Now, fake cover-ups
Donald Trump accused the news media Monday of covering up terrorist attacks and insinuated there were dark motives at work, Newsday’s Emily Ngo reports.
Speaking to a military audience, the president recounted instances of terrorist attacks since 9/11 and said: “It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. In many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that.”
He gave no evidence. Press Secretary Sean Spicer, when asked, said some incidents were “underreported." The White House later put out a list of attacks since 2014 without explaining which received inadequate attention. The list included the November 2015 Paris concert hall slaughter; the December 2015 killings in San Bernardino, California; and the March 2016 subway and airport killings in Brussels.
Even casual news watchers will likely recall the saturation coverage.
Trump’s comments follow those of his adviser Kellyanne Conway on MSNBC last week about a nonexistent terror “massacre” in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Conway later said she “misspoke” — what actually happened was the foiling of a plot — but reports Monday showed she also spoke of a Bowling Green terror attack in recent interviews with Cosmopolitan and TMZ.
Labor nominee's illegal hire
The problem has sunk other Cabinet picks by other presidents. Now Andy Puzder, Trump's pick to head, of all things, the Department of Labor, concedes in a statement that he employed an undocumented immigrant for years as a housekeeper. But there may be more problems, at least optically, for his confirmation: The fast-food restaurant magnate came up as an associate of lawyer Morris Shenker, who represented mob-connected Teamsters bosses.
Cover-ups of another kind
Trump and Spicer pushed back hard at a New York Times insider-sourced account of stumbles during the first two weeks of the presidency, including a story that the president signed the order placing adviser Steve Bannon on the National Security Council without getting fully briefed on its implications.
One detail that Spicer seized upon described Trump’s evenings alone in the White House residence, tweeting and venting while in a bathrobe.
“I don’t think the president owns a bathrobe. He definitely doesn’t wear one,” Spicer said.
While there is no definitive proof of Trump’s current nighttime garb, a Daily Mail compilation of old Trump-at-home photos shows the tycoon comfortably enrobed.
Taking polls apart
“Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election.” he tweeted. “Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting.”
Lawyers for Trump’s Justice Department and foes of his order to halt entry to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries were filing their arguments Monday with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A hearing is set for Tuesday.
The take-away: Judgment days
Taking on judges — or “so-called” judges — and the law often has been a losing strategy for Trump. He has been defeated more than a couple of times in more than a couple of courtrooms, notes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
Last year, Trump railed against the Mexican heritage of a federal judge hearing one of the Trump University cases. After his election, Trump paid $25 million to settle the lawsuits.
Not in sync, nyet
For all of Trump’s longing for closer relations with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Washington and Moscow are not on all of the same pages.
Russia disagreed Monday with Trump’s description of Iran as “the No. 1 terrorist state,” and Politico reported that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn will recommend that Trump allow the small Balkan nation of Montenegro to join NATO over Russian opposition.
Trump also voiced “strong support” for NATO in his speech Monday at the headquarters of U.S. Central Command in Florida, a shift in tone from his past skepticism about the alliance.
“We only ask that all of the NATO members make their full and proper financial contributions to the NATO alliance, which many of them have not been doing,” he said.
Last-ditch DeVos fight
Democrats planned an all-nighter session on the Senate floor to try to thwart the confirmation of billionaire charter school advocate Betsy DeVos as secretary of education.
Two Republicans have come out against DeVos, but opponents need a third. “Democrats will hold the floor for the next 24 hours until the final vote to do everything we can to persuade just one more Republican to join us,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
What else is happening
- The former Justice Department official who made the case for President George W. Bush’s authority to order enhanced interrogation — i.e. waterboarding — wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed that Trump’s claims of executive powers go too far.
- Trump often tweets thumbs-down reviews about “Saturday Night Live” parodies of him, but Spicer — the target of a savage impression on the latest show by Melissa McCarthy — acknowledged to “Extra TV” that it was “funny,” but suggested she dial it back. (For the “SNL” video, click here.)
- Kanye West deleted all of his tweets defending his December meeting with Trump, CNN reports.
- Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) on CNN called Trump’s behavior “juvenile,” and then added that it’s actually “an insult to juveniles to call it juvenile,” Newsday’s Yancey Roy reports.
- While Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch — Trump’s Supreme Court nominee — is regarded as a conservative, he was warmly supportive of a gay former law clerk who was about to marry his partner, The Huffington Post reports.
- The speaker of Britain’s House of Commons, John Bercow, said he would be “strongly opposed” to Trump addressing Parliament during his state visit. Bercow said “opposition to racism and sexism” were “hugely important considerations.”