09 Mar 2017 – Trump unaware that Michael Flynn was a ‘foreign agent’, Sean Spicer says

Donald Trump was unaware his former national security adviser Michael Flynn was working as a “foreign agent” when he gave him the job, according to his press secretary.

“I don’t believe that was known,” said Sean Spicer, when asked by reporters at his regular press briefing on Thursday.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that from September to November last year, while he was working as a top adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign, Flynn was lobbying for a firm linked to the Turkish government, earning $530,000. He and his company Flynn Intel Group Inc filed retroactive documents with the Department of Justice two days ago to register as a foreign agent.

The Guardian

https://archive.is/TQX56

09 Mar 2017 – House committee approves the Republican Party’s Obamacare repeal bill

A second House committee approved the Republican Party’s Obamacare repeal bill Thursday, as President Donald Trump flexed his deal-making skills to build momentum behind the legislation amid growing concern among prominent GOP figures that fast-tracking the measure could back fire.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted to move the bill to the House floor after a marathon hearing lasting 27 hours and 18 minutes, hours after the Ways and Means panel registered the first milestone for the American Health Care Act, endorsing it after their own 18-hour session.

The bill, which is strongly backed by the White House, marks a crucial first legislative test for Trump’s capacity to enact his agenda and could represent the Republican leadership’s last best hope for dismantling former Democratic President Barack Obama’s proudest domestic achievement.
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The White House is convinced that it can bring around skeptics of the bill in the House and the Senate — one reason why Trump is stepping up his engagement, with high-profile meetings with leading GOP figures in the debate.
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“He gets the complexity of this,” a senior administration official said. “It’s a sell for him,” the official said, adding that Trump sees himself as the ultimate deal maker and “I think he’s willing to cut deals,” to get this legislation passed, the official said.

09 Mar 2017 – EPA chief Scott Pruitt says carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming

“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“But we don’t know that yet. … We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”

 The statement contradicts the public stance of the agency Pruitt leads. The EPA’s webpage on the causes of climate change states, “Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change.”
https://archive.is/3b1Sd

08 Mar 2017 – Trump administration looks to resume Saudi arms sale

The State Department has approved a resumption of weapons sales that critics have linked to Saudi Arabia’s bombing of civilians in Yemen, a potential sign of reinvigorated U.S. support for the kingdom’s involvement in its neighbor’s ongoing civil war.

The proposal from the State Department would reverse a decision made late in the Obama administration to suspend the sale of precision guided munitions to Riyadh, which leads a mostly Arab coalition conducting airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Washington Post

https://archive.is/WBdIK

07 Mar 2017 – Trump personally met with Russian ambassador during campaign

Trump personally met with the Russian ambassador on April 27, 2016, prior to a major foreign policy speech. The Wall Street Journal, in a report that was little-noticed at the time but was recently picked up by AMERICABlog News, reported the meeting last year.

A few minutes before he made those remarks, Mr. Trump met at a VIP reception with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak. Mr. Trump warmly greeted Mr. Kislyak and three other foreign ambassadors who came to the reception.

Kislyak, according to multiple contemporaneous news reports, was seated in the front row. It was an invitation-only event.

Trump used the speech to call for warmer relations with Russia. “I believe an easing of tensions, and improved relations with Russia — from a position of strength only — is possible, absolutely possible,” Trump said. “Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out.”

Trump has repeatedly insisted that neither he nor anyone on his campaign was in contact with Russia during the election.

“Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years. Don’t speak to people from Russia,” Trump said during a February 16 press conference. He said he contacts with Russia were limited to talking twice to Vladimir Putin after election day.

On February 20, Trump spokesperson Sarah Sanders flatly declared that the Trump campaign had “no contacts” with Russia.

We’ve since learned that at least four members of the Trump campaign — Jeff Sessions, Michael Flynn, Carter Page, and J.D. Gordon — talked with Russian officials during the campaign.

Sessions, now the Attorney General, recused himself from any investigation of the Trump campaigns contacts with Russia after he falsely told the Judiciary Committee he had not met with any Russian officials.

Think Progress

Archive link

07 Mar 2017 – Trump blames Obama for 122 ‘vicious’ Guantanamo prisoners returning ‘to the battlefield’ — but 113 of them were released under Bush

President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning falsely accused Barack Obama’s administration of releasing “122 vicious prisoners” from the Guantanamo Bay military prison.

“122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!” Trump tweeted.

The timing of Trump’s tweet suggested it was inspired by a “Fox & Friends” segment Tuesday morning reporting on a US airstrike in Yemen that killedformer Guantanamo detainee Yasir al Silmi.

The president, however, appeared to have drawn the wrong conclusion from the Fox segment.

The Fox segment called the airstrike a “win in the war on terror” and credited the Trump administration with killing al Silmi, who the show said was “released by Barack Obama.”

But while the segment ended by saying “122 prisoners released from Gitmo have returned to the battlefield,” it had specifically named only al Silmi as being released under Obama.

As NBC News national correspondent Peter Alexander pointed out on Twitter, a report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence indicates that 113 of the 122 former Guantanamo detainees cited by Trump were released under President George W. Bush, compared with only nine under Obama.

Business Insider

https://archive.is/GrT4g

06 Mar 2017 – The White House copies and pastes a paragraph from an ExxonMobil press release into a Trump statement

A White House press release sent to reporters today contained a paragraph identical to a paragraph in an ExxonMobil press release, published an hour before.

The White House release, titled “President Trump Congratulates Exxon Mobil for Job-Creating Investment Program,” applauded the company for new oil refining and chemical manufacturing developments along the coasts of Louisiana and Texas.

Washington Post data reporter Christopher Ingraham noticed the identical paragraph in both releases.

The paragraph included in both the White House press release and the Exxon release read as follows. The only difference is the word “expansion,” bolded below, which appears only in the Exxon release:

“ExxonMobil is strategically investing in new refining and chemical-manufacturing projects in the United States Gulf Coast region to expand its manufacturing and export capacity. The company’s Growing the Gulf expansion program consists of 11 major chemical, refining, lubricant and liquefied natural gas projects at proposed new and existing facilities along the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Investments began in 2013 and are expected to continue through at least 2022.”

Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is the former CEO of ExxonMobil.

The incident bears resemblance to the time former Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt received a letter from an oil and gas company opposing federal effort to limit methane gas leaking from drilling operations, and then copied and pasted it onto his own letterhead and sent it to the US Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is currently the EPA administrator.

Quartz

https://archive.is/rpI6M

06 Mar 2017 – Trump Signs New Order Blocking Arrivals From 6 Majority-Muslim Countries, instead of 7

Like the initial order signed Jan. 27, the new executive order bars arrivals from specific majority-Muslim countries for 90 days and suspends the entire U.S. refugee program for 120 days. It also caps the total number of refugees admitted this fiscal year at 50,000, instead of 110,000.

But there are a series of differences. The ban announced Monday no longer includes Iraq. It explicitly doesn’t apply to lawful permanent residents (green card holders) or existing visa holders. Syrian refugees are not banned indefinitely. Refugees already formally scheduled for travel to the U.S. will be permitted to enter the country.

NPR

https://archive.is/0W8BY

06 Mar 2017 – White House spokeswoman: Trump doesn’t believe Comey that Obama didn’t wiretap

President Donald Trump does not accept an assertion from FBI Director James Comey that former President Barack Obama did not order an illegal wiretap of Trump Tower during last year’s presidential campaign, a White House spokeswoman said Monday.

Trump leveled the explosive accusation on Twitter over the weekend, delivering it without any evidence. Through a spokesman, Obama has flatly denied the charge, as has James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence under Obama. White House officials have yet to offer any proof to back Trump’s claim, instead suggesting that the matter should be investigated.

Politico

https://archive.is/DvtgR

04 Mar 2017 – Trump tweets Trump Tower tirade at 3am claiming Barack Obama ordered ‘wire tap’, but provides no evidence

03 Mar 2017 – Donald Trump tweets photo of Democrat Chuck Schumer with Vladimir Putin, Schumer replies: I’ll talk about my Putin meeting, will you?

 

02 Mar 2017 – Jeff Sessions recuses himself from all Trump campaign-related investigations

Under growing pressure from Democrats and Republicans alike, Attorney General Jeff Sessions agreed Thursday to recuse himself from an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. His action followed revelations he twice met with the Russian ambassador and didn’t say so when pressed by Congress.

Sessions rejected any suggestion that he tried to mislead anyone about his contacts with the Russian, saying, “That is not my intent. That is not correct.”

He did allow, though, that he should have been more careful in his testimony, saying, “I should have slowed down and said, ‘But I did meet one Russian official a couple of times.'”

Associated Press

https://archive.is/TsrZD

Update – 04 Mar 2017

Sessions said he made his decision after consulting with officials at the Justice Department, who recommended he should no longer participate in the probe.

Washington Post reporter Robert Costa tweeted Saturday morning that President Trump left the White House “in a fury” on Friday, “fuming about [Jeff] Sessions’s recusal and telling aides that Sessions shouldn’t have recused himself,” also calling the reports of his meeting “bull.”

The Hill

https://archive.is/qLeWP

02 Mar 2017 – ACLU Calls for Investigation Into Potential Perjury By Sessions

Following reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 presidential campaign, the American Civil Liberties Union is calling for an investigation into whether Sessions perjured himself during his confirmation hearing. ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero issued the following statement:

“Jeff Sessions took an oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and it is now clear that he broke that oath in his confirmation hearing. If senators of both parties allow an attorney general nominee to plainly lie under oath with no repercussions, they will render our government’s cabinet confirmation process no more than kabuki theater. This matter must not and cannot be seen as a partisan issue, as it goes to the heart of the credibility of our democracy. The American people deserve a full investigation into whether Sessions perjured himself and if he is indeed fit to serve as our nation’s highest law enforcement official. No one is above the law — certainly not those sworn to uphold it.”

In his confirmation hearing, then-Senator Sessions was asked about Russia and responded at the time that he “did not have any communications with the Russians.” It has since come to light that Sessions met with Russia’s ambassador to the United States on at least several occasions. Attorney General Sessions has already agreed to recuse himself from investigations into ties between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government if appropriate.

ACLU

https://archive.is/TWsYh

01 Mar 2017 – Sessions spoke twice with Russian ambassador during Trump’s presidential campaign, Justice officials say

Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general.

One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race.

Washington Post

https://archive.is/z5lYP

01 Mar 2017 – White House Says Kellyanne Conway Won’t Be Disciplined for Telling the Public to Buy Ivanka’s Products

“Consistent with this commitment to ethical compliance, the Office of White House Counsel immediately undertook a review of the facts and circumstances surrounding comments made by Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, relating to the business interests of the President’s daughter Ivanka Trump….” Passantino wrote in a letter to the OGE provided to The Daily Beast by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“As part of the subsequent review, I have personally met with Ms. Conway to review the Standards of Conduct that employees of the Executive Office of the President are expected to follow, including the provisions relating to the appropriate use of one’s official position,” he continued.

The White House letter concluded that Conway acted “inadvertently and is highly unlikely to do so again.”

Passantino also contends that Conway’s remarks were made without ill intent.

“It is noted that Ms. Conway made the statement in question in a light, off-hand manner while attempting to stand up for a person she believed had been unfairly treated and did so without nefarious motive or intent to benefit personally,” Passantino wrote. “Both before and after receiving your letter, I personally met with Ms. Conway and advised her that her comments regarding Ms. Trump’s products implicated the prohibition on using one’s official position to endorse any product or service. Ms. Conway has acknowledged her understanding of the Standards and has reiterated her commitment to abiding by them in the future.”

Daily Beast

https://archive.is/K6j7g

Original Story Post

28 Feb 2017 – Trump signs laws to promote women in STEM

President Donald Trump signed two laws on Tuesday that authorize NASA and the National Science Foundation to encourage women and girls to get into STEM fields. Those are science, technology, engineering and math.

The INSPIRE Act directs NASA to promote STEM fields to women and girls, and encourage women to pursue careers in aerospace. The law gives NASA three months to present two Congressional committees with its plans for getting staff — think astronauts, scientists and engineers — in front of K-12 girls studying STEM.

CNET

https://archive.is/nWhJi

28 Feb 2017 – Donald Trump Blames SEAL’s Death On Military: ‘They Lost Ryan’

President Trump on Tuesday blamed the military for the death of Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, a Navy SEAL who was killed in a Jan. 29 botched raid on Islamic terrorists in Yemen.

During an interview on “Fox ‘n’ Friends,” the commander-in-chief repeatedly said “they” — meaning the military — were at fault for the death of Owens, whose dad, Bill, refused to appear with Trump when his son’s body was returned to the US.

“This was a mission that was started before I got here. This was something they wanted to do,” Trump said.

“They came to 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. And they lost Ryan,” he added.

“This was something that they were looking at for a long time doing, and according to [Defense Secretary Jim] Mattis, it was a very successful mission. They got tremendous amounts of information.”

While Trump and White House spokesman Sean Spicer have repeatedly called the operation a roaring success, US officials told NBC News on Monday that the raid produced little if any useful information.

In addition to Owens, 25 civilians, including women and children, were killed, as were numerous terrorists. Four other Americans were wounded and a $70 million Bell transport helicopter was lost.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had also questioned whether the mission was a success — prompting a predictably vituperative Twitter-storm from the president.

“Sen. McCain should not be talking about the success or failure of a mission to the media. Only emboldens the enemy! He’s been losing so long he doesn’t know how to win anymore, just look at the mess our country is in – bogged down in conflict all over the place. Our hero Ryan died on a winning mission (according to General Mattis), not a ‘failure.’ Time for the U.S. to get smart and start winning again!” Trump crowed in a series of three early-morning tweets on Feb. 9.

Presidents historically accept responsibility for their decisions, with President Harry Truman famously plopping a sign reading “The Buck Stops Here” on his desk in the Oval Office.

Presidents John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all adhered to that dictate when crises struck.

“I’m the president. And I’m always responsible,” Obama said after an attack on a US consulate in Benghazi in which four Americans, including the US ambassador, were murdered.

NY Post

https://archive.is/nlQuk

27 Feb 2017 – Trump’s pick for commerce secretary shares a business circle with Putin associates

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, tapped by President-elect Donald Trump to serve as his commerce secretary, has been the top shareholder in a Cypriot bank with deep Russian ties and investors who made their fortunes under Russian President Vladimir Putin.

There’s no indication of any questionable behavior by Ross, but his partners in the bank are sure to attract scrutiny during his Senate confirmation hearing and underscore the financial orbit around Putin that intersects with figures in Trump’s campaign and administration.

https://archive.is/iLD5n

 

27 Feb 2017 – ‘I think he is behind it’: Trump suggests Obama is organizing protests against him

When asked if Obama was responsible for organizing some of the protests – including the widely-publicized demonstrations at GOP town hall meetings of late – Trump had this response:
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“No, I think he is behind it, I also think it’s politics, that’s the way it is,” Trump said in a preview of an interview with “Fox and Friends” released Monday night.
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“You never know what’s exactly happening behind the scenes,” Trump said. “You never know.”

Business Insider

https://archive.is/wGveW

27 Feb 2017 – 229 House Republicans vote to keep Trump’s tax returns secret

The measure was introduced by Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Under a 1924 law, the Ways and Means Committee is empowered to examine tax returns. The committee could then decide to release them to the full Congress, effectively making them public.

Pascrell first brought his request to the Chairman of the Way and Mean Committee, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX). Brady rejected the request, citing concern for Trump’s “civil liberties.”

“The American people have the right to know whether or not their president is operating under conflicts of interest related to international affairs, tax reform, government contracts or otherwise,” Pascrell said.

Republicans in the House disagreed, virtually unanimously. Nearly every Republican voted to kill Pascrell’s resolution and keep Trump’s tax returns secret. No Republicans voted to require Trump to hand over his tax returns. (Two Republicans, including Mark Sanford of South Carolina, voted “present.”)

185 Democrats voted in favor of Pascrell’s efforts.

Associated Press

https://archive.is/2NzVn

Think Progress

https://archive.is/4HAiE