When fake tape’s OK
President Donald Trump’s retweet of inflammatory videos from a far-right British politician stirred reaction. The White House was asked if it was responsible to use what is clearly falsely labeled material that targets Muslims in a general way.
“Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real and that is what the president is talking about,” said spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
So why worry what’s authentic?
Well, even a spokesman for Theresa May, Britain’s Conservative Party prime minister and a trans-Atlantic ally, said: “It is wrong for the president to have done this.”
Trump attempted to respond to May on Twitter, but ended up addressing another woman with a similar handle who has only six followers.
Piers Morgan, a right-leaning journalist, added flavor when he tweeted:
“What the hell are you doing retweeting a bunch of unverified videos by Britain First, a bunch of disgustingly racist far-right extremists? Please STOP this madness & undo your retweets.”
But one frequent ally showed up in Trump’s corner. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke praised his retweet.
The ‘Believe Me’ state
Trump gave a stump speech in St. Charles, Missouri, that was billed as supporting the still-incomplete tax plan, but offered no new information and meandered into other topics.
“This week’s vote can be the beginning of the next great chapter for the American worker,” he said, referring to it at one point as the “Trump model.”
Trump did a “greatest hits” performance. The president, who refuses to show his taxes, told denizens of the “Show Me” state that the tax bill will cost him “a fortune.”
“Believe me,” he said. That’s a matter of pure faith, really, since this is the first president in decades to refuse to show his tax returns.
He called North Korea’s Kim Jong Un a “sick puppy,” boosted Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill’s opponent, carped about “fake news,” and vowed to fix trade, welfare policy and health insurance.
Appealing to China
Earlier, Trump spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that some observers believe could reach Washington and the entire U.S. Eastern Seaboard.
With new sanctions expected to be imposed, which China would have to facilitate, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said the missile launch — an act of defiance after Trump restored North Korea to a terrorist-nation list — brought the world “closer to war.”
Tax slog begins
Back in Washington, the Senate voted to begin debate on the sweeping GOP tax-cut bill, as Newsday’s Tom Brune reports.
One question was whether the corporate tax will be slashed less deeply than proposed in order to fund other provisions that could widen support for the bill.
Repeating his complaints about NFL player protests during the national anthem, Trump tweeted this week that the National Football League is “having a very hard time” filling up stadiums because Americans are “fed up” with demonstrations.
This appears false. The NFL reports that attendance is off a mere 1% from last year’s numbers, the third-highest in its history.
Truthlessness is a special White House theme this week.
In private, the president has wavered on the fact that “Access Hollywood” tapes recorded him boasting about grabbing women, for which he apologized. He’d given up, but then reverted to, talking up his Barack Obama birth-certificate denial.
Is there a distinction between delusion and chronic lying? That may be for mental health professionals to work out.
Taunting Matt Lauer for his dismissal from NBC, Trump went into conspiracy mode, asking: “And will they terminate low ratings Joe Scarborough based on the ‘unsolved mystery’ that took place in Florida years ago? Investigate!”
Scarborough was a congressman from Florida in July 2001, when Lori Klausutis, a young staffer, died from an undiagnosed heart ailment that caused her to hit her head on the side of a desk, creating a fatal blood clot, the medical examiner found.
Scarborough, a one-time ally of the president, tweeted: “He is not well.”
What else is happening
- Ivanka Trump prevailed in her effort to get an expanded tax credit into the tax proposal, persuading her father to give less of a break to the rich, The New York Times reports.
- Congress may punt until January on a bill to fund government operations.
- Hillary Clinton supporters from 2016 tried to tie Lauer’s alleged transgressions to what they saw as his bias against her.
- Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) is considering a presidential run, Politico reports.
- An Indiana group backing the Trump-allied Roy Moore for senator from Alabama is headed by a man with white nationalist ties, the Indianapolis Star reports.