U.S. Politics

Trump won’t accept responsibility for deadly SEAL raid he approved over dinner, blames Obama

CREDIT: Fox News screengrab

THINK PROGRESS

In an interview with the Miami Herald published Sunday, Bill Owens — father of Chief Ryan Owens, the 36-year-old Navy SEAL who died during President Trump’s first military operation — criticized the Yemen raid, and said he doesn’t have any interest in talking with Trump.

“Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into [President Trump’s] administration?” Owens said. “For two years prior… everything was missiles and drones (in Yemen)… Now all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?”

Trump was asked about Owens’ comments during a Fox & Friends interview that aired Tuesday morning. He responded by trying to blame President Obama for a mission Trump gave final approval for over dinner with his advisers during his first full weekend as president.

“Well, this was a mission that was started before I got here,” Trump said. “This was something that was, you know, they wanted to do. They came to see me, they explained what they wanted to do — the generals, who are very respected, my generals are the most respected that we’ve had in many decades, I believe.”

Trump acknowledged the Owens family’s loss, but maintained that the mission was a success.

“And they lost Ryan, and I was at the airport when the casket came in, the body came in, and it was a very sad — with his family and it’s a great family, incredible wife and children, I met most of the family, and I can understand people saying that,” Trump continued. “What’s worse? There’s nothing worse. But again this was something that they were looking at for a long time, and according to General Mattis, it was a very successful mission, they got tremendous amounts of information.”

Trump’s comments about the mission being successful are directly contradicted by an NBC report that says the mission yielded no significant intelligence.

“Although Pentagon officials have said the raid produced ‘actionable intelligence,’ senior officials who spoke to NBC News said they were unaware of any, even as the father of the dead SEAL questioned the premise of the raid in an interview with the Miami Herald published Sunday,” NBC reports. “A senior Congressional official briefed on the matter said the Trump administration has yet to explain what prompted the rare use of American ground troops in Yemen, but he said he was not aware of any new threat from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the al Qaeda affiliate that was targeted.”

NBC reports that in addition to Ryan’s death, “six other U.S. service members were wounded. And at least 25 civilians were killed, including nine children under the age of 13, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.”

And despite Trump’s attempt to dodge accountability, NBC reports that “[p]lans for the raid were begun during the Obama administration, but Obama officials declined to sign off on what officials described as a significant escalation in Yemen. Just five days in, Trump greenlighted the mission.”

In a previous report, NBC cited a “senior U.S. military official” who said “almost everything went wrong” during the day. In the days following, U.S. CENTCOM acknowledged that “regrettably… civilian non-combatants were likely killed in the midst of a firefight during a raid in Yemen January 29. Casualties may include children.”

The Guardian, citing unnamed officials, reported that “the operation had been reviewed several times, but the underlying intelligence was not judged strong enough to justify the risks, and the case was left to the incoming Trump administration to make its own judgment.” Days later, Reuters reported that unnamed U.S. military officials told them Trump signed off on the raid “without sufficient intelligence, ground support, or adequate backup preparations.”

“As a result, three officials said, the attacking SEAL team found itself dropping onto a reinforced al Qaeda base defended by landmines, snipers, and a larger than expected contingent of heavily armed Islamist extremists,” Reuters reports.

The issues continued after the SEAL team hit the ground. An official told CNN that “during the gun battle, al Qaeda fighters took up firing positions on the roof of a nearby building and that the US troops came under fire, calling in an airstrike against the building which likely led to the civilian casualties.”

“The raid encountered more problems when an MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft was forced to undergo a ‘hard landing’ which resulted in three additional service members being injured,” CNN adds. “The military opted to destroy the aircraft in an airstrike to prevent it falling into enemy hands.”

After Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) described the raid as a “failure” on February 7, Trump responded with a tweetstorm blasting the war hero.think-progress

Press Secretary Sean Spicer also took an indirect shot at McCain, saying “anyone who would suggest it’s not a success does disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens.” Those comments angered Owens’ father.

“Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation,” Owens told the Herald. “I want an investigation… The government owes my son an investigation.”

Over the weekend, a Trump spokesman said the president may support an investigation into the Yemen raid. But during another part of the Fox & Friends interview, Trump indicated his willingness to self-criticize is limited.

Asked if he could cite an example “of a time when someone was critical of you and you thought to yourself, I deserved that hit, I deserved that column,” Trump said, “No, probably I could never do that.”

Aaron Rupar

POSTSCRIPT:

White House says Yemen raid that killed Navy SEAL ‘is a successful …

A timeline of events on how the controversial Navy SEAL raid on Yemen was planned and carried out

How Donald Trump’s first military action went from the Obama White House to deadly raid – CNN

U.S. Politics

Politicus USA Newsletter for 02/27/2017

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Report Shows Trump’s Botched, Deadly Yemen Raid Produced No Valuable Intelligence

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Top Intel Democrat Drops A Bombshell On Trump: Russia Collusion Will Be Investigated

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Misconduct Complaint Filed Against Reince Priebus For Interfering With FBI Russia Investigation

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Trump’s Budget Director Admits The Trump Budget Makes No Sense

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Trump Plans To Take Health Care Away From 20 Million Americans And Blame Obama

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After Another Jewish Cemetery Vandalized, Anne Frank Center Calls on Trump to Act

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U.S. Politics

GOP Resists Calls For Independent Russia-Trump Probe

GOP Resists Calls For Independent Russia-Trump Probe

A woman passes a billboard showing a pictures of US president-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Danilovgrad, Montenegro, November 16, 2016 | REUTERS/Stevo Vasiljevic

THE NATIONAL MEMO

The White House hasn’t ruled out a recusal from the attorney general on probes into Russian meddling in the election as prominent Republicans continue to resist calls for an independent investigation.

Republicans on the Sunday morning news shows either downplayed a need for an independent probe into Russia’s activities or rejected the idea entirely while Democrats continued to call for greater urgency amid FBI investigations and in light of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ support for Donald Trump during the primary campaign.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy White House secretary, insisted on ABC’s “This Week” that the FBI views reports of administration contacts with Russian officials as “BS” and said calls for Sessions to step aside are premature.

“We’re confident whatever review that Congress wants to do, I think that’s the first step. If they want to take that on, which there are two committees that are currently doing that, we’re extremely confident that, whatever review, they’re all going to come to the same conclusion—that we had no involvement in this,” Sanders said. “I don’t think we’re there yet. Let’s work through this process. You guys want to jump to the very end of the line. That’s not how this works. Typically, you go through a congressional oversight review. We’re doing that. Let’s not go to the very end of the extreme. Let’s let this play out the way it should.”

Her calls to let the process “play out” were echoed by Republican Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio. “Let’s let the process work…Let the intel committees work. If there’s more investigation that’s needed, I’m on the oversight committee, we’ve never been shy about digging into issues and we’ll do that. No one’s ever accused me of going easy on my own party. So we’ll do that,” he said on ABC.

Trump frequently spoke admiringly of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the campaign trail and has been vexed by continued questions as to the nature of his associates’ relationships, if any, to Russian officials. The questions intensified after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia had sponsored hacking into the presidential election and have grown louder with recent controversies. His administration already has lost its first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, over his misrepresentations of a call discussing U.S. sanctions with the Russian ambassador. This week, CNN broke the news that the FBI rejected the White House’s requests to make public comments denouncing news stories on contacts between the Trump team and Russia, and the Washington Post reported that the administration has enlisted intelligence officials and members of Congress to push back on such stories.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by North Carolina Republican Senator Richard Burr, is beginning its own review of Flynn’s conversations and possible Trump team contacts with Russia, although Democrats continue to call for either a special prosecutor or a select committee of Congress to investigate.

Republican Darrell Issa, a Trump ally, has joined Democrats’ calls for a special prosecutor. “You cannot have somebody, a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions, who was on the campaign and who is an appointee. You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor’s statute,” Issa said on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher.” However, Issa said Saturday that Sessions should pick the prosecutor.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the former head of Trump’s transition team and an ex-U.S. attorney, disagrees with the California Republican.

“The Justice Department, over the course of time, has shown itself, with the professionals that are there, to have the ability to investigate these type of things,” Christie said. “When a special prosecutor gets involved, the thing gets completely out of control. And I think that doesn’t serve anybody’s purposes. We have a lot of important problems to deal with in this country. And this is—I’m not saying that is not one of them, but I believe the Justice Department can handle it.”

Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that politicians are “getting ahead of ourselves” with calls for a select committee or special prosecutor. “There’s no allegations of any crime occurring. There’s not even an indication that there’s criminal investigations underway by the F.B.I., as opposed to counterintelligence investigations, which the F.B.I. conducts all the time as our main counterintelligence bureau. If we get down that road, that’s a decision that Attorney General Sessions can make at the time,” Cotton said.

The new chairman of the DNC and the House Democratic leader both said on ABC on Sunday that Sessions couldn’t possibly be impartial should the DOJ lead an investigation.

“What we need to be looking at is whether this election was rigged by Donald Trump and his buddy Vladimir Putin,” said DNC chairman Tom Perez. “Having Jeff Sessions oversee such an investigation, it’s really unfair to any foxes across America to say that would be the fox guarding the henhouse. We need an independent investigation, because that is a serious, serious issue…And when Sessions and Flynn are out there together campaigning, they clearly lack the authority and the objectivity to conduct that investigation.”

Minority leader Nancy Pelosi flatly rejected Sessions’ potential involvement. “The attorney general must recuse himself,” she said. “But let’s just take it back a step, you have seen a flurry of activities that are completely inappropriate, encouraging lawmakers, encouraging intelligence officials to say that something is one way or another. Let’s have the investigation and find out the truth.”

U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: February 28, 2017

Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images

THE WEEK

1. Trump budget boosts military spending, requires others to do ‘more with less’
President Trump will submit a budget calling for a $54 billion — or 10 percent — increase in defense spending, White House officials said Monday. Trump said that he was proposing to pay for the increase with large cuts to other federal programs, making them do “more with less.” Trump vowed to put “America first” by shifting money previously spent overseas to focus on defense, law enforcement, and veterans. “We are going to do more with less and make the government lean and accountable to the people,” Trump said. “We can do so much more with the money we spend.” Some Republicans criticized the budget, saying it didn’t raise defense spending as much as claimed, while Democrats said Trump’s bid to slash social programs was unacceptable and a group of retired generals urged Congress to reject Trump’s proposed cuts to the State Department and foreign aid, saying such spending is key to national security.

Source: The Washington Post, Reuters

2. Trump has chance to steady presidency in first address to Congress
President Trump makes his first address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, giving him an opportunity to jumpstart his political agenda after a turbulent beginning to his presidency. White House advisers say Trump will use the speech, scheduled to start at 9 p.m., to touch on his early accomplishments, such as withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which he criticized during the campaign, and spell out his plans for realizing legislative priorities that include replacing ObamaCare and boosting the economy with infrastructure spending. “We spend billions in the Middle East, but we have potholes all over the country,” Trump told the nation’s governors on Monday.

Source: The Associated Press, The New York Times

3. Trump supporters hold rallies to counter opposition
Supporters of President Trump held rallies in cities across the nation on Monday in a bid to counter what participants described as unfair criticism at protests against Trump at airports, town-hall meetings, and public squares. About 150 people attended a gathering in Denver. “I’m getting a lot of comments from the leftists about, ‘Your crowd’s not going to be as big as our crowd,'” said retired teacher Betty Blanco. “I didn’t know it was a contest.” The pro-Trump crowds in several cities praised the president for many of the same policies that have angered his opponents, such as his crackdown on immigration and dismantling of Obama-era environmental regulations on businesses.

Source: The New York Times

4. George W. Bush calls free press ‘indispensable to democracy’
Former President George W. Bush said Monday that a free press is “indispensable to democracy,” taking a stand contrasting sharply with President Trump’s recent declaration that leading mainstream news outlets were “fake news” and “the enemy of the people.” “We need the media to hold people like me to account,” said Bush, who appeared on NBC’s Today show to promote his new memoir, Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors. “I mean, power can be very addictive… and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power.” Bush said he tried to get Russian President Vladimir Putin to respect “an independent press,” but that it’s hard to “tell others to have an independent free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves.”

Source: NBC News

5. SpaceX to fly two space tourists around moon
SpaceX plans to fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon in its Dragon spacecraft next year, the company’s founder and CEO, Elon Musk, said Monday. SpaceX said it would identify the space tourists, who have already paid large deposits for their spots on the week-long flight, after initial health and fitness tests. The passengers will be the only people on board the fully autonomous flight. The mission will occur after SpaceX makes its first manned flight, sending NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. “I hope this gets people really excited about sending people into deep space again,” Musk said,

Source: Space.com, Business Insider

6. South Korean intelligence officials say Kim Jong Un ordered half-brother’s killing
South Korean intelligence officials believe that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was the one who “ordered” the murder of his estranged half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, South Korean lawmaker Kim Byung-kee said Monday. “The assassination of Kim Jong Nam was an act of systematic terror ordered by Kim Jong Un,” Kim Byung-kee said in a televised address. Malaysian investigators said two women smeared VX, an outlawed nerve agent, on Kim Jong Nam’s face, causing him to die within 20 minutes. North Korea insists it had nothing to do with the killing, and that if the women had VX on their hands they would have died, too.

Source: CNN

7. Abu Sayyaf video claims to show beheading of hostage
The governments of the Philippines and Germany said Monday that a video released by the Philippine militant group Abu Sayyaf showed the beheading of a German man, Jürgen Kantner, 70. Abu Sayyaf had warned the two countries that it was holding Kantner, and would kill him if it didn’t receive $600,000 by Monday. Kantner and his partner, Sabine Merz, were captured in November as they sailed their 53-foot-yacht, Rockall, in southern Philippines waters controlled by Abu Sayyaf. Merz was found dead on the boat. Abu Sayyaf said its militants shot her dead after she fired on them.

Source: The New York Times

8. Bomb threats force evacuations at more Jewish institutions
Bomb threats forced the evacuation of Jewish community centers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware on Monday, the latest evidence of a wave of anti-Semitic threats and vandalism across the nation in recent weeks. No bombs were found, but the Monday threats compounded concerns already heightened over the weekend when vandals toppled more than 100 headstones at a Philadelphia Jewish cemetery, the second such recent incident in the country. The Anti-Defamation League urged Jewish institutions to increase security, saying there have been 90 threats against Jewish institutions since January.

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

9. Missouri shooting suspect told bartender he shot two ‘Iranians’
The suspect in the shooting of two Indian men in a Missouri bar admitted to the attack but described the victims as Iranians, the bartender at another restaurant told a 911 dispatcher. Witnesses said the suspect, Adam Purinton, yelled “get out of my country” before opening fire at Austin’s Bar and Brill in a Kansas City suburb. One of the Indian men, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, was killed, and the other, Alok Madasani, was injured. Both came to the U.S. as students, and stayed to work as engineers at GPS-maker Garmin. A third man, Ian Grillot, was wounded trying to intervene. After the shooting, Purinton drove to an Applebee’s restaurant 70 miles away, telling the bartender there he had done something “really bad” and needed to hide, the bartender said in the 911 call.

Source: The Associated Press

10. Justice Department drops claim Texas voter ID law targeted minorities
The Justice Department on Monday filed a motion to withdraw a key objection to a 2011 Texas voter ID law that is one of the toughest in the nation, dropping the Obama administration’s claim that the legislation is intentionally racially discriminatory. Civil rights groups plan to keep the challenge going on their own. The Obama Justice Department sued to block the law, and a federal appeals court ruled last year that the legislation would have to be revised because it discriminated against minority voters, who were more likely to lack the required identification cards than white voters. Opponents of the law said the state’s Republican-led legislature chose IDs favoring GOP-leaning white voters, including driver’s licenses and passports, while excluding government-employee and public university IDs that are more accessible to some Democratic-leaning minority and young voters.

Source: The Washington Post, The New York Times

U.S. Politics

Donald Trump believes Obama behind White House leaks plaguing his administration

DAILY NEWS

Barack Obama is no longer in the White House, but Donald Trump thinks the ex-president may still be calling some shots.

President Trump believes Obama is behind the many leaks within his administration and responsible for the angry Americans confronting Republicans at town hall meetings around the country.

“I think that President Obama is behind it because his people are certainly behind it,” Trump said in a clip of a Fox & Friends interview to air Tuesday.

“And some of the leaks possibly come from that group, which are really serious because they are very bad in terms of national security. But … in terms of him being behind things, that’s politics. And it will probably continue,” Trump said in the clip, released Monday night by CNN.

The Fox & Friends interviewer also asked Trump if he felt Obama was stirring up the irate crowds and Republican gatherings.

Trump was asked in an interview on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” if he believed Obama was responsible for the town hall protests against Republicans this month.

ALTERNATIVE CROP
President Trump believes Obama is behind the many leaks within his administration and responsible for the angry Americans confronting Republicans at town hall meetings | (JIM WATSON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

“It turns out his organization seems to do a lot of these organizing to some of the protests that these Republicans are seeing around the country against you. Do you believe President Obama is behind it and if he is, is that a violation of the so-called unsaid presidents’ code?” the Fox journalist asked.

“I think he is behind it. I also think it is politics, that’s the way it is,” Trump replied.

One group that was formed out of Obama’s campaign has been part of a grassroots effort to organize around GOP town halls, CNN noted.

Organizing for Action has been working with Service Employees International Union, MoveOn.org and the Center for American Progress to teach Americans how to protest Republican political agendas.

Ginger Adams Otis

U.S. Politics

Chuck Todd outs Trump scheme to attack media as fake news when news on Russia breaks

attribution: screenshot

DAILY KOS

Chuck Todd exposes Donald Trump’s scheme to mislead the mainstream news media in this excerpted video clip. Now that it’s exposed, will the media respond appropriately? The purpose of several of Trump’s tweets against the press comes whenever some reveal his connections or his protege’s connections to Russia.

Chuck Todd: One issue that doesn’t seem to hurt the president right now, at least in the eyes of his supporters, are the reported ties he and his aides may or may not have with Russia. And whenever stories break on that subject, press bashing, which is always part of the president’s arsenal, seems to escalate. …

Chuck Todd: It’s a tactic with a pattern. The president’s attacks on the media repeatedly have directly followed reporting on Russia. On January 5th, NBC News reported on the intelligence community’s report on Russian influence in the election. On January 6th, President-elect Trump tweeted, “I am asking the chairs of the House and Senate committees to investigate top secret intelligence shared with NBC prior to me seeing it.” On February 13th, 14th, and 15th, news outlets reported on Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia. On February 16th, President Trump spent much of a 77-minute news conference attacking the press.

President Trump on video: Russia is fake news. Russia — This is fake news put out by the media. The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake.

Chuck Todd: On Thursday night, media outlets reported that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked the FBI to publicly discredit a New York Times story on Russia after the FBI’s deputy director reportedly told him it was overblown. On Friday, the president went after the press.

President Trump on video: I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news. It’s fake, phony, fake.

Chuck Todd: But Trump administration officials acknowledged on Friday that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus did ask FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to push back against news stories about contacts between Trump aides and Russians during the campaign.

Media, do your job.

Egberto Willies

U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: February 27, 2017

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

THE WEEK

1. Moonlight wins Best Picture after embarrassing Oscars mix-up
Moonlight, a coming-of-age story about a young African-American man struggling with his sexuality, won the Oscar for Best Picture on Sunday night in an upset that capped an Academy Awards ceremony that celebrated diversity. Moonlight‘s win was announced after a bizarre mix-up in which Warren Beatty, joined by his Bonnie & Clyde co-star Faye Dunaway, were handed the wrong envelope and mistakenly declared that La La Land had won. La La Land entered the 89th Oscars ceremony with a leading 14 nominations, and wound up winning six awards. The envelope that confused Beatty and Dunaway named Emma Stone as Best Actress for her role in La La Land. Casey Affleck won Best Actor for Manchester by the Sea. The night was salted with political remarks. Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose drama The Salesman won Best Foreign Language Film, boycotted the ceremony over Trump’s travel ban.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

2. Trump’s pick for Navy secretary withdraws
President Trump’s Navy secretary nominee, Philip Bilden, withdrew from consideration on Sunday. “I have determined that I will not be able to satisfy the Office of Government Ethics requirements without undue disruption and materially adverse divestment of my family’s private financial interests,” he said. Bilden, a private equity executive and former military intelligence officer, was the second Trump military-service nominee to bow out. Vincent Viola withdrew from consideration to be Army secretary earlier this month.

Source: Reuters

3. Trumps host first White House social event
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump hosted 46 governors and their spouses at the black-tie Governors’ Ball on Sunday evening, the Trump White House’s first big social event. Trump told the governors in his dinner toast that thanks to the first lady, the candle-lit “room, they say, has never looked better, but who knows?” He went on to say that in his first month in office, “we’ve accomplished almost everything we’ve started out to accomplish.” “The borders are stricter, tighter. We’re doing a really good job… We’ve made a lot of promises over the last two years and many of those promises already are kept so we’re very honored by that.”

Source: The Associated Press, The Washington Post

4. New DNC chair spars with Trump on first day
On his first day as Democratic National Committee chairman, Tom Perez harshly accused President Trump of failing to do “anything constructive” since taking office in January. “He hasn’t proposed anything but chaos and carnage from day one,” Perez said on NBC’s Meet the Press. Perez served as labor secretary under former President Barack Obama, and Trump tweeted that Hillary Clinton had “rigged” the DNC vote to tip it to Perez over Rep. Keith Ellison, who was favored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and the party’s progressive wing. Perez said he and Ellison, now Perez’s top deputy at the DNC, got a “good kick” out of Trump’s remark. “Frankly, what we need to be looking at is whether the election is rigged by Donald Trump and his buddy, Vladimir Putin.”

Source: The Hill

5. Father of SEAL killed in raid calls for investigation
A senior White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said Sunday that President Trump was likely to support an investigation requested by the father of William “Ryan” Owens, the Navy SEAL killed during a counterterrorism raid in Yemen last month. Owens’ father, Bill Owens, told The Miami Herald in an article published Sunday that he had refused to meet with Trump when his son’s body arrived at Dover Air Force base. The Trump administration has called the mission a success, saying it yielded valuable intelligence, and claimed that any criticism dishonors Owens. The elder Owens said the administration owes it to his son to explain why it conducted the “stupid raid” days after Trump’s inauguration. “Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation,” Owens said.

Source: The Washington Post, The Miami Herald

6. Spicer cracks down on staff to stop leaks
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is cracking down on his own staff in an attempt to find the source of White House leaks. Spicer last week reportedly urgently summoned staffers after information leaked from a planning meeting involving a dozen of his staff members. The nature of the “emergency meeting” leaked, too, however. Spicer reportedly made staffers put their electronic devices on the table for a “phone check” to prove they had not made any unauthorized communications, and told them that using encrypted apps such as Confide and Signal violated the Presidential Records Act.

Source: Politico, CNN

7. Treasury secretary says Trump budget won’t touch entitlement programs
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a Fox News interview released on Sunday that President Trump’s budget will focus on cutting taxes to boost economic growth, leaving alone entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. “We are not touching those now,” Mnuchin said. The administration aims to lift economic growth by 3 percent through a mix of tax and regulation cuts, and Mnuchin said that President Trump would address tax reform in his speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. “This is all about creating growth,” he said. Trump also reportedly plans to ask for a sharp increase in military spending.

Source: Bloomberg, The New York Times

8. Headstones toppled at second Jewish cemetery
Vandals toppled dozens of headstones at a Philadelphia Jewish cemetery on Sunday, the second such attack in the U.S. in a week. Jim McReynolds, a Philadelphia police detective, said at least 75 to 100 headstones had been knocked over at Mount Carmel Cemetery. Several were broken. Police said they were investigating whether the incident was motivated by anti-Semitism as seen in a wave of recent threats across the nation, noting that 33 tombstones at a nearby Catholic cemetery were toppled earlier this month. “We just have to find out if it’s drunken kids or an act of — well, it is a predominantly Jewish cemetery, so we have to look into that fact,” McReynolds said.

Source: The Washington Post

9. Casualties surge as Iraqi government forces push into western Mosul
Iraqi forces in the western-Mosul offensive suffered a surge in casualties over the weekend as they pushed into the city proper, after driving Islamic State fighters out of rural areas nearby. At least 30 Iraqi security forces, along with more than 200 civilians, were killed or wounded over three days, according to medics. Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, is the last major urban stronghold ISIS has in Iraq, making this offensive a critical part of the Iraqi government’s fight against the Islamist extremist group.

Source: The Associated Press

10. Bill Paxton, film and TV star, dies at 61
Actor Bill Paxton, known for roles in such films as Aliens, Titanic, and Twister, has died from surgery complications, his family said in a statement Sunday. He was 61. Paxton began his four-decade film career working in art departments before jumping into acting and, later, filmmaking. “Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable,” his family said. Paxton also made a mark on TV, starring in HBO’s Big Love and CBS’ new Training Day. “Big Love was a seminal series for HBO for many years due to Bill’s extraordinary talent and grace,” HBO said in a statement.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

U.S. Politics

Charles Blow nails Bannon’s ‘puppet’: ‘Trump isn’t a reasonable person or even a particularly smart one’

Charles Blow (Photo: Screen capture)

RAW STORY

President Donald Trump’s relentless attacks on the media are assaults on truth itself, according to New York Times columnist Charles Blow.

And that’s how Trump’s “boss,” Steve Bannon, wants it.

“One must always remember that Trump isn’t a reasonable person or even a particularly smart one, which makes him the perfect vessel for Bannon’s pseudo-intellectual vanities,” Blow wrote in Monday’s column.

Bannon, and then his “puppet” Trump, delivered attacks on “fake news” and “globalist media” during last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference to divert attention from their incompetent malevolence, Blow wrote.

“Trump and Bannon spin their folksy tale of media corruption to give Trump a needed enemy in his perpetual campaign and a needed diversion from the enormity of his disasters,” he wrote. “This fits Trump perfectly because not only does he have a gnawing insecurity, he also views the confrontational nature of news as maleficently targeted.”

Blow said the president hates the press because it holds him accountable for the “overwhelming majority of things he gets wrong” rather than “pat Trump on his head and give him a gold star for the few things he gets right.”

“The fact is that Trump simply wants the truth not to be true, so he assaults its quality,” Blow wrote. “He wants the purveyors of truth not to pursue it, so he questions their motives.”

U.S. Politics

Father Of SEAL Killed In Yemen To Trump: ‘Don’t Hide Behind My Son’s Death’

Evan Vucci

TPM LIVEWIRE

The father of a U.S. commando killed during the first counter-terrorism operation of President Donald Trump’s term in office said Friday that Trump shouldn’t “hide behind” his son’s death to avoid an investigation into the mission.

“Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation,” William Owens, the father of Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, said in an interview with the Miami Herald. “The government owes my son an investigation.”

William “Ryan” Owens died Jan. 28 of wounds sustained during a raid on an al-Qaida base in Yemen. Trump traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware in February to join Owens’ family and meet his remains.

“I told them I don’t want to meet the President,” William Owens said, as quoted by the Miami Herald. “I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him.”

He questioned the decision to launch the raid.

“Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? Why?” Owens said. “All of a sudden we had to make this grand display?”

According to the Miami Herald, Trump met with other family members in a separate room of the facility at Dover Air Force Base.

Owens, who said he didn’t vote for Trump, said he would “like some answers.”

“I don’t want anybody to think I have an agenda, because I don’t,” he said. “I just want the truth.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said earlier in February that anybody questioning the success of the raid was doing “a disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens.”

“I think anybody who undermines the success of that raid owes an apology,” he said.

“Is that your message to Senator John McCain?” NBC News’ Kristen Welker pressed. “He’s called it a failure.”

“That’s my message to anybody who says that,” Spicer replied. “I don’t know how much more clearer I can be.”

Esme Cribb

U.S. Politics

Trump Once Again Demonstrates Why His Russia Scandal Should Be Investigated

Trump Once Again Demonstrates Why His Russia Scandal Should Be Investigated

Win McNamee/Getty Images

ADDICTING INFO

There is definitely such a thing as protesting too much, and Donald Trump is making it very clear that Congress should investigate his ties to Russia.

In yet another hissy fit on Twitter, Trump whined about his Russia scandal continuing to be a major news story and claimed that the media keeps bringing it up to hide his “big” election victory.

First of all, Trump’s “big” election victory was one of the smallest on record. He only received 306 electoral votes, which is lower the both of President Obama’s totals in 2008 and 2012. Furthermore, Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.

Second, the media continues to report on Russia because it is a major scandal that Trump has been trying to shake for months now. His chief-of-staff Reince Priebus even desperately asked the FBI to shut down the reports on it in order to muzzle the story.

Third, leaks are important sources for the press, especially since Trump lies constantly every time he speaks. Also, Trump is only calling the news “fake” because he doesn’t like it.

But Trump’s obsession with calling his Russia scandal “fake news” should be reason enough for Congress to open an investigation. Trump has been protesting this story and trying to make it go away for way too long. If there is truly nothing to the story then Trump would just ignore it. But he isn’t because he has something to hide.

As usual, Twitter users were not impressed by Trump’s tweet either.

The bottom line is that Trump needs to be investigated by Congress, but Republicans are too busy making excuses so that they don’t have to do it. Because if they did their duty, they would discover Trump’s treachery and would be forced to impeach him. And they don’t want to do that because they would lose their rubber stamp and piss off their voter base.

Stephen D Foster Jr