Twitter announced today that it would ban ads from all accounts owned by Russia Today and Sputnik, effective immediately. “This decision was based on the retrospective work we’ve been doing around the 2016 U.S. election and the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that both RT and Sputnik attempted to interfere with the election on behalf of the Russian government,” the social media site said in a statement. “We did not come to this decision lightly, and are taking this step now as part of our ongoing commitment to help protect the integrity of the user experience on Twitter.”
Immediately following Republican Sen. Jeff Flake’s powerful retirement speech, the White House said the remarks were beneath the Senate. In his 20-minute address from the Senate floor, Flake announced he will not seek re-election in 2018, and railed against President Trump without directly naming him, and implored his colleagues to stand up to the forces corrupting American discourse and politics. When asked about the speech, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called it “petty,” adding: “I don't think Senator Flake’s language was befitting of the Senate floor.”
President Trump this weekend said he would allow the release of confidential files on the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy. “Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened,” Trump announced on Twitter. It was not immediately clear what “further information” was required. Thousands of documents are slated to be released in accordance with the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which gave the federal government a deadline of Oct. 26, 2017 to disclose the documents. Amid reports earlier this week that some administration officials were concerned about the files revealing information on U.S. intelligence programs, a White House spokeswoman on Friday said the administration would seek to “to ensure that the maximum amount of data can be released to the public.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell today called Steve Bannon a “specialist in nominating people who lose,” in reference to the former White House chief strategist’s campaign to topple him and other incumbent Republicans. “Trying to cook up an issue like this that’s irrelevant is only going to create divisions and make it more difficult for us to win in November,” McConnell said on Fox News Sunday. Bannon has waged war against McConnell, and has pledged to defeat every Republican incumbent up for re-election in 2018 except for Ted Cruz.
A congresswoman is alleging that President Trump told the widow of a slain U.S. soldier, “he knew what he signed up for.” According to Frederica Wilson (D-FL), the president made the remark to the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed earlier this month during an ambush in Niger. “Yes, he said it,” Wilson said. “It’s so insensitive. He should have not have said that. He shouldn’t have said it.” Wilson was with Myeshia Johnson, the soldier’s widow, in a limousine at the time of the call and overheard it over speaker phone, according to The Washington Post. Wilson said she wanted to “curse him out” for making Johnson break down and cry. “He was talking off the cuff, saying the same thing over and over again,” Wilson was quoted as saying.
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon lashed out yesterday at Senate Republicans who haven’t defended President Trump against criticism and declared that Trump would win a landslide re-election victory in 2020. Speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, the Breitbart executive chairman proclaimed a “season of war against the GOP establishment” and taunted lawmakers who he said haven’t backed up the president. “Yeah, Mitch, the donors are not happy. They’ve all left you. We’ve cut your oxygen off,” he said, addressing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He also singled out Senators John Barrasso, Dean Heller, and Deb Fischer for not disavowing Senator Bob Corker’s criticism of the president. Corker has enraged Trump in recent weeks by publicly slamming him, most recently warning that he is leading the U.S. to “World War III.” Bannon, in contrast, had nothing but praise for Trump, saying he “is not only going to finish this term, he’s going to win with 400 electoral votes in 2020.”
President Trump tweeted yesterday that NBC News should have its broadcasting license revoked because of its report that he asked advisers in July about dramatically expanding the U.S. nuclear arsenal. “Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal,” he tweeted. “Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!” In a follow-up, he added: “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!” Later, during press availability in the Oval Office, the president continued his tirade against the media, essentially lamenting the First Amendment: “It is frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.”
Twitter reversed its decision today to censor an advertisement from pro-life Republican Marsha Blackburn that referenced “baby body parts.” Twitter initially said the ad was “inflammatory,” but early today the company released a statement saying in part, “we believe that there is room to refine our policies around these issues.” Blackburn, a pro-life congresswoman who is running for Senate in Tennessee, condemned the social media giant’s initial decision as an attempt to “impose their values.”
President Trump today went scorched-earth against Senator Bob Corker (Republican-TN), saying the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman “didn’t have the guts to run” for re-election. “Senator Bob Corker ‘begged’ me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee. I said ‘NO’ and he dropped out (said he could not win without my endorsement),” Trump wrote on Twitter, adding: “He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said ‘NO THANKS.’ He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!” The president also said Corker, who advised Trump’s transition team on foreign policy matters, would be “a negative voice and stand in the way of our great agenda.” Corker responded to the barbs later Sunday, writing on Twitter: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.” Trump’s tweets underscore his longstanding anger at congressional Republicans for not fully supporting him. Last week, Corker said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly “help separate the country from chaos.” Earlier in the week, Corker criticized Trump for his public comments about the country’s strategy for dealing with North Korea, in which the president openly undermined Tillerson.
The National Rifle Association issued a statement today that the organization believes certain modifying devices that allow a semi-automatic gun to function as a fully automatic weapon, like the “bump stock” used by the Las Vegas shooter, “should be subject to additional regulations.” The statement does not call for specific legislation on bump stocks, however, instead reiterating its commitment to promoting a National Right-to-Carry reciprocity law, which they say would help Americans to defend themselves. The so-called “bump stock” device modifies semi-automatic rifles so that bullets are fired at an increased speed and the weapon moves back and forth in the shooters grip, causing it to work like a fully automatic gun. Experts say this actually decreases a gun’s accuracy and makes it less safe.
“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,” President Trump remarked at a press conference today near San Juan, “because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico.” He continued: “And that’s fine, because we’ve saved a lot of lives” in the wake of Hurricane Maria. He then suggested Puerto Ricans should be happy because their death toll pales in comparison to other recent disasters. “If you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here... and 16 people certified [died here] versus in the thousands. You can be very proud of all of your people and all of our people working together.”
President Donald Trump today dedicated a golf trophy to hurricane victims in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, even as he faces mounting criticism over the White House’s response to storm-battered Puerto Rico. Telling the crowd at the Presidents Cup golf tournament that he wants the focus to be on those who “have really suffered,” Trump noted how “horrible” the situation is in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico following hurricanes and flooding. “I want to just remember them, and we’re going to dedicate this trophy to all those people who went through so much, that we love, that are part of our great state, really a part of our great nation,” he said. His comments came a day after he triggered outrage by accusing San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz of “poor leadership ability” in dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. He also claimed Puerto Rican leaders, who have criticized his administration’s handling of the crisis, want “everything to be done for them.”