FACT-CHECK: FALSE. The size of the crowds attending his public events has always been supremely important to President Donald Trump, so much so that he has been known to inflate attendance numbers on more than one occasion. The tendency for exaggeration seems to have rubbed off on some of Trump's supporters, who posted on social media after his 5 February 2019 State of the Union (SOTU) address that more people had watched the president's speech on TV than had watched the 2019 Super Bowl (which is typically the most-watched television broadcast in any given year).
2019's Patriots vs. Rams match-up drew a total viewing audience of 98.2 million watchers--more than twice the viewership of any State of the Union address (including Trump's previous outing) from the past decade. [Post-SOTU reports pegged viewership of SOTU 2019 at 46 million].
This small moment was deeply disconcerting to those of us in the business of trying to find the truth, [by which we mean there] are things that are objectively, verifiably either true or false.
It was simply not true that the biggest crowd in history attended the inauguration, as he asserted, or even that Trump's crowd was bigger than Obama's. To say otherwise was not to offer an opinion, a view, a perspective. It was a lie.
TRUMP: I come from a place, New York City, which is virtually, I mean, it is almost exclusively Democrat. And I have really started to see some of the negatives--as an example, and I have a lot of liking for [Jeb Bush], but the last number of months of his brother's administration were a catastrophe. And unfortunately, those few months gave us President Obama. And you can't be happy about that.
To me the only good thing about the act of shaking hands prior to eating is that I tend to eat less. For example, there is no way, after shaking someone's hand, that I would eat bread. Even walking down the street, as people rush up to shake my hand, I often wonder to myself, why? Why risk catching a cold?
TRUMP: Sidney Blumenthal works for [Hillary's] campaign and sent a highly respected reporter to Kenya to find out about it. They were pressing it very hard. She failed to get the birth certificate. When I got involved, I didn't fail. I got him to give the birth certificate. So I'm satisfied with it.
Q: The birth certificate was produced in 2011. You've continued to question the president's legitimacy as recently as Jan. 2016. What changed your mind?
TRUMP: Nobody was pressing it. But I was the one that got him to produce the birth certificate. And I think I did a good job.
CLINTON: Donald started his political activity based on this racist lie that our first black president was not an American. There was absolutely no evidence for it, but he persisted.
Already public, the tape in question was a recorded telephone interview with Obama's stepmother, Sarah, who was in Kenya. Sarah spoke Swahili. The interviewer was an English-speaking preacher named Ron McRae.
The interview finds McRae saying "Was he born in Mombasa?" In response the translator says, "No. Obama was not born in Mombasa. He was born in America." McRae pressed Sarah on the issue, and the translator, after asking the question and waiting for the answer, replied, "Hawaii. She says he was born in Hawaii."
Consider only two examples. The first is the particularly ugly section concerning Trump's efforts to get then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to "unrecuse." Another example: Mueller reports that after the news broke that Trump had sought to get then-White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire the special counsel, Trump sought to get McGahn to deny the story. He also sought to get him to create an internal record denying the story. McGahn refused.
While there may be viable technical defenses against a criminal charge here, there simply is no plausible way to understand this fact pattern as a good-faith exercise of presidential power.
This is not obstruction of justice in any criminal sense. It's rather the opposite of obstruction of justice; it's the initiation of injustice. So I don't think it's plausibly sound in terms of criminal law. But it is molten-core impeachment territory. Consider: The president of the United States was trying to induce the attorney general of the United States to initiate a criminal investigation based on no known criminal predicate against a private citizen whom he happened to dislike.
Here's the key point: If there wasn't collusion on the hacking, it sure wasn't for lack of trying. Indeed, the Mueller report makes clear that Trump personally ordered an attempt to obtain Hillary Clinton's emails; and people associated with the campaign pursued this believing they were dealing with Russian hackers. And Donald Trump Jr. was directly in touch with WikiLeaks--from whom he obtained a password to a hacked database. None of these incidents amount to crimes. But the picture it all paints of the president's conduct is anything but exonerating. Call it Keystone Kollusion.
If Congress cannot question the people who are making policy, or obtain critical documents, Congress cannot function as a coequal branch of government. If Congress cannot get information about the executive branch, there is no longer any separation of powers, as sanctified in the US constitution. There is only one power--the power of the president to rule as he wishes. Which is what Donald Trump has sought all along.
Trump is treating Congress with contempt--just as he has treated other democratic institutions that have blocked him. Congress should invoke its inherent power under the constitution to hold any official who refuses a congressional subpoena in contempt.
When President Richard Nixon tried to stop key aides from testifying in the Senate Watergate hearings, in 1973, Senator Sam Ervin, chairman of the Watergate select committee, threatened to jail anyone who refused to appear.
When Nixon tried to block the release of incriminating recordings of his discussions with aides, the supreme court decided that a claim of executive privilege did not protect information pertinent to the investigation of potential crimes.
Privately, the two prosecutors, who were then employed in the special counsel's office, told other Justice Department officials that had it not been for the unique nature of the case--the investigation of a sitting president--they would have advocated that he face federal criminal charges.
Given the Justice Department's longstanding doctrine that a president cannot face criminal indictment while in office, Mueller suggested in his report that Congress could still act: the special counsel made more than twenty references in his report to Congress's impeachment power.
The letter was a political windfall for President Trump. No one else would be indicted, Barr wrote, Mueller had declined to make a prosecution judgement on the question of whether Trump obstructed justice, but instead had described the facts he had found and noted "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." Barr wrote that he [and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein,] reviewed the question themselves and determined the evidence was "not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense." Trump seized on the letter to declare he had been vindicated.
COMEY: That it, at its core, was consistent with the other information we'd gathered during the intelligence investigation. That there was a massive Russian effort underway to interfere with our election with three goals: to dirty up the American democracy so it's not a shining light for others around the world; to hurt Hillary Clinton, who Vladimir Putin personally hated; and to help Donald Trump become elected president. Those allegations are at the core of the Steele dossier, and we already knew that was true from totally separate information. And it was coming from a credible source.
Q: Did you know it had been financed at the beginning by President Trump's political opponents?
COMEY: I was told at some point that the effort had originally been financed by a Republican source to develop opposition research on Trump, and then Democrats were paying for it.
TRUMP: She doesn't have the look. She doesn't have the stamina. I said she doesn't have the stamina. And I don't believe she does have the stamina. To be president of this country, you need tremendous stamina. You have to be able to negotiate our trade deals. You have so many different things you have to be able to do, and I don't believe that Hillary has the stamina.
CLINTON: Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world, or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.
A: Sure, I regret. But in the meantime, I beat 16 people and here I am. I would have liked to have done it in a nicer manner. But I had 16 very talented people that I had to go through. That was a record in the history of Republican politics. I was able to get more votes than anybody ever has gotten in the history of Republican politics.
In two instances when he spoke on the record, Trump veered from a general discussion of "success" to an evaluation of the president. In the first case he said Obama lacked the qualities of a winner and "has had so many losses and people don't even want to watch him on television." In the second he said the president was not psychologically tough. "It's all psychology. If Obama had that psychology, Russia's Vladimir Putin wouldn't be eating his lunch. He doesn't have that psychology and he never will because it's not in his DNA."
TRUMP: I fully understand.
Q: And that experts say an independent run would almost certainly hand the race over to Democrats & likely another Clinton. You can't say tonight that you can make that pledge?
TRUMP: I cannot say. I have to respect the person that [is nominated], if it's not me, I can totally make that pledge. If I'm the nominee, I will pledge I will not run as an independent. We want to win; I want to win as the Republican; I want to run as the Republican nominee.
RAND PAUL: He's already hedging his bet. Maybe he supports Clinton, or maybe he runs as an independent.
Q: You're not gonna make the pledge tonight?
TRUMP: I will not make the pledge at this time.
But it doesn't have to be this way. If we get tough and make the hard choices, we can make America a rich nation--and respected--once again.
"How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?" Trump said. "I'm thinking about it, I'm certainly looking into it. Let him show his records." By charging that Obama was not admitted based on merit, Trump is suggesting that Obama was admitted because he is black. In GOP politics, attacking racial minorities as the underachieving beneficiaries of affirmative action is a very old move. Trump is blatantly attacking Obama's teenage qualifications for college--a topic so obscure, it was a non-issue in Obama's exhaustive, two-year-long presidential campaign.
DT: You have a lot of good people. Rudy Giuliani is a very good person. Hillary Clinton is a very good person. We might not like what's going on right now, but we live in a very resilient country, and we'll find a way out of our problems. This country is very, very resilient.
No matter the consequences, Donald's behavior did not change. "He was headstrong and determined," said a Kew-Forest teacher. "He would sit with his arms folded, with this look on his face--surly."
By his own account, Trump's primary focus in elementary school was "creating mischief because I liked to stir things up & test people. It wasn't malicious so much as it was aggressive." As a 2nd-grader, as Trump has described it, he punched his music teacher, giving him a "black eye" because "I didn't think he knew anything about music, and I almost got expelled. I'm not proud of that, but it's clear evidence that even early on I had a tendency to stand up and make my opinions known in a very forceful way."
February 1990 was a newsy month. Nelson Mandela was freed from prison. President George H. W. Bush welcomed the president of Czechoslovakia, as the collapse of the Soviet empire accelerated. But for weeks, one story dominated the front pages of the city's tabloids: Donald vs. Ivana. The obsession in the nation's media capital spread to serious national publications.
The sensational headlines reached their apex with the Post's February 16 front-page "Best Sex I've Ever Had", a statement supposedly uttered by Maples in reference to Donald. The headline would become a tabloid classic.
The Post's managing editor, Colasuonno. Did Marla really say what the Post was about to trumpet on page one? "Guys, this headline is libel-proof," he said. "Donald will never complain about this one."
Trump: In June 2016, Trump delivered a message to evangelicals that if he wins the White House in November, he will fiercely defend religious freedom. In August 2015, Trump said, "There's an assault on anything having to do with Christianity. They don't want to use the word 'Christmas' anymore at department stores." Trump also said, "There's always lawsuits and unfortunately a lot of those lawsuits are won by the other side. I will assault that. I will go so strongly against so many of the things, when they take away the word 'Christmas.' I go out of my way to use the word 'Christmas.'"
Clinton: Denounces legislative efforts in Indiana and Arkansas that supporters say protect religious expression and opponents say discriminate against gay people. Clinton called it "sad" that Indiana would approve the law, which like the 1993 version is called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Asked whether the Gospels would inform his public-policy choices in the White House, Trump said "deep down, maybe they do" influence his decision-making. For example, Trump said, he is offended that "the word Christmas is being taken out" of the holiday. "I see these stores like Macy's and so many others-- they're afraid to use the word 'Christmas' now," Trump said. "Maybe they can't use it, legally. What's going on is outrageous, and I will do things about it. The beliefs in the Bible had a lot to do with our country."
COMEY: With thousands of emails found on Anthony Weiner's laptop, the question is, "So what do we do now?" I can't see a door that's labeled, "No action here." I can only see two doors: "Speak," and "Conceal."
Q: You knew that candidate Trump is going to say, "This proves everything I've been saying about Hillary Clinton is right." Five previous attorney generals all disagree with you. They say this crossed a line.
COMEY: Yeah, I've heard a lot of that. That was allegedly the reason for my firing.
Q: If you knew that letter would elect Donald Trump, you'd still send it?
COMEY: I would. Because down that path [if the letter was not sent] lies the death of the FBI as an independent force in American life. I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump, and if I hide this from the American people, she'll be illegitimate the moment she's elected, the moment this comes out.
Warren has called the Republican president's use of the name a racial slur. Warren has acknowledged telling Harvard and an earlier employer, the University of Pennsylvania, of her heritage but only after she had been hired.
Pocahontas was a native woman who lived in present-day Virginia in the 1600s and agreed to marry an English colonist to help ensure peace and protect her people.
Questions about Warren's heritage, which first surfaced during her successful 2012 campaign to oust Republican Sen. Scott Brown, haven't dampened her popularity in Massachusetts. One recent poll found her leading each of her challengers by more than 20 percentage points.
TRUMP: Obviously, the war in Iraq was a big, fat mistake. The war in Iraq, we spent $2 trillion, thousands of lives, we don't even have it. Iran has taken over Iraq. Obviously, it was a mistake. George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East.
Q: So you still think he should be impeached?
TRUMP: You call it whatever you want. I want to tell you, they lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none. And they knew there were none.
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