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Spicer Lies on Same Subject Two Days Straight

I’ve got to hand it to White House spokesliar Sean Spicer… When he tells a fib he sticks with it and remains remarkably consistent. He was asked in yesterday’s press briefing if Trump would retract his Twitter claim that President Obama released “122 vicious prisoners” from Guantanamo Bay, that they returned to terrorism and that it was “just another terrible decision” by the former president.

As I wrote yesterday,Trump was, as he loved to say in last year’s debates “WRONG!”

In Tuesday’s Q and non-A, an intrepid newshound asked about that tweet and inquired on when a retraction might be forthcoming. And despite what Trump actually wrote, here was Spicer’s response:

“Yes, I mean, obviously the President meant in totality the number that had been released on the battlefield — that have been released from Gitmo since — individuals have been released. So that is correct.”

He just flat-out lied about Trump’s intent and, sadly, our non-reporter failed to follow up and demand an answer.

In today’s briefing, NBC’s Chris Jansing asked almost the same question, also invoking Trump’s silly claims about voter fraud and wire tapping, and throwing in a side-order of reality by asking if Trump has “… a credibility problem.”

Spicer renewed yesterday’s lie, saying that what Trump really meant was that it “was 122 people total,” not necessarily attributable to President Obama — which of course does not match what Trump actually wrote. He then babbled on for a minute and half about the security value of Guantanamo Bay and the difference in how the Bush and Obama administrations viewed the prison. But he never answered the question.

Have a look for yourself:

He once again completely skipped over the lie Trump told on the subject just yesterday and iced that cake with his own lie — again. Will Spicer make the rare and always-challenging “lie three-peat” tomorrow? Only if there’s a another press briefing and the question is asked again.

Schumer Slams Trumpcare on Senate Floor

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took to the Senate floor a few minutes ago to blast the new Republican health care proposal, Trumpcare. According to Schumer, the plan will cut services, give massive tax breaks to the wealthy and, not surprisingly, screw the middle-class.

“Donald Trump has talked about helping working America. The plan he has embraced, Trumpcare, helps the rich, hurts the average American, and that is not surprising given all the other things that they’re doing the same way,” said Schumer. “This administration continues — and health care is part of that — to talk like populists but act like those helping the wealthy special interests time after time after time.”

“Under Trumpcare, if you make over $250,000 a year, you will get a tax break on average of $200,000 a year. But if you’re in the middle class, the costs will increase by about $1,500 annually, and after 2020, by $2,000 a year. So Trumpcare is a health care handout for the wealthiest Americans and fake health care for everybody else.”

Here’s the full video:

Spicer Bobs, Weaves and Evades Today — Bigly

White House spokesman Sean Spicer just finished an actual on-camera press briefing and was busier than a Russian spy at a White House mixer in not answering questions. Here’s a couple of good clips in which two reporters asked him questions (from different angles) about Tweety McTweetstorm’s  assertion that President Obama personally had his phones tapped.

First up is Alexis Simendinger of Real Clear Politics, who asked what I thought was a reasonable question:  Will Trump keeping his mouth shut — or tweeting little fingers quiet — in public if he’s not going to give responses to those comments in public while any investigation is done on his Obama accusations.

Spicer actually says he’ll have to get back to her on that. I guess life can be very volatile when you’re dealing with a child.

Then came NBC’s Hallie Jackson who asked a question that’s on everyone’s mind: If Trump is so sure that Obama was ordering such surveillance and has proof, why is the White House asking Congress to look into this? If Trump already has the answers, Jackson reasons, why spend the time on an investigation?

Jackson’s face is priceless as Spicer gives an answer that’s complete gibberish. She also does a nice unrelated follow-up asking if Trump is ready yet to release his tax returns or if he is still under the mythical “audit” — of course, Spicer says “my understanding is he’s still under audit.”

And there you have it, folks. Another day of question and non-answer.

Trump Accuses Obama Again – Wrong Again

In yet another early-morning Twitter meltdown, President Mini-Mitts has once again attacked former President Barack Obama. This time it’s about the number of “vicious prisoners” Obama allegedly released from the Guantanamo Bay detention center who have returned to terrorism — and once again, as with the wire-tapping nonsense, Trump is completely wrong.

Trump posted this tweet early Tuesday morning:

But according to Politico this morning, Trump is apparently referring to a September 2016 document from the Director of National Intelligence that reports on the “Summary of the Reengagement of Detainees Formerly Held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.” Here’s a look at the chart that tells the story:

Trump is jumping on the row describing “Confirmed of Reengaging” where the number is indeed listed as 122. The problem is that 113 of those were released “Pre-22 January 2009” which, as any human with a brain larger than a walnut knows, was only 48 hours after Obama took office.

The Independent in the UK has the same analysis.

So once again, we have the impulsive toddler, tweeting about something that isn’t true, and wasting all the grown-ups’ time.

Democrats, Sanders Blast Trump on Claims Against Obama

Democrats in the United States Senate came out strong today after Donald Trump’s weekend Twitter meltdown in which he accused President Obama of personally ordering wire-tapping against him last year. Trump’s charges were made all the more ridiculous, given that the U.S. president does not have the authority to make such a unilateral request.

“The White House has offered no clear evidence or facts to support this claim,” said Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), in a statement. “The President should stop these absurd attempts to distract from the real oversight needed on Russian interference.”

“The President’s repeated practice of making bizarre and unsubstantiated statements undermines the truth and tarnishes the integrity of our democratic institutions. It is patently clear that and independent special prosecutor is needed to fully investigate Trump Administration and campaign connections to Russia and Russian interference so the American people can learn the truth and regain confidence in our democracy.”

Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) echoed Bennet’s belief that Trump is simply trying to distract the American people from larger issues involving Russia, saying on Twitter “Trump’s tweets are designed to distract from Russian election, possible collusion with Trump officials and potential cover-up.”

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said that the latest Twitter tantrum only perpetuates the much larger issue of Trump’s inability to tell the truth and to distinguish reality from fantasy.

“President Trump cannot continue to lie, lie, lie. It diminishes the office of the president and our standing in the world,” said Sanders. “Mr. Trump claimed without any evidence that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower last year — a claim which the FBI and intelligence officials have rejected as false.”

Here’s more from Sanders:

“He said that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally. Another lie. He said ‘it looked like a million and a half people’ at his inauguration. Not even close. He said his 2016 victory ‘was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.’ Also a lie.

“And Mr. Trump has been lying long before he was president when he started the ‘birther’ conspiracy against President Obama in an attempt to delegitimize our country’s first black president. The United States will not be respected or taken seriously around the world if Donald Trump continues to shamelessly lie.”

Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) agreed that Trump is using his ludicrous allegations against Obama to derail the news cycle from the issue of his administration’s close ties to Russia and the extent to which he now occupies the White House based on that interference.

“I’ll remind you that the big issue here that I think President Trump is trying to distract us from is whether or not there was collusion between the Trump campaign and our last presidential election, and the larger issue that faces all of us is whether we’re going to defend our democracy against Russian aggression,” said Coons.

And, like Sanders, Coons reinforced the notion that Trump wouldn’t recognize the truth if it was as sexy to him as Vladimir Putin praising his intellect.

“Let’s remember the record here. Donald Trump dedicated years of his life to running around our country claiming that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States without a shred of evidence, and immediately after his election claimed millions of people voted illegally and demanded an investigation, which even in this investigation-prone Republican Congress they haven’t taken him up on it because there’s no evidence of that either.”

Senate Democrats Comment on Trump Speech

While some were basking in the afterglow of Trump’s speech last night — celebrating that the president didn’t drool on himself, call anyone names or go on a paranoid rant against the media or Saturday Night Live — Senate Democrats were quick to weigh in on his speech before a joint session of Congress. Here are some excerpts:

Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

“President Trump made it clear in his speech tonight that many of his top priorities are still severely out of touch with our values in New York. I wanted to hear him outline a real plan to keep good-paying jobs in New York, but instead we heard more of the same talk about lowering taxes for rich corporations, building an expensive border wall, and gutting the Affordable Care Act that millions of Americans now rely on. These policies will not raise wages or create good-paying jobs for workers in New York.”

Jack Reed (D-RI)

“President Trump didn’t mention Russia in his speech tonight, but Americans cannot afford to turn a blind eye to Russian interference in our democracy. We need to get to the facts and learn lessons to prevent future misconduct by foreign governments. But this Administration and its allies are throwing up roadblocks to a fair, impartial investigation. We need bipartisan action in Congress to ensure no foreign attack on our electoral process goes unchecked.”

Cory Booker (D-NJ)

“This speech was more of the same fear and factual distortion that President Trump has made central to his campaign, transition, and first weeks in office. He doubled down on actions that are counter to some of our most fundamental American values and did nothing to meaningfully reach out to people who are scared of losing their economic security, their access to affordable health coverage, and even their ability to pursue the American dream because of Trump’s harmful policies.”

Mazie Hirono (D-HI)

“With this President, I pay attention to what he does more than what he says because in his first month in office, Donald Trump’s actions have not lived up to the clichés he delivered tonight.

“He stands by executive orders that have spread fear and chaos throughout the country. Tonight he called for repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with rhetoric. He also clearly called for school vouchers, and in this he has the right Education Secretary who does not believe in public education. For all his rhetoric about national security and American interests, he had absolutely nothing to say about getting to the bottom of Russian interference with our democracy.”

Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

“As he said tonight, President Trump has had a busy first month in office – but his actions have not kept his promises to put working families first. He has failed to put forward an economic plan or offer a concrete proposal for sustained job creation. And he failed to drain the swamp in Washington, instead installing Wall Street billionaires in his Cabinet and failing to address serious questions about his campaign’s relationship – and his personal business ties – with Russia.”

Chris Murphy (D-CT)

“President Trump offered nothing new tonight. He offered no new ideas. He offered no new legislation to fulfill his endless promises. He offered no new explanations for all the things that have gone wrong during the first month of his administration. His tone tonight was more sober than usual, but what a low bar we have set for the presidency when a speech is considered a success when the Commander-in-Chief doesn’t do something truly stunning or embarrassing.”

Kamala Harris (D-CA)

“Behind the political rhetoric tonight was an affirmation of this President’s divisive agenda and a complete lack of substance and specifics. Tonight, the President failed to provide comfort to the hundreds of thousands of DREAMers and their families who live under constant fear of deportation in California and across the country. Treating all immigrants like criminals disparages the millions of incredibly hardworking and patriotic families who simply want a chance at the American dream.

“The President failed to provide assurances to the 5 million Californians who rely on the Affordable Care Act for their health insurance. Let’s be clear – access to health care is not the guarantee of health care. The American people are counting on us to improve and build on what we’ve made, not go back to a time when insurance companies could discriminate against women or those with a preexisting condition.”

Media Should Boycott White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Based on the Trump administration’s actions today in which they blocked news organizations they deem especially uncooperative from Friday’s press gaggle — they consider all media “enemies of the people” — I believe all members of the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) should boycott this year’s iconic dinner, which is slated for April 29.

The event, in which the president is the guest of honor, is mildly roasted and then gets to target others in his own stand-up routine, is typically a lighthearted affair and an evening the media and the White House get together as almost social friends.

This administration has shown it is anything but a friend — and expressly considers the media an “opposition party.”

The WHCA said today that they are “…protesting strongly against how today’s gaggle is being handled by the White House” and that “the board will be discussing this further with White House staff.”

In a February 2 statement about the dinner, WHCA President Jeff Mason reinforced that the annual fete acknowledges the media’s importance in our democracy, saying that “… as we do every year, we will celebrate the First Amendment and the role an independent press plays in a healthy republic.”

How ironic is that given that President Mini-Mitts and his crew would give anything to exile the entire press to a Siberian gulag?

But can you imagine the humiliation of Trump having to give what I’m sure will be a mean-spirited “comedy” tirade in front of an ocean of empty seats? Of course, he would just tweet the next day that he had the biggest crowd ever.

Spicer Equates Marijuana, Opioid Use

It was a lively give and take in the White Press press briefing yesterday and, in the midst of his usual routine of not answering questions, Press Secretary Sean Spicer fielded and avoided a lot of questions about the Trump administration’s take on medicinal and recreational marijuana use.

Perhaps most surprising in the exchanges was Spicer either not knowing that marijuana is not an opioid or knowing the truth and simply trying to convince Americans that smoking a joint is just like mainlining heroin.

“There is a big difference between that [medicinal use] and recreational marijuana,” said Spicer in answering a question about Trump’s views on enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states where recreational use is legal. “And I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing that we should be doing is encouraging people. There is still a federal law that we need to abide by in terms of the medical — when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature.”

So remember that, people: According to Dr. Spicer, marijuana is right there in the same league with heroin, Vicodin and Demerol.

When the reporter asking that question — Roby Brock of Talk Business & Politics — did not accept that silly response and tried to follow up, Spicer moved on, while lecturing Brock on briefing-room manners.

Spicer: Shannon.

Brock: What does that mean in terms of policy? A follow-up, Sean. What does that mean in terms of policy?

Spicer: Shannon. Glenn, this isn’t a TV program. We’re going to —

Brock: What is the Justice Department going to do?

Spicer: Okay, you don’t get to just yell out questions. We’re going to raise our hands like big boys and girls.

Brock: Why don’t you answer the question, though?

Spicer: Because it’s not your job to just yell out questions.

To her credit, Shannon — sorry, I do not know her last name or affiliation — used her time to follow up on the Trump administration’s stance on recreational marijuana legalized at the state level. Spicer then said only that the Justice Department will be looking into it further.

If Spicer really needs to learn about opioids, he should simply call White House booster Rush “Oxycontin King” Limbaugh. I’m sure he’ll be happy to explain everything.

Wyden Demands Answers on Questionable Phone Searches at Border

In yet another sign of what our country is becoming under the Trump regime, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has sent a letter to Homeland Security chief John Kelly demanding to know why Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have been ordering some people to unlock their cell phones for examination.

Wyden also cited a recent statement by Kelly saying that people visiting the U.S. may be asked to give security officers their social-media passwords so agents can examine their usage of applications like Facebook and Twitter.

“We want to get on their social media, with passwords: What do you do, what do you say?” Kelly told the House Homeland Security Committee earlier this month. “If they don’t want to cooperate then you don’t come in.”

While Kelly’s comments before that committee were in the context of what will likely happen in the future as immigrants are vetted for admission to the U.S., reports are surfacing that people are already being subject to these searches upon entering the country.

In January, Sidd Bikkannavar, who was born in the U.S. and is an employee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was detained on reentering the country after a vacation in Chile and asked to give CBP agents the password to his phone. Bikkannavar complied but remains concerned because the phone was issued by NASA, contained sensitive information and he has no idea what agents gleaned from their search.

“I was cautiously telling him I wasn’t allowed to give it out, because I didn’t want to seem like I was not cooperating,” says Bikkannavar. “I told him I’m not really allowed to give the passcode; I have to protect access. But he insisted they had the authority to search it.”

In his letter, Wyden challenged Kelly to answer five specific questions, including the following:

What legal authority permits CBP to ask for or demand, as a condition of entry, that a U.S. person disclose their social media or email account password?

What legal authority permits CBP to ask for or demand, as a condition of entry, that a U.S. person turn over their device PIN or password to gain access to encrypted data? How are such demands consistent with the Fifth Amendment?

Wyden also told the Homeland Security Secretary that he intends to introduce legislation to “… guarantee that the Fourth Amendment is respected at the border by requiring law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant before searching devices, and prohibiting the practice of forcing travelers to reveal their online account passwords.”

“These digital dragnet border search practices weaken our national and economic security. Indiscriminate digital searches distract CBP from its core mission and needlessly divert agency resources away from those who truly threaten our nation.”

Schumer Calls for Sessions’ Recusal, Full Investigation

From the Senate floor a little while ago… Here’s Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) making it clear that Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions has no choice but to recuse himself from any Justice Department probe of the Trump/Flynn/Russia scandal. (See video below.)

Not seen in this short clip are some other important things Schumer said about how Flynn’s resignation is only the beginning of this story:

“It is now readily apparent that General Flynn’s resignation is not the end of the story, it is merely the beginning of a much longer story. The circumstances of General Flynn’s contact with the Russian ambassador during the transition, the recent reports of potential high-level contact between the Trump Campaign and Russian intelligence, including general Flynn, should raise hairs on the necks of everyone in this body and every American of goodwill, democrat, republican, conservative, liberal, independent.”

On Trump’s Culpability

“Every report that suggests deeper ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government needs to be followed up on and verified. We need to get all the facts.

“The White House knew for weeks that General Flynn misled the Vice President and let General Flynn stay on the job. They knew for weeks that his discussion about sanctions with the Russian government could potentially compromise our national security because he’d be subject to blackmail, and they let him stay on. The president knew for weeks about this and let General Flynn stay on in his full capacity, present at and participating in the highest level of national security discussions until those reports were made public.

“If the reports of General Flynn’s incorrect statements to the Vice President were never made public by the Washington Post, would the president’s trust ever have eroded? Would General Flynn ever have been fired? Would he still be in his job today? We’ll never know now.”

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