There's flake news here, too
When it comes to conjuring up cockeyed yet creative theories, Donald Trump is a very stable genius.
In an interview with the conservative Daily Caller, Trump went on an extended rant about the Florida recount and rehashed his long-standing and unsubstantiated charges of massive fraud, with a new twist: quick costume changes, a la Lady Gaga.
That way, he reasoned, bogus balloteers with "absolutely no right to vote" even once get to cunningly repeat the crime.
“The Republicans don’t win and that’s because of potentially illegal votes,” Trump complained. “Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again."
Trump also repeated another serial falsehood — comparing voting to buying cereal, as he argued for voter ID laws that opponents see as a tool to suppress legitimate voters.
“If you buy a box of cereal — you have a voter ID,” Trump said. “They try to shame everybody by calling them racist or calling them something, anything they can think of, when you say you want voter ID. But voter ID is a very important thing."
The last time Trump insisted that you can't buy corn flakes without proof of identity, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that when the president said cereal, he meant liquor. Common mistake, right?
Fox stands with CNN
When they came for CNN reporter Jim Acosta's press pass and refused to give it back, Fox News said something. So have at least a dozen other news outlets, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, NBC News, The Associated Press, Bloomberg, Politico and Gannett, which are supporting CNN's federal court suit against the Trump administration.
"Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized," Fox News President Jay Wallace said in a statement before a court hearing Wednesday. "While we don’t condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the president and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges for the American people.”
White House lawyers argued the administration contends it has "broad discretion" to regulate press access to the White House.
Judge Timothy Kelly will decide Thursday, and Trump told The Daily Caller he wasn't sure who'd win. "We'll see how the court rules," he said. "Is it freedom of the press when somebody comes in and starts screaming questions and won't sit down?" Trump added that "guys like Acosta" were "bad for the country."
Janison: Steeper Hill to climb
The Republican-run Congress of the past two years managed to frustrate Trump on many turns, if not every one. It's only going to get worse with a Democrat-controlled House, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.
The NAFTA replacement deal? No so fast. Repeal Obamacare? Fat chance. Full funding for the Mexican border wall? Republicans say they will try again in the waning weeks of their two-house control, but they haven't waged an all-out fight yet. The only way to get things will be with majorities drawn from both parties.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited with a group from the 7,000 troops sent by Trump to the southwest border in the closing days of the campaign, and several had questions along the same theme: Why are we here?
To a soldier who asked about the plans, Mattis said "short term" it was to erect obstacles to help the border patrol. "Longer term, it's somewhat to be determined."
Another asked if the troops will be taking the concertina wire they have planted back with them when they leave. “Right now, the mission is put them in. . . . Let you know," Mattis said. He was joined by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, whom Trump may soon replace.
Trump hasn't said much about caravans since the election. Several hundred migrants have reached Tijuana and dozens scaled a border fence. One dropped to the U.S. side, then scampered back as border agents watched.
Backing less time for some crime
Trump threw his support Wednesday behind criminal justice legislation that has a chance of bipartisan support, but is still opposed by some conservative Republicans. It would ease sentencing laws for nonviolent and low-level offenses and expand programs to help inmates stay out of trouble after their release.
"We are all better off when former inmates can re-enter society as law-abiding, productive citizens. And thanks to our booming economy, they now have a chance at more opportunities than they’ve ever had before,” Trump said.
Prison reform has been a policy priority of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, whose father served prison time for charges including tax evasion and witness tampering.
For more, see Candice Ferrette's story for Newsday.
Mira, Mira, out you crawl
Ricardel, who drew the wrath of Melania and her staff over arrangements for the first lady's Africa trip last month, will "transition to a new role within the administration," Sanders said.
National Security Adviser John Bolton brought Ricardel into the West Wing shortly after taking the job in April. His long-distance efforts to save her while he has been traveling in Asia came up short.
What else is happening:
- Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels' lawyer and wannabe Democratic 2020 contender, was arrested in Los Angeles on suspicion of felony domestic violence, police said.
- Trump will face the same lineup of Senate leaders in the next two years, as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer won re-election to their leadership posts, Newsday's Tom Brune reported. House Republicans chose California's Rep. Kevin McCarthy to lead them, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi is seeking to overcome opposition to become House speaker.
- Trump stopped pointing fingers at California's officials for the catastrophic wildfires there. "Just spoke to Governor Jerry Brown to let him know that we are with him, and the people of California, all the way!" he tweeted.
- French officials sought to shame Trump for his angry tweetstorm against President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, the third anniversary of the Paris terror attacks that killed 130 people. "'Common decency’ would have been appropriate,” said government spokesman Benjamin Griveau.
- Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), battling McConnell to get a vote on legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller, threatened to block confirmations of Trump's judicial nominees,
- Trump may campaign in Mississippi to re-elect Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who faces a Nov. 27 runoff and drew charges of racial insensitivity when she joked that if one of her supporters invited her to a "public hanging," she would be in "the front row," Politico reported.
- Trump didn't like how his Turnberry golf course in Scotland played when he visited in July and has ordered changes so golfers won't be "punished" for good shots, the Glasgow-based Daily Record reported.