speaking out
October 13, 2020

Olivia Troye, a former member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, is calling the Trump campaign's decision to use an edited clip of Dr. Anthony Fauci in a new ad "gross and upsetting and typical of a White House that has no regard for the truth."

Before resigning in July, Troye served as Vice President Mike Pence's homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, and was his lead staffer on the task force. She began speaking out against the Trump administration last month, releasing an ad with the Republican Voters Against Trump organization that slammed the president for not taking COVID-19 seriously.

Fauci is the nation's top infectious disease expert, and for a new ad, the Trump campaign spliced together Fauci's words in an attempt to make it sound like he was praising the president's response to the coronavirus pandemic. Fauci said on Sunday his words were used out of context and without his permission, and over the course of his career he has "never publicly endorsed any political candidate." On Monday, he called on the campaign to take down the ad.

Troye was shocked by the ad, and in response she quickly filmed a new video for Republican Voters Against Trump, which was released on Monday night. In it, Troye explains that she worked side-by-side with Fauci on the coronavirus task force, and she "witnessed Donald Trump and senior White House officials routinely sideline and discredit Dr. Fauci, both privately and publicly, and now the Trump campaign is twisting Dr. Fauci's words in a campaign ad for their own political gain."

This is "gross and upsetting and typical of a White House that has no regard for the truth," Troye continues. "For Donald Trump, it's always about him. For Dr. Fauci, it's always been about serving the American people. Join me as a Republican and former Trump administration staffer who is voting for Joe Biden." Republican Voters Against Trump says the ad will air nationally during one of Trump's favorite shows: Fox & Friends. Catherine Garcia

October 11, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday that a new Trump campaign ad about the coronavirus pandemic uses his words out of context and without his permission.

The 30-second ad, titled "Carefully," praises President Trump for how he has handled the pandemic, which has left more than 214,000 Americans dead. It also features an edited clip of Fauci, his words spliced together so he says, "I can't imagine that ... anybody could be doing more."

In a statement to CBS News, Fauci said that in his "nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate. The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials."

The soundbite was taken from an interview Fauci did on Fox News in March, when he was asked about the federal response to the virus. Fauci discussed how the White House Coronavirus Task Force was doing an "impressive" job trying to tackle the pandemic, then in its very early stages. Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told CBS News the video uses Fauci's "own words," and they are "accurate, and directly from Dr. Fauci's mouth." Catherine Garcia

October 2, 2020

Former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on Thursday said President Trump is "aiding and abetting" efforts by Russian President Vladimir Putin to interfere in the U.S. presidential election.

Trump needs to be "direct" and call Putin out "for what he's doing," McMaster told MSNBC's Hallie Jackson. "This sustained campaign of disruption, disinformation, and denial is aided by any leader who doesn't acknowledge it. That is why I think the president needs to be much stronger in condemning this effort to really reduce our confidence in who we are as a country."

McMaster said it is clear that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and Trump believes if he "confronts Putin directly" it will "inadvertently draw his own election into question."

McMaster, a retired Army lieutenant general, left the Trump White House in 2018, after one year as national security adviser. He has largely been silent regarding Trump, refraining from publicly criticizing the president, and is now making the rounds to promote his new book, Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World. Catherine Garcia

September 22, 2020

In his forthcoming book, Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation, Andrew Weissmann describes what it was like serving as a prosecutor on former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, going into detail about his frustrations and fears.

In the book, Weissmann — who now teaches at New York University School of Law and serves as an MSNBC legal analyst — writes that the special counsel's efforts were stymied by the constant threat of Trump's wrath, The Washington Post reports. They were reluctant to get too aggressive, he said, due to "the president's power to fire us and pardon wrongdoers who might otherwise cooperate."

Weissmann writes that this is why Mueller's top deputy, Aaron Zebley, stopped investigators from taking a broader look at Trump's finances, the Post reports. The pressure, he said, "affected our investigative decisions, leading us at certain times to act less forcefully and more defensively than we might have. It led us to delay or ultimately forgo entire lines of inquiry, particularly regarding the president's financial ties to Russia." 

With Trump, Russia's main intelligence agency has "gotten what it had worked so hard for — a servile, but popular, American leader," Weissmann writes. "There is no other way to put it. Our country is now faced with the problem of a lawless White House, which addresses itself to every new dilemma or check on its power with a belief that following the rules is optional and that breaking them comes at minimal, if not zero, cost."

Weissmann told the Post he decided to write Where Law Ends after Attorney General William Barr released his own four-page summary of Mueller's report, which downplayed the findings; Mueller would later pen a letter saying Barr "did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance" of his work.

"I wrote it very much so there would be a public record from somebody, at least one viewpoint, from the inside as opposed to the story being told in maybe a less accurate way by people from the outside," Weissmann said. In the book, he accuses Barr of enabling a "lawless" president, and says the attorney general "had betrayed both friend and country." Read more about Weissmann's book, including why he thinks there was enough evidence showing Trump obstructed justice and how special counsel rules should be changed, at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

August 30, 2020

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Sunday reacted to the violent clashes that took place Saturday night in Portland between anti-police brutality protesters and supporters of President Trump, calling it "unacceptable."

One person was shot and killed during the melee; police have not shared any details on the victim or suspect. In a statement, Biden said, "I condemn this violence unequivocally. I condemn violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right. And I challenge Donald Trump to do the same."

Biden warned that the United States must not "become a country at war with ourselves," and reminded Americans that "Donald Trump has been president for almost four years. The temperature in the country is higher, tensions run stronger, divisions run deeper. And all of us are less safe because Donald Trump can't do the job of the American president."

As of Sunday evening, Trump has yet to condemn the violence, but did post several tweets insulting Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. Catherine Garcia

August 25, 2020

Former Vice President Al Gore on Tuesday said it is "despicable" that President Trump is attempting to undermine mail-in voting ahead of the November election.

During an event with Reuters, Gore accused Trump of trying to dismantle the United States Postal Service in order to "deprive people who are scared of the pandemic from voting by mail," and likened this to Trump putting his "knee on the neck of democracy." Trump has also been sowing doubts about the integrity of the election that is still months away, and Gore said he seems to have "no compunctions at all about trying to rip apart the social fabric and the political equilibrium of the American people."

When Gore lost the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush, it all came down to Florida, and the final result wasn't decided until December. Gore said Americans need to prepare for the possibility that this year's winner won't be announced on Election Day, but even if Trump loses and he refuses to accept the results, "it's not really up to him." According to the Constitution, Trump's term is up on Jan. 20, 2021, and the Secret Service and military leaders would answer to the new president. Catherine Garcia

July 27, 2020

An Army National Guard officer who was in Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., on June 1 when law enforcement forcibly removed anti-racism protesters from the park is disputing the White House and Attorney General William Barr's accounts of what happened that evening.

Adam DeMarco is a major in the D.C. National Guard and an Iraq War veteran; in 2018, he ran for Congress as a Democrat but did not win his primary. He is set to appear Tuesday before the House Natural Resources Committee, where he will describe what he says he witnessed inside Lafayette Square. The committee is investigating federal law enforcement's response to the protesters, which included firing projectiles at them. After the demonstrators were cleared out, President Trump walked into the park and took photographs outside of St. John's Episcopal Church while holding a Bible.

Acting Park Police Chief Gregory Monahan has said the protesters were pushed out because they were being violent, and his department has denied using tear gas against the demonstrators. DeMarco said in a statement posted online Monday that the protesters were "behaving peacefully," and tear gas was deployed in an "excessive use of force." He said he knew it was tear gas because it irritated his eyes and nose, and he later found used canisters in the street.

On June 1, D.C. was under a 7 p.m. curfew, but law enforcement began clearing the park out at around 6 p.m. Monahan has claimed protesters were moved out so a fence could be erected, but DeMarco will testify that the fencing materials did not arrive at the park until 9 p.m. and the barrier wasn't finished until later that night.

He will also say that about 30 minutes before the protesters were cleared out, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley arrived at Lafayette Square with Barr and told DeMarco to "ensure that National Guard personnel remained calm, adding that we were there to respect the demonstrators' First Amendment rights." Milley later apologized for going to the park, saying his presence "created the perception of the military involved in domestic politics." Catherine Garcia

June 7, 2020

Colin Powell, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state during the George W. Bush administration, said on Sunday that President Trump has "drifted away" from following the Constitution.

During an appearance on CNN's State of the Union, Powell joined the chorus of retired military leaders who have spoken out against Trump following last week's use of federal force to clear peaceful protesters from Lafayette Park across from the White House, minutes before Trump walked over to take pictures in front of St. John's Church. Powell said the George Floyd protests are proof the country is at a "turning point," and "the Republican Party, the president thought they were immune, they can say anything they wanted. And even more troubling, the Congress would just sit there and not in any way resist what the president is doing."

Trump, Powell said, "lies all the time," starting from right after his inauguration, when "we got into an argument about the size of the crowd that was there." He gets away with it, though, because "people will not hold him accountable," he said. Powell, who did not vote for Trump in 2016, said in November he will cast his ballot for former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

Biden and Trump both responded to Powell on Twitter, with Biden saying: "This isn't about politics. This is about the future of our country. Grateful for your support, Secretary Powell." Trump, in turn, called Powell "a real stiff who was very responsible for getting us into the disastrous Middle East Wars" and "highly overrated." Catherine Garcia

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