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Donald Trump made it clear at the beginning of his campaign that he wasn’t going to follow the normal rules or tone of politics. We’re keeping track of all the ways his presidency veers from the norm in terms of policy and rhetoric.
Day 288 Nov. 3
Trump is so sad he can’t tell the DOJ to investigate Clinton
President Donald Trump is sad and “very frustrated” that he can’t tell the Department of Justice to investigate the Democrats.
On a D.C. talk radio show Thursday, Trump told host Larry O’Connor, “But you know the saddest thing is that because I’m the president of the United States I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I am not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I’m not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing. And I’m very frustrated by it.”
“I look what’s happening with the Justice Department: Why aren’t they going after Hillary Clinton with her emails and with the dossier?” Trump added.
He continued: “I’ll be honest, I’m very unhappy with it, that the Justice Department isn’t going — now maybe they are, but you know as president, and I think you understand this, as a president you are not supposed to be involved in that process, but hopefully they are doing something and at some point maybe we are all going to have it out.”
He followed up with several tweets late Thursday and early Friday morning encouraging the Justice Department to investigate his political opponents:
Trump’s lament comes a few days after the first charges were filed in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the elections, and the same week his Attorney General is facing fresh scrutiny for his contact with Russian operatives during the election.
Someone in Twitter customer support had a strong last day
For 11 minutes Thursday, a lowly employee on the Twitter customer support team silenced the president of the United States. Donald Trump tried to spin the embarrassment Friday, claiming the deactivation of his personal Twitter account by a rogue employee proves his tweets are “having an impact.” Few were buying it.
The account @realdonaldtrump went down shortly before 7 p.m. ET Thursday – with users shown a page saying it didn’t exist. Twitter initially said the account had been “inadvertently deactivated due to human error.”
Two hours later, the company clarified the account had been deactivated “by a Twitter customer support employee” on his last day with the company. Twitter is conducting a full review, the statement said.
The employee, yet to be named, quickly become an overnight sensation, lauded for the move.
Since joining Twitter in March 2009, Trump has become a huge fan of the medium, tweeting more than 36,000 times and racking up more than 41 million followers.
However, Thursday’s incident reinforces concerns that the site might not be the best way for a U.S. president to communicate with the world, with potentially catastrophic consequences for lapses in security.
Despite pledging last year to be more restrained on social media once in office, Trump has continued to tweet regularly, his morning barrage of posts a hallmark of the presidency.
He has even used the app to directly threaten North Korea, posting in September: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”
Day 287 Nov. 2
Rick Perry has bold plan to stop sexual assault: lights
It was clear back in January that Rick Perry completely misunderstood what he was getting himself into when he joined Trump’s Cabinet as Secretary of Energy. Ten months later, it seems he’s still just getting the hang of the job.
At an NBC/Axios–hosted public discussion on energy policy Thursday, Perry pontificated on the importance of fossil fuels as a force for good.
He started off by citing a young girl in an African village who’d told him electricity was important to her “not only because I’m not going to have to try and read by the light of a fire and have those fumes literally kill people.” But then Perry veered to the au courant topic of sexual assault.
“But also from the standpoint of sexual assault,” he said. “When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts.”
When asked for clarification on Perry’s comments, a spokesperson for the Energy Department told HuffPost the Energy Secretary got the idea from someone he spoke to during his trip.
We can only surmise he’s trying to please his boss by cheerleading fossil fuels, as Trump has vowed to expand production.
— Nick Miriello
Trump tweets call for New York terror suspect’s death
It only took Donald Trump a few hours to undercut the U.S. justice system after New York terror suspect Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov appeared in court Wednesday.
Calling for calm after Saipov was charged with killing eight people in Tuesday’s attack, New York’s chief public defender David Patton said: “I hope, given all of the attention in this case and all of the attention that it’s sure to continue to receive, that everyone lets the judicial process play out.”
The White House responded with an all-caps plea for his execution.
The president doubled down with a Thursday morning tweet.
The decision to file charges in civilian rather than military court angered Trump, who earlier labeled the U.S. justice system “a joke.”
“We have to come up with punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now,” he said.
The president added he would “certainly consider” sending Saipov to Guantanamo, comments that drew criticism from legal experts.
“Mr. President, we all know he should get the death penalty. But when *you* say it, it makes it harder for DOJ to make that happen,” said Andrew C McCarthy, former Chief Asst. US Attorney.
Mark Zaid, a national security lawyer, said: “This is called potentially tainting jury pool and could impact alleged perpetrator’s ability to secure fair trial.”
Trump appeared to have changed his mind on Guantanamo Thursday.
— David Gilbert
Day 286 Nov. 1
Trump wants to send NYC terror suspect to Guantanamo
President Trump ripped the U.S. courts system and said he’d be open to sending terrorism suspect Sayfullo Saipov to Guantánamo Bay following an attack in lower Manhattan that left eight dead and more than a dozen wounded on Tuesday.
“I would certainly consider that, yes,” Trump said. “Send him to Gitmo.”
As it stands, Trump added, the “animals” who commit terrorism need a punishment that’s “much quicker and much stronger than we have right now, because what we have right now is a joke.”
Trump’s comments don’t square with the reality of the island naval base or his own administration’s conduct so far though.
In July, the administration tried a suspected Al Qaeda member in federal court in Philadelphia, rather than sending him to Guantanamo, where many prisoners remain indefinitely, often without ever going to trial — and even successful legal proceedings there routinely take over a decade.
Still, notable Republicans like Arizona Sen. John McCain back Trump’s idea.
“Take him to Guantanamo,” McCain told reporters Wednesday. “He’s a terrorist, he should be kept there. There’s no Miranda rights for somebody who kills Americans,” he said, referring to U.S. citizens’ normal legal rights after being detained.
Trump blames Schumer for letting NYC terrorist into the country
President Donald Trump joined a chorus from Breitbart and other conservative news outlets in blaming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for Tuesday’s terrorist attack in New York City.
Early Wednesday morning, the president fired off a series of tweets, while watching “Fox and Friends,” saying that Schumer, the architect of a little-known immigration initiative called the Diversity Visa Program, bore responsibility for the attack.
Conservative media have seized on an as yet unconfirmed story from ABC7 that cites authorities as saying that the attacker, Sayfullo Saipov, had come to the U.S. from Uzbekistan through the program.
Former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka on “Fox and Friends” Wednesday morning said of the attack: “Political correctness can get people killed.”
It’s a convenient political maneuver, allowing Trump to harp on immigration reform and slam Schumer all at once.
The Diversity Visa Program was indeed introduced by then-Rep. Chuck Schumer, passed with bipartisan support, and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. It allows 50,000 visas to be issued to “low-admission” countries through a lottery, with a goal of increasing immigration diversity to the U.S.
Schumer took to Twitter to issue his own response to the president:
— Alex Lubben
Day 285 Oct. 31
John Kelly blames the Civil War on “lack of compromise”
John Kelly doesn’t seem to think the Civil War was about slavery. The White House chief of staff caused an uproar when he said Monday night that the war was caused by a “lack of an ability to compromise” and that General Robert E. Lee, who sold escaped slaves back into slavery, was an “honorable man.” It’s the latest controversial statement from Kelly, who is widely seen as the voice of reason in the White House.
Appearing on the inaugural broadcast of Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show, Kelly, responding to a question about a Virginia church removing plaques honoring Lee and George Washington, responded, “[Lee] was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days.”
“Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand,” he added.
The statements come as tensions have risen around the history of the Civil War and slavery after racist far-right protests in Charlottesville, Virginia in August, which centered on the removal of a statue of the Confederate general Lee.
And Bernice King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, characterized Kelly’s statement as “irresponsible and dangerous.”
Kelly, widely seen as the “adult in the room” at the White House, has made a number of controversial statements recently: He defended the president’s remarks to a Gold Star widow who claimed that Trump stumbled over her husband’s name; falsely claimed that Democratic Rep. Federica Wilson had made insensitive comments at an FBI office’s ribbon-cutting ceremony; and, during a press briefing, said he would only take questions from reporters who had a personal connection to someone who had served in the military.
Kelly told Ingraham Monday that he thought he had nothing to apologize for: “Well, I’ll apologize if I need to. But for something like that, absolutely not. I stand by my comments.”
— Alex Lubben
“Seething” Trump thinks Mueller’s probe is just going to go away
Donald Trump still thinks the special counsel probe into possible collusion with Russia is simply going to go away — even on the day his former campaign manager was being marched into the FBI building on the orders of Robert Mueller.
“We expect this to conclude soon,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday, responding to developments in Mueller’s investigation.
“Those are the indications that we have at this time,” she added. “I can’t go any further than that.”
While Sanders faced a media barrage, Trump was reportedly “seething” in the White House residence, watching with exasperation and disgust as Manafort and his colleague Rick Gates handed themselves in, sources told the Washington Post.
Trump’s first public response to the indictments was a pair of tweets pointing out the Manafort and Gates charges relate to offenses predating the campaign.
Trump responded to the more damning guilty plea of campaign adviser George Papadopoulos Tuesday by calling him “a liar.”
The president has sought to pour cold water on Mueller’s “witch hunt” in recent days by trying to shift the focus to Hillary Clinton and news that the Democratic National Committee helped fund the infamous dossier.
“The walls are closing in,” one senior Republican told the Post about the atmosphere in the White House. “Everyone is freaking out.”
— David Gilbert