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White House Consolation Event For Eagles Fans Appears To Have Been Largely Attended By Interns

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Photo Credit: Tim Furlong/Twitter

WASHINGTON, June 5, 2018 — A White House event billed as a consolation for disappointed Philadelphia Eagles fans appears to have been attended mostly by Republican interns from across the nation’s capital.

The event was supposed to be a celebration of the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory, but after President Donald Trump found out that only a small number of players planned to attend, it was listed on the president’s daily schedule as “A Celebration of America.”

“The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better.  These fans are still invited to the White House to be part of a different type of ceremony—one that will honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem,” Trump wrote Monday in a tweet.

But instead of entertaining the one thousand disappointed Eagles fans who, according to the president, had made the trip to Washington to celebrate their team, the U.S. Marine Band and Army Chorus appeared to perform for a hastily-assembled group that appeared to be comprised mostly of White House, Capitol Hill and Republican National Committee interns.

“We were invited by the White House earlier today — we got an email,” said Republican National Committee intern Jenna Webster.

Webster, whose status was made clear by an RNC intern badge hanging around her neck, explained that she and the rest of her fellow interns had only found out about the event that morning.

However, her tendency towards candor was not shared by most of the alleged members of the Eagles Nation who’d come to the White House. A number of them couldn’t remember the names of prominent Eagles players or their hometowns in Pennsylvania.

One such purported Eagles fan, Joe Zarriello, said that he’d come in spite of his hometown team’s absence to honor American service members.

But when asked where it was that he’d come from, Zarrello only replied “Pennsylvania.” Pressed further on the location of his home, he appeared to be at a loss for words for a period of several seconds, after which he could only point to Delaware County as his place of residence.

Although a few scattered Eagles caps could be seen bobbing from the South Lawn press riser, local Philadelphia reporters who’d made the trip had trouble finding anyone among the crowd who was both willing to speak to reporters and could correctly name the quarterback who’d led the Eagles to their Super Bowl victory this year.

I’ve asked 6 of the “fans” at the White House who was the @Eagles quarterback during the super bowl. Not ONE person knew,” NBC Philadelphia reporter Tim Furlong said in a tweet.

Equally as suspicious was the fact that Eagles team attire appeared to be largely absent on Tuesday’s crowd, though one White House official suggested the crowd’s sartorial tendencies were solely a function of attendees’ respect for the White House.

However, a look at crowd photos taken at similar events revealed an equal mix of fans sporting team hats or jerseys, and Washington types wearing suits or other business attire.

Tuesday’s crowd appeared to be largely composed of the latter, many of whom could be spotted wearing or carrying White House or Capitol Hill intern badges.

When BeltwayBreakfast asked one badge-wearer if he was an Eagles fan who’d planned his trip in advance, his companion poked him in the ribs and chided him for not hiding his badge as she’d been told to do.

But the few people BeltwayBreakfast found who were willing to speak with reporters represented the exception, rather than the rule, as most refused to take any questions — another marked departure from the normally gregarious fan-filled crowds at similar events.

One attendee who began walking over to the press rope line in response to reporters’ shouts was pulled back by a friend, who, just loud enough to be heard, said: “You idiot! We’re not supposed to talk to reporters!”

When asked for a breakdown of how many at Tuesday’s event were Eagles fans who’d pre-registered — and how many were Republican interns from around Washington, White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters cautioned against printing inaccurate crowd estimates, but at our deadline, had not yet responded to our request for crowd size and composition information.

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Andrew Feinberg is the Managing Editor and lead Washington Correspondent for Breakfast Media, and covers the White House, Capitol Hill, courts and regulatory agencies for BeltwayBreakfast and BroadbandBreakfast.com. He has written about policy and politics in the nation's capital since 2007.

Health Care

Conway Defends Trump’s Continuing Lie On GOP Attempts To Repeal Pre-Existing Conditions Coverage

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Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway speaks at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference

WASHINGTON, October 24, 2018 — As the mad dash to the midterm election continues, Donald Trump continues to lie about Republican intentions toward the Affordable Care Act provision that requires insurance carriers to cover preexisting conditions.

At a Monday rally for Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who is up for reelection this year, Trump claimed that Republicans intend to ensure such protections — which were a centerpiece of his predecessor’s signature legislative accomplishment — will remain intact.

On Wednesday, he repeated the claim in a tweet, writing: Republicans will totally protect people with Pre-Existing Conditions, Democrats will not! Vote Republican.”

When asked by BeltwayBreakfast why Trump was continuing to lie about his own party’s stance on preexisting condition coverage, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway first suggested this reporter did not understand health care policy, claimed President Trump has a plan to cover pre-existing conditions, and suggested that Republicans are in favor of such coverage because an Indiana GOP Senate candidate provided preexisting condition coverage to employees of his small business before it was required by law.

However, the newfound love for requiring insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions which Trump and his GOP acolytes are now professing flies in the face of nearly ten years of GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The GOP-controlled Congress managed to eliminate the ACA’s mandate to carry health insurance last year when it passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,  using so-called reconciliation rules in the Senate to get around the possibility of a Democratic filibuster, which could only be ended if Democrats participated to provide the required 60 votes. 

However, GOP’s last wholesale attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act — including the ban on denials for preexisting conditions — failed after the late Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, dramatically lowered his thumb to vote against it during an early-morning Senate session. Trump had wholeheartedly supported the repeal and complained about it for months at his frequent rallies, even as McCain lay dying of brain cancer.

While some Republicans in Congress have previously expressed a desire to try to repeal the ACA once more, a group of Republican state attorneys general is trying to get the courts to do the work for them with a lawsuit which seeks to invalidate the preexisting condition requirement because the individual mandate has been repealed.

Pressed further on why Trump now claims his party will do something it tried for years to do, Conway asked for evidence. When confronted with the GOP’s multiple votes to repeal the ACA, Trump’s support, and the administration’s failure to defend against the GOP-backed lawsuit, she dismissed the votes as irrelevant because Trump is not a legislator, even though he has supported the repeal wholeheartedly as a candidate and as president. 

When it was pointed out to Conway that under President Trump, the Department of Justice has taken the unusual step of refusing to defend against the lawsuit, she had no response other than to attack this reporter and ask for the next question.

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Foreign Policy

Haley Resigns As U.N. Ambassador, Shoots Down 2020 Speculation

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WASHINGTON, October 9, 2018 — Ambassador Nikki Haley will “take a break” from public service by resigning from her position as the United States’ top U.N. envoy at the end of the year, President Trump said Tuesday morning.

Haley will be leaving “at the end of the year,” Trump said while sitting alongside her in the Oval Office, citing the former South Carolina governor’s desire to “take a break.”

“You have been very special to me, done an incredible job,” he said while addressing Haley, adding that she has done an “incredible job” and “gets it.”

The sudden announcement came less than an hour after Axios broke the surprise news of her resignation.

Within minutes of the story’s appearance online, Haley was spotted by reporters as she walked into the Oval Office with several aides. But when she appeared alongside Trump shortly after she took pains to thank Trump for allowing her to serve, and called her time representing the U.S. at the United Nations “the honor of a lifetime.”

Trump’s conduct of foreign policy, Haley continued, has caused the United States to be respected again.

“Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do,” she said.

While some pundits speculated that the timing was connected to the #MeToo-related drama over now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, when he and Haley appeared before cameras, Trump claimed that Haley first approached him six months ago about setting a timetable to depart before the end of the Trump administration’s second year.

Haley is one of two members of the foreign policy team to have served for the entirety of Trump’s time in office. She joined the administration at a time when very few members of the Republican foreign policy establishment wanted to serve the new president, which served him just fine, as most of them had signed open letters criticizing him.

As so-called moderates like former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were forced out after clashing with Trump over his disdain for international multilateral agreements like the Iran nuclear deal, Haley remained a fixture and an oasis of stability in an administration that has seen turnover at levels unheard of at this point in a president’s first term.

Even as other establishment-minded administration officials incurred Trump’s wrath for pushing back on his most extreme impulses and saw their own reputations sullied, Haley managed to thrive in her role at the U.N.

Her New York-based post gave her a place in the spotlight and a chance to burnish her foreign policy credentials. It also gave her enough geographic distance from Washington to avoid the contempt Trump developed for the members of his national security team who he saw more regularly.

But that geographic distance also allowed her to put political distance between her and the president at moments when she would break from him in one way or another, including the aftermath of last year’s white nationalist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia.

That distance was most evident on the occasions when she would contradict her boss by sharply criticizing the Russian government, even as he continually dismissed the idea that Russia interfered in the 2016 election as a “Democrat hoax” and attacked the Justice Department investigation into the interference as a “witch hunt.”

Haley’s frequent departures from the Gospel of Trump on those matters has made her the subject of endless rumors, most of which place her on the 2020 Republican primary ballot opposing her soon-to-be former boss. But Haley attempted to put a wet blanket on any such speculation by telling reporters that she’d be campaigning for Trump, not against him.

“No, I’m not running in 2020,” she said.

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Tech

Trump Threatens Google, Twitter and Facebook — Says Tech Companies ‘Treading On Very, Very Troubled Territory And They Have To Be Careful’

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WASHINGTON, August 28, 2018 — President Donald Trump on Tuesday directly threatened three of the largest technology and social media companies in the United States for allegedly working to censor conservatives despite a lack of verifiable evidence that any such censorship is taking place.

“I think Google is really taking advantage of a lot of people, and I think that’s a very serious thing and a very serious charge. I think what Google and others are doing, if you look at what’s going on at Twitter, what’s going on on Facebook, they better be careful because you can’t do that to people, you can’t do it,” Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

“I think that Google and Twitter and Facebook are really treading on very very troubled territory and they have to be careful, it’s not fair to large portions of the population,” he added, claiming “we have literally thousands of complaints coming in” on the subject.

Trump’s remarks come less than a day after he took to Twitter to accuse Google of “rigging” search results to suppress positive news stories about him.

Google search results for “Trump News” shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal?” the president wrote.

A short time later, he added: “96% of results on “Trump News” are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous. Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!”

Shortly after the president’s tweets were posted, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told reporters that the Trump administration is “looking into” Google’s operations.

Mr. Trump and other Republicans have frequently accused Google, Facebook, Twitter and other large technology companies of deliberately acting to censor or suppress content targeted at conservatives. Such accusations are beginning to become more common in conservative media.

In July, he accused Twitter of “shadow-banning” prominent conservatives. After Facebook and other platforms banned conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, Trump tweeted that “Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices.”

Republican members of Congress have also frequently complained about so-called “censorship” by social media companies, usually in the form of banning or suspending users for content that violates their terms of service.

While Tuesday’s claims appear to be centered around allegations made in a right-wing blog post he saw discussed by Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs, this is not the first time Trump has cited a fringe media outlet when accusing Google of bias against him.

In September 2016, Trump told attendees at a Waukesha, Wisconsin rally that“Google search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton.”

That claim appeared to have been based on a widely-debunked story, which cited a YouTube video alleging that Google manipulated its search engine’s auto-complete function to bolster Hillary Clinton. The story was first published by Sputnik, a Russian state-owned news outlet which American officials say was part of Russia’s campaign to influence the 2016 election.

In a statement on Tuesday, a Google spokesperson flatly denied the president’s claims, citing the company’s goal of making sure users “receive the most relevant answers” to their queries “in a matter of seconds.”

“Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology. Every year, we issue hundreds of improvements to our algorithms to ensure they surface high-quality content in response to users’ queries. We continually work to improve Google Search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.”

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