NYT Says Trump Urged Comey to Drop Russia Investigation

Share this

The New York Times has reported that, according to James Comey, Trump tried to get a “pledge of loyalty” from the former FBI head, which Comey would not give, days before Trump fired Comey. There were questions flying around if the reason for the firing was Comey’s refusal.

NYT reported that Comey became concerned about what was going on between the president and himself and kept memos of the conversations which he shared with associates. They reported that during a Feb. 14 private meeting, Trump expressed concern about leaks and suggested maybe they should throw a couple of reporters in jail to send a message. Trump also talked to Comey about Michael Flynn, who he fired earlier for his relations with Russia, and suggested Comey just let Flynn go, which Comey interpreted as dropping the investigation into Flynn’s dealings, according to the Times.

The White House responded to the NYT article, stating it was “not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation.”

White House Calls Trump Story False, Cites Things Not Related to News Story

Share this

White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster made a public statement in response to the Washington Post and other news organisations stories this week that Trump told Russian officials information he say he shouldn’t have, denying the news.

McMaster stated:

“The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false. The President and the Foreign Minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two counties, including threats to civil aviation.

“At no time – at no time – were intelligence sources or methods discussed. And the President did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. Two other senior officials who were present, including the Secretary of State, remember it being the same way and have said so. Their on-the-record accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources. And I was in the room. It didn’t happen.”

However, none of the news stories had anything to do with the things McMaster said the president didn’t say — the reports were that Trump revealed highly classified intel to an American adversary. Later, when asked, McMaster did not deny that, but said he doubted whether the president “wasn’t even aware of where this information came from. He wasn’t briefed on the source or method of the information either.”

Tough Legal Question: The President’s Statements VS Acts

Share this

A debate is taking place in legal circles, matching the contentious findings of the various judges that have been dealing with figuring out how Trump’s executive orders are related to his earlier statements.

During the campaign trail, Trump said he would institute a Muslim ban. Most legal experts would consider such a ban to be a violation of the Constitutionally protected right to freedom of religion. Now that Trump is trying to enact a travel ban from several countries where Muslims are the majority, the claim that travel from the countries poses a risk to the U.S. is not enough.

His first attempt at the travel ban was struck down in court because of his earlier statements. Those arguing against the ban said that because Trump had earlier said he wanted a Muslim ban, no matter what he says now about a travel ban, the ban is actually a ban against Muslims, even if it has no language in it mentioning religious affiliation. Trump’s second attempt at travel restrictions is facing similar challenges.

Another aspect of the debate is the question of what would be enough to satisfy those arguing against Trump that he no longer wanted a Muslim ban, and just wanted to increase security. In the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals this week, Judge Robert King asked, “What if the President repudiated his statements in the campaign and post-election about the Muslim ban? What if he repudiated them all?”

The lawyer for the International Refugee Assistance Project, Omar Jadwat, responded that it would be “a significant fact” but that it “would not change the result.”

Judge Dennis Shedd then followed up, “What if he says he’s sorry every day for a year? Would that do it for you?”

Jadwat responded, “… Here’s the issue, your honor. What the establishment clause prohibits is targeting and denigrating religion. At a minimum, that’s what it prohibits. And the question is, would reasonable people see what he was doing in total as achieving that effect?”

“You say reasonable people would say he doesn’t really mean it when he says he’s sorry?”

“Your honor, I think it’s possible that saying sorry is not enough.”

Other hypotheticals were posed by the court, such as whether another candidate had won the election and they tried to instute the travel ban, or if Trump had said he hated Muslims earlier in life (in college), or if there was a clear threat from a religious group. The questions circle the main issue: Are executive orders to be judged based just on national security, or does the religious liberty clause jurisprudence come into play as well?

Trump Revealed Classified Info to Russian Ambassador and Foreign Minister, WP Reports

Share this

The reports are being denied by the White House, but The Washington Post broke the story today that in a meeting the president told the Russians highly classified security information about ISIS (something about airline safety and laptops).

Among the questions being raised is how this will effect the relationship with the unnamed U.S. partner (later reported by the New York Times to be Israel, although this was not confirmed) from which the U.S. received the information.

The Washington Posts sources for the story are “current and former U.S. officials.” They withheld most of the details of the information, but to quote their original piece:

“In his meeting with Lavrov, Trump seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat. ‘I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,’ the president said, according to an official with knowledge of the exchange.

“Trump went on to discuss aspects of the threat that the United States learned only through the espionage capabilities of a key partner. He did not reveal the specific intelligence-gathering method, but he described how the Islamic State was pursuing elements of a specific plot and how much harm such an attack could cause under varying circumstances. Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.”

The White House struck details of the meeting from the official transcripts for a “sort of memo summary” to be used in-house, and controlled dissemination of the transcripts for the wider public as well as immediately contacting the CIA and NSA.

Trump: ‘I Would Meet Kim Jong-Un’

Share this

The President said he was willing to meet the North Korean leader if the right circumstances presented themselves.

“If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,” Mr Trump said in an interview with Bloomberg News.

In the interview, Trump also said that while “most political people would never say” they’d be willing to meet with Kim. “I’m telling you, under the right circumstances, I would meet with him. We have breaking news.”

U.S.’s New Spending Bill

Share this

The new bill has been approved, and it includes an extra $20 billion for defense. Immigration and border patrol get an 8% increase, but there is nothing for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

The defense amount includes a 2.1% pay raise for military personnel.

There was also nothing in the bill about hot topics planned parenthood and sanctuary cities. Both keep their current funding for now.

The Republicans traded a lot of the things they wanted in order to get funding for defense and border security.

The National Endowment for the Arts, about which there was some buzz that the program would see cuts, got a slight increase.

The UN will get $640 million less from the U.S. this year, and funding for the Coast Guard was also reduced.

Trump Tries to Buy CNN Ad Space for Ad that Calls CNN Fake News

Share this

The President’s 100 Days advertising campaign was denied by CNN when his team tried to buy space for their new 30-second video ad, which has a shot of 5 news personalities, including one from CNN, with “FAKE NEWS” printed over them.

The anchors include CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell and Rachel Maddow, ABC’s George Stephanopolous and CBS’ Scott Pelley. The video is published on Trump’s YouTube channel and elsewhere.

The “FAKE NEWS” part of the video is just a second or so out of 30, which highlight Trump’s accomplishments in his first 100 days.The message is that while he did these laudable things, “You wouldn’t know it from watching the news.”

Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey

Share this

“Today, President Donald J. Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office,” read the statement issued by the White House Tuesday.

“President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

Comey was heading the FBI investigation into the possible Russian hacking of Clinton’s email servers and whether there was any collusion on the part of Trump associates. A similar investigation is also being conducted by both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. So far, there is no evidence that there was collusion.

Trump’s 100th Day May See a Government Shutdown

Share this

A government shutdown could be the result of Trump’s demand for funding for a wall on the Mexico border.

Among Trump’s priorities for the CR* are the wall and the military, according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Congressional Democrats and some Republicans oppose the funding of the wall, and it may result in a government shutdown on Saturday, Trump’s 100th day in office. At least 8 democrats are needed to pass a funding bill.

However, Trump was reported to have indicated in a private meeting with conservative media outlets this week that he may put off seeking funds for the border wall until after Republicans begin drafting the budget blueprint for the next fiscal year, which would decrease the likelihood of a shutdown.

*CR stands for “continuing resolution,” an “appropriations bill” that sets aside money for specific government departments and programs”)

State Department Removes Webpage Featuring Trump’s For-Profit Club, Mar-A-Lago

Share this

The U.S. State Department, ShareAmerica.gov, removed a page it posted which had an article promoting Trump’s golf club, the Mar-a-Lago Resport in Palm Beach, Florida, after receiving criticism that the article was an inappropriate use of taxpayer funds.

The title of the article was “Mar-a-Lago: The Winter White House,” and it began, “Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s Florida estate, has become well known as thee president frequently travels there to work or host foreign leaders.” Trump is the sole beneficiary of the club, which is held in trust while Trump is President.

The State Department said they regretted if the public misperceived the purpose of the article. They said it was intended to inform the public about where the President hosts visiting dignitaries.

Putting Off the Wall

Share this

The White House is moving it’s position away from demanding funding from Congress for a wall on the Mexico border in the face of a possible government shutdown.

Although analysists say a shutdown will likely be avoided because of Trump’s withdrawal from the demand, Trump tweeted for people to not to listen to “the fake media” and stated that, “The wall gets built. 100%.”