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Trump Lashes Out at "Fake News Media" and Anonymous Sources at Conservative Gathering

Mother Jones

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President Donald Trump excoriated the “fake news media”—a category he has previously used to describe such outlets as the New York Times, CNN, and the Washington Post—during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday for reporting stories that portray his increasingly tumultuous administration in a negative light.

“I called the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are,” Trump said. “There are some terrible dishonest people and they do a tremendous disservice to our country.”

He specifically railed against reporters’ use of anonymous sources and demanded that people who leak information to the press instead criticize him to his “face.”

“I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources,” he said. “They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name. Let their name be put out there.”

The remarks come just hours after White House officials anonymously refuted a bombshell CNN story, which reported that the White House had asked the FBI to dispute recent evidence that Trump aides had communicated with Russian officials throughout the presidential election. Trump himself has also touted anonymous sources to underscore his conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.

The president reiterated his commitment to building a border wall and repealing Obamacare. He also pledged to continue working to deport the “bad dudes” living in the country and to put “its own citizens first.”

“They’re not coming back in, folks,” he said.

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Trump Lashes Out at "Fake News Media" and Anonymous Sources at Conservative Gathering

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White House Offers Excuse For Improper Behavior: The FBI Started It

Mother Jones

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The White House has an official excuse for asking the FBI to debunk a New York Times story about Trump campaign aides having frequent contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Here it is: They started it. That is, the FBI approached them, not the other way around.

I guess that’s appropriate for the Trump administration, which is best thought of as an overgrown kindergartner. However, First Read isn’t sure this defense does them any favors:

This White House explanation raises the question: So what’s worse — the White House asking the FBI to publicly knock down a story, or the FBI pulling aside a top White House official to comment on the big story of the day? Just ask yourself: If you substituted Clinton’s and Lynch’s names for Priebus’ and McCabe’s, would the congressional hearings already be scheduled?

Yep. And if an FBI official really did pull aside Reince Priebus to whisper in his ear that the Times story was wrong, that still suggests an improper relationship between the FBI and the White House. In any case, First Read goes on to suggest that the Times wasn’t all that wrong anyway. Here is Ken Dilanian:

“NBC News was told by law enforcement and intelligence sources that the NYT story WAS wrong — in its use of the term ‘Russian intelligence officials.’ Our sources say there were contacts with Russians, but that the US hasn’t confirmed they work for spy agencies. We were also told CNN’s description of Trump aides being in ‘constant touch’ with Russians was overstated. However, our sources did tell us that intelligence intercepts picked up contacts among Trump aides and Russians during the campaign.

Of course, the Times may have different sources telling them different things. One way or another, it appears that Trump aides were in periodic contact with Russian officials during the campaign, and the only questions are: (a) were they intelligence officials? and (b) how often did they talk? Considering Trump’s bizarre fixation on Vladimir Putin and his administration’s obvious panic over this story, a good guess is that there really is something there they want to keep under wraps.

And just for a final comical effect, after asking the FBI to leak information to the press, Trump himself then took to Twitter to complain about the FBI being unable to stop leaks:

Do you laugh or cry? We’re going to be asking ourselves that a lot, I think. Only 204 weeks to go.

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White House Offers Excuse For Improper Behavior: The FBI Started It

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Here Are Your Highlights of Today’s Trump Press Meltdown

Mother Jones

Donald Trump went full Sarah Palin today at his press conference. It was glorious. I think you have to watch it to really get the full effect, but here are a few highlights.

First off, the word of the day is mess:

To be honest, I inherited a mess. It’s a mess. At home and abroad, a mess….I just want to let you know, I inherited a mess….ISIS has spread like cancer — another mess I inherited….And you look at Schumer and the mess that he’s got over there and they have nothing going.

Fact check: Delusional. Trump inherited an economy in pretty good shape. Crime has steadily decreased over the past decade. ISIS is losing ground and close to defeat. Illegal immigration has been stable for many years. Test scores for schoolkids are up. Fewer than a dozen American soldiers have died in combat in the past year. Obamacare has cut the number of people without health insurance almost in half. The budget deficit is down to 3 percent of GDP. After years of stagnation, wages are finally starting to go up. Unemployment and inflation are both low.

I put it out before the American people, got 306 electoral college votes….270 which you need, that was laughable. We got 306 because people came out and voted like they’ve never seen before so that’s the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.

Fact check: Also delusionial. He got 304 electoral votes, and Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and Obama all did better.

We’ve begun preparing to repeal and replace Obamacare….I know you can say, oh, Obamacare. I mean, they fill up our rallies with people that you wonder how they get there, but they are not the Republican people our that representatives are representing.

Fact check: Plausible! Trump and the Republicans in Congress probably do think they represent only Republicans.

The leaks are real. You’re the one that wrote about them and reported them, I mean the leaks are real. You know what they said, you saw it and the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.

Fact check: Huh?

If the information coming from those leaks is real, then how can the stories be fake?

The reporting is fake. Look, look…You know what it is? Here’s the thing. The public isn’t — you know, they read newspapers, they see television, they watch. They don’t know if it’s true or false because they’re not involved. I’m involved. I’ve been involved with this stuff all my life. But I’m involved. So I know when you’re telling the truth or when you’re not. I just see many, many untruthful things.

Fact check: True. Trump almost certainly does see many, many untruthful things.

I mean, I watch CNN, it’s so much anger and hatred and just the hatred. I don’t watch it any more….Well, you look at your show that goes on at 10 o’clock in the evening. You just take a look at that show. That is a constant hit….Now, I will say this. I watch it. I see it. I’m amazed by it.

Fact check: Schrödinger’s cat. Trump both watches and doesn’t watch CNN.

We had Hillary Clinton try and do a reset. We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country. You know what uranium is, right? This thing called nuclear weapons like lots of things are done with uranium including some bad things.

Fact check: Half true. No, Hillary Clinton didn’t give Russia any uranium. (She was one of many who approved a deal for the Russian atomic energy agency to buy a Canadian company that controls 20 percent of the US uranium reserves. But none of it can exported outside the US.) However, it is true that bad things can be done with uranium.

QUESTION: Let’s talk about some serious issues that have come up in the last week that you have had to deal with as president of the United States. You mentioned the vessel — the spy vessel off the coast of the United States.

TRUMP: Not good.

QUESTION: There was a ballistic missile test that many interpret as a violation of an agreement between the two countries; and a Russian plane buzzed a U.S. destroyer.

TRUMP: Not good.

….QUESTION: So when you say they’re not good, do you mean that they are…

TRUMP: Who did I say is not good?

QUESTION: No, I read off the three things that have recently happened. Each one of them you said they’re not good.

TRUMP: No, it’s not good, but they happened.

QUESTION: But do they damage the relationship? Do they undermine…

TRUMP: They all happened recently.

Fact check: True. These are all things that happened recently.

JAKE TURX, A REPORTER FOR A SMALL ULTRA-ORTHODOX JEWISH PUBLICATION: Despite what some of my colleagues may have been reporting, I haven’t seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. We understand that you have Jewish grandchildren. You are their zaidy. However, what we are concerned about, and what we haven’t really heard being addressed, is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it… There has been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people who are committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to…

TRUMP: he said he was gonna ask a very simple, easy question. And it’s not, its not, not — not a simple question, not a fair question. OK sit down, I understand the rest of your question.

So here’s the story, folks. Number one, I am the least anti- Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism, the least racist person….See, he lied about — he was gonna get up and ask a very straight, simple question, so you know, welcome to the world of the media. But let me just tell you something, that I hate the charge, I find it repulsive.

I hate even the question because people that know me and you heard the prime minister, you heard Ben Netanyahu yesterday, did you hear him, Bibi? He said, I’ve known Donald Trump for a long time and then he said, forget it. So you should take that instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like that.

Fact check: Incoherent. Turx explicitly tried to assure Trump that nobody thought he was anti-Semitic, but Trump’s skin is so thin that he immediately decided Turx was calling him a racist and an anti-Semite. I wonder why?

By the way, the entire point of this press conference seemed to be directed at one thing: accusing the press of being horrible and dishonest. This came up in nearly every Trump answer. This is a great strategy for shoring up his base, of course. As near as I can tell, conservatives all thought this dumpster fire of a press conference was a terrific performance.

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Here Are Your Highlights of Today’s Trump Press Meltdown

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Here’s How the Green Card Chaos Unfolded

Mother Jones

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Josh Rogin has a fascinating piece in the Washington Post today about the turmoil within the Trump administration over the immigration order issued last week. Much of this was due to the fact that no one outside the White House, including those who had to carry out the order, were part of the review process. The end result, apparently, was a temporary halt to executive orders “until a process was established that included the input of key officials outside the White House.”

But it’s worth putting this all in a timeline. Here it is, drawing from Rogin’s article and a CNN summary.

Friday afternoon: Trump signs immigration order

Saturday evening: As chaos ensues, “The man charged with implementing the order, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, had a plan. He would issue a waiver for green-card holders from the seven majority-Muslim countries whose citizens had been banned from entering the United States.”

Later Saturday evening: “White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon wanted to stop Kelly in his tracks. Bannon paid a personal and unscheduled visit to Kelly’s Department of Homeland Security office to deliver an order: Don’t issue the waiver. Kelly, according to two administration officials familiar with the confrontation, refused to comply with Bannon’s instruction…. Respectfully but firmly, the retired general and longtime Marine told Bannon that despite his high position in the White House and close relationship with Trump, the former Breitbart chief was not in Kelly’s chain of command.”

Later still on Saturday evening: “Trump didn’t call Kelly to tell him to hold off. Kelly issued the waiver late Saturday night.” But the waiver is not announced, and green card holders continue to be denied entry.

2 am Sunday morning: “A conference call of several top officials was convened to discuss the ongoing confusion over the executive order….On the call were Bannon, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, White House Counsel Donald McGahn, national security adviser Michael Flynn, Kelly, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State designee Rex Tillerson, who had not yet been confirmed.”

8 am Sunday morning: “In mere minutes during an interview with NBC, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said the order ‘doesn’t affect’ green card holders, then later said ‘of course’ it affects green card holders from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia — the seven countries Trump has temporarily stop immigration from for 90 days.”

6 pm Sunday evening: “Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued a statement clarifying their status saying ‘lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.’ Another Homeland Security official told CNN…’This is our message to them: get on a plane. Come back to the US. You will be subject to secondary screening, but everything else will be normal.’ “

Kelly is implicitly the hero of this story. And yet, he allowed the green card confusion to continue all day Sunday even though he had issued his waiver Saturday night. Some hero.

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Here’s How the Green Card Chaos Unfolded

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CNN Turns Down Opportunity to Interview Kellyanne Conway

Mother Jones

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CNN, which is the target of a boycott by the Trump administration, turned down an opportunity to have Kellyanne Conway on its Sunday show:

Why did CNN do this? If it’s just pique over being denied access to Pence, then boo. If it’s because Conway is such a serial liar that no self-respecting news outlet should give her air time, then yay. But which is it?

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CNN Turns Down Opportunity to Interview Kellyanne Conway

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Trump on Black History Month: Frederick Douglass "Has Done an Amazing Job"

Mother Jones

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During a listening session at the White House to honor Black History Month on Wednesday, President Donald Trump praised Frederick Douglass, who died in 1895, as “somebody who’s done an amazing job” and whose work is “being recognized more and more.”

The remarks immediately called into question whether the president knew who the abolitionist actually was:

Trump went on to use the listening session to give shout-outs to his own black surrogates, including Omarosa Manigualt, the former Celebrity Apprentice contestant who is now an adviser to the president. Despite once labeling her an untrustworthy liar, Trump on Wednesday said she was an “actually very nice person.”

The president also took the opportunity to bash CNN as “fake news” and plug Fox News, a network he says has “treated him very nice.”

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Trump on Black History Month: Frederick Douglass "Has Done an Amazing Job"

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Conway: It’s Cool for Trump to Be Apprentice Executive Producer Because Obama Golfed

Mother Jones

On Wednesday afternoon, Variety published a scoop: President-elect Donald Trump will stay on as executive producer of Celebrity Apprentice on NBC, the hit franchise he created with reality TV mogul Mark Burnett from MGM. The show returns to air on January 2—hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Trumps spokeswoman Hope Hicks confirmed the president-elect “has a big stake in the show.” Trump won’t be involved in actually producing the show, but his fee per episode is likely to be in the low five figures, according to Variety. According to the Hollywood Reporter, this fee will be paid by MGM Television, the studio responsible for the production—not by NBC.

All this is raising concerns about potential conflicts of interest. As the Huffington Post explained:

Trump’s role is rife with potential entanglements. While his paycheck will come from MGM, the program airs on NBC, a major broadcast network with an influential news division (which employs reporters Trump has personally attacked). It’s also the same network that airs Saturday Night Live, a show Trump has criticized on numerous occasions for its unflattering depiction of him. And NBC is owned by Comcast, a corporation that was recently slapped with a hefty fine by the Federal Communications Commission—an entity that will soon be under Trump’s control.

Today, Trump adviser and former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway appeared on CNN’s New Day to defend the decision. According to Conway, whatever Trump does in his “spare time” is up to him, much in the way that Obama liked to play golf. “Were we so concerned about the hours and hours and hours spent on the golf course of the current president?” Conway said. “I mean presidents have a right to do things in their spare time, in their leisure time.” Watch the entire exchange above.

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Conway: It’s Cool for Trump to Be Apprentice Executive Producer Because Obama Golfed

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Things We Can Count On In the Next Two Years

Mother Jones

What is Donald Trump going to do in office? Beats me. For the most part, I’d ignore what he said on the campaign trail, since he said so many different things at different times. It’s obvious that (a) he doesn’t know much, and (b) he doesn’t truly care about very many things—and that means he’s going to be willing to negotiate. On that score, I mostly agree with Tyler Cowen, who speculates that “his natural instinct will be to look for some quick symbolic victories to satisfy supporters, and then pursue mass popularity with a lot of government benefits, debt and free-lunch thinking.”

However, this also means Trump is likely to follow the lead of Congress, which is completely in Republican hands and likely to follow the lead of Paul Ryan. Given that, I think there are a few things we can speculate about. Here’s a short list:

The filibuster is toast. Republicans will get rid of it as soon as they need to.

There are three Supreme Court justices who support Roe v. Wade and are getting on in years: Stephen Breyer (78), Anthony Kennedy (80), and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (83). Using standard actuarial tables, there’s a 60 percent chance that at least one of them will die during Trump’s term. That means there’s a 60 percent chance that Roe v. Wade will be overturned.

Repealing Obamacare will be harder than Republicans think, and it’s possible that they’ll shrink from it when they truly have to face up to the consequences. For one thing, it’s impossible to keep the “good parts” (pre-existing conditions, community rating, etc.) and only get rid of the bad parts. In the best case, they’ll pass a bill that repeals Obamacare in name, but leaves most of it in place under a different name. But I doubt that. In the end, I think they’ll rip down the whole thing.

There will be a recession sometime during Trump’s term. I don’t know what this means. But I’ll bet the Republican Congress will be a whole lot more eager to fix it with crude Keynesian pump priming than they were for Obama.

Trump seems to really care about infrastructure, which makes sense since he thinks of himself as a builder. So we might very well get an infrastructure bill passed. I expect that a wall on the southern border will be part of it.

Congress will pass a big tax cut for the rich. Not as big as Trump’s, I think, but plenty big anyway.

Winners from a Trump presidency: rich people; pro-lifers; Paul Ryan, who will now be reelected Speaker easily; China; Wall Street; Vladimir Putin; James Comey; and CNN president Jeff Zucker, who did everything in his power to help elect a guy who could keep his ratings up.

Losers from a Trump presidency: poor people; anyone on Obamacare; illegal immigrants; climate change; the white working class, which fell for Trump’s con but will get virtually nothing from his presidency; anyone who cares about human decency and national dignity; Barack Obama, whose presidency will now be considered a failure; and the Democratic Party, which has lost control of the presidency, the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, and most of the states.

Since I have the Reconstruction era on my mind right now, it’s hard to avoid the obvious comparison. Reconstruction lasted about eight years, and then was dismantled almost completely. Barack Obama’s presidency lasted eight years and will now be dismantled almost completely. I will withhold my opinion for now on the obvious reason for this similarity.

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Things We Can Count On In the Next Two Years

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Exclusive: Central Park Five Members Blast Trump for Insisting They’re Guilty

Mother Jones

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After Donald Trump reaffirmed his long-held belief this week that the men known as the Central Park Five were guilty in an infamous, decades-old rape case, two members of the since-exonerated group blasted Trump in interviews with Mother Jones, calling him a “stunt artist” and saying “he’s gotten worse” since his involvement in their 1990 conviction.

“You have a person who’s supposed to be a very intelligent business man, and what I’m sure he would do if he was trying to purchase a property is do his due diligence,” Yusef Salaam told me Friday, noting that Trump continued to ignore the facts of the Central Park Five case. “For somebody to still stand on the side of injustice like Donald Trump is, that becomes a very scary place to be.”

In a statement to CNN this week, Trump said he still believed the Central Park Five were guilty. “They admitted they were guilty,” he told CNN’s Miguel Marquez. “The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that the case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.”

In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers were convicted of brutally attacking a young white jogger in New York City’s Central Park. The crime, which came at the height of the crack epidemic and skyrocketing crime rates, enflamed racial tension in the city. About two weeks after the incident, Trump published a full-page ad in four major New York newspapers calling for the teens to be brought to justice—and suggesting that they should face the death penalty. But in 2002, all five men—who spent between 6 and 13 years in prison—were exonerated based on DNA evidence and a confession from the actual perpetrator, whose DNA was shown to match evidence at the scene.

Mother Jones talked to two members of the Central Park Five—Salaam and Korey Wise—about Trump’s role in their case, their thoughts on his presidential candidacy, and his latest comments about their case. Not surprisingly, neither is happy to see one of their main antagonists on the national stage day in and day out. Nor is a third member of the group, Raymond Santana, who skewered Trump on Twitter:

Salaam, who was 15 when he was jailed for the assault, said he believes Trump played a crucial role in the media campaign against him.

“Trump was one of the fire starters—really the main fire starter—because his name held a lot more weight,” he said. His ad facilitated “the conviction that was going to happen in the public arena prior to us even getting into the courthouse.”

Wise told me he only learned about Trump’s ad after watching a documentary on his case several years ago. After seeing it, he understood why the case had become so incredibly charged. “I said, ‘Wow! Wow! Wow!'” Wise said. “This is where a great deal of the energy that was directed at me in terms of physical threats” came from.

“The ad was talking about and goes specifically into fears that the public was having at that particular time,” Salaam told me. “He’s talking about how ‘we’ve had to give up our leisurely stroll in the playground, and we can’t ride our bikes, or we can’t walk around in the streets because now we’re hostages, ruled by the laws of the streets.'” Trump has revisited those themes in his presidential campaign, often citing gun violence in cities like Chicago as indicative of a breakdown in “law and order,” which he insists he can restore.

Salaam also suggested that Trump was a hypocrite for attacking Hillary Clinton over her “superpredator” remarks in the first presidential debate. “She well within her right could have said, ‘Well you took out a full-page ad calling for the execution—the lynching, the death—of young black and Latino men—and you have never apologized.'”

More than 25 years later, Trump hasn’t changed, Salaam said. “As a matter of fact, he’s gotten worse,” he said. “He believes in everything he’s put out there—the racial vision he’s created.”

For his part, Wise said he doesn’t think about what a Trump presidency would mean because he doesn’t take him seriously: “He’s a stunt artist…He follows publicity.”

But Salaam had a bleaker assessment of what the country would look like with Trump as commander in chief: “If he becomes president, what is that going to mean for the people who are losing their lives in the street? This ‘law and order’ is going to be a very, very scary thing for us as a people.”

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Exclusive: Central Park Five Members Blast Trump for Insisting They’re Guilty

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Trump shows us what happens to a climate denier in denial

If Donald Trump is trying to run away from his well-known position as a climate change denier, he’s doing a terrible job at it.

Less than 12 hours after a debate against Hillary Clinton in which he personally denied calling climate change a hoax, Trump’s campaign manager and running mate offered different versions of what the candidate supposedly believes: He thinks it exists but isn’t human-made, or he thinks it is human-made but doesn’t want to do anything about it.

Regardless of what his surrogates are saying on TV this morning, there’s a long Twitter record of Trump’s unscientific statements about climate to fall back on. His position is clear: It’s a hoax. What’s less clear is what he hopes to gain by changing that position now. Could it be that even the Trump campaign recognizes that climate denial in the face of clear evidence is a losing position in a general election?

Certainly Clinton seems to think it’s a strong avenue of attack: Unprompted by moderator Lester Holt during the debate last night on Long Island, Clinton said: “Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese.”

Because he couldn’t help himself, Trump only managed to emphasize her point by interjecting, “I did not,” sending all the fact checkers to Twitter, where his four-year-old tweet saying exactly that became the top retweeted tweet during the debate:

Oops?

The lying doesn’t stop there, though. Tuesday morning, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway was asked on CNN if her candidate thinks global warming is a hoax. Conway insisted, no, he doesn’t believe it’s a hoax, but he does believe “that climate change is naturally occurring, that there are shifts naturally occurring.”

Then, on the very same show, Trump’s vice presidential pick took an abruptly different tone on climate change. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who himself once called global warming “a myth,” suggested that greenhouse gases have “some impact” on the climate.

“There’s no question that — that — that the activities that take place in this country and in countries around the world have some impact on the environment and some impact on climate,” Pence said. “But Donald Trump and I say: Let’s follow the science, but for heaven’s sakes, let’s not go rushing into the kind of restrictions on our economy that are putting Americans out of work.”

When it isn’t Trump himself talking, his campaign has sometimes tried to soften his position on the climate issue. “Perhaps we should be focused on developing energy sources and power production that alleviates the need for dependence on fossil fuels,” Trump (or his campaign) wrote to ScienceDebate earlier this month.

It’s clear why Clinton wants to emphasize Trump’s inconsistent and unscientific climate positions. In light of recent polls, her campaign has zeroed in on more millennial-friendly messaging, in hopes of winning over young voters looking to third-party candidates like Green Jill Stein or Libertarian Gary Johnson.

Clinton largely sidelined climate change in her speeches after Bernie Sanders conceded in the primary contest, but she’s now turning to the issue again as part of a strong messaging strategy. The differences between her and Trump are more stark on climate change than on nearly any other issue — one accepts scientific consensus, the other doesn’t.

So while Clinton’s plan was clear, what the hell was Trump doing?

Clearly, calling a respected field of science a “hoax” on the national stage is not the image his campaign wants to put forward. Trump’s position on climate and energy isn’t that different from the rest of the GOP, but in a normal presidential year, he might have at this point recast his climate denial as mere reluctance to act, to make the position more palatable to the general election voter.

Yet Trump’s not running a normal campaign in any sense, so climate change gets the same brash treatment as every other issue the candidate touches on.

There were plenty of other positions that the candidates skirmished over last night, and Clinton implored the “factcheckers, get to work” a few times. Trump once again said he never supported the Iraq war, which was a lie; he did.

Conway, Trump’s spokesperson, in fact tried to pivot to the Iraq war this morning on CNN when asked about Trump’s climate answer. The Trump campaign clearly isn’t eager to answer questions on the subject.

But in denying his denial, what’s the logic? He’s been fine with it for years. His 2012 China tweet wasn’t just a poorly considered slip, but one of many:

As recently as late 2015, Trump still was fine saying: “a lot of it’s a hoax. It’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, okay?”

Then in January, as Politifact points out, Trump tried to play off the tweet about China as a joke: “I often joke that this is done for the benefit of China. Obviously, I joke. But this is done for the benefit of China, because China does not do anything to help climate change.”

Was Trump joking all those times he called it a hoax?

Hard to believe. And his voters sure don’t.

Other than Trump’s unexpected backtrack (or not) on climate, we didn’t learn anything new about either candidate’s energy positions in this debate. The themes of “prosperity” and “securing America” might have lended themselves to discussing both climate, which the military calls a significant threat, and clean energy, which has overtaken the fossil fuel industry as a job creator. But as is usual in presidential debates, the moderator didn’t see fit to steer the candidates in those directions.

Clinton, however, did cite two of her climate and energy proposals: deploying a half-billion solar panels and rebuilding the electric grid. Trump never once mentioned his energy proposals, even forgetting his promises to wave a wand and restore coal country, despite the debate’s focus on American industry in the first 15 minutes.

In the end, though, Clinton didn’t need to go on at length about her climate solutions, because it’s enough for her to draw out the contrast with Trump. He has no position on climate, except for his plan to appoint a climate change denier to lead the Environmental Protection Agency transition.

Clinton for now is content to use Trump’s words against him and let his position speak for itself. Their little exchange on Trump’s tweet did more to help put climate change on the map for future debates than any of Clinton’s policy positions.

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Trump shows us what happens to a climate denier in denial

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