Following President Trump's baseless assertion Thursday that the death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was inflated by Democrats in order to make him look bad, White House aides are trying their best to ignore the outrage.
A new report from Politico on Friday notes that most White House officials have declined to provide on-the-record comments about the tweet. Aides are additionally hoping that news coverage of Hurricane Florence will overshadow what the president said,
The report notes that White House aides increasingly feel that it's pointless to try to prevent Trump from making bombastic Twitter statements, so the new strategy is to simply ignore them and hope the media moves on to the next story. The Washington Post also reports that Trump's advisers were "baffled" by the tweet.
Since Trump's statement, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley offered a slight defense, saying that while "every death from Hurricane Maria is a horror," the "liberal media" has attempted to exploit the tragedy with "a constant stream of misinformation and false accusations," per CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins.
But Gidley did not specifically affirm Trump's claim that the independent study, which concluded that nearly 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria, is wrong. Sam Stein, a reporter for The Daily Beast, said Thursday that he asked the White House three times to clarify whether they were disputing the findings of the study, but they would not provide a response. Brendan Morrow
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that his government had identified the Russian nationals Britain named as suspects in the nerve-agent poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, and can "assure you" there is "nothing special or criminal" about them. BBC reports that he denied Britain's conclusion that they were Kremlin agents.
Britain said last week that the two men were agents of Russia's military intelligence agency and charged them in absentia with the nearly fatal poisoning of the Skripals. The men, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, are accused of smuggling poison into the U.K. in a perfume bottle, and British officials said there was ample evidence "to provide a realistic prospect of conviction."
Putin said the men don't work for Russia's military. "I would like to call on them so that they can hear us today," Putin said. "They should go to some media outlet. I hope they will come forward and tell about themselves. This would be best for everyone," he continued, reports The Associated Press. While the U.K. government felt confident that the men were agents of the Kremlin's GRU, Putin claimed they were "civilians, of course." Read more at BBC. Summer Meza
Donald Trump Jr. thinks that whoever wrote the New York Times op-ed about an alleged resistance inside the Trump administration is probably a "low-level person" who might not even work in the government anymore.
The president's eldest son sat down with Good Morning America on Tuesday to talk about the op-ed, calling the writer of last week's bombshell piece "disgusting." He also told ABC that he thinks the unidentified writer, whom the White House has reportedly been frantically trying to find, is a "very low-level person" and maybe even "a disgruntled person who's been thrown out because they didn't deliver what they were supposed to do."
The Times described the anonymous author as a senior administration official who currently works in the Trump administration, not a former employee as Trump Jr. suggests. But the president himself previously called into question the legitimacy of the Times' claims, speculating on Twitter that the author might not really exist at all.
Although Trump Jr. floated the idea that the source may be an unimportant former employee, he also suggested the Justice Department should investigate because the author is "subverting the will of the people." You can watch GMA's interview with Trump Jr. below. Brendan Morrow
— Good Morning America (@GMA) September 11, 2018
White House threatens sanctions on the International Criminal Court if it investigates alleged American war crimes in Afghanistan
The White House will issue sanctions against the International Criminal Court, National Security Adviser John Bolton will announce in a speech Monday, if the court proceeds with a proposed investigation of alleged American war crimes in Afghanistan.
"The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court," Bolton plans to say, per an advance copy of his remarks obtained by Reuters. "We will not cooperate with the ICC," the speech continues. "We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us."
Should the ICC move forward with its probe, the Trump administration may place a travel ban on ICC judges and prosecutors, sanction any funds they have in U.S. financial institutions, or even try to prosecute them in American courts. The White House may also seek agreements from other nations to prohibit their surrendering any American citizens for prosecution.
The ICC was created in 2002 to prosecute offenses like genocide and war crimes. The U.S. did not ratify its establishing treaty. The ICC prosecutor proposing this investigation has found evidence that "U.S. armed forces and CIA personnel subjected individuals being interrogated for information to the war crimes of torture, cruel treatment, and outrages on personal dignity," including "some instances of rape by CIA personnel." Bonnie Kristian
The Trump administration is withholding more than 100,000 pages on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's record of legal work within the George W. Bush administration.
The White House decided to conceal these documents, citing executive privilege as its rationale, said William Burck, the head of a team of lawyers who reviewed some 664,000 pages of Kavanaugh-related documents housed in Bush's presidential library.
Most of the records not published "reflect deliberations and candid advice concerning the selection and nomination of judicial candidates, the confidentiality of which is critical to any president’s ability to carry out this core constitutional executive function," said Burck, who was appointed by Bush. They record direct comments to the former president, The New York Times reports, summarizing Burck, along with "communications between White House staff members about their discussions with Mr. Bush, and other internal deliberations."
Congressional Democrats have cried foul, accusing President Trump of deceptively manipulating Kavanaugh's confirmation process. "We're witnessing a Friday night document massacre," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted Saturday. "President Trump's decision to step in at the last moment and hide 100k pages of Judge Kavanaugh's records from the American public is not only unprecedented in the history of SCOTUS noms, it has all the makings of a cover up." Bonnie Kristian
The WannaCry computer virus struck Boeing on Wednesday, but the company says production was not affected by the attack.
Mike VanderWel, chief engineer at Boeing Commercial Airplane production engineering, sent out an urgent memo saying he was concerned about the virus, which was "metastasizing rapidly" and could hit the equipment used to test planes or "spread to airplane software," The Seattle Times reports. Boeing released a statement late Wednesday afternoon saying it determined that a "limited intrusion of malware" affected a "small number of systems. Remediations were applied and this is not a production and delivery issue."
WannaCry targets computers using Windows, and after gaining access to a network, it locks users out until they pay a ransom fee. Mitchell Edwards, a cyberthreat intelligence analyst, told The Seattle Times he couldn't imagine the virus actually threatening software on an aircraft. "The plane would have to have been connected to an infected system," he said. "The chances are pretty minimal." Catherine Garcia
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed to let UCLA post video of his on-campus interview with Marketplace's Kai Ryssdal on the school's website, but things changed when Mnuchin showed up on Monday and was heckled by students and demonstrators.
Mnuchin and Ryssdal discussed tax reform, the economy, and why Mnuchin agreed to join the Trump administration, but they were interrupted throughout by people hissing and heckling. Some in attendance posted video of the event on social media, including one clip that showed a woman being removed from the auditorium by police officers, and Marketplace shared audio of the talk, but video footage has not been released by UCLA as promised.
In a statement, UCLA communications director Peggy McInerny said the university and Treasury officials "had an agreement to post the video online," but "Treasury Department officials subsequently withdrew their consent to post the video." A spokesperson for the Treasury told CNN Money that the media was there and a transcript was published, adding that Mnuchin "believes healthy debate is critical to ensuring the right policies that do the most good are advanced." Catherine Garcia
In a letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the testimony he gave during his January confirmation hearing was "correct" and he did not mislead anyone.
Sessions was asked by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) what he would do if he became aware of anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicating with Russian officials. Sessions responded by saying he was "called a surrogate a time or two in that campaign" and he "did not have communications with the Russians." It later came out that Sessions did in fact have two meetings with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, during the presidential campaign. In his letter, Sessions told the committee that because he was not asked specifically about meetings with the ambassador, he was telling the truth. Last week, Sessions recused himself from overseeing any investigations into ties between Russia and President Trump. Catherine Garcia