‘Shoot them!’: Trump laughs off a supporter’s demand for violence against migrants

A roar rose up from the crowd of thousands of Trump supporters in Panama City Beach on Wednesday night, as President Trump noted yet again that Border Patrol agents can’t use weapons to deter migrants. “How do you stop these people?” he asked.

“Shoot them!” someone yelled from the crowd, according to reporters on the scene and attendees.

The audience cheered. Supporters seated behind Trump and clad in white baseball caps bearing the letters “USA” laughed and applauded.

“That’s only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement,” Trump replied, smiling and shaking his head. “Only in the Panhandle.”

Though Trump didn’t explicitly endorse the suggestion to shoot migrants, his joking response raised concerns that he was tacitly encouraging extrajudicial killings and brutality against asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants. The president has long been accused of endorsing acts of violence through his incendiary rhetoric and allusions to the potential for violence at his rallies, a charge that members of his administration deny.

Reached for comment by The Washington Post on Trump’s reaction at the Florida rally, Matt Wolking, deputy communications director for the Trump campaign, pointed to a response he had given to many critics on Twitter. The president, he noted in his tweet, had specifically said that Border Patrol wouldn’t use firearms to stop migrants from entering the country.

The incendiary remark from the crowd came as Trump, standing before roughly 7,000 people who had gathered at an outdoor amphitheater in the hurricane-damaged Gulf Coast town, railed against what he described as an “invasion” of migrants attempting to enter the United States. Often, he claimed, only “two or three” border agents will contend with the arrival of “hundreds and hundreds of people.”

“And don’t forget, we don’t let them and we can’t let them use weapons,” Trump said of the border agents. “We can’t. Other countries do. We can’t. I would never do that. But how do you stop these people?”

The fans seated directly behind Trump wore serious, perturbed frowns, which were quickly replaced by broad grins after the shouted suggestion that the solution involved firearms. Uproarious laughter rippled across the room as audience members whistled and offered a round of applause.

To critics, Trump’s failure to outright condemn the idea of shooting migrants amounted to a “tacit endorsement” of the sentiment. Many pointed out that such rhetoric was especially concerning in light of the fact that an armed militia group, the United Constitutional Patriots, had been searching the borderlands for undocumented migrants and detaining them against their will.

Last month, after the group’s leader, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, was arrested on charges of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, the FBI said that the 69-year-old claimed militia members were training to assassinate former president Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and prominent Democratic donor George Soros.

One member of that militia had also questioned why the group wasn’t killing migrants, according to a police report first obtained by left-leaning news outlet The Young Turks.

[Washington Post]

Media

Trump Laments Troops at Border Can’t Get ‘Rough’ Because People Would ‘Go Crazy’

During a roundtable in Texas on Wednesday, President Donald Trumplamented that troops on the United States border can’t can’t get a little “rough.”

“You don’t need drones…but if you don’t have a wall it is never going to happen” Trump began.

He then said border people are “fantastic” before insisting he was going to have to call up more military.

Then the president said this: “Our military, don’t forget, can’t act like a military would act because if they got a little rough everybody would go crazy. So our military can’t act like they would normally act — or like, let’s say, another military from another country would act.”

The roundtable was held in San Antonio. Trump was joined by local officials and ranchers. Trump is also set to attend a second fundraiser in Houston on Texas. According to Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel the two fundraisers are expected to raise $6 million.

[Mediaite]

Trump says he’s ‘very proud’ to hear Bolsonaro use the term ‘fake news’

President Trump said Tuesday that he was “very proud” to hear Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro use the term “fake news” during a news conference at the White House.

Trump offered praise for his Brazilian counterpart, who has earned the nickname “Trump of the Tropics” for his similarities to the U.S. leader, during a diatribe against tech companies and broadcast networks. Trump suggested that those two groups are biased against him and other conservatives.

“You look at the networks, you look at the newscasts. I call it fake news,” Trump said. “I’m very proud to hear the president use the term fake news.”

Bolsonaro invoked the term Trump regularly uses to describe unfavorable news coverage during his opening remarks.

“Brazil and the United States stand side-by-side in their efforts to ensure liberties in respect to traditional family lifestyles, respect to God our creator, against the gender ideology or the politically correct attitudes and against fake news,” he said through a translator.

Tuesday’s news conference underscored the similarities and friendly relationship between Trump and Bolsonaro, who took over as president in January. The two men spoke of improving relations between their respective countries, and referenced their closely aligned views.

“I also know that we’re going to have a fantastic working relationship,” Trump said. “We have many views that are similar.”

Bolsonaro later predicted that Trump will win reelection in 2020.

“It’s an internal affair, we will respect whatever the ballots tell us on 2020,” he said through a translator. “But I do believe Donald Trump is going to be reelected.”

[The Hill]

Reality

Bolsonaro promised in his campaign he would shoot political opponents, including the press. Donald Trump is again promoting violence against those who disagree with him.

Trump Deletes Tweet Promoting Breitbart After Interview Derided for Suggesting Violence

President Donald Trump, or more likely his social media team, have deleted a Thursday tweet that linked to Breitbart.com featuring an exclusive interview that had been widely criticized for the promotion of violence.

In the Wednesday interview, Trump seemed to threaten that things will get “very bad” if his supporters in the military, police, and motorcycle clubs decide to start playing “tough.”  The now-deleted tweet was posted at 10:05 PM EDT.

Seeing as the tweet came after news of the mass shooting of Muslims worshiping at a Christchurch, New Zealand mosque that resulted in the deaths of roughly 50 individuals, many commentators saw this particular response as inappropriate.

Given the volume of Trump tweets, it is a relatively uncommon occasion that President Trump deletes a tweet, and most often the reason for deletion is an obvious and sometimes embarrassing typo. But the tweeting of the website — that features a recently published article that ostensibly warns his detractors of Trump supporters getting “tough” — was considered beyond the pale for White House social media monitors (and perhaps even Mr. Trump) and therefore taken down.

So far the White House has not yet commented or given a reason for the deletion of this tweet.

[Mediaite]

Trump suggests that it could get ‘very bad’ if military, police, biker supporters play ‘tough’

President Trump in a new interview suggested that his supporters are tougher than Democrats, and that if they actually play tough things could get “very bad.”

Trump made the comments in the context of an interview with the conservative outlet Breitbart in which he argued that Democrats play a tough political game. 

“You know, the left plays a tougher game, it’s very funny,” Trump said in the interview with Breitbart published on Wednesday. “I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher.”

“I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad,” Trump said.

“But the left plays it cuter and tougher. Like with all the nonsense that they do in Congress … with all this invest[igations] — that’s all they want to do is — you know, they do things that are nasty. Republicans never played this.”

In his remarks, Trump traveled down territory he has visited in the past.

During a rally for then-Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley (R) in September, Trump said that his opponents “were lucky that we’re peaceful,” The Washington Post noted in a post on his more recent comments.

“Law enforcement, military, construction workers, Bikers for Trump … They travel all over the country …. They’ve been great,” Trump said at the time. “But these are tough people … But they’re peaceful people, and antifa and all — they’d better hope they stay that way.”

The latest remarks were seized upon in some quarters as another example of Trump seeming to offer threats toward his political opponents.

Trump has faced scrutiny in the past for directly calling on his supporters to use violence. He once said at a 2016 rally in Las Vegas that he’d like to punch a protester in the face. 

Trump also encouraged his supporters at another event to “knock the crap” out of any protesters causing trouble. 

“I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees,” Trump said. 

Trump has repeatedly denounced his political opponents during his time in the White House. He has also continually referred to the media as the “enemy of the people.”

The White House Correspondents’ Association in February called on Trump to make it “absolutely clear to his supporters that violence against reporters is unacceptable.”

[The Hill]

Trump: ‘People would revolt’ if I were impeached

President Donald Trump says in a new interview that he is not concerned about being impeached by Democrats, saying, “I think that the people would revolt if that happened.”

In a Reuters interview Tuesday, Trump spoke out for the first time about new documents filed by prosecutors detailing the alleged crimes of his former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Cohen has said he made hush payments to two women accusing Trump of infidelity in the waning days of the 2016 campaign.

Asked if he discussed campaign finance law with Cohen, Trump tells Reuters: “Michael Cohen is a lawyer. I assume he would know what he’s doing.”

He adds: “Number one, it wasn’t a campaign contribution. If it were, it’s only civil, and even if it’s only civil, there was no violation based on what we did. OK?”

[The Washington Post]

Don’t condemn white nationalists, Veterans Affairs’ diversity chief was told after Charlottesville, emails show

A top White House appointee at the Department of Veterans Affairs sought to silence the agency’s chief diversity officer, who — in the aftermath of last year’s racially charged violence in Charlottesville — pushed for a forceful condemnation that was at odds with President Trump’s response, newly disclosed emails show.

The tense exchange between Georgia Coffey, a nationally recognized expert in workplace diversity and race relations, and John Ullyot, who remains VA’s chief communications official, occurred during a low point in Trump’s presidency: when he blamed “many sides” for the deadly clash in Charlottesville without singling out the white nationalists and neo-Nazis who rallied there.

One woman was killed and dozens were injured in the August 2017 protest, which began over the city’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a local park and ended when a car plowed into a crowd of anti-racism protesters.

VA’s secretary at the time, David Shulkin, made headlines that week when he appeared to break with Trump, telling reporters the violence in Charlottesville “outraged” him. Coffey, a career senior executive at VA, pressed the agency’s leaders to issue a statement making it clear that VA stood against such a “repugnant display of hate and bigotry by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan,” according to the emails.

The emails were provided to The Washington Post by the nonprofit watchdog group American Oversight, which obtained them via the Freedom of Information Act. The correspondence sheds new light on the politically delicate decisions federal agencies faced as officials sought to balance the need to address employee concerns with a desire not to upset the White House.

A statement from VA leaders was necessary, Coffey wrote in one email to Ullyot, because the agency’s workforce was unsettled by the uproar caused by the Charlottesville violence. Minorities make up more than 40 percent of VA’s 380,000 employees, the federal government’s second-largest agency.

Ullyot told Coffey to stand down, the emails show. A person familiar with their dispute, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Post that Ullyot was enforcing a directive from the White House, where officials were scrambling to contain the fallout from Trump’s comments, and they did not want government officials to call further attention to the controversy.

VA spokesman Curt Cashour said the agency received no such guidance from the White House.

Coffey, who declined to comment, retired from VA shortly after the dust-up, frustrated with what she felt was a lack of support from the Trump administration, according to her former colleagues. She now works as senior manager for diversity and inclusion at Lockheed Martin.

Ullyot, a seasoned media professional who worked on Trump’s campaign, is VA’s assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs. His exchange with Coffey was respectful, and he noted that he was acting at Shulkin’s direction, according to his emails. Shulkin, whom Trump forced out of the Cabinet post in March, and other officials were copied on the messages.

At VA, the fallout from Charlottesville remains a sensitive subject. In response to a request seeking comment for this report, VA’s current secretary, Robert Wilkie, issued a statement affirming that “John Ullyot is on the VA team because he is committed to veterans and has spent a lifetime of exceptional service as a Marine and public servant.”

Ullyot referred questions to VA’s public affairs office.

On Aug. 17, days after the Charlottesville violence, Coffey — then deputy assistant secretary for diversity and inclusion — emailed public affairs. She shared a draft of her statement and accompanying remarks, and requested help disseminating it to employees and the public.

Her remarks said the incident served “as a tragic reminder that our work in civil rights and inclusion is not finished.” She called on VA employees to be mindful of federal anti-discrimination policies and the agency’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The response from a staffer in public affairs said, “John Ullyot does not want to post the message, as the Secretary previously made statements in the news media on this topic earlier this week.”

In an emotional statement the day before, at Trump’s private golf club in Bedminster, N.J., Shulkin said he gave “my personal opinions as an American and as a Jewish American. . . . And for me in particular, I think in learning history, that we know that staying silent on these issues is simply not acceptable.”

Other top administration officials echoed his sentiments.

Coffey urged expediency, telling Ullyot that she had sent the statement to Shulkin and his chief of staff for their review, according to their email exchange.

Ullyot then indicated that after consulting with Shulkin, the secretary said that “we should all feel free to share our own personal views on the recent events . . . as he did.’’ Ullyot wanted to remove the statement’s more incendiary language but told Coffey she could keep the part that reminded employees of VA’s “strong commitment” to equal employment opportunity and diversity, their emails show.

Coffey told Ullyot that she worried his edits would “dilute my message and fail to convey the sense of condemnation that I hope we all feel,” the emails show. She offered to remove Shulkin’s name from the statement, but Ullyot told her that he and Shulkin had agreed not to use it.

Shulkin said in an interview that he does not recall his conversations with Ullyot about how VA should respond to the incident. “I’ve been pretty public about my opinions on the Charlottesville events . . . and of course I think all Americans should express their views,” he said.

Coffey’s staff worried that she would get in trouble if she disregarded Ullyot’s guidance, according to other emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group that first publicized the episode last year. The staff suggested that she should tone down her remarks, but Coffey declined. She posted the full remarks under her name in the monthly newsletter posted online by VA’s diversity office. Agency officials removed it and reprimanded her. She retired soon after.

Cashour said Shulkin had “dictated explicitly to John how he wanted this particular issue handled.” The secretary, Cashour said, was “adamant that VA employees keep their personal views on the Charlottesville issue out of official VA communications, as Shulkin had done himself in public comments two days beforehand. John was simply ensuring that Coffey understood and followed Shulkin’s guidance.”

The agency has grappled with issues surrounding race in recent years.

VA has long had an Office on Diversity and Inclusion to help improve race relations internally, and during the Obama administration appointed a senior official to travel around the country to set up conversations on race. The official, John Fuller, retired last year, citing a lack of support from the Trump administration.

In October, a senior official in VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization was forced to remove a portrait of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and the Ku Klux Klan’s first grand wizard, from his office in Washington after offending employees. The official said he was unaware of Forrest’s affiliation with the hate group.

The same month, VA took down a placard outside a conference room in the same office that employees had named for Stonewall Jackson, another Confederate general. Cashour said officials were unaware the room had been named for Jackson and blamed a contractor employed by VA and the contractor’s supervisor. The contractor was instructed to take down the placard but had failed to do so, Cashour said.

[Washington Post]

Trump Warns Antifa: The Opposition Can Be ‘Much More Violent’

President Donald Trump‘s interview with the Daily Caller has provided little in the way of news from what has been released so far, but more than enough weird comments from our very weird commander in chief. Among them, an ominous threat to Antifa, the group of radical left wing activists who protested outside Tucker Carlson‘s home last week.

“These people, like the Antifa — they better hope that the opposition to Antifa decides not to mobilize,” Trump told the Daily Caller when asked about the group. “Because if they do, they’re much tougher. Much stronger.”

“Potentially much more violent,” he continued. “And Antifa’s going to be in big trouble. But so far they haven’t done that and that’s a good thing.”

The website, which was founded by Carlson, asked Trump about the recent protests outside the Fox News host’s home, which police are investigating.

“I spoke to Tucker,” Trump replied. “I think Tucker’s a great guy — and I think it’s terrible. They were actually trying to break down [Tucker’s] door.”

The interview was conducted by the Caller’s star White House reporter Saagar Enjeti, as well as, inexplicably, Benny Johnson, Washington D.C.’s worst reporter. Johnson posted a tweet after the interview that sought to combat recent reports that Trump’s post-midterm mood is dour. The tweet also promised “BIG NEWS,” which we await with baited breath.

[Mediaite]

Trump says he wants to unite the country ‘eventually’

— President Trump said he “eventually” wants to unite the country during a raucous Monday campaign rally where he repeatedly attacked Democrats and the news media.

“I do eventually want to unite, but the fact is, we’re driving them crazy,” Trump said inside a packed Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. “They’re going loco.”

Trump’s rhetoric during his nearly two years as president has featured a constant, pointed onslaught against his opponents.

His approach has come under scrutiny in the aftermath of a string of bombing attempts against prominent Democrats and a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue by suspects who have echoed some of his rhetoric.

But Trump has refused to back down, saying his style fires up his core supporters.

That was on display during his final day of campaigning before the midterm elections, when he went after Democrats on immigration and the confirmation battle for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Trump accused Democrats, without evidence, of wooing migrant caravans to the U.S. “to overwhelm your schools, your hospitals and your communities.”

He also mocked Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calf.) as a “real genius” and dubbed Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) “Sleepin’ Joe.”

Trump repeatedly lambasted the “fake news media” for turning the cameras toward demonstrators in the crowds instead of Trump supporters.

“The cameras turned like a pretzel, did you see that? But they won’t show these huge crowds,” he said. “They don’t turn because they’re fake news. They’re fake news.”

The president appeared to revel in the energetic crowd, which booed the interruptions of protesters and tried to drown them out with chants of “USA.”

“And by the way, is there anything like a Trump rally?” Trump asked.

[The Hill]

Trump Says He Told U.S. Military at Border to ‘Consider it a Rifle’ if Migrants Throw Rocks

During an address on immigration from the White House on Thursday, President Donald Trump took questions from the press.

At one point, in response to a question from a reporter about if he would foresee a situation where the military may fire on the Central American migrants making their way to the border, he said that the United States military will consider a rock held in the hands of migrants the same as a firearm.

“I will tell you this, anybody throwing stones, rocks, like they did to Mexico and the Mexican military, Mexican police, where they badly hurt police and soldiers of Mexico, we will consider that a firearm,” Trump said. “Because there’s not much difference. When you get hit in the face with a rock, which as you know, that was very violent a few days ago. Very, very violent.”

Then a little while later he doubled down, saying that he considers a rock like a rifle: “They’re throwing rocks, viciously, and violently. You saw that three days ago. Really hurting the military. We’re not going to put up with that. They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back. We’re gonna consider, and I told them consider it a rifle. When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police, I say consider it a rifle.”

Just one week ago, in an interview with Fox News, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen downplayed the possibility of the US military opening fire on the migrants, saying, “We do not have any intention right now to shoot at people…They will be apprehended, however.”

[Mediaite]

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