The history of the White House

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

The history of the White House

The White House seems like a building that’s just always been there: as long as there’s been a United States, there’s been a White House. But that’s far from the truth. It had to be built like every other building to ever exist and its story is an interesting slice of American history.

The design

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Pierre Charles L’Enfant, a former soldier on the American side of the Revolution, was the man originally commissioned to design Washington D.C., the Capitol Building and the White House. His designs were far more ostentatious than the city and buildings we have today, with an executive mansion that was supposed to be built on a ridge overlooking the Potomac and at a scale four times the size of the house we have today. His plans never came to fruition, though, because he was fired in February of 1792 after a fight with the commissioning board.

After L’Enfant’s firing, the design of the house was turned into a contest. Irishman James Hoban submitted the winning design, one that was heavily based on Leinster House, the home of the Irish Parliament in Dublin.

Changes and influences

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Things were business as usual in the building until the War of 1812, when the British invasion and successful (at that point in the war) campaign beat American militias and brought the war to the White House’s doorstep. In 1814, the Brits torched the executive mansion, along with the rest of the city. Dolley Madison, James Madison’s First Lady, stayed in the White House up to almost the last minute, outlasting most of the city’s inhabitants, as well as her military guard. Most famously, she’s the one who saved George Washington’s enormous portrait from falling into the hands of the British. After the war, Hoban returned to rebuild the house.

That’s the most impactful event the building’s seen since the Civil War didn’t touch much of DC, despite its proximity to the Confederacy. The rest of the building’s existence has consisted of a handful of presidents and their expansions and renovations. John Quincy Adams added the North and South Porticoes, the Fillmores turned the second floor oval room into a library, and the Arthurs had Louis Tiffany redesign the east, blue, red, and state dining rooms. Taft’s expansion in 1909 created the Oval Office as we know it today, though the room itself was relocated to the southeast corner during FDR’s tenure. Teddy Roosevelt oversaw a major renovation, and it was around the same time that he coined the term “White House.”

The modern White House

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The last major renovation happened under Truman’s administration, with the rebuilding and strengthening of the White House’s foundation. That project saw a huge renovation to the building’s interior as well, and Truman gave a televised tour of the results in 1952. Most presidents and their First Ladies will also do some of their own redecorating to make the place feel more like home. After all, it’s theirs for the next four years. Eight if the public likes them.

5 biggest lies you were told about George Washington

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

History

5 biggest lies you were told about George Washington

Being the first President of the United States puts one in the spotlight, and with such notoriety comes an abundance of rumors and lies. There are sure to be many tall tales told of Founding Father and political pioneer George Washington. The leading political figure of the 18th century had quite an intriguing life, but that didn’t stop some from trying to embellish on or completely fabricate parts of it.

The following alleged facts about George Washington are quite the opposite. They’re stories passed down from one generation to the next, anecdotes that may be fun to talk about but have no real historical value.

He chopped down a cherry tree

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“Father, I cannot tell a lie.” These were the alleged words of a young George Washington to his father regarding a damaged cherry tree. According to the legend, Washington took a newly-received hatchet to his father’s tree and damaged it. When confronted, the young boy fessed up for his wrongdoing and earned the praise and respect of his father.

Ironically, Washington’s inability to bend the truth stems from a made-up story by Mason Locke Weems, author of “The Life of Washington.” Wanting to profit off of Washington’s popularity after his death, Weems wrote the biography. By its fifth edition, the myth of the cherry tree was included to give a glimpse into Washington’s virtues and depict him as the ideal role model.

His teeth were made of wood

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Being from the 18th century, it’s not unfathomable to think that George Washington would have poor oral hygiene by today’s standards. In fact, it’s known that his teeth weren’t the kind many dentists would take credit for. Plagued with dental issues in his adult life, Washington started to lose teeth in his twenties.

While he was forced to wear dentures, they weren’t, as many believe, made of wood. Instead, they were a mix of human teeth, metal fasteners, and hippopotamus ivory. While closer in appearance to real teeth than wood, early dentures were a far cry from the modern implements used today. Not only were they painful to wear, but their appearance also wasn’t quite as clean.

He’s buried within a crypt beneath the U.S. Capitol

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Unlike many of the lies told about the first president of the United States, this one is rooted in a little bit of truth. On December 23, 1799, the House and Senate decided that, with the permission of his family, the body of George Washington would be buried under a marble memorial at the United States Capitol. Martha Washington agreed, despite the president’s wish to be buried in Mount Vernon.

As with many things, cost became a factor in delaying the construction of the monument. Despite the wishes of representatives and senators, Washington’s body remained at his plantation, Mount Vernon. In 1832, another attempt was made to relocate the body, but Mount Vernon’s owner, John A. Washington II, refused to disturb his ancestor. While some may still claim he’s buried beneath the capitol, George Washington is resting peacefully at Mount Vernon.

He was a sound military leader

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As revered as George Washington is, the praise for his military leadership may not be quite as founded in reality. It’s easy to get caught up in the romanticism of Washington as a victorious general, but his track record on the battlefield tells a different story.

In fact, it was Washington who outed his own inexperience of military leadership. Speaking with Congress on the night before the New York campaign of 1776, Washington noted his “limited and contracted knowledge” of military operations. On multiple occasions, his inability to make quick decisions caused significant losses, specifically at the Battle of Brandywine in 1777 and the loss of Fort Washington on Manhattan Island.

In 1796, American pamphleteer Thomas Paine published a “Letter to George Washington.” Within the document, he claimed that Washington’s achievements were erroneous. According to Paine, many of the president’s achievements belonged to Generals Nathanael Greene and Horatio Gates.

He lived in the White House

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Today, it’s common knowledge that the President of the United States lives in the White House. That may be why so many are adamant that George Washington was one of the many that called this structure home. Logic may dictate the notion, but the timeline of the White House’s construction completely shuts it down.

George Washington was president from 1789 to 1797. Plans for the original president’s house didn’t surface until 1790, and a builder wasn’t selected until 1792. During much of Washington’s presidency, the White House was under construction, and it wasn’t until 1800 that John and Abigail Adams moved in as the first residents.

The truth about George

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George Washington’s reputation has reached mythic proportions over the years, and not all the stories about him are true. His achievements are undeniable—but as far as national heroes go, even he had his limits. And regardless of their truth, these stories are iconic, and just about impossible to separate from the man’s legacy.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Was Invited to Meet Trump in the Oval Office

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORKER NEWS)

 

Iran’s Foreign Minister Was Invited to Meet Trump in the Oval Office

Last month, amid a rapid-fire escalation in tensions between Washington and Tehran, the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, received an unexpected invitation—to meet President Donald Trump in the Oval Office. The diplomatic overture was made by Senator Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican, during a meeting with Zarif in New York on July 15th, according to American and Iranian sources and a well-informed diplomat.

With President Trump’s blessing, Paul had been working on the idea for several weeks, in consultation with the White House and the State Department. An intermediary had reached out to the Iranians on Paul’s behalf three weeks before Zarif was due in New York for meetings at the United Nations. On July 14th, the day before leaving for New York, Paul had a discussion about Iran with the President, while playing a round at the Trump golf course in Sterling, Virginia.

On July 15th, Paul and his senior adviser, Doug Stafford, met Zarif at the elegant residence of Iran’s U.N. ambassador, on Fifth Avenue, a block from the Metropolitan Museum. In his decades as a diplomat, Zarif, who studied under Condoleezza Rice’s Ph.D. adviser, at the University of Denver, has built a modest rolodex with the private numbers of members of the House and Senate. “I always see people from Congress,” Zarif told me and a small group of journalists later that week, without naming names. But this was his first meeting with Paul, who is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The two men initially talked about long-standing issues, notably Tehran’s nuclear program, and also recent flare-ups in the Persian Gulf, according to the sources. In May and June, the United States accused Tehran of sabotaging six oil tankers just beyond the strategic Strait of Hormuz. On June 20th, Iran shot down one of America’s most sophisticated drones, claiming that it was flying over Iranian airspace. Trump considered military retaliation, but called it off at the last minute, because of projected casualties. While Zarif was in New York, the U.S. downed an Iranian drone, on July 18th. As tempers frayed, Washington was abuzz with worry about the prospect of a new war in the Middle East. Paul’s mission was to break through the messy layers of conflict and launch a direct diplomatic channel, at the highest level. The overture was a miniature version of Trump’s tactic in circumventing traditional diplomacy by dealing directly with the North Korean leadership.

During an hour-long conversation, Zarif offered Paul ideas about how to end the nuclear impasse and address Trump’s concerns. He later outlined some of them to our group of journalists and subsequently in more detail to me. “As a diplomat, I have to always think about alternatives,” he told us. Among them was the idea that the Iranian Parliament could codify, in law, a fatwa issued by Iran’s Supreme Leader, originally in 2003 and again in 2010, that forbids the production or use of nuclear weapons. “We consider the use of such weapons as haraam [forbidden] and believe that it is everyone’s duty to make efforts to secure humanity against this great disaster,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, in 2010.

But, if Trump wanted more, he would also have to offer more, Zarif suggested. Another possibility was moving forward one of the later steps of the nuclear deal brokered between Iran and the world’s six major powers in 2015—the accord that Trump abandoned in May, 2018. Zarif said that Iran could bring forward ratification of the so-called Additional Protocol, which is currently due to be implemented by 2023—potentially this year. The protocol, which has already been signed and ratified by a hundred and forty-six nations, allows more intrusive international inspections—on both declared and undeclared nuclear sites in member states—in perpetuity. “The Additional Protocol is a crucial means by which the world verifies that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons,” Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, told me on Friday. “If you don’t trust the Iranians, you want inspections in perpetuity.” By ratifying the protocol, Iran would forfeit one of the so-called sunset clauses in the 2015 deal, which had triggered deep skepticism among Republicans, some Democrats, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. In exchange, Zarif suggested, Trump could go to Congress to lift sanctions on Iran, as originally provided under the 2015 nuclear deal but not ratified in legislation. Both sides would then feel more secure in the commitments sought in the original deal.

Paul proposed that the Iranian diplomat lay out the same ideas to Trump in person. The President, Paul said, had authorized him to extend an invitation to meet in the Oval Office as early as that week, the U.S., Iranian, and diplomatic sources told me. A White House spokesperson declined to comment about the invitation on the record.

Total Trade Stoppage With China Could Be A Good Thing For American Workers

Total Trade Stoppage With China Could Be A Good Thing For American Workers

 

I know that many people here in the U.S. will in the short term be hit financially if this ‘trade war’ with China continues. The American companies on the U.S. Stock Market has taken a hit with these tariffs the White House is talking about, I know this is hurting some American businesses like WalMart who import a huge amount from China, so be it, they need to be hurt, badly.  There is a reason for my view, I just hope you can see what I am talking about.

 

American businesses need to be hurt because of their treason toward the American Nation and her people. How many thousands of businesses have been shuttered because of companies like WalMart who for a penny or two lower price per product will buy from other countries like China (whose Leaders hate us) instead of buying from U.S. Companies who have their factories here in the U.S. giving jobs to American workers. Companies like WalMart cater to low income people yet how many of these people are poor because of these companies ‘buy foreign first’ business practices? The rich, especially the super rich like to complain about the poor as people who suck away their profits and produce nothing and how they say the poor don’t pay their fair share. If an owner of a company moves their operation out of the States thus firing all their American workers it should be the Companies Leadership who should be punished, not the workers. These companies should have to pay a tariff of about 90% on all goods they import back to the American market. Make it not worth their bottom line to close American factories and fire their American workers. In the business world everything is always about profits, the money that goes to the top is the only thing that has mattered for decades not. Most businesses and government officials should be charged with treason against the the American Flag and Her people, not profit from their demise that they themselves are causing! Rebuild America’s factories and infrastructure now, create jobs for American workers first. Our exports like grain and soy beans can easily be sold to other world markets. There is no logic besides greed that dictates us selling anything to or importing anything from other countries like China whom is trying to wipe us out. But then again, these words to you today are just the opinions of an old poet.

Romney savages Trump’s leadership in Washington Post op-ed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO NEWS)

 

CONGRESS

Romney savages Trump’s leadership in Washington Post op-ed

The president “has not risen to the mantle of the office,” writes the incoming Utah senator.

President Donald Trump “has not risen to the mantle” of his office, and his “words and actions have caused dismay around the world,” Mitt Romney wrote Tuesday in an op-ed for The Washington Post.

The scathing rebuke of Trump’s leadership from the former Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential nominee comes just two days before Romney is set to be sworn in as Utah’s junior senator.

The op-ed — titled, “The president shapes the public character of the nation. Trump’s character falls short.” — also suggests Romney will not shy away from criticizing the president in ways that cost lawmakers such as outgoing senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) considerable political clout within Trump’s Republican Party.

“With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable,” Romney wrote. “And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”

Romney did applaud Trump for several of the administration’s actions over the past two years, including the 2017 Republican tax law, the criminal justice reform bill Trump signed into law last month, Trump’s aggression toward Beijing over China’s trade practices and the White House’s push to confirm conservative jurists to the federal judiciary.

“But policies and appointments are only a part of a presidency,” Romney added, asserting that Trump’s tenure in the Oval Office “made a deep descent” in December following the announced departures of White House chief of staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — both retired four-star Marine generals long viewed as stabilizing forces within the administration.

Romney also cited “the appointment of senior persons of lesser experience” as other low points of the past month, appearing to jab at State Department spokeswoman and former Fox News personality Heather Nauert’s nomination to become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as well as Deputy Defense Secretary and former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan’s selection to take Mattis’ place as Pentagon chief.

And while Trump’s appointments of other now-departed administration officials including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former White House economic adviser Gary Cohn and former White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster “were encouraging,” Romney wrote, “on balance, his conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions this month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.”

The tone of Tuesday’s op-ed, as well as its timing, are likely to assuage certain congressional lawmakers of both parties who hoped Romney would adopt the role of a Republican elder statesman on Capitol Hill during his freshman term in the Senate — especially following the death of former Sen. John McCain in August and the exodus of many of the president’s GOP critics after November’s midterm elections.

“I will act as I would with any president, in or out of my party: I will support policies that I believe are in the best interest of the country and my state, and oppose those that are not,” Romney wrote. “I do not intend to comment on every tweet or fault. But I will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.”

Romney, who was on Trump’s shortlist to become secretary of state in late 2016, previously vowed during his Senate campaign to challenge the president if elected to the chamber.

Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign manager, responded to Romney’s op-ed in a tweet Tuesday evening.

“The truth is @MittRomney lacked the ability to save this nation,” Parscale wrote of the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee. “@realDonaldTrump has saved it. Jealously is a drink best served warm and Romney just proved it. So sad, I wish everyone had the courage @realDonaldTrump had.”

Romney’s op-ed comes less than one month after another op-ed in the Post, authored by a bipartisan group of 44 former senators, warned that the United States is “entering a dangerous period.” That piece did not mention the president by name.

Federal Judge Orders White House To Restore CNN’s Jim Acosta’s ‘Hard Pass’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN AND ABC NEWS)

 

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump White House to immediately restore the press pass of CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta as the case progresses after the network filed a lawsuit suit claiming that revoking it violated the First Amendment.

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The judge repeatedly emphasized that his decision was based on the Fifth Amendment and that Acosta was denied his right to due process.

“If at some point after restoring the hard pass the government would like to move to vacate the restraining order on the grounds that it has fulfilled its due process obligations then it may, of course, do so and I will promptly address that and then the remaining basis of the (temporary restraining order),” U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly said.

Speaking after the ruling, Ted Boutros, an attorney for CNN said the news organization is “extremely pleased with the ruling today.”

“A great day for the First Amendment and journalism,” he said. “We’re very excited to have Mr. Acosta be able to go back and get his hard pass and report the news about the White House.”

Acosta thanked journalistic colleagues for their support and the judge for his ruling.

“Let’s go back to work,” Acosta said.

PHOTO: CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta smiles as he departs after a judge temporarily restored his White House press credentials following a hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, Nov. 16, 2018.Carlos Barria/Reuters
CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta smiles as he departs after a judge temporarily restored his White House press credentials following a hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, Nov. 16, 2018.more +

CNN and Acosta filed suit against President Donald Trump and top aides on Tuesday for stripping Acosta, without warning, of his access to the White House, where he works daily. The indefinite revocation of Acosta’s press credentials, known as a “hard pass,” came on the heels of a heated exchange between Trump and Acosta on Nov. 7.

PHOTO: CNNs White House correspondent Jim Acosta arrives for a hearing at the U.S. District Court on Nov. 16, 2018 in Washington.Mark Wilson/Getty Images
CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta arrives for a hearing at the U.S. District Court on Nov. 16, 2018 in Washington.more +

Earlier in the week, CNN and Acosta filed an emergency motion to have Acosta’s press pass immediately reinstated as the court case continues and asked for a ruling from Kelly, a Trump-appointed U.S. district judge.

The American Civil Liberties Union in a statement applauded Friday’s ruling saying it “reaffirms that no one, not even the president, is above the law.

“The White House surely hoped that expelling a reporter would deter forceful questioning, but the court’s ruling will have the opposite effect,” Ben Wizner, the ACLU’s director of speech, privacy and technology project wrote in a statement. “The freedom of the press is a bedrock principle, and our democracy is strengthened when journalists challenge our leaders rather than defer to them.”

This is a developing story. Please refresh for details.

Trump’s aides stole his papers ‘to protect the country’: “Trump Is A F—ing Idiot”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Bob Woodward: Trump’s aides stole his papers ‘to protect the country’

Woodward book reveals ‘crazytown’ White House

(CNN)WARNING: This story contains graphic language.

President Donald Trump‘s closest aides have taken extraordinary measures in the White House to try to stop what they saw as his most dangerous impulses, going so far as to swipe and hide papers from his desk so he wouldn’t sign them, according to a new book from legendary journalist Bob Woodward.
Woodward’s 448-page book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” provides an unprecedented inside-the-room look through the eyes of the President’s inner circle. From the Oval Office to the Situation Room to the White House residence, Woodward uses confidential background interviews to illustrate how some of the President’s top advisers view him as a danger to national security and have sought to circumvent the commander in chief.

Many of the feuds and daily clashes have been well documented, but the picture painted by Trump’s confidants, senior staff and Cabinet officials reveal that many of them see an even more alarming situation — worse than previously known or understood. Woodward offers a devastating portrait of a dysfunctional Trump White House, detailing how senior aides — both current and former Trump administration officials — grew exasperated with the President and increasingly worried about his erratic behavior, ignorance and penchant for lying.
Chief of staff John Kelly describes Trump as an “idiot” and “unhinged,” Woodward reports. Defense Secretary James Mattis describes Trump as having the understanding of “a fifth or sixth grader.” And Trump’s former personal lawyer John Dowd describes the President as “a fucking liar,” telling Trump he would end up in an “orange jump suit” if he testified to special counsel Robert Mueller.
“He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in crazytown,” Kelly is quoted as saying at a staff meeting in his office. “I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”
CNN obtained a copy of Woodward’s book, scheduled for release September 11. The explosive revelations about Trump from those closest to him are likely to play into the November midterm election battle. The book also has stunning new details about Trump’s obsession with the Russia probe, describing for the first time confidential conversations between the President’s lawyers and Mueller. It recounts a dramatic session in the White House residence in which Trump failed a mock Mueller interview with his lawyers.
Woodward sums up the state of the Trump White House by writing that Trump was an “emotionally overwrought, mercurial and unpredictable leader.” Woodward writes that the staff’s decision to circumvent the President was “a nervous breakdown of the executive power of the most powerful country in the world.”

Circumventing the President

The book opens with a dramatic scene. Former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn saw a draft letter he considered dangerous to national security on the Oval Office desk.
The letter would have withdrawn the US from a critical trade agreement with South Korea. Trump’s aides feared the fallout could jeopardize a top-secret national security program: the ability to detect a North Korean missile launch within just seven seconds.
Woodward reports Cohn was “appalled” that Trump might sign the letter. “I stole it off his desk,” Cohn told an associate. “I wouldn’t let him see it. He’s never going to see that document. Got to protect the country.”
Cohn was not alone. Former staff secretary Rob Porter worked with Cohn and used the same tactic on multiple occasions, Woodward writes. In addition to literally stealing or hiding documents from Trump’s desk, they sought to stall and delay decisions or distract Trump from orders they thought would endanger national security.
“A third of my job was trying to react to some of the really dangerous ideas that he had and try to give him reasons to believe that maybe they weren’t such good ideas,” said Porter, who as staff secretary handled the flow of presidential papers until he quit amid domestic violence allegations. He and others acted with the acquiescence of former chief of staff Reince Priebus, Woodward reports.
Woodward describes repeated attempts to bypass Trump as “no less than an administrative coup d’état.”

The Russia obsession

Woodward’s book relies on hundreds of hours of taped interviews and dozens of sources in Trump’s inner circle, as well as documents, files, diaries and memos, including a note handwritten by Trump himself. Woodward explains that he talked with sources on “deep background,” meaning he could use all the information but not say who provided it.
His reporting comes with the credibility of a long and storied history that separates this book from previous efforts on Trump. The author and Washington Post journalist has won two Pulitzer Prizes, including one for his coverage of the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation.
In one revelatory anecdote, Woodward describes a scene in the White House residence. Trump’s lawyer, convinced the President would perjure himself, put Trump through a test — a practice interview for the one he might have with Mueller. Trump failed, according to Dowd, but the President still insisted he should testify.
Woodward writes that Dowd saw the “full nightmare” of a potential Mueller interview, and felt Trump acted like an “aggrieved Shakespearean king.”
But Trump seemed surprised at Dowd’s reaction, Woodward writes. “You think I was struggling?” Trump asked.
Then, in an even more remarkable move, Dowd and Trump’s current personal attorney Jay Sekulow went to Mueller’s office and re-enacted the mock interview. Their goal: to argue that Trump couldn’t possibly testify because he was incapable of telling the truth.
“He just made something up. That’s his nature,” Dowd said to Mueller.
The passage is an unprecedented glimpse behind the scenes of Mueller’s secretive operation — for the first time, Mueller’s conversations with Trump’s lawyers are captured.
“I need the president’s testimony,” Mueller said. “What was his intent on Comey? … I want to see if there was corrupt intent.”
Despite Dowd’s efforts, Trump continued to insist he could testify. “I think the President of the United States cannot be seen taking the fifth,” Trump said.
Dowd’s argument was stark: “There’s no way you can get through these. … Don’t testify. It’s either that or an orange jump suit.”
What he couldn’t say to Trump, according to Woodward, was what Dowd believed to be true: “You’re a fucking liar.”

Trump’s insults and humiliation

Throughout the book, Woodward portrays the President as a man obsessed with his standing in the media and with his core supporters. Trump appears to be lonely and increasingly paranoid, often watching hours of television in the White House residence. “They’re out to get me,” Trump said of Mueller’s team.
Trump’s closest advisers described him erupting in rage and profanity, and he seemed to enjoy humiliating others.
“This guy is mentally retarded,” Trump said of Sessions. “He’s this dumb southerner,” Trump told Porter, mocking Sessions by feigning a southern accent.
Trump said that Priebus is “like a little rat. He just scurries around.”
And Trump demeaned former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to his face, when Giuliani was the only campaign surrogate willing to defend then-candidate Trump on television after the “Access Hollywood” tape, a bombshell video where Trump described sexually assaulting women.
“Rudy, you’re a baby,” Trump told the man who is now his attorney. “I’ve never seen a worse defense of me in my life. They took your diaper off right there. You’re like a little baby that needed to be changed. When are you going to be a man?”
Trump’s predecessors are not spared either. In a conversation with Sen. Lindsey Graham, Trump called President Barack Obama a “weak dick” for not acting in Syria, Woodward reports.

National security concerns

Woodward’s book takes readers inside top-secret meetings. On July 27, 2017, Trump’s national security leaders convened a gathering at “The Tank” in the Pentagon. The goal: an intervention to try to educate the President on the importance of allies and diplomacy.
Trump’s philosophy on diplomacy was personal. “This is all about leader versus leader. Man versus man. Me versus Kim,” he said of North Korea.
His inner circle was worried about “The Big Problem,” Woodward writes: Trump’s lack of understanding that his crusade to impose tariffs could endanger global security.
But the meeting didn’t go as planned.
Trump went off on his generals. “You should be killing guys. You don’t need a strategy to kill people,” Trump said of Afghanistan.
He questioned the wisdom of keeping US troops in South Korea.
“So Mr. President,” Cohn said to Trump, “what would you need in the region to sleep well at night?”
“I wouldn’t need a fucking thing,” the President said. “And I’d sleep like a baby.”
After Trump left the Tank, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared: “He’s a fucking moron.”
The book provides the context for the now-infamous quote that marked the beginning of the end for Tillerson’s tenure. Tillerson tried to downplay the dispute — “I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that,” he said at a news conference after NBC reported the remark — but he was ultimately fired via tweet.
Woodward also quotes an unnamed White House official who gave an even more dire assessment of the meeting: “It seems clear that many of the president’s senior advisers, especially those in the national security realm, are extremely concerned with his erratic nature, his relative ignorance, his inability to learn, as well as what they consider his dangerous views.”
A recurrent theme in Woodward’s book is Trump’s seeming disregard for national security concerns because of his obsession with money — trade deficits and the cost of troops overseas.
In meeting after meeting, Trump questions why the US has to pay for such a large troop presence in South Korea.
“We’re doing this in order to prevent World War III,” Mattis, the defense secretary, bluntly explained to Trump at one January 2018 meeting, which prompted Mattis to tell close associates afterward that Trump had the understanding of a “fifth or sixth grader.”
Trump still wasn’t convinced. “I think we could be so rich if we weren’t stupid,” he later said in the meeting, arguing the US was being played as “suckers,” Woodward reports.

The ‘Ernest Hemingway’ of Twitter

Trump’s tweets — and his infatuation with Twitter — are a theme throughout the book.
Woodward reveals that Trump ordered printouts of his tweets and studied them to find out which ones were most popular. “The most effective tweets were often the most shocking,” Woodward writes.
Twitter was a source of great consternation for national security leaders, who feared — and warned Trump — “Twitter could get us into a war.”
Appalled by some of his more outrageous posts, Trump’s aides tried to form a Twitter “committee” to vet the President’s tweets, but they failed to stop their boss.
Priebus, who was blindsided when Trump announced his firing on Twitter, referred to the presidential bedroom as “the devil’s workshop” and called the early morning hours and Sunday night — a time of many news-breaking tweets — “the witching hour.”
Trump, however, saw himself as a Twitter wordsmith.
“It’s a good thing,” Trump said when Twitter expanded its character count to 280, “but it’s a bit of a shame because I was the Ernest Hemingway of 140 characters.”

‘A zoo without walls’

Finally, “Fear” is filled with slights, insults and takedowns from both family and staff that speak to the chaos, infighting and drama that Trump allows to fester around him.
Both Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are targeted by the inner circle.
There is a pointed shot at Ivanka from the President’s now-ostracized chief strategist Steve Bannon, who frequently clashed with the first daughter and her husband.
“You’re nothing but a fucking staffer!” Bannon screamed at Ivanka at a staff meeting, according to Woodward. “You walk around this place and act like you’re in charge, and you’re not. You’re on staff!”
“I’m not a staffer!” she shouted back. “I’ll never be a staffer. I’m the first daughter” — she really used the title, Woodward writes — “and I’m never going to be a staffer!”
Two of the harshest comments in the book are directed at Trump and come from his chiefs of staff.
After Trump’s Charlottesville, Virginia, controversy, in which he failed to condemn white supremacists, Cohn tried to resign but was instead dressed down by Trump and accused of “treason.”
Kelly, who is Trump’s current chief of staff, told Cohn afterward, according to notes Cohn made of the exchange: “If that was me, I would have taken that resignation letter and shoved it up his ass six different times.”
And Priebus, Trump’s first chief of staff, encapsulated the White House and the thrust of Woodward’s book by describing the administration as a place with “natural predators at the table.”
“When you put a snake and a rat and a falcon and a rabbit and a shark and a seal in a zoo without walls,” Priebus is quoted as saying, “things start getting nasty and bloody.”

John McCain’s Death Reminds Us Just How Petty Trump Is

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORKER)

 

Donald Trump’s Response to John McCain’s Death Reminds Us Just How Petty He Is

Donald Trump is a small, petty man. He is a liar and a crook. And his legal problems are mounting. Each one of these statements has been true since January 20, 2017, when Trump became the President of the United States. But the remarkable events of the past week have highlighted and confirmed the essence of this President, and the terms on which he continues to hold office.

On Monday morning, someone in the White House ordered that the U.S. flag atop the building—which had been flying at half-staff to honor the memory of Senator John McCain, who died on Saturday—be raised to its normal position. Who was responsible for this action? President Trump, of course.

Over the weekend, Trump declined to issue a personal statement praising McCain, instead confining himself to a tweet in which he offered condolences to McCain’s family. You might argue that, in doing so, the President was avoiding hypocrisy—the enmity between the two men was long-standing and bitter. After the Helsinki summit, earlier this year, McCain called Trump’s joint press conference with Vladimir Putin “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American President in memory.” If, after all this acrimony, Trump had said something positive about McCain, it would have rung hollow.

But messing with the flag that flies above the White House was different. The flag represents the United States and the office of the Presidency, not Trump personally. After the death of a prominent U.S. politician, such as a former President or prominent senator, it is standard practice for the sitting President to issue a proclamation ordering the flag to be lowered to half-staff until the burial, which, in this case, will be next Sunday. Whatever one thinks of McCain’s political views, his record—five and a half years in a Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp, thirty-one years in the Senate, and two Presidential bids—surely merited such an honor. As Mark Knoller, of CBS News, noted on Monday morning, Trump failed to order the proclamation. Evidently, there is no limit to his smallness.

The outcry was immediate and broad-based, and, in this instance, Trump backed down. On Monday afternoon, the White House press office released a statement in his name, which said, “Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment.”

Who persuaded Trump to change course? Was there a rebellion in the West Wing? The initial reports about the reversal didn’t say. But it was clear that the last thing the White House needs right now is another public-relations disaster. Although McCain’s death knocked the saga of Michael Cohen’s guilty plea off the front pages, at least temporarily, the past week was a disaster for the White House, and a reminder that Trump’s pettiness is only exceeded by his deceitfulness. Is there anybody in the entire country who now believes anything he says about the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal that Cohen helped orchestrate?

In the words of Glenn Kessler, the head of the Washington Post’s fact-checking team, “Trump and his allies have been deliberately dishonest at every turn in their statements regarding payments to Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.” No surprise there, of course. This is a man who used to pose as his own press agent to plant fake stories about himself; who has claimed—on the basis of no evidence whatsoever—to have seen Muslims in New Jersey celebrating after the 9/11 attacks; and who has routinely exaggerated his wealth by a factor of ten or more.

For habitual liars, telling untruths is “partly practice and partly habit,” William Hazlitt once wrote. “It requires an effort in them to speak truth.” Trump seldom makes the exertion. From the start of Trump’s Presidency to the beginning of this month, Kessler’s team had “documented 4,229 false or misleading claims from the president—an average of nearly 7.6 a day.”

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Most of these falsehoods Trump has got away with, but he may not get away with his denials and dodges regarding the Daniels and McDougal payments. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York—having secured the coöperation of Cohen and the reported coöperation of David Pecker, who is the head of the company that owns the National Enquirer, and Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization—already seems to have strong evidence that Trump was part of a conspiracy to evade campaign-finance laws. Last week, Cohen told a federal court that, in helping arrange the payoffs to Daniels and McDougal, he acted “at the direction of a candidate for federal office.” According to the Wall Street Journal, Pecker “told federal prosecutors that Mr. Trump had knowledge of Mr. Cohen’s payments to women.”

Some of Trump’s defenders are complaining that the Feds, having failed to nail the President on the charge of conspiring with Russia to influence the 2016 election, are now “trying to Al Capone the President”—that is, get him on a technicality. Others in the Trump camp are falling back on the legal argument that a sitting President can’t be indicted, or that Hillary Clinton’s campaign also violated campaign laws. But, apart from Trump himself, virtually nobody seems to be claiming that he didn’t direct the payoffs.

It would be an irony, of course, if it were the Stormy Daniels story, rather than the Russia probe, that brought Trump to book. It wouldn’t be entirely surprising, though. Sometime, somewhere, Trump’s crooked past was going to catch up with him.

Here’s a quick reminder of the rap sheet. Turning a blind eye to money laundering at his New Jersey casinos. Operating a bogus university that bilked middle-income seniors out of their retirement savings. Stiffing his suppliers as a matter of course. Selling condos to Russians and other rich foreigners who may well have been looking to launder hot money. Entering franchising deals with Eastern European oligarchs and other shady characters. For decades, Trump has run roughshod over laws and regulations.

To protect himself from whistle-blowers, financial cops, and plaintiffs, Trump relied on nondisclosure agreements, lax enforcement, and his reputation for uncompromising litigiousness. But since May, 2017, when he fired James Comey and opened the door to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel, things have been slowly unraveling for the President. (Indeed, Mueller’s team tipped off the Southern District about Cohen’s alleged misdeeds.) Last week, the unwinding process seemed to speed up.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean Trump is finished. Whatever happens on the investigative front, it is hard to believe that his own Justice Department will approve an indictment of him while he remains in office. And, as long as the vast majority of G.O.P. voters continue to support him, the Party’s leaders on Capitol Hill, whose continued support he needs, are very unlikely to turn on him.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which was taken after the news about Cohen’s plea and the conviction of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, shows that Trump’s approval rating has barely budged. So does the weekly Gallup poll, which was updated on Monday. In both surveys, Trump’s rating is in the low forties, where it has been for months. “We’ve had this enormous series of events, and these numbers don’t change very much,” Bill McInturff, one of the pollsters who carried out the NBC/Wall Street Journalpoll, told the Journal. And so we go on.

Trump administration could be holding 30,000 border kids by August

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

 

Trump administration could be holding 30,000 border kids by August, officials say

The Trump administration could be holding 30,000 illegal immigrant children by the end of August as a result of its push to enforce federal immigration laws, which has led to the separation of children from their parents and guardians as those adults are prosecuted.

A senior administration official who asked not to be identified said the Department of Health and Human Services has been taking in about 250 children per day in recent weeks. HHS is the agency that is taking in children when they are separated from their families.

An HHS official added that the agency expects to be taking about 250 kids each day at least for the next two months. If that estimate holds, HHS could be caring for 18,500 more children by the end of August.

The HHS official said as of Friday, HHS was already holding 11,500 children, which means the total could hit 30,000 by August.

The practice of separating children from illegal immigrant adults has become highly controversial in the last few weeks, and is something Democrats have highlighted as a practice that needs to stop.

The Trump administration has defended the policy by saying illegal immigrants need to know that if they try entering the U.S., they will be prosecuted, which could lead to separation from their children. Officials have said U.S. citizens face the same risk when they commit crimes.

But administration officials have also said they support a change to the federal law that requires prosecution and family separation, and have blamed Democrats for current law.

Illegal immigration along the southwestern U.S. border has spiked in the last few months, even though administration officials have said they expect Trump’s zero-tolerance policy to eventually dissuade more from coming. A Justice Department spokesman told the Washington Examiner last week the zero-tolerance policy is not expected to lead to a decline in the number of illegal immigrants attempting to make the trek to the U.S. from primarily Central American countries until early fall.

Under current practice, HHS takes care of unaccompanied illegal immigrant children as well as now those under the age of 18 who must be cared for while the adults they were apprehended with are prosecuted for illegal entry. This spring, Sessions directed federal prosecutors stationed at the border to bring charges against all migrants that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers took into custody.

However, family units that arrive at ports of entry and request asylum will not be prosecuted because they have not attempted to enter the country illegally, several DHS officials confirmed to the Washington Examiner. They will also be kept together as they go through the asylum process. These groups are detained in DHS facilities while minors are directed to HHS.

In an attempt to secure housing for the coming flood of children, HHS selected the Tornillo Land Port of Entry near El Paso, Texas, last week as the first back-up site to temporarily house around 360 minors.

The Trump administration is also advancing a plan to tentatively house unaccompanied minors in tent cities located on three Texas military bases due to increasing border apprehensions and a shortage of beds for the underage immigrants.

“[Health and Human Services] is running out of space because of the implications of the zero tolerance policy, but also because we continue to see this uptick in numbers,” an official confirmed to the Washington Examiner last week.

HHS officials are looking at Fort Bliss near El Paso, Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, and Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, the official confirmed.

‘What the hell?’ Trump-Kim love fest ignores human rights nightmare

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE POLITICO NEWS AGENCY)

 

Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump are pictured. | Getty Images
Few observers expected President Donald Trump to challenge Kim Jong Un on human rights. The subject in general hasn’t been a priority for him. | Kevin Lim/The Strait Times/Handout/Getty Images

‘What the hell?’ Trump-Kim love fest ignores human rights nightmare

The president once raged at the North Korean leader as a ‘madman’ and a killer, but showed little concern for his brutal style during their meeting in Singapore.

Almost exactly one year ago, North Korea returned an imprisoned 22-year-old American college student to his family in the United States. It was not a happy reunion.

Otto Warmbier, whom the North Koreans had imprisoned for more than a year, arrived in a coma and died a few days later — spurring President Donald Trump to rail against the “brutality” of a North Korean government that lacked “basic human decency.” Trump gradually focused his attacks on the regime’s leader, Kim Jong Un, calling him a “sick puppy” and a “madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people.”

In Singapore this week, Trump warmly embraced that so-called madman.

He called Kim a “smart” and “funny guy” who “loves his people.” He predicted the two of them would have a “terrific relationship.” Trump told reporters that human rights had come up only briefly, but he gave no indication that he had confronted Kim about Warmbier’s death, whose precise cause remains unclear.

Still, Trump described what happened to Warmbier as a catalyst for the sudden, if uncertain, rapprochement between America and North Korea, saying the University of Virginia student “did not die in vain.”

Trump’s public turnabout on Kim and his regime’s atrocious human rights record was among the most dizzying developments of the past 48 hours, which saw the two leaders meet in Singapore for an unprecedented nuclear summit. It dismayed lawmakers, human rights activists and others who — while supportive of diplomacy — fear that Trump went overboard in his flattery of Kim to the point of normalizing his rule.

“Kim’s gulags, public executions, planned starvation, are legitimized on the world stage,” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut raged on Twitter. “What the hell?”

“Talking to dictators is one thing; embracing them is another,” former Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement, denouncing “the horrendous human rights abuses North Korea’s leaders perpetrate against their own people.”

“It was really over the top and excessive,” added Sarah Margon, Washington director for Human Rights Watch.

Amid the outrage is the question of what, practically speaking, Trump could have accomplished.

Past American presidents have pressed Middle Eastern and Asian autocrats over lists of political prisoners numbering in the dozens or hundreds. Kim has imprisoned many thousands of people for what amount to thought crimes, and political executions are commonplace. As a self-proclaimed supreme ruler, it may be nearly impossible for him to concede that he has governed in anything but a judicious way.

Some activists nevertheless argued that Trump could have used his interaction with Kim to win a broad gesture such as granting the United Nations access to his forced labor camps, and that if Kim agreed, it would have bolstered the credibility of his pledge to denuclearize. But Kim offered no hint that he is prepared to address the subject, and a joint statement he and Trump signed after their meeting made no mention of it.

Kim’s totalitarian regime may be the world’s cruelest, with practices reminiscent of the Nazis and the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin. The government, run by Kim’s father and grandfather before him, is believed to keep as many as 100,000 people— quite possibly more — in gulags and other detention sites, many in slave-like conditions. Defectors describe a terror state with zero tolerance for dissent, in which entire families are often punished for the actions of one member.

The young Kim — thought to be in his early- to mid-30s — has ruled just as ruthlessly as his father, who died in 2011. He’s alleged to have consolidated power by having an uncle executed — reportedly by anti-aircraft guns — and ordering his half-brother’s murder with nerve agent in a Malaysian airport.

Few observers expected Trump to challenge Kim vigorously on human rights. The subject in general hasn’t been a priority for the Republican president.

Just a few months ago, however, North Korea was an exception to that rule: Throughout 2017, as Trump ramped up sanctions on Pyongyang, he repeatedly highlighted the “depraved” Kim regime’s human rights abuses.

During a visit to South Korea last fall, Trump denounced the “horror of life” across the border, saying that people “would rather be slaves than live in North Korea.” In January, Trump invited to his State of the Union address Ji Seong-ho, a North Korean amputee who’d fled the country on crutches that he raised in defiance as Trump hailed his bravery on national television.

And by all accounts, Trump was genuinely distressed by the fate of Warmbier, whom the North Koreans held captive for 17 months for allegedly trying to steal a propaganda poster from a hotel where he was staying during a visit. (In a statement Tuesday, Warmbier’s family said: “We appreciate President Trump’s recent comments about our family. We are proud of Otto and miss him. Hopefully something positive can come from this.”)

But Trump is a real estate mogul who puts great stock in personal relationships, and he appears to have decided it’s more productive to be nice to a ruthless autocrat already accustomed to being treated like a god.

When asked by Voice of America’s Greta Van Susteren how Kim reacted when Trump raised human rights, Trump said: “Very well,” before acknowledging it was only a small part of the conversation. Trump went on to indicate that the reason Kim has been a “rough guy” is because that’s the only way his family has known how to rule.

“He’s doing what he’s seen done,” Trump said, suggesting that Kim can change. “He’s smart, loves his people, he loves his country. He wants a lot of good things, and that’s why he’s doing this.”

Although Trump is the first sitting president willing to meet face-to-face with a North Korean leader, other U.S. presidents have sat down with autocrats from friendly and adversarial countries alike.

Former President Richard Nixon made history when he met China’s Mao Zedong in February 1972. Trump’s immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, met with Cuba’s Raúl Castro. Plenty of U.S. presidents have met, and even held hands, with the monarchs who’ve led Saudi Arabia.

James Carafano, a foreign policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation, said that in the long run the United States must engage North Korea on its human rights practices but that diplomacy at this stage requires prioritization.

“In good U.S. diplomacy human rights is always on the menu. That doesn’t mean it’s always the first course,” Carafano wrote in an email.

Several U.S. lawmakers, including top Democrats, sent out carefully crafted statements that either didn’t raise or made scant mention of human rights — reflecting a widespread belief that ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons through diplomacy is a much higher priority.

“We must remain sober about who Kim Jong Un is: a brutal dictator who has killed his family, overseen campaigns of mass murder and starvation, and masterfully manipulated his rivals on the global stage,” Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said at the end of a lengthy statement.

One concern is that Kim — who rarely leaves North Korea and has limited diplomatic experience — will take Trump’s lack of emphasis on human rights as a sign of American indifference to how he treats his people.

Amnesty International spearheaded a letter to Trump in advance of the summit urging him to seize the opportunity this week to ask Kim for immediate positive moves on human rights. Francisco Bencosme, who handles Asia-related issues for Amnesty, stressed that it’s not known exactly what Trump said to Kim about human rights, but it doesn’t appear the president took a strong stance.

Bencosme said Trump could have asked Kim to give U.N. officials access to North Korean prisoners, or urged him to help reunite North and South Korean families torn apart by the Korean War. Such moves would have been “a way of opening up the aperture on human rights issues,” Bencosme said.

And such moves are not without precedent.

The Obama administration’s outreach to Myanmar, long an isolated, pariah regime, included requests that the government free hundreds of political prisoners to help demonstrate its seriousness about improving ties with the United States. That led to freedom for at least 1,500 people, including some very prominent opponents of the junta that had run the country. But even within the Obama administration there were fierce debates over how much to push Myanmar on human rights.

When asked by a reporter Tuesday whether he had “betrayed” the people trapped in North Korea’s gulag system, Trump grew defensive — then suggested those prisoners should think long-term.

“I think I’ve helped them because I think things will change,” Trump said. “That large group of people that you’re talking about — I think ultimately they are going to be one of the great winners as a group.”

Asked about Warmbier, Trump said the college student’s tragic death had played a pivotal role in bringing about the summit — even though he had not previously mentioned it as a reason for his diplomatic push with Kim.

“I think without Otto, this would not have happened. Something happened from that day. It was a terrible thing. It was brutal. But a lot of people started to focus on what was going on, including North Korea,” Trump said.

“I really think that Otto is someone who did not die in vain.”

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