Trump doubles down after being caught out in lies over his response to killing of four Green Berets
Developments on Day 275 of the Trump Administration:
Trump Tries to Deflect Blame with “Wacky” Tweet
Tweeting throughout the day, Donald Trump continues to try and shift blame for his belated and controversial response to the deaths of four Green Berets in Niger, berating the “wacky” Florida Congresswoman who spoke about his call to one of the widows.
Trump began his Saturday morning with another message about Federica Wilson, a family friend who was with the widow of Sergeant La David T. Johnson on Monday when Trump referred to the Green Beret as “your guy” and said, “He knew what he was getting into”:
I hope the Fake News Media keeps talking about Wacky Congresswoman Wilson in that she, as a representative, is killing the Democrat Party!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017
Trump did not return to his false accusations, which escalated the episode, that his predecessor Barack Obama had failed to call and visit the relatives of slain troops. Indeed, he retweeted a photo used by a supporter to declare a plot between Obama and Wilson:
People get what is going on! https://t.co/Pdg7VqQv6M
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017
Trump did not speak about the deaths of the four Green Berets, in an ambush in Niger near the Mali border, for 12 days. Finally asked on Monday about his silence, he stepped into his lie about Obama and promised that his letters to families were being sent and calls would be made.
After he was caught out in a false denial of his words in the conversation with Myeshia Johnson, Trump sent out White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired four-star general, to make an emotional statement which again tried to make Wilson the center of criticism. However, that step also ran into trouble when Kelly made his own inaccurate allegation against the Congresswoman, over the funding of a federal building in Florida.
Trump’s Saturday Twitter Fire
Amid concerns about his deceptive statements and aggressive behavior — encapsulated in rare public criticisms former Presidents Obama and George W. Bush as well as Senator John McCain last week — Trump also fired a series of Twitter volleys on Saturday across a range of topics.
He falsely claimed that the media had “barely covered” one of his rare successes, the Senate’s initial clearance of a $1.5 trillion tax cut largely benefiting the wealthy, and the rise in the stock market. He announced that, “subject to the receipt of further information”, he will release Government files — blocked since 1992 — on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He noted the defeat of the Islamic State in its central position in Syria, the city of Raqqa.
Then Trump walked into another deception as he returned to attacks on his Democratic opponent in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton. Trying to sweep away reports of Russian interference in social media to benefit his campaign and harm Clinton, he attempted a comparison with mainstream coverage of the election: “Keep hearing about ‘tiny’ amount of money spent on Facebook ads. What about the billions of dollars of Fake News on CNN, ABC, NBC & CBS?”
He closed with a plea to cover his failure to get a single major piece of legislation approved during his Presidency. Misrepresenting executive orders as Congressional legislation, he wrote:
Perhaps no Administration has done more in its first 9 months than this Administration. Over 50 Legislation approvals, massive regulation cuts, energy freedom, pipelines, border security, 2nd Amendment, Strong Military, ISIS, historic VA improvement, Supreme Court Justice, Record Stock Market, lowest unemployment in 17 yrs!”
Trump to Pay $430,000+ of Legal Costs of Staff in Trump-Russia Probe
Donald Trump plans to spend at least $430,000 to help cover the legal costs of White House staff and campaign advisors in the Trump-Russia investigation, according to a White House official.
The Republican National Committee has reportedly spent about that amount to pay lawyers representing Trump and his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., in the inquiries. The White House official said Trump’s pledge is not a reimbursement to the RNC, but he is not precluded from dooing that at a later time or for increasing the amount available for his aides.
Observers questioned the propriety of Trump making the payments. Walter Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics until earlier this year, wrote:
A potential witness or target of an investigation (and boss of investigators) paying for legal fees of other potential witnesses or targets? https://t.co/uUl8FS4YBe
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) October 21, 2017
Members of Trump’s Voter Commission: We Don’t Know What Is Happening
Two of the 11 members of Donald Trump’s advisory commission on election integrity say they have had no information for weeks about the panel.
In a letter sent on 17 October, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said he was not being made aware of information pertaining to the commission. He requested copies of all correspondence between its members since Trump signed the executive order in May for its creation.
“I am in a position where I feel compelled to inquire after the work of the commission upon which I am sworn to serve, and am yet completely uninformed as to its activities,” Dunlap wrote to Andrew Kossack, the commission’s executive director.
Dunlap said he had received no information about research or activities since the last commission meeting on 12 September.
Probate judge Alan L. King of Alabama said he sent a similar letter, with the only information received since the September meeting an e-mail informing him of the death of another commissioner.
“Here I am on this high-level government committee and I don’t know when the next meetings are or how many meetings there will be,” King said. “I am in the dark on what will happen from this point on, to tell you the truth.”
Dunlap and King are two of the four Democrats on the 11-member panel.
The commission was set up after Trump, upset that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the 2016 election, made unsubstantiated claims that five million ballots were fraudulent.
Critics express concern that the commission has members, including vice-chair Kris Kobach of Kansas, who favor voting restrictions and have pursued action to make it more difficult for people to register to vote, stay registered, and cast ballots.
The panel raised further discord when it requested information about all registered voters in every state, including partial social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, and voting history. Fifteen states denied the request.
Democratic senators have filed at least five requests for information with the commission since June. As of 12 September, none had received a response.