October 6, 2016

At a Donald Trump rally in Reno, Nevada, on Wednesday night, a self-described neo-Nazi holding a "research Holocaust revisionism" sign wanted attention and a platform to disseminate his views about European-Americans versus everyone else, and he got it:

Understandably, Trump supporters were upset that a loud guy with abhorrent racist views, spouting conspiracy theories, was getting all the attention, and they blamed the media for congregating around the guy. "Hey, why are you interviewing this guy?" shouted a bearded man in a crosswalk-guard-style lime green mesh vest, as captured by NBC News' Ali Vitali. "You're not speaking the truth for us!" "Why doesn't the media focus on the average Trump supporter, not this crazy fool?" said a man with a goatee and red "Make America Great Again" hat. Two women jumped in, criticizing the press. You can watch below, but be warned, some of the language in the beginning is a little NSFW. Peter Weber

August 24, 2016

The Washington Post's Aaron Blake says that Donald Trump appears to be "considering his biggest flip-flop yet," pivoting on his signature issue, immigration, while Slate's Jim Newell argues that Trump's "flip-flop" — in recent remarks on Fox News, Trump says he is "softening" his immigration positions, and would mostly follow President Obama's policies, "perhaps with a lot more energy," except he will eject the "bad" immigrants "so fast your head will spin" — is nothing more than a shuffling of adjectives and adverbs with nothing underneath. But what seems clear is that Trump's pledge to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants is, at least for now, off the table.

Given that building "the wall" — still in Trump's speeches — and cracking down on illegal immigrants are so central to Trump's campaign, won't his supporters be dismayed at this Clintonian triangulation? NBC's Katy Tur asked Trump voters outside a rally if they would still support Trump if he abandoned his deportation push, didn't build the wall, or even came up with some sort of amnesty. Their answers: Yup. Watch below. Peter Weber

August 10, 2016

Donald Trump's hometown tabloids are not of one mind about the 2016 presidential race, but they seem to be tiring of Trump. Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, which endorsed Trump, seems to be souring on him, and the Daily News has called the GOP presidential nominee a "clown" who killed the Republican Party — and that's just on the front page. Well, after Trump said at a rally in North Carolina on Tuesday that maybe "the Second Amendment people" can stop Hillary Clinton from naming Supreme Court justices, the Daily News drew a red line.

"This isn't a joke any more," the Daily News said, next to an insert of clown-face Trump. "When Trump hinted gun-rights supporters shoot Hillary, he went from offensive to reckless. He must end his campaign. If he doesn't, the GOP needs to abandon him." The Trump campaign says that the GOP nominee was talking about people concerned with gun rights uniting to vote against Clinton in November, and most elected Republicans seem to be going with that interpretation of Trump's comments. Elected Democrats heard it more like the Daily News did, as "an assassination threat," as Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted. If that's what you heard, too, don't contact the U.S. Secret Service — they are "aware of the comments." Peter Weber

June 22, 2016

Investigators are still trying to determine why Michael Steven Sandford tried to grab a Las Vegas police officer's gun at a Donald Trump rally on Saturday with the intent of killing Trump, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court on Monday. Sandford, a 20-year-old Briton who has overstayed his U.S. visa by nine months, approached police at the Las Vegas casino during the Trump rally, saying he wanted Trump's autograph before grabbing for an officer's gun, U.S. Secret Service agents say; he was quickly apprehended, arrested, and removed from the rally.

Sandford told police he had been planning to kill Trump for a year, but only felt confident about his chances now, so he drove from San Bernardino, California, to Vegas on June 16, then learned to fire a handgun at a shooting range the next day. He was charged with an act of violence on restricted grounds, and U.S. Magistrate Judge George Foley Jr. denied bail, judging him a flight risk. Sandford had been living out of his car and was unemployed.

Police have not released a motive for Sandford's alleged assassination attempt, and court records and interviews on Tuesday with Sandford's family and neighbors did not suggest a clear one, either. Neighbors in Sandford's working-class London suburb described him as intelligent and showing signs of Asperger's syndrome as he got older. He was treated for anorexia and obsessive compulsive disorder when he was younger, court records show, and Judge Foley said Monday "there may be some issues regarding the mental health of the defendant," though his court-appointed lawyer said Sandford appeared competent to stand trial.

His father, Paul Davey, told the Portsmouth News that his son was peaceful and his arrest was an "absolute shock." "Whether he's been blackmailed or put up to it, that's the only thing me and his mum can think of," Davey said. "It's so against his nature and obviously with his Asperger's, we think somebody has got hold of him and done something." You can learn more in the CNN report below. Peter Weber

June 21, 2016

Last week in Houston, and over the weekend in Phoenix, Donald Trump seemed to suggest that the slain revelers in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, should have been armed. "If some of those wonderful people had guns strapped right here — right to their waist or right to their ankle — and one of the people in that room happened to have it and goes 'boom, boom,' you know, that would have been a beautiful sight, folks," Trump said in Houston. Here's how he put it in Phoenix:

On Monday, he issued a clarification on Twitter, saying he "obviously" was referring to "additional guards or employees."

Coincidentally, the NRA's top officials had disagreed with Trump's perceived earlier meaning on the Sunday talk shows. "No one thinks that people should go into a nightclub drinking and carrying firearms," Chris Cox, the NRA's top lobbyist, said on CBS' Face the Nation. "That defies common sense. It also defies the law." Wayne LaPierre, the NRA executive vice president, agreed on ABC's This Week: "I don't think you should have firearms where people are drinking." Peter Weber

June 17, 2016

Donald Trump has hit a bit of a rough patch politically, so it's good news for him that as leaders in his own Republican Party are keeping him at arm's length, a powerful group that was once antagonistic toward Trump seems to be coming around to his side. Next Tuesday, Trump and the Republican National Committee are holding a joint $50,000-per-plate fundraising dinner in New York City, with hosts paying $250,000, according to an invitation seen by The New York Times. Attending, The Times says, will be "a who’s who of the financial world," including hedge fund billionaires and real estate magnates.

Anthony Scaramucci, a hedge fund executive, tells The Times that he expects 50 or 60 people to attend the dinner, and that Wall Street's resistance to Trump seems to be fading. When it comes to backing Trump, "there are a lot of people saying 'maybe' and 'I'm considering it,'" he said. Trump has previously said that hedge fund managers "get away with murder" by paying themselves so much, and proposed scrapping the carried-interest loophole that allows them to pay much lower taxes. You can read about some of the rich and secretive attending next week's Trump fundraiser at The New York Times. Peter Weber

June 16, 2016

The Clinton Foundation, the global charity set up by former President Bill Clinton, has caused some headaches for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, and Donald Trump says he will tell everyone about it in a major speech. But it turns out that several ethics and campaign law watchdogs are also calling for an investigation of Trump's family foundation, The Daily Beast reports, with groups including the Sunlight Foundation, Citizens for Responsibility in Ethics in Washington (CREW), the Campaign Legal Center, and Public Citizen accusing Trump of using the Trump Foundation as a political slush fund.

One of the red flags was Trump, listed as president of the foundation (children Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Trump Jr. are directors), handing out Trump Foundation checks to veterans groups at campaign rallies earlier this year. "A 501(c)(3), like the Trump Foundation, is strictly prohibited from engaging in political activity," said CREW spokesman Jordan Libowitz. Trump used his foundation to handle donations he raised during an event to protest a Fox News presidential debate he'd bowed out of, and the veteran charities were at Trump's campaign rallies to pick up the Trump Foundation checks. "It raises serious questions when you make a charity part of your campaign event," says Larry Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center. "It could create legal problems for both the campaign and the charity.”

The biggest potential problem for Trump and his charity is a $25,000 donation the foundation — which appears to have no dedicated staff — sent to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi shortly before she dropped interest in a fraud lawsuit against Trump University. CREW has filed a complaint with the IRS about that donation; Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks called it a mistake and blamed the failure to report the donation on a "series of unfortunate coincidences and errors." Philip Hackney, a former IRS chief counsel, told The Daily Beast that the Bondi donation itself is enough to launch an investigation, but says he doesn't think the IRS will touch it. "I think it's dangerous, particularly politically for them right now, to audit in this realm," he said. "That bothers me, given what I see in this particular case, but I don't know that the IRS has another choice in some ways." You can read more at The Daily Beast. Peter Weber

June 16, 2016

Donald Trump took some heat for darkly insinuating that President Obama is a covert Muslim who secretly and actively supports Islamist terrorism, so he's apparently decided to make his critique explicit. "An: Media fell all over themselves criticizing what DonaldTrump 'may have insinuated about @POTUS,'" Trump tweeted Wednesday. "But he's right." The tweet links to a Breitbart News article that points to a declassified August 2012 cable from the Defense Intelligence Agency, with Breitbart interpreting it as proof that "the Obama administration was actively supporting al-Qaeda in Iraq" (AQI), the precursor to the Islamic State.

Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said Trump was retweeting a message from another user, which might explain the use of the third person, but did not disown the message. "Trump has offered no verifiable information to back up his assertions," The Associated Press says. "His theory was not supported by the document cited in the report he linked to Wednesday." The cable, which said it was an "information report, not finally evaluated intelligence," was about the "general situation" in Iraq and Syria at the time. Regarding the insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad, it lists as the major drivers "the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI," then says, "The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition, while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime."

Robert Ford, a U.S. ambassador to Syria who quit the State Department in 2012, tells The Washington Post that the cable, obtained by Judicial Watch, has been "circulating on the internet for years," and that "Assad government apologists and people connected to the Maliki government in Iraq have posted it and linked to it," referring to ex-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. "It has been used as 'evidence' to show that the Americans are really working with the Islamic State against Assad," Ford said, adding that he's "90 percent sure" the cable came from a U.S. military official in Baghdad, passing on information from an Iraqi military briefing. "To be really cynical," Ford said, "it's the Iraqis giving the Iranian line."

And now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who will start getting U.S. intelligence briefings in July, is giving the Iranian line to Americans. And it isn't falling on fallow ground. "I think he's dead on the money," Brad Butler, 45, told AP outside Wednesday's Trump rally in Atlanta. "So this is Islamic terror and this is his religion. Why would he (Obama) be mad at it?" Peter Weber

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