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THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Thu Oct 19, 2017 7:31 pm

Trump gives self 10/10 for Puerto Rico response.

President Donald Trump on Thursday gave his administration ten-out-of-ten for its response a hurricane that hammered Puerto Rico exactly one month ago, as 80 percent of the US island remained without power.

Meeting Puerto Rico's governor Ricardo Rossello in the Oval Office, Trump acknowledged the massive scale of the rebuilding effort, but defended his administration's response.

"We have provided so much, so fast, we were actually there before the storm hit," Trump said. "They got hit dead center."

As well as ravaging the electricity grid, the storm knocked out bridges, closed roads and made clean water for drinking, cooking and bathing scarce.

Asked how he would rank the administration's response out of ten, Trump responded "I give ourselves a ten."

"We have done a really great job."

When Trump asked Rosello "did we do a great job?" the governor said that Trump had met all of his requests.

But he added that much more needed to be done to avoid a humanitarian disaster.

He said the authorities aim to have about 30% of the island back with power by the end of the month, and 50% by the middle of next month.

But he warned that without hope, Puerto Ricans -- who have the right to live in the continental United States -- would flee the island in large numbers, feeding an economic crisis.

"What's going to keep the people there and keep this going is knowing that we have the backing of the White House and knowing that we're going to have the backing of Congress," he said.

They need to know, he said, "that we can have the resources appropriate" to deal with the storm. "US citizens of Puerto Rico can come out of this catastrophe stronger than ever before."

Trump had previously raised concerns on the island by warning that federal aid for Puerto Rico will not be open-ended.

But he indicated Thursday that a mixture of grants and loans could be found to rebuild, in particular, the electricity grid, which was in poor shape before the storm.

The federal government would have to be paid back before private bondholders, he added.

"We're helping a lot," Trump said. "We're doing that because we have an obligation to Puerto Rico, to humanity, to ourselves."

Trump also rowed back on some comments that appeared to blame Puerto Ricans for their plight.

"It's not the people's fault, they lost their house, they were devastated," he said.

"A person loses his or her house and then they can't go to work. If you lose your house,

you know, it's hard to go and be a policeman, you are trying to have your family live."
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:16 pm

Trump Isn’t Hitler. But the Lying …
Charles M. Blow OCT. 19, 2017

It is a commonly accepted rule among those who are in the business of argument, especially online, that he or she who invokes Adolf Hitler, either in oratory or essays, automatically forfeits the argument.

The reference is deemed far too extreme, too explosive, too far beyond rational correlation. No matter how bad a present-day politician, not one of them has charted or is charting a course to exterminate millions of innocent people as an act of ethnic cleansing.

Hitler stands alone in this regard, without rival, a warning to the world about how evil and lethal human beings can be, a warning that what he did can never be allowed again.

That said, there are strategies that Hitler used to secure power and rise — things that allowed his murderous reign — that can teach us about political theory and practice. And very reasonable and sage comparisons can be drawn between Hitler’s strategies and those of others.

One of those lessons is about how purposeful lying can be effectively used as propaganda. The forthcoming comparison isn’t to Hitler the murderer, but to Hitler the liar.

According to James Murphy’s translation of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”:
“In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.”
The text continues:
“It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.”  
This demonstrates a precise understanding of human psychology, but also the dangerously manipulative nature that operates in the mind of a demon.

And yet, as many have noted, no person of sound reason or even cursory political awareness can read this and not be immediately struck by how similar this strategy of lying is to Donald Trump’s seeming strategy of lying: Tell a lie bigger than people think a lie can be, thereby forcing their brains to seek truth in it, or vest some faith in it, even after no proof can be found.

Trump is no Hitler, but the way he has manipulated the American people with outrageous lies, stacked one on top of the other, has an eerie historical resonance. Demagogy has a fixed design.

It should be mentioned that Vanity Fair reported in 1990 that Trump’s first wife, Ivana, “told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler’s collected speeches, ‘My New Order,’ which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed.” The magazine pointed out that “Hitler’s speeches, from his earliest days up through the Phony War of 1939, reveal his extraordinary ability as a master propagandist.” (At the time, Trump said, “If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them.”)

Trump has found a way to couch the lies so that people believe they don’t emanate from him but pass through him. He is not a producer but a projector.

One way he does this is by using caveats — “I was told,” “Lots of people are saying” — as shields.

Jenna Johnson of The Washington Post addressed this in June 2016, writing about Trump’s use of the phrase “a lot of people are saying”:
“Trump frequently couches his most controversial comments this way, which allows him to share a controversial idea, piece of tabloid gossip or conspiracy theory without technically embracing it. If the comment turns out to be popular, Trump will often drop the distancing qualifier — ‘people think’ or ‘some say.’ If the opposite happens, Trump can claim that he never said the thing he is accused of saying, equating it to retweeting someone else’s thoughts on Twitter.”
In August of 2016, Gregory Krieg and Jeff Simon came to a similar conclusion about Trump’s use of these phrases, pointing out on CNN:
“Trump has a habit of punctuating his more self-assured claims with the phrase ‘believe me.’ But when he wants space between himself and the words he is about to speak or tweet, he defers to other sources, relying on a rhetorical sleight.”
Just this week, Trump told the colossal lie that “President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls” to the families of fallen soldiers.

When called out about this lie, he quickly retreated to one of his shield phrases: “That’s what I was told.”

He even projects his own ignorance onto others with his lies. As Steve Benen pointed out in July on MSNBC.com, Trump’s “awkward process of discovery has, however, produced a phrase of underappreciated beauty: ‘A lot of people don’t know that.’ These seven words are Trump’s way of saying, ‘I just learned something new, and I’m going to assume others are as ignorant as I am.’ ”

This is not a simple fear of the truth; it is a weaponizing of untruth. It is the use of the lie to assault and subdue. It is Trump doing to political ends what Hitler did to more brutal ends: using mass deception as masterful propaganda.

Maybe I have crossed the ink-stained line of the essay writer, where Hitler is always beyond it. But I don’t think so. Ignoring what one of history’s greatest examples of lying has to teach us about current examples of lying, particularly lying by the “president” of the most powerful country in the world, seems to me an act of timidity in a time of terror. It is an intentional self-blinding to avoid offending frail sensibilities.

I have neither time nor patience for such tiptoeing. I prefer the boot of truth to slam down to earth like thunder, no matter the shock of hearing its clap.

The world has seen powerful leaders use lying as a form of mass manipulation before. It is seeing it now, and it will no doubt see it again. History recycles. But the result doesn’t have to be — and hopefully never will be again — a holocaust. It can manifest as a multitude of other, lesser horrors, in both protocol and policy, including the corrosion and regression of country and culture.

That is the very real threat we are facing. Trump isn’t necessarily a direct threat to your life — unless of course you are being kept alive by health care that he keeps threatening, or if you’re in Puerto Rico reeling in the wake of two hurricanes — but he is very much a threat to your quality of life.

The only question is: Are enough Americans sufficiently discerning to understand that this time they are the ones being manipulated?
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/19/opinion/trump-isnt-hitler-but-the-lying.html?mabReward=ACTM2&recid=0vCxHNTwd4T2O3l0UaUCipsZ1Ej&recp=5?src=recg[/quote]
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:57 pm

AP FACT CHECK: Trump wrongly blames terror for UK crime jump.

LONDON (AP) — President Donald Trump has misinterpreted British crime statistics and wrongly blamed terrorism as the driving factor behind higher numbers. Terror attacks in Manchester and London that killed 35 people only account for 1/100th of a percent of the total number of crimes recorded in the report, and homicides are actually down 2 percent.

TRUMP tweet Friday: "Just out report: 'United Kingdom crime rises 13% annually amid spread of Radical Islamic terror.' Not good, we must keep America safe!"
THE FACTS: The 13 percent increase cited by Trump refers to crime in England and Wales, not the entire U.K., which also includes Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Figures released Thursday show that police forces in England and Wales registered 5.2 million criminal offenses in the 12 months through June - a 13 percent increase over the previous year. The London and Manchester terrorist attacks resulted in 35 homicides and 294 attempted murder offences, said the Office for National Statistics. But those 329 cases account for less than 1/100th of a percent of the total number of crimes recorded in the report.

"The point is that even unprecedented levels of terrorism-related activity in the U.K. have only a marginal impact on the overall crime figures Trump is referring to," said Rajan Basra, a research fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King's College London who has studied the nexus between crime and terror. "The 13 percent increase is neither caused nor explained by terrorism, and it's misleading to suggest so."

The biggest jumps in crime reports came in vehicle thefts (17 percent) and shoplifting (11 percent), according to the statistics office. Significant increases were also reported in thefts from individuals, burglary and robbery.

The number of homicides actually dropped 2 percent to 664, even with the terror-related killings in London and Manchester. However, terrorism did contribute to a 59 percent increase in attempted murder cases, according to the office. A large number of those were people injured in the Manchester and London attacks.

In a separate report released in September, Britain's Home Office said there were 379 arrests for terrorism-related offences in the year ending June 2017 - an increase of 68 percent. That compares with the 226 arrests in the previous year.

It was the highest number or arrests since authorities began collecting data in 2001.

As usual Trumper is talking out of his rear!   LL
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Sat Oct 21, 2017 8:05 am

Donald Trump's false claim about UK crime rate seems to have come from conspiracy theorist news network.

Donald Trump’s tweeted claim about crime rates in the UK being linked to “radical Islamic terror” was reportedly sourced from a pro-Trump, conspiracy news network.

Media Matters reported that the President may have got the information from a segment airing early in the morning Washington DC time on the One America News Network (OANN).

The title of the particular segment was “Report: UK Crime Rises 13 per cent Annually Amid Spread Of Radical Islamic Terror.”

The segment aired at 6.25am local time and Mr Trump’s tweet appeared six minutes later.

There was some debate as to whether Mr Trump had sourced the information in his tweet from Fox News’ morning news programmes, which he has done on numerous occasions in the past.

Members of the UK Parliament were none too pleased with what they thought was a misinterpretation of data compiled and released by the UK Office for National Statistics.

The agency put the rise in crimes recorded by police down to both an increase in offences and better reporting practices, showing that recent terror attacks had only a neglible impact on the figures.

The agency also disputed Mr Trump’s - and subsequently OANN’s - conclusion about the numbers presented in its report, which stated that the number of overall crimes in England and Wales had surpassed 5 million for the first time in a decade.

The report did say there was a 13 per cent increase in reported crimes and that of the “of the 664 homicides recorded in the year ending June 2017, there were 35 relating to the London and Manchester terror attacks” - or roughly five per cent of deaths were related to terrorism.

According to the Washington Post, a spokesperson for the agency said: “The simple answer is that our statistical release bulletin yesterday made no link between terrorism and violent crime.”

“There is a simple answer. There is no long answer.”

OANN is not available via regular television or cable, but is viewable through DirecTV, a satellite broadcast service owned by AT&T that the president reportedly uses.

One of the most called-upon reporters in the White House press corps during briefings with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her predecessor Sean Spicer is Trey Yingst, who covers the beat for OANN.

The network has become known for reporting Mr Trump’s claims about everything from how the mainstream media was biased for covering audio tapes from Entertainment Tonight of then-candidate Trump using lewd language to speak about women to the crowd size at his inauguration.

It also pushed a storyline that former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich - murdered in Washington DC in July 2016 - likely died because he was “investigating several cases involving the DNC's electoral fraud and voter suppression, and was set to testify on the case of Hillary Clinton's email investigation.”

Police have released no such evidence, no proof has been presented by the network in support of this theory, and his family has asked repeatedly in public that his death not be politicised.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Sat Oct 21, 2017 8:26 am

Donald Trump will not visit Britain until next year, the White House confirmed on Friday.

The US president was invited to Britain a week after his inauguration, when Theresa May became the first foreign leader to visit at the White House. Trump has since travelled to France and Germany.

On Friday, the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, conceded it has still not been determined whether Trump would make a “state visit” or a “working visit” to Britain. The latter would be without royal pageantry or a stopover with the Queen.

“We’re still going back and forth with our allies there and once we have those travel details outlined and determined we’ll certainly let you know,” Sanders said. “But they’ve made the invitation for the president to come. We’ve accepted and we’re working out the logistics.

“We anticipate that it will be some time next year but at this point there’s no other details beyond that.”

In June it emerged that Trump told May he did not want to go ahead with a state visit until the British public supported him coming.  Dream on, Trumper.  LL

In July the Guardian reported that the UK government had conceded that the visit would not take place until 2018, amid claims that Trump had been “scared off” by the threat of protests.   Ah, poor lickle diddums!!   LL

The Stop Trump Coalition and other campaigns have vowed a massive show of force on the streets.   Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, called for the visit to be cancelled after Trump criticised his response to the London Bridge terrorist attack.

The president provoked a further backlash on Friday when he tweeted: “Just out report: ‘United Kingdom crime rises 13% annually amid spread of Radical Islamic terror.’ Not good, we must keep America safe!”

British police recorded 5.2m offences in the last year, only a fraction of which were associated with terrorism. Former Labour leader Ed Miliband called Trump “a moron” while Conservative backbencher Nicholas Soames described him as a “daft twerp” who needed to “fix gun control”.    

Trump did attend the G20 summit in Germany and joined celebrations for Bastille Day in Paris on 14 July, a coup of sorts for President Emmanuel Macron – although the visit was far from universally praised in France.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Sat Oct 21, 2017 5:47 pm

Donald Trump's Approval Rating Plunges As Popularity Nears All-Time Low in Latest Polls.

President Donald Trump had a week defined by tumult—but what else is new? Amid the usual flurry of controversy, his popularity has taken a dip, according to the latest approval rating polls Saturday.

Notably, Trump's approval rating neared his all-time low in the Gallup poll. The latest figure in Gallup's tracking survey, released Thursday, pegged Trump's approval at just 35 percent, down from 38 percent at this point last week. He's just one percentage point higher than his lowest rating ever of 34 percent. To make matters worse for the commander-in-chief, Trump's disapproval was nearing his all-time high, as well. It stood at 60 percent, just one percentage point off from his all-time high of 61 percent in early September. The Gallup poll surveys 1,500 U.S. adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
More at link.
https://uk.news.yahoo.com/donald-trump-apos-approval-rating-150244892.html
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:11 pm

Trump JFK files release: Classified John F Kennedy assassination documents to be opened, President announces.

Decision made against the advice of the National Security Council.

Donald Trump has announced he intends to allow the release of the "long blocked and classified" files on the John F Kennedy (JFK) assassination.

The announcement, made against the advice of the National Security Council, has prompted claims the President is seeking to distract from a series of negative stories.

The declaration was made on Twitter, with the President saying: "Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened."

The decision was met with a mixed response.

"This is enough to distract from Trump's lies, investigations, and incompetence," said sociogist Dr DaShanne Stokes. "Of course Trump will allow it."

Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, said the release: "Will prove I was NOT involved and ending rumors and speculation. I was in the 3rd grade."

But political scientist Larry Sabato, said: "Thank you. This is the correct decision. Please do not allow exceptions for any agency of government. JFK files have been hidden too long."

Prof Sabato, author of a book on the Kennedy assassination, has long campaign for the documents to be released.

It is hoped the publication of the 3,000 files could give new insight into a trip to Mexico taken by alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald just prior to the shooting.

Security officials reportedly fear some documents compiled in the 1990s could contain information on more recent intelligence operations.

Mr Trump's language suggested the move could still be blocked but the public announcement has heightened anticipation of releasing the files.

The Kennedy assassination documents are due to be released by the National Archives on October 26 but it was reported Mr Trump would not allow them to be made public.  

The President is the only person in government with the authority to block the documents' publication.

The 1963 killing of Kennedy shocked the world and has long been shrouded in controversy and conspiracy theories - many people believe there was a second gunman.

Oswald was shot dead by gunman Jack Ruby before he could be tried.

During last year's election campaign, Mr Trump used a conspiracy theory about the assassination to attack his rival, Ted Cruz.

Referencing a story run by National Enquirer which linked Mr Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz, and Oswald, Mr Trump told Fox News: “His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald's being — you know, shot.

"I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous .. What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don't even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it.“

“I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting?" It's horrible."

Mr Cruz immediately dismissed the claim as "garbage".

Experts believe than even the full publication of the documents is unlikely to quell the extensive conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Sun Oct 22, 2017 8:46 am

Trump plans to help with Russia legal bills - official.

US president Donald Trump intends to spend at least 430,000 US dollars (£326,000) of his own money to help pay the legal bills of staff and campaign aides related to the investigations into Russian election meddling in the 2016 election, a White House official said.

It is the first such commitment by Mr Trump, who has dismissed the ongoing investigations into whether his campaign colluded with Russia as a “witch hunt” invented by Democrats to explain Hillary Clinton’s loss.

The president’s plans, which were first reported by the website Axios, did not immediately make clear exactly how the payouts would be structured or which aides would be receiving them.

Mr Trump and his aides have been racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees as Special Counsel Robert Mueller and House and Senate committees dig deeper into Russia’s role in the campaign.

Mr Mueller’s team of investigators has been interviewing current and former White House officials in their probe, and Trump campaign officials and others have been turning over tens of thousands of emails and documents to federal and congressional investigators.

One former campaign aide, Michael Caputo, has spoken publicly about the financial toll the legal bills have taken on his family, including having to empty out his children’s college savings accounts.

The Republican National Committee and the president’s re-election campaign have been covering some of the costs, including payments to the law firm representing Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr, who in June 2016 met with a Russian lawyer and others who had promised to deliver dirt on Clinton.

Trump has repeatedly denied that he colluded with Russia to win the election and has voiced scepticism about the conclusion by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia had a clear preference for Trump in the 2016 campaign.

The continuing investigations and attention to the issue have infuriated the president, who sees the efforts as an attempt to delegitimise his presidency.

“Crooked Hillary Clinton spent hundreds of millions of dollars more on Presidential Election than I did,” he tweeted on Saturday. “Facebook was on her side, not mine!”

Facebook has said ads that ran on the company’s social media platform and have been linked to a Russian internet agency were seen by an estimated 10 million people before and after the 2016 election.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-5005161/Trump-plans-help-Russia-legal-bills--official.html#ixzz4wDkzY6le
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Sun Oct 22, 2017 11:15 am

Donald Trump says he would not be President without Twitter.

'When somebody says something about me, I am able to go bing, bing, bing and I take care of it. The other way, I would never get the word out'.

Donald Trump has defended his use of Twitter and admitted he believes he would not have won the presidency without it.

The US leader said social media was a "tremendous platform" that allowed him to bypass what he claimed was unfair media coverage and speak directly to voters.

Mr Trump regularly uses Twitter to mount vigorous attacks on political opponents, news outlets and people who have criticised him, often sending out posts in early-morning or late-evening flurries.

Even leaders of his own Republican Party have urged him to rein in his Twitter usage and Mr Trump admitted some friends have suggested his use of social media could damage him.

But he said: "I doubt I would be here if it weren't for social media, to be honest with you."

In an interview due to air on the Fox Business Network channel, the President added: "Tweeting is like a typewriter - when I put it out, you put it immediately on your show.

"When somebody says something about me, I am able to go bing, bing, bing and I take care of it. The other way, I would never be get the word out."

His comments come after his rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, condemned his “dangerous” Twitter tirades.

The defeated Democrat told the Graham Norton Show that she "ignores" most of the President's tweets but added: “The most dangerous thing he does is conduct diplomacy on Twitter. He is trading insults with Kim Jong-un, which is just like catnip for Kim Jong-un."

Mr Trump's tweets about North Korea have been widely seen as raising tensions amid the threat of nuclear war. In August he threatened to unleash "fire and fury" upon the secretive nation before last month warning the North Korean regime "won't be around much longer", comments Pyongyang interpreted as "a clear declaration of war".

Mr Trump's tweets have also contained factual inaccuracies and personal attacks.

In March, he claimed Barack Obama had ordered Trump Tower in New York to be wiretapped - an allegation the former president denied and for which the Justice Department and FBI later said there was no evidence.

Last month he lambasted NFL players who had kneeled in protest at police brutality and racial inequality.

Twitter was forced to defend its decision not to take town the later post, which some saw as a violation of its terms of service, on the grounds it was "newsworthy" and in the public interest.

Earlier this month Republic Senator Bob Corker warned Mr Trump's provocative rhetoric risked setting the US "on the path to World War Three”.

Mr Trump had previously used Twitter to wage a personal war of words with Mr Corker.

"Senator Bob Corker 'begged' me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee. I said 'NO' and he dropped out (said he could not win without my endorsement),“ the President wrote after the senator criticised his response to white supremacist violence in Charlottesville.

Mr Corker said: "It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care centre. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning."

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said last week he had been criticised for failing to control Trump's tweeting.

"I was not brought to this job to control anything but the flow of information to our president," Mr Kelly added.

In July, Trump was sued in federal court by seven people who he has blocked on Twitter.

The Justice Department said the suit should be dismissed, arguing it "rests on the unsupported and erroneous premise that the President's Twitter account is a public forum for First Amendment purposes."
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:11 am

Donald Trump open to effort to regulate Facebook political ads.

President doesn't rule out efforts to illuminate online ad spending.

Donald Trump said he was open to compelling technology companies to release more information about political advertisements.

Earlier this week a trio of senators unveiled a bill that would require major tech companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter to disclose who is purchasing ads on their platforms. They said they were responding to a drumbeat of revelations that Russia-linked actors purchased political ads, part of what intelligence agencies have called a wide-ranging effort to disrupt the 2016 election.

As multiple probes explore potential links between Russia and the Trump campaign, the president has been adamant in dismissing that effort as a politically motivated “witch hunt”. He and his allies have characterized efforts to explore Russia's role as an attempt by Democrats to justify losing.

His CIA director, Mike Pompeo, claimed this week that the intelligence community concluded Russian meddling did not affect the election outcome, an inaccurate remark the CIA later walked back. Mr Trump also lashed out at suggestions that content on Facebook aided him.

Despite the Trump administration’s resistance to suggestions of Russia election influence, Mr Trump signaled on Sunday that he might embrace a proposal to regulate tech companies like the one that emerged last week.

Asked by Fox News interviewer Maria Bartiromo about whether the tech industry merited more regulation - “you have these companies that are more powerful than ever before”, she noted - Mr Trump said “I can go either way on it”.

“Some people talk about freedom and other people talk about ‘we want to know who's taking ads or doing whatever’ and I would imagine something is going to come down along the line like we’re doing right now for…a normal broadcast company”, Mr Trump said, referencing the fact that political advertisements on television must disclose their funders.

Technology companies are girding for a long fight, deploying lobbyists to shape the new proposal. They are under intense political scrutiny, with representatives of Facebook, Twitter and Google invited to testify in an open hearing next month.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-facebook-ads-election-russia-google-twitter-a8014046.html
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:13 am

A policy lunch with Republican senators was overshadowed by a bitter feud between Donald Trump and Senator Bob Corker, who escalated his criticism on Tuesday morning, accusing the president of “debasing” the country with “untruths” and “name-calling”.

The lunch was meant to be a unifying moment for Republicans to rally around tax reform, but the war of words between Trump and Corker instead revealed the deep fault lines that exist between some elements of the party and the president.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/24/senior-republican-bob-corker-feuds-with-with-trump-debasing-our-nation
..................................................
Bob Corker’s Powerful Words About Donald Trump.
https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/bob-corkers-powerful-words-about-donald-trump
.............................
Trump’s fragile ego threatens tax reform.
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/24/trumps-fragile-ego-threatens-tax-reform.html
...................................
Republican senators blast Donald Trump.
https://www.ft.com/content/a301c20e-b8d4-11e7-9bfb-4a9c83ffa852
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:36 am

Refugee advocates denounce Trump's latest order.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's latest executive order on refugees is, in effect, a continuation of his ban on a majority of applicants, according to refugee advocates. They say the continued restrictions will lead to lost time and lost lives.

Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order directing the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department to resume refugee processing following a 120-day suspension, now that new screening measures are in place. But the order also imposes tight new restrictions on refugees from 11 countries that have been deemed to warrant extra screening and it indefinitely suspends a program that reunites refugees with their spouses and children.

"It's the refugee ban all over again," said Jenny Yang, the vice president of advocacy and policy at World Relief, a humanitarian aid organization. She said the new restrictions will affect a significant percentage of those in the refugee program.

The extra restrictions apply to people who are citizens of or have lived in 11 countries where male, adult applicants were already subject to an additional security review called a security advisory opinion. Those countries, according to a State Department advisory obtained by the Associated Press, are: Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, the Republic of South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and certain stateless Palestinian males.

More than half of refugees in the pipeline to be admitted into the U.S. come from those countries, according to a State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the program's impact.

For the next 90 days, applicants from those countries will be considered on a "case-by-case bases," and only refugees whose admissions are "deemed to be in the national interest" and who pose "no threat to the security or welfare of the United States" will be admitted, according to a memorandum to the president from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats.

In the meantime, the government will also prioritize applications from other countries, moving resources away from processing those who need extra screening. It is unclear how many refugees will be able to satisfy the new screening requirements and how long the new measures will take. But refugees already face an extensive backlog and waiting periods that can take years.

Advocates are also raising concerns about new information requirements for all refugees that could prove onerous for applicants who may have had to flee their homes, with little access to documents and limited contact with close family members.

Under new rules that took effect Wednesday, outlined in a State Department program announcement, applicants must now provide the U.S. with their phone numbers, email addresses and the addresses of every place they've lived for 30 days or longer, going back 10 years, instead of five. They must also provide current phone numbers and email addresses for all members of their family trees — including parents, siblings, children, spouses, ex-spouses, and the parents of spouses.

"If you're talking about a refugee situation, people have moved from a camp to maybe moving to an urban center to maybe squatting in someone's apartment," said Jen Smyers, who helps run the immigration and refugee program at Church World Service, one of nine organizations that work to resettle refugees in the U.S.

The government has also expanded its efforts to collect information to better determine whether refugees are being truthful about their status; improving information-sharing between agencies; stationing fraud detection officers at certain locations overseas; and training screeners to weed out fraud and deception.

The U.S. refugee program is already the most extensive vetting program in the country. Also suspended indefinitely is the "following-to-join" program, which allows the spouses and children of refugees to join them in the U.S. Officials argue they need time to implement new, more rigorous screening measures that are as stringent as those applied to refugees.

"Our biggest concern is keeping families apart. We know that there are folks that are trying desperately to rejoin their families," said Stacie Blake, director of government and community relations at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and immigrants. "It just seems cruel to keep children from their parents, keep spouses apart."

Taken together, Yang said the measures represent a death knell for the U.S. refugee program. "If you look at them all together, you're effectively dismantling the entire program," she said. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday defended the efforts, saying the U.S. was taking steps to "eliminate vulnerabilities" in the refugee screening process that could be exploited by "those who would bring harm to our homeland."

"The Trump Administration remains committed to a comprehensive and compassionate refugee policy, and these new measures will ensure the United States can continue to help some of the world's most vulnerable people without compromising the safety and security of the American people," he said in a statement.

Trump last month announced that he was capping refugee admissions at 45,000 for the year that started Oct. 1, a significant cut from the 110,000 limit put in place a year earlier by President Barack Obama and the lowest number in modern history. The actual number admitted this year could also be far lower than that.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Fri Oct 27, 2017 9:02 am

Why Trump’s Fawning Over China’s Xi Jinping Probably Won’t Work.

A couple of weeks ago, The Economist put a drawing of Xi Jinping, the President of China, on its cover under a headline that said “The world’s most powerful man.” In an editorial in the same issue, the editors acknowledged that China is still no match for the United States economically or militarily. They noted, however, that America’s President, Donald Trump, “is weaker at home and less effective abroad than any of his recent predecessors, not least because he scorns the values and alliances that underpin American influence.” Xi, by contrast, “walks with swagger abroad,” the editorial continued. “His grip on China is tighter than any leader’s since Mao.”

Trump isn’t known to be a regular reader of The Economist, and he would no doubt dispute the magazine’s assessment of his own standing—but he appears to share its expansive view of Xi’s power and influence. On Wednesday, the Chinese Communist Party, at its Nineteenth Party Congress, reëlected Xi as its General Secretary and agreed to incorporate the lengthy speech he delivered as part of the official Party doctrine, an honor last accorded to Mao. Afterward, Trump tweeted, “Spoke to President Xi of China to congratulate him on his extraordinary elevation. Also discussed NoKo & trade, two very important subjects!”   More at link.
https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/why-trumps-fawning-over-chinas-xi-jinping-probably-wont-work
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:16 am

Trump frustrated by secrecy with JFK files.

WASHINGTON (AP) — It was a showdown 25 years in the making: With the world itching to finally get a look at classified Kennedy assassination files, and the deadline for their release just hours away, intelligence officials were still angling for a way to keep their secrets. President Donald Trump, the one man able to block the release, did not appreciate their persistence. He did not intend to make this easy.

Like much else surrounding investigations of the 1963 killing of President John F. Kennedy, Thursday's release of 2,800 records from the JFK files was anything but smooth. It came together only at the last minute, with White House lawyers still fielding late-arriving requests for additional redactions in the morning and an irritated Trump continuing to resist signing off on the request, according to an account by two White House officials. They spoke only on condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions.

The tale of the final hours before the congressionally mandated 25-year release deadline adds a new chapter to the story of Trump's troubled relationship with his spy agencies. He again flashed his skepticism and unpredictability in dealing with agencies long accustomed to a level of deference. Intelligence officials, meanwhile, were again left scratching their heads about a president whose impulses they cannot predict.

And those officials had their own story tell, some rejecting the notion they were slow to act on Trump's expectations for the documents. The CIA began work months ago to get its remaining assassination-related documents ready for release on Thursday, according to a person familiar with the process. The person, who was not authorized to publicly to discuss the process and spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the goal was to have all the agency's documents ready to be released in full or with national security redactions before the deadline.

Since taking office, Trump has challenged the integrity of intelligence leaders, moved to exert more control over U.S. spying agencies and accused his predecessor of using government spycraft to monitor his campaign. In the JFK files matter, one White House official said, Trump wanted to make clear he wouldn't be bullied by the agencies.

Whatever occurred in the lead-up to deadline day, Trump was irritated Thursday that agencies still were arguing for more redactions. The president earlier in the week had tweeted to tease the release of the documents, heightening the sense of drama on a subject that has sparked the imaginations of conspiracy theorists for decades. Under a 1992 law, all of the records related to the assassination were to be made public unless explicitly withheld by the president.

Just before the release Thursday, Trump wrote in a memorandum that he had "no choice" but to agree to requests from the CIA and FBI to keep thousands of documents secret because of the possibility that releasing the information could still harm national security. Two aides said Trump was upset by what he perceived to be overly broad secrecy requests, adding that the agencies had been explicitly warned about his expectation that redactions be kept to a minimum.

"The president and White House have been very clear with all agencies for weeks: They must be transparent and disclose all information possible," White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said Friday.

Late last week, Trump received his first official briefing on the release in an Oval Office meeting that included Chief of Staff John Kelly, White House Counsel Don McGahn and National Security Council legal adviser John Eisenberg. Trump made it clear he was unsatisfied with the pace of declassification.

Trump's tweets, an official said, were meant as a signal to the intelligence community to take seriously his threats to release the documents in their entirety. According to White House officials, Trump accepted that some of the records contained references to sensitive sources and methods used by the intelligence community and law enforcement and that declassification could harm American foreign policy interests. But after having the scope of the redactions presented to him, Trump told aides he did not believe them to be in the spirit of the law.

On Thursday, Trump's top aides presented him with an alternative to simply acquiescing to the agency requests: He could temporarily allow the redactions while ordering the agencies to launch a new comprehensive examination of the records still withheld or redacted in part. Trump accepted the suggestion, ordering that agencies be "extremely circumspect" about keeping the remaining documents secret at the end of the 180-day assessment.

"After strict consultation with General Kelly, the CIA and other agencies, I will be releasing ALL JFK files other than the names and addresses of any mentioned person who is still living," Trump wrote in a Friday tweet. "I am doing this for reasons of full disclosure, transparency and in order to put any and all conspiracy theories to rest."
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:27 am

Russia inquiry: Trump sends barrage of angry tweets as charges reported.

President focuses Twitter attacks on Clinton, demanding investigation.

Amid reports that the first arrests in Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election were imminent, Donald Trump sent an extraordinary fusillade of angry tweets about the special counsel’s attention to “phony Trump/Russia ‘collusion’” which, he insisted, “doesn’t exist”.

The president sought to focus attention instead on supposed scandals involving Hillary Clinton, demanding authorities “do something”. As he did so, his most bullish defender strove to cast doubt on the reach and integrity of Mueller.

“We have to have the public have confidence in the fact that the grand jury process is secret and, as a result, is fair,” the New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, told ABC.

Christie and Trump aimed their bullhorns at Mueller while the rest of the political world braced for the first arrests stemming from the special counsel’s investigation. CNN, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal have reported that Mueller’s team has filed its first charges under seal, with one or more arrests coming as soon as Monday.

Trump tweeted furiously – without referencing the sealed indictment outright.

“Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton,” the president wrote, floating as supposed Clinton scandals “the uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted emails, the Comey fix and so much more”.

“Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia, ‘collusion’, which doesn’t exist. The [Democrats] are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the [Republicans] are now fighting back like never before.

“There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!”

He concluded: “All of this ‘Russia’ talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!”

Appearing on multiple news shows on a difficult day for the White House, the pugnacious Christie raised the possibility Mueller’s team was engaged in criminal leaks to the media.

“It’s supposed to be kept secret,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “There are very strict criminal laws about disclosing grand jury information. Now, depending upon who disclosed this to CNN, it could be a crime.”

Speaking on ABC’s This Week, Christie said he “hoped” the news was not traceable to Mueller’s team.

“As a [former] prosecutor,” he said, “I can tell you that was the thing that we emphasized the most with our prosecutors and our agents was, ‘Let me tell you something: we will prosecute you if we find that you leaked this stuff.’”
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https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/29/donald-trump-robert-mueller-russia-chris-christie
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:00 pm

White House quiet as Manafort told to surrender.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Investigation into possible coordination between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russia: The White House is declining comment on a New York Times report that President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and a former business associate, Rick Gates, have been told to surrender to authorities.

The New York Times is reporting that President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and a former business associate, Rick Gates, have been told to surrender to authorities.

Those are the first charges in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. The Times on Monday cited an anonymous person involved in the case.

Mueller was appointed as special counsel in May to lead the Justice Department's investigation into whether the Kremlin worked with associates of the Trump campaign to tip the 2016 presidential election.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:24 pm

With first charges, Mueller sends warning to Trump, aides.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller has sent a warning to individuals in President Donald Trump's orbit: If they lie about contacts between the president's campaign and Russians, they'll end up on the wrong end of federal criminal charges.

With the disclosure of the first criminal cases in his investigation, Mueller also showed that he will not hesitate to bring charges against people close to the campaign even if they don't specifically pertain to Russian election interference and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Court papers unsealed Monday revealed an indictment against Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and a guilty plea by another adviser, who admitted to lying to the FBI about meetings with Russian intermediaries.

Perhaps more unsettling for the White House, the plea by George Papadopoulos came weeks ago and his initial arrest has been kept quiet for months, all while he has been cooperating with federal agents. The charges had been sealed specifically to keep the news of his guilty plea from discouraging others from cooperating with the special counsel or from destroying evidence.

At Papadopoulos' plea hearing earlier this month, one of Mueller's prosecutors, Aaron Zelinsky, hinted at the possibility of more to come. The Mueller probe is "a large-scale ongoing investigation of which this case is a small part," Zelinsky said, according to a transcript unsealed Monday.

The developments, including the unexpected unsealing of a guilty plea, usher Mueller's investigation into a new, more serious phase. And the revelations in the guilty plea about an adviser's Russian contacts could complicate the president's assertions that his campaign had never coordinated with the Russian government to tip the 2016 presidential election in his favor, the central issue behind Mueller's mandate.

The Kremlin denied Russia is implicated by the first criminal cases against associates of President Donald Trump. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that says that connections between Papadopoulos and a man he believed to have links to the Russian Foreign Ministry did not prove any complicity by the Russian government.

"So far Russia doesn't figure in any way in these charges which have been made," he said. Peskov adds that accusations of Russian meddling in the election remain "unfounded." Manafort, who steered Trump's campaign for much of last year, and business associate Rick Gates ended the day under house arrest on charges that they funneled payments through foreign companies and bank accounts as part of their political work in Ukraine.

Papadopoulos, also a former campaign adviser, faced further questioning and then sentencing in the first — and so far only — criminal case that links the Trump election effort to the Kremlin. Manafort and Gates, who pleaded not guilty in federal court, are not charged with any wrongdoing as part of the Trump campaign, and the president immediately sought to distance himself from the allegations. He said on Twitter that the alleged crimes occurred "years ago," and he insisted anew there was "NO COLLUSION" between his campaign and Russia.

But potentially more perilous for the president was the guilty plea by former adviser Papadopoulos, who admitted in newly unsealed court papers that he was told in April 2016 that the Russians had "dirt" on Democratic rival Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails," well before it became public that the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails had been hacked.

Papadopoulos was not charged with having improper communications with Russians but rather with lying to FBI agents when asked about the contacts, suggesting that Mueller — who was appointed in May to lead the Justice Department's investigation — is prepared to indict for false statements even if the underlying conduct he uncovers might not necessarily be criminal.

Mueller's investigation has already shadowed the administration for months, with investigators reaching into the White House to demand access to documents and interviews with key current and former officials.

The Papadopoulos plea occurred on Oct. 5 but was not unsealed until Monday, creating further woes for an administration that had prepared over the weekend to deflect the Manafort allegations. In court papers, Papadopoulos admitted lying to FBI agents about the nature of his interactions with "foreign nationals" who he thought had close connections to senior Russian government officials.

The court filings don't say whom Papadopoulos may have told about the Russian claims about possessing emails damaging to Clinton. According to a previous filing in the case, Papadopoulos told the FBI that he didn't tell anyone in the Trump campaign about the "dirt" on Clinton because he didn't know if it "was real or fake."

Previous emails obtained by The Associated Press show Papadopoulos discussing his attempts to line up a meeting between Trump and the Russian government. The emails showed that Manafort and Gates, who were top officials in the campaign at the time, rebuffed those efforts.

Papadopoulos has been cooperating with investigators, according to the court papers. His lawyers hinted strongly in a statement Monday that their client has more testimony to provide. There, too, the White House scrambled to contain the potential fallout, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders contending that Papadopoulos' role in the campaign was "extremely limited." She said that "any actions that he took would have been on his own."

The criminal case against Manafort, who surrendered to the FBI in the morning, had long been expected. The indictment naming him and Gates, who also had a role in the campaign, lays out 12 counts including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, acting as an unregistered foreign agent, making false statements and several charges related to failing to report foreign bank and financial accounts. The indictment alleges the men moved money through hidden bank accounts in Cyprus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Seychelles.

In total, more than $75 million flowed through the offshore accounts, according to the indictment. Manafort is accused of laundering more than $18 million. Outside the courthouse, Manafort attorney Kevin Downing attacked the charges and said "there is no evidence that Mr. Manafort or the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government."

Manafort's indictment doesn't reference the Trump campaign or make any allegations about coordination between Russia and campaign aides. But it does allege a criminal conspiracy was continuing through February of this year, after Trump had taken office.

Manafort, 68, was fired as Trump's campaign chairman in August 2016 after word surfaced that he had orchestrated a covert lobbying operation on behalf of pro-Russian interests in Ukraine. The indictment against Manafort and Gates says the pair had managed a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine's ruling political party.

Gates directed the work of two prominent Washington lobbying firms, Mercury LLC and the Podesta Group. The indictment doesn't refer to the companies by name, but the fallout at one was swift. Prominent Washington lobbyist Tony Podesta, a Democrat and brother to John, resigned Monday, seeking to avoid further enmeshing his firm in the controversy, according to a person familiar with the decision who spoke anonymously to preserve relationships with former colleagues.

Specifically, the indictment accuses Manafort of using "his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States, without paying taxes on that income." That included using offshore accounts to purchase multimillion-dollar properties in the U.S., some of which the government is seeking to seize.

The indictment also cites more than $900,000 in payments to an antique rug store, about $850,000 to a New York men's clothing store and the purchase of a Mercedes Benz and multiple Range Rovers. Manafort also had registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for parts of Ukrainian work that occurred in Washington. The filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act came retroactively, a tacit acknowledgment that he operated in Washington in violation of the federal transparency law. The indictment Monday accuses Manafort and Gates of making several false and misleading statements in that FARA filing.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:27 pm

Trump blasts former aide at center of Russia probe as 'liar'.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that a former campaign aide thrust into the center of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe "has already proven to be a liar." On Twitter, Trump sought to dismiss George Papadopoulos, who has provided key evidence in the first criminal case connecting Trump's team to alleged intermediaries for Russia's government.

Said Trump: "Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!" Papadopoulos was approached by people claiming ties to Russia and offering "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails, according to court documents unsealed Monday. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about the conversations and has been cooperating with investigators, the documents said.

Papadopoulos' guilty plea and the possibility that he's working with Mueller's team came as an unexpected twist in the mounting drama surrounding the criminal probe. A separate welter of charges Mueller announced Monday against Trump's ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime aide Rick Gates do not appear directly related to their work for Trump.

But Papadopoulos' case cuts close to the central question of Mueller's investigation: Did Russia try to sway the election? Did Trump's campaign know? "The Russians had emails of Clinton," Papadopoulos was told by an unnamed professor with ties to Russia during a breakfast meeting at a London hotel in April. U.S. investigators said that the following day, Papadopoulos then emailed a Trump campaign policy adviser, "Have some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right."

Papadopoulos was arrested in July and has been interviewed repeatedly by authorities, the filing said. After entering his guilty plea he was ordered not to contact other Trump officials and prohibited from foreign travel. In one of the unsealed files, an FBI agent working for Mueller bluntly hinted that more former Trump associates could soon be questioned.

Papadopoulos' lawyer, Thomas M. Breen, based in Chicago, declined to comment on the guilty plea but noted that "we will have the opportunity to comment on George's involvement when called upon by the court at a later date. We look forward to telling all of the details of George's story at that time."

The incident echoes elements of a June 2016 meeting involving Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign officials at Trump Tower. The president's son organized that sit down with a Russian lawyer who was offering negative information about Clinton.

The White House immediately cast Papadopoulos as a mere volunteer with little influence during last year's campaign. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said his role was "extremely limited" and that "no activity was ever done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign."

Trump named Papadopoulos to his foreign policy advisory council in March 2016, among a short list of experts amid growing public pressure on Trump to demonstrate he had a bench of foreign policy expertise.

During a March 21, 2016 meeting with The Washington Post editorial board, Trump called Papadopoulos an "excellent guy." Shortly afterward, Trump tweeted a photo of his advisory council meeting, with Papadopoulos among a handful of advisers at the president's table. In his plea filing, Papadopolous admitted that he told Trump and other top campaign national security officials during that meeting, that he had made contact with intermediaries for Russia who said they could set up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The court filings recount Papadopoulos' meetings abroad starting in March 2016, after he'd been named to Trump's board. Papadopoulos initially told the investigators the meetings came before, and later admitted that was untrue. Papadopoulos also deleted a Facebook post about his travels, the documents said.

The court filings say he met first with the unnamed professor who boasted of damaging emails and then later with an unnamed Russian woman, who claimed to be related to Putin and sought to arrange a meeting between Trump and the Russian leader. The professor also introduced Papadopoulos to a third unnamed person who claimed he had connections to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The two men then exchanged emails about a possible meeting between Trump campaign aides and Russian government officials.

The court records didn't specify which emails the Russian claimed to have. The timing of the new disclosures about Clinton emails may be significant because the scope of the Kremlin's efforts to hack Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee were just beginning to be understood by March 2016, weeks before Papadopoulos was told of damaging emails.

It's unclear how frequently Papadopoulos was in contact with the campaign officials. Sanders initially said the foreign policy advisory board convened only once, but the White House later clarified she was speaking only of official meetings with Trump in attendance. An official involved with the group said the group met on a monthly basis throughout the spring and summer for a total of about six meetings.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Thu Nov 02, 2017 7:34 am

Hit list exposes Russian hacking beyond US elections.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The hackers who upended the U.S. presidential election had ambitions well beyond Hillary Clinton's campaign, targeting the emails of Ukrainian officers, Russian opposition figures, U.S. defense contractors and thousands of others of interest to the Kremlin, according to a previously unpublished digital hit list obtained by The Associated Press.

The list provides the most detailed forensic evidence yet of the close alignment between the hackers and the Russian government, exposing an operation that stretched back years and tried to break into the inboxes of 4,700 Gmail users across the globe — from the pope's representative in Kiev to the punk band Pussy Riot in Moscow.

"It's a wish list of who you'd want to target to further Russian interests," said Keir Giles, director of the Conflict Studies Research Center in Cambridge, England, and one of five outside experts who reviewed the AP's findings. He said the data was "a master list of individuals whom Russia would like to spy on, embarrass, discredit or silence."

The AP findings draw on a database of 19,000 malicious links collected by cybersecurity firm Secureworks, dozens of rogue emails, and interviews with more than 100 hacking targets. Secureworks stumbled upon the data after a hacking group known as Fancy Bear accidentally exposed part of its phishing operation to the internet. The list revealed a direct line between the hackers and the leaks that rocked the presidential contest in its final stages, most notably the private emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

The issue of who hacked the Democrats is back in the national spotlight following the revelation Monday that a Donald Trump campaign official, George Papadopoulos, was briefed early last year that the Russians had "dirt" on Clinton, including "thousands of emails."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the notion that Russia interfered "unfounded." But the list examined by AP provides powerful evidence that the Kremlin did just that. "This is the Kremlin and the general staff," said Andras Racz, a specialist in Russian security policy at Pazmany Peter Catholic University in Hungary, as he examined the data.

"I have no doubts."
THE NEW EVIDENCE

Secureworks' list covers the period between March 2015 and May 2016. Most of the identified targets were in the United States, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and Syria.

In the United States, which was Russia's Cold War rival, Fancy Bear tried to pry open at least 573 inboxes belonging to those in the top echelons of the country's diplomatic and security services: then-Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, then-NATO Supreme Commander, U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, and one of his predecessors, U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark.

The list skewed toward workers for defense contractors such as Boeing, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin or senior intelligence figures, prominent Russia watchers and — especially — Democrats. More than 130 party workers, campaign staffers and supporters of the party were targeted, including Podesta and other members of Clinton's inner circle.

The AP also found a handful of Republican targets.

Podesta, Powell, Breedlove and more than a dozen Democratic targets besides Podesta would soon find their private correspondence dumped to the web. The AP has determined that all had been targeted by Fancy Bear, most of them three to seven months before the leaks.

"They got two years of email," Powell recently told AP. He said that while he couldn't know for sure who was responsible, "I always suspected some Russian connection."

In Ukraine, which is fighting a grinding war against Russia-backed separatists, Fancy Bear attempted to break into at least 545 accounts, including those of President Petro Poroshenko and his son Alexei, half a dozen current and former ministers such as Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and as many as two dozen current and former lawmakers.

The list includes Serhiy Leshchenko, an opposition parliamentarian who helped uncover the off-the-books payments allegedly made to Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort — whose indictment was unsealed Monday in Washington.

In Russia, Fancy Bear focused on government opponents and dozens of journalists. Among the targets were oil tycoon-turned-Kremlin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade in prison and now lives in exile, and Pussy Riot's Maria Alekhina. Along with them were 100 more civil society figures, including anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny and his lieutenants.

"Everything on this list fits," said Vasily Gatov, a Russian media analyst who was himself among the targets. He said Russian authorities would have been particularly interested in Navalny, one of the few opposition leaders with a national following.

Many of the targets have little in common except that they would have been crossing the Kremlin's radar: an environmental activist in the remote Russian port city of Murmansk; a small political magazine in Armenia; the Vatican's representative in Kiev; an adult education organization in Kazakhstan.

"It's simply hard to see how any other country would be particularly interested in their activities," said Michael Kofman, an expert on Russian military affairs at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington. He was also on the list.

"If you're not Russia," he said, "hacking these people is a colossal waste of time."
WORKING 9 TO 6 MOSCOW TIME

Allegations that Fancy Bear works for Russia aren't new. But raw data has been hard to come by.

Researchers have been documenting the group's activities for more than a decade and many have accused it of being an extension of Russia's intelligence services. The "Fancy Bear" nickname is a none-too-subtle reference to Russia's national symbol.

In the wake of the 2016 election, U.S. intelligence agencies publicly endorsed the consensus view, saying what American spooks had long alleged privately: Fancy Bear is a creature of the Kremlin.

But the U.S. intelligence community provided little proof, and even media-friendly cybersecurity companies typically publish only summaries of their data.

That makes the Secureworks' database a key piece of public evidence — all the more remarkable because it's the result of a careless mistake.

Secureworks effectively stumbled across it when a researcher began working backward from a server tied to one of Fancy Bear's signature pieces of malicious software.

He found a hyperactive Bitly account Fancy Bear was using to sneak thousands of malicious links past Google's spam filter. Because Fancy Bear forgot to set the account to private, Secureworks spent the next few months hovering over the group's shoulder, quietly copying down the details of the thousands of emails it was targeting.

The AP obtained the data recently, boiling it down to 4,700 individual email addresses, and then connecting roughly half to account holders. The AP validated the list by running it against a sample of phishing emails obtained from people targeted and comparing it to similar rosters gathered independently by other cybersecurity companies, such as Tokyo-based Trend Micro and the Slovakian firm ESET.

The Secureworks data allowed reporters to determine that more than 95 percent of the malicious links were generated during Moscow office hours — between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday to Friday.

The AP's findings also track with a report that first brought Fancy Bear to the attention of American voters. In 2016, a cybersecurity company known as CrowdStrike said the Democratic National Committee had been compromised by Russian hackers, including Fancy Bear.

Secureworks' roster shows Fancy Bear making aggressive attempts to hack into DNC technical staffers' emails in early April 2016 — exactly when CrowdStrike says the hackers broke in.

And the raw data enabled the AP to speak directly to the people who were targeted, many of whom pointed the finger at the Kremlin.

"We have no doubts about who is behind these attacks," said Artem Torchinskiy, a project coordinator with Navalny's Anti-Corruption Fund who was targeted three times in 2015. "I am sure these are hackers controlled by Russian secret services."
THE MYTH OF THE 400-POUND MAN

Even if only a small fraction of the 4,700 Gmail accounts targeted by Fancy Bear were hacked successfully, the data drawn from them could run into terabytes — easily rivaling the biggest known leaks in journalistic history.

For the hackers to have made sense of that mountain of messages — in English, Ukrainian, Russian, Georgian, Arabic and many other languages — they would have needed a substantial team of analysts and translators. Merely identifying and sorting the targets took six AP reporters eight weeks of work.

The AP's effort offers "a little feel for how much labor went into this," said Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.

He said the investigation should put to rest any theories like the one then-candidate Donald Trump floated last year that the hacks could be the work of "someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds."

"The notion that it's just a lone hacker somewhere is utterly absurd," Rid said.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Thu Nov 02, 2017 7:38 am

The Hackers' Hit List.

JOHN KERRY Secretary of state under President Barack Obama, Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, former U.S. senator from Massachusetts. Kerry was the target of at least five phishing emails between June and December 2015, when he was secretary of state.

COLIN POWELL Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, national security adviser under President Ronald Reagan, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His leaked emails made headlines when they were published by DCLeaks in September 2016.

Powell was targeted by a phishing email in June 2015. WESLEY CLARK Commander in chief of U.S. European Command, candidate for Democratic presidential nomination in 2003. Target of as many as a dozen phishing emails from April to December 2015 at his Gmail address.

PETRO POROSHENKO President of Ukraine, businessman, moved country toward closer relations with the West, presided over a war against Russian-backed separatists that began in 2014. Targeted repeatedly by Fancy Bear from April to September 2015.

MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY Former Russian oil tycoon who was once one of the country's richest men, imprisoned in 2003 on politically driven charges of fraud and tax evasion, released in 2013 and flown out of the country, now a resident of Switzerland and promotes democratic reform in Russia.

Was targeted as many as 13 times from March to December 2015. MARIA "MASHA" ALEKHINA Russian political activist, member of protest punk rock group Pussy Riot, convicted in 2012 of hooliganism and released from prison in 2013.

Target of three phishing emails from March to April 2015 at her Gmail address.
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Post  Lamplighter on Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:27 am

How Russian hackers pried into Clinton campaign emails.

WASHINGTON (AP) — It was just before noon in Moscow on March 10, 2016, when the first volley of malicious messages hit the Hillary Clinton campaign. The first 29 phishing emails were almost all misfires. Addressed to people who worked for Clinton during her first presidential run, the messages bounced back untouched.

Except one. Within nine days, some of the campaign's most consequential secrets would be in the hackers' hands, part of a massive operation aimed at vacuuming up millions of messages from thousands of inboxes across the world.

An Associated Press investigation into the digital break-ins that disrupted the U.S. presidential contest has sketched out an anatomy of the hack that led to months of damaging disclosures about the Democratic Party's nominee. It wasn't just a few aides that the hackers went after; it was an all-out blitz across the Democratic Party. They tried to compromise Clinton's inner circle and more than 130 party employees, supporters and contractors.

While U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia was behind the email thefts, the AP drew on forensic data to report Thursday that the hackers known as Fancy Bear were closely aligned with the interests of the Russian government.

The AP's reconstruction— based on a database of 19,000 malicious links recently shared by cybersecurity firm Secureworks — shows how the hackers worked their way around the Clinton campaign's top-of-the-line digital security to steal chairman John Podesta's emails in March 2016.

It also helps explain how a Russian-linked intermediary could boast to a Trump policy adviser, a month later, that the Kremlin had "thousands of emails" worth of dirt on Clinton. More at link.
https://www.mail.com/int/news/europe/8057850-russian-hackers-pried-clinton-campaign-emails.html#.1258-stage-hero1-7
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Mon Nov 06, 2017 10:41 am

Gillespie shuns Trump in biggest race of 2017.

The GOP Virginia nominee never invited the president to campaign, fearing a backlash in the D.C. suburbs. And some conservatives aren't happy about it.

As the Virginia and New Jersey governors races draw to a close, one person is conspicuously absent from the trail: President Donald Trump.

The president hasn’t appeared in either campaign, an indication of his increasingly narrow political appeal and his growing inability to draw support in swing and liberal states. Trump’s absence in the competitive Virginia contest is especially striking: He is the first president since Richard Nixon, who at the time was in the throes of the Watergate scandal, not to campaign in its governor’s race.

Why Trump hasn’t appeared in Virginia is partly a function of his own wishes — Trump simply never expressed much interest in the race, several White House advisers said. But it also has to do with Republican candidate Ed Gillespie.

The administration made it clear to Gillespie that it wanted to be helpful however possible and was open to sending the president, three Trump aides said. Vice President Mike Pence appeared at a rally and fundraiser for Gillespie, but administration officials said the candidate never made a hard ask for Trump.

Gillespie’s team reviewed polling in the final weeks of the race showing that Trump was a drag — his approval ratings had been stuck in the low 40s in the commonwealth for some time. While the president is well-liked across much of the conservative southern part of the state, he is extremely unpopular in the more liberal northern suburbs. Top officials in Gillespie’s campaign worried that bringing in the president would mobilize Democratic turnout in Northern Virginia.

Instead, Gillespie, an establishment-aligned former Beltway lobbyist and ex-George W. Bush aide, chose to use Trump in a far more limited way: in a targeted batch of mailers spotlighting the president’s support for him.

"The bottom line is that a Trump appearance for either Republican candidate [in Virginia or New Jersey] would be a death knell for their political fortunes," said John Weaver, a veteran GOP strategist who has been sharply critical of the president. "He has hard-core support from 25 percent of the Republican Party. That's not going to help you in blue states like New Jersey or swing states like Virginia."

Gillespie has confronted a vexing challenge: how to appeal to Trump supporters while not turning off the moderates whose support he needs. While he’s refused to appear with the president, the Republican candidate has adopted many of Trump’s positions.

He's aired TV ads in which he's vowed to preserve the state's Confederate monuments and to combat the MS-13 gang. In mailers, Gillespie has gone after NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem.

Some Trump supporters, however, contend that Gillespie hasn’t gone far enough. By refusing to campaign with the president, they say, the Republican blew an opportunity to motivate conservatives who may not turn out.

“I think it’s a mistake, because ultimately in an off-year election, turnout of your base is everything,” said Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County board of supervisors and a onetime Trump campaign official. During the June GOP primary, Stewart ran as an unapologetic backer of the president and came within 5,000 votes, or just over 1 percent, of upsetting Gillespie.

“The base knows that Gillespie has been holding Trump at a distance, and they are bewildered by that, and they are offended by that, and I think that does hurt the Gillespie campaign,” Stewart added. “I think the Gillespie campaign feels they will lose a lot of independent voters if they get too close to President Trump; I believe that’s what they calculated. I don’t agree with that calculation, but that’s their decision to make.”

When Laura Ingraham interviewed Gillespie on her nationally syndicated program recently, the conservative radio show host and outspoken Trump backer pressed the former Bush aide on why he’d chosen to campaign with mainstream GOP figures like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, but not Trump.

“The future of the party is not with the Bushes, it's with the populists and economic nationalists,” Ingraham, who has been mentioned as a potential candidate for statewide office in Virginia, wrote in an email. “Gillespie might not be comfortable with that but it's a fact.”

Gillespie has long wrestled with how to mobilize Republicans. After a middling performance in the June primary, largely attributed to lack of excitement among the base, Gillespie reached out to up-and-coming party operative Corry Bliss for help. But Bliss, who oversees a House GOP-aligned super PAC, declined an offer to join the campaign as a consultant, according to three Republicans familiar with the talks.

Gillespie’s tortured balancing act isn’t sitting well in some corners of the White House. Some aides have questioned whether Trump should go to bat for a candidate who’s been lukewarm in his support for the president. Others are skeptical Gillespie can win.

There’s also wariness in the White House after the Alabama Senate runoff in September, when Trump campaigned for establishment-aligned Sen. Luther Strange only to see him lose.

The Virginia race has been a topic of politics-focused discussions in the White House the past six weeks — meetings that picked up in frequency after the Alabama contest. Those involved in the gatherings have included chief of staff John Kelly, political director Bill Stepien, legislative director Marc Short, counselor Kellyanne Conway, and Pence chief of staff Nick Ayers. The group has talked over a multitude of issues, including how Trump should invest his time on political matters.

White House officials said they never seriously considered getting involved in the New Jersey race, viewing it as a lost cause. Polls have consistently shown Democrat Phil Murphy with a commanding lead over Republican Kim Guadagno.

Gillespie, though, has managed to stay within striking distance. Voter modeling conducted by the Republican National Committee in the final week of the race showed Democratic candidate Ralph Northam with a narrow lead in the low single digits, according to two people familiar with the figures.

Northam has responded to his rival’s late surge by tying him to the unpopular president.

“Ed Gillespie won’t stand up to Donald Trump because Ed is standing right next to him,” said one Northam TV ad that began airing last week, likening Gillespie and the president’s positions on health care, environmental and education issues.

With Democrats going all out to yoke Gillespie to the president, some Trump backers are convinced the GOP nominee had little to lose by embracing Trump.

“I believe it’s a very big mistake and it potentially could lose the election for him,” Stewart said of Gillespie’s refusal to appear with the president. “But we’ll see.”
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:56 am

Woman who gave Trump the middle finger fired from her job.

A woman whose picture went viral after she raised her middle finger at Donald Trump as his motorcade passed her on her bicycle has been fired from her job.
Hail to the chief: cyclist gives Trump the middle finger
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Juli Briskman was cycling in Virginia last month when she offered the gesture in a gut reaction to Trump’s policies, she said.

“He was passing by and my blood just started to boil,” she told the Huffington Post. “I’m thinking, Daca recipients are getting kicked out. He pulled ads for open enrollment in Obamacare. Only one third of Puerto Rico has power. I’m thinking, he’s at the damn golf course again.

“I flipped off the motorcade a number of times.”

A photographer traveling with the presidential motorcade snapped Briskman’s picture and the image quickly spread across news outlets and social media. Many hailed Briskman as a hero, with some saying she should run in the 2020 election. Late-night comedy hosts also picked up the story.

Briskman had been working as a marketing and communications specialist for a Virginia-based federal contractor, Akima, for six months. She thought it best to alert the HR department to the online fuss. Bosses then called her into a meeting, she said.

“They said, ‘We’re separating from you,’” Briskman told the Huffington Post. “‘Basically, you cannot have lewd or obscene things in your social media.’ So they were calling flipping him off obscene.”

She said the company was displeased she had used the image as her profile picture on Twitter and Facebook, and told her it violated social media policy and could hurt the company’s reputation as a government contractor.

Briskman said she pointed out that her social media pages do not mention her employer, and that the incident happened on her own time. She also said another employee had written a profane insult about someone on Facebook, but had been allowed to keep his job after deleting the post and being reprimanded.

Virginia, however, has “at will” employment laws, meaning private-sector employers can fire people for any reason.

Suddenly, the 50-year-old mother of two found herself looking for a new job.

Briskman, who votes Democratic, said she planned to look for a new job with an advocacy group she believes in, such as Planned Parenthood or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

After leaving his Virginia golf club and before passing Briskman, Trump’s motorcade passed a pedestrian who gave a vigorous thumbs-down gesture. Another woman had been standing outside the entrance to the golf club, holding a sign saying “Impeach”.

As news of Briskman’s firing spread, many social media users asked why she was being penalized for expressing free speech on her own time, under the first amendment to the US constitution.

Akima did not immediately respond to a request for comment. On Monday, its website went down. Someone began a crowdfunding page online to raise money for Briskman.

Briskman said she had no regrets about the attention her public show of displeasure received. In fact, she said, she was happy to be an image of protest.

“In some ways, I’m doing better than ever,” she said. “I’m angry about where our country is right now. I am appalled. This was an opportunity for me to say something.”
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Sat Nov 11, 2017 12:38 pm

Putin vows to retaliate for US actions against Russian media.

MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin is promising that Russia will retaliate for what he calls attacks on Russian media in the United States. Putin's comments at a news conference Saturday in Vietnam follow complaints by the Kremlin-funded RT satellite TV channel that the U.S. Justice Department has ordered it to register as a foreign agent by Monday.

Putin says "attacking our media in the United States is an attack on freedom of speech, without any doubt," and promised to retaliate. RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said the station would register, since otherwise its American director could be arrested and its accounts frozen. She says "we categorically disagree with this requirement" and vowed to sue. She says "this requirement is discriminatory, it contradicts both the principles of democracy and freedom of speech."
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Post  Lamplighter on Sat Nov 11, 2017 12:40 pm

Trump deflects on whether Roy Moore should quit Senate race.

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — President Donald Trump on Saturday deflected questions about whether Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore should drop out of the race because of sexual misconduct allegations against him.

Trump, who has been traveling in Asia, said he's been too busy reading documents and hasn't had time to catch up on television news coverage about Moore. "So I have not seen very much about him, about it," Trump told reporters traveling with him as Air Force One flew from Danang to Hanoi, in Vietnam.

Trump referred back to a written statement that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read to reporters after The Washington Post report that an Alabama woman said Moore had sexual contact with her when she was 14 and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney.

The White House statement said Trump believes Moore will "do the right thing and step aside" if the decades-old allegations are true. Moore, an outspoken conservative Christian and former state Supreme Court judge, said Friday during an interview with conservative radio host Sean Hannity that the alleged encounter with the 14-year-old "never happened."

Three other women also told the Post that Moore had sexual contact with them when they were teenagers. Asked when he would decide whether Moore did what he has been accused of, given that four women have come forward, Trump said: "Honestly, I'd have to look at it and I have to see."

The allegations have sparked a wave of concern among GOP officials in Washington who are anxious about their slim majority in the Senate. But they have produced little more than a collective shrug from many Republicans in Alabama, which holds a special election on Dec. 12 to fill the seat formerly held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Moore was not Trump's preferred candidate. The Republican president had endorsed and campaigned for Sen. Luther Strange in the GOP primary. After Moore defeated Strange, Trump pledged to campaign for Moore.

Republican senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have said Moore should step aside if the reports are true. Trump suggested he would have more to say on the matter after he returns to the White House next week.

"I'll stick with my statement for now," he said. "But I'll have further comment as we go down the road. I have to get back into the country to see what's happening."
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