Whatever You Say
May 25, 2018

President Trump's allies are claiming that the administration's decision to pull out of a historic summit with Kim Jong Un is evidence of his deal-making skills, even as critics are citing the move as proof that Trump was unprepared and in over his head. Following Trump's letter notifying Kim that he was pulling out of talks, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan reemphasized that Pyongyang is willing to meet "at any time."

That was seemingly proof enough for Donald Trump Jr.:

But Junior might have jumped the gun. Notably, nothing has changed: No deal has been made, and Pyongyang has not said anything they haven't said before. Most significantly, North Korea has made no indication that it is now willing to denuclearize, the objection that led to the dissolution of the summit in the first place.

In fact, as Trump said Friday, the summit might even still be on. Jeva Lange

October 27, 2017

Former New York Republican Rep. Michael Grimm is looking to get back into politics after seven months in prison stemming from a tax fraud felony conviction in 2014. With Stephen Bannon aiming to oust every Republican in Congress with the exception of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Grimm is strategically attempting to draw "a kind of cosmic bond between himself, the president, and his 'real,' 'regular,' and, 'average' supporters," who are located in New York's 11th congressional district including Staten Island and a chunk of southern Brooklyn, New York's Olivia Nuzzi writes.

And if you want to get the president on your side, Grimm has perhaps figured out the way to do it:

An internal Republican memo cited by Nuzzi found that Grimm lags behind incumbent Rep. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.) 32 percent to 48 percent. But "Grimm's immunity from the obvious attacks, combined with Donovan's weak position as the incumbent and alignment with House leadership in opposition to the Trump America First agenda, set the stage for a clear victory in a GOP primary for the true Trump candidate," the memo concludes. Read the full report at New York. Jeva Lange

May 11, 2017

Did you know President Trump invented the phrase "priming the pump?" He did so in the last few days, actually, according to himself:

[The Economist]: ... It's okay if the tax plan increases the deficit?
[President Trump]: It is okay, because it won't increase it for long. You may have two years where you'll … you understand the expression "prime the pump"?

We have to prime the pump.

It's very Keynesian.
We're the highest-taxed nation in the world. Have you heard that expression before, for this particular type of an event?

Priming the pump?
Yeah, have you heard it?

Have you heard that expression used before? Because I haven't heard it. I mean, I just … I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good. It's what you have to do.

Yeah, what you have to do is you have to put something in before you can get something out. [The Economist]

Trump has actually used the phrase "priming the pump" longer ago than just "a couple of days," such as this time in December:

And then there is the fact that The American Heritage Idioms Dictionary writes that "in the late 1800s, ['priming the pump'] originally was used for pouring liquid into a pump to expel the air and make it work. In the 1930s it was applied to government efforts to stimulate the economy and thereafter was applied to other undertakings."

Of course, the authors of The American Heritage Idioms Dictionary must be mistaken. The president himself says so. Jeva Lange

January 17, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump has stressed that he has "nothing to do with Russia," but that isn't, strictly speaking, true. Trump has pursued business interests in the nation since as far back as 1987, and continually over the years since, The New York Times reports.

"I really prefer Moscow over all cities in the world," Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., said in 2008, adding that he had visited Russia a half-dozen times in 18 months. Don Jr. and his siblings, Eric and Ivanka Trump, have made several visits to the nation on their father's behalf over the years.

Trump himself long pursued construction of a "Trump Tower Moscow," failing to have the deal come to fruition; Trump Jr. called Russia a "scary place" to businesses because of legal complications as well as rampant corruption. But that doesn't mean Trump hasn't repeatedly attempted to get a foothold elsewhere:

Trump Super Premium Vodka, with the shine of bottles glazed with 24-karat gold, was presented at the Millionaire's Fair in Moscow in 2007, and large orders for the spirits followed. The vodka was sold in Russia as late as 2009, but eventually fizzled out. In a news release, Mr. Trump heralded it as a "tremendous achievement."

He tried — and failed — to start a reality show in St. Petersburg in 2008 starring a Russian mixed martial arts fighter.

But real estate developments remained a constant goal. From 2006 to 2008, his company applied for several trademarks in Russia, including Trump, Trump Tower, Trump International Hotel and Tower, and Trump Home, according to a record search by Sojuzpatent, a Russian intellectual property firm. [The New York Times]

Alan Garten, the general counsel for the Trump Organization, explained to the Times that Trump's assertion that he has "stayed away" from Russia is true due to the fact that none of the business deals ever took root. See a full timeline of Trump's attempted dealings with Russia at The New York Times. Jeva Lange

December 27, 2016

Donald Trump may have hosted a show called The Celebrity Apprentice for seven seasons, firing everyone from disgraced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich to famous mom of eight Kate Gosselin, but it doesn't bother him that his inauguration team is struggling to find anyone with name recognition to participate in the festivities.

"You know, this is not Woodstock," inaugural committee communications director Boris Epshteyn told CNN's New Day on Tuesday. "It's not Summer Jam. It's not a concert. It's not about celebrities. As Donald Trump tweeted himself, it's about the people. That's what we're concentrated on." Epshteyn previously denied reports that the inaugural committee has offered A-listers everything from ambassadorships to cold, hard cash in exchange for performances, and promised entertainers will be announced soon. "We'll absolutely be rolling more out," he said. "No question about it." One performer has been confirmed: Jackie Evancho, 16, the singer who at age 10 placed second on the fifth season of America's Got Talent.

While the stars might not be flocking to D.C., thousands of protesters are planning on marching in Washington for the inauguration, and Epshteyn told New Day they're "welcome to do so" as long as they "do so within all laws, rules, and regulations." The Trump team is "here to hear their concerns," he added, and "we hope some of those will come to D.C., change their mind, [and] instead of protesting come celebrate with us." Catherine Garcia

November 7, 2016

After Donald Trump was rushed off stage by Secret Service at a rally Saturday, rumors circulated that the commotion had been caused by a failed assassination attempt. Those rumors were swiftly proven false — but not before Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., came under fire for retweeting the misinformation.

"I took heat for tweeting about it when I'm sitting there not knowing what's going on — I'm following social media — and major and credible news organizations saying 'there was a gun. There was a gun.' I tweeted at the time," Trump Jr. explained on the Joyce Kaufman Show on Monday. "That was real time. They're saying I'm supposed to go back and erase things off my Twitter feed. I don't do that."

Donald Trump Jr. does happen to "do that," though. In at least one instance, Trump Jr. deleted a 2011 joke about sexually harassing women in October of this year:

The "assassination attempt" was ultimately determined to be an anti-Trump Republican man, who was trying to pull out a sign to wave at the rally. Jeva Lange

September 8, 2016

Donald Trump has promised to Make America Safe Again, and in order to prove it, he bragged he would have caught Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks even happened, Talking Points Memo reports.

"I would've been tougher on terrorism. Bin Laden would've been caught a long time ago, before he was ultimately caught, prior to the downing of the World Trade Center," Trump told an audience in Cleveland.

Trump also reiterated that he would have voted against the Iraq invasion, despite him being on the record as having been for it. In response to Trump citing a 2004 Esquire article as proof he was against the war, the magazine's editors added a note Thursday to clarify that "the Iraq war began in March 2003, more than a year before this story ran, thus nullifying Trump's timeline." Jeva Lange

May 2, 2016

President Obama dropped a literal mic Saturday night after roasting Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. The jokes echoed 2011, when Obama and comedian Seth Meyers teamed up to tear apart the billionaire business mogul and his birther movement. Trump was in attendance in 2011, but didn't show this time around.

Trump claims his 2011 experience had nothing to do with his absence Saturday.

"The next day [the press] said, 'Donald Trump had a miserable time, he felt humiliated,'" Trump told CNN on Monday, referring to 2011. "I didn't feel humiliated, I had a great time. So the press is very dishonest. They don't report the truth and therefore it's just easier not to go."

As for this year? Trump called Obama's 2016 barbs "fine." Julie Kliegman

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