Before President Trump's rally in El Paso, TX — his first such gathering of the year — on Monday night, CNN's Betsy Klein spoke with a source about what to expect at the rally. When she asked about Trump's repeated usage of widely debunked stats about violent crime in El Paso, the source sarcastically responded, "LOL."
So that's where we are, two years into the Trump presidency. Some people laugh about his politically expedient lies. Other people suffer.
>> "Where are the fact-checkers?" Trump said at one point. "You know, some of the most dishonest people in media are the so-called fact-checkers."
The Hannity veto?
>> Trump is not endorsing the deal: "A lot of things have changed, and we'll see what happens," he told Laura Ingraham in an interview right before the rally...
>> CNN's Manu Raju tweeted: "One thing is clear" from this deal: Trump is "not getting $5.7B for the wall as he's been demanding for weeks and that led to the government shutdown. The question is will he sign off on the emerging deal and try to act administratively to fund the rest of it -- despite the risks..."
The difference between Fox and the others
Monday night's cable news coverage was really revealing. "El Paso, Texas is a major American city with a population the same size as Boston. It is more than big enough to hold two competing presidential campaign style events at the same time, and it did that tonight," Lawrence O'Donnell said on MSNBC.
Indeed, Beto O'Rourke's counter-rally was a big deal. Trump repeatedly brought it up. But MSNBC's liberal prime time lineup only showed short snippets of his rally. CNN discussed the city's anti-Trump march, but didn't show Beto's speech. On the flip side, Fox News showed virtually all of Trump's rally live -- even though it lasted more than an hour. The next time someone claims Fox and MSNBC are mirror images of each other, just cite Monday night as an example of the difference...
How the El Paso Times is covering the dueling rallies
"The wall's being built, it will continue, it's going at a rapid pace," he told his fans on Monday night, despite the political walls he's up against.
Watching his speech, I was struck by his rhetorical usage of "we" and "you." He said "WE have suffered a totally dishonest media, and WE'VE won, and it's driving them crazy. It's driving them crazy."
And: "I didn't save our country," he said a little while later, "YOU saved our country..." And "the world is watching..."
Cliff Sims sues Trump
This is a novel lawsuit... potentially forcing a real legal proceeding over Trump's non-disclosure agreements... and it was foreshadowed two weeks ago when "Team of Vipers" came out.
Now Zaid IS Sims' lawyer. "The U.S. Government is intentionally and unconstitutionally engaging in a subterfuge effort to use a private entity, Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., to do its bidding to silence Mr. Sims when it is really the intense powers of the Presidency coming down upon a sole individual," Zaid asserted in Monday's suit.
Another reason why this lawsuit matters
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE
-- Poppy Harlow will moderate CNN's second town hall of the 2020 season, with possible presidential contender Howard Schultz, Tuesday in Houston... 10 p.m. ET...
Today's Bezos updates
Think back to the spring of 2018. Michael Cohen has been raided. American Media has been subpoenaed. The company, wanting access to Saudi financing, has published a fawning pro-Saudi publication. And news outlets have been asking questions about this curious piece of propaganda on supermarket checkout shelves. THAT'S the backdrop for AMI's outreach to the DOJ.
The government concluded that AMI did not need to register as a foreign agent because, even though the publisher "sought out comments" from a Saudi advisor before publishing, there was no financial deal with the Saudis. The open question: Did AMI publish the brochure with the hopes of striking a deal later?
What will AMI's investigation find?
Two theories of the case
On "Erin Burnett OutFront," I outlined two theories about Bezos and Pecker, fully acknowledging that we don't know if either is what really happened.
#1: Bezos was the victim of a blackmail attempt and a complex, politically-motivated plot that may involve a "Saudi angle" and the Trump White House. His photos and texts may have been obtained illegally. His blog post began to expose the geopolitics and grudges that are involved.
#2: Bezos fell in love with a woman with Hollywood connections and the Enquirer found out, because that's what tabloids do. His security chief's probe and the Enquirer's panicked reaction enabled Bezos, through a blog post, to reframe the story -- making him out to be a journalistic hero rather than an embarrassed tech exec.
In this Monday night tweet, the NYT's Edmund Lee said it more concisely than I can. "There's still a lot about the Bezos-Enquirer saga that hasn't been explained," he wrote, "and I suspect a lot of the theorizing bandied about (including in Bezos's) own blog post will remain theories. I think Occam's razor will hold."
FOR THE RECORD, PART TWO
Lowering expectations about Mueller's end game...
Or merely resetting out-of-control expectations? Here are three examples of something I'm noticing a lot these days:
-- ABC's "The Investigation" podcast debuts Tuesday with Kyra Phillipsinterviewing former Trump lawyer John Dowd. He told her: "I will be shocked, if-- if anything regarding the president is made public, other than, 'We're done.'"