Rex Tillerson Once Again Won’t Deny He Called Trump A ‘Moron’

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson keeps steering clear of explicitly denying that he called President Donald Trump a “moron” this summer.

“As I indicated earlier when I was asked about that, I’m not going to deal with that kind of petty stuff,” Tillerson said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday about the alleged comment, which was earlier reported by NBC News. “This is a town that seems to relish gossip, rumor, innuendo, and they feed on it. They feed on one another in a very destructive way. I don’t work that way, I don’t deal that way, and I’m just not going to dignify the question. I call the president ‘Mr. President.’”

Tillerson described his relationship with Trump as “open, frank and candid.”

It’s also involved some public damage control, following NBC’s report depicting Tillerson as furious and “on the verge of resigning.” The secretary of state held an unscheduled news conference to tell reporters that he didn’t plan to resign and that he believed Trump was, in fact, “smart.” But during that appearance, he didn’t explicitly deny that he’d earlier disparaged the president’s intelligence.

Trump, in response, denied the veracity of the story while publicly challenging Tillerson to an IQ test. The White House later said Trump was joking.

 During his appearance on CNN, Tillerson also discussed Trump’s decision to decertify the Iran nuclear agreement. He said that while it’s in the national security interests of the U.S. to remain in the deal, the administration wants to “address the flaws in the agreement,” possibly by means of a secondary accord.

Tillerson shot down another suggestion of disharmony with Trump, dismissing Sen. Bob Corker’s (R-Tenn.) comments that the president had “publicly castrate[d]” Tillerson on foreign policy.

“I checked,” Tillerson said. “I’m fully intact.”

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley tried to downplay any White House tensions, saying on Sunday that the president had full confidence in Tillerson.

“You know, I’m not going to get into the drama of the he-said-he-said situation. What I will tell you is what I have witnessed is the president and Secretary Tillerson work very well together. I’ve been in the room with them many times,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “They continue to work strongly together. … And so everything that I have witnessed, all was fine. And if there’s a problem, that’s really a question for Secretary Tillerson. That’s not anything for the rest of us to answer.”

Colbert Delivers Hardest Hitting Fake Interview With President Trump

President Donald Trump doesn’t do interviews with “fake news” outlets, aka people who ask him legitimate questions. So those of us who aren’t Sean Hannity have to make due with limited access.

Stephen Colbert decided simply to use Hannity’s recent time with the president to conduct his own interview, and it feels more realistic than the Hannity interview, to be honest.

The NFL Protesters Are Getting Their Message Across

The NFL players who have been kneeling during the national anthem as a way to protest police brutality aren’t winning any new fans, a HuffPost/YouGov poll finds. But they are, increasingly, making their point to the public.

Asked to identify from a list the main reason the players are protesting, a 57 percent majority of Americans surveyed said it was in response to “police violence.” That’s up from 48 percent in a HuffPost/YouGov poll taken in late September. (Respondents were allowed to select multiple options.)

The percentage of self-described football fans who say they believe the protests are meant to target police violence has risen to 66 percent, a 13-point increase.

Just 26 percent of the public now considers the protests to be in large part against President Donald Trump, down from 40 percent in the previous survey. As before, relatively few ― 14 percent in the latest poll and 12 percent in September ― agree with the Trump administration’s assertions that the protests are aimed at the American flag.

HuffPost

Notably, even people who don’t support the protests have grown more likely to see them as a response to police violence. And Trump voters, who in late September were more likely to see the protests as anti-Trump than anything else, also now say they’re mostly about police violence.

Americans’ overall opinions of the protests and Trump’s response to them have remained both unsparing and basically stagnant, according to the poll. They say, 49 percent to 36 percent, that the protests are inappropriate, effectively unchanged from the earlier survey.

A 52 percent majority currently disapproves of Trump’s response to the protests, with 38 percent approving. In the previous poll, those numbers stood at 54 percent and 36 percent, respectively.

The public takes a more positive view of the actions of Vice President Mike Pence, who left an NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers last weekend after several 49ers players knelt during the anthem. Forty-five percent of those polled approve of Pence’s decision to leave the game, with 41 percent disapproving.

Pence said in a tweet that he would “not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.” The walkout reportedly may have cost taxpayers more than $88,000.

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The HuffPost/YouGov poll is just one of several surveys to ask Americans to weigh in on the protests in recent weeks, and other surveys have shown a range of opinions.

Most find the protests themselves to be unpopular: In a CNN poll, for instance, respondents said by a 6-point margin that the athletes protesting were “doing the wrong thing.” In an HBO Real Sports/Marist poll, a slim majority favored requiring professional athletes to stand for the anthem.

One survey by USA Today and Suffolk University, however, found relatively strong support, with 51 percent calling the protests appropriate and just 42 percent believing they were inappropriate. That poll, unlike others, gave respondents a cue about the stated purpose of the protests, describing them as “bringing attention to police brutality and racial injustice.”

“A plurality of Americans don’t like the NFL protests — at least if they aren’t told what the players’ goals are,” FiveThirtyEight’s Kathryn Casteel wrote, summing up the latest polls.

That’s not too surprising: Americans tend not to like protests in general. But even though the athletes kneeling in protest aren’t winning over the public’s hearts, they seem to have gotten their attention.

Frank Sinatra Once Told Donald Trump To ‘Go F**k Yourself,’ New Book Claims

Count legendary crooner Frank Sinatra among those critical of Donald Trump.

A new book claims Ol’ Blue Eyes once sent a blunt message to the future president, telling his manager to tell Trump to “go fuck himself,” per the New York Daily News. Sinatra even offered his phone number in case Trump wanted to hear it directly from him.

The episode was detailed in “The Way it Was,” an upcoming book written by Eliot Weisman, who served as Sinatra’s manager from 1975 until the singer’s death in 1998.

Weisman wrote that he had a deal in place for multiple acts to perform at Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City when it opened in 1990. The package included both Sinatra and longtime friend, Sammy Davis Jr., who had recently been diagnosed with the cancer that would eventually kill him.

Weisman made the deal with Mark Grossinger Etess, the 38-year-old Trump executive in charge of the Taj Mahal. Then, Etess died in a helicopter crash about six months before the Taj Mahal opened. Since the deal was never formalized, Trump decided he wanted to renegotiate, paying less for Sinatra and canceling the other acts.

That’s when Sinatra sent his message to Trump, according to the book. The interaction killed the deal and Sinatra performed at rival casino The Sands instead.

The account cannot be independently corroborated. However, the 1991 book “Trumped!” ― written by former Trump executive John “Jack” O’Donnell ― confirmed some of the basic details of the story, saying that Etess and Weisman had signed a letter of intent before the helicopter crash. Afterward, Trump complained that Etess spent “way too much of my money.”

 “Jack, just get me out of this,” Trump told O’Donnell, per the book. “Get me out of this mess.”

Although Sinatra’s daughter, singer and frequent Trump critic Nancy Sinatra, hasn’t commented on the matter, she “liked” several tweets that mentioned the report.

“The Way It Was” will be released on Oct. 24.

Jimmy Kimmel Can’t Get Enough Of Trump Freaking Out Over The Rex Tillerson Story

Jimmy Kimmel delighted in Donald Trump’s latest Twitter storm, lampooning the president on Thursday for repeatedly calling NBC News “fake news” for reporting that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson previously called him “a moron.”

“Donald Trump is a tornado of fake news,” Kimmel said. “Donald Trump criticizing fake news is like Hugh Hefner criticizing fake breasts.”

Tillerson held an impromptu press conference on Wednesday after the NBC report. He complimented Trump and rejected some aspects of the story, but he didn’t specifically deny calling the president “a moron.”

“That’s got the president’s little thumbs tingling,” Kimmel said. “I guess he’s moved on from Puerto Rico and Las Vegas.”

Take a look at the full clip in the video above.

White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly’s Phone Compromised: Report

White House chief of staff John Kelly’s personal phone was likely compromised, possibly for months, according to several government officials Politico interviewed.

The outlet first reported Thursday that Kelly brought his phone to White House tech support this summer after it stopped working properly. Staff reportedly discovered a suspected breach on the phone that has since raised concerns hackers may have been able to access the data on Kelly’s phone for months. It’s unclear if anything was accessed on the device.

The White House said Kelly’s phone stopped working last year and that he has since stopped using it, although officials did not specify when use of the device ended.

“Last December, Gen. Kelly’s personal phone stopped working and he discontinued its use,” Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said in an email.

An official in the Trump administration told Politico Kelly didn’t frequently use his personal phone, relying primarily on a government-issued one, and has since switched to a new personal device.

Several senior White House staff have come under fire in recent weeks for using private email servers, including the president’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, former chief strategist Steve Bannon and former chief of staff Reince Priebus. Trump frequently attacked Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton during the campaign for her own use of a private email server, saying it presented national security issues.

Trump’s own cell phone use came under scrutiny during the campaign and in the early days of his administration, as he reportedly used a Samsung device running an Android operating system that was unsecured. He began tweeting from an iPhone in late March.

He isn’t the first president to have phone security issues. Former President Barack Obama was notoriously irked with the BlackBerry he was required to use for years, and security concerns prevented him from using an iPhone for some time.

“I get the thing, and they’re all like, ‘Well, Mr. President, for security reasons … it doesn’t take pictures, you can’t text, the phone doesn’t work … you can’t play your music on it,’” Obama told “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon last year when he was allowed to upgrade his then-old BlackBerry. “Basically, it’s like, does your 3-year-old have one of those play phones?”

Shortly before he left office, the Obama White House was credited with dramatically upgrading the executive branch’s technology, including the installation of new computers and faster internet.

In Bizarre Photo Op, Trump Tells Press ‘This Is The Calm Before The Storm’

The White House summoned the media to a last-minute photo op on Thursday evening, during which President Donald Trump made a series of cryptic comments while surrounded by “the world’s great military people.”

The short photo spray lasted about a minute.

“You guys know what this represents?” Trump asked reporters. “Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.”

“What’s the storm?” a reporter asked. “On Iran? On ISIS? On what?”

“We have the world’s great military people,” Trump replied. “Thank you all for coming.”

When pressed once more by NBC News’ Kristen Welker on what the “storm” was, the president responded: “You’ll find out.”

Reporters at the gathering expressed confusion around the event ― which was called after the day’s press “lid” was placed for the evening. A lid is called when the president has no more scheduled public appearances and is effectively done for the day. It was reinstated after photos were taken.

Before the photo spray was called, Trump was hosting a dinner with military officials and their spouses in the Blue Room of the White House. Those in attendance included Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

GOP Sen. Bob Corker Says Trump’s Volatility Could Spark ‘World War III’

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker (R) blasted President Donald Trump in a scathing interview with The New York Times on Sunday, saying the “vast majority” of congressional Republicans were concerned with the president’s volatile behavior and that rhetoric from the White House could set America “on the path to World War III.”

During the interview ― an unprecedented assessment of the head of the senator’s own party ― Corker said Trump concerns him and that the president’s proclivity for Twitter tirades had “hurt” the country during times of negotiation.

“I know he has hurt, in several instances, he’s hurt us as it relates to negotiations that were underway by tweeting things out,” Corker said, adding that “everyone knows” the “president tweets out things that are not true.”

“Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” Corker continued. “Of course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”

Corker, a powerful and respected Republican, was an early supporter of Trump during the 2016 campaign but has since become one of his most outspoken critics in the Senate. He lambasted Trump over his response to protests by white supremacists in August and has been critical of the president’s foreign policy decisions.

Corker continued such condemnation on Sunday when he said the president was running the White House like “a reality show.”

“He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation,” he told the Times.

Trump launched his own Twitter crusade against the senator earlier on Sunday, saying Corker “begged” the president to endorse him for re-election. Corker announced his impending retirement from Congress in September.

“He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said ‘NO THANKS,’ Trump tweeted, before continuing: “He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!”

Corker fired back an hour later, saying it was “a shame the White House has become an adult day care center.”