Trump’s fake news about Hurricane Dorian, Alabama

President Donald Trump holds a chart with a Sharpie pen addition on it as he talks with reporters after receiving a briefing on Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office of the White House. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump isn’t giving up on the dubious idea that Alabama faced a serious threat from Hurricane Dorian.

During an Oval Office briefing Wednesday, Trump displayed a map of the National Hurricane Center forecast for last Thursday that showed Dorian could track over Florida. The map he displayed included what appeared to be a hand-drawn half-circle that extended the cone of uncertainty over a swath of Alabama.

Trump had raised eyebrows and drawn an emphatic fact check from the National Weather Service on Sunday when he tweeted that Alabama, along with the Carolinas and Georgia, “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”

The National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, tweeted in response: “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”

Few, if any, meteorologists put Alabama in the hurricane’s path. Asked Sunday if Trump had been briefed about potential impact to Alabama, Christopher Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, wrote in an email, “The current forecast path of Dorian does not include Alabama.”

On Monday, Trump pushed back on skeptics by insisting that “under certain original scenarios, it was in fact correct that Alabama could have received some ‘hurt.’”

And then, on Wednesday, Trump displayed the graphic with the alteration that suggested the storm could have tracked over Alabama.

Trump had no explanation for who had altered the map he displayed in the White House.

But he told reporters, “I know that Alabama was in the original forecast.”

He added: “Actually, we have a better map than that which is going to be presented, where we had many lines going directly — many models, each line being a model — and they were going directly through. And in all cases Alabama was hit if not lightly, in some cases pretty hard. … They actually gave that a 95% chance probability.”

The highest probability issued for a U.S. locale for Dorian has been in the 60% range, not 95%.

Trump later tweeted a map dated Aug. 28, claiming: “As you can see, almost all models predicted it to go through Florida also hitting Georgia and Alabama. I accept the Fake News apologies!”

Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami, responded: “He has no clue what he’s talking about, or what is plotted on that map. At the time of that cycle, Alabama was at even lower risk than before, and it was barely anything to start with.”

The National Hurricane Center has issued 45 advisories giving probabilities for tropical storm and hurricane force winds for dozens of cities. Alabama locations have not been in any of those wind probability advisories, although Massachusetts and Canadian locales have been listed.

“Trump should have just admitted he made a mistake and moved on!” emailed Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University.

Meteorologist Bob Henson of weather.com emailed that “Alabama was never in the five-day cone except for a tiny sliver of the southeast corner of the state at one point.” But by Saturday night and Sunday, he added, that scenario had become much more unlikely.

While forecasts from overnight Friday showed a tiny bit of Alabama at the edge of the cone of uncertainty, by Saturday morning — more than 24 hours before Trump’s warning about Alabama — the storm was predicted to pose no threat to the state. Trump was getting regular updates about the storm.

Ryan Maue, a meteorologist, said it’s important for the president’s tweets to be accurate if he wants to provide helpful information to the public facing a potential emergency. He said the problem with the president’s tweet came from sending out stale information.

“If he’s going to be a provider of up-to-date information, he needs to be up to date,” Maue said.

___

Associated Press writers Seth Borenstein and Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

__________________________________________________________
Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

Truth: Donald Trump’s worst nightmare

Trump is ending 2018 Tweeting that “I’m in the Oval Office. Democrats, come back from vacation now and give us the votes necessary for Border Security, including the Wall. You voted yes in 2006 and 2013. One more yes, but with me in office, I’ll get it built, and Fast!” This was immediately checked by an MSNBC reporter on the scene noting that there was no Marine outside the White House as there always is when Trump is actually in the Oval Office. They reported that requests to verify this went unanswered.

As for MSNBC, they are nipping at the heels of Fox News threatening their rating dominance. As reported in The Washington Post “MSNBC is surging” in all caps “MSNBC IS THE #1 CABLE NEWS NETWORK FOR WEEK OF DEC. 17, BEATING FOX NEWS FOR 1ST TIME IN 17 YEARS.”

We know that Trump doesn’t live in an impenetrable bubble of Fox News propaganda because his Tweets show he reads, watches and responds to other media. For example, he Tweeted today “I am the only person in America who could say that, ‘I’m bringing our great troops back home, with victory,’ and get BAD press. It is Fake News and Pundits who have FAILED for years that are doing the complaining. If I stayed in Endless Wars forever, they would still be unhappy!” Every time he refers to the fake news proves that he is paying attention to the real news. For example another Tweet from today: “…I campaigned on getting out of Syria and other places. Now when I start getting out the Fake News Media, or some failed Generals who were unable to do the job before I arrived, like to complain about me & my tactics, which are working. Just doing what I said I was going to do!”

Trump is sometimes shown with newspapers on his desk. The other day he had The New York Times in front of him in a photograph supposedly showing him working hard over the holidays. A reporter enlarged the paper and it was a day or two old but it was The New York Times. Who placed it there or whether he read more than the headlines is not known.

Here’s the front page of today’s New York Times where the top above the fold story won’t please Gina Haspel, his CIA director: “C.I.A.’s Afghan Forces Leave a Trail of Abuse and Anger” although the other administration story “Trump Digs In, Darkening Hopes for a Deal to End the Shutdown” may make him happy because it is about him and he likes the image of himself digging in.

Most assuredly Trump has The Washington Post delivered to him every day. Today’s edition may or may not please him because the above the fold section has a story titled “War of words centers on ‘wall'” because he likes to be engaged in wars of words. However, beneath the fold there’s “Trump averaged 15 false statements a day in 2018.” and that he may not appreciate.

This is all good news because at least the president realizes at some level that he isn’t being worshipped by intelligent people, and that he has everything he says being fact-checked. He has to know that the word is getting out that he lies on average 15 times a day.

I haven’t read anywhere that Trump uses the Internet to follow the news. If he did he’d be pleased to learn that Elizabeth Warren was jumping into the presidential race. That was the top story until “House Democrats ready strategy to reopen government, deny Trump wall money” bumped it down the page. That wouldn’t make him happy.

Trump has to know that were it not for the support of uneducated voters, support coming from those who are gullible, those who don’t engage in critical thinking, those who respond to emotional rather than logical appeals, he would not be president. He knows that most of his supporters rely on Fox News for their “facts” about him, and that more and more people are tuning in to CNN and MSNBC.

Because he isn’t totally ignoring the “fake news” he has to know that he has few people who could be considered stellar intellects, Ivy League academics, former DOJ prosecutors, 4 star generals, and pundits supporting him. For every Allan Derschowitz (who now is griping that anti-Trump bias keeps him off CNN) he has a dozen like Lawrence Tribe (who pushes for impeachment), for example. In fact, as far as lawyers go, he’s lost Fox New’s commentators Judge Andrew Napolitano.

I have a sneaky suspicion that Trump watches MSNBC and CNN far more often than he will ever admit because even with their endless fawning over how great he is and how he can do no wrong, even a malignant narcissist must have a threshold where this gets boring. More importantly, Trump likes confrontation and hitting back whenever he’s attacked, and rarely does anyone on Fox News give him a chance to do this.

All this adds up to good news because when Trump rails at his enemies when they reveal that he’s not only a con man and a fraud, but that he’s dangerous, the greater the chance that he will lose support among the Senate Republicans who are losing support of their own base who discover the same things. These are the elected officials who may end up being the jury deciding Trump he stays on as president.

_______________________________________________________

Copyright © 2018 Capitol Hill Blue

Why Trump’s MAGA crowds buy into his incredible lies

There are two aspects to the MAGA crowd who are cheering his lies and laughing at his nasty jokes that reasonable people should find troubling. One is their uncritical acceptance of any lie he tells and the other is how they respond with laughter at his cruel attempts at humor. There are two articles online today that focus on these phenomena.
.
Existential philosophers like Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre wrote about bad faith. They described how people, “under pressure from social forces, adopt false values and disown their innate freedom.” (Wikipedia) Their lessons are very much applicable to the way the MAGA crowds and the member of the GOP who are smart enough to know better, follow and enable Trump.
.
Consider how applicable the following is to cross-roads our democracy is currently at:
According to existentialism, dedicated professionals of their respective moral codes – priests interpreting sacred scriptures, lawyers interpreting the Constitution, doctors interpreting the Hippocratic oath – should, instead of divesting the self of responsibility in the discharge of one’s duties, be aware of one’s own significance in the process. This recognition involves the questioning of the morality of all choices, taking responsibility for the consequences of one’s own choice and therefore; a constant reappraisal of one’s own and others’ ever-changing humanity. One must not exercise bad faith by denying the self’s freedom of choice and accountability. Taking on the burden of personal accountability in all situations is an intimidating proposition – by pointing out the freedom of the individual, Sartre seeks to demonstrate that the social roles and moral systems we adopt protect us from being morally accountable for our actions. Wikipedia
Much continues to be written from a Christain perspective as to why this supposedly Christain president is the least worthy to wear the mantle of religiosity. For example, recently a pastor wrote in USA Today “Evangelicals are paying high moral price for anti-abortion gains. What would Jesus do?”
.
Social scientists past and present have written about why people believe the lies of despots in fascist states. The first article which is from Slate article offers a good summary.
.
The second article from Politico which is about Trump’s jokes is more descriptive than scientific. If you want to read some of the science explaining why people think humor depicting human suffering is funny, check out Study Reveals Why We Laugh at Disgusting Jokes from Live Science and Why we Laugh at things that are not Funny from Popular Social Science.

Why Trump’s Supporters Will Believe Any Lie He Tells, from Slate

Excerpts:

…in “The Authentic Appeal of the Lying Demagogue,” explain that those who want to destroy the “political establishment” willingly embrace a liar because they understand that the lies themselves serve a destructive purpose. The people who want to destroy the political establishment today are those who are threatened by growing diversity. Trump’s lies work toward that end.

In a totalitarian regime, state-controlled media normalizes the leader’s constantly changing stories, which serves to further obliterate any notion of a shared truth. Trump’s favorite news outlets similarly normalize his changing stories, thereby undermining factuality. When people can no longer sort out what is factual and what was invented, they conclude that the truth is unknowable. It’s the ultimate in relativism and skepticism. Without facts and a shared reality, jury verdicts have no meaning, and the results of law enforcement investigations are easily manipulated or even dismissed.

==

Steve Bannon explained a broader administration strategy for dispensing with facts. “The real opposition is the media,” he has said. “And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.” Yale professor Timothy Snyder, in his groundbreaking book The Road to Unfreedom

==

Trump’s final aim isn’t simply to escape accountability for his crimes. The final aim is to replace democracy itself with a form of autocracy, under which he and his cronies are forever unaccountable for criminal actions. Normalizing lies and flooding the zone shatters the public sphere upon which democracy depends. Without that shared reality, Mueller poses no threat to Trump. Similarly, without a shared public sphere, Trump doesn’t have to worry about resistance. As Yale professor Jason Stanley says, without truth it is impossible to speak truth to power, so there is only power.

The United States is on a steep learning curve. Because truth, factuality, and our very public sphere are under attack, our democracy (and republic) is in danger. The attack is devastatingly effective, partly because we have never experienced anything like this and thus are largely unprepared. Our task now is to save our public sphere.

It would be interesting to have social scientists study what else people who believe the Trump lies he spins also believe and how gullible they are in general. Consider that The Flat Earth Society is still making the news: The Flat Earth is Back.

In MAGA world, Trump’s jokes always land, Politico

The article includes comments from Trump supporters who find him funny. Here are some general excerpts:

Trump’s brand of humor — cutting, insulting and sometimes even downright mean — has long offended and shocked the president’s critics. But for his supporters and allies, Trump’s irreverent jokes, which have become a central part of his increasingly frequent rallies across the country, are a feature, not a bug.

==

Trump’s advisers say the president’s crass sense of humor is at the core of his appeal to a conservative base that has rejected political correctness — and they’re betting that his jokes, paired with his broader say-anything attitude, will help deliver a repeat of the success he saw in 2016, rallying Republicans ahead of the midterms and helping him get reelected in 2020.

==

Indeed, there’s no hand-wringing or finger-pointing in the West Wing after the president delivers a crude one-liner. In fact, some Trump advisers, one of whom privately compared his rally performances to a stand-up comedy routine, have urged him to incorporate more wisecracks into his speeches.

==

David Litt, a former Obama speechwriter who helped craft jokes for the 44th president’s WHCA addresses and is now a writer for “Funny or Die,” said Trump’s humor is often based in cruelty.

“He weaponizes what he would call jokes to an unprecedented extent,” Litt said. “All of the examples of him telling a joke are also examples of him being a bully.”

Litt added that the laughter at Trump’s rallies “is about solidifying a tribal identity at the expense of someone else. It’s laughter in agreement rather than laughter because something is funny.”

There is a world of reasonable decent people who live by a code of ethics and personal morality, who feel shame and guilt when they do something to hurt others. They may have laughed at Don Rickles but knew that his schtick was finely tuned insult humor but that his moniker “Mr. Warmth” was not only meant to be ironic but that underneath the persona was a good-hearted person.

Don Rickles, who Frank Sinatra insisted perform unrehearsed at Ronald Reagan’s second inaugural ball, was sometimes called the “Merchant of Venom.” Rickles called this the performance of his life.

The other Don never headlined in Vegas but had a brainless TV show which made him famous enough to become president. He is the true merchant of venom because he carries venom in his veins and he spews it whenever he opens his mouth.

Trump’s fabrications about jobs, economy and other topics

President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Eager to dismiss his critics, President Donald Trump is fabricating the circumstances regarding jobs, the economy and the social safety net.

He insists that Social Security and Medicare are becoming stronger under his watch when the most recent government report shows the financial condition of both programs worsening. On the economy, his claims of spurring the strongest U.S. growth ever fall way short.

The statements were among varied misrepresentations from the White House and in hearings for his Supreme Court nominee, coming in a remarkable week after an anonymous senior official went public about an effort within the administration to thwart his agenda. Trump also faces the special counsel’s continuing Russia investigation, fewer than 60 days before November’s midterm elections.

A look at the rhetoric and how it compares with reality:

MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY

TRUMP: “We’re saving Social Security. The Democrats will destroy Social Security. We’re saving Medicare. The Democrats want to destroy Medicare. …We will keep it going. We’re making it stronger. We’re making Social Security stronger.” — remarks Wednesday.

TRUMP, promoting Montana Republican Matt Rosendale’s Senate campaign: “I’m going to protect your Social Security. We’re going to take care of your Social Security. Matt Rosendale is going to make sure we’re not touching your Social Security and your Medicare is only going one way. That’s stronger.” — Montana rally Thursday.

THE FACTS: Trump hasn’t made Medicare and Social Security stronger.

The government’s annual trustees reports on the programs released in June shows the financial condition of both worsening significantly since last year. The projected insolvency for Social Security stayed unchanged — in 2034 — but Medicare’s moved three years closer, to 2026.

Both programs also will start tapping their reserves this year, meaning that income from payroll taxes and interest earned by the Social Security and Medicare trust funds will no longer cover costs. That threshold was still a few years away in last year’s report. As a result, Social Security and Medicare will need a $416 billion transfer from the government’s general revenues this year, when the federal deficit is already rising.

Last year’s Republican tax bill, which cut taxes on Social Security benefits, helped exacerbate the shortfall. So did the Trump-supported repeal of the individual mandate in so-called Obamacare. The repeal promises to increase the number of people without health insurance and therefore Medicare payments for uncompensated medical care.

Trump campaigned on a promise not to cut Social Security or Medicare, but he hasn’t offered a blueprint for either program. Democrats want to expand the social safety net by spending more.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has argued that tax cuts, rolling back regulations and better trade agreements could boost economic growth and help stabilize Medicare and Social Security. But nonpartisan government experts who produced the annual Social Security assessment didn’t seem to accept that, forecasting “sustained moderate economic growth.”

___

TRADE

TRUMP: “‘Ford has abruptly killed a plan to sell a Chinese-made small vehicle in the U.S. because of the prospect of higher U.S. Tariffs.’ CNBC. This is just the beginning. This car can now be BUILT IN THE U.S.A. and Ford will pay no tariffs!” — tweet Sunday.

THE FACTS: It’s not true that Trump’s taxes on Chinese imports will now mean the Focus Active can be built in the U.S.

Citing Trump’s new tariffs, Ford on Aug. 31 said it was dropping plans to ship the hatchback vehicle to the United States from China.

But Ford said in a statement Sunday “it would not be profitable to build the Focus Active in the U.S.,” given forecast yearly sales below 50,000. For now, that means Ford simply won’t sell the vehicle in the United States.

___

ECONOMY

TRUMP: “We are breaking all Jobs and Economic Records.” — tweet Saturday.

TRUMP: “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs.” — tweet Thursday.

THE FACTS: The economy, though healthy, has been in better shape at many times in the past.

Growth reached 4.2 percent at an annual rate in the second quarter. That’s the best in the past four years. So far, the economy is growing at a modest rate compared with previous economic expansions. In the late 1990s, growth topped 4 percent for four straight years, from 1997 through 2000. In the 1980s expansion, growth even reached 7.2 percent in 1984.

The unemployment rate of 3.9 percent is strong but it’s not at the best point ever. It is near an 18-year low. The all-time low came in 1953, when unemployment fell to 2.5 percent during the Korean War. Meanwhile, a greater percentage of Americans held jobs in 2000 than now.

As a whole, the economy is in its 10th year of growth, a recovery that began under President Barack Obama, who inherited the Great Recession. The data show that the falling unemployment rate and gains in home values reflect the duration of the recovery, rather than any major changes made since 2017 by the Trump administration.

___

2016 ELECTION

TRUMP: “The Dems have tried every trick in the playbook-call me everything under the sun. But if I’m all of those terrible things, how come I beat them so badly, 306-223?” — tweet Saturday.

THE FACTS: For the record, Trump misstates the Electoral College vote in his 2016 presidential race against Democrat Hillary Clinton. The official count was 304 to 227, according to an Associated Press tally of the electoral votes in every state.

Clinton won the popular vote, receiving nearly 2.9 million more votes than Trump after racking up more lopsided victories in big states such as New York and California, according to election data compiled by AP. But she lost the presidency due to Trump’s winning margin in the Electoral College, which came after he narrowly won less populous Midwestern states including Michigan and Wisconsin.

___

‘FAKE NEWS’ MEDIA

TRUMP: “Isn’t it a shame that someone can write an article or book, totally make up stories and form a picture of a person that is literally the exact opposite of the fact, and get away with it without retribution or cost. Don’t know why Washington politicians don’t change libel laws?” — tweet Wednesday.

TRUMP, addressing GOP Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds of South Dakota: “We have lousy libel laws… ‘Hey Mike and John, could you do me a favor? Create some libel laws, that when people say stuff bad about you, you can sue them and if you’re right, you win.’” — remarks Friday at fundraising event in South Dakota.

THE FACTS: He misstates libel law in claiming that someone can “totally make up stories” or freely write “fake news” without penalty.

Under defamation laws, people can bring a lawsuit for slander or libel if they believe someone’s statements have injured their reputation. For public officials such as Trump, they must meet a higher legal bar than ordinary people due to First Amendment guarantees of a free press and show the statements were made with “actual malice.” That means a publication is at risk by acting with reckless disregard for the truth.

Trump often pledges to make it easier for people to sue for defamation, typically after the publication of books or news articles that present an unflattering portrait of the White House. But he has little influence to change the laws.

Libel laws are set at the state level, which the president and Congress do not have authority to change. Any attempt to loosen the laws would likely run afoul of the First Amendment, barring a successful Supreme Court challenge or constitutional amendment.

___

TREASON

TRUMP, questioning whether one of his senior officials acted illegally about an administration effort to thwart his agenda: “TREASON?” — tweet Wednesday.

THE FACTS: Not treason. The official who wrote anonymously in The New York Times about the “quiet resistance” against Trump is surely disloyal to the president but not a traitor in the legal sense.

Treason occurs when a U.S. citizen, or a noncitizen on U.S. territory, wages war against the country or provides material support, not just sympathy, to a declared enemy of the United States.

For instance, in the Cold War case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed for giving atomic secrets to Russia, the Rosenbergs were convicted of espionage, not treason, because the U.S. and Russia were not officially at war. No one has been convicted of treason since the aftermath of World War II, few have been through history and no one has been executed for that crime, says Carlton F.W. Larson, a University of California law professor who has a book coming on treason.

In 2006, the Bush administration brought a treason indictment against Adam Gadahn, an American who authorities say became an operative and spokesman for al-Qaida abroad. The Obama administration said he was killed in a 2015 counterterrorism operation in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.

Treason is addressed in the Constitution as part of an effort by the framers to prevent the government from using it as a reason to suppress political speech, said J. Richard Broughton, associate dean at University of Detroit Mercy and a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association. Congress has little if any power to change the definition and the executive branch can only bring charges in extremely limited cases.

Trump’s opponents have used “treason” loosely as the special counsel investigates contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, and it is thrown around widely in the public discourse by all sides.

Trump is using the word loosely now.

___

KAVANAUGH HEARINGS

DEMOCRATIC SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR of Minnesota, asking about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s views on the scope of a president’s executive power: “I’m asking about your position that you stated in this law review article that a president should be not subject to investigations while in office. You’re only saying that they should be subject to investigation as part of an impeachment (proceeding by Congress) and that there’s no other investigation that could occur? Is that fair?” — Senate hearing Wednesday.

KAVANAUGH: “No. … On criminal investigation and prosecution, I did not take a position on the constitutionality. Period.”

THE FACTS: His claim is highly questionable, based on his past writings.

In a 2009 Minnesota Law Review article, Kavanaugh cast doubt on whether a president should be subject to what he described as “time-consuming” criminal investigations, cautioning that it could distract the nation’s chief executive from doing the job. He wrote in a footnote that “a serious constitutional question exists regarding whether a President can be criminally indicted and tried while in office.”

A decade earlier, Kavanaugh wrote that the Constitution seems to dictate that “congressional investigation must take place in lieu of criminal investigation when the President is the subject of investigation, and that criminal prosecution can occur only after the President has left office.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 campaign to tip the election in his favor, and whether Trump obstructed justice such as by firing FBI director James Comey.

___

DEMOCRATIC SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN of California: “In the 1950s and 60s, the two decades before Roe, deaths from illegal abortions in this country ran between 200,000 and 1.2 million. That’s according to the Guttmacher Institute.” — Senate hearing Wednesday.

THE FACTS: That’s wrong, and she corrected herself Friday. Known deaths from illegal abortion were much smaller. The California senator conflated the estimated number of women who had an illegal abortion with the number who died from it, according to the research she cites.

The Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights, cites estimates in a 2003 report that 200,000 to 1.2 million illegal abortions were performed in the 1950s and 1960s in the U.S. The report says the number of deaths from illegal abortion dropped from just under 1,700 in 1940 to just over 300 by 1950 and a little under 200 by 1965. The Supreme Court established a constitutional right to abortion in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

___

RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

TRUMP ATTORNEY RUDY GIULIANI, citing a “60 day run-up to 2018 elections”: “If Mueller wants to show he’s not partisan, then issue a report on collusion and obstruction. They will show President Trump did nothing wrong.” — tweet Aug. 25.

THE FACTS: He’s wrong in suggesting there is a 60-day cutoff date before the Nov. 6 midterm elections, which came Friday, for Mueller to wrap up the Russia investigation.

Trump and his allies including Giulani often cite a Justice Department policy on the issue. But in fact, no written policy setting a deadline exists and Mueller can continue the probe and issue new indictments. He also has no time constraints regarding finishing or releasing the findings of his investigation.

The only thing that’s changed is that Labor Day kicked off high election season in the battle for control of the House and Senate. So any action by Mueller between now and the Nov. 6 voting risks being seen as an effort to affect the outcome.

The Justice Department does have guidelines about investigations in advance of an election, which have been interpreted over the past decade to mean that investigators, if possible, should avoid taking specific actions — such as indicting candidates or raiding their office — in the run-up to an election.

“Law enforcement officers and prosecutors may never select the timing of investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party,” one such memo from 2012 states.

But the policy does not impose a specific cutoff date for investigations before an election.

___

Associated Press writers Paul Wiseman, Christopher Rugaber, Josh Boak, Cal Woodward, Eric Tucker and Laurie Kellman contributed to this report.

___

Find AP Fact Checks at http://apne.ws/2kbx8bd

Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter: https://twitter.com/APFactCheck

_______________________________________________________

Copyright © 2018 Capitol Hill Blue

Copyright © 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

Trump meets with New York Times publisher

A.G. Sulzberger. (Damon Winter/The New York Times via AP, File)

President Donald Trump met with the publisher of The New York Times to discuss media coverage of his administration, including his oft-repeated accusation that the media is the “enemy of the people,” Trump and the newspaper said Sunday.

The meeting with A.G. Sulzberger occurred July 20, the White House and Times said.

“Had a very good and interesting meeting at the White House with A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher of the New York Times,” Trump tweeted Sunday. “Spent much time talking about the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, “Enemy of the People.” Sad!”

Sulzberger said in a statement issued after Trump’s tweet that he told the president his incendiary language about the media was “not just divisive but increasingly dangerous.” He said the president’s rhetoric was being used by authoritarian regimes to justify attacks on journalists.

“I warned that it was putting lives at risk, that it was undermining the democratic ideals of our nation, and that it was eroding one of our country’s greatest exports: a commitment to free speech and a free press,” Sulzberger said.

Trump often describes the Times, a publication he regularly reads and has given interviews to, as the “failing New York Times.” In May, the New York Times Co. reported first-quarter revenue of about $414 million, a 3.8 percent increase from the first quarter of 2017.

The president, who bristles at negative media coverage, has labeled the news media the “enemy of the people” and regularly accuses it of spreading “fake news,” which is the term he often uses for stories he does not consider complimentary.

Sulzberger said he accepted the White House’s request for a meeting so he could discuss Trump’s “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric.” He said Times publishers have held long held meetings with presidential administrations and other public figures who have concerns with coverage of them.

After Sulzberger took over from his father on Jan. 1, Trump tweeted that his ascension gives the paper a “last chance” to fulfill its founder’s vision of impartiality.

In the tweet, Trump urged the new publisher to “Get impartial journalists of a much higher standard, lose all of your phony and non-existent ‘sources,’ and treat the President of the United States FAIRLY, so that the next time I (and the people) win, you won’t have to write an apology to your readers for a job poorly done!”

Sulzberger said Sunday that he made clear to Trump that he was not asking the president to stop speaking out about coverage he felt was unfair.

“Instead,” Sulzberger said, “I implored him to reconsider his broader attacks on journalism, which I believe are dangerous and harmful to our country.”

_______________________________________________________

Copyright © 2018 Capitol Hill Blue

Copyright © 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved