The United States just had to formally apologize to Britain for baselessly accusing them of wiretapping Trump for Obama
The United States has made a formal apology to Britain after baselessly claiming that the nation's spy service, GCHQ, helped former President Obama wiretap Trump Tower before President Trump's inauguration. The apology came "directly" from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, a person familiar with the incident told The Telegraph.
On Thursday, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee said there are "no indications" that Trump was wiretapped by Obama. Nevertheless, Spicer alleged that Obama was able to get intelligence on Trump and that "there's no American fingerprints on it."
"Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command — he didn't use the NSA, he didn't use the CIA, he didn't use the FBI, and he didn't use the Department of Justice — he used GCHQ," Spicer told the press. A GCHQ spokesperson responded, calling the allegation "nonsense," "utterly ridiculous," and adding that it "should be ignored."
"The cost of falsely blaming our closest ally for something this consequential cannot be overstated," tweeted Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice.
A spokesperson for U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said the White House assured Britain the allegation would not be repeated again. Jeva Lange
Two police officers, Matthew Baxter and Sam Howard, were shot in Kissimmee, Florida, Friday night while responding to a report of suspicious activity. Baxter was killed and Howard remains in "grave critical condition." The suspected shooter is in custody and three other people have been detained; details about their identities or the motives behind the attack have not been released. Kissimmee police are still searching for one more person.
— Kissimmee Police (@kissimmeepolice) August 19, 2017
President Trump promptly tweeted after news of the attack broke:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2017
Four other police officers were also wounded on duty Friday night, two in another part of Florida and two in Pennsylvania. One is in critical condition, while the other injuries are less serious. Bonnie Kristian
Boston city officials have announced a heavy police presence will be on hand to contain potential violence at competing protests scheduled Saturday in Boston Common, the city's most historic park.
What those officers — and protesters — will encounter is unclear. The event started with a permit for up to 100 people with the stated purpose of demonstrating for free speech, but counter-protests were planned when other local activist groups, including Black Lives Matter, noticed two of the scheduled speakers have ties to the alt-right, and one of those two attended the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.
"We're expecting about 20,000 to 30,000," said one counter-protest organizer, Monica Cannon. "We plan to send a really strong message that ... you don't get to come here and do this."
A previous demonstration by Boston Free Speech, the group that applied for the original permit, was organized in a different park in Boston earlier this year. Also billed as a pro-Constitution event, many attendees were affiliated with alt-right and white supremacist groups, and speakers included one Augustus Invictus, who told his audience to prepare themselves to fight a second Civil War. Boston Free Speech abridged Saturday's schedule in response to the planned counter-protests. Several of the more controversial speakers, including Invictus, are no longer on the docket. Bonnie Kristian
Investor Carl Icahn announced Friday that he had stepped down from his advisory role to President Trump. Icahn was counseling the president regarding regulatory reform issues, but he said he was announcing his resignation after a conversation with Trump earlier Friday in which the president "agreed" with his decision.
In a letter to Trump to "confirm" their conversation, Icahn emphasized that he "never had a formal position" with the White House. "I chose to end this arrangement (with your blessing) because I did not want partisan bickering about my role to in any way cloud your administration," Icahn wrote. "I sincerely regret that because of your extremely busy schedule, as well as my own, I have not had the opportunity to spend nearly as much time as I'd hoped on regulatory issues."
JUST IN: Carl Icahn says he will "cease to act as special advisor to the President on issues relating to regulatory reform." pic.twitter.com/JNCRrs9zdq
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 18, 2017
White House staffers apparently didn't know what Bannon did 'other than stab his colleagues in the back'
President Trump fired his chief strategist Stephen Bannon on Friday, and it sure seems like no one in the White House will be torn up over his departure. Shortly after the news broke, Politico published a particularly brutal post-mortem of the Bannon era, with Bannon's now-former colleagues ripping the staunch conservative's tendency to inflame personal tensions:
[Chief of Staff John] Kelly didn't understand what Bannon did, why he had a PR portfolio, why he seemed to cause so much trouble with colleagues and why he was so widely disliked. He asked many questions about Bannon in his early days at the White House and found widespread disdain.
"No one liked him," a senior White House official said. "People didn't know what he did other than stab his colleagues in the back." [Politico]
Bannon was a "disruptive force" who "wouldn't follow process" in the White House, another unnamed White House official said. Nevertheless, he was apparently still "in denial" about his impending ouster, even as rumors of his demise intensified this week.
If you find it nearly impossible to keep up with the news these days, CNN's Brooke Baldwin has a handy summary of President Trump's past four weeks in office. Only, it takes Baldwin nearly three minutes to read through the entire list of bullet points.
"Let's all just take a moment, just remind you what has happened. Incredibly significant events, one after the other," said Baldwin. "In no particular order, President Trump in the last four weeks has: fires his chief strategist; fires his chief of staff; hires a new one; hires a new communications director; fires him — "
That would be enough for an entire summer, but Baldwin is barely getting started. Watch the entire recital below. Jeva Lange
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 18, 2017
There is a secret message waiting for readers of this resignation letter, penned by the members of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities:
— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) August 18, 2017
The first letter of each paragraph spells "RESIST," keen-eyed readers on Twitter discovered. Kal Penn, who sat on the committee, confirmed the Easter egg was intentional.
The entirety of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities resigned Friday over Trump's handling of the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. "We cannot sit idly by, the way that your West Wing advisers have, without speaking out against your words and actions," the committee wrote. "Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions. We took a patriotic oath to support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."
Chief strategist Stephen Bannon is out at the White House, but in the words of The New York Times' Maggie Haberman, "Bannon is much more of a problem for the White House staff from the outside than inside it."
That's putting it mildly, at least if you ask people in the orbit of Bannon and Breitbart, the far-right publication Bannon might soon be returning to lead. In the words of Breitbart editor Joel Pollak, after all, this means #WAR.
Here are six dramatic quotes about the coming storm. Jeva Lange
One source close to Bannon tells me: "Winter is here."
— Sarah Westwood (@sarahcwestwood) August 18, 2017
2. Bannon "has a 'killing machine' in Breitbart News." [Axios]
3. Breitbart and Bannon will go "thermonuclear" against the "globalists." [Axios]
4. "Get ready for Bannon the barbarian." [Axios]
No, silly. We aren't going to #war now. I really wish Trump well for the remainder of his one term ;)
— Brandon Darby (@brandondarby) August 18, 2017
6. "If they get rid of Bannon, you know what's gonna happen? The motherlode. If Bannon is removed, there are gonna be divorces, because I know about the mistresses, the sugar babies, the drugs, the pill popping, the orgies. I know everything. If they go after Bannon, the mother of all stories is gonna drop, and we're just gonna destroy marriages, relationships — it's gonna get personal." [Alt-right leader Mike Cernovich via The Daily Beast]