DONALD TRUMP ADMITS ‘SWEDEN ATTACK’ COMMENTS WERE BASED ON DEBUNKED FOX NEWS REPORT

Donald Trump sparked no small number of raised eyebrows – along with a flurry of sarcastic comments – when he suggested something ominous had happened “last night in Sweden”.

After Mr Trump made the remarks at a rally in Florida, everyone from Sweden’s former prime minister, weighed in to point out that nothing had averse had happened. “What has he been smoking?” pondered Carl Bildt.

“We’ve got to keep our country safe,” Mr Trump had told his supporters.

“You look at what’s happening in Germany. You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”

Some smart observers suggested Mr Trump may, not for the first time, been referring to something he had watched on Fox News. Business Times pointed to a segment on anchor Tucker Carlson’s show on Friday night, which included a clip from a new film by Ami Horowitz claiming to document alleged violence committed by refugees in Sweden.

On Sunday evening, perhaps aware of the confusion and mockery sparked by his comments, Mr Trump indeed confirmed that Fox News had been the inspiration for his comments.

“My statement as to what’s happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on Fox News concerning immigrants & Sweden,” he said.

News of Mr Horowitz’s documentary made headlines last year when he told conservative outlets such as Breitbart News, that there were Muslim “no-go zones” in Europe.

“Over the last two years, they’ve taken in over 350,000 Syrian refugees,” he said. “The reason why I went there was to investigate why Sweden has become the rape capital of Europe. Rape was not unknown, but relatively minor. There were few incidents of rape, let’s say about ten years ago. And rape has absolutely skyrocketed in Europe.”

The New York Times said that Swedish officials had said that their statistics did not justify the kind of assertions made by Mr Horowitz, and that the country had a high number of sexual assault reports, relative to other European countries, because more victims come forward, not because there was more violence.

Henrik Selin, political scientist and deputy director of the Swedish Institute, a state agency dedicated to promoting Sweden globally, told the newspaper he had completed a study focusing on negative news reports about Sweden’s intake of refugees.

He said there were many exaggerations and distortions, including reports falsely claiming that Sharia law was predominant in parts of the country.

“Some of the stories were very popular to spread in social media by people who have the same kind of agenda – countries should not receive so many refugees,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper said the film was full of errors.

“At the end of the film, Mr Horowitz says that ‘it was not long ago that the first Islamist terrorist attack occurred in the country’.”

It added: “He likely means Taimour Abdulwahab’s suicide bombing in central Stockholm. It occurred on 11 December 2010. Thus, for over six years ago.

“But it is not the only remarkable error in the interview with Horowitz. The conversation is full of sweeping claims, exaggerations – and clear errors.”

Source: http://www.independent.ie

LOOKING FOR A BOOST, TRUMP GOES BACK TO WHAT HE LOVES: CAMPAIGN RALLIES

After a month of arduous and, at times, turbulent governing, President Donald Trump is ready for what he really loves: campaigning.

While it is unclear what exactly Trump is campaigning for, the President will take to the road on Saturday, flying from Mar-A-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Florida, to Melbourne, Florida, where he will address what organizers expect will be thousands of supporters at Orlando Melbourne International Airport.

Trump, ready for some relief from the confines of Washington and the limitations of the house he ran to occupy, is reverting back to the campaign-style event, basking in what energized him for months during the slog of the presidential campaign: the adulation of his supporters.

White House aides have tried to take a hands-off approach to Saturday’s event, which is being run by Trump’s 2016 campaign, Donald J. Trump for President Inc.

On Friday, though, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump was headlining the event as a way to go around the media.

“People in this circle don’t always do the best job delivering his message (because) nobody does it better than he does,” Sanders said about the media.

“So he can do that very easily by taking the stage and talking directly to the people of America, addressing their concerns and being able to properly express exactly what he’s doing and what his administration has done over the last month,” Sanders said on Air Force One as the plane headed south to Florida.

While sources tell CNN that Trump feels cooped up in the White House and is itching to break out, Saturday’s event could also be a way for Trump to reset his administration after a chaotic month where the President was forced to fire his national security adviser, struggled to roll out his executive order banning travel from seven majority-Muslim countries and strained to explain a growing story about how members of his 2016 campaign made repeated contact with Russian individuals known to US intelligence.

Trump’s presidential campaign was defined by raucous events where he would deliver hour-long stemwinders, responding directly to the chants of the crowd and seemingly plugging into the energy that his supporters were throwing his way.

Former campaign aides said Friday that they were not surprised Trump was getting back on the road so early in his first term, in part because it was what fueled him for months on the campaign trail.

Michael Caputo, a former senior adviser to Trump’s campaign, said that he expects this sort of campaign-style event will be the “first of many.”

“He grew very familiar with the rally concept and I expect him to return to where he is comfortable when he needs to recharge,” Caputo said. “The fact that Trump showed us a new way of winning should have given everyone a hint that he would say everyone a new way of governing.”

Source: http://edition.cnn.com

FOX HOST SHEPARD SMITH SLAMS PRESIDENT, TRUMP SUPPORTERS CALL FOR HIS HEAD

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith is under fire for criticizing President’s Trump’s treatment of CNN reporter Jim Acosta during a freewheeling news conference Thursday and for Trump’s refusal to answer questions about his campaign’s ties to Russia.

“It’s crazy what we’re watching every day,” Smith said after Trump’s news conference. “It’s absolutely crazy. He keeps repeating ridiculous, throwaway lines that are not true at all and sort of avoiding this issue of Russia as if we’re some kind of fools for asking the question. Really? Your opposition was hacked and the Russians were responsible for it and your people were on the phone with Russia on the same day it was happening and we’re fools for asking the questions? No sir.”

“We have a right to know,” Smith added. “You call us fake news and put us down like children for asking questions on behalf of the American people.”

Source: http://www.usatoday.com

NEW: TRUMP AIDES WERE IN COSTANT COMMUNICATION WITH SENIOR RUSSIAN OFFICIALS DURING THE CAMPAIGN

 

High-level advisers close to then-presidential nominee Donald Trump were in constant communication during the campaign with Russians known to US intelligence, multiple current and former intelligence, law enforcement and administration officials tell CNN.

President-elect Trump and then-President Barack Obama were both briefed on details of the extensive communications between suspected Russian operatives and people associated with the Trump campaign and the Trump business, according to US officials familiar with the matter.

Both the frequency of the communications during early summer and the proximity to Trump of those involved “raised a red flag” with US intelligence and law enforcement, according to these officials. The communications were intercepted during routine intelligence collection targeting Russian officials and other Russian nationals known to US intelligence.

Among several senior Trump advisers regularly communicating with Russian nationals were then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and then-adviser Michael Flynn.

Officials emphasized that communications between campaign staff and representatives of foreign governments are not unusual. However, these communications stood out to investigators due to the frequency and the level of the Trump advisers involved. Investigators have not reached a judgment on the intent of those conversations.

Adding to US investigators’ concerns were intercepted communications between Russian officials before and after the election discussing their belief that they had special access to Trump, two law enforcement officials tell CNN. These officials cautioned the Russians could have been exaggerating their access.

Trump dismissed the claims that his advisers had close ties to Russia in a tweet Wednesday.

“This Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton’s losing campaign,” Trump tweeted.

CNN has reached out to Flynn for comment. In an interview, Manafort emphatically denied that he was in contact with Russians known to US intelligence.

“That is 100% not true, at least as far as me. I cannot believe that they are including me in anything like that. I have not been involved in any of these activities” – he said.

Manafort said he did not know where US officials got the idea that he was in contact with suspected Russian operatives during the campaign but said he never spoke with any Russian officials during that time.

“I don’t remember talking to any Russian officials, ever. Certainly during the time we’re talking about,” he said, calling the allegations “boggling.”

“I have knowingly never talked to any intelligence official or anyone in Russia regarding anything of what’s under investigation. I have never had any connection to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin or the Russian government before, during or after the campaign” – he said.

Manafort said the FBI has not contacted him about the allegations and said he was not aware of any other Trump campaign officials or people close to Trump being in touch with Russians known to US intelligence.

Manafort, who has held business ties with Russian and Ukrainian individuals, also emphasized that his work for the Yanukovich government in Ukraine should not be interpreted as closeness to the Russians. He said that he worked for Yanukovich during a time when Ukraine was “moving into the European orbit.”

The extensive contacts drew concerns of US intelligence and law enforcement officials in part because it came at a time of Russian cyberactivities targeting mostly Democratic Party political organizations.

Post-election intelligence briefings on Russian meddling in the US elections included details of those communications, which included people involved in Trump’s businesses.

The communications were gathered as part of routine US intelligence collection and not because people close to Trump were being targeted.

The FBI and US intelligence agencies continue to try to determine what the motive for the communications were.

One concern was whether Trump associates were coordinating with Russian intelligence operatives over the release of damaging information about the Hillary Clinton campaign.

“If that were the case, then that would escalate things,” one official briefed on the investigation said.

DONALD TRUMP’S NATIONAL EMBATTLED SECURITY ADVISER MICHAEL FLYNN RESIGNS OVER HIS CONTROVERSY WITH RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT

Michael Flynn, who is Donald Trump’s embattled national security adviser, has resigned from his post after less than one month in office following reports that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russia.

Mr Flynn had been embroiled in controversy since it was revealed that he had a conversation with a Russian diplomat about sanctions prior to the US President’s administration taking office.

The resignation came late at night, at around 11 PM, Washington DC, after further news reports revealed that the White House had been warned last month by then acting attorney general Sally Yates – before she was fired for advising justice department lawyers that the travel ban was “not lawful” – that Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail.

“Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador. I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice Presdent, and they have accepted my apology”, wrote Mr Flynn in his resignation latter.

Kellyanne Conway, senior counselor to the president, had earlier said Mr Trump had “full confidence” in Mr Flynn, before it emerged the President was “evaluating” the adviser’s position.

The contact of Mr Flynn with Russia has been described as “potentially illegal” due to 1799 Logan Act, which bans private US citizens from negotiating with countries with which the US is in dispute.

If he talks were found to be illegal it raises serious questions over whether Mr Trump, who has called for closer ties with Russia, was aware that they took place.

It comes as the White House struggles to quell dissent and mistrust within the National Security Council, where many civil servants feel their advice is being ignored – and have even taken to calling the new administration “the regime”.

In the resignation letter, Mr Flynn said that he held numerous calls with the Russian ambassador to the US during the transition and gave “incomplete information” about those discussions to Vice President Mike Pence.

The vice president, apparently relying on information from Mr Flynn, initially said the national security adviser had not discussed sanctions with the Russian envoy, though Mr Flynn later conceded the issue may have come up.

Mr Trump named retired Army Lieutenant General Joseph Keith Kellog as the acting national security adviser. Mr Kellogg had previously been appointed the National Security Council chief of staff and advised Trump on national security issues during the campaign.