Fact-checks and stat checks
By most real measures, the nation's economy is very good — strong enough that President Donald Trump doesn't have to indulge his chronic habit of making up statistics to make a point. But why stop now?
"The GDP Rate (4.2%) is higher than the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) for the first time in over 100 years!" Trump tweeted Monday morning.
As Fox News Research pointed out in a tweet, there have been 63 quarters since 1948 with a gross domestic product growth rate higher than average quarterly unemployment rate.
For months, Trump has trumpeting the economy as "the strongest it's ever been in the history of our country." Not really, as a recent Washington Post fact-check explained.
Former President Barack Obama last week said Trump is taking credit for an economic growth trend that began under Obama's leadership. Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, appeared at the podium of the White House briefing room Monday to dispute that and make the case that Trump deserves credit. "President Trump deregulated the economy . . . The tax cuts have had exactly the predicted effect on the economy," Hassett said.
But Trump's 100-years tweet was "just not true," Hassett acknowledged. “It’s the highest in 10 years,” said the veteran Republican economist. "You'd have to talk to the president about where the number came from," added Hassett, who went on to speculate about an innocent explanation: someone probably “added a zero” to the stat as it was “conveyed” to the president.
Hassett joked that what Trump tweets is outside his responsibilities."I don't run the council of Twitter advisers, and may that be true for all of my stay here," he said.
Trump's the best seller
It's as if he's become part of an entourage for Bob Woodward's media tour promoting "Fear: Trump in the White House" ahead of its official release on Tuesday.
Trump sent out five more tweets and retweets of himself Monday morning calling the book a "scam" and its author a "liar," bringing the total since last week to 15. That's more than double his angry tweets last month about Omarosa Manigault Newman's "Unhinged" book.
Both of those got far more attention than Trump has given to books that are flattering to him. Former press secretary Sean Spicer's "The Briefing: Politics, The Press, and The President" got just one Trump plug on Twitter.
For more see Newsday's story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
Not so byline-curious?
The White House sounds more interested in having the Justice Department uncover the identity of the anonymous senior official who wrote about an unhinged Trump than trying figure it out for itself.
If the writer of last week's New York Times Op-Ed "is in meetings where national security is being discussed, or other important topics, and they are attempting to undermine the executive branch, that would certainly be problematic and something that the Department of Justice should look into," said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
But internally, the staff is "focused on things that actually matter," she said. Despite outside suggestions about polygraph tests, "no lie detectors are being used or talked about or looked at as a possibility," she said.
Janison: An endless war
Seventeen years after the Sept. 11 attacks that prompted the U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan, the war is still on with no end in clear sight.
Trump is the third commander in chief to preside over the conflict, where claims of progress over the years have proved rosier than reality, writes Newsday's Dan Janison. Last year Trump chose escalation over withdrawal and said strategic decisions would be made by "conditions on the ground" rather than "arbitrary timetables."
Two new polls show Trump's approval rating dipping below the 40 percent mark.
A survey for CNN found just 36 percent of Americans approve of the way the president is handling his job, down from 42 percent in August. Among independents, the drop was sharper, from 47 percent approval last month to 31 percent now.
A poll from Quinnipiac University measured Trump's approval rating at 38 percent. By 65 percent to 30 percent, voters in survey said Trump is not levelheaded and 55 percent to 41 percent rate him not fit to serve as president.
North Korea summit sequel in works
Trump has received a request from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a follow-up to their historic June summit, and planning is in motion to make it happen, Sanders said. She described a letter the president received from Kim as "very warm, very positive."
Trump recently called off a planned visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to North Korea, citing lack of progress toward eliminating its nuclear arsenal. But on Sunday, the president praised Kim for not showing off advanced missiles at a North Korean military parade.
What else is happening:
- Trump’s campaign called off a rally scheduled for Friday in Mississippi because of Hurricane Florence's approach toward the East Coast. Trump tweeted to those in the storm's path: "The Federal Government is closely monitoring and ready to assist. We are with you!"
- The Trump administration announced Monday it has ordered the closing of the Palestine Liberation Organization's diplomatic mission in Washington. The cited reasons included Palestinian leaders' refusal to join peace talks.
- The president and first lady were due in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to help mark the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the field where hijackers crashed a California-bound jet and which has since become the Flight 93 memorial site.
- The Trump administration is considering sanctions against Chinese senior officials and companies to punish Beijing for detaining in internment camps hundreds of thousands of ethnic Uighurs and others from its Muslim minority. , The New York Times reported.
- On the campaign trail, Trump contends he is making Social Security and Medicare stronger while Democrats "want to destroy" the programs. Not so, finds a fact-check by The Associated Press: Trump hasn't offered any plan to shore up the programs, whose long-range financial outlooks worsened in the past year.
- Lawyers for both Trump and Michael Cohen say they are dropping legal claims against porn star Stormy Daniels for breaking her hush-money agreement on allegations of an affair with Trump. But Daniels' lawyer said she won't agree to ending the litigation and wants to force Trump to submit to deposition.
- A judge imposed a gag order in the case of accused Russian operative Maria Butina whose GOP and NRA links have been widely aired as was a prosecutor's withdrawal of an earlier sex-related claim.