he was shaken up by it [and] that’s why we couldn’t continue in the meeting because he was just not relating to the reality of it.”
Schumer asserted that Pelosi “kept her cool completely” even while Trump sniped that “there are communists involved [in Syria] and you guys might like that.”
The president even took a shot at his former defense secretary—who quit late last year over policy disagreements—when the conversation on Wednesday afternoon touched on foreign policy and a potential rejuvenation of ISIS fighters in Syria.
According to a Democratic source familiar with what happened in that meeting, Schumer at one point pulled out a piece of paper featuring quotes from Mattis’ interview on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. The Democratic leader began reading to the president the statement that Mattis made on that Sunday show, that “if we don’t keep the pressure on, then ISIS will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back.”
Trump, this source said, then interrupted Schumer, and insisted that Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general.”
“You know why?” the president continued, according to the source. “He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take two years. I captured them in one month.” Trump also repeatedly claimed that of the ISIS prisoners who escaped when Turkish forces invaded northeast Syria (an invasion Trump all but greenlit), only the “least dangerous” individuals got out.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, asked to confirm the president’s assertion that those ISIS prisoners who escape were the “least dangerous,” told Schumer he didn’t know, according to the source.
At one point, Trump is said to have claimed that “someone wanted this meeting so I agreed to it,” despite the White House having called the meeting.
Pelosi, for her part, told Trump that Russia has long wanted a “foothold in the Middle East,” adding that because of the president’s actions, the Russian government now has it. “All roads with you lead to Putin,” the House speaker jabbed, according to one senior Democratic aide.
“I hate ISIS more than you do,” Trump shot back at Pelosi, this aide noted, with Pelosi replying, “You don’t know that.”
Later in the day, Pelosi, in the escalating round of insults hurled between the West Wing and Capitol Hill, told reporters, “I think now we have to pray for [Trump’s] health. Because this was a very serious meltdown on the part of the president.”
There was even a point in this meeting, the Democratic aide said, that President Trump distributed to attendees the Oct. 9 letter he sent to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the one that read, “You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy—and I will.” Trump’s letter also includes the lines, “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.”
This was taken as an attempt by the president to demonstrate to all the Republicans and Democrats in the room that he was being sufficiently tough on Erdogan, and as an effort to convince those present that he did not greenlight the Turkish invasion, which is currently causing political backlash at home, and slaughter and mayhem abroad.
The president’s aides, meanwhile, sought to place the blame for the derailed meeting on the Democratic leaders’ decision to walk out over Trump’s “nasty” words directed at Pelosi.
“Her decision to walk out was baffling, but not surprising,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham emailed The Daily Beast shortly after the Democrats’ comments to White House press. “Speaker Pelosi had no intention of listening or contributing to an important meeting on national security issues. While Democratic leadership chose to storm out and get in front of the cameras to whine, everyone else in the meeting chose to stay in the room and work on behalf of this country.”
Trump later tweeted a flurry of photos from the meeting that he claimed showed the Democrats had tanked the meeting, including one in which he accused Pelosi of having an “unhinged meltdown.”
This wouldn’t be the first time this year that a meeting at the White House involving Trump, Pelosi, and Schumer completely degenerated so quickly. Early this year, during a Friday meeting on the government shutdown, President Trump started the gathering by launching a 15-minute, profanity-encrusted rant that included him demanding his border wall, and, unprompted, complaining about Democratic lawmakers who want to impeach him.
At the time, Trump told attendees that he was, simply put, too popular a president to impeach.
Today, Trump and his administration are currently fighting back against an ongoing, rapidly accelerating impeachment inquiry, with Democrats on Capitol Hill hoping to hold a vote on his impeachment before the end of the year.
President Donald Trump went on a tweetstorm this afternoon standing by his Syria withdrawal decision amid mounting criticism from Republicans and the atrocities witnessed in northern Syria in the past few days.
This morning the president hit back over comments from Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade, and this afternoon he went on a tweetstorm defending his decision, asking, “why should we be fighting for Syria and Assad to protect the land of our enemy?”, and invoking Napoleon for some reason.
President Trump said on Thursday that Fox News “doesn’t deliver for US anymore” after the network’s latest poll showed growing support for his impeachment and removal from office.
“From the day I announced I was running for President, I have NEVER had a good @FoxNews Poll,” Trump tweeted. “Whoever their Pollster is, they suck. But @FoxNews is also much different than it used to be in the good old days.”
A Fox poll released Wednesday found 51 percent of respondents supported Trump’s impeachment and removal from office. Four percent of participants said the president should be impeached but not removed, and 40 percent were completely against impeachment.
Trump on Thursday also lashed out at prominent Fox News employees who have been critical of him and his interactions with the president of Ukraine, which is at the heart of an impeachment inquiry by House Democrats.
“@FoxNews doesn’t deliver for US anymore,” Trump tweeted. “It is so different than it used to be. Oh well, I’m President!”
Trump claimed that Napolitano, Fox News’s senior judicial analyst, wanted to be on the Supreme Court but that he turned the judge down. Politico reported in 2017 that Napolitano had told friends he was on Trump’s shortlist of potential nominees.
The president also ripped Fox News anchor Shepard Smith and contributor Donna Brazile. Trump has targeted both before, as Smith regularly fact checks or rebuts statements from the president during his hourly program and Brazile is the former interim leader of the Democratic National Committee.
Trump has had a hot-and-cold relationship with Fox News in recent months. He has complained about several of the network’s polls that showed him trailing his Democratic challengers in potential 2020 matchups and regularly lashes out at employees who are critical of him.
He tweeted in August that the cable network “isn’t working for us anymore” and that his supporters “have to start looking for a new News Outlet.”
But the president still regularly tweets out quotes from Fox News programming, his aides appear on Fox for interviews and former White House staffers have taken jobs at the network.
Moments after his criticism of Fox on Thursday, the president retweeted posts from Fox Business Network anchor Maria Bartiromo multiple times.
President Donald Trump is using his Twitter account to once again attack teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, this time to amplify a snide dismissal of her public appearances as “acting.”
The commander-in-chief on Thursday jabbed at the Swedish 16-year-old: He retweeted and praised a Twitter user who criticized the passionate speech Thunberg gave at the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City late last month.
A user by the name of @Opinion8dKellie shared video of Thunberg’s speech, in which the teen slammed world leaders for what she said was more interest in making money than in saving the planet by reducing carbon emissions.
“What an actress!” the user, @Opinion8dKellie, tweeted, adding, “I won’t be held hostage by someone who just got a learner’s permit. Sorry kiddo!”
Though the tweet was written on Sept. 23, Trump, 73, retweeted it Thursday morning.
“Keep up the great work Kellie!” he wrote.
In the original tweet, @Opinion8dKellie also referred dismissively to when a visibly aggrieved Thunberg said at the U.N.: “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!”
President Donald Trump’s furor with House Democrats’ barely week-old impeachment probe reached new heights on Wednesday, apparently prompting the president to resort to obscenities to express his discontent.
In a slew of tweets fired off as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff held a briefing on lawmakers’ impeachment efforts, Trump branded the Democratic Caucus as “Do Nothing Democrats” and proceeded to call their oversight efforts “bullshit.”
“The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016, 223-306,” he wrote, incorrectly stating the breakdown of Electoral College votes he and Hillary Clinton received.
He also fired off a warning to Democrats ahead of their nominating contest next year: “Get a better candidate this time, you’ll need it!”
Later speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside Finland’s visiting president, Trump managed to partially censor himself in making a crude reference to Schiff, one of his top congressional rivals.
“He is a shifty dishonest guy who was critical of one of the great secretary of States,” Trump said of Schiff, who’d just criticized Mike Pompeo on national television. “The most honorable person, Mike Pompeo, and this guy was negative on Mike Pompeo.”
Trump then delivered some locker room talk about Schiff: “He can’t — you know there’s an expression, he couldn’t carry his blank strap,” he said, apparently bleeping out “jock strap.”
“I won’t say it,” Trump went on, “because they’ll say it was so terrible to say, but that guy couldn’t carry his blank strap, do you understand that?”
Pelosi only formally launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump last week, after it was reported the president pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Biden is among the top candidates vying to run against Trump next year.
The probe stems from a whistleblower complaint filed by a member of the intelligence community citing that call, prompting the White House to release its rough transcript of the conversation. Democrats, citing Trump’s sudden decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine, suggested the conversation may have contained a quid pro quo, though no such offer is explicitly made, according to the White House’s account of the phone call.
Trump’s outbursts come as the investigation has intensified on a daily basis. Early Wednesday morning, Pompeo confirmed that he was on the July phone call with Trump and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky after initially playing down any knowledge of what was discussed on the call.
Pompeo also stoked Democrats’ ire by appearing to accuse them on Tuesday of intimidating career employees at the State Department and by suggesting several potential witnesses could decline to appear for depositions with lawmakers.
In recent days, Trump demanded Schiff’s resignation while claiming the congressman and the anonymous whistleblower could both be guilty of treason.
But Democrats have moved forward quickly with their probe, hitting Trump and his allies with a number of subpoenas over the past week, and Trump has continued to lash out, calling their investigations an attempt at a “coup.” Schiff on Wednesday made clear that he would not put up with stonewalling by the White House, telling reporters that doing so would be considered evidence of obstruction in any eventual articles of impeachment.
In Wednesday’s news conference, Pelosi said she still believed Democrats could work with the White House on prescription drug pricing legislation and to make tweaks to Trump’s renegotiated deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, arguing that her colleagues could investigate and legislate simultaneously.
She also forcefully defended the probe, insisting she would be a fair arbiter while ensuring it moves forward at an aggressive pace.
As Trump barked out insults in the Oval Office, referring to Schiff as a “lowlife” and “shifty Schiff,” Finland’s Sauli Niinistö sat quietly in the chair beside him with a straight face.
When a Finnish reporter offered up the chance to change the subject, asking Trump what he could learn from “the happiest country in the world,” Finland, the president continued to lay into his rivals.
“Well if you got rid of Pelosi, and you got rid of shifty Schiff,” Trump trailed off with a grin after slapping Niinistö on the knee.
“Finland is a happy country, he’s a happy leader, too,” Trump added, eliciting an eyebrow raise and a knowing chuckle from Niinistö.
In a tweet, the president wrote Fed Chair Jerome Powell and the central bank “have allowed the Dollar to get so strong, especially relative to ALL other currencies, that our manufacturers are being negatively affected.” He contended the Fed has set interest rates “too high.”
“They are their own worst enemies, they don’t have a clue,” he wrote. “Pathetic!”
The dollar index, which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of global currencies, has climbed more than 3% this year and sits near its highest level since mid-2017. A stronger dollar relative to global currencies is generally expected to reduce exports and increase imports, hurting manufacturers because it makes their products more expensive overseas.
While exchange rates may have contributed to the drag on manufacturing in September, trade also did, according to ISM.
“Global trade remains the most significant issue as demonstrated by the contraction in new export orders that began in July 2019. Overall, sentiment this month remains cautious regarding near-term growth,” Timothy Fiore, chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, said in a release announcing the data.
Trump has repeatedly downplayed any concerns about a looming American recession. He has also contended his trade conflict with the second-largest economy in the world will not harm businesses or consumers — despite indications that it has already started to hurt some companies and worry Americans.
Seeing concerns about a flagging economy as a ploy to discredit him before the 2020 election, Trump has claimed the central bank bears the blame for any slowdown rather than his own policies.
President Trump on Tuesday reiterated his desire to meet with and question the whistleblower whose complaint about Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine ignited an impeachment inquiry.
The president, who in recent days attacked the whistleblower as a “fraud” and attempted to undermine their credibility, questioned why he doesn’t have the right to interview the anonymous individual.
“Why aren’t we entitled to interview & learn everything about the Whistleblower, and also the person who gave all of the false information to him,” Trump tweeted. “This is simply about a phone conversation that could not have been nicer, warmer, or better. No pressure at all (as confirmed by Ukrainian Pres.). It is just another Democrat Hoax!”
Trump claimed the author of the complaint “has all second hand information” and that “almost everything” the whistleblower recounted about the president’s call with Ukraine was wrong.
But neither of those things is true.
The whistleblower’s account of Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky aligns with a rough White House transcript that shows Trump urged Zelensky to “look into” Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and asked him to investigate a company with ties to the 2016 election.
In addition, the intelligence community inspector general released a statement on Monday night clarifying that the whistleblower had firsthand information and information from other sources in their complaint about Trump.
Democrats and the whistleblower’s attorneys have expressed concerns that Trump is endangering the person’s safety by attempting to uncover their identity and questioning their motives.
The president has ramped up his attacks on the anonymous individual behind the whistleblower complaint in recent days, claiming he should be able to meet the complainant and alleging they are partisan despite not knowing their identity.
The Whistleblower Protection Act makes it a violation for federal agencies to threaten retaliation against individuals who come forward to raise concerns of wrongdoing within the government.
President Trump faced a backlash online and from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle Tuesday for congratulating China on the 70th anniversary of Communist rule.
“Congratulations to President Xi and the Chinese people on the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China!” the president said in a tweet that was slammed for ignoring decades of human rights abuses in the country.
Trump has generally spoken favorably about Xi, though relations between the two nations have deteriorated since he took office and has launched a trade war with Beijing.
His shoutout came amid violent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, where an 18-year-old was hit in the chest by a live round fired by police in the Chinese territory.
House Republican Conference chairwoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming released a statement pointing to China’s oppressive governing tactics, according to the Washington Post.
“This is not a day for celebration,” she said in a joint statement with Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.).
The US will use the occasion to “rededicate ourselves to ensuring that the Chinese Communist Party is left on the ash heap of history,” they added.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) also issued a statement that contrasted sharply with the president’s message.
“The freedom-seekers in Hong Kong mourn this anniversary, and the American people stand with them against those who deny their God-given dignity.”
In a statement, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said: “From the Great Leap Forward to the Cultural Revolution to the camps in Xinjiang today, it has been a ghoulish 70 years of Chinese Communist Party control.”
And Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a Trump ally, tweeted a terse “I will pass” in response to the president’s wishes.
On Twitter, Trump’s followers also didn’t hold back in calling him out.
“Don’t forget to send timely salutations to the other loves of your life, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Rodrigo Duterte, and Jair Bolsonaro!” Karen Walz wrote.
User Michael Lebowitz wrote: “Are you kidding me. Congratulations to a nation that has killed more people than Hitler and Stalin in the effort to uphold communism. They are morally corrupt and certainly not deserving of congratulations.”
“Mr. President, I regret to point out you are literally congratulating your greatest enemy, the biggest threat to the US: you are congratulating the CCP,” @WBYeats1865 tweeted.
“Today the CCP just showed off their missiles capable of striking Taiwan, Japan, Guam, and USA soil, and they said it PROUDLY!” he added, referring to the Chinese display of military might on Tuesday.
And another user, Jim Clarke, said: “Never thought I see the day a US President celebrates the anniversary of communism!”
President Donald Trump raised the specter of shady bureaucratic doings that allowed a whistleblower’s complaint to move forward when ordinarily it wouldn’t have.
“Who changed the long standing whistleblower rules just before submittal of the fake whistleblower report?” Trump tweeted Sept. 30. “Drain the swamp!”
Trump was far from the only one saying the rules were changed “just before” the report that ignited an impeachment inquiry was filed Aug. 12. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted the same thing Sept. 28.
“Whistleblowers were required to provide direct, first-hand knowledge of allegations,” McCarthy wrote. “But just days before the Ukraine whistleblower came forward, the IC (Inspector General of the Intelligence Community) secretly removed that requirement from the complaint form.” Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani echoed the same point Sept. 29.
All three tweets lead back to the same article on the conservative website Federalist.
All three are wrong.
• First-hand knowledge by a whistleblower has never been required since the law protecting intelligence community whistleblowers was enacted.
• Inspector General staff, who investigate a charge, need first-hand information to move a complaint forward — as they did in this case.
• The current complaint was based on both first- and second-hand information.The Federalist article
The Sept. 27 article claimed, “Between May 2018 and August 2019, the intelligence community secretly eliminated a requirement that whistleblowers provide direct, first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoings.”
The evidence comes from a tweet thread started by Stephen McIntyre on the morning the Federalist article appeared. McIntyre is a former mining company director who created the Climate Audit blog, which questions the official data behind climate change.
From the thread, a few key points emerge:
As of May 24, 2018, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community’s Urgent Concern disclosure form — the form whistleblowers fill out — offered three choices to describe how the whistleblower got his/her information: personal knowledge, heard from other people, and other sources.
The current form offers just two choices: personal knowledge or “heard about it from others.” That form dates from August 2019.
The previous form also included a section under the subhead “First-hand information required.”
“In order to find an urgent concern ‘credible,’ the IC IG (Intelligence Community Inspector General) must be in possession of reliable, first-hand information. The IC IG cannot transmit information via the ICWPA (Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act) based on an employee’s second-hand knowledge of wrongdoing. This includes information received from another person, such as when a fellow employee informs you that he/she witnessed some type of wrongdoing. (Anyone with first-hand knowledge of the allegations may file a disclosure in writing directly with the IC IG.) Similarly, speculation about the existence of wrongdoing does not provide sufficient basis to meet the statutory requirements of the ICWPA. If you think wrongdoing took place, but can provide nothing more than secondhand or unsubstantiated assertions, IC IG will not be able to process the complaint or information for submission as an ICWPA.”
The current reporting form lacks that section.
Based on these facts, Trump and other Republicans asserted that the rules for whistleblowers were changed “just before” the current complaint was filed. Actually, only the forms were changed. The rules stayed the same.The actual sequence
The whistleblower who triggered the impeachment inquiry filled out the earlier version of the form, and no rules were changed.
The Office of Inspector General issued a statement Sept. 30 saying that “the Disclosure of Urgent Concern form the Complainant submitted on August 12, 2019, is the same form the IC IG has had in place since May 24, 2018.”
The inspector general’s office underscored that the whistleblower received the section about the need for first-hand evidence before a claim would go on to the next step.
So changes to the form took place after the whistleblower filed.
As for the rules on what is required, those have been the same since 2014 under an order issued by the Director of National Intelligence. Intelligence Community Directive 120 defines a protected disclosure as one that the employee “reasonably believes evidences a violation of any law, rule or regulation.”
The statement from the Inspector General’s office emphasized the reasonable belief standard.
“By law the Complainant – or any individual in the Intelligence Community who wants to report information with respect to an urgent concern to the congressional intelligence committees – need not possess first-hand information in order to file a complaint,” the statement said. “The IC IG cannot add conditions to the filing of an urgent concern that do not exist in law.”
The section about the need for first-hand information has to do with the investigation that follows a whistleblower’s report, not a requirement for the report itself.
“This is their way of tempering the whistleblower’s expectations,” said analyst Irvin McCullough, with the nonprofit Government Accountability Project. (McCullough’s father served as inspector general until 2017 and now represents the whistleblower.) “It says we might not find enough to support your complaint.”
The latest IG statement says it changed its forms after the current affair unfurled, because it understood some parts “could be read — incorrectly — as suggesting that whistleblowers must possess first-hand information in order to file an urgent concern complaint.”
The statement noted that the whistleblower checked both boxes to indicate he/she had both first and second-hand information.
It also notes that its investigation found the report credible and urgent.
The White House had no comment.Our ruling
Trump said, “Longstanding whistleblower rules (were changed) just before submittal of the fake whistleblower report.”
The current rules have been in place since 2014. Whistleblowers can provide either first or second-hand information, or both. The current whistleblower filled out a form that dates from May 2018. Whatever changes existed on that form date from 14 months before the present claim was filed.
Investigators require more than second-hand information in order to move a complaint forward, but that is not a requirement before a complaint can be filed.
The Inspector General’s office changed its forms after the whistleblower filed, but those changes had no bearing on the rules under which a claim would be processed.