Wall Street Journal: Trump Denies Heavy Death Toll in Puerto Rico From Hurricane Maria

President Trump on Thursday denied Hurricane Maria caused 3,000 deaths in Puerto Rico, falsely accusing Democrats of inflating the toll to “make me look as bad as possible.”

“3,000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico,” Mr. Trump tweeted Thursday. “When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3,000.”

Mr. Trump added: “This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!”

Researchers at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, Commissioned by Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, in a report last month, estimated there were 2,975 excess deaths in Puerto Rico from September 2017 through February 218 stemming from last year’s hurricane. That far surpassed the original official count.

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Washington Post: Pence and a growing cast of other Trump officials deny writing the Times op-ed

A parade of senior administration tripped over one another Thursday to stay in President Trump’s good graces, offering one statement after another asserting that they were not the anonymous author of an explosive op-ed criticizing him as impetuous and impulsive.

Amid frenzied speculation about who was hiding behind a cloak of anonymity, Vice President Pence was the first to assert that he had not penned the New York Times piece claiming to be part of a “resistance” within the Trump administration.

More than a dozen Cabinet officials followed suit, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Intelligence Director Daniel Coats and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — as well as many others whom no one would have expected.

While some officials offered taut one-word denials through a spokesperson, others used the occasion to stroke the president, voicing objections to his characterization in the Times piece as morally unmoored and often out of sync with his staff.

Several of the statements echoed one another, using the words “gutless” and “coward” to describe the anonymous author.

By midday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had taken to Twitter, chiding the media for what she called a “wild obsession” and urging citizens to call the Times opinion desk if they wanted to learn the identify of a “gutless loser.”

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Politico: Immigrants, fearing Trump crackdown, drop out of nutrition programs

Immigrants are turning down government help to buy infant formula and healthy food for their young children because they’re afraid the Trump administration could bar them from getting a green card if they take federal aid.

Local health providers say they’ve received panicked phone calls from both documented and undocumented immigrant families demanding to be dropped from the rolls of WIC, a federal nutrition program aimed at pregnant women and children, after news reports that the White House is potentially planning to deny legal status to immigrants who’ve used public benefits. Agencies in at least 18 states say they’ve seen drops of up to 20 percent in enrollment, and they attribute the change largely to fears about the immigration policy.

The Trump administration hasn’t officially put the policy in place yet, but even without a formal rule, families are already being scared away from using services, health providers say.

“It’s a stealth regulation,” said Kathleen Campbell Walker, an immigration attorney at Dickinson Wright in El Paso, Texas. “It doesn’t really exist, but it’s being applied subliminally.”

Health advocates say the policy change could put more babies who are U.S.-born citizens at risk of low birth weight and other problems — undermining public health while also potentially fueling higher health care costs at taxpayer expense. WIC — formally the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children — serves about half of all babies born in the U.S by providing vouchers or benefit cards so pregnant women and families with small children can buy staple foods and infant formula. The program is also designed to support women who are breastfeeding.

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Politico: California man charged with threatening Boston Globe reporters he called ‘enemy of the people’

A California man was arrested Thursday for making violent threats to The Boston Globe, including threatening to shoot the newspaper’s employees and calling them the “enemy of the people.”

It was the clearest example yet of someone using President Donald Trump’s insults to target journalists.

Robert Chain of Encino, California, was charged with one count of making threatening communications in interstate commerce, according to the Department of Justice. Chain threatened Globe reporters after the newspaper called on other media organizations across the nation to rebuke Trump’s rhetoric toward the media.

Chain, 86, will appear in federal court in Los Angeles Thursday afternoon and will be transferred to Boston at a later date, the DOJ said.

More than 350 news outlets published editorials on Aug. 16, denouncing the president’s rhetoric toward the press.

Chain, who made about 14 threatening phone calls from Aug. 10 to Aug. 22, referred to the Globe as “the enemy of the people” and threatened to kill newspaper employees, the Justice Department said.

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Rollcall: IG Confirms Trump’s Involvement in FBI Headquarters Project Across From His Hotel

President Donald Trump was more intimately involved in the debate over relocating the FBI headquarters than Congress was told, a new inspector general report finds.

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, a Democrat representing parts of Northern Virginia, said the report he requested from the General Services Administration IG confirmed his suspicions that the president was involved in the decision to scrap plans to vacate the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, and move the agency to a campus location in either the Maryland or Virginia suburbs.

“When we began this investigation, the prospect that President Trump was personally involved in the government-led redevelopment of a property in close proximity to the Trump Hotel was dismissed as a conspiracy theory,” Connolly said in a statement. “Now, the president’s involvement in this multi-billion-dollar government procurement which will directly impact his bottom line has been confirmed by the White House Press Secretary and government photographs.”

The report criticized as incomplete and potentially misleading congressional testimony to a House Appropriations subcommittee by GSA Administrator Emily Murphy regarding the change of direction.

The exchange in question involved questioning from Rep. Mike Quigley. The Illinois Democrat is the ranking member on the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee.

“Murphy told us that she believed her answers to Representative Quigley were truthful,” the report said. “We agree that her responses were literally true.”

But beyond that, the IG found significant issues with the scope of the testimony, since she did not mention conversations with top Trump administration officials, including the president himself.

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ABC: McCain offers final message of hope and resilience, rebukes Trump

Sen. John McCain, in a final message addressed to the American people, said he “lived and died a proud American,” and urged the nation to “not despair of our present difficulties” in a thinly veiled rebuke seemingly aimed at President Donald Trump.

The 81-year old Arizona senator passed away on Saturday after a year-long battle with brain cancer.

His farewell statement was released by his office on Monday.

McCain expressed his gratitude for having served in the Senate for more than 30 years, and said he was hopeful that America would come out from these “challenging times … stronger than before.”

“Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history,” McCain said.

He also took one last parting shot at the president.

“We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been,” McCain said.

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CBS: White House, criticized for lapse, lowers flag to half-staff for John McCain

Late Monday afternoon, the flag flying at the White House was lowered to half-staff to honor the late Sen. John McCain. It had been lowered to half-staff Sunday but then raised again on Monday morning, even as the nation continued honoring McCain’s life and legacy. The American Legion was among those who criticized the White House lapse and urged that the flag be lowered. The Arizona Republican, whose relationship with President Trump has long been fraught, died Saturday at the age of 81 after battling brain cancer.

In a statement issued Monday afternoon by the White House, the president said:

“Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment.

I have asked Vice President Mike Pence to offer an address at the ceremony honoring Senator McCain at the United States Capitol this Friday.

At the request of the McCain family, I have also authorized military transportation of Senator McCain’s remains from Arizona to Washington, D.C., military pallbearers and band support, and a horse and caisson transport during the service at the United States Naval Academy.

Finally, I have asked General John Kelly, Secretary James Mattis, and Ambassador John Bolton to represent my Administration at his services.”

During several events open to cameras Monday, Mr. Trump did not answer shouted questions from reporters about his response to McCain’s death.

While the White House originally lowered the flag late Saturday evening, White House reporters, including CBS News’ Mark Knoller, noticed that the flag was back at full-staff Monday morning

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The Hill: Clip of McCain defending Obama in 2008 after supporter called him ‘Arab’ goes viral after McCain’s death

A 2008 video of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) defending his then-campaign opponent Barack Obama went viral after McCain’s death on Saturday.

The resurfaced clip from the campaign trail, shows McCain shutting down a supporter who pushed a racist conspiracy theory against Obama, who was then a Democratic senator from Illinois.

“I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him, and he’s not, um, he’s an Arab,” a woman said to McCain at a town hall meeting in Lakeville, Minnesota, in October 2008.

McCain then grabbed the microphone and cut the woman off.

“No, ma’m,” he said. “He’s a decent family man [and] citizen that just I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what the campaign’s all about. He’s not [an Arab].”

McCain’s response was met by boos from the crowd, according to a Politico report from the time.

The Republican giant died Saturday at the age of 81 after a battle with an aggressive form of brain cancer.

The clip began circulating again on the internet, following the news of McCain’s death.

Author Stephen King said the instance was McCain’s “finest moment.”

“That’s manning up,” he said in a tweet.

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Politico: No, impeachment will not crash the stock market

The longest bull market run in American history could get killed off by a financial collapse in Turkey, a policy mistake by the Federal Reserve or a plain old economic recession.

It will probably not be slain by an impeachment of President Donald Trump.

That’s the consensus view of Wall Street traders and money managers, who say that while an ugly impeachment fight might cause temporary volatility, markets could easily survive an impeachment and even the unlikely event that Trump is removed from office in a Senate trial.

In fact, Wall Street pros often talk about a potential relief rally if Trump departs the White House early.

The underlying economy would remain strong, and a hypothetical President Mike Pence would likely continue Trump’s policy of low taxes and fewer regulations without all the wild tweeting and investigations and persistent trade wars.

“I’m not sure the market would be all that upset by Trump being forced to leave,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group. “Many Republicans might welcome it, and if Pence moves in, the basic low regulation, low tax nature of the presidency would be the same, only without the constant self-induced volatility, and maybe ‘trade wars’ would diminish.”

Trump took a very different view in an interview with Fox News that aired Thursday morning, saying the stock market likely would collapse if he were impeached.

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