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© Leah Millis / Reuters Donald Trump on July 26, 2019, one day after his now-infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Donald Trump sitting in front of a window: Donald Trump on July 26, 2019, one day after his now-infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky


David Frum 15 hrs ago

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.
Amid a two-day binge of post-Christmas rage-tweeting, President Donald Trump retweeted the name of the CIA employee widely presumed to be the whistle-blower in the Ukraine scandal. On Thursday night, December 26, Trump retweeted his campaign account, which had tweeted a link to a Washington Examiner article that printed the name in the headline. Then, in the early hours of Friday morning, December 27, Trump retweeted a supporter who named the presumed whistle-blower in the text of the tweet.

This is a step the president has been building toward for some time. The name of the presumed whistle-blower has been circulating among Trump supporters for months. Trump surrogates—including the president’s elder son—have posted the name on social media and discussed it on television. Yet actually crossing the line to post the name on the president’s own account? Until this week, Trump hesitated. That red line has now been crossed.
Lawyers debate whether the naming of the federal whistle-blower is in itself illegal. Federal law forbids inspectors general to disclose the names of whistle-blowers, but the law isn’t explicit about disclosure by anybody else in government.
What the law does forbid is retaliation against a whistle-blower. And a coordinated campaign of vilification by the president’s allies—and the president himself—surely amounts to “retaliation” in any reasonable understanding of the term.
While the presumed whistle-blower reportedly remains employed by the government, he is also reportedly subject to regular death threats, including at least implicit threat by Trump himself. Trump was recorded in September telling U.S. diplomats in New York: “Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call—heard something and decided that he or she, or whoever the hell they saw—they’re almost a spy. I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information? Because that’s close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”
Trump’s tweeting in the past two days was so frenzied and the sources quoted were so bizarre—including at least four accounts devoted to the Pizzagate-adjacent conspiracy theory QAnon, as well as one that describes former President Barack Obama as “Satan’s Muslim scum”—as to renew doubts about the president’s mental stability. But Trump’s long reticence about outright naming the presumed whistle-blower suggests that he remained sufficiently tethered to reality to hear and heed a lawyer’s advice. He disregarded that advice in full awareness that he was disregarding it. The usual excuse for Trump’s online abusiveness—he’s counterpunching—amounts in this case not to a defense but to an indictment: Counterpunching literally means retaliating, and retaliation is what is forbidden by federal law.
The presumed whistle-blower’s personal remedy for the president’s misconduct is a private lawsuit for monetary damages against the federal government. It’s hard to see how such a lawsuit would do anybody any good. The presumed whistle-blower still draws a salary, and may not have suffered any material costs at all. The presumed whistle-blower’s ultimate compensation for this ordeal should be a future place of honor in the service of the country.
In the meantime, though, the country is left once again with the problem of a president who refuses to obey the law. Trump is organizing from the White House a conspiracy to revenge himself on the person who first alerted the country that Trump was extorting Ukraine to help his reelection: more lawbreaking to punish the revelation of past lawbreaking. Impeaching a president whose party holds a majority in the Senate obviously presents many grave practical difficulties. But Trump’s post-Christmas mania confirms House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s prediction that Trump would impeach himself.
Donald Trump will not be bound by any rule, even after he has been caught. He is unrepentant and determined to break the rules again—in part by punishing those who try to enforce them. He is a president with the mind of a gangster, and as long as he is in office, he will head a gangster White House.


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By Sara Sidner and Rachel Clarke, CNN

Updated 8:29 PM ET, Fri December 13, 2019

(CNN)She was already a racist when she took a publishing job in Washington, DC. But when she became a reporter for Breitbart News, Katie McHugh says she was taken to new depths of hate with the help of Stephen Miller.
Emails show the two were in frequent contact between 2015 and 2016 while he was working for then Sen. Jeff Sessions and later on the Trump presidential campaign.
McHugh says on Miller’s way to the White House, where he is now a senior adviser deeply involved in shaping immigration policy in consonance with his hardline views, he was constantly sending her far-right material, encouraging her to use their arguments in her articles.
“He was shaping news coverage of a far-right website that was rapidly growing … and was controlling the narrative behind Donald Trump’s candidacy and the tenor of the electorate, especially the Republican electorate,” McHugh says. Breitbart supported Trump and as he rose while embracing the site’s ideology, so did Breitbart’s popularity with readers.
Former Breitbart reporter Katie McHugh said she didn’t think about the people she hurt at the time.
McHugh was a willing acolyte of Miller who she says further radicalized her.
“I was a white nationalist,” she says. “Whatever you want to call it — white nationalist, white supremacist. But that part [of me] is dead.”
She says Miller privately showed his true colors and pushed white supremacist ideals echoing his hardline views on restricting immigration to her in order to get them on Breitbart’s website.
McHugh has shared several hundred emails with the Southern Policy Law Center and now some with CNN showing Miller’s contacts from 2015 to 2016. She says Miller stopped reaching out once he got a position in the White House.
She agreed to a CNN interview — her first on camera — because she wants to sound the alarm about Miller.
She says she is doing this as part of her own journey to healing and repentance for the life she used to live and the people she hurt.
Miller has not responded to a detailed request for comment. He has never denied the veracity of the emails.
The White House has not commented on McHugh’s interview. When the emails were first revealed last month a White House spokesperson told CNN: “While Mr. Miller condemns racism and bigotry in all forms, those defaming him are trying to deny his Jewish identity, which is a pernicious form of anti-Semitism.”
McHugh says she was introduced to Miller in June 2015 by Breitbart colleague Matthew Boyle when she became a reporter, after editing the site’s homepage and stories. She was 23 at the time.

“Miller was introduced to me as someone that I would take editorial direction from as I was reporting on the immigration beat and criminal justice beat,” she says. “It was not like, ‘Here’s someone from a Senate office, he may pitch you stories.’ It was understood that Miller had editorial control over the political section,” she alleges.
Elizabeth Moore, vice president of public relations and communications for Breitbart, said in a statement to CNN: “This person (McHugh) was fired years ago for a multitude of reasons, including lying, and now you have an even better idea why she was fired. Having said that, it is not exactly a newsflash that political staffers pitch stories to journalists — sometimes those pitches are successful, sometimes not.”
McHugh said Miller would point her towards crimes committed by undocumented migrants, such as the killing of Kate Steinle in San Francisco, with the subtext that curbing immigration from certain countries would cut crime. And she would seek out his opinion too.
In October 2015, McHugh asked Miller if he thought a natural disaster in Mexico could drive people to the US border. He replied: “100 percent,” according to emails McHugh gave to the SPLC and then CNN.
He then raised the possibility that those potential migrants could be allowed to stay in the US with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) — the special category given to Haitian survivors of the devastating 2010 earthquake among others.
TPS is giving to citizens of countries who are unable to safely return because of an environmental disaster, a war or extraordinary conditions that are temporary.
“Wow. Ok. Is there precedent for this?” McHugh asked, to which Miller responded with a link to an article on an extremist website that promotes the racist “great replacement” theory that white people are facing genocide.
McHugh told CNN: “I do want to emphasize … that those emails are now White House policy.”
The Trump administration decided not to offer the humanitarian relief of TPS to survivors of Hurricane Dorian that laid waste to some of the Bahamas this summer. The US is also in the process of rescinding TPS previously granted to people from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan. The administration has said the original dire conditions are no longer present.
Calling someone a white supremacist is a very strong and personal attack, but McHugh does not hesitate to denounce Miller from what she knows of him and how she saw in him a kindred spirit when she was on a racist path.
“I would absolutely call him a white supremacist,” she says. His driving ideology is “white supremacy and anti-immigration especially,” she adds.
McHugh herself once followed the same hate as Miller. When she first moved to Washington, she dated a white nationalist and they and their friends would hang out in a home they dubbed “the house of hate.”
She tweeted virulently racist and Islamophobic statements but says she was still having fun and a social life.
When she went to work for Breitbart, she says she became more isolated — working long hours remotely by herself and that helped to make her susceptible to what she calls her “radicalization” by Miller and others.
“My world got more sealed off and I got much more intense. I got prideful, and I got angrier and angrier,” she says. “Unless you stop, you know, objects in motion, stay in motion. It just gets worse.”
At the time, she was enjoying the success and being close to a policy maker whom she said also had the ear of then Executive Chairman Steve Bannon and other leaders at Breitbart.

Bannon later joined Trump’s campaign as chief executive and worked at the White House for about six months as a chief strategist.
“It’s very exciting to shape the news,” McHugh says. “I wasn’t self-aware enough … to realize like what I was doing was extremely harmful. I hoped that we would bounce ideas off each other and … it was nice to be able to talk to someone because I was very isolated and I had hoped … we could be kind of friends.”
That didn’t happen, McHugh says, but she and Miller remained in repeated, sometimes almost constant, contact.
“We spoke so frequently and we were friendly to each other, but it was never like, there wasn’t a friendship there because it wasn’t like, ‘Hey, how’s your day going?'”
And McHugh admits she was traveling further and further down the rabbit hole of intolerance, sending out vile tweets that eventually led to her firing after they were highlighted by CNN among others.
McHugh now says getting fired from Breitbart was the best thing that could have happened to her. She took jobs with extremely far right websites soon after her firing, but was eventually let go from those jobs too.
“I was able to break away from what was frankly a toxic culture and a radicalization machine, especially for young people like me.”
Miller has been instrumental in immigration policies.
She says she first began to see Miller had feet of clay a few weeks after being fired when he had a contentious exchange with CNN’s Jim Acosta over US immigration and the poem on the Statue of Liberty that calls out for “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
“You see him trashing the Emma Lazarus poem at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty,” she says. “It struck me as odd that he would direct such, like, vitriol about welcoming like the most desperate people in the world into a better country for that, like a safer place.”
When Acosta suggested Miller was “trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country,” he hit back, accusing the reporter of “cosmopolitan bias.” Critics noted that phrase has been used to counter arguments by racist regimes for decades.
McHugh describes shedding her white supremacist views as akin to “pulling shrapnel from my brain.”
Once vilified by the center and the left, she is now a target for all sides, but she knows she is on her journey away from being a white supremacist.
“I just think it’s important to speak about this publicly because people need to know,” she says. “It’s a serious danger and I see other people younger than me going down that same path.”
More than 100 Democrats in the House and 27 senators have called for Miller to go.
But McHugh says, “Not a single Republican has called for Miller’s resignation. That should terrify us as a country.”
McHugh’s politics have now swung to the left. She has even donated to Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, partly because of his calls for “Medicare for All,” she says.
She has diabetes, alopecia and other medical issues. She has no permanent home right now and only a part-time job but says she would like to give more to Sanders’ campaign if she becomes able.

At one point she breaks down. Her shoulders shaking. Tears welling up in her eyes. She apologizes for the harm she says she has caused. She says she is now doing what her Catholic upbringing has taught her. Making amends and repenting. She wants Miller to do the same. And resign.
“I was in a very dark, very small world and I was a very angry person.”
CNN’s Mallory Simon contributed to this story.

Mike Luckovich Comic Strip for December 06, 2019 Drew Sheneman Comic Strip for December 05, 2019

Kevin Kallaugher Comic Strip for December 06, 2019




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November 18, 2019 4:07PM

By Alex Nowrasteh. CATO
Over the weekend, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated an earlier report on arrests and apprehensions of illegal immigrants who requested Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The updated report shows that of the 888,818 people who applied for DACA, 118,371 had been arrested at one time or another.
Many of those arrested were not approved for DACA, but some were because many arrests don’t lead to convictions. Those 118,371 people had been arrested a total of 202,025 times for all crimes and civil infractions, including violations of immigration law. Subtracting the number arrested for immigration infractions lowers the number to 95,343 DACA applicants being arrested. The DACA applicant arrest rate was 80 percent below the non-DACA applicant (all others) arrest rate.
The USCIS report does not provide arrest rates for DACA applicants or other populations in the United States. As a result, there is no standard of comparison for the number of arrests mentioned in the USCIS report. However, some data released in the report do allow for a back of the envelope comparison between the arrest rate for DACA applicants and the arrest rate for the population of all others.
Below, I will describe the comparative arrest rates and how I calculated them.
Comparing arrest rates requires making two simple assumptions. First, I assume that the youngest person arrested who was a DACA applicant was 13 years old and that arrest occurred in 1993 (DACA is only available to those born in 1981 or later). This is based on Table 6 of the USCIS report that breaks down arrests by age. Only 5,076 of the arrests were of DACA applicants age 14 or younger. Changing the year does not affect the direction of the outcomes.
Second, I compare the number of arrests and not the number of individual people arrested. This is because FBI crime data record the number of arrests, not the number of people arrested. Third, I don’t exclude any of the arrests counted in the USCIS document even though the FBI’s crime data doesn’t include immigration arrests in its national figures. That second choice biases the results against me because it increases the number of arrests of DACA applicants relative to the citizen population who cannot be arrested for immigration offenses.
From 1993 to 2018, about 344.9 million total criminal arrests were made in the United States. Of those arrests, 202,025 arrests were of DACA applicants. The arrest rate for DACA applicants was 874 per 100,000 DACA applicants per year from 1993 through 2018 (Figure 1). The arrest rate for all others was 4,491 per every 100,000 per year. In other words, the arrest rate for all others was about 5.1 times as great as it was for DACA applicants. DACA applicants had an arrest rate 80 percent below that of all others.
Table 1

Annual Arrest Rates of DACA Applicants and All Others per 100,000, 1993-2018

USCIS Crime 2018_0

Sources: FBI, USCIS, and Author’s Calculations.
Note: Arrests per 100,000 for each subpopulation.
Even if all those arrests of DACA applicants took place from 2012-2018 (DACA was announced in 2012), their arrest rate would be 3,247 per every 100,000 DACA applicants per year. That is still below the arrest rate for all others of 3,429 per year during the same time. Excluding immigration arrests lower the relative arrest rates even more. For instance, excluding immigration arrests from the 1993-2018 period diminishes the DACA applicant arrest rate from 874 per 100,000 DACA applicants per year to 775 per 100,000.
No matter how you compare the arrest rate for DACA applicants to all others, the former group has a lower arrest rate. Since the USCIS report and this post just measure arrest rates, the criminal conviction rate is necessarily lower as there are more arrests than convictions – as I show in Texas. The USCIS report is just further evidence that illegal immigrants have a lower crime rate than native-born Americans.
USCIS, DACA, Crime, arrest rates, 2019

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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The Post’s View

By Editorial Board
Oct. 24, 2019 at 5:51 p.m. CDT
THERE IS an old Washington saying that if you’re arguing about process, you’re losing. A follow-on maxim might be: If you are wrong on process, too, you must really be in trouble.
That would apply to the 30 or so Republicans who stormed a Wednesday House Intelligence Committee hearing in a secure Capitol facility, objecting that Democrats have, so far, conducted impeachment proceedings behind closed doors.
The stunt disrupted the testimony of Pentagon official Laura Cooper and temporarily distracted Washington from the evidence of President Trump’s misconduct. The latter seemed to be the point, but Ms. Cooper simply testified a few hours later.

It’s already clear that the president grossly abused his office. Mr. Trump himself released a rough transcript of a call in which he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his family, as Mr. Zelensky sought military aid and a White House meeting. Republicans have offered no persuasive defense of the president’s actions, because there is none.

Fear-driven Republicans have been enablers of President Trump with their silence, argues Post columnist George F. Will. (Joy Sharon Yi/The Washington Post)
Yet questions remain, and House committees are methodically looking for answers. Lawmakers lack a voluminous investigative record like independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr’s 1998 report. They must do their own basic investigating, which is why it makes sense to hold some hearings behind closed doors. Investigators don’t want witnesses to play for the cameras or dishonestly align their testimony with that of earlier witnesses. Classified material may be discussed. Republicans, in their incessant and fruitless investigations of Hillary Clinton and the 2012 Benghazi attacks, held many closed hearings — and insisted they were the most useful.
Moreover, Republican legislators are present at all of these closed-door sessions and are free to pose questions. In fact, the rules allowed many of those who stormed Wednesday’s testimony to enter the room in a civilized fashion if they so chose. The impression Republicans tried to convey, of Democrats cooking up an illegitimate indictment of the president while locking all others out of the room, is a partisan fantasy.

Marginally more persuasive was a memo Senate Republicans released Thursday complaining that the full House had not formally voted on conducting an impeachment inquiry and that Mr. Trump is not allowed counsel in the room. Neither is required by the Constitution or House rules. But holding a vote would add legitimacy, and, more to the point, the sooner House investigators move from closed hearings to open ones, the better. Citizens should learn the scope and gravity of the president’s misdeeds so they can form their own conclusions. House leaders should release transcripts of closed hearings, consistent with the protection of classified material, as soon as possible.

Of course, all of this could happen sooner if the Trump administration were not stonewalling lawmakers’ legitimate requests for information.


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Where is the money that was taken from the Pentagon budgets? MA.

Ellie Bufkin 7 hrs ago, The Examiner

The Trump administration reportedly canceled three projects to build parts of the barrier wall at the U.S. southern border in Arizona and California. A Friday court filing by the legal team representing the Trump administration in a civil suit indicated funds for the three construction projects were insufficient to continue building.

The lawsuit, filed against the president and several Cabinet members in February, accuses the administration of illegally declaring a state of emergency in order to obtain funding for the border wall. The Center for Biological Diversity and several other environmental organizations are named as plaintiffs in the case.

“Of the 58 times presidents have previously declared emergencies under the National Emergencies Act, none involved using the emergency powers to fund a policy goal after a president failed to meet that goal through foreign diplomacy (having Mexico pay for the wall) or the congressional appropriations process,” the original complaint said. “Never before has a president used the emergency powers granted to him by Congress in such a manner.”
The lawsuit calls for the president and his administration to cease construction of the barrier at the southern border, citing concerns for wildlife.
“Of particular concern to Plaintiffs and their members, border barriers prevent the passage of wildlife, and could result in the extirpation of jaguars, ocelots, and other endangered species within the United States,” it reads. “The use of funds for such barriers that on information and belief are directed at least in part to investigating and where relevant prosecuting organized criminal activities related to illegal wildlife trafficking further harms Plaintiffs’ interests in protecting and preserving biological diversity.”
The Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental activist group, boasts on their website that they have sued the Trump administration and the president personally 158 times.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment on the matter.


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By CALVIN WOODWARD and HOPE YEN, Associated Press
1 hr ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The country described by the Democrats running for president is mired in child poverty, riven with economic unfairness and broken in its approach to health care, crime and guns. The country presented by President Donald Trump is roaring and ascendant — and, hey, how about those moderating prescription drug prices?

The reality, of course, is more complex than this tale of two nations.
After three turns on the debate stage by the Democratic candidates, it’s become clear that for the most part they hew to actual statistics and other fundamentals more closely than does Trump, who routinely says false things and repeats them as if willing them into being.
That’s not to say the Democrats are beacons of accuracy. Some will use older statistics when newer ones don’t suit their argument or give a selective reading of history when that fits the story they want to tell. Sometimes what they don’t say speaks loudly, as when they won’t acknowledge the cost of their plans or the likely tax hit on average people.

TRUMP: “Democrats want to confiscate guns from law-abiding Americans so they’re totally defenseless when somebody walks into their house with a gun.” — remarks Thursday to House Republicans in Baltimore.

THE FACTS: That’s a vast overstatement. No Democratic candidates have proposed stripping all guns from Americans. One of the top 10 candidates, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, has proposed confiscating assault-type weapons such as the AK-47 through a mandatory buyback program.
JOE BIDEN, on the treatment of migrants in his time as Barack Obama’s vice president: “We didn’t lock people up in cages.” — Democratic presidential debate Thursday.
THE FACTS: Yes they did.
The “cages” — chain-link enclosures inside border facilities where migrants have been temporarily housed, separated by sex and age — were built and used by the Obama administration. The Trump administration has been using the same facilities.

Democrats routinely accuse Trump of using cages for migrant children without acknowledging the same enclosures were employed when Biden was vice president.
BERNIE SANDERS: “Every study done shows that ‘Medicare for All’ is the most cost-effective approach to providing health care to every man, woman and child in this country.” — Democratic debate.
THE FACTS: No, not every study.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in a report earlier this year that total spending under a single-payer system, such as the one proposed by Sanders, “might be higher or lower than under the current system depending on the key features of the new system.”

Those features involve details about payment rates for hospitals and doctors, which are not fully spelled out by Sanders, as well as the estimated cost of generous benefits that include long-term care services and no copays and deductibles for comprehensive medical care.
A report this year by the Rand think tank estimated that Medicare for All would modestly raise national health spending, the opposite of what the Vermont senator intends.
Rand modeled a hypothetical scenario in which a plan similar to legislation by the Vermont senator had taken effect this year. It found that total U.S. health care spending would be about $3.9 trillion under Medicare for All in 2019, compared with about $3.8 trillion under the status quo.
Part of the reason is that Medicare for All would offer generous benefits with no copays and deductibles, except limited cost-sharing for certain medications. Virtually free comprehensive medical care would lead to big increases in the demand for services.
TRUMP: “Our ambitious campaign to reduce the price of prescription drugs has produced the largest decline in drug prices in more than 51 years.” — remarks at North Carolina rally Monday night.
THE FACTS: He’s exaggerating his influence on drug prices, which haven’t fallen for brand-name drugs, the area that worries consumers the most.
Most of his administration’s “ambitious campaign” to reduce drug prices has yet to be completed. Major regulations are in the works and legislation has yet to be passed by Congress. A rule requiring drugmakers to disclose prices in TV ads has been blocked for now by the courts.
Harsh criticism of the industry — from Trump and lawmakers of both parties in Congress — may be having some effect, however.
The Commerce Department’s inflation index for prescription drug prices has declined in seven of the past eight months, which is highly unusual. That index includes lower-cost generic drugs, which account for 90% of prescriptions filled in the U.S. Prices for generics have been declining under pressure from big drug distributors.
For brand-name drugs, though, a recent analysis by The Associated Press shows that on average prices are still going up, but at a slower pace. The cost of brand-name drugs is what’s most concerning to consumers, with insured patients facing steep copays for some medications.
The AP analysis found that in the first seven months of 2019, drugmakers raised list prices for brand-name medicines by a median, or midpoint, of 5%.
That does reflect a slowing in price increases. They were going up 9% or 10% over those months the prior four years. But it’s not a decrease in actual prices. There were 37 price increases for every decrease in the first seven months of 2019. Pricing data for the AP analysis came from the health information firm Elsevier.
ELIZABETH WARREN, asked whether her health plan would mean higher middle-class taxes: “We pay for it, those at the very top, the richest individuals and the biggest corporations, are going to pay more. And middle-class families are going to pay less. That’s how this is going to work. … Look, what families have to deal with is cost, total cost.”
THE FACTS: That’s a dodge.
The senator from Massachusetts did not answer back-to-back questions about whether middle class taxes would go up from her version of Medicare for All.
It’s a given that consumers will pay less for health care if the government picks up the bills. But Sanders is almost alone among the candidates who support Medicare for All in acknowledging that broadly higher taxes would be needed to pay for that universal coverage. He would consider, and probably not be able to avoid, a tax increase on the middle class in exchange for health care without copayments, deductibles and the like. “Yes, they will pay more in taxes but less in health care,” he said in a June debate.
Some rivals, including Warren, have only spoken about taxing the wealthy and “Wall Street.” Analysts say that’s not going to cover the costs of government-financed universal care.
TRUMP: “How do you impeach a President who has helped create perhaps the greatest economy in the history of our Country?” — tweet Friday.
THE FACTS: “Perhaps” is a rare bit of modesty in this frequent boast by Trump but he is still wrong in claiming the U.S. has its best economy ever.
In the late 1990s, growth topped 4% for four straight years, a level it has not reached on an annual basis under Trump. Growth reached 7.2% in 1984. The economy grew 2.9% in 2018 — the same pace it reached in 2015 under Obama — and hasn’t hit historically high growth rates.
The unemployment rate is near a 50-year low of 3.7%, but the proportion of Americans with a job was higher in the 1990s. More Americans are now out of the workforce, taking care of children or relatives, or going to school, while others became discouraged about their job prospects and stopped looking. The government doesn’t count people as unemployed unless they are actively searching for jobs. Wages were rising at a faster pace back then, too.
TRUMP, on China’s economy. “By the way, China is having the worst year they’ve had now in 57 years, OK? Fifty-seven.” — remarks Wednesday in meeting on e-cigarettes.
TRUMP: “They’ve had now the worst year in 57 years.” — North Carolina rally on Monday.
THE FACTS: That’s not true. China is far from the impoverished disaster of a half century ago, when it was reeling from the massive famine caused by Mao Zedong’s radical economic policies and heading into the chaos of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.
China’s economy is indeed slowing from Trump’s taxes on Chinese imports, as well as its own campaign to constrain runaway debt. The International Monetary Fund expects the Chinese economy to grow 6.2% this year. That’s the slowest growth for China in nearly 30 years. But it’s still markedly faster than U.S. growth.
Since overhauling its economy in the late 1970s, China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, established a growing middle class and surpassed Japan to become the world’s second-biggest economy.
TRUMP: “Hundreds of billions of dollars have been and are coming into our country in the form of tariffs, and China is eating the cost.” — North Carolina rally.
THE FACTS: Americans are also eating the cost.
As he escalates a trade war with China, Trump refuses to recognize that tariffs are mainly, if not entirely, paid by companies and consumers in the country that imposes them.
In a study in May, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, with Princeton and Columbia universities, estimated that tariffs from Trump’s trade dispute with China were costing $831 per U.S. household on an annual basis, before tariffs were recently escalated. Analysts also found that the burden of Trump’s tariffs falls entirely on U.S. consumers and businesses that buy imported products.
A report last month by JPMorgan Chase estimated that tariffs would cost the average American household $1,000 per year if tariffs on an additional $300 billion of U.S. imports from China proceed in September and December. Trump has since bumped up the scheduled levies even higher, probably adding to the U.S. burden.
BERNIE SANDERS: “We have the highest child poverty rate of almost any country on Earth.” — Democratic debate.
THE FACTS: This oft-repeated line by the Vermont senator is an exaggeration.
There are nearly 200 countries in the world, many with people living in extreme poverty that most Americans would struggle to fathom. Poverty is also a relative measure in which someone who is poor in one nation might look rather prosperous in another.
But the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development updated its child poverty report in 2018. The United States had an above average level of child poverty, but it was not at the bottom of the 42 nations listed in the report. The United States still fared better than Russia, Chile, Spain, India, Turkey, Israel, Costa Rica, Brazil, South Africa and China.
TRUMP: “We passed the largest package of tax cuts and reforms in American history.” — North Carolina rally.
THE FACTS: His tax cuts are nowhere close to the biggest in U.S. history.
It’s a $1.5 trillion tax cut over 10 years. As a share of the total economy, a tax cut of that size ranks 12th, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 cut is the biggest, followed by the 1945 rollback of taxes that financed World War II.
Post-Reagan tax cuts also stand among the historically significant: President George W. Bush’s cuts in the early 2000s and Obama’s renewal of them a decade later.
TRUMP: “More Americans are working today than ever before in the history of our country.” — North Carolina rally.
THE FACTS: Yes but that’s driven by population growth. A more relevant measure is the proportion of Americans with jobs, and that is still below record highs.
According to Labor Department data, 60.9% of people in the United States 16 years and older were working in August. That’s below the all-time high of 64.7% in April 2000.
TRUMP: “We passed something they wanted to do for half a century: We passed VA Choice.” — North Carolina rally.
THE FACTS: It was Obama who won passage of the Veterans Choice program, which gives veterans the option to see private doctors outside the VA medical system at government expense. Congress approved the program in 2014, and Obama signed it into law. Trump expanded it.
BETO O’ROURKE, former U.S. representative from Texas, on last month’s mass shooting in El Paso: “Everything that I’ve learned about resilience, I’ve learned from my hometown of El Paso, Texas, in the face of this act of terror, that was directed at our community, in large part by the president of United States. It killed 22 people, and injured many more, we were not defeated by that. Nor were we defined by that.” — Democratic debate.
THE FACTS: Nobody has claimed that Trump “directed” the shooting. Earlier in the debate, O’Rourke had said the shooter was “inspired to kill by our president.” It is hard to know for sure what led the gunman to open fire inside a Walmart in El Paso, killing 22 people. The suspect posted a manifesto online before the shooting that echoed Trump’s comments on immigration. Yet the suspect said his own views “predate Trump and his campaign for president.”
The screed spoke of what the suspect called a “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” railed against immigrants and warned of an imminent attack. Nearly all of the victims had Latino last names.
The suspect purchased the gun legally, according to El Paso’s police chief.
KAMALA HARRIS, on Trump: “The only reason he has not been indicted is because there was a memo in the Department of Justice that says a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime.” — Democratic debate.
THE FACTS: We don’t know that it’s the only reason. Former special counsel Robert Mueller didn’t go that far in his report on Russian intervention in the 2016 election and obstruction of justice.
Harris, a California senator, is referring to a Justice Department legal opinion that says sitting presidents are immune from indictment. Mueller has said his investigators were restrained by that rule, but he also said that they never reached a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.
In Mueller’s congressional testimony in July, he said his team never started the process of evaluating whether to charge Trump.
Associated Press writers Josh Boak, Christopher Rugaber, Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington and Amanda Seitz in Chicago contributed to this report.
Find AP Fact Checks at


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The Bleep goes on, anyone who believes TOTUS is competent to run the country is sadly mistaken. MA.

Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey 11 hrs ago, Washington Post
He posted nine tweets and five maps about Alabama and the big storm.
He defended a doctored hurricane map that had been altered with a black Sharpie to include the state.
And he had his White House release a 225-word statement defending his erroneous warnings that Alabama was “going to get a piece” of the storm.
As Hurricane Dorian battered the Carolinas with torrential rain and wind Thursday, President Trump remained fixated on sunny Alabama — a state he falsely claimed was in the storm’s crosshairs long after it was in the clear.
For a fourth straight day, Trump’s White House sought to clean up the president’s mistaken warnings to Alabama from Sunday, seeking to defend Trump’s tweets by releasing statements, disseminating alternative hurricane maps and attacking the media.
Trump also took to Twitter again to defend his use of a doctored and outdated hurricane map that looped in Alabama using black marker — the latest iteration in a days-long, administration-wide campaign on the topic.
In effect, Trump was attempting to bend time — claiming that a projection that was several days out of date was accurate at the time he warned Alabama of a dire threat that didn’t exist.
“Just as I said, Alabama was originally projected to be hit,” Trump tweeted Thursday, highlighting week-old maps that showed a low probability of tropical-storm winds in a small corner of Alabama. “The Fake News denies it!”
Trump’s fixation on his erroneous Dorian warnings underscores a long history of defending inaccurate claims — from the crowd size at his inaugural address to false claims of voter fraud in 2016 to fictional “unknown Middle Easterners” streaming across the southern border in migrant caravans.
Trump demurs when asked about hurricane map
Tim O’Brien, a Trump biographer and executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion, said the Alabama claims underscore the president’s belief that admitting error is a sign of weakness.
“He’s doubling down on the worst sides of his troubled personality — to never admit an error and to continue obsessing about it, and emphasizing it, when it doesn’t serve him well to do so,” he said. “He doesn’t move along because he is incapable of moving along.”
Trump, who canceled a trip to Poland to monitor the storm, was especially sensitive to the criticism he has received for misrepresenting the hurricane’s path, according to current and former officials.
“Always good to be prepared! But the Fake News is only interested in demeaning and belittling,” Trump tweeted Monday, complaining about an ABC News report that highlighted the discrepancy between Trump’s warnings to Alabama and the government’s assurance that the state was not under threat.
“What I said was accurate! All Fake News in order to demean!” Trump tweeted Thursday, adding: “I accept the Fake News apologies!”
Trump, who has privately and publicly griped about media coverage during the Group of 7 summit last month, complained extensively to administration officials this week about coverage of the Alabama issue and asked aides to bring him old briefings showing Alabama in the storm’s potential path. Even as the Category 2 hurricane knocked out power and damaged property in the Carolinas on Thursday, Trump was highlighting old maps in an attempt to prove that his original claims about Alabama were accurate.
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Trump, who canceled a trip to Poland to monitor the storm, was especially sensitive to the criticism he has received for misrepresenting the hurricane’s path, according to current and former officials.
President Trump, who canceled a trip to Poland to monitor the storm, was especially sensitive to the criticism he has received for misrepresenting the hurricane’s path, according to current and former officials.
The White House also released a lengthy statement from Trump’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, Rear Adm. Peter Brown, that sought to defend Trump’s statements and his use of days-old maps.
“While speaking to the press on Sunday, September 1, the President addressed Hurricane Dorian and its potential impact on multiple states, including Alabama,” Brown wrote. “The President’s comments were based on that morning’s Hurricane Dorian briefing, which included the possibility of tropical storm force winds in southeastern Alabama.”
It was Trump who used a black Sharpie to mark up an official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map, which he displayed during an Oval Office briefing on Wednesday, according to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
“No one else writes like that on a map with a black Sharpie,” the official said of the map, which added Alabama into the hurricane’s potential pathway inside the loop of the marker.
Several White House officials argued that media coverage of the Alabama issue has been unfair to Trump, but one senior administration official said that “as long as it’s in the news, he is not going to drop it.”
Trump has recently fixated on minor points of grievance that aides and Republican lawmakers would prefer he avoid, such as former aide Anthony Scaramucci, actress Debra Messing and an Axios story that said he proposed bombing hurricanes to stop their progress.
On Sunday, after a weekend spent at Camp David with afternoons at his Virginia golf course, Trump warned multiple times that Alabama was likely to be hit. But the storm had already turned northward at that point, and models from the National Hurricane Center did not show Alabama at any significant risk.
Twenty minutes after Trump tweeted Sunday that Alabama was among states that would “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,” the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Ala., tweeted bluntly that was not the case.
“Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama,” it said. “The system will remain too far east.”
Just a few minutes later, the president spoke to reporters and again claimed that Alabama was “going to get a piece of it.”
Brown, who joined the White House National Security Council from the Coast Guard, had been assigned to give weekend updates to Trump on the storm.
“We spent two days at Camp David going over a lot of different things having to do with the hurricane,” Trump said of Brown. “The admiral has informed me through all of the different sources that he has — but you can pretty much get it on television, admiral — this is now a Category 5.”
An NSC spokesman did not respond to questions about whether Brown had briefed the president about updated forecasts over the weekend that showed Alabama in the clear.
Brown said in his statement Thursday that he had briefed Trump on the hurricane Sunday morning using forecasts from the National Hurricane Center that showed a remote possibility of tropical-storm winds in a southeast corner of Alabama. He said he also briefed Trump using other meteorological models.
“These products showed possible storm impacts well outside the official forecast cone,” he wrote.
During a briefing at FEMA headquarters on Sunday afternoon, Trump acknowledged governors who had dialed in from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. He then turned to a state that wasn’t represented on the line.
“It may get a little piece of a great place: It’s called Alabama,” Trump said. “And Alabama could even be in for at least some very strong winds and something more than that, it could be. This just came up, unfortunately. It’s the size of the storm that we’re talking about. So, for Alabama, just please be careful also.”
Maps tweeted out by Trump on Thursday showed part of southeastern Alabama with a 5 to 20 percent chance of tropical-storm-force winds — a week-old forecast that was long out of date by the time the president tweeted out his warnings to the state Sunday.
Trump claimed Wednesday that Alabama had faced a 95 percent chance of a direct hit, a claim not borne out by meteorological models.
Some Democrats criticized Trump for focusing on the wrong thing during a natural disaster.
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president, said on CNN Thursday that he felt “sorry for the president.”
“I don’t know if he felt it necessary to pull out a Sharpie and change the map, I don’t know if one of his aides felt they had to do that to protect his ego,” he said. “No matter how you cut it, this is an unbelievably sad state of affairs for our country.”
Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow contributed to this report


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Liars Poker?

Published: Aug 30, 2019, 4:19 p.m. ET

By Robert Schroeder, White House reporter

President Donald Trump on Friday took a slap at what he called badly run companies, saying there isn’t a problem with tariffs as the U.S. and China were set to impose new levies on each other’s products beginning Sunday.
With individual companies and business groups complaining about the effects of his trade war, Trump said on Twitter, “Badly run and weak companies are smartly blaming these small Tariffs instead of themselves for bad management…and who can really blame them for doing that?”
Trump didn’t name any companies. On Wednesday, a coalition of 161 manufacturers, farmers, retailers, natural gas and oil companies as well as other business groups, sent a letter asking Trump to postpone tariff rate increases on Chinese goods slated to take effect this year. More businesses and farmers say they are suffering amid the U.S.-China trade war, as the Wall Street Journal writes, with Best Buy Co. BBY, +0.25% among the latest firms to warn of the impact of tariffs.
The U.S. government will begin collecting 15% tariffs on $112 billion in Chinese imports beginning Sunday. The Associated Press says when the tariffs kick in, 69% of the consumer goods Americans buy from China will face import taxes, up from 29% now. China’s retaliatory measures take effect the same day.
Saying “we don’t have a tariff problem,” Trump went back to his regular criticism of the Federal Reserve, pressing the central bank to more aggressively cut interest rates. “If the Fed would cut, we would have one of the biggest Stock Market increases in a long time,” the president claimed.


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This should be no surprise after the initial crowd size lie generated about the inauguration crowd. MA

Marisa Iati, Morgan Krakow 13 hrs ago
Workers at a Royal Dutch Shell plant in Monaca, Pa., were forced to choose Tuesday between attending a speech by President Trump or forgoing overtime pay that their co-workers would earn.

© Susan Walsh/AP President Donald Trump gets a thumbs up from Samantha Polizotto on Aug. 13 during his speech in Monaca, Pa. Workers were paid overtime for attending the event. (Susan Walsh/AP)
Attendance was optional, but contract workers who chose not to stand in the crowd would not qualify for time-and-a-half pay when they arrived at work Friday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Several companies with thousands of unionized workers have contracts with Shell, one the world’s largest oil and gas companies.
Workers at the unfinished Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex had to arrive at 7 a.m., scan their ID cards and stand for hours until Trump’s speech began, the Post-Gazette reported.
“NO SCAN, NO PAY,” a supervisor for one of the contractors wrote to workers, according to the Post-Gazette.
The contractor’s memo also banned yelling, protesting or “anything viewed as resistance” at Trump’s speech, the Post-Gazette reported.
“An underlying theme of the event is to promote good will from the unions,” the document said, according to the Post-Gazette. “Your building trades leaders and jobs stewards have agreed to this.”
The Washington Post on Saturday was unable to immediately reach Shell or the plant’s unions for comment.
Trump has a long history of falsely claiming that liberal demonstrators have been paid to protest. When people angrily flooded the streets of some cities after Trump won the presidency, he accused them of being “professional protesters” who had been “incited by the media.” When women protested Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, he said they were “paid professionals.”
And when protests bubbled up at airports in 2017 in response to Trump’s ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, he alleged that the demonstrators were “professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters.”
Trump’s speech on Tuesday felt at times like a campaign rally, The Washington Post previously reported. Between remarks about U.S. energy production, Trump urged the workers to support his reelection and complained about a laundry list of his perceived enemies: the media, the Democrats running for president and the Academy Awards.
About 5,000 workers attended the speech, according to Newsweek magazine.
Shell spokesman Ray Fisher told the Post-Gazette that workers at the plant have a 56-hour workweek, which includes 16 hours of overtime pay — so workers who showed up on Tuesday were paid for the week at a higher rate.
Another Shell spokesman, Curtis Smith, told Newsweek that workers who chose to skip the rally received “paid time off,” which does not count as hours worked and therefore does not trigger overtime pay. Trump’s speech was treated as a training that differed from other training sessions only in that it included “a guest speaker who happened to be the President,” Smith said. “We do these several times a year with various speakers,” Smith told Newsweek in a written statement. “The morning session (7-10 a.m.) included safety training and other work-related activities.”
Ken Broadbent, business manager for the union Steamfitters Local 449, told the Post-Gazette his workers respect Trump for his title, regardless of whether they liked or disliked him. Anyone who did not want to go to work on the day of Trump’s speech could skip it, Broadbent said.
“This is just what Shell wanted to do and we went along with it,” Broadbent told the Post-Gazette.


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