Trumpism 🐘 Newsbites

Facebook removes thousands of pages linked to QAnon conspiracy theory
Facebook has removed thousands of accounts, groups, pages, and advertisements related to the Qanon conspiracy theory.

The social media giant said that over 790 groups, 100 Pages and 1,500 ads tied to Qanon from Facebook were taken down.

Additional restrictions were placed on over 1,950 Groups and 440 Pages on Facebook, as well as over 10,000 Instagram accounts.

QAnon supporters are celebrating after Trump publicly praised the conspiracy movement for the first time
  • Supporters of the far-right QAnon movement are jubilant after President Donald Trump praised them in public for the first time.
  • Its supporters have been largely been banned from mainstream platforms, but on alternative networks like Gab they shared celebratory messages and memes.
  • "I don't know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate," Trump said at a press briefing. "I have heard that it is gaining in popularity."
  • The president has previously shared messages from pro-QAnon accounts on Twitter, but it's the first time he's explicitly approved of the movement.
  • The movement has been identified as a domestic terror threat by the FBI, and experts have warned that the president's comments will embolden its sometimes-violent supporters.

US suspends Hong Kong extradition treaty as China feud deepens
US-China relations took another blow on Wednesday after Washington suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in protest at Beijing‘s new national security law.

The treaty was one of three the Trump administration said it was halting or axing entirely, in response to China‘s decision to impose on Hong Kong sweeping new reforms that critics say signal an end to the territory’s autonomy.

The measures mean the US will no longer cooperate with China on “the surrender of fugitive offenders, the transfer of sentenced persons and reciprocal tax exemptions on income derived from the international operation of ships”, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

Steve Bannon's 'We Build the Wall' campaign, which federal prosecutors say was a scam, raised more than $25 million from donors
  • Former Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon and three others were arrested on Thursday and charged by federal prosecutors with using a US-Mexico border wall fundraising effort called "We Build the Wall" to defraud donors.
  • "We Build the Wall, Inc," a nonprofit Bannon and his associates founded, ultimately raised more than $25 million and sent some funds to efforts to build small portions of the wall on private land.
  • Bannon and his associates told donors they would "not take a penny in salary or compensation" and then secretly took hundreds of thousands of dollars to enrich themselves, according to prosecutors.
  • Steven Bannon is the 7th Trump associate arrested or indicted since he became president

'What you guys are doing is amazing': Donald Trump Jr. spoke at an event for Steve Bannon's 'We Build the Wall' group, which federal prosecutors say defrauded donors out of millions
  • Donald Trump Jr. was a special guest last year an event for the group Steve Bannon was just arrested over.
  • Trump Jr. once described "We Build the Wall" as "what capitalism is all about" and "private enterprise at its finest."
  • A Facebook page run by the founder of the group in December 2019 ran an ad promising autographed copies of Trump Jr.'s book in exchange for donations.

Trump claims he knows nothing about Steve Bannon's border wall operation but he reportedly gave it his 'blessing' last year
  • President Donald Trump sought to distance himself from his former campaign CEO Steve Bannon after federal prosecutors charged Bannon with defrauding donors as part of border wall fundraising campaign on Thursday.
  • "Don't know anything about the project," Trump said. "It's a very sad thing by Mr. Bannon. I don't like that project."
  • But Trump struck a different tone last year, according to his longtime ally and hardline immigration hawk Kris Kobach.
  • "I talked with the president, and the 'We Build the Wall Effort' came up," Kobach told The New York Times, referring to Bannon's fundraising campaign. "The president said 'the project has my blessing, and you can tell the media that.'"

Meet Brian Kolfage, the leader behind the 'We Build the Wall' fundraising campaign who was just arrested on fraud charges with Steve Bannon
  • Brian Kolfage was arrested on fraud charges on Thursday related to a U.S.-Mexico border wall online fundraising campaign that he founded.
  • Kolfage led the organization along with three others, including former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who were also indicted.
  • An Air Force veteran, Kolfage lost both of his legs and an arm while serving in Iraq in 2004.
  • Since recovering, he got married and had children, graduated from college and created the "We Build the Wall" fundraising organization in 2018.

A disabled veteran defrauded donors and used money for a border wall to pay for this luxury fishing boat, federal prosecutors say
  • US prosecutors say Brian Kolfage, a wounded combat veteran who was indicted for fraud alongside former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, allegedly used funds crowdsourced online for a border wall to pay for a luxury boat.
  • The indictment that came down Thursday says Kolfage received $350,000 in donor funds, which he then used "to pay for his own personal expenses," including "payments toward a boat."
  • The indictment says that the US government is seizing a boat named "Warfighter" among other assets. The 40-foot-long boat and its four outboard motors have been featured prominently on social media.
  • That same luxury boat appears in a video posted on Kolfage's Instagram page and looks to have taken part in a Trump Fourth of July boat parade in Florida.

Steve Bannon walked out of federal court with a defiant message following his arrest on fraud charges
  • Steve Bannon left a federal courthouse on Thursday in Manhattan, New York, after pleading not guilty to fraud charges in connection with a fundraising scheme aimed at building portions of the wall along the US-Mexico border.
  • Bannon told news reporters gathered outside: "This entire fiasco is to stop people who want to build the wall."
  • Bannon and three others were arrested on a yacht in Connecticut hours earlier.
  • They were charged with fraud in connection with the private "We Build the Wall" fundraising campaign, which pulled in more than $25 million. They are accused of misusing the funds.

Judge dismisses Trump's second attempt to block criminal investigation into his business dealings
A federal judge has dismissed Donald Trump's second attempt to block a criminal investigation into him by Manhattan prosecutor Cyrus Vance, who is seeking to subpoena eight years of the president's tax filings.

"Under their theory of temporary absolute immunity, even if the President (presumably any president) while in office were to shoot a person in the middle of New York's Fifth Avenue, he or she would be shielded from law enforcement investigations and judicial proceedings of any kind, federal or state, until the expiration of the President's term," the federal judge wrote, denying the president's lawsuit motioning to end Mr Vance's investigation.

That legal theory is "as unprecedented and far-reaching as it is perilous to the rule of law and other bedrock constitutional principles on which this country was founded and by which it continues to be governed," the judge wrote.

Trump again accused Twitter of anti-Republican bias after #TrumpMeltdown appeared to be trending on the site: 'Only negative on Republican voices, especially mine!' (TWTR)
  • President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused social media companies — Twitter in particular — of anti-Republican bias.
  • In a tweet early on Thursday morning, Trump went after Twitter's Trending section — a sidebar on the platform that shows a range of popular topics based on region.
  • "It's never a real Twitter Trending. It's Twitter Executive's Choice," Trump said on Thursday. "Only negative on Republican voices, especially mine!"
  • Twitter declined to comment, but a representative pointed to the company's public FAQ on how the Trending section works.

'If you were hearing what I'm hearing, you'd be vaping too': Sean Hannity privately called Trump 'batsh-- crazy,' according to new book
  • A new book details private conversations Fox News host Sean Hannity had with friends, where he reportedly expressed dismay at what he was hearing from President Donald Trump.
  • "Early on in the Trump age, Hannity gained weight and vaped incessantly, which some members of his inner circle blamed on Trump-related stress," Brian Stelter, CNN's chief media correspondent, writes in "HOAX: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth."
  • "'If you were hearing what I'm hearing, you'd be vaping too,' Hannity told a colleague."
  • "I barely get a word in," Hannity reportedly told another confidant, according to Stelter's reporting.

'We're looking at it': The Trump administration has barely acknowledged the reported poisoning of Russia's top opposition leader
  • President Donald Trump has barely acknowledged the reported poisoning of a top critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • Alexei Navalny, Putin's most prominent critic, is hospitalized and in a coma. It's suspected he was poisoned.
  • This is part of a long, well-documented trend of Trump coddling dictators.
  • "What troubles me right now is our voice is missing ... President Trump is not only indifferent to democracy, he embraces Putin the autocrat and makes excuses for him," said a former US ambassador to Russia in an MSNBC interview.

Trump says he has done 'more for African Americans' than Martin Luther King III
Just days before his inauguration, Donald Trump claimed that he was more in tune with the African-American community than a group of prominent civil rights activists, including the son of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

The meeting between Trump and the activists, including Martin Luther King III, William Wachtel, and Riverside Church pastor Dr Rev James Forbes, was arranged by Presidential Transition Team aides as a way to settle tensions between the incoming president and the African-American community.

But the event quickly became, in the words of one Trump aide, “the most disastrous outreach meeting in the history of presidential transition”. According to a recording and transcript of the meeting — both of which have now been passed to The Independent — Trump spent far more time airing his own grievances and making outrageous claims than listening to the activists’ concerns.

Trump petitions Supreme Court to let him block people on Twitter again
President Donald trump has petitioned the supreme court to let him block people on Twitter again.

In 2018, it was ruled that Mr Trump cannot block other users on the social media app because the messages are “governmental in nature“ and therefore part of a public forum.

As such, blocking users “as a result of the political views they have expressed is impermissible under the First Amendment,” the judge ruled at the time.

Trumpism
or Trump-ism

Trumpism refers to the nontraditional political philosophy and approach espoused by US President Donald Trump and his supporters. The term Trumpism can also be used to directly refer to an outrageous or idiosyncratic statement made by Donald Trump.

Trumpisms are Bushisms on steroids.