Brazile says she found ‘no evidence’ that Democratic primaries were rigged for Clinton

Former Democratic National Committee interim chair Donna Brazile on Nov. 5 said she found “no evidence” that the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries were rigged. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)

Former Democratic National Committee interim chair Donna Brazile said Sunday that despite a joint fundraising agreement between the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, there was “no evidence” that the 2016 presidential primaries were rigged, while her successor, Tom Perez, said the DNC is working to earn back the trust of voters.

The comments came as Brazile details the fundraising agreement in her new book, writing that it was “a cancer” that disadvantaged Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) because it gave Clinton’s campaign a measure of influence over some DNC operations in exchange for helping the party raise money.

Still, asked Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” whether the primaries were rigged in favor of Clinton, Brazile told anchor George Stephanopoulos, “I found no evidence, none whatsoever.”

Perez, who took over as DNC chair after last year’s election and had been a prominent Clinton surrogate, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Clinton won the nomination fairly through a series of primary elections, which were run by states. Perez pointed out that in many of the caucuses, which were run by the party, Sanders bested Clinton.

Nevertheless, he said, “We have to earn the trust of the voters, and during the process of the Democratic primary, we fell short of that, undeniably.”

“When I hear the word rigged, let’s be very clear. Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary by 4 million votes. The Democratic National Committee does not run elections for primaries. … States run elections, and those elections were run by the states. We run caucuses, and Bernie Sanders did very well in the caucuses.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had a similar reaction when asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” whether she thought the primaries were rigged.

“Everyone goes back to re-litigate elections when you lose,” Pelosi said. “Everybody has a version, and maybe all of it have an element of truth. But I think what we need to do is go forward.”

In her ABC interview, Brazile also explained her secret deliberations about whether to initiate a complicated DNC process to replace Clinton as the nominee after her near-fainting spell on Sept. 11, 2016.

Brazile writes in her book, “Hacks,” that she had settled on Vice President Joe Biden as the best replacement and had serious doubts during that period about the direction of Clinton’s campaign but did not initiate the process. As party chair, she did not have the power to unilaterally replace the nominee.

“I was under tremendous pressure after Secretary Clinton fainted to have a ‘Plan B,’ ” Brazile said on ABC. “I didn’t want a Plan B. Plan A was great for me. I supported Hillary, and I wanted her to win. But we were under pressure.”

Brazile said she kept her own counsel during this period and did not talk about it with Biden. “This was something you play out in your mind,” she said.

Brazile’s book is a savage memoir of her experiences with Clinton’s campaign, which she describes as mismanaged and lacking in passion.

On Saturday night, after The Washington Post reported on some of Brazile’s allegations and characterizations, more than 100 Clinton staffers signed an open letter disputing the former party chair’s account.

“We do not recognize the campaign she portrays in the book,” the letter read.

The letter also read: “We were shocked to learn the news that Donna Brazile actively considered overturning the will of the Democratic voters by attempting to replace Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine as the Democratic Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees. It is particularly troubling and puzzling that she would seemingly buy into false Russian-fueled propaganda, spread by both the Russians and our opponent, about our candidate’s health.”

Perez said in his Sunday interview on NBC, “The charge that Hillary Clinton was somehow incapacitated is, quite frankly, ludicrous. Hillary Clinton was a tireless senator, a tireless secretary of state and a tireless candidate.”

Brazile said she had no regrets penning a tell-all, and when Stephanopoulos questioned whether her account is helpful to the Democratic Party, she took umbrage.

“George, for those who are telling me to shut up, they told Hillary that a couple of months ago,” Brazile said, referring to the release of Clinton’s memoir. “You know what I tell them? Go to hell. I’m going to tell my story . . . And I say go to hell because why am I supposed to be the only person that is unable to tell my story?”

Democratic political strategist and former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, Donna Brazile, said on March 22 that the future of the Democratic Party is outside of Washington for now. (Washington Post Live)


Arriving in Japan, Trump projects confidence, says he’ll probably meet Putin during Asia trip

President Trump waves to U.S. military personnel after giving an address at Yokota Air Base in Fussa, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan on Nov. 5. Trump arrived in the outskirts of Tokyo on the first leg of his 12-day Asian tour, during which he will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Vietnam. (Kimimasa Mayama/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

TOKYO — President Trump donned a military-style bomber jacket shortly after arriving in Japan on Sunday and projected confidence that the United States will confront threats in Asia, telling hundreds of U.S. troops that they will have the resources “to fight, to overpower and to always, always, always win.”

Trump’s tough talk in a speech to U.S. and Japanese military personnel at Yokota Air Base, shortly after Air Force One touched down here, aimed to set a tone for his five-nation tour during which the president said he is likely to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a regional summit in Vietnam later this week.

The president told reporters during his flight that he wants “Putin’s help on North Korea,” as his administration attempts to consolidate support for its strategy to pressure Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons program.

“History has proven over and over that the road of the tyrant is a steady march towards poverty, suffering and servitude,” Trump told the troops, perhaps referring obliquely to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, whose name he did not mention. Noting that he has proposed a bigger military budget, Trump surveyed the troops in an air base hangar and declared: “We’ve got a lot of stuff coming; use it well.”

The boisterous scene, during which the troops cheered and chanted “U.S.A.!” was probably closely watched in capitals across Northeast Asia, where governments from Seoul to Beijing are looking for signals of how Trump will address the threat on his first trip to the region. The president’s heightened rhetoric aimed at the North and the Kim regime has set the region on edge over concerns that increasing tensions could result in a military confrontation.

On the plane, Trump told reporters that he plans to decide “very soon” whether to re-label North Korea a state sponsor of terror. The North spent 10 years on that list before being removed in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration for meeting nuclear inspection requirements. Pyongyang later violated the agreement.

But Trump also offered encouragement for North Korean citizens, calling them “great people.”

“They’re industrious, they’re warm, much warmer than the world really knows and understands,” he told reporters on the plane. “They’re great people and I hope it all works out for everybody. And it would be a wonderful thing if it could work for those great people, and for everybody.”

And he seemed unconcerned about the prospect that North Korea might use his trip to the region to demonstrate its military might by firing a missile. “We’ll soon find out,” he said. “Good luck!”

After speaking at the air base, Trump was scheduled to spend the day with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, including nine holes of golf and a dinner. At the golf course, the two signed white baseball caps with the embroidered words: “Donald and Shinzo Make Alliance Even Greater.” On Monday, the two will hold formal bilateral meetings.

Trump & Abe signing white ball caps that read, “Donald and Shinzo Make Alliance Even Greater”

— Michael C. Bender (@MichaelCBender) November 5, 2017

The golf outing aimed to recreate the bond the two men forged during Abe’s visit in February to Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, where they played a round. It was while the two leaders dined together that evening that Kim launched a missile test, prompting an angry condemnation from both men at a joint statement to reporters in Florida.

Trump, who had spent Saturday night in Honolulu and toured Pearl Harbor, seemed in buoyant spirits  Sunday. He wore an unbuttoned, open-collared white shirt with no tie to chat with the press on Air Force One, and he enthusiastically donned the brown leather bomber jacket presented to him by Air Force officers at Yokota. “I like this better,” he joked, after replacing his navy blue suit coat.

Trump confirmed that he expects to meet with Putin on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, later in the trip. The meeting would come as special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia has heated up. Last week, Mueller indicted three people in Trump’s orbit — two senior campaign aides and one lower-level, unpaid volunteer — as part of his ongoing investigation.

But the president, who has often expressed admiration for authoritarian leaders, has remained reluctant to criticize Putin.

The president also promised that trade will also be a key focus of his trip, with China — a frequent target of his trade-related ire — looming largest on the economic front. Chinese President Xi Jinping consolidated power last month at the 19th Communist Party Congress, and Trump is preparing to face a newly emboldened Xi on his home turf.

“I think we’re going in with tremendous strength,” Trump said. When a reporter asked him about Xi’s elevated position, the president cut off the questioner, saying, “Excuse me, so am I.”

He then rattled off a laundry list of highlights of U.S. power, including the surging stock market, low unemployment and success in combating the Islamic State in the Middle East.

“I think he’s viewing us as very, very strong, and also very friendly,” Trump said. “But we have to do better with trade with China because it’s a one-way street right now and it has been for many years. And we will. But the reason our stock market is so successful is because of me. I’ve always been great with money, I’ve always been great with jobs, that’s what I do.”

Trump noted that he will spend the first anniversary of Election Day 2016 in China, and facetiously invited his traveling press corps to join him in the festivities. “Can you believe it is almost exactly one year? We’re going to be in China — together,” he said. “We’ll have to celebrate together, Nov. 8. I hope we’ll all celebrate together. In fact, I was going to have a big celebration party, and then I said, ‘Well.’ But we’ll celebrate together.”

Asked about a new book about former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, in which they sharply criticize Trump, the president showed uncharacteristic restraint.

“The Bushes? I’ll comment after we come back,” he said. “I don’t need headlines. I don’t want to make their book successful.”


Trump urges Saudi oil company to list its stock on NYSE ahead of massive IPO

President Donald Trump sports a flower lei he was given as he and first lady Melania Trump arrive at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, November 3, 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

President Trump urged Aramco, one of the world’s biggest firms, to list its stock on the New York Stock Exchange, as the Saudi Arabia state-owned oil company prepares for a massive IPO.

“Would very much appreciate Saudi Arabia doing their IPO of Aramco with the New York Stock Exchange. Important to the United States!” Trump tweeted early this morning from Hawaii, where he stopped before his marathon tour of Asia.

Would very much appreciate Saudi Arabia doing their IPO of Aramco with the New York Stock Exchange. Important to the United States!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2017

Aramco is expected to go public sometime in 2018. Saudi officials have sought a $2 trillion valuation, which could raise enough money to help shift the country’s economy away from its fossil-fuel focus. The company has not disclosed where it intends to go public.

Going public on the NYSE could be a victory for Trump, who has courted Saudi Arabia heavily since taking office. In May, Trump announced a $110 billion defense deal with Saudi Arabia that would sell U.S.-made naval vessels, air defense systems and helicopters to the Middle Eastern kingdom. But analysts have observed little follow-through.

Experts are divided over whether Aramco is actually worth the $2 trillion valuation that it’s asking for, but the company is still intensely profitable. Aramco produces more than 10 million barrels of oil per day, accounting for more than any other company and about 12 percent of the world’s supply. And Aramco has amassed substantial oil reserves.

Foreign oil companies are commonly represented on U.S. stock exchanges. The list includes BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and PetroChina, among others, according to the Natural Resource Governance Institute, an energy and minerals advocacy group. But energy firms also list on major stock exchanges in London, Toronto, Amsterdam, Brazil and Hong Kong.


Trump: ‘I don’t remember much’ about meeting with Papadopoulos, campaign adviser who has pleaded guilty

President Trump said he did not remember much about a meeting last year with former adviser George Papadopoulo, who pleaded guilty as part of a federal probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. (Reuters)

President Trump on Friday sought to diminish the importance of the campaign foreign policy meeting where former adviser George Papadopoulos tried to broker connections between Russians and the Trump campaign, with the president claiming that he did not remember what was said.

The meeting, which took place in Washington on March 31, 2016, included a team of foreign policy advisers as well as Trump and then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who is now the attorney general. The session has become a key focus of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s wide-ranging investigation of Russia’s interference in the election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.

Mueller’s office revealed this week in court documents that Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to lying to the FBI about trying to meet with Russians offering “dirt” on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton based on stolen Democratic emails.

Trump, who recently boasted of having “one of the great memories of all time,” told reporters Friday morning as he departed the White House for his 12-day trip to Asia, “I don’t remember much about that meeting.”

“It was a very unimportant meeting,” Trump said. “It took place a long time ago. Don’t remember much about it.”

In the meeting, according to court documents, Papadopoulos touted his connections to Russia in front of Trump and Sessions and offered to arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

J.D. Gordon, a Trump adviser who attended the meeting, recalled in an interview with The Washington Post that after Papadopoulos said he could introduce Trump to Putin, Sessions “shut him down.”

“It was a bad idea and the senator didn’t want people to speak about it again,” Gordon said.

The meeting is a growing complication for Sessions, who is now under pressure from Senate Democrats to explain why he did not disclose details about it previously, considering he was asked multiple times under oath on Capitol Hill whether he or anyone on the campaign ever discussed meeting with Russians.

In February, a few weeks after being sworn in as president, Trump was asked at a news conference whether anybody who advised his campaign had any contacts with Russia. The president responded, “No. Nobody that I know of.”

Trump and his aides have sought to diminish Papadopoulos’s standing on the campaign. Trump cited him as a foreign policy adviser in March, during a meeting with The Post’s editorial board. But he, as well as White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, have said this week that Papadopoulos played an insignificant role on the campaign.

Trump tweeted Tuesday, “Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George.”


Trump pressures Justice Department to investigate ‘Crooked Hillary’

President Trump speaks during a Cabinet Meeting at the White House on Nov. 1. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

President Trump on Friday pressured the Department of Justice — and specifically the FBI — to investigate Hillary Clinton, ticking through a slew of issues involving the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee and her party, and urging law enforcement to “do what is right and proper.”

Trump’s advocacy for criminal probe of his political opponent marked a significant breach of the traditional boundaries within the executive branch designed to prevent investigations from being politicized.

In a Thursday radio interview, Trump said “the saddest thing” about being president is that he is not supposed to give orders to the Justice Department or FBI. The president said he was “very frustrated” that he could not be involved with those agencies, and said it was “very discouraging to me” that they were not “going after Hillary Clinton.”

“Hopefully they are doing something and at some point, maybe we are going to all have it out,” Trump said Thursday on “The Larry O’Connor Show.”

Trump has long been annoyed, and at times angry, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions for not taking on Clinton more aggressively and for not better protecting him from the wide-ranging Russia probe led by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, the president’s advisers have said.

As he departed the White House Friday morning for an 12-day trip to Asia, Trump told reporters: “A lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Department, including me.”

In a series of Friday morning tweets, Trump claimed there was mounting public pressure for the Justice Department to investigate Clinton. Trump suggested law enforcement reopen its probe of the deleted emails from Clinton’s private server while she was secretary of state, as well as a Russian uranium sale and the international business of Democratic super-lobbyist Tony Podesta.

Here is what you need to know about the political storm sparked by Donna Brazile’s allegations against the Clinton campaign. (Amber Ferguson,Melissa Macaya/The Washington Post)

Trump also raised the Clinton campaign’s joint fundraising agreement with the Democratic National Committee that effectively gave her control over the party’s finances, strategy and staffing before the primaries began. The details were outlined in a new book by former DNC interim chair Donna Brazile.

Trump tweeted: “Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn’t looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary & the Dems . . . New Donna B book says she paid for and stole the Dem Primary. What about the deleted E-mails, Uranium, Podesta, the Server, plus, plus . . . People are angry. At some point the Justice Department, and the FBI, must do what is right and proper. The American public deserves it!”

Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn’t looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary & the Dems..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 3, 2017

…New Donna B book says she paid for and stole the Dem Primary. What about the deleted E-mails, Uranium, Podesta, the Server, plus, plus…

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 3, 2017

….People are angry. At some point the Justice Department, and the FBI, must do what is right and proper. The American public deserves it!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 3, 2017

In a fourth tweet, Trump alleged that “the real story on Collusion” is the fundraising agreement noted in Brazile’s book. The president appears to be conflating collusion with a foreign government, which is a subject of Mueller’s Russia investigation, with the financial arrangement Clinton’s campaign made with the DNC.

The real story on Collusion is in Donna B’s new book. Crooked Hillary bought the DNC & then stole the Democratic Primary from Crazy Bernie!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 3, 2017

And in a fifth tweet on the subject, Trump invoked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who said Thursday on CNN that she believed the Democratic primaries were rigged in Clinton’s favor. Using his pejorative nickname for Warren, the president tweeted (apparently misspelling the word led): “Pocahontas just stated that the Democrats, lead by the legendary Crooked Hillary Clinton, rigged the Primaries! Lets go FBI & Justice Dept.”

Pocahontas just stated that the Democrats, lead by the legendary Crooked Hillary Clinton, rigged the Primaries! Lets go FBI & Justice Dept.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 3, 2017

This marks only the latest attempt by Trump to use his presidential bully pulpit to influence the criminal justice process. He has delivered off-the-cuff remarks this week recommending punishment for Sayfullo Saipov, the suspect accused of killing eight people with a rental truck in New York. Trump at first said he was considering sending Saipov to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but then reversed course and advocated a civilian trial in federal court for the terrorism suspect he called “an animal.”

Three Trump campaign officials were indicted on charges as it relates to Russian meddling on Oct. 30, but the President focused on diverting negative attention to Hillary Clinton. (Joyce Koh/TWP)

The Justice Department is a part of the executive branch; the attorney general is nominated by the president. So it is normal for the White House to direct the Justice Department on broad policy goals.

But unlike other executive branch agencies, the Justice Department traditionally enjoys a measure of independence, especially when it comes to individual criminal investigations. Government lawyers have long sought to enforce a clear line preventing White House officials from influencing specific investigations or prosecutions to ensure such work is not politicized.

The president directing a particular investigation — especially of a former political rival — would be viewed by most in law enforcement as inappropriate. When Trump made similar comments on the campaign trail a year ago, even former Republican attorney general Michael Mukasey, a vocal Clinton critic, said Trump ordering a prosecution of her would be “like a banana republic.”

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment Friday.

In his Thursday radio interview, Trump said, “You know, the saddest thing is, because I am the president of the United States I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I’m not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I’m not supposed to be doing the kind of things I would love to be doing and I am very frustrated by it.”

Trump continued by referencing a salacious research dossier detailing Trump’s ties to Russia, which was initially sponsored by the conservative Washington Free Beacon and later paid for by the Clinton campaign and DNC, through the Perkins Coie law firm.

The Washington Post’s Adam Entous looks at the role that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee played in funding the research that led to a dossier containing allegations about President Trump’s links to Russia. (Bastien Inzaurralde,Patrick Martin/The Washington Post)

Trump added on the radio show: “I look at what’s happening with the Justice Department, why aren’t they going after Hillary Clinton with her emails and with her dossier, and the kind of money . . . I don’t know, is it possible that they paid $12.4 million for the dossier . . . which is total phony, fake, fraud and how is it used? It’s very discouraging to me. I’ll be honest.”

Trump has not provided evidence to support his $12.4 million figure, and he may have grossly exaggerated how much the dossier cost. Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned the dossier, has said it paid former British spy Christopher Steele $168,000 for his research, according to Reuters.

The Washington Post has reported that the Clinton campaign paid Perkins Coie $5.6 million in legal fees from June 2015 to December 2016, and the DNC paid the firm $3.6 million since November 2015, according to campaign finance records. But the filings do not detail how that money was spent, so it is impossible to tell how much work was related to the dossier research and how much was for legal services.

Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.



How much power does a president have to prevent terrorist attacks?

On Tuesday afternoon, a 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant, Sayfullo Saipov, allegedly drove a rental truck down a bicycle path in Lower Manhattan. Saipov said he was inspired to carry out the attack by the Islamic State.

Eight people — pedestrians and cyclists who were on the path — were killed and at least a dozen were injured before the driver left the vehicle with a paintball gun and pellet gun. A police officer then shot Saipov in the stomach; he’s still alive.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, President Trump responded by calling for policy changes, including ending the Diversity Visa Lottery program.

But are immigration policies the best way to combat terrorism?  What other policy approaches fight terror, and what’s effective? Plus, how much power does a president himself have to end attacks in the United States?

On this week’s episode of “Can He Do That?” White House reporter David Nakamura helps us answer this critical question: Can Trump keep us safe from terror attacks? Plus,we talk to an expert to learn how terrorist groups recruit and whether the United States can curb those efforts. With an author and professor, we examine the extent to which presidents have power to influence counterterrorism policy and prevent future attacks.

Listen to the full episode below.

 Each week, “Can He Do That?” examines the powers and limitations of the American presidency, focusing on one area where President Trump is seemingly breaking precedent. We answer the critical questions about what today’s news means for the future of the highest office in the nation.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Washington Post and Live Nation will bring the “Can He Do That?” podcast to a live audience at the Warner Theatre on Nov. 7. In this live taping, political reporters Bob Woodward, David Fahrenthold and Karen Tumulty will join host Allison Michaels to review the past year in President Trump’s White House and the biggest moments that made people wonder “Can He Do That?” Tickets can be purchased now at Live Nation. Attendees are eligible to receive a free 30-day Basic Digital subscription to The Washington Post.


After first saying ‘send him to Gitmo,’ Trump changes his mind about N.Y. terrorism suspect

President Trump said Wednesday that he felt the U.S. criminal justice system was “a joke” because it took too long for accused terrorists to be prosecuted, convicted and sentenced. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

President Trump on Thursday appeared to rule out sending the New York terrorism suspect to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after threatening a day earlier to send the alleged attacker to the detention center.

Backing off his initial statement that he was considering detaining the suspect at America’s most notorious prison, Trump said Thursday that Sayfullo Saipov instead should be executed through the civilian justice system, which historically has been delivered faster convictions than the military tribunal system.

Trump tweeted, “Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system . . . There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!”

Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system…

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2017

…There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2017

On Wednesday, Trump said he felt the U.S. criminal justice system was “a joke” because it took too long for accused terrorists — “these animals,” he called them — to be prosecuted, convicted and sentenced.

“We need quick justice, and we need strong justice, much quicker and much stronger than we have right now,” Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting at the White House. “Because what we have right now is a joke and it’s a laughingstock.”

When a reporter asked whether he would send Saipov to the Guantanamo Bay prison, Trump replied, “I would certainly consider that. Send him to Gitmo. I would certainly consider that, yes.”

A few hours later, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president’s unscripted remark should not have been interpreted as a statement of intention or policy.

“Look, the point he was making is that he supports, or would support that, but he wasn’t necessarily advocating for it,” Sanders said.

Sanders said the Trump administration considers Saipov to be an “enemy combatant,” but stressed that no decision had been made about how to prosecute him or where he would be detained.


Trump says he may send New York attack suspect to Guantanamo Bay, is ‘terminating’ diversity visa lottery

President Trump at the White House on Oct. 25. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump said Wednesday that he is considering sending the Uzbek immigrant accused of killing eight people in Tuesday’s terrorist attack in New York to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying the United States must be “much tougher” with its treatment of terror suspects.

Trump also called on Congress to immediately dismantle the State Department’s Diversity Visa Lottery program, through which authorities have said the suspected attacker, Sayfullo Saipov, came to the United States from Uzbekistan.

“Diversity lottery — sounds nice. It’s not nice,” Trump told reporters at the White House during a meeting with his Cabinet. “It’s not good. It’s not good. It hasn’t been good. We’ve been against it.”

Trump added, “I am today starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery program. I am going to ask Congress to immediately initiate work to get rid of this program.”

Speaking generally, Trump said U.S. immigration laws and the criminal justice system’s handling of suspects are “a joke” and “a laughingstock.”

“We have to get much tougher,” he said. “We have to get much smarter. And we have to get much less politically correct. We’re so politically correct that we’re afraid to do anything.”

Trump said that terrorists are “constantly seeking to strike our nation,” and that keeping the country safe will require the “unflinching devotion to our law enforcement, homeland security and intelligence professionals.”

“Terrorists are constantly seeking to strike our nation and it will require the unflinching devotion to our law enforcement, homeland security and intelligence professionals to keep America safe.”

Referring to Saipov as an “animal,” Trump said the 29-year-old was responsible for the entry of 23 immigrants, many of them family members. The president said this “chain migration” endangers national security.

“This man that came in, or whatever you want to call him, brought in with him other people and he was the primary point of contact for — and this is preliminarily — 23 people that came in or potentially came in with him,” Trump said. “That’s not acceptable.”

Asked whether Saipov’s family members represent a security threat, Trump said, “They certainly could. He did. They certainly could represent a threat.”

When a reporter asked whether Saipov should be sent to Guantanamo Bay, Trump replied, “I would certainly consider that, yes. Send him to Gitmo. I would certainly consider that.”

Trump — as well as some allies on the far right — seized on the Diversity Visa Lottery program and criticized Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) as a culprit.

In 1990, Schumer, then a House member, introduced the bill that helped create the visa program, which passed Congress with a bipartisan majority and was signed into law by former president George W. Bush, a Republican. In 2013, however, Schumer was part of a bipartisan group of senators who sought to end the program as part of a comprehensive immigration reform package.

In a series of Wednesday morning tweets, Trump sought to blame Schumer for the attack and accused the Democratic leader of being too soft on immigration laws.

The terrorist came into our country through what is called the “Diversity Visa Lottery Program,” a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017

We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter). @foxandfriends

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017

“Senator Chuck Schumer helping to import Europes problems” said Col.Tony Shaffer. We will stop this craziness! @foxandfriends

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017

Schumer responded with a statement that read, “I have always believed and continue to believe that immigration is good for America. President Trump, instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, should be focusing on the real solution — anti-terrorism funding — which he proposed cutting in his most recent budget.”

Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) expressed umbrage at what he described as Trump’s attempts to politicize the attack.

“The president’s tweets I think were not helpful,” Cuomo said at a news briefing Wednesday morning. “I don’t think they were factual. I think they tended to point fingers and politicize the situation.”

Cuomo added, “You play into the hands of the terrorists to the extent you disrupt and divide and frighten people in this society.”

Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said that Trump had not contacted them in the wake of the attack. Both men said they were not bothered by the lack of calls from the president, noting that two senior Trump administration officials — Tom Bossert, the White House homeland security adviser, and Elaine Duke, the acting Homeland Security secretary — had called them.

Mark Berman contributed to this report.


Trump says he ordered U.S. to ‘step up our already Extreme Vetting Program’

President Trump is pictured on the South Lawn of the White House on Sept. 29. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Trump said Tuesday night that he has directed the government to “step up” its vetting program for foreign nationals after authorities said an Uzbek immigrant killed eight and injured 11 in a terrorist attack in Manhattan.

Trump wrote in a tweet, “I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!”

I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017

Trump, who has long advocated tougher screening of immigrants and other policies designed to prevent terrorism in the United States, did not specify which vetting program he was referring to or how it would change under his Tuesday order. White House officials had no immediate comment to explain the president’s tweet.

It appeared Trump was referring to the U.S. government’s vetting programs for foreign nationals, as opposed to his controversial travel ban, which affected only a handful of majority-Muslim nations.

Law enforcement officials identified the suspect in Tuesday’s attack as Sayfullo Saipov, 29, an Uzbek immigrant who had lived in Tampa and New Jersey.

Uzbekistan was not among the countries named in any version of Trump’s travel ban.

In a Monday interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly defined “extreme vetting” as verifying the identities of people traveling to the United States.

“Extreme vetting is, we simply interview people and have to satisfy ourselves that the person we’re talking to is indeed the person who they claim,” Kelly, a former secretary of homeland security, told Ingraham. “It might be impossible to do in some cases.”

Kelly added, “If we can’t verify, I don’t think we should let them into the country.”


Trump diminishes Papadopoulos, former foreign policy adviser, as a ‘young, low level volunteer’

George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in early October to lying to federal officials about his contacts with Russian nationals. He is one of three former Trump campaign officials facing criminal charges. (Elyse Samuels/The Washington Post)

President Trump on Tuesday belittled George Papadopoulos, the former foreign policy adviser who tried to broker connections between Trump campaign and Russian officials, as a “young, low level volunteer” as he sought to distance himself and his campaign from the special counsel’s investigation.

In a pair of tweets issued Tuesday, Trump chastised the media for coverage of Monday’s three indictments stemming from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s far-reaching probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Making his first comment about Papadopoulos, the former campaign adviser who admitted to making a false statement to the FBI about trying to meet with Russians offering “dirt” on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton based on stolen Democratic emails, Trump called him “a liar.”

President Trump walks across the South lawn of the White House to board Marine One on Sept 29. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

As for Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, Trump continued to argue Tuesday that Manafort’s alleged misdeeds were related to his international business work that began years before working for Trump’s campaign.

Trump tweeted, “The Fake News is working overtime. As Paul Manaforts lawyer said, there was ‘no collusion’ and events mentioned took place long before he….came to the campaign. Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!”

The Fake News is working overtime. As Paul Manaforts lawyer said, there was “no collusion” and events mentioned took place long before he…

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2017

….came to the campaign. Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2017

Trump sought to redirect the media’s focus to what he termed “Democrat corruption.” The president wrote that the “biggest story” was that Tony Podesta, a prominent Washington-based Democratic lobbyist whose brother, John, was Clinton’s campaign chairman, abruptly stepped down from his firm Monday. The Podesta Group was not named in the indictments released Monday, but the firm and another lobbying firm, Mercury Public Affairs, worked with Manafort from 2012 to 2014 to help improve the image of the Ukrainian government.

Trump tweeted, “The biggest story yesterday, the one that has the Dems in a dither, is Podesta running from his firm. What he know about Crooked Dems is….earth shattering. He and his brother could Drain The Swamp, which would be yet another campaign promise fulfilled. Fake News weak!”

The biggest story yesterday, the one that has the Dems in a dither, is Podesta running from his firm. What he know about Crooked Dems is….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2017

….earth shattering. He and his brother could Drain The Swamp, which would be yet another campaign promise fulfilled. Fake News weak!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2017

As Podesta announced his departure from his namesake firm Monday, he reportedly told employees, “It is impossible to run a public affairs firm while you are under attack by Fox News and the right wing media.”

For several days now, Trump, as well as White House officials and outside allies, have been demanding more scrutiny — both from the media and from Mueller’s team — on Clinton controversies.