NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)(Credit: AP)
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Thursday made a messy case that he “inherited a mess” from former President Barack Obama. Economic stats and territorial losses of Islamic State insurgents don’t support his assertions about the problems handed to him on those fronts.
A look at some of his claims in a news conference Thursday and how they compare with the facts:
TRUMP: “To be honest I inherited a mess. It’s a mess. At home and abroad, a mess.”
THE FACTS: A mess is in the eye of the beholder. But by almost every economic measure, Barack Obama inherited a far worse situation when he became president in 2009 than he left for Trump. He had to deal with the worst downturn since the Depression.
Unemployment was spiking, the stock market crashing, the auto industry failing and millions of Americans risked losing their homes to foreclosure when Obama took the oath of office. None of those statistics is as dire for Trump.
Unemployment is 4.8 percent, compared with a peak of 10 percent during Obama’s first year as president. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was cratering until March 2009, only to rebound roughly 200 percent over the rest of Obama’s term— gains that have continued under Trump on the promise of tax and regulatory cuts.
When Trump assumed office last month, a greater percentage of the country had health insurance, incomes were rising and the country was adding jobs.
The Trump administration has noted that a smaller proportion of the population is working or looking for jobs. But even this measure began to turn around toward the end of the Obama era.
TRUMP: “ISIS has spread like cancer, another mess I inherited.”
THE FACTS: The Islamic State group began to lose ground before Trump took office, not just in Iraq and Syria but also in Libya. The gradual military progress achieved in Iraq during Obama’s final two years has pushed IS to the point of collapse in Mosul, its main Iraqi stronghold.
It remains a potent danger beyond its shrunken territory, encouraging adherents to stage acts of terrorism. The analogy with cancer is an echo of Obama’s last defense secretary, Ash Carter, who repeatedly cast Obama’s counter-IS campaign as an effort to reverse the extremists’ “metastasis” beyond the “parent tumor” in Iraq and Syria.
Associated Press writer Robert Burns contributed to this report.
Find all AP Fact Checks here: http://apne.ws/2kbx8bd
Keep it short and free of nuance—that is the new guidance that has recently circulated to some intelligence analysts who compile materials for the President’s Daily Brief on security threats around the globe.
The classified guidance, which was reviewed by Mother Jones, suggests that President Donald Trump’s daily national security briefing contains far less information than the daily reports presented by the intelligence community to past presidents—and about a quarter of the information President Barack Obama received. The memo sent to certain analysts within the intelligence community notes that the commander in chief’s daily briefing book typically contains reports on only three topics, typically no more than one page each. According to the guidance, Trump’s PDB also includes space for a short update, presumably on matters brought up in previous briefs. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the process of producing the PDB, declined to comment on the memo. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Presumably, the memo’s guidelines—less material, less nuance, less dissent—were developed in response to Trump’s reactions to the materials he has received. If the memo does not reflect direct instructions from Trump or his aides to the intelligence community, it is a reflection of the assumptions senior intelligence officials have developed about how best to present information to Trump.
“These issues about the overall length of the book as well as whether there are going to be conflicting interpretations—that unfortunately sounds like…bowing to the reality of a president with a short attention span and little ability to deal with ambiguities,” says Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA official who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and Georgetown University.
In December, Trump alarmed the national security community when he said in an interview that he did not require daily intelligence briefings, which he found monotonous and repetitive. “I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years,” he said. The following month, as he was about to assume office, he told Axios that he preferred his briefing materials to be succinct, preferably no longer than a page: “I like bullets or I like as little as possible. I don’t need, you know, 200-page reports on something that can be handled on a page. That I can tell you.” In a recent story about turmoil within the National Security Council, the New York Times noted Trump’s preference for shorter briefing documents, reporting that “while Mr. Obama liked policy option papers that were three to six single-spaced pages, council staff members are now being told to keep papers to a single page, with lots of graphics and maps.”
In comparison to Trump’s three-page PDB, the former senior CIA official who served during the Obama administration estimates the former president’s daily brief typically ranged from 12 to 14 pages, and it contained videos, maps, charts, and interactive features. Obama tended to read it on a tablet. Historically, the document—which relays key intelligence and national security information—has averaged six to eight pages, according to David Priess, author of The President’s Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America’s Presidents From Kennedy to Obama.
Trump’s daily brief appears to be significantly shorter than that of other modern presidents, but Priess says the document often evolves over the course of a commander in chief’s term. “Many of these topics are new even to an experienced politician, much less somebody like the president who has not been immersed in national security or political affairs before,” he explains.
Priess notes that the PDB varies based on the personality and style of every president, and it is the intelligence community’s job to communicate the information in a way the president can easily understand. In fact, Priess jokes in his book that the PDB is so tailored to each president that if the commander in chief wants the daily brief communicated through interpretive dance, analysts have to take dance lessons. But he says the PDB is no laughing matter. “Any president who chooses not to incorporate the objective analysis as contained in the President’s Daily Brief does so at his own peril,” he explains. “Everybody else in the national security bureaucracy has a policy preference or a stake in decisions being made and getting those ideas in front of the president.”
James Jeffery, who served as deputy national security adviser in the George W. Bush administration and who is now a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says he doesn’t see a shortened PDB as a reason for concern, as long as Trump is open to intelligence and national security experts updating him throughout the day, if needed. “Two months ago, the big shock was he wasn’t getting these things at all, so [if] he’s actually getting them every day, that’s a step in the right direction,” Jeffrey comments.
Priess agrees the length and style of the daily brief is not necessarily cause for worry, but he points out that when a crisis hits, the president may be less prepared if he’s not getting the extensive analysis his predecessors received. “There may be more need for the backstory and the explanations during the crisis than he would have if he absorbed more assessments every day,” Priess explains. “The caveat to that, of course, is if he would simply not read anything if more assessments were put in front of him, if he would just not bother to read it at all because it did not fit his style, then it would be counterproductive anyway.”
Image Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Chaffetz is, however, still pursuing the investigation into former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s emails, issuing a recommendation Thursday to attorney general Jeff Sessions to prosecute a former Clinton staffer for contempt.
In the letter, Chaffetz asked Bryan Pagliano — a former Clinton technology aide who maintained Clinton’s email server — for prosecution for “failing to appear pursuant to a subpoena” to a hearing on Clinton’s emails last September.
Meanwhile, Chaffetz wants the DoJ to prosecute a former State Dept employee for not testifying re: EMAILS https://t.co/uvYtB2QNxL
— Libby Nelson (@libbyanelson) February 16, 2017
A House panel already voted to hold Pagliano in contempt last September, but he was never arrested or prosecuted.
Pagliano was deposed by Judicial Watch, a conservative group that’s still pursuing the Clinton email case. He invoked his Fifth Amendment rights more than 125 times during the deposition, refusing to answer any questions, according to a Fox News report from the time.
Chaffetz’s refusal to investigate Flynn, as well as President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, has Democrats up in arms.
Instead of investigating Flynn’s Russian ties, he is instead probing the intelligence leaks that led to Flynn’s resignation.
Jason Chaffetz writes to DOJ IG requesting an investigation into whether classified info was mishandled regarding Trump and Flynn. pic.twitter.com/F5P7NTTG3G
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 16, 2017
And his decision to move forward on the Clinton email case is likely to exacerbate that anger.
Chaffetz, for his part, has said he would continue to investigate Clinton’s use of a private email server, even though she lost the election.
During Trump’s inauguration, he posted an image of himself shaking hands with Clinton on Instagram with the caption, “The investigation continues.”
Shermichael Singleton, second from right in this picture from a NewsOne Now panel discussion with director Spike Lee, was reportedly fired on Wednesday over past criticisms of President Trump for which he had already apologized. CREDIT: Rodney Choice/AP Images for TV One
A senior adviser to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson was suddenly fired Wednesday, apparently because the White House discovered he had criticized President Donald Trump.
Shermichael Singleton, 26, had worked on Carson’s own presidential bid in 2016 before joining the administration. In the closing weeks of the election, Singleton wrote an op-ed critical of Trump in which he blasted the then-nominee’s rhetoric toward black voters as “a coded message from an era in our history that should stay in the past.”
Singleton had already “answered a number of questions regarding the article and expressed remorse for the piece and support for Mr. Trump” prior to assuming his HUD position in January, the New York Times reports. But administration staff hadn’t finished his background check and “this week, Mr. Trump’s advisers turned up” the op-ed and some related tweets, according to the Times.
Singleton, who the Huffington Post notes is “one of the few black Republicansin the Trump administration,” told the Times he could not discuss the circumstances of his abrupt firing.
Security guards reportedly escorted Carson’s aide out of the HUD building Wednesday.
The decision reinforces President Trump’s long-standing image as a thin-skinned manager for whom personal loyalty is at least as important as a person’s qualifications for a job. A week earlier, Trump made a similar call in rescinding plans to appoint pardoned war criminal Elliott Abrams to a senior State Department post after the president discovered Abrams had criticized him online last year.
Singleton’s case is more likely to do damage. Carson is a neurosurgeon just beginning a job managing a large suite of housing policy programs. Trump’s team has deprived him of a trusted staffer, apparently in order to preserve the president’s ego.
Even Fox News is calling Donald Trump out for attacking the media.
After a press conference that will go down as the most embarrassing and confusing ever given in this nation’s history, Fox News host Shep Smith blasted Trump for attacking the press, specifically CNN reporter Jim Acosta.
Trump often praises Fox News while bashing the other major news outlets and once again attacked the media during his first solo press conference in which he appeared to be just telling reporters what he was told to tell them.
Trump repeatedly referred to CNN as “fake news” and personally attacked Acosta while he was trying to ask questions about the Russia scandal that has engulfed the White House.
“Russia is fake news,” Trump claimed.
“Russia — this is fake news put out by the media….The leaks are real. You’re the one that wrote about them and reported them. I mean the leaks are real. You know what they said. You saw it and the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.”
“If the information coming from the leaks is real, then how can the stories be fake?” Acosta asked.
Trump responded by trashing CNN for not taking him at his word instead of verifying his claims and reporting the truth. He then praised Fox & Friends for kissing his ass like a good propaganda machine.
“When you call it fake news, you’re undermining the confidence in the news media,” Acosta shot back. Trump replied by telling Acosta that he knows when he should get good or bad stories in the news and suggested that the media should get in line and write the stories he wants them to write.
Trump went on to excuse his demand by saying he won the election and claimed his administration is running smoothly despite all the recent reports that say otherwise.
Well, Shep Smith was not amused and he took Trump to the woodshed for it.
First, Smith addressed Trump’s disastrous attempt to hold a big boy conference all by himself.
“It’s sort of our job to let you know when things are said that aren’t true,” Smith said in defense of the media. “This president keeps telling untrue things and he does it every single time he’s in front of a microphone … some of them aren’t really big, but they’re coming from the president.”
He then attacked the logic of Trump’s claim that Russia is “fake news.”
“He says Russia is a ruse, it’s fake news. The leaks are real, but the news is fake. So, that’s impossible. It’s very confusing,” especially when Trump says thing that are “demonstrably, unquestionably, opinion aside, 100 percent false.”
Then Smith passionately defended Acosta.
“He’s an accomplished reporter — a guy I’ve never met, but a good reporter. [Trump was] treating him like … I’m not even going to use the word. I’m not going to give Twitter the love it needs. It’s crazy what we’re watching everyday, it’s absolutely crazy. He keeps repeating ridiculous throwaway lines that are not true at all and sort of avoiding this issue of Russia, as if we’re some kind of fools for asking the question.”
“Really?” Smith continued into an epic conclusion. “Your opposition was hacked, and the Russians were responsible for it, and your people were on the phone with Russia on the same day it was happening, and we’re fools for asking the questions? No, sir, we are not fools for asking this question, and we demand to know the answer to this question. You owe this to the American people. We have a right to know, we absolutely do, and that you call us ‘fake news’ and put us down like children for asking this question is inconsequential. The people deserve that answer.”
Here’s the video via YouTube.
Donald Trump should be ashamed of himself and the media should absolutely keep doing their jobs by calling out Trump’s lies every day.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence prepares to swear in James Mattis (L) to be Secretary of Defense in his ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 20, 2017. Jonathan Ernst—REUTERS
BERLIN (AP) — Top world leaders, diplomats and defense officials are getting their first opportunity to meet with members of the Trump administration amid concerns over the new president’s commitment to NATO and posture toward Russia.
Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly are leading the U.S. delegation to the Munich Security Conference opening Friday. The annual weekend gathering is known for providing an open and informal platform for allies — and adversaries — to meet in close quarters.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, European Council President Donald Tusk and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg are among the group of more than 30 heads of state and government, 80 foreign and defense ministers and other officials expected to attend.
Trump set off alarm bells last month by calling NATO “obsolete,” though has subsequently told European leaders he agrees on the “fundamental importance” of the military alliance. He has emphasized the need for all members to pay a fair share for defense, an issue that NATO leaders themselves have pushed for years.
Mattis told the alliance’s 27 other defense ministers in Brussels on Wednesday that Trump has “strong support for NATO” and assured Stoltenberg that “the alliance remains a fundamental bedrock for the United States.”
However, Mattis also told fellow NATO members they need to increase their military spending by year’s end or risk seeing the U.S. curtail its defense support.
Other stances — Trump’s support for Britain’s decision to leave the EU, his perceived closeness to Russia and inaugural pledge to put “America first” — also have raised “an unbelievable number of question marks,” conference organizer Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German ambassador to the U.S., said.
Ischinger said expectations that Pence would speak at the conference on Saturday were extremely high. Participants have told him they are seeking clarity on the administration’s stance on its relationship with Russia, NATO, the EU, free trade, human rights, the Iran nuclear agreement, relations with China and the Syria conflict.
“We’re all hoping the American vice president will give a statement on … all of these questions that we in the past weeks have wondered: ‘What does America under Trump really want?'” he said.
Merkel, whose views on many of the main issues differ significantly from those expressed by Trump, plans to address the conference on Saturday.
Others expected to be on hand include Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
On the sidelines, representatives from Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France are supposed to hold a meeting of the so-called “Normandy group” to talk about the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.
South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se told reporters he plans to emphasize the “gravity and urgency” of North Korea’s nuclear program at the meeting. The allegation from the U.S. this week that Russia violated an arms control treaty with the deployment of a cruise missile also seems certain to be on the agenda.
U.S. Sen. John McCain, an outspoken critic of Trump’s Russia policies, is among more than a dozen American representatives expected to attend as part of a U.S. congressional delegation.
Mark Wilson via Getty Images
Rep. Elijah Cummings
BY MARK HENSCH
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) says President Trump invented a story about him cancelling a scheduled meeting between them.
“I have no idea why President Trump would make up a story about me like he did today,” he said in a statement Thursday, according to NBC News.
Trump recounted a planned huddle with Cummings that ultimately fell through during a press conference earlier Thursday.
“I was all set to have that meeting,” he said at the White House. “We called him and called him. I spoke to him on the phone and he wanted it.”
“[Cummings] was all excited and then he said, ‘Oh, I can’t move it,’” Trump recounted. “‘It might be bad for me politically. I can’t have that meeting.’”
“He was probably told by Schumer – or some other lightweight – ‘don’t meet with Trump, it’s bad politics.’ That’s part of the problem in this country.”
Cummings disputed Trump’s account later Thursday, insisting he remains eager to discuss “the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs” with the president.
TRUMP: Let’s go set up a meeting. I would love to meet with the Black Caucus. I think it’s great, the Congressional Black Caucus. I think it’s great. I actually thought I had a meeting with Congressman Cummings and he was all excited. And then he said, well, I can’t move, it might be bad for me politically. I can’t have that meeting.
I was all set to have the meeting. You know, we called him and called him. And he was all set. I spoke to him on the phone, very nice guy.
QUESTION: I hear he wanted that meeting with you as well.
TRUMP: He wanted it, but we called, called, called and can’t make a meeting with him. Every day I walk and say I would like to meet with him because I do want to solve the problem. But he probably was told by Schumer or somebody like that, some other lightweight. He was probably told — he was probably told “don’t meet with Trump. It’s bad politics.”
And that’s part of the problem in this country. OK, one more.
Here’s Rep. Elijah Cummings complete response to Trump’s fabrication on his office’s website (emphasis from original) .
February 16, 2017Press Release
Washington, D.C. (Feb. 16, 2017)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued the following statement in response to President Donald Trump’s press conference:
“I have no idea why President Trump would make up a story about me like he did today. Of course, Senator Schumer never told me to skip a meeting with the President.
“I was actually looking forward to meeting with the President about the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs. What I have been doing for the past several weeks is working closely with my partner on these efforts, Senator Bernie Sanders. My goal was to finalize our proposal to allow HHS to negotiate lower drug prices so I could present it to the President. The President has said many times that he supports this proposal, so I wanted to have our bill ready to get his support.
“I also sincerely have no idea why the President made this claim in response to an unrelated question about the Congressional Black Caucus. I am sure members of the CBC can answer these questions for themselves.
“The skyrocketing price of prescription drugs is an issue that affects every American family—not just people of color—and I hope the President will make good on his promise to finally allow HHS to negotiate lower drug prices on behalf of American families. I look forward to meeting with him on this issue and others.”
After being elected President, Donald Trump warned that the pharmaceutical industry is “getting away with murder.”
He has said that Americans could save hundreds of billions of dollars if Medicare were allowed to negotiate prices directly with drug companies. “We don’t do it,” he said. “Why? Because of the drug companies.”
The most chilling aspect of this is Donald Trump may even beleive his own nonsense.
That would make him delusional. There is one slightly more palatable explanation: Trump thinks Americans aren’t smart enough to figure out he’s lying.
I’m certain that many of you have noticed that the news on TFC is literally inundated with news about our fairly new POTUS, Donald J. Trump.
This is not done by design or some weird desire to only write about Trump in a negative manner. I assure you guys that:
1) the news media has a fascination (right now) with the Trump administration on a daily basis.
2) Every political news site I search has at least 85% Trump related stories.
So please know that this is not by design or me just concentrating on Trump.
This site relays POLITICAL articles of interest and apparently the most interesting topic trending since his election is #TRUMP.