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WASHINGTON—No, David Brody says, this “will not be the world’s shortest book.”
David Brody, chief political correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network, announced Friday that he is writing The Faith of Donald J. Trump: A Spiritual Biography, a book to be released in January by a HarperCollins imprint devoted to conservative non-fiction.
The news was greeted with incredulity and mockery from a bipartisan array of pundits, some of whom joked that the pages would be blank. But Brody, who interviewed Trump nine times during the 2016 campaign and once as president, says that he and co-author Scott Lamb, a Baptist minister and the “Jesus in the Public Square” columnist for the conservative Washington Times, have an interesting and non-fictional story to tell.
He spoke to the Star on Monday. The interview is below, condensed and lightly edited:
This is “a spiritual biography.” Do you think Donald Trump has a spiritual life?
I think Donald Trump has a spiritual life, and a spiritual journey that needs to be explored, and that’s exactly what this book is going to do. We all have a journey, he does too. He’s president of the United States, and it’s worth exploring.
A lot of people who don’t like Trump think that he doesn’t really have a spiritual journey — that he has never cared about God or religion, and then started running for president and started claiming that he did. How would you respond?
Those people that are thinking that probably aren’t going to buy the book, number one. But number two, I think they would also have to admit that none of us are perfect, and this book doesn’t claim to make Donald Trump out to be something he’s not. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a spiritual walk with the Lord, and that’s something we’re going to explore. There are a lot of interesting stories that I think people might be interested to know.
I do think it’s important for some of the critics to understand that we’re not going to gloss over some of what has taken place in the past, whether it be anything from “Two Corinthians” (the phrase Trump was mocked for using during the campaign instead of “Second Corinthians”) or some of the other things that people might bring up from time to time about Donald Trump.
He’s been described as recently as last year, by James Dobson, as a “baby Christian.” Where do you think he is today on that spiritual journey?
That’s something I’m going to have to leave for the book, unfortunately. I’d love to answer that question. I would just suggest that people keep an open mind and gather all the evidence, not just the evidence they have before them right now.
The press release says the book will delve into the president’s “rarely discussed, but deeply important, religious beliefs.” Why do you believe that these beliefs, in Donald Trump, are actually important?
For so many different reasons. Let me just start with this: the Judeo-Christian values that this country was founded on is something that Donald Trump does believe in. He’s been very clear about that. And he’s actually shown that through public policy since he’s become president.
How intense do you think evangelical devotion to Trump remains today after these tumultuous first six months?
He is off to a good start with evangelicals. There’s no doubt about it. They’re pleasantly — I don’t even know about “pleasantly surprised.” Some may be pleasantly surprised. Others knew that he would do this all along and he’d be good for them.
I’ve been frequently asked how God-fearing, churchgoing people support this vulgar adulterer and so on.
There are so many different reasons for this, but let me kind of boil it down to this: Donald Trump sees the world in black and white, right versus wrong, good versus evil. In essence, he sees the world in absolutes. Evangelicals see the world in absolutes as well: good versus evil, heaven and hell, Jesus is the only way to heaven. Donald Trump has been ridiculed for the fact that he’s taken certain stands, and is unapologetic about it. You know what? Christians, evangelicals, take a stand about their faith in public and get ridiculed for it as well. And so there’s a common bond between the two in some sort of Dr. Phil psychological way that no one’s ever going to be able to put in a test tube and explain.
During the campaign, you wrote that evangelicals didn’t like Trump’s “name-calling and hefty ego.” How do evangelicals justify continued support for this man even though he refuses to change those elements of his personality?
There’s two sects, if you will, of evangelicals. There were pro-Trump folks that were pro-Trump in the primary. And then there are the folks that said, “Hey look, it’s either Trump or Hillary.” For those evangelicals, they’re going to be able to overlook a few things based on the fact that: “Well, if it comes down to that or do I want the next Supreme Court to rule 5-4 on cultural issues in this land” — they’ll play for the long term. And sometimes you have to choose what potentially makes sense for the longer-term benefit.
Do you know if Trump prays regularly?
I can’t talk about that, because that’s part of some things we may discuss in the book.
When you’ve delved into issues of religion with the president, is there anything that surprised you or struck you about what he was saying?
He’s a lot more pensive than people think when it comes to matters of faith. It’s more deeply rooted than you might think.
Your press release says he managed to win over evangelicals without “pandering” or “pretending to be something he’s not.” A lot of people would say that he was pretending to be much more devout than he ever actually was. Are you convinced that he ran without fakery?
I’ll just say this: he’s a guy that never claimed to be the Bible Answer Man. That would be pandering if he was a guy that went around and said, “Look how great I am, I’m the greatest Christian in the world.” He’s not going to win Christian Man of the Year; he understands that and they understand that.
WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court is granting the Trump administration’s request to more strictly enforce its ban on refugees, at least until a federal appeals court weighs in.
But the justices are leaving in place a lower court order that makes it easier for travellers from six mostly Muslim countries to enter the United States.
The administration had appealed last week’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson that required the government to allow in refugees formally working with a resettlement agency in the United States. Watson also vastly expanded the family relations that refugees and visitors can use to get into the country.
The high court on Wednesday blocked Watson’s order as it applies to refugees, but not the expanded list of relatives. The justices said the federal appeals court in San Francisco should now consider the appeal. It’s not clear how quickly that will happen.
In the meantime, though, up to 24,000 refugees who already have been assigned to a charity or religious organization in the U.S. will not be able to use that connection to get into the country.
The Supreme Court also denied the administration’s request to clarify its ruling last month that allowed the administration to partially reinstate a 90-day ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day ban on refugees from anywhere in the world.
The court’s ruling exempted a large swath of refugees and travellers with a “bona fide relationship” with a person or an entity in the U.S. The justices did not define those relationships but said they could include a close relative, a job offer or admission to a college or university.
Watson’s order added grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins to a list that already included a parent, spouse, fiance, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the U.S. The expanded list of relatives remains in effect.
Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas would have blocked Watson’s order in its entirety. Those same three justices said last month they would have allowed the Trump travel ban to take full effect.
WASHINGTON—Police have received reports that two of the Burundi teenagers gone missing after an international robotics competition have been seen crossing the border into Canada.
The search for all the teens is ongoing, but police have no indication of foul play in their disappearance, Metropolitan Police spokesperson Aquita Brown said.
The teens seen crossing into Canada were 16-year-old Don Ingabire and 17-year-old Audrey Mwamikazi, Brown said.
The Canadian Border Services Agency says it is not its practice to confirm or deny the entry of any person into Canada.
There was no official indication Thursday that any of the teens were trying to avoid returning to their homes in Africa, but a leader in the Burundian community in the U.S. suggested that they may be intending to seek asylum. Immigration attorneys said an asylum application could take years to sort out.
Police tweeted missing person fliers Wednesday asking for help finding the teens, who had last been seen at the FIRST Global Challenge around the time of Tuesday’s final matches. The missing team members include two 17-year-old girls and four males ranging in age from 16 to 18.
The competition, designed to encourage youths to pursue careers in math and science, attracted teams of teenagers from more than 150 nations.
A squad of girls from Afghanistan drew the most attention after they were twice rejected for U.S. visas and President Donald Trump intervened.
Competition organizers learned Tuesday night that the team’s mentor couldn’t find the six students who participated in the competition and organization President FIRST Global President Joe Sestak made the initial call to the police, according to a FIRST Global Challenge statement.
“Security of the students is of paramount importance to FIRST Global,” organizers said, noting that they ensure students get to their dormitories after the competition by providing safe transportation to students staying at Trinity Washington University. The students “are always to be under close supervision of their adult mentor and are advised not to leave the premises unaccompanied by the mentor.”
The mentor said the teens travelled from Burundi for the competition and have one-year visas, according to police reports. The mentor said they disappeared after the competition, but he doesn’t know where they went. The reports say police tried to contact one missing teen’s uncle but got no response. The reports state police canvassed DAR Constitution Hall, where the competition was held.
The competition’s webpage about Team Burundi shows the six team members posing with a flag and says team members were selected from schools in Bujumbura, the capital city. The team’s slogan in Kirundi is “Ugushaka Nugushobora,” which translates roughly to “where there is a will, there is a way.”
Police tweeted images of the teens Wednesday, saying they are looking for 17-year-old girls, Audrey Mwamikazi and Nice Munezero; Richard Irakoze and Aristide Irambona, both 18; Kevin Sabumukiza, 17; and Don Ingabire, 16.
Hassan Ahmad, an immigration lawyer in northern Virginia not involved in the situation, said that if the teens make an asylum application, then Immigration and Customs Enforcement could seek to detain the teens pending removal proceedings. The teens would be eligible to seek bond and stay in the country while they await their hearing. It can take years to have a court hearing scheduled. And even if ICE declines to seek detention, it can take several years for applicants to have their formal interview to determine whether they are eligible for asylum.
Oscar Niyiragira, chairman of the United Burundian-American Community Association Inc., was not at all surprised to hear that some of the teens were heading to Canada. He had no direct knowledge of their situation, but assumed they were seeking asylum, and many in the community feel the odds are better in Canada, especially now that the Trump administration has taken a harsh stance on immigration.
He called the teens’ departure disappointing. He said that economic impoverishment, rather than political persecution, is the driving force in most people’s decision to seek asylum from Burundi, and he said it unfairly tarnishes Burundi’s reputation when people flee and exaggerate the fears of political violence.
“Now I’m not saying the government does not commit some crimes. They do,” said Niyiragira, who lives in Louisville, Kentucky. But the situation in Burundi is not nearly as bad as it was in waves of violence in the ‘70s and the ‘90s, he said.
Burundi, an East African nation of about 10 million people who speak the local Kirundi language and French, has faced sporadic violence in recent years.
Burundi’s government had no immediate comment Thursday.
Nkurunziza is visiting neighbouring Tanzania, home to tens of thousands of Burundian refugees who have fled deadly political violence. Hundreds of people have been killed, according to the United Nations, and rights groups accuse Burundi’s security forces of abuses including killings and disappearances. Burundi’s government often dismisses the allegations, saying they are based on false information supplied by the regime’s opponents.
Police have charged a Toronto man with sexual assault after an incident that occurred at Ossington subway station on Wednesday night.
A tweet put out by police said that a man reportedly grabbed children as they passed by him, then fled to a near by parking lot. Police posted a photo and asked for assistance in identifying him.
Police said that a woman was walking with her seven-year-old son at the top of the escalator when the man approached the boy from behind and sexually assaulted him.
The assault happened shortly after 8 p.m.
Chitranjan Boyal, 41, is charged with sexual assault and sexual interference.
With files from Alexandra Jones
WASHINGTON—Officials in the U.S. and Europe are announcing a takedown of two internet marketplaces for drugs, counterfeit goods, weapons, hacking tools and other illicit items hosted on the so-called dark web.
Authorities say the operation, led by the FBI, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Dutch police, shut down infrastructure belonging to the networks AlphaBay and Hansa, according to a press release from Europol.
Prosecutors say AlphaBay had 200,000 members and 40,000 vendors before it was taken offline. They say it was the largest of many illegal marketplaces that operate in hidden corners of the internet.
Marketplaces on the dark web are not accessible through a typical web browser.
In addition to seizing AlphaBay’s infrastructure, prosecutors charged AlphaBay’s founder, Alexandre Cazes, with crimes including conspiracy to engage in racketeering and conspiracy to distribute narcotics. Cazes, 26, a Canadian citizen who had resided in Thailand, apparently killed himself while in custody in Thailand this month, the Justice Department said, and prosecutors have moved to seize his and his wife’s assets throughout the world.
AlphaBay, which went offline earlier this month, operated on the Tor network, which helps users browse the internet anonymously. Visitors to the online marketplace paid through digital currencies such as Bitcoin. Officials say hundreds of vendors advertised either fentanyl or heroin.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other federal officials announced an indictment in California on Thursday of a suspected administrator of the site, and the Justice Department filed a forfeiture complaint to seize assets connected to the operation.
With files from the Washington Post
With files from the Washington Post
The following are excerpts from that conversation, transcribed by The Times. It has been lightly edited for content and clarity, and omits several off-the-record comments and asides.
TRUMP: Hi fellas, how you doing?
BAKER: Good. Good. How was your lunch (with Republican senators)?
TRUMP: It was good. We are very close. It’s a tough — you know, health care. Look, Hillary Clinton worked eight years in the White House with her husband as president and having majorities and couldn’t get it done. Smart people, tough people — couldn’t get it done. Obama worked so hard. They had 60 in the Senate. They had big majorities and had the White House. I mean, ended up giving away the state of Nebraska. They owned the state of Nebraska. Right. Gave it away. Their best senator did one of the greatest deals in the history of politics. What happened to him?
But I think we are going to do OK I think we are going to see. I mean, one of my ideas was repeal. But I certainly rather would get repeal and replace, because the next last thing I want to do is start working tomorrow morning on replace. And it is time. It is tough. It’s a very narrow path, winding this way. You think you have it, and then you lose four on the other side because you gave. It is a brutal process. And it was for Democrats, in all fairness.
BAKER: March, March 2010.
TRUMP: So he was there for more than a year.
HABERMAN: Fourteen months.
TRUMP: And I’m here less than six months, so, ah, you know. Something to think about.
BAKER: We wrote the same stories, though, in August of 2009. “Obama can’t get it.”
SCHMIDT: It died several times.
HABERMAN: Several times.
TRUMP: Well, it was a tough one. That was a very tough one.
BAKER: He lost that election (the 2010 mid-terms).
TRUMP: Nothing changes. Nothing changes. Once you get something for pre-existing conditions, etc., etc. Once you get something, it’s awfully tough to take it away.
HABERMAN: That’s been the thing for four years. When you win an entitlement, you can’t take it back.
TRUMP: But what it does, Maggie, it means it gets tougher and tougher. As they get something, it gets tougher. Because politically, you can’t give it away. So pre-existing conditions are a tough deal. Because you are basically saying from the moment the insurance, you’re 21 years old, you start working and you’re paying $12 a year for insurance, and by the time you’re 70, you get a nice plan. Here’s something where you walk up and say, “I want my insurance.” It’s a very tough deal, but it is something that we’re doing a good job of.
HABERMAN: Am I wrong in thinking — I’ve talked to you a bunch of times about this over the last couple years, but you are generally of the view that people should have health care, right? I mean, I think that you come at it from the view of …
TRUMP: Yes, yes. (garbled)
* * *
TRUMP: So I told them today, I don’t want to do that. I want to either get it done or not get it done. If we don’t get it done, we are going to watch Obamacare go down the tubes, and we’ll blame the Democrats. And at some point, they are going to come and say, “You’ve got to help us.”
BAKER: Did the senators want to try again?
TRUMP: I think so. We had a great meeting. Was I late?
TRUMP: It was a great meeting. We had 51 show up, other than John.
BAKER: Senator McCain.
TRUMP: That’s a lot. Normally when they call for a meeting, you have like 20.
HABERMAN: How about the last one in June? Do you guys remember how many came?
TRUMP: Ah, 49. It was actually 48, but John McCain was there. But I guess we had 51 today, so that counts. That shows the spirit.
BAKER: Who is the key guy?
TRUMP: Well, they are all key. The problem is we have 52 votes. Don’t forget, you look at Obama, he had 60. That’s a big difference. So, we have 52 votes. Now, I guess we lose Susan Collins. I guess we lose Rand Paul. Then we can’t lose any votes. That is a very tough standard. Statistically, you want to bet on that all day long. With that being said, I think we had a great meeting. I think we had a great meeting.
HABERMAN: Where does it go from here, do you think?
TRUMP: Well, I say, let’s not vote on repeal. Let’s just vote on this. So first, they vote on the vote. And that happens sometime Friday?
HABERMAN: Next week.
TRUMP: Or Monday? Monday. And then they’ll vote on this, and we’ll see. We have some meetings scheduled today. I think we have six people who are really sort of OK. They are all good people. We don’t have bad people. I know the bad people. Believe me, do I know bad people.
And we have a very good group of people, and I think they want to get there. So we’ll see what happens. But it’s tough.
SCHMIDT: How’s (Mitch) McConnell to work with?
TRUMP: I like him. I mean, he’s good. He’s good. It’s been a tough process for him.
HABERMAN: He’s taken on some water.
TRUMP: Yeah. It’s been a tough process for him. This health care is a tough deal. I said it from the beginning. No. 1, you know, a lot of the papers were saying — actually, these guys couldn’t believe it, how much I know about it. I know a lot about health care. (garbled) This is a very tough time for him, in a sense, because of the importance. And I believe we get there.
This is a very tough time for them, in a sense, because of the importance. And I believe that it’s (garbled), that makes it a lot easier. It’s a mess. One of the things you get out of this, you get major tax cuts, and reform. And if you add what the people are going to save in the middle income brackets, if you add that to what they’re saving with health care, this is like a windfall for the country, for the people. So, I don’t know, I thought it was a great meeting. I bet the number’s — I bet the real number’s four. But let’s say six or eight. And everyone’s (garbled), so statistically, that’s a little dangerous, right?
BAKER: Pretty tight.
TRUMP: I hope we don’t have any grandstanders. I don’t think we do.
TRUMP: I think it will be pretty bad for them if they did. I don’t think we have any — I think it would be very bad for — I think this is something the people want. They’ve been promised it.
* * *
HABERMAN: (In Paris), I don’t think I’ve seen you look like you were enjoying yourself that much since the convention, really.
TRUMP: I have had the best reviews on foreign land. So I go to Poland and make a speech. Enemies of mine in the media, enemies of mine are saying it was the greatest speech ever made on foreign soil by a president. I’m saying, man, they cover (garbled). You saw the reviews I got on that speech. Poland was beautiful and wonderful, and the reception was incredible.
And then, went to France the following week, because it was the 100th year. (inaudible) The Paris Accord — I wasn’t going to get along with France for a little while, because people forget, because it is a very unfair agreement to us. China doesn’t get (garbled) until 2030. Russia goes back to 1994 as a standard — a much, much lower standard. India has things that are (garbled). I want to do the same thing as everyone else. We can’t do that? We can’t do that? That’s OK. Let me get out. Frankly, the people that like me, love that I got out.
After that, it was fairly surprising. He (President Emmanuel Macron of France) called me and said, “I’d love to have you there and honour you in France,” having to do with Bastille Day. Plus, it’s the 100th year of the First World War. That’s big. And I said yes. I mean, I have a great relationship with him. He’s a great guy.
HABERMAN: He was very deferential to you. Very.
TRUMP: He’s a great guy. Smart. Strong. Loves holding my hand.
HABERMAN: I’ve noticed.
TRUMP: People don’t realize he loves holding my hand. And that’s good, as far as that goes.
* * *
TRUMP: I mean, really. He’s a very good person. And a tough guy, but look, he has to be. I think he is going to be a terrific president of France. But he does love holding my hand.
TRUMP: At that note, the cameras are gone. I was standing there with him, with probably hundreds of thousands of people.
HABERMAN: It was a very crowded (garbled).
TRUMP: And it was one of the most beautiful parades I have ever seen. And in fact, we should do one one day down Pennsylvania Ave.
HABERMAN: I wondered if you were going to say that.
TRUMP: I’ve always thought of that.
TRUMP: I’ve always thought of that. I’ve thought of it long before.
TRUMP: But the Bastille Day parade was — now that was a super-duper — OK I mean, that was very much more than normal. They must have had 200 planes over our heads. Normally you have the planes and that’s it, like the Super Bowl parade. And everyone goes crazy, and that’s it. That happened for — and you know what else that was nice? It was limited. You know, it was two hours, and the parade ended. It didn’t go a whole day. They didn’t go crazy. You don’t want to leave, but you have to. Or you want to leave, really.
These things are going on all day. It was a two-hour parade. They had so many different zones. Maybe 100,000 different uniforms, different divisions, different bands. Then we had the retired, the older, the ones who were badly injured. The whole thing, it was an incredible thing.
HABERMAN: It was beautiful.
TRUMP: And you are looking at the Arc (de Triomphe). So we are standing in the most beautiful buildings, and we are looking down the road, and like three miles in, and then you had the Arc. And then you have these soldiers. Everyone was so proud. Honestly, it was a beautiful thing. I was glad I did it.
People were surprised because I’d just come back from Hamburg. So I was back for three days, and then I had to go out again. But when he (Mr. Macron) invited me, he and I have a very good relationship. I have a very good relationship with Merkel (Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany). Do you know what happened with Merkel? So I am sitting in the chair. We’d been sitting there for two hours. So it’s not like, “Nice to see ya.” So the press comes in. So I guess someone screamed out, “Shake her hand, shake her hand!” I didn’t even hear. So I didn’t shake her hand, because I’d been with her for so long. I’d been with her for a long period of time. So I didn’t shake her — the next day, “Trump refused to shake …” (garbled)
* * *
TRUMP: She actually called me, and she said, um, “You know, I think we get along very well.” I said we do, we really do. I said, “You gotta put more money into NATO,” No. 1. And No. 2 is like, our trade imbalance is ridiculous. You know, it’s a money machine.
* * *
TRUMP: It’s been a long time. Nothing changes. Wait till you see what we’re going to do on trade.
HABERMAN: Sounds like it’s going to be very interesting.
TRUMP: Much more interesting than anybody would understand.
* * *
BAKER: Will you go to Britain? Are you going to make a state visit to Britain? Are you going to be able to do that?
TRUMP: As to Britain?
HABERMAN: Will you go there?
TRUMP: Ah, they’ve asked me. What was interesting — so, when Macron asked, I said: “Do you think it’s a good thing for me to go to Paris? I just ended the Paris Accord last week. Is this a good thing?” He said, “They love you in France.” I said, “OK, I just don’t want to hurt you.”
* * *
TRUMP: We had dinner at the Eiffel Tower, and the bottom of the Eiffel Tower looked like they could have never had a bigger celebration ever in the history of the Eiffel Tower. I mean, there were thousands and thousands of people, ’cause they heard we were having dinner.
HABERMAN: You must have been so tired at, by that point.
TRUMP: Yeah. It was beautiful. We toured the museum, we went to Napoleon’s tomb …
TRUMP: Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. So I asked the president, so what about Napoleon? He said: “No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.” (garbled) The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes. He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death. How many times has Russia been saved by the weather? (garbled)
TRUMP: Same thing happened to Hitler. Not for that reason, though. Hitler wanted to consolidate. He was all set to walk in. But he wanted to consolidate, and it went and dropped to 35 degrees below zero, and that was the end of that army.
But the Russians have great fighters in the cold. They use the cold to their advantage. I mean, they’ve won five wars where the armies that went against them froze to death. (crosstalk) It’s pretty amazing.
So, we’re having a good time. The economy is doing great.
SCHMIDT: The markets are doing great.
TRUMP: They’re going to really go up if we do what we’re doing. I mean, cut regulations tremendously. Sometimes — you know, one thing they hadn’t thought about at The Times, where they said I didn’t really cut regulations as much. I heard that because I said — it could have been a little slip-up in terms of what I said — I meant, for the time in office, five months and couple of weeks, I think I’ve done more than anyone else. They may have taken it as more than anyone else, period.
But I’m talking about for my time. I heard that Harry Truman was first, and then we beat him. These are approved by Congress. These are not just executive orders. On the executive orders, we cut regulations tremendously. By the way, I want regulations, but, you know, some of the — you have to get nine different regulations, and you could never do anything. I’ve given the farmers back their farms. I’ve given the builders back their land to build houses and to build other things.
The energy stuff is going really well. We’re going to be an exporter — we already are an exporter of energy. We’re doing well. I mean, the banks, you look at rules and regulations, you look at Dodd-Frank, Dodd-Frank is going to be, you know, modified, and again, I want rules and regulations. But you don’t want to choke, right? People can’t get loans to buy a pizza parlour, to buy a — you know, I saw out on the trail — people say, Mr. Trump, we’ve dealt with banks, my own bank, and they can’t loan me anymore. I’ve never had a bad day with a bank. You know? So we’ll put — yeah, because of statutory (garbled), they can’t loan to that kind of a business. And they’re good businesses to loan to. So I think we’ve — I think we’re set to really go (garbled).
* * *
BAKER: As long as we’re on the record, a lot of people are curious about your conversation with President (Vladimir V.) Putin at dinner. Not surprising. But what did you all talk about, and——
TRUMP: So, that dinner was a very long time planned dinner. And what it was was an evening at the opera. It was a final night goodbye from Germany and from Chancellor Merkel. It was her dinner. It was, you know, everybody knew about it. It was well-known.
* * *
TRUMP: So when we got there, it was with spouses, and when we got there, there were a thousand media. You guys know, were you guys there?
BAKER: No, it was Julie (Hirschfeld Davis) and Glenn Thrush.
TRUMP: So, it was tremendous media. And we took a picture of everybody, the wives and the leaders, and then the leaders, and, you know, numerous pictures outside on the river. Then everybody walked in to see the opera. Then the opera ended. Then we walked into a big room where they had dinner for not only the leaders — Lagarde (Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund) was there, who I think is terrific, and various others. You had the E.U. people there, people other than just the leaders, but quite a few people. I would say you have 20 times two, so you had 40, and then you probably had another 10 or 15 people, you had Christine Lagarde, you had some others also.
So, I was seated next to the wife of Prime Minister Abe (Shinzo Abe of Japan), who I think is a terrific guy, and she’s a terrific woman, but doesn’t speak English.
HABERMAN: Like, nothing, right? Like zero?
TRUMP: Like, not “hello.”
HABERMAN: That must make for an awkward seating.
TRUMP: Well, it’s hard, because you know, you’re sitting there for——
TRUMP: So the dinner was probably an hour and 45 minutes.
* * *
TRUMP: You had an opera, and then you had a cocktail party for the people at the opera, and then you had the leaders with the spouses, and other leaders in Europe and maybe other places, go in. We sat at this really long table, which held, has to be at least 60, 65 people with room. OK, it’s a very big table, big room. But there was nothing secretive about it.
It was like, that’s where we’re going. And I think it even said on the list, at the request of the German chancellor and Germany, it’s going to be the opera, it’s going to be cocktails, it’s going to be dinner. I think the crowd thinned out for the dinner — you know, it was the leaders, primarily. But the leaders and Lagarde. And (inaudible).
OK, so we’re sitting at this massive table. And the wives are separated from their husbands, which sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. But they did. It’s always easier when they don’t do it, because you always have somebody to talk to, right? And I was sitting next to the president of Argentina — his wife — (Mauricio) Macri — nice woman, who speaks English. And the prime minister of Japan’s wife, Prime Minister Abe. Great relationships. So I’m sitting there. There was one interpreter for Japanese, ’cause otherwise it would have been even tougher. But I enjoyed the evening with her, and she’s really a lovely woman, and I enjoyed — the whole thing was good.
And now Melania was sitting on the other side of the table, way down on the other end, very far away. She was sitting next to Putin and somebody else, I don’t know. She was sitting next to Putin.
HABERMAN: She had been the whole time?
TRUMP: Yes. She was sitting next to Putin.
BAKER: Does she speak Russian at all?
TRUMP: No. She speaks other languages.
TRUMP: She was sitting next to Putin and somebody else, and that’s the way it is. So the meal was going, and toward dessert I went down just to say hello to Melania, and while I was there I said hello to Putin. Really, pleasantries more than anything else. It was not a long conversation, but it was, you know, could be 15 minutes. Just talked about — things. Actually, it was very interesting, we talked about adoption.
HABERMAN: You did?
TRUMP: We talked about Russian adoption. Yeah. I always found that interesting. Because, you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don (Jr., Mr. Trump’s son) had in that meeting. As I’ve said — most other people, you know, when they call up and say, “By the way, we have information on your opponent,” I think most politicians — I was just with a lot of people, they said (inaudible), “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?” They just said——
HABERMAN: The senators downstairs?
TRUMP: A lot of them. They said, “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?”
BAKER: You asked them about it at lunch?
TRUMP: Nah, a couple of them. They — now, that was before Russia was hot, don’t forget. You know, Russia wasn’t hot then. That was almost a year and a half ago. It wasn’t like it is, like it is radioactive, then. Russia was Russia.
HABERMAN: Then can I ask you——
BAKER: Sorry to interrupt. The email, though, said something I thought was really interesting, and I wonder what you thought of it. It said this “is part of Russia and its government’s support of Mr. Trump.” So whatever actually happened at the meeting——
TRUMP: Well, I never saw the email. I never saw the email until, you know——
BAKER: Right, but now you have. So, what do you interpret that to mean, now that you have seen it?
* * *
TRUMP: Well, Hillary did the reset. Somebody was saying today, and then I read, where Hillary Clinton was dying to get back with Russia. Her husband made a speech, got half a million bucks while she was secretary of state. She did the uranium deal, which is a horrible thing, while she was secretary of state, and got a lot of money.
* * *
TRUMP: She was opposing sanctions. She was totally opposed to any sanctions for Russia.
BAKER: When was that?
HABERMAN: Do you remember when that was? I don’t remember that.
* * *
TRUMP: I just saw it. I just saw it. She was opposed to sanctions, strongly opposed to sanctions on Russia.
HABERMAN: This is post-Crimea, I’m assuming? Is that what we would be talking about?
TRUMP: I don’t really know. … But in that time. And don’t forget, Crimea was given away during Obama. Not during Trump. In fact, I was on one of the shows, I said they’re exactly right, they didn’t have it as it exactly. But he was — this — Crimea was gone during the Obama administration, and he gave, he allowed it to get away. You know, he can talk tough all he wants, in the meantime he talked tough to North Korea. And he didn’t actually. He didn’t talk tough to North Korea. You know, we have a big problem with North Korea. Big. Big, big. You look at all of the things, you look at the line in the sand. The red line in the sand in Syria. He didn’t do the shot. I did the shot. Had he done that shot, he wouldn’t have had — had he done something dramatic, because if you remember, they had a tremendous gas attack after he made that statement. Much bigger than the one they had with me.
HABERMAN: It was sarin as well?
TRUMP: Sarin. And, and tremendous numbers of people were killed, young people, children. And he didn’t do anything. That was a famous weekend where they were all asking him to do it, do it, do it. They thought they had it, and then he — not easy to do, I will say this, ’cause when I had to make that decision, I was with the president of China, and General Mattis (Defense Secretary Jim Mattis) said, “We’re locked and loaded, sir,” and I’m saying (mumbles), you know. (mumbles) Look, you’re killing people.
TRUMP: You hate it, it’s tough. Obama — you know, I can understand it in a way, but some things you have to do. But it’s, it’s a tough, it’s a tough decision to make.
BAKER: I do want to come out, on the email, now that you have seen that email that said Russia’s government — I mean, how did you — did you interpret it that way?
TRUMP: Well, I thought originally it might have had to do something with the payment by Russia of the D.N.C. Somewhere I heard that. Like, it was an illegal act done by the D.N.C., or the Democrats. That’s what I had heard. Now, I don’t know where I heard it, but I had heard that it had to do something with illegal acts with respect to the D.N.C. Now, you know, when you look at the kind of stuff that came out, that was, that was some pretty horrific things came out of that. But that’s what I had heard. But I don’t know what it means. All I know is this: When somebody calls up and they say, “We have infor—” Look what they did to me with Russia, and it was totally phoney stuff.
HABERMAN: Which, which one?
SCHMIDT: The dossier.
TRUMP: The dossier.
HABERMAN: The dossier. Oh, yes.
* * *
TRUMP: Now, that was totally made-up stuff, and in fact, that guy’s being sued by somebody. … And he’s dying with the lawsuit. I know a lot about those guys, they’re phoney guys. They make up whatever they want. Just not my thing — plus, I have witnesses, because I went there with a group of people. You know, I went there with Phil Ruffin——
HABERMAN: Oh, I didn’t know that.
* * *
TRUMP: I had a group of bodyguards, including Keith (Schiller) —
HABERMAN: Keith was there, right?
TRUMP: Keith was there. He said, “What kind of crap is this?” I went there for one day for the Miss Universe contest, I turned around, I went back. It was so disgraceful. It was so disgraceful.
TRUMP: When he (James B. Comey) brought it (the dossier) to me, I said this is really made-up junk. I didn’t think about anything. I just thought about, man, this is such a phoney deal.
HABERMAN: You said that to him?
TRUMP: Yeah, don’t forget——
* * *
TRUMP: I said, this is — honestly, it was so wrong, and they didn’t know I was just there for a very short period of time. It was so wrong, and I was with groups of people. It was so wrong that I really didn’t, I didn’t think about motive. I didn’t know what to think other than, this is really phoney stuff.
SCHMIDT: Why do you think — why do you think he shared it?
TRUMP: I think he shared it so that I would — because the other three people left, and he showed it to me.
TRUMP: So anyway, in my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there.
SCHMIDT: As leverage?
TRUMP: Yeah, I think so. In retrospect. In retrospect. You know, when he wrote me the letter, he said, “You have every right to fire me,” blah blah blah. Right? He said, “You have every right to fire me.” I said, that’s a very strange — you know, over the years, I’ve hired a lot of people, I’ve fired a lot of people. Nobody has ever written me a letter back that you have every right to fire me.
BAKER: Do you think in hindsight, because of what’s happened since then——
TRUMP: Comey wrote a letter.
HABERMAN: Which letter?
SCHMIDT: To you? To the F.B.I. staff or to you?
TRUMP: I thought it was to me, right?
BAKER: I think he wrote it to the staff, saying——
TRUMP: It might have been——
BAKER: That “the president has every right to fire me.”
TRUMP: It might have been. It was just a very strange letter to say that.
BAKER: But do you think in hindsight, given that——
TRUMP: What was the purpose in repeating that?
BAKER: Do you think what’s given that——
TRUMP: Do you understand what I mean? Why would somebody say, “He has every right to fire me,” bah bah bah. Why wouldn’t you just say, “Hey, I’ve retired …”
TRUMP: It was very — a lot of people have commented that.
BAKER: Given what’s happened since then, though, was it a political mistake to have fired him, given what’s happened?
TRUMP: I think I did a great thing for the American people.
* * *
SCHMIDT: But look at the headache it’s caused, you know?
TRUMP: It’s OK. I have headaches, that’s what I have, I have headaches. … But you know what, I think I did a great thing for the American people.
HABERMAN: Do you wish you had done it on Day 1? When you got in? Because I honestly had assumed that you, if you were going to do it, that’s when you would do it.
TRUMP: Well, it could’ve been. It could’ve been. I feel like it was very dishonest when he wouldn’t say what he knew he said to the public. I thought that was very honest. And I thought that he did that for the reason I just said.
* * *
SCHMIDT: What do you understand to be the four corners of what Mueller (Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel in the Russia investigation) can look at, if he steps—— (crosstalk)
TRUMP: I don’t know. Nobody has contacted me about anything.
* * *
TRUMP: Because I have done nothing wrong. A special counsel should never have been appointed in this case.
BAKER: Can we put that on the record?
TRUMP: Because so far, the only — yeah, you can put it down.
SCHMIDT: Was that (Attorney General Jeff) Sessions’s mistake or (Deputy Attorney General Rod J.) Rosenstein’s mistake?
* * *
TRUMP: Look, Sessions gets the job. Right after he gets the job, he recuses himself.
BAKER: Was that a mistake?
TRUMP: Well, Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.
HABERMAN: He gave you no heads up at all, in any sense?
TRUMP: Zero. So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.” It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy.
TRUMP: Who is he? And Jeff hardly knew. He’s from Baltimore.
* * *
TRUMP: Yeah, what Jeff Sessions did was he recused himself right after, right after he became attorney general. And I said, “Why didn’t you tell me this before?” I would have — then I said, “Who’s your deputy?” So his deputy he hardly knew, and that’s Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, who is from Baltimore. There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any. So, he’s from Baltimore. Now, he, we went through a lot of things. We were interviewing replacements at the F.B.I. Did you know Mueller was one of the people that was being interviewed?
HABERMAN: I did, actually.
TRUMP: He was sitting in that chair. We had a wonderful meeting.
HABERMAN: Day before, right?
SCHMIDT: Did he want the job?
TRUMP: The day before! Of course, he was up here, and he wanted the job.
HABERMAN: And he made that clear to you? He would have——
* * *
TRUMP: So, now what happens is, he leaves the office. Rosenstein leaves the office. The next day, he is appointed special counsel. I said, what the hell is this all about? Talk about conflicts? But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point. So Jeff Sessions, Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers.
HABERMAN: You mean at the hearing?
TRUMP: Yeah, he gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren’t. He then becomes attorney general, and he then announces he’s going to recuse himself. Why wouldn’t he have told me that before?
HABERMAN: Why do you think it was? What do you think it was?
TRUMP: I don’t know.
BAKER: What would cause you — what would be the line beyond which if Mueller went, you would say, “That’s too far, we would need to dismiss him”?
TRUMP: Look, there are so many conflicts that everybody has. Then Rosenstein becomes extremely angry because of Comey’s Wednesday press conference, where he said that he would do the same thing he did a year ago with Hillary Clinton, and Rosenstein became extremely angry at that because, as a prosecutor, he knows that Comey did the wrong thing. Totally wrong thing. And he gives me a letter, OK, he gives me a letter about Comey. And by the way, that was a tough letter, OK Now, perhaps I would have fired Comey anyway, and it certainly didn’t hurt to have the letter, OK But he gives me a very strong letter, and now he’s involved in the case. Well, that’s a conflict of interest. Do you know how many conflicts of interests there are? But then, then Comey also says that he did something in order to get the special prose — special counsel. He leaked. The reason he leaked. So, he illegally leaked.
* * *
TRUMP: So think of this. Mike. He illegally leaks, and everyone thinks it is illegal, and by the way, it looks like it’s classified and all that stuff. So he got — not a smart guy — he got tricked into that, because they didn’t even ask him that question. They asked him another question, OK?
* * *
TRUMP: He said I said “hope” — “I hope you can treat Flynn good” or something like that. I didn’t say anything.
But even if he did — like I said at the news conference on the, you know, Rose Garden — even if I did, that’s not — other people go a step further. I could have ended that whole thing just by saying — they say it can’t be obstruction because you can say: “It’s ended. It’s over. Period.”
* * *
TRUMP: And nothing was changed other than Richard Nixon came along. And when Nixon came along (inaudible) was pretty brutal, and out of courtesy, the F.B.I. started reporting to the Department of Justice. But there was nothing official, there was nothing from Congress. There was nothing — anything. But the F.B.I. person really reports directly to the president of the United States, which is interesting. You know, which is interesting. And I think we’re going to have a great new F.B.I. director.
HABERMAN: Chris Wray.
TRUMP: He’s highly thought of by everybody. I think I did the country a great service with respect to Comey.
BAKER: Did you shoo other people out of the room when you talked to Comey?
TRUMP: No, no.
BAKER: That time (inaudible) (Michael T.) Flynn —
TRUMP: No. That was the other thing. I told people to get out of the room. Why would I do that?
SCHMIDT: Did you actually have a one-on-one with Comey then?
TRUMP: Not much. Not even that I remember. He was sitting, and I don’t remember even talking to him about any of this stuff. He said I asked people to go. Look, you look at his testimony. His testimony is loaded up with lies, OK? But people didn’t — we had a couple people that said — Hi baby, how are you?
ARABELLA KUSHNER: (enters room) Hi, Grandpa.
TRUMP: My granddaughter Arabella, who speaks — say hello to them in Chinese.
KUSHNER: Ni hao.
TRUMP: This is Ivanka. You know Ivanka.
IVANKA TRUMP: (from doorway) Hi, how are you? See you later, just wanted to come say hi.
TRUMP: She’s great. She speaks fluent Chinese. She’s amazing.
BAKER: That’s very impressive.
TRUMP: She spoke with President Xi (Jinping of China). Honey? Can you say a few words in Chinese? Say, like, “I love you, Grandpa” —
KUSHNER: Wo ai ni, Grandpa.
BAKER: That’s great.
TRUMP: She’s unbelievable, huh?
TRUMP: Good, smart genes.
TRUMP: So the bottom line is this. The country’s doing well. We are, we are moving forward with a lot of great things. The unemployment is the lowest it’s been in 16 years. The stock market is the highest it’s ever been. It’s up almost 20 per cent since I took office. And we’re working hard on health care. Um, the Russian investigation — it’s not an investigation, it’s not on me — you know, they’re looking at a lot of things.
HABERMAN: It’s a broad —
TRUMP: They’re looking at a big picture.
BAKER: This is why I want to come back to that email, because, like — does it concern you? Let’s say that the election didn’t change because of anything Russia did, which has been your point, right? You point —
TRUMP: By the way, it’s everybody.
BAKER: Right, your point is that Democrats are trying to use this as an excuse, fine. But did that email concern you, that the Russian government was trying something to compromise——
TRUMP: You know, Peter, I didn’t look into it very closely, to be honest with you.
TRUMP: I just heard there was an email requesting a meeting or something — yeah, requesting a meeting. That they have information on Hillary Clinton, and I said — I mean, this was standard political stuff.
SCHMIDT: Did you know at the time that they had the meeting?
TRUMP: No, I didn’t know anything about the meeting.
SCHMIDT: But you didn’t——
TRUMP: It must have been a very important — must have been a very unimportant meeting, because I never even heard about it.
HABERMAN: No one told you a word, nothing? I know we talked about this on the plane a little bit.
TRUMP: No, nobody told me. I didn’t know noth—— It’s a very unimportant — sounded like a very unimportant meeting.
BAKER: But on the date you clinched the nominations with New Jersey and California and the primaries, when you give the speech that night, saying you’re going to give a speech about Hillary Clinton’s corrupt dealings with Russia and other countries, and that comes just three hours after Don Jr. —
TRUMP: Number one, remember, I made many of those speeches.
BAKER: People wondered about the timing.
TRUMP: Many of those speeches. I’d go after her all the time.
BAKER: Yeah, I know, but——
TRUMP: But there was something about the book, “Clinton Cash,” came out.
BAKER: Yeah, a year earlier, though. But you were talking about——
TRUMP: But we were developing a whole thing. There was something about “Clinton Cash.”
* * *
TRUMP: Peter, that’s all I did, was make those speeches about her. … I don’t think I added anything much different than I had been doing. … I’ve made some very strong speeches about the corrupt emails. The 33,000 emails being deleted and bleached, and all of the things she was doing. I would make those speeches routinely. … There wasn’t much I could say about Hillary Clinton that was worse than what I was already saying.
HABERMAN: (laughs) I’m sorry.
TRUMP: I mean, I was talking about, she deleted and bleached, which nobody does because of the cost. How she got away with that one, I have no idea. 33,000 emails. I talked about the back of the plane, I talked about the uranium deal, I talked about the speech that Russia gave Clinton — $500,000 while she was secretary of state — the husband. I talked about the back of the plane — honestly, Peter, I mean, unless somebody said that she shot somebody in the back, there wasn’t much I could add to my repertoire.
HABERMAN: On Fifth Avenue——
TRUMP: I mean, look at what we have now. We have a director of the F.B.I., acting, who received $700,000, whose wife received $700,000 from, essentially, Hillary Clinton. ’Cause it was through Terry. Which is Hillary Clinton.
HABERMAN: This is (Andrew) McCabe’s wife, you mean?
TRUMP: McCabe’s wife. She got $700,000, and he’s at the F.B.I. I mean, how do you think that? But when you say that — and think about this for a second. I don’t think — you could give me a whole string of new information. I don’t think I could really have — there’s only so much. You know, you can only say many things. After that it gets boring, OK? How can it be better than deleting emails after you get a subpoena from the United States Congress? Guys go to jail for that, when they delete an email from a civil case. Here, she gets an email from the United States Congress —
* * *
BAKER: Should she be prosecuted now?
BAKER: Should she be prosecuted now? Why, then, should she not be prosecuted now——
TRUMP: I don’t want to say that. I mean, I don’t want to say.
SCHMIDT: Last thing.
TRUMP: You understand what I mean, Peter.
BAKER: I know.
TRUMP: I mean, supposing they were able to give me additional — it wouldn’t have helped me. I had so much stuff——
SCHMIDT: Last thing, if Mueller——
TRUMP: And I couldn’t have been better than the stuff I had. Obviously, because I won.
SCHMIDT: Last thing, if Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia — is that a red line?
HABERMAN: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?
TRUMP: I would say yeah. I would say yes. By the way, I would say, I don’t — I don’t — I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don’t make money from Russia. In fact, I put out a letter saying that I don’t make — from one of the most highly respected law firms, accounting firms. I don’t have buildings in Russia. They said I own buildings in Russia. I don’t. They said I made money from Russia. I don’t. It’s not my thing. I don’t, I don’t do that. Over the years, I’ve looked at maybe doing a deal in Russia, but I never did one. Other than I held the Miss Universe pageant there eight, nine years (crosstalk).
SCHMIDT: But if he was outside that lane, would that mean he’d have to go?
HABERMAN: Would you consider——
TRUMP: No, I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia. So I think if he wants to go, my finances are extremely good, my company is an unbelievably successful company. And actually, when I do my filings, peoples say, “Man.” People have no idea how successful this is. It’s a great company. But I don’t even think about the company anymore. I think about this. ’Cause one thing, when you do this, companies seem very trivial. OK? I really mean that. They seem very trivial. But I have no income from Russia. I don’t do business with Russia. The gentleman that you mentioned, with his son, two nice people. But basically, they brought the Miss Universe pageant to Russia to open up, you know, one of their jobs. Perhaps the convention centre where it was held. It was a nice evening, and I left. I left, you know, I left Moscow. It wasn’t Moscow, it was outside of Moscow.
HABERMAN: Would you fire Mueller if he went outside of certain parameters of what his charge is? (crosstalk)
SCHMIDT: What would you do?
TRUMP: I can’t, I can’t answer that question because I don’t think it’s going to happen.
WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump had just finished making another false statement, ho hum, when he said something especially suspect.
He wasn’t exactly sure, he conceded, if this particular inaccurate boast was accurate. And he was worried, he claimed, that a fact-checker was going to give him “a Pinocchio.”
“I don’t like those,” he said on Monday. “I don’t like Pinocchios.”
Fact check: he really doesn’t care about Pinocchios.
Thursday is six-month anniversary of Trump’s inauguration. Over those 180 days, by our count, he has uttered a total of 397 lies and otherwise false claims— a staggering 2.2 per day.
The Star has tracked every single word Trump has said, tweeted or issued in his name since he took the oath on Jan. 20. Other than the sheer quantity of lies, what’s most striking is their outlandish obviousness.
With some exceptions, this is not sophisticated deceit. Trump is the toddler with purple icing on his face declaring that a fairy must have eaten the last piece of cake.
Dartmouth College government professor Brendan Nyhan co-authored a book about the deceptions of George W. Bush. He says Trump’s dishonesty is “much worse” — in its frequency, severity and brazenness.
From the Bush administration, Nyhan said, dishonesty tended to be “carefully constructed half-truths that contained a misleading suggestion that couldn’t be backed up by evidence; it was quite rare to see wholesale falsehoods that could be definitively debunked at the time.” Trump’s lies are transparent.
Trump’s most frequent lie as president, repeated 19 times, is “Obamacare is dead.” He keeps saying this as millions of people pay for their visits to the doctor using Obamacare insurance plans.
Trump has simply decided that the benefits of dishonesty outweigh the costs. Few media outlets regularly and forcefully call out president’s lies. Trump knows that even the most ridiculous of claims will be covered uncritically by Fox News — and even, often, by traditional outlets.
“We’ve been victimized,” Nyhan said, “by a media ecosystem that amplifies statements regardless of whether they’re true, immediately.”
Trump opponents worry about a world in which political lying has no consequences. Trump, after all, won the presidency lying all the time, and he has maintained his support base lying some more. When we asked Trump voters in Ohio about Trump’s lies, several of them said they like dishonesty that gets elites all agitated.
So the concern is understandable. But the hand-wringing sometimes ignores the dreadfulness of Trump’s approval rating, now below 40 per cent. A mere third of the public now thinks he is honest. The exposure of his dishonest claims, especially his dishonest policy pledges, may well be reflected in his historically horrible overall standing.
But he shows no sign of slowing down. He made 34 false claims in the week in which he professed concern about Pinocchios.
Trump’s persistence has spawned a variety of complex theories about what he is trying to do. Some veteran observers of authoritarian leaders have suggested that he is strategically attempting to obliterate the very idea of an objective reality that differs from what he says it is.
A simpler theory seems more plausible to us.
There is no grand plan. Lying is simply what Donald Trump has always done. It’s how his brain works.
“He views deception as a more efficient solution than truth-telling. I think throughout much of his life he’s been rewarded for defaulting to the lie instead of the truth as most people do,” said Steve McCornack, a University of Alabama at Birmingham professor who studies deception. “I really think, cognitively, his default discourse-production setting is just to go to the lie.”
He lies to make himself look better than he is. (“The Electoral College is almost impossible for a Republican to win.”) He lies to make his predecessor look worse than he is. (“How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones.”) He lies to make his policy proposals seem more necessary than they are. (“We have an $800 billion trade deficit.”) He lies to try to embarrass his enemies. (“Watched low rated Morning Joe…”).
And he lies even when he is embarrassing himself. In May, he told Time magazine that he doesn’t watch CNN. Then he offered a detailed critique of three separate CNN shows.
Here’s the full list:
The national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls has cancelled its first family fall hearing in Thunder Bay, the Star has learned.
The problem-plagued inquiry was supposed to begin family public hearings in the northern Ontario city on Sept. 10 but that date has been moved to December 4, according to the inquiry’s website.
The inquiry has been criticized by Indigenous leaders and family advocates who say the probe has poor communication skills, is disorganized and has failed to reach out to all families and survivors. Advocates have also argued that justice issues such as policing should be prominent in the terms of reference for the inquiry. At the moment, policing is not a focus.
Thunder Bay is the only scheduled stop for the inquiry in Ontario so far.
A new schedule indicates the inquiry will resume family hearings the week of Sept. 25 in Smithers, B.C.
Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario are the sites of many unsolved murders, deaths and disappearances, including that of Sandra Johnson in 1982 and Rena Fox who was found outside of Thunder Bay in 2003. Recently, the city has been rocked by the death of Barbara Kentner, the mother who was hit by a trailer hitch in January and died on July 4. Kentner’s family and Indigenous leaders are calling for the incident to be considered a hate crime and that the assault charges brought against Brayden Bushby, 18, be upgraded. Thunder Bay Police Services say they will let the courts decide if the charges should be upgraded.
Sources say the current climate of racial tension and the deaths of seven Indigenous youth in the Thunder Bay rivers are factors in the postponement of the hearing.
LEONARDTOWN, MD.—In one of those terrible twists of fate where a second here or there would make a difference, two women — one a decorated Canadian astronaut with the world by the tail, the other a troubled addict just turning her life around — crossed paths on a busy stretch of road just before sundown.
The impact from the SUV Julie Payette was driving in the summer of 2011 hurled Theresa “Terry” Potts forward into an intersection, southbound on Point Lookout Rd. in July 2011. The water bottle Potts, 55, was carrying skittered along the road; her watch was ripped loose by the impact, and clumps of her hair were stuck to the crumpled windshield. She died in hospital later that Sunday night. Maryland State Police chopper made an emergency run to get her there.
St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s detectives investigated for eight months, according to an extensive police report that detailed accident reconstruction and also a subpoena for Payette’s cellphone records. They closed the case in 2012 after concluding that Potts, who had various medical issues and poor eyesight, stepped off the curb to cross the road when she should not have. Payette’s Volkswagen Touareg had the green light, and one witness said they saw Payette’s vehicle swerve in a last-minute attempt to avoid the collision.
Payette, then part of the astronaut program, was returning to her seaside home in Maryland after a trip to Orlando, Fla. At the time she was married to Billie Flynn, a test pilot. It was Flynn she called immediately after the accident. Police determined Payette was not on the phone when the crash happened.
The significance of the timing of all of this is not lost on JoAnn Potts, Theresa’s sister. As police investigated, she learned a bit about the driver, how she was a well known astronaut, but also that she was under a great deal of stress due to the accident and the investigation. At one point, Payette sent the Potts family a card.
“She wrote in it how she deeply regretted what had happened and how she would live with it for the rest of her life,” JoAnn Potts recalled. And Potts came to learn that five months after the crash and while that investigation was underway, Payette was charged for “an altercation of some sort.” Potts was told by police that Payette was going through a difficult time and “she’s leaving the area.”
Payette and Flynn began divorce proceedings not long after that. Those records should be public but the bulky files were “in a judge’s chambers” Wednesday, a clerk said. A motion is before the court to seal the records.
Earlier this week, iPolitics published a story revealing that in December 2012 Payette was charged with assault, but those charges were quickly withdrawn and the entire case record has been “expunged” — meaning there is no record in the St. Mary’s court system. Even transcripts of a criminal court hearing, if there even was one, have been destroyed.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau twice said Wednesday he had no comment when asked about the deleted charge against Payette.
He said that before any appointment to such a high-profile post, the government conducts a thorough background search on the candidate’s past. Trudeau wouldn’t say if he had been made aware of the incident prior to her appointment.
“I know that Mme. Payette is going to make an extraordinary governor general. She represents the very best of Canadian values, openness to the world, curiosity, intellectual rigour and inspiration,” he said at an event in Quebec City.
Potts believes that whatever happened in this December 2011 altercation Payette stemmed from the tragic accident months before involving her sister. Stress, Potts figures, may have played a factor. Potts did not initially feel charitable toward Payette, Canada’s future Governor General. She was angry and suspicious that powerful friends were pulling strings to cool the investigation of her sister’s death.
When almost immediately after the July 2011 accident, Payette’s insurance company called and offered to pay for the funeral she grew more suspicious, according to the investigating detective’s notes. Potts said she eventually learned that this was a policy of that particular company.
“At first I thought, oh, (Payette) is an important person and my sister is a ne’er-do-well.”
Over time, she came to realize that her sister, perhaps because of her poor eyesight, and setting sun, misjudged her timing and stepped into the rushing car, which was travelling at about 65 km/h, within the speed limit on that stretch of road.
“I feel sorry for (Payette) now. For my sister, for Terry, I’d like to think she has some peace.”
The night she died, Theresa Potts was on her way to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. She had decided to walk, because, being overweight, she had been told to get in better shape for health reasons. Court records show that she had a long list of charges in her past, multiple speeding violations, failing to submit to drug or alcohol tests when believed to be driving under the influence, and in the months before her death, some drug charges (marijuana) that earned her a short stint in jail. After that, she had completed — with flying colours according to court records — another rehabilitation program.
“The thing is, Terry had just started going down a better path,” her sister recalled. Potts had a heart of gold, and a “wonderful personality.” She lived most of her life not too far from where she died; went to a local high school, graduated with a bachelor of science degree in social sciences from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She went on to work in programs for disadvantaged youths as a counsellor, before succumbing to some of her own addiction demons. For many years she worked for the Charles County Mental Health Department.
According to her obituary, she loved reading, nature, wildlife and above all things, Christmas. “She never failed to watch It’s A Wonderful Life a multitude of times during the season and probably would have all year long if we let her,” her family wrote in the obituary. “She was always willing to help and was a friend to all in need.”
The Star was unable to reach Payette with questions about this story.
Kdonovan@thestar.ca and 416-312-3503
Kdonovan@thestar.ca and 416-312-3503
A fare collector who took home $40,000 in TTC funds and then lost it in a drug raid has been awarded compensation from the transit agency after he challenged his suspension from the job.
The case is a bizarre three-year saga involving marijuana, police, and TTC tokens. During that time, transit employee Tyson Hu was arrested, suspended without pay for more than a year, reinstated and finally awarded months of back pay for some of the time he was wasn’t allowed to work.
In March, an arbitrator ruled on the grievance the TTC workers’ union filed on Hu’s behalf. The details of this story are taken from that ruling, which was based on a statement of facts filed by the TTC and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113. Through the union, Hu declined to comment on the case.
The trouble began just after 2 p.m. on July 28, 2014, when Hu, a Scarborough resident who had worked as a fare collector since 2011, finished his shift at Lawrence station.
According to agency policy, fare collectors are supposed to lock all money and fare media they have in their possession — which is known as a fund — in a secure place on TTC property at the end of every shift.
Instead, Hu took the $5,060.20 in cash and $34,407.70 in tokens, tickets, and passes in his fund home with him.
In what appears to have been a coincidence, early the next morning the Durham Regional Police executed a search warrant at Hu’s home as part of a major drug bust launched with the Toronto police dubbed Project Bermuda. The police seized various items in the raid, including hashish, marijuana and the TTC fund.
Hu was held in custody for several hours, and released the same day. He was charged with “various offences,” according to the arbitration ruling.
According to TTC spokesperson Brad Ross, taking thousands of dollars worth of cash and fare media home “can be a fireable offence, but usually only when it’s connected to theft.”
“When the money is taken home and returned without consequence, we still take action, but it is considered a procedural violation and provided none of our money is lost, we use progressive discipline,” he said.
In Hu’s case, he couldn’t return the fund because it had been confiscated by the police. When he came back to work a few days after his arrest, a TTC supervisor asked him to produce the fund for an audit. When he was unable to do so, the TTC suspended him without pay.
The police held on to the fund as Hu’s criminal case proceeded. It wasn’t until June 2015, almost one year after the raid, that the Crown attorney alerted the TTC it was ready to be returned. Even then, the TTC had to file a court application to get it back.
In his decision, arbitrator Owen Shime wrote that he was baffled by the delay.
“It is difficult to understand why some sensible arrangement between the Crown or the police could not have been made for the return of the fare media at least . . . which were clearly the property of the TTC,” he wrote.
Neither the Durham police nor the Public Prosecution Service of Canada could immediately say Wednesday why it took so long to return the fund.
The TTC finally got its property back in September 2015, and reinstated Hu that month in a position that didn’t involve handling fares. In October of that year, Hu plead guilty to simple drug possession and was given an absolute discharge.
As a result of the discharge, “we were unable to take any further disciplinary action against him,” said Ross.
In the arbitration, Local 113 argued that TTC should have allowed Hu to back to work sooner because the agency was aware that the fund was in police custody. The union also said he should be “fully compensated” for the loss of pay and benefits during the time when he should have been allowed to work.
The TTC countered that it had offered to reinstate Hu if he agreed to certain conditions, but he refused and therefore wasn’t entitled to compensation.
The offer of reinstatement came in November 2014, more than three months after Hu was suspended. The TTC said he could come back to work if he agreed to certain terms, including taking a drug test before restarting the job, and submitting to unannounced tests thereafter.
In his decision, Shime wrote that Hu had committed “a significant breach of his duties and responsibilities as a collector” and should be subject to “significant discipline.”
“Individual collectors cannot go off on a frolic of their own . . . with the trust funds that they have in their care,” he wrote.
But Shime agreed with the union that the conditions the TTC tried to place on Hu’s reinstatement in 2014 were unreasonable.
He noted that Hu wasn’t terminated for the off-duty conduct that led to his arrest, or for using drugs while at work. The drug test provision “was not only unrelated to the reasons for his discharge but was an affront to both his dignity and privacy,” he wrote.
Because the TTC’s conditions were unreasonable, Hu was not obligated to accept the offer of temporary reinstatement, Shime determined. He ruled Hu was entitled to compensation for the nine-month period between the conditional offer and his reinstatement in September 2015, during which time the TTC didn’t allow him to work.
The two parties reached a settlement on July 12, the terms of which are confidential. Hu remains employed in the TTC’s collectors division but isn’t allowed to handle money or fare media, according to the agency.
Kevin Morton, secretary-treasurer of Local 113, said it’s “absolutely” appropriate that Hu is back on the job. He noted that Hu paid a penalty by being suspended without pay for four months after he lost the fund, and that the TTC didn’t lose any revenue because it was eventually returned in its entirety.
Morton said what complicated the situation was the police investigation, which he asserted was “outside of” Hu’s breach of policy. “He was caught up in it. The TTC tried to combine them,” Morton said.
He added that collectors taking their funds off TTC property is “not a common practice.”
Ross, the TTC spokesperson, said incidents like this are “incredibly rare,” and “will be eliminated” once the agency replaces its older media with the Presto electronic fare card.
“We don’t want our employees moving cash and fare . . . for their own safety, as well as for the security of TTC revenue,” he said.
“Bring balloons and banners” Eric Strickland says – his son will retrieve his lost car Thursday evening in Toronto after a successful city-wide scavenger hunt.
Gavin Strickland drove up from his hometown of Syracuse this past weekend for a Metallica concert on Sunday. He parked his blue-green Nissan Versa Sedan somewhere on the first floor of an indoor parking garage that was within an $8-cab-ride to the Rogers Centre.
By the time the concert was over, the 19-year-old had no idea where he’d parked the car.
Turns out, it was tucked below the TD Tower.
Madison Riddolls, 26, found the car in the early hours of Thursday morning after she and her boyfriend, Liam Imlack Walker, decided to play detective.
Riddolls and her boyfriend were debating an early night when they saw the family’s Craigslist ad asking for the city’s help to find the lost car.
“We were really confident in ourselves,” Riddolls said.
The pair started trying to identify the “spiral statue” Gavin remembered seeing near the parking garage.
They sent a few photos to the family – but they weren’t on the right track yet.
So they switched tracks, trying to figure which Starbucks was potentially nearby and the radius of an $8 cab ride from Rogers Centre.
“I think we watch too much Criminal Minds.”
Their search started in the Distillery District and took them eventually to the financial district – running in, around, and out of numerous parking garages.
“The security footage is probably crazy,|” Riddolls said.
Finally at midnight, the couple was getting weary – they decided to try one more garage.
Riddolls took a jog through the TD Tower parking garage.
With his girlfriend wandering around alone in the garage past midnight, Imlack Walker was getting nervous.
But then Riddolls saw “green.”
“I literally just started running to it,” she said.
The car had the Florida plates, the Canada flag sticker, and the Bernie Sanders bumper sticker. They’d found it.
Early Thursday morning, Gavin — now safely back in Syracuse— tweeted that the search had been successful and the car had been found.
“I’ve become famous over a lost car,” he said.
“Actually,” replied another Twitter user @edmcanuck, “you’ve become famous for a poor memory.”
On a bus back to Toronto to pick up the car Thursday morning Gavin said he’s so happy everything worked out.
“I was really stressed out. I wasn’t sure whether it got stolen, or if it was misplaced,” he said.
“I was just so happy, the fact that everything worked out and there was no damage to my car and how nice everyone’s been.”
The attention Gavin’s gotten since the Craigslist ad has been “pretty crazy.”
With messages and phone calls pouring in “it’s like I’m an actor or something,” he said.
For his part, Eric is relieved to know the car is coming home.
“I paid for the thing, spent $10,000 on it about a year and a half ago so I’m glad I found it, yeah,” he said.
The car was parked in an electric charging station so Riddolls wrote a note explaining the situation and spoke to the parking attendant.
The parking attendant has also spoken with Eric and said Gavin will only have to pay for one day of parking.
Riddolls will be receiving a $100 reward and Eric has also said he’ll donate to a charity of her choice. She’s chosen either Sick Kids or the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Riddolls has also offered to meet Gavin this evening when he arrives to pick up his car – the parking garage is fairly confusing, she said.
With files from Victoria Gibson
WASHINGTON—Canada needs to allow U.S. President Donald Trump to “declare victory” on the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canadian Ambassador David MacNaughton said Thursday.
MacNaughton, taking questions alongside his Mexican counterpart at an event in Washington, said Canada is optimistic that the revised deal can be, as Vice-President Mike Pence said last week, a “win-win-win” for all three countries.
But asked if Canada can allow Trump to sell the revised deal to his base, MacNaughton said Canada must let the president tout the outcome as his own triumph.
“This was such a big part of the president’s campaign last year, and I think for any of us to think that we can sort of just ignore that would be crazy. We have to find ways where he can declare victory without it being seen in either Mexico or Canada as being a loss,” MacNaughton said.
MacNaughton suggested that Trump’s bellicose public words obscure a collaborative behind-the-scenes relationship between his White House and the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“I know that people seize on some of the words the president uses every once in a while, everybody focuses in on that. But the reality is, in terms of our discussions with the administration — with the White House as recently as Friday — that’s what the United States is focused in on too: how do we make this a win-win-win,” he said.
He wryly tipped his cap to the president for furnishing the “creative tension” needed to make progress.
The first round of NAFTA talks will begin on Aug. 16 in Washington. The Trump administration issued a vague but lengthy list of desired changes on Monday, which included such proposals as better access to Canadian markets for various U.S. industries, cheaper cross-border shopping for Canadian consumers and the elimination of the agreement’s contentious dispute-resolution system.
The three countries agree that the new deal would ideally be struck by the beginning of 2018, since negotiations will get more complicated the closer they get to the Mexican elections in June. But the list of U.S. demands will make it “challenging” to finish in a mere few months, MacNaughton said, even if there isn’t any real controversy.
Also on Thursday morning, Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Canada, Kentucky Republican fundraiser Kelly Knight Craft, had a low-key confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Craft’s approval by the full Senate appears assured.
Craft, who owns a consulting firm and whose husband is a coal billionaire, said she will work to improve the bilateral economic and energy relationship. She said she will also work “to advance our shared environmental goals.”
“The United States is fortunate to have a neighbour that shares our strong commitment to democratic values and works tirelessly to promote peace, prosperity, and human rights around the world,” she said.
Among the Craft supporters in the room was John Calipari, the coach of the University of Kentucky’s men’s basketball team. Craft is a member of the university’s board of trustees.
“She is a kind-hearted person who cares about people. Very conscientious, very people-oriented. I think the people of Canada are going to say, ‘Wow, we’ve got someone that’s really engaged; this is not for funsies,’” Calipari told the Star. “She’s engaged. And she’s got the ear of the administration.”
LOVELOCK, NEV.—O.J. Simpson was granted parole Thursday after more than eight years in prison for a Las Vegas hotel heist, successfully making his case in a nationally televised hearing that reflected America’s enduring fascination with the former football star.
Simpson, 70, could be a free man as early as Oct. 1. By then, he will have served the minimum of his nine-to-33-year armed-robbery sentence for a bungled attempt to snatch sports memorabilia and other mementos he claimed had been stolen from him.
He got the four votes he needed from the parole commissioners who heard his case. In agreeing to release him, they cited his lack of a prior conviction, the low risk he might commit another crime, his community support and his release plans.
During the more than hour-long hearing, Simpson forcefully insisted — as he has all along — that he was only trying to retrieve items that belonged to him and never meant to hurt anyone. He said he never pointed a gun at anyone nor made any threats during the crime.
“I’ve done my time. I’ve done it as well and respectfully as I think anybody can,” he said.
Inmate No. 1027820 made his plea for freedom in a stark hearing room at the Lovelock Correctional Center in rural Nevada as four parole commissioners in Carson City, a two-hour drive away, questioned him via video.
Simpson, grey-haired but looking trimmer than he has in recent years, walked briskly into the hearing room dressed in jeans, a light-blue prison-issue shirt and sneakers. He laughed at one point as the parole board chairwoman mistakenly gave his age as 90.
The Hall of Fame athlete’s chances of winning release were considered good, given similar cases and Simpson’s model behaviour behind bars. His defenders have argued, too, that his sentence was out of proportion to the crime and that he was being punished for the two murders he was acquitted of during his 1995 “Trial of the Century” in Los Angeles, the stabbings of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
Before the hearing concluded, one of the dealers Simpson robbed, Bruce Fromong, said the former football great never pointed a gun at him during the confrontation, adding that it was one of the men with him who did so. Fromong said Simpson deserved to be released.
“He is a good man. He made a mistake,” Fromong said, adding the two remain friends.
Simpson’s eldest child, 48-year-old Arnelle Simpson, also testified on his behalf, saying her father is not perfect but realizes what a mistake he made and has spent years paying for it.
“We just want him to come home, we really do,” she said.
Simpson said that he has spent his time in prison mentoring fellow inmates, often keeping others out of trouble, and believes he has become a better person during those years.
Asked if he was confident he could stay out of trouble if he’s released, Simpson replied that he learned much during an alternative-to-violence course he took in prison and that in any case he has always gotten along well with people.
“I had basically spent a conflict-free life,” he said — a remark that lit up social media with scornful and sarcastic comments given the murder case and a raft of allegations he abused his wife.
In a final statement to the board he apologized again.
“I’m sorry it happened, I’m sorry, Nevada,” he said. “I thought I was glad to get my stuff back, but it just wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t worth it and I’m sorry.”
Several major TV networks and cable channels — including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, MSNBC and ESPN — carried the proceedings live, just as some of them did two decades ago during the Ford Bronco chase that ended in Simpson’s arrest, and again when the jury in the murder case came back with its verdict.
Simpson said if released he plans to return to Florida, where he was living before his incarceration.
“I could easily stay in Nevada, but I don’t think you guys want me here,” he joked at one point.
“No comment, sir,” one of the parole board members said.
An electrifying running back dubbed “The Juice,” Simpson won the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s best college football player in 1968 and went on to become one of the NFL’s all-time greats.
The handsome and charismatic athlete was also a “Monday Night Football” commentator, sprinted through airports in Hertz rental-car commercials and built a Hollywood career with roles in the Naked Gun comedies and other movies.
All of that came crashing down with his arrest in the 1994 slayings and his trial, a gavel-to-gavel live-TV sensation that transfixed viewers with its testimony about the bloody glove that didn’t fit and stirred furious debate over racist police, celebrity justice and cameras in the courtroom.
Last year, the case proved to be compelling TV all over again with the ESPN documentary O.J.: Made in America and the award-winning FX miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
In 1997, Simpson was found liable in civil court for the two killings and ordered to pay $42 million to survivors, including his children and the Goldman family.
Then a decade later, he and five accomplices — two with guns — stormed a hotel room and seized photos, plaques and signed balls, some of which never belonged to Simpson, from two sports memorabilia dealers.
Simpson was convicted in 2008, and the long prison sentence brought a measure of satisfaction to some of those who thought he got away with murder.
A Superior Court judge has overturned a controversial decision convicting York University student Mustafa Ururyar of sexually assaulting fellow student Mandi Gray and ordered a new trial.
Ururyar had appealed his July 2016 conviction, alleging now-retired Ontario Court Justice Marvin Zuker who oversaw his trial was biased against him and gave an “illogical” analysis of the evidence.
In his appeal decision, Justice Michael Dambrot criticized Zuker’s decision and reasoning as “incomprehensible” and said he failed to provide an explanation for why he rejected Ururyar’s evidence.
Dambrot also said that while it was not raised at trial, he found that parts of Zuker’s decision are not properly attributed.
Gray sat in the front row of the courtroom’s public gallery with supporters. Uruyar was also present in court.
Gray, who waived the standard publication ban on the identity of sexual assault complainants, wouldn't say after Dambrot's decision if she'd participate in a new trial.
A hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 4.
With files from the Canadian Press
Hydro One’s $6.7 billion acquisition of an American utility could end up zapping Ontario ratepayers, predicts Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown.
“The purchase of Avista by Hydro One is the direct result of (Premier) Kathleen Wynne’s fire sale,” Brown said Thursday.
“Hydro One is gouging ratepayers while using our money to buy up foreign companies. In the end, Ontario families will be left paying even more for hydro,” the Tory leader said.
Brown noted Hydro One is applying to the independent Ontario Energy Board to increase electricity rates by about $141 per household annually.
“Why should Ontario families be left with even higher bills when Hydro One has almost $7 billion to throw at foreign companies? This is not fair to Ontario ratepayers. Hydro One’s application for a massive, unaffordable rate increase should be immediately rejected.”
His comments came the morning after Hydro One announced the purchase of Spokane, Washington-based Avista, which operates in Washington state, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, and Alaska.
NDP MPP Peter Tabuns (Toronto Danforth) said the deal “should raise red flags for every Ontarian who is struggling to pay their unaffordable hydro bills.”
“This move to create a huge multi-national utility means less control over our province’s electricity system and more financial risk for Ontarians,” said Tabuns.
“It also raises real concerns about job security for Ontarians. It’s clear that the new Hydro One’s first responsibility is to its international shareholders, not to the people of Ontario,” he said.
“By ignoring the wishes of Ontarians and selling off Hydro One, Kathleen Wynne put the interests of investors around the globe ahead of the interests of our province and all of us who live here and pay a hydro bill.”
Both the New Democrats and the Conservatives opposed the Liberals’ sell-off of a majority stake in the provincial transmitter.
Wynne is using the $9 billion in proceeds from the 51 per cent that has been sold to fund transportation infrastructure and pay off Hydro One’s debt.
Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault said the Avista purchase would have no effect on consumers, who are already seeing a 25 per cent rate reduction this summer after years of skyrocketing hydro prices.
“We welcome the fact that this proposed acquisition will not impact the rates that Ontario customers pay. Neither will it have any impact on local jobs,” said Thibeault.
“As the single largest shareholder in Hydro One, the Ontario government would benefit from the company’s receipt of additional regulated returns expected to begin in 2019,” he noted.
DBRS, a credit-rating agency, praised the agreement.
“The acquisition provides HOL (Hydro One Limited) with both diversification and scale while expanding its regulated utility rate base to cover electricity transmission and distribution as well as natural gas local-distribution businesses,” the firm said in a statement.
I see the provincial premiers are demanding “clarity” — possibly a delay — in the federal plan to legalize marijuana by next July.
A communiqué from their Edmonton conference said they still have concerns about, among other things, traffic safety and public education campaigns.
I’m with them. I still don’t have “clarity” about legal pot or in fact the use and abuse of recreational drugs in general.
Here is what we all bring to any debate about recreational drugs: our own history, our generational lens, our hypocrisy too.
I smoked some weed in university but didn’t love it because it slowed me down and I liked moving fast.
I also dabbled in a few hallucinogens, one time at a student newspaper convention, after which, returning home to my parents, I thought loftily, “Oh you dear sweet people, you have no idea how mind-blowing my life really is.”
In my twenties, cocaine use was not uncommon among affluent young professionals. I was working in Vancouver and you could hear the constant sniffing in the bathroom stalls of posh clubs. Even lawyers I knew snorted coke. It was considered glamorous.
Like Barack Obama, I gave it a go.
I probably would have done more of it than I actually did. But my work was demanding, and in journalism, alcohol was still the drug of choice. Why take legal chances?
By the time I was 30, I had left everything but alcohol behind. Despite a family history of serious problem drinking (my father, his father, his grandfather) alcohol never became an abuse issue for me. Marrying a man with moderation in his blood sealed the deal.
Yet I still believe, with different timing and circumstances, I might have ended up with a substance abuse problem. I know in my heart I was one of the vulnerable ones.
As a parent, I hypocritically hoped my teenage kids did no drugs — and often said so, omitting some of my own dabbling.
But I was realistic. Drugs were not a moral dilemma, but a legal and safety issue. My children were smart and precious and I wanted them to have all their wits and opportunities as they embarked on life.
Now in their early thirties, I have never asked them for a list of anything they might have ingested while young.
We were all lucky, I guess.
My own history and generational lens have made me favour the legalization of cannabis. We need to stop giving kids a record for the use of it. We need to take the opportunity away from criminals.
But as we get closer, I am having doubts (and you can always find a study to back this up) on what cannabis does to young minds. We know most kids start smoking pot much younger than 18.
And no, weed is not better than alcohol — just different. All drugs can rewire your brain — including martinis if you drink enough.
The opioid crisis — rampant in North America, and a mirror addiction to crack use by the mainly Black community in the ’80s — has startled me into a more rigid approach to drug use in general.
You can’t read Margaret Talbot’s article in the New Yorker magazine, in which she describes two parents overdosing at a kids’ softball game in West Virginia, and not shudder at how vulnerable so many are to addiction: “Two of the parents were lying on the ground, unconscious, several yards apart … the couple’s thirteen-year-old daughter was sitting … with her teammates, who were hugging her and comforting her. The couple’s younger children, aged ten and seven, were running back and forth between their parents, screaming, “Wake up! Wake up!”
Those parents were revived by paramedics, their kids removed from their care.
How does this all connect up? Am I saying legalize pot and we’re all going to be overdosing on fentanyl on a softball field?
Of course not. But it’s coping skills most people need — from childhood to grave — not cannabis boutiques along my main street. I am surprised by how much I hate the sight of them.
It’s honesty we need when the toxicology report comes back on beloved star Carrie Fisher who died suddenly last December at 60 (actual cause still unknown) and reveals she had cocaine, methadone, ethanol and opiates in her system.
While fans tweeted that Princess Leia gave the world so much that we shouldn’t punitively focus on what drugs she abused, her own daughter Billie Lourd issued a strong statement: “Seek help, fight for government funding for mental health programs. Shame and those social stigmas are the enemies of progress to solutions and ultimately a cure. Love you Momby.”
We are all at risk.
Here is what I have come to loathe: jokey media headlines like “Buzz kill” on news articles pointing out concerns with the legal cannabis rollout; ads run by the LCBO glamorizing alcohol use. (We are not very good at glamorizing moderation let alone sobriety.) Doctors who prescribe too many painkillers, and rapacious Big Pharma the ultimate pusher.
By all means, let’s try something different with cannabis. As long as we educate people about its risks, punish them for driving stoned and give provincial governments time to safely implement their programs.
Just don’t expect legalization to change the fact that more than a few kids simply trying to grow up to be good adults are hurt by cannabis use.
You can’t legislate luck.
Judith Timson writes weekly about cultural, social and political issues. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @judithtimson
Judith Timson writes weekly about cultural, social and political issues. You can reach her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @judithtimson
When Joanne MacIsaac came face-to-face for the first time on Thursday with the man who killed her brother, the anger and frustration she’s felt since his death only intensified.
“I would say your story doesn’t add up,” an emotional MacIsaac told reporters when asked what she would like to say to Durham police Const. Brian Taylor, who shot and killed Michael MacIsaac on an Ajax street on Dec. 2, 2013.
“You have ripped our family apart, not only by the loss of Michael, but the fact that we are in the position to spend so much time fighting to get the truth.”
Thursday was the first day of Taylor’s testimony at the coroner’s inquest into MacIsaac’s death and the first time MacIsaac’s family and the public gained some insight into what was going through his mind the day he killed the 47-year-old man.
MacIsaac’s family believes he suffered an epileptic seizure before leaving his house naked that cold December day. Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit, cleared Taylor of criminal wrongdoing, finding MacIsaac was advancing on Taylor with a metal table leg.
“I’m gonna have that metal bar put right through my skull,” is what Taylor said he was thinking at the time. “I feared for my safety.”
There had been many 911 calls that day of a man running naked through a residential area of Ajax. And although MacIsaac’s latest location was not in Taylor’s assigned “zone,” he testified that he responded because he wanted to assist.
He arrived on Dring St., where a black pick-up truck was parked in the middle of the street and the driver was waving Taylor down. The officer testified the driver, Ron Nino, told Taylor words to the effect of “he’s behind you.”
Taylor said he spotted a “torso” through his rearview passenger mirror, and that once he exited his vehicle, he saw MacIsaac holding the bar as if it was a baseball bat. He said MacIsaac’s face was “scrunched up and distorted,” that he was saying “Come on, come on,” and that about 10 to 15 feet separated them. At least one other officer was also on scene, parked behind Taylor.
“I remember issuing the police challenge and I remember hearing it,” Taylor testified.
(The challenge is “Police. Don’t move.”)
“Somebody said ‘Drop it, get down on the ground.’ I thought that if I have to take a shot, don’t miss. There are a lot of people around. Then he moved off the curb. I fired the first round. I didn’t hear the gun go off. I felt it . . . . I didn’t know if I had hit him, because there was no effect. And he continued to move and I fired a second round and I know that one struck him.”
Under cross-examination, the MacIsaac family’s lawyer, Roy Wellington, highlighted the fact that much of what Taylor said he heard or said is not captured on a 911 call placed by Ron Nino, the driver of the pick-up the truck, from the scene.
On that call, which the MacIsaac family had analyzed by a forensic scientist, a voice can be heard telling Nino “get back, get back,” and within seconds, shots are fired. No one can be heard issuing commands, and no one can be heard saying “Come on, come on.” (Nino testified Wednesday he heard Taylor say something like “Drop it” once before almost immediately shooting MacIsaac.)
Taylor, who has been a police officer since 1999 and is temporarily assigned to the major crimes unit, said he believes the voice saying “get back, get back” is another officer who was a bit further away from Nino and Taylor.
“I’m having a hard time understanding how we can hear someone further away from Mr. Nino, but we don’t actually hear you issuing any commands at all,” Wellington said to Taylor.
The officer said it’s possible the cell phone was malfunctioning and didn’t capture everything that was said that morning.
Taylor told Wellington he did consider de-escalation techniques, such as trying to talk to MacIsaac, on his way over to the scene, but said he realized that was impossible once he got there.
“Regardless of who shouted commands, there wasn’t much of an opportunity for Mr. MacIsaac to respond. Would you agree with that?” Wellington asked.
“No. I would not. He could have dropped that metal bar,” was Taylor’s response.
The officer also said he briefly considered other use of force options at the scene, such as his baton or pepper spray, but quickly ruled them out. He didn’t have a Taser, as only sergeants carried them at the time.
“They’re not applicable in this situation,” he said of his other options. “The thought crossed my mind, but I would have to get closer to use pepper spray or my baton, which was shorter than the metal bar.”
After shooting MacIsaac the second time, Taylor said he heard a “blood-curdling scream” and saw black-red blood coming out of MacIsaac’s abdomen. He kept his gun trained on the man until two other officers took away the table leg and handcuffed him, “because he was still a threat.”
Joanne MacIsaac told reporters she questioned how Taylor did not know if the first shot struck her brother considering he was naked. She’s also demanding to know if the SIU ever listened to the Nino 911 call as part of its investigation that led to Taylor being cleared of criminal wrongdoing. (The agency has never said if it did or if it even obtained the call.)
“Something that could be done if the SIU had done their job properly and laid charges,” she said.
MacIsaac, who watched Thursday’s proceedings with a number of relatives, said she got the impression Taylor “was really attempting to show some caring and compassion for the family. I don’t know if it’s sincere, but we don’t want it. He should have showed caring and compassion to Michael on Dec. 2. Don’t try to give it to us now.”
Taylor’s testimony continues Friday.
Chester Bennington, the lead singer of rock band Linkin Park, is dead, the Los Angeles County coroner confirmed Thursday.
TMZ states that Bennington’s body was found just before 9 a.m. at a private residence in Palos Verdes Estates in Los Angeles County. The website says law enforcement stated that the 41-year-old singer had hanged himself.
Only hours before this news broke, Linkin Park released a single from its seventh studio album, One More Light. The single is called “Talking To Myself”; the band was slated to perform in Toronto on Aug. 8 at the Budweiser Stage.
Coroner spokesman Brian Elias says they are investigating Bennington’s death as an apparent suicide but no additional details are available. The singer, who sported piercings and tattoos, struggled with drug and alcohol addictions at various times during his life.
Bennington was married to Talinda Bennington, with whom he had three children. He also had three other children from previous relationships.
His alternative-metal band became massively popular in 2000 on the strength of its album Hybrid Theory, which was eventually certified diamond — signifying 10 million records sold — by the Recording Industry Association of America. The album explored feelings of frustration and fury, as did its followup, 2003 multiplatinum Meteora, which sold four million copies.
One More Light was released just this past May 19, following the album’s first single “Heavy,” which came out in February.
Bennington had recently performed at the funeral for fellow rock singer Chris Cornell of Soundgarden fame, singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Cornell, too, died by suicide.
Bennington, who sported piercings and tattoos, struggled with drug and alcohol addictions at various times during his life. He was married and is survived by six children.
The band won Grammys for best hard rock performance in 2001 for “Crawling” and best rap/sung collaboration for “Numb/Encore” in 2005.
One More Light divided critics and fans alike for its embrace of pop. Although the band had always experimented with different sounds, some claimed the band had sold out, which Bennington denied. It became the band’s fifth No. 1 album debut on the Billboard 200.
When he got his big break in 1999, Bennington was an assistant at a digital-services firm in Phoenix. A music executive sent him a demo from the band Xero, who needed a lead singer. (He had been recommended by his attorney.) Bennington wrote and recorded new vocals over the band’s playing and sent the results back. He soon got the gig and the band then changed its named to Hybrid Theory, then Linkin Park.
Reaction to the death of Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington:
“Chester Bennington was an artist of extraordinary talent and charisma, and a human being with a huge heart and a caring soul. Our thoughts and prayers are with his beautiful family, his band-mates and his many friends.” — Warner Bros. CEO and Chairman Cameron Stang, in a statement
“Shocked and heartbroken, but it’s true. An official statement will come out as soon as we have one.” — Linkin Park bandmember Mike Shinoda, on Twitter
“Literally the most impressive talent I’ve ever seen live! Vocal beast! #RIPChester #LinkinPark.” — Rihanna, on Twitter
“RIP CHESTER BENNINGTON. We can never know someone’s pain. Prayers to his family in this tragedy. If you need help REACH OUT.” — Paul Stanley, on Twitter
“The first concert I took my oldest son to: @linkinpark. #ChesterBennington was a genius & a gentleman. He inspired both of us.” — Donnie Wahlberg, on Twitter
“RIP Chester Bennington. This feels like a kick in the chest. My December has pulled me through many times. Depression is a real monster. “ Gabourey Sidibe, on Twitter
“RIP to a legend (too soon)” — Akon, on Facebook
“The news about Chester Bennington is devastating. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and @linkinpark. Such a tragic loss” — Ryan Seacrest, on Twitter
“RIP Chester Bennington, another incredible talent lost to something the world needs to learn more about and understand.” — Conor Maynard, on Twitter
“PETA will always remember Chester Bennington as a musical powerhouse and a powerful force for animal rights. He bared his skin to help animals keep theirs in PETA’s ‘Ink, Not Mink’ campaign, and he spoke passionately about both the cruelty of the fur industry and the need to adopt homeless dogs and cats.” — PETA Vice-President Colleen O’Brien, in a statement
“So sorry to hear the news about Chester Bennington. Sending so much luv, strength & light to his family, kids & @linkinpark ohana.” — Dwayne Johnson, on Twitter
“no words. so heartbroken. RIP Chester Bennington.” — Imagine Dragons, on Twitter
“RIP Chester. Tragic ending. Condolences his family and friends and Linkin Park.” — Chance the Rapper, on Twitter
“Gracious, kind & humble. A rare combination in Rock & Roll. Deeply saddened...” — Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, on Twitter
“Mental health is no joke. We have to destigmatize the conversation around it.” — Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, on Twitter
“RIP The legend Chester. You were and will continue to be a huge inspiration to us.” — The Chainsmokers, on Twitter
With files from The Associated Press
With files from The Associated Press
OTTAWA—Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is rejecting assertions that his party’s attacks on the Omar Khadr settlement in U.S. media could hamper upcoming NAFTA negotiations, claiming any negative consequences of the move should fall on Justin Trudeau’s shoulders.
Scheer was responding Thursday to accusations that partisan bickering south of the border on the controversial Khadr deal — reported to be worth $10.5 million — could impact Canada’s relationship with the U.S. just weeks before talks to change the 23-year-old trade deal with the U.S. and Mexico are set to begin.
Trudeau himself told reporters in Barrie on Thursday that NAFTA negotiations are “too important to fall into partisanship.” That comes after Gerald Butts, a high-ranking Liberal and advisor to Trudeau, said on Twitter that Conservatives had mounted an “aggressive anti-PM” campaign on the Khadr issue in U.S. media. At least three Tory MPs have appeared in print and on TV in the U.S. in recent days to criticize the payout.
Scheer argued that the government is simply trying to use NAFTA to deflect attention from their payout to Khadr, which Trudeau has argued was necessary to avoid an even costlier court battle over how the former child soldier’s human rights were violated during his lengthy stay in the notorious American prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“They can’t just say, ‘Please give us a pass because it’s affecting this other issue.’ I don’t believe that it does, and I don’t believe that it justifies not being critical,” Scheer said.
“If they were so concerned about the backlash, I would ask: did they give anyone in the U.S. a heads up? Did they let their negotiating team in Washington know that this was coming? … There were other options. The prime minister did not have to do this.”
Khadr was a teenager fighting in Afghanistan when he was captured by U.S. forces in 2002. He confessed to killing an army medic as part of a plea deal in 2010.
Khadr was later repatriated to Canada to serve out his prison sentence and recanted his confession.
The Conservative leader, who was elected by party members in May, made the comments during a press conference to unveil his new House of Commons leadership team, whose faces were displayed on trading cards handed out to reporters.
Lisa Raitt, the Milton MP who ran against Scheer in the leadership race, will be his deputy leader. Alain Rayes is Scheer’s “Quebec political lieutenant,” while B.C. MP Mark Strahl is the new party whip, Manitoba’s Candice Bergen remains house leader and Alberta MP Chris Warkentin is deputy house leader.
But talk quickly turned to NAFTA, just days after the U.S. published its list of priorities for the renegotiation of the deal, which was long promised by President Donald Trump. The Americans have also announced that talks are slated to begin in Washington Aug. 16.
The U.S. wants to shrink its trade deficit, improve market access for American companies and dismantle the dispute panel that has ruled in Canada’s favour in arguments over softwood lumber and other products.
Some MPs in Ottawa are calling on the government to share its objectives for the renegotiation. NDP trade critic Tracey Ramsey plans to push the House of Commons trade committee to invite Trudeau, foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland and Canada’s lead NAFTA negotiator to come answer questions when they meet on Friday.
Ten current and former TTC employees are facing criminal charges in connection with an alleged multi-million-dollar insurance scam.
The police and the TTC announced the charges Thursday afternoon, as part of an ongoing probe into false health benefit claims at the transit agency.
According to the TTC, to date 150 employees have either been fired, or retired or resigned in order to avoid dismissal as a result of the investigation, which began in 2014 when the transit agency received a tip through its integrity line.
These are the first charges against transit employees to result from the probe. Of the 10 people charged, nine have already left the TTC. One is still employed at the agency but is on medical leave. The suspects range in age from 32 to 58, and each face one count of fraud over $5,000.
“It’s incredibly serious,” said TTC spokesperson Brad Ross. “This is public money and people will be held to account. We want to bring an end to this.”
Ross said it will be up to the police whether more TTC employees are charged, but he expects the transit agency will fire more workers as the investigation continues.
A police spokesperson said at this point the force doesn’t anticipate laying any more charges.
The allegations centre around Healthy Fit, a local orthotics store. Police allege that the owner and an employee at the company “counselled and conspired” with TTC workers who submitted more than $5 million in claims to Manulife, the TTC’s insurance provider. Healthy Fit allegedly “provided some or no products that were invoiced” and shared the insurance payments with the TTC workers.
The police allege that Healthy Fit ran a similar scam with city of Toronto employees, involving claims worth about $96,000.
Adam Smith, 46, the owner of Healthy Fit, and Savatah Nget, 32, the store employee, are both facing charges of fraud over $5,000 and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. Smith is also charged with laundering the proceeds of a crime.
The TTC believes that the alleged benefits scheme dates back to at least 2012 and continued for years. Healthy Fit was delisted as a health provider in 2015 when its owner was first charged.
Ross said ideally the agency would have detected the alleged offences sooner but he said the TTC has been “very open and transparent with the public on this and we will continue to be.”
The TTC has insurance to protect it from fraud but Ross said the agency will still seek “restitution” from any employee who made a false claim.
In an email sent to TTC employees Thursday afternoon, agency CEO Andy Byford said he would “not allow a few to ruin our collective, well-earned reputation.”
“The vast majority of you, I know, would never dream of defrauding our benefits plan, putting it at risk for the rest of us. Hold your heads high as we root out the bad apples.”
The 10 TTC employees appeared at Old City Hall Court last week.