As you may have heard, Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and is, as we type, attempting to do the same in 2018’s midterms. This fact is now widely accepted by the C.I.A., the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the F.B.I., the N.S.A., the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and anyone with a moderate grasp on reality. To dispute it is like disputing the fact that water is wet or that Don Jr. spends long hours flexing in the mirror and asking his reflection, “You like that?” And yet, there is still one person who does, and his name is Donald Trump. The president’s refusal to accept the obvious was underscored in July when, at a press conference in Helsinki, he told reporters that he took the word of one Vladimir Putin that Mother Russia is being strung up on false charges over the findings of his own U.S. intelligence agencies. But in a total 180 at the U.N. on Wednesday, the president was suddenly extremely worried about election meddling—just not by Russia, which in his mind remains unimpeachable:
Trump on Wednesday directly accused China of interfering in the U.S. midterm elections this fall in retaliation for the ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing, marking a new front in the deepening hostilities that have threatened to upend bilateral relations.
The president made the allegation during his opening remarks at a U.N. Security Council meeting on nonproliferation, asserting that China “has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election, coming up in November, against my administration. They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president to ever challenge China on trade, and we are winning on trade—we are winning on every level. We don’t want to them to meddle or interfere in our upcoming election.”
Trump presented no evidence for his claims, and his top national security advisers told reporters in August they had not found specific examples of interference ahead of the midterms from countries other than Russia, though they warned it remained a possibility. In his remarks at the Security Council meeting, Trump made no mention of Russian interference.
Later, during a press call that was arranged at the last minute on the topic of “Chinese interference,” a senior administration official backed up the president’s claims with . . . zero examples, other than the fact that China has “hurt farmers and workers in states and districts that voted for the president because he stood up to the ways China has taken advantage of our country economically.” That’s actually true! China has hit soybean farmers with tariffs that are cutting into their profits, a direct result of Trump‘s decision to hit Beijing in an increasingly escalating trade war that seems to have no end in sight. It clearly did so to put pressure on Trump to back off from his trade policies that are hurting both nations, knowing that squeezing his base would put him in a tough position politically. (The European Union, Canada, and Mexico have taken similar tacks, retaliating with levies affecting products from Wisconsin and Kentucky.) You know what that doesn’t constitute? Election meddling. “China has all along followed the principle of non-interference in other countries’ domestic affairs,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the U.N. following Trump’s declaration. “We did not and will not interfere in any country’s domestic affairs. We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China.”
While most of the insane things that come out of Trump’s mouth seem to tumble randomly and without pre-meditation, the claim that China is actively interfering in midterm elections may actually be part of a strategy the administration has been cooking up for some time. Sources told Axios late last week that the West Wing had plans to “launch a major, ‘administration-wide’ broadside against China,” and that it’s “not just going to let Russia be the bogeyman.” In which case, you might think that the White House would’ve come up with some talking points for Trump to use at his press conference later that day, other than, basically, “I hear things” and “I have evidence but I can’t tell you,” which is exactly what he said, in addition to telling reporters that Beijing is allegedly in awe of his formidable intellect.
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Just to close the loop on that press conference . . .
In addition to China, President Big Brain covered a wide range of topics, including but not limited to his bromance with Kim Jong Un, the true victims of the #MeToo movement (men like him, the various ways he likes to model his pressers after Elton John concerts), and how Democrats would pull the same s–t they’re pulling with Brett Kavanaugh if the Founding Father was also accused of sexual assault, which Trump is pretty sure was in fact the case:
Ford: Trump tariffs would cost us $1 billion, with a ‘b’
Nothing to see here, just Trump’s trade war continuing to do great things for U.S. companies:
“From Ford’s perspective the metals tariffs took about $1 billion in profit from us,” C.E.O. James Hackett said at a Bloomberg conference in New York, “The irony of which is we source most of that in the U.S. today anyway. If it goes on any longer, it will do more damage.”
What Jim clearly doesn’t understand is that trade wars are “good, and easy to win,” even if it means shaving a billion dollars in profit here and there, but hopefully he’ll come around.
Trump: world leaders would never laugh at their god, O.K.?
Remember, yesterday, when Donald Trump claimed that his administration “has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country” and the U.N. literally laughed in his face? According to Trump, it wasn’t the utterly humiliating experience it appeared to be be.
“The fake news said people laughed at President Trump. They didn’t laugh at me,” he said Wednesday. “They weren’t laughing at me, they were laughing with me,” Trump added. “We had fun. That was not laughing at me. People had a good time with me. We were doing it together. We had a good time. They respect what I’ve done.”
President finds time to slam Federal Reserve during busy day of smearing sexual assault victims
How does he do it? Per Bloomberg:
“We are doing great as a country,” Trump said Wednesday at a press conference in New York. “Unfortunately they just raised interest rates a little bit because we are doing so well. I am not happy about that.”
The president’s latest comments expanded on interviews, Twitter comments, and a private speech over the past three months when Trump has said he was not happy with rate hikes, breaking with a more than two-decade-old norm of presidents avoiding comments on monetary policy out of respect for the Fed’s independence.
Goldman Sachs junior bankers are practically on food stamps
And by food stamps we mean they’re strictly prohibited from ordering grocery items as part of the $25 dinners they’re allowed to expense every night.
Powell says Fed is hearing a “rising chorus of concerns” from companies about Trump’s trade tariffs (CNBC)
Farmers Say Aid Won’t Cover Tariff Damage (W.S.J.)
Chinese scooter start-up taking over Beijing (CNBC)
Trump claims he rejected a meeting with Trudeau over NAFTA — but Canada says it never asked to meet (CNBC)
Payment Start-Up Stripe Is Now a $20 Billion Company (Bloomberg)
Jes Staley Stakes Barclays’s Future on Investment Banking (Bloomberg)
Man removed from plane after trying to enter cockpit to charge phone (Guardian)