Taylor Swift shakes off political silence, endorses Tennessee Democrats

Pop star Taylor Swift endorsed two Democrats on Sunday who are seeking federal office in her home state of Tennessee, shaking off her long-standing policy of steering clear of politics in her public statements.

In a post to Instagram, Swift told her followers that she intends to vote for Democrat Phil Bredesen, who is running to replace GOP Sen. Bob Corker, and Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), who is seeking reelection to his Nashville-based congressional seat.

“In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now,” Swift wrote in a post to Instagram. “I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country.”

The Continue reading “Taylor Swift shakes off political silence, endorses Tennessee Democrats”

Trump won’t meet Rouhani at U.N., calls him ‘absolutely lovely man’

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he will not meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani this week while the two are in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, but he nonetheless said the Iranian leader was probably “an absolutely lovely man.”

“Despite requests, I have no plans to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Maybe someday in the future. I am sure he is an absolutely lovely man!”

Rouhani, in an interview with NBC News that aired Monday, also ruled out a meeting with Trump, saying “the necessary willpower is absent in order to resolve outstanding issues."

Trump has been a tireless critic of Iran since assuming office, making good on a campaign promise to pull the U.S. out of a multilateral nuclear agreement negotiated by the administration of Barack Obama. The Trump administration has also reimposed tough economic sanctions on Continue reading “Trump won’t meet Rouhani at U.N., calls him ‘absolutely lovely man’”

Trump cancels military parade, blames ‘local politicians’ for ballooning cost

President Donald Trump announced Friday that he has canceled a planned military parade in Washington, accusing “local politicians” of price gouging and announcing that the government will redirect funds from the parade to the purchase of additional fighter jets.

“The local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly) know a windfall when they see it,” Trump wrote on Twitter Friday morning. “When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it. Never let someone hold you up!”

CNBC reported Thursday that the expected cost of Trump’s planned parade had ballooned to $92 million, significantly higher than previous estimates of $12 million and $30 million.

Shortly after CNBC published its reporting, the Pentagon announced that the parade had been postponed. The Defense Department did not offer a reason for the change of plans but said Continue reading “Trump cancels military parade, blames ‘local politicians’ for ballooning cost”

Trump ties revoking Brennan’s clearance to the Russia probe

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan in part because of his role in the investigation into allegations of collusion between the Russian government and the 2016 Trump campaign.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump placed blame on Brennan for the ongoing Russia investigation, now overseen by special counsel Robert Mueller, even though Brennan has been outside the government for 19 months.

“I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham,” Trump told the Journal. “And these people led it!”

“So I think it’s something that had to be done,” he continued.

Brennan, who served as the CIA director under former President Barack Obama, was among the intelligence officials who met with the president at Trump Tower in the days leading up to his inauguration. Brennan and the other intelligence officials briefed Trump on Continue reading “Trump ties revoking Brennan’s clearance to the Russia probe”

Trump ties revoking Brennan’s clearance to the Russia probe

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan in part because of his role in the investigation into allegations of collusion between the Russian government and the 2016 Trump campaign.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump placed blame on Brennan for the ongoing Russia investigation, now overseen by special counsel Robert Mueller, even though Brennan has been outside the government for 19 months.

“I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham,” Trump told the Journal. “And these people led it!”

“So I think it’s something that had to be done,” he continued.

Brennan, who served as the CIA director under former President Barack Obama, was among the intelligence officials who met with the president at Trump Tower in the days leading up to his inauguration. Brennan and the other intelligence officials briefed Trump on Continue reading “Trump ties revoking Brennan’s clearance to the Russia probe”

Avenatti in Iowa, ‘exploring’ a White House run

Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump, was in Iowa Thursday, where he told reporters that he is considering running for president in 2020.

"I’m exploring a run for the presidency of the United States, and I wanted to come to Iowa and listen to people and learn about some issues that are facing the citizens of Iowa and do my homework," Avenatti told the Des Moines Register on Thursday.

The Los Angeles-based lawyer toured the Iowa State Fair, a traditional stop for presidential candidates in the state that hosts the nation’s first presidential caucus each election cycle, on Thursday. He is scheduled to speak Friday night at the Democratic Wing Ding fundraiser in Clear Lake, Iowa, an event that hosted Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2015 and former President Barack Obama in 2007.

Avenatti was accompanied in Continue reading “Avenatti in Iowa, ‘exploring’ a White House run”

Trump targets MSNBC, CNN in tweet attacking media

President Donald Trump on Thursday morning attacked MSNBC’s Morning Joe and CNN while heaping praise on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends,” writing that the MSNBC cable show is “dead” and CNN is “too predictable.”

“Wow, @foxandfriends is blowing away the competition in the morning ratings. Morning Joe is a dead show with very few people watching and sadly, Fake News CNN is also doing poorly. Too much hate and inaccurately reported stories – too predictable!” the president wrote on Twitter.

The president’s love for Fox & Friends, the morning show where he receives almost unflinchingly positive coverage, is likely only matched by his distaste for CNN, the network he often lambasts as “fake news,” and MSNBC, which he is also often sharply critical of. Trump has often saved particular venom for the hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, who were once close friends of Continue reading “Trump targets MSNBC, CNN in tweet attacking media”

Trump mulls whether to shut government down before or after midterms

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he is considering the merits of a government shutdown over immigration and border security measures and weighed publicly whether it would be more effective before or after November’s midterms.

Trump has said he is willing to shutter the government if his demands, including full funding for his long-promised border wall and an end to certain immigration programs, are not met.

The president told conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh Wednesday that a pre-midterm shutdown might yield a better agreement but that other Republicans have pleaded with him not to shutter the government before the election.

“Well, if you do it before, there’s a lot more pressure to get a great solution. But it’s riskier. If you do it afterwards, there’s less pressure; there’s less risk,” Trump said. “I’m just not sure you’d make as good a deal. I will say a lot of people Continue reading “Trump mulls whether to shut government down before or after midterms”

Reporters skirmish with White House over ID for groceries and voting

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders couldn’t say Wednesday when the last time President Donald Trump went into a grocery store, after the president defended voter identification laws by suggesting that shoppers need to show ID when they check out at grocery stores.

Trump, at his campaign-style rally Tuesday night in Tampa, Florida, asserted that laws requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls were reasonable because “if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card, you need ID.”

Critics of voter ID laws have argued that they are unnecessary because voter fraud in the U.S. is virtually non-existent and because such laws disproportionately disenfranchise poor and minority voters, for whom access to photo ID can be more difficult.

Asked Wednesday about the last time the president, a Manhattan billionaire with his own fleet of private jets Continue reading “Reporters skirmish with White House over ID for groceries and voting”

Trump claims Manafort case has ‘nothing to do with collusion’

President Donald Trump distanced himself on Wednesday from his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, complaining that he was not notified by the government that Manafort had been under federal investigation before the 2016 presidential election.

Manafort is currently on trial, facing charges of tax and bank fraud brought by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, whose office has been probing allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race as well as allegations that the Trump campaign colluded in those efforts. The charges brought against Manafort are related to his work in Ukraine as a consultant for a Russia-aligned political party.

“Paul Manafort worked for Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other highly prominent and respected political leaders. He worked for me for a very short time,” Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning. “Why didn’t government tell me that he was under investigation. These old charges have nothing to Continue reading “Trump claims Manafort case has ‘nothing to do with collusion’”

China accuses U.S. of ‘blackmail’ amid reports of higher tariffs by Trump administration

Talk that U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports could increase further amount to “blackmail” from the Trump administration that will prompt retaliatory measures from Beijing, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry said Wednesday.

“U.S. pressure and blackmail won’t have an effect. If the United States takes further escalatory steps, China will inevitably take countermeasures and we will resolutely protect our legitimate rights,” Geng Shuang, the spokesman, told reporters at a briefing Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the Trump administration is considering upping a planned 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 percent, part of a larger administration push to reset the trade relationship between Washington and Beijing onto terms President Donald Trump says will be fairer to the U.S.

Trump has long complained that his nation is the victim of unfair trade practices by China, which he has accused of Continue reading “China accuses U.S. of ‘blackmail’ amid reports of higher tariffs by Trump administration”

Trump says public availability of 3D-printed guns ‘doesn’t seem to make much sense’

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he is “looking into” the availability of plans for the 3D printing of guns, writing on Twitter that he had already been in touch with the NRA on the issue.

“I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!” the president wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning.

After a years-long legal battle, Defense Distributed, a Texas-based group, has announced plans to release instructions on Wednesday for guns that can be created by a 3-D printer, including a handgun and parts for a semi-automatic assault rifle. Although plans were not supposed to be available until Wednesday, instructions have already begun to appear online for download, CNN reported Tuesday.

3D-printed weapons could be printed without serial numbers, spurring concern about the impact such untraceable weapons could have. Attorneys general from eight states, plus Continue reading “Trump says public availability of 3D-printed guns ‘doesn’t seem to make much sense’”

Trump attacks ‘globalist’ Koch brothers

President Donald Trump lashed out Tuesday morning at the billionaire conservative donor Koch brothers, who Trump said “have become a total joke in real Republican circles,” in the wake of their sharp criticism of the president and his trade policies.

“The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade. I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas,” the president wrote on Twitter. “They love my Tax & Regulation Cuts, Judicial picks & more. I made them richer.”

The Koch’s network of donors met last weekend in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where the Kochs’ criticism of the president, especially on trade, came to the forefront. Charles Koch, who leads the donor network, said in a video presentation at the meeting that a “rise in protectionism” represents “a natural tendency, but it’s a destructive Continue reading “Trump attacks ‘globalist’ Koch brothers”

Giuliani accuses special counsel’s office of acting in ‘bad faith’ over Trump-Mueller interview

President Donald Trump’s attorney on Monday accused special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of acting in “bad faith” in setting up an interview with the president over its investigation into collusion and conflict of interest.

Rudy Giuliani told CNN that the president’s legal team has waited 10 days for a response from Mueller’s office on negotiations over what can be asked during the interview, saying that the president would only answer questions about allegations of collusion between his campaign and the Russian government and not about questions related allegations of obstruction of justice.

“They haven’t gotten back to us in 10 days over our recommendation of how to do an interview. I am sure they are in bad faith about an interview at that point,” said Giuliani, who heads the president’s outside legal team.

The former New York mayor said he would advise against allowing such an interview but that the Continue reading “Giuliani accuses special counsel’s office of acting in ‘bad faith’ over Trump-Mueller interview”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: I have ‘at least five more years’ on the bench

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Sunday that she intends to serve “at least five more years,” a stretch that would extend her career beyond her 90th birthday.

"I’m now 85," Ginsburg said on Sunday, according to CNN. "My senior colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, he stepped down when he was 90, so think I have about at least five more years."

Ginsburg, nominated by former President Bill Clinton and confirmed to the Supreme Court in 1993, is already the court’s oldest justice and is also among its most liberal. Her future on the bench has been the subject of significant speculation since her departure during President Donald Trump’s term would afford him the opportunity to appoint a third Supreme Court justice, shifting the court’s balance of power for years, and potentially decades, to come.

Trump campaigned hard on a promise to nominate only conservative judges, pledging to Continue reading “Ruth Bader Ginsburg: I have ‘at least five more years’ on the bench”

Trump gets the economy Jeb Bush dreamed of: 4 percent growth

As a presidential candidate, Jeb Bush made a bold economic proposal that drew immediate scorn from the chattering class in Washington: aiming for 4 percent growth.

The target, which Bush proposed as he declared his candidacy in February 2015, was “104% nonsense” according to a Vox headline. “Economists on Bush’s Promise: Close to 0 Percent Chance of 4 Percent Growth,” was the headline on a blog post from the New York Times’s “Upshot” blog. Economists who spoke to POLITICO at the time were equally skeptical.

But on Friday, 4 percent growth was exactly what Bush’s campaign-trail antagonist Donald Trump got to celebrate on the South Lawn of the White House. He called it “an economic miracle” after the Commerce Department released its second-quarter report showing GDP growth of 4.1 percent, up from 2.2 percent in the first quarter of the year.

“We’re going to go a lot higher Continue reading “Trump gets the economy Jeb Bush dreamed of: 4 percent growth”

Trump praises report showing U.S. economic growth

President Donald Trump on Friday morning touted a Department of Commerce report estimating that the nation’s gross domestic product grew 4.1 percent in the last quarter.

“These numbers are very, very sustainable. This isn’t a one-time shot. I happen to think we’re going to do extraordinarily well in our next report next quarter. I think it’s going to be outstanding,” Trump said on the White House’s South Lawn, flanked his vice president, treasury secretary, commerce secretary and economic advisers. “I won’t go too strong because then if it’s not quite as good you’ll not let me forget it. But I think the numbers are going to be outstanding. We’ve accomplished an economic turnaround of historic proportion.”

Trump did not respond to shouted questions from reporters regarding a CNN report that Michael Cohen, his longtime attorney, is prepared to tell special counsel Robert Mueller that the president was aware Continue reading “Trump praises report showing U.S. economic growth”

Trump denies knowing about Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer

President Donald Trump insisted Friday morning that he was not aware of a summer, 2016, meeting between officials from his presidential campaign, including his son, and a Russian attorney who promised Kremlin-sourced information on Hillary Clinton, contradicting a CNN report that he personally approved the meeting.

“So the Fake News doesn’t waste my time with dumb questions, NO, I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr. Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam (Taxi cabs maybe?),” Trump wrote, alluding to his longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen. “He even retained Bill and Crooked Hillary’s lawyer. Gee, I wonder if they helped him make the choice!”

Cohen, who is represented by Lanny Davis, a former attorney for Bill Clinton in the late 1990s, is at the center of CNN’s Thursday story, which Continue reading “Trump denies knowing about Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer”

Avenatti now representing 3 women who claim to have been paid hush money by Trump

Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against President Donald Trump, now also represents three additional women who claim to have had affairs with Trump that they were paid to stay silent about.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Avenatti announced his new clients at a forum in West Hollywood, California, but declined to name them. He said he had evidence of the three women’s respective affairs with the president but was “not at liberty to share” it. All three women, he said, were paid “hush money” before the 2016 election.

Avenatti emerged months ago as a prominent figure in the president’s legal battles, representing Daniels in her legal quest to be freed from a nondisclosure agreement related to a one-night affair she claims to have had with the president. She is also suing the president for defamation over a post to his Twitter account Continue reading “Avenatti now representing 3 women who claim to have been paid hush money by Trump”

Trump says his administration will look into Twitter ‘shadow banning’ Republicans

President Donald Trump said Thursday that his administration “will look into” allegations that Twitter has reduced the visibility of certain prominent conservatives on its platform, a practice referred to as “shadow banning.”

“Twitter ‘SHADOW BANNING’ prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Vice News reported Wednesday that Twitter’s search feature did not auto-populate prominent conservatives including Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, Donald Trump Jr. spokesman Andrew Surabian and multiple GOP members of Congress. Prominent liberals and Democratic members of Congress did not have their accounts similarly hidden from the search function, Vice reported.

Twitter said it was aware of the problem and was in the process of fixing it, telling Vice that the platform’s “technology is based on account behavior not the content of Tweets.”

Conservatives have long complained about unfair treatment Continue reading “Trump says his administration will look into Twitter ‘shadow banning’ Republicans”