A widower is calling on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to remove tweets posted by President Donald Trump and his allies promoting a debunked conspiracy theory that claims his wife was murdered by former congressman-turned TV personality Joe Scarborough.
The husband of Lori Klausutis, who previously worked for Scarborough during his time in office, wrote in an open letter to Mr Dorsey that the president’s false tweets be removed as they are false and in violation of the platform’s policies. He wrote: “My request is simple: Please delete these tweets.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany attempted to defend the baseless accusations during a Tuesday press briefing, claiming Scarborough himself quipped about the allegations during a media interview in the 2000s. Meanwhile, former Acting Inspector General of the Department of Defence Glenn Fine has resigned after he was sidelined by the Trump administration in his efforts to oversee congressional spending surrounding coronavirus relief funds.
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The Trump 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, has responded to Twitter’s fact-checking of the president’s tweets, saying it was a “smoke-screen” to lend political tactics false credibility.
“There are many reasons we pulled all our advertising from Twitter months ago, and clear political bias is one of them,” he said.
The Independent’s James Crump has this report on Betsy DeVos moving federal coronavirus relief from public to private schools.
Initially, coronavirus relief was sent out to states, with education officials directed to divide the money between institutions, based on how many low-income students attended.
Read the full story.
After refusing to remove Trump’s tweets on MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, Twitter announced it was adding a fact check warning to the president’s posts
It came after the president continued discussing the “very sad and very suspicious” accusations about Mr Scarborough’s former staff member Lori Klausutis.
House Republicans, led by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, intend to sue Speaker Nancy Pelosi to block the chamber’s new proxy voting system.
“It’s simple: one representative should equal one vote. We can’t let her get away with this,” Republican Whip Steve Scalise tweeted, announcing the House GOP’s legal plan.
Follow the story as it unfolds.
Continuing his campaign against mail-in voting, Trump said today that California governor Gavin Newsom has sent “millions of ballots” all over to the state to anybody.
“People that aren’t citizens, illegals, anybody that walks in California is going to get a ballot. We’re not gonna destroy this country by allowing things like that to happen. We’re not destroying our country. This has more to do with fairness and honesty,” he said.
Trump said mail-in voting would lead to a rigged system when anyone who’s breathing and doesn’t have the right to vote would get access to ballots.
“Well they’ll be voting, and you know what, we’re not going to let it happen because you’re subverting the process and you’re making our country a joke,” Trump said.
All four senators reported substantial individual stock sales after some had received non-public intelligence briefings about coronavirus in January and February, before global markets crashed.
Griffin Connolly has this report on the Justice Department’s investigation into Kelly Loeffler, Dianne Feinstein, Jim Inhofe and Richard Burr.
Trump said today troops were being withdrawn from Afghanistan “as soon as reasonable”.
When asked if the Pentagon was drawing up plans to have troops home by Thanksgiving, Trump said there wasn’t a target but would the 8000 troops would come home over a period of time.
“We can always go back if we have to,” he said.
“If we have to go back we’ll go back and we’ll go back raging and they will go back as warriors, fighters, but right now we’re policing and we’re not meant to be a police force we’re meant to be a fighting force.”
Trump today double-downed on his accusations that something “very sad and very suspicious” happened between MSNBC host Joe Scarborough and Lori Klausutis.
Trump was asked today if he had seen the letter from Ms Klausutis’ husband, Timothy Klausutis pleading with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to take accusations down.
“Yeah I have but I’m sure that ultimately they want to get to the bottom of it and it’s a very serious situation,” he said.
“It’s a very suspicious thing and I hope somebody gets to the bottom of it. As you know there’s no statute of limitations so it would be a very good thing to do.”
Asked on what authority Trump could order governors to open churches, mosques and synagogues, Trump said the ultimate authority. His own.
“I can absolutely do it I want to and I don’t think I’m going to have to because it’s starting to open up,” he said at a press briefing today.
“If I have to I will override any governor that wants to play games. If they want to play games that’s ok but we will win. And we have many different ways where I can override them. And if I have to I’ll will do that. “
‘You want to be politically correct’: Trump mocks reporter for refusing to take mask off
The CDC doesn’t usually give out advice about how to be “politically correct”, however, it does recommend wearing a face mask as a preventative measure when standing in close proximity to a lot of other people.
Trump wonders if he should take insulin
25 per cent of Americans over the age of 65 have diabetes according to the CDC, so it might be something to discuss with a doctor.
Wasn’t this about policy not politics?
An appeal to older voters?
As polls show that the over 65s are turning away from voting Trump in 2020 in favour of Joe Biden, Kellyanne Conway says that the announcement of a new plan to slash the costs of insulin copayments is about policy and not politics.
ICYMI: Trump demands reopening as party-goers live it up on Memorial Day weekend, despite raging pandemic
Crowds flocked to beaches and parks throughout the United States during the Memorial Day holiday, despite the number of new coronavirus cases continuing to rise in at least 18 states according to the latest data.
Photos showed packed public spaces amid the pandemic as President Donald Trump encouraged states to begin reopening and implored governors to ease restrictions on houses of worship on Friday, saying in remarks at the White House: “These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united.”
Many entryways at beaches and parks across the country featured signs displaying social distancing guidelines and instructions for patrons. Police officers were also stationed at public spaces to ensure local orders were followed.
Twitter refuses to delete president’s baseless murder accusation tweets
The president’s tweets accuse MSNBC host Joe Scarborough of playing a part in the 2001 death of Lori Klausutis, who worked in his congressional office in Florida when he served in the House of Representatives. Mr Scarborough was in Washington DC at the time of her death.
Timothy Klausutis, the widower of the late Ms Klausutis, sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey late last week pleading for the company to delete the tweets due to the pain they are causing him and his family.
Today, despite much media coverage, the company did not agree to remove the tweets, but said that it would be making changes to address incidences such as this in the future.
Press secretary supports Donald Trump over promoting murder conspiracy theories
Here’s Kayleigh McEnany defending the president for his bizarre decision to reignite a debunked conspiracy theory about one of his television critics:
Mika defends Joe amid renewed bad blood with Trump
Joe Scarborough’s wife and co-host defended him amid the president’s Twitter conspiracies, writing in a tweet of her own: “The Press Secretary is lying.”
White House criticises Biden for wearing a face mask (yes, really)
Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany described administration guidelines for the coronavirus as donning a mask outdoors as “recommended but not required.” Because Mr Biden kept his distance from others at the wreath-laying event, Ms McEnany called his decision to cover his face “not data-driven.”
Trump’s press secretary defends president’s false conspiracy tweets
Kayleigh McEnany is defending Donald Trump’s tweets that reignited debunked conspiracy theories alleging Joe Scarborough, an MSNBC host and frequent critic of the president who previously served as a Republican congressman, was involved in the death of his former staffer. The allegations have no truth to them, and the husband of the deceased staffer is now calling on the CEO of Twitter to delete the president’s tweets, saying they are causing a burden to him and his family.
Trump’s press secretary criticises Biden for wearing a mask outdoors and not in his basement, even though that’s the exact policy
Kayleigh McEnany said it was “peculiar” that former VP Joe Biden donned a face mask outdoors while social distancing but not in his basement – even though those are the exact CDC guidelines:
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Cabinet slashes budgets to pay for 6 new ministries, including ‘alternate PM’ – The Times of Israel
The cabinet on Sunday approved widespread fiscal reforms that will cut the budgets of most ministries in order to fund the establishment of six new ministries, including the office of the “alternate prime minister,” in a series of controversial decisions.
A unity coalition deal between Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White’s Benny Gantz ended over a year of political deadlock when the most minister-rich government in Israel’s history was sworn in earlier this month. New ministerial positions were created to accommodate the cabinet’s 33 ministers, who number over a quarter of the Knesset’s 120 lawmakers.
The price tag for the overhead costs of the new government has been estimated as high as a billion shekels ($285 million) over its three-year span. There have been widespread accusations that the government is overlarge and costly at a time when the economy is being ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the new offices created Sunday was the Alternate Prime Minister’s Office, which will be held by Defense Minister Gantz for 18 months and then be transferred to Netanyahu as part of a power-sharing deal designed to allow him to keep the prime ministerial title even after vacating the post. Unlike other ministers, a prime minister can remain in his post even after he is indicted on criminal charges.
Other offices are Ze’ev Elkin’s Water Resources and Higher Education ministries; Orly Levy-Abekasis’s Ministry of Community Empowerment; David Amsalem’s Cyber Ministry; and Tzipi Hotovely and Tzachi Hanegbi’s Settlements Ministry.
Gantz — who is currently defense minister, in addition to the new post of alternate premier — is set to take over as prime minister in 18 months under the coalition deal, at which point Netanyahu will become alternate prime minister.
As the Alternate Prime Minister’s Office was approved, Netanyahu on Sunday denied reports that the alternate prime minister would also be granted an alternate prime minister’s residence. “It’s not true. It didn’t come up and it won’t,” he said.
In order to create the new posts, ministers approved a government decision that will see a 1.5% cut to the budgets of all government offices, specifically at the upper personnel level. The move will slash 300 posts from the various offices to free up some NIS 100 million ($28.5 million).
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi opposed the budget cuts to foreign service, whereupon the cuts to his ministry were reduced from NIS 11.5 million ($3.2 million) to NIS 4.8 million ($1.3 million), the Walla news site reported.
On the 22-item agenda, the cabinet was also voting on filling the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, led by Blue and White’s Avi Nissenkorn, and other ministerial panels; appointing directors general of the defense and economy ministries; and giving the green light to new Finance Minister Israel Katz’s program to encourage employment amid the pandemic.
In a Saturday night address, Katz presented his new Finance Ministry plan aimed at encouraging employers to take back employees placed on unpaid leave during the height of the pandemic in March. For every employee called back, places of business will receive a grant of NIS 7,500 ($2,141) starting on June 1, according to the plan. An additional grant of some NIS 3,500 ($1,000) will be handed out to employers for employees called back in May. Katz said some NIS 500 million ($142 million) have been allocated for businesses that would put employees back to work.
Economy Minister Amir Peretz opposed the treasury proposal during the meeting, arguing that it rewards employers who dropped their workers while harming those who kept their employees on the payroll even at a loss, according to the Globes business daily.
Katz retorted: “There is an alternate prime minister. There is no alternate finance minister. I am the finance minister and I will lead the implementation of the government decisions, which I proposed, and which were accepted by an overwhelming majority,” the Ynet news site reported.
Sunday’s cabinet meeting also saw Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri receive building and planning powers that were previously under the treasury’s purview, while the Health Ministry was granted additional powers to combat the coronavirus.
The meeting on Sunday was held in the Foreign Ministry’s auditorium as the regular cabinet meeting rooms were not large enough to accommodate all the ministers while maintaining social distancing, according to reports.
Opposition chairman Yair Lapid issued a statement blasting the government after ministers approved funding for the newly formed offices created by the Gantz-Netanyahu coalition deal.
“The government handed half a billion shekels to itself today. Not for the self-employed, not for the unemployed, not for small businesses, but for itself,” said Lapid.
“For redundant offices like the Water Resources Ministry, the nonexistent Community Empowerment Ministry and for deputy ministers that no one needs. Detached lawmakers, we’ve had enough of you.”
Separately, last Wednesday, a bill allowing ministers to give up their positions as Knesset members in order to enable a different member of their party slate to take their spot in parliament passed its preliminary Knesset plenary reading. The so-called Norwegian Law — which still requires three more votes to become law — would allow any MK who is appointed to a cabinet post to resign temporarily from the Knesset, thereby permitting the next candidate on the party’s list to enter parliament in his or her stead.
The opposition has blasted the bill, and the coalition’s rush to pass it, as a way of pushing more people into sweetheart jobs on the taxpayers’ dime.
Tapper: Some of Trump’s allies think he’s not up to the task – CNN
In Days of Discord, President Trump Fans the Flames – The New York Times
WASHINGTON — With a nation on edge, ravaged by disease, hammered by economic collapse, divided over lockdowns and even face masks and now convulsed once again by race, President Trump’s first instinct has been to look for someone to fight.
Over the last week, America reeled from 100,000 pandemic deaths, 40 million people out of work and cities in flames over a brutal police killing of a subdued black man. But Mr. Trump was on the attack against China, the World Health Organization, Big Tech, former President Barack Obama, a cable television host and the mayor of a riot-torn city.
While other presidents seek to cool the situation in tinderbox moments like this, Mr. Trump plays with matches. He roars into any melee he finds, encouraging street uprisings against public health measures advanced by his own government, hurling made-up murder charges against a critic, accusing his predecessor of unspecified crimes, vowing to crack down on a social media company that angered him and then seemingly threatening to meet violence with violence in Minneapolis.
As several cities erupted in street protests after the killing of George Floyd, some of them resulting in clashes with the police, Mr. Trump made no appeal for calm. Instead in a series of tweets and comments to reporters on Saturday, he blamed the unrest on Democrats, called on “Liberal Governors and Mayors” to get “MUCH tougher” on the crowds, threatened to intervene with “the unlimited power of our Military” and even suggested his own supporters mount a counterdemonstration.
The turmoil came right to Mr. Trump’s doorstep for the second night in a row on Saturday as hundreds of people protesting Mr. Floyd’s death and the president’s response surged in streets near the White House. While most were peaceful, chanting “black lives matter” and “no peace, no justice,” some spray painted scatological advice for Mr. Trump, ignited small fires, set off firecrackers and threw bricks, bottles and fruit at Secret Service and United States Park Police officers, who responded with pepper spray.
The police cordoned off several blocks around the Executive Mansion as a phalanx of camouflage-wearing National Guard troops marched across nearby Lafayette Square. A man strode through the streets yelling, “Time for a revolution!” The image of the White House surrounded by police in helmets and riot gear behind plastic shields fueled the sense of a nation torn apart.
Mr. Trump praised the Secret Service for being “very cool” and “very professional” but assailed the Democratic mayor of Washington for not providing city police officers to help on Friday night, which she denied. While governors and mayors have urged restraint, Mr. Trump seemed more intent on taunting the protesters, bragging about the violence that would have met them had they tried to get onto White House grounds.
“Big crowd, professionally organized, but nobody came close to breaching the fence,” the president wrote on Twitter on Saturday morning. “If they had they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least. Many Secret Service agents just waiting for action.”
His suggestion that his own supporters should come to the White House on Saturday foreshadowed the possibility of a clash outside his own doors. “Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???” he wrote on Twitter, using the acronym for his first campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
Asked about the tweet later, he denied encouraging violence by his supporters. “They love African-American people,” he said. “They love black people. MAGA loves the black people.” By evening, however, Mr. Trump’s supporters were not in evidence among the crowds at the White House.
Mayor Muriel E. Bowser of Washington responded sharply on Saturday morning, saying her police department will protect anyone in Washington, including the president, and by Saturday evening her officers were out in force around the White House.
But she called the president a source of division. “While he hides behind his fence afraid/alone, I stand w/ people peacefully exercising their First Amendment Right after the murder of #GeorgeFloyd & hundreds of years of institutional racism,” she wrote. “There are no vicious dogs & ominous weapons. There is just a scared man. Afraid/alone …”
After his morning barrage, Mr. Trump tried to recalibrate later in the day, devoting the opening of a speech at the Kennedy Space Center following the SpaceX rocket launch to the unrest in the streets and clearly trying to temper his bellicose tone.
“I understand the pain that people are feeling,” he said. “We support the right of peaceful protesters and we hear their pleas. But what we are now seeing on the streets of our cities has nothing to do with justice or peace. The memory of George Floyd is being dishonored by rioters, looters and anarchists.”
The days of discord have put the president’s leadership style on vivid display. From the start of his ascension to power, Mr. Trump has presented himself as someone who seeks conflict, not conciliation, a fighter, not a peacemaker. That appeals to a substantial portion of the public that sees in him a president willing to take on an entrenched and entitled establishment.
But the confluence of perilous health, economic and now racial crises has tested his approach and left him struggling to find his footing just months before an election in which polls currently show him behind.
“The president seems more out-of-touch and detached from the difficult reality the country is living than ever before,” said Carlos Curbelo, a former Republican congressman from Florida who has been critical of Mr. Trump. “At a moment when America desperately needs healing, the president is focused on petty personal battles with his perceived adversaries.”
Such a moment would challenge any president, of course. It has been a year of national trauma that started out feeling like another 1998 with impeachment, then another 1918 with a killer pandemic combined with another 1929 given the shattering economic fallout. Now add to that another 1968, a year of deep social unrest.
It is fair to say that 2020 has turned out to be a year that has frayed the fabric of American society with an accumulation of anguish that has whipsawed the country and its people. But in some ways, Mr. Trump has become a totem for the nation’s polarization rather than a mender of it.
“I am daily thinking about why and how a society unravels and what we can do to stop the process,” said Timothy Naftali, a presidential historian at New York University. “The calamity these days is about more than Trump. He is just the malicious con man who lives to exploit our vulnerabilities.”
As the nation has confronted a coronavirus pandemic at the same time as the greatest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression, whatever unified resolve that existed at the beginning of the twin crises quickly evaporated into yet another cultural clash. And the president has made everything into just another partisan dispute rather than a source of consensus, from when and how to reopen to whether to wear a mask in public.
Mr. Trump led no national mourning as the death toll from the coronavirus passed 100,000 beyond lowering the flags at the White House, posting a single tweet and offering a passing comment on camera only when asked about it. Rather than seek agreement on the best and safest way to restore daily life, he threatened to “override” governors who prevented places of worship from resuming crowded services.
“Crisis leadership demands much more from the White House than irresponsible threats on social media,” said Meena Bose, director of the Peter S. Kalikow Center for the Study of the American Presidency at Hofstra University.
Mr. Trump’s initial response to the rioting in Minneapolis, where a police officer has been charged with murder after kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as he cried out that he could not breathe, underscored the president’s most instinctive response to national challenges. Threatening to send in troops, he wrote early Friday morning that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Only after a cascade of criticism did he try to walk it back, posting a new tweet 13 hours later, suggesting that all he had meant was that “looting leads to shooting” by people in the street.
“I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means,” he said, a reformulation that convinced few if any of his critics.
Even some of Mr. Trump’s usual allies were distressed at the original shooting tweet. Geraldo Rivera, the television and radio host who often spends time with Mr. Trump at the president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, decried “the recklessness” of that message and called on the president “to self-censor himself.”
“Come on, what is this, sixth grade?” Mr. Rivera said on Fox News. “You don’t put gasoline on the fire. That’s not calming anybody.” He added: “All he does is diminish himself.”
But many of the president’s defenders rejected the idea that he had mishandled the crises, pressing the argument that Democrats and the news media were to blame for the turmoil in the streets, which spread from Minneapolis to New York, Atlanta, Washington, Louisville, Portland and other cities.
“Keep track of cities where hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage and serious injuries and death will take place,” Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor who has served as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, wrote on Twitter on Friday night. “All Democrat dominated cities with criminal friendly policies. This is the future if you elect Democrats.”
Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner who was pardoned by Mr. Trump for tax fraud earlier this year, amplified the point on Twitter. “It should be no surprise that every one of these cities that the anarchist have taken over, are the same cities run by leftist Democrats with the highest violence, murder and poverty rates,” he wrote on Twitter. “They can’t handle their cities normally, so how are they going to deal with this?”
Mr. Trump, who this past week retweeted a video of a supporter saying that “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat” (though the supporter insisted he meant that in a political sense), picked up the theme on Saturday.
With crowds visible from his upstairs windows, Mr. Trump reached for his phone and again assailed the “Democrat Mayor” of Minneapolis for not responding more vigorously and called on New York to unleash its police against crowds. “Let New York’s Finest be New York’s Finest,” he wrote. “There is nobody better, but they must be allowed to do their job!”
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