White House: Trump to watch violent parody, ‘condemns it’

A scene from inside the "church of fake news" where a fake President Donald Trump is seen attacking people with the logos of news outlets imposed on their heads. (Screenshot/Youtube)
Updated 14 October 2019

White House: Trump to watch violent parody, ‘condemns it’

  • The parody was shown at a meeting of Trump supporters at his Miami resort
  • “This video was not approved, seen, or sanctioned” by the event’s organizers, Phillips said

WASHINGTON: The White House said Monday President Donald Trump has yet to watch a graphically violent parody video that depicts a likeness of him shooting and stabbing his opponents and members of the news media, but says he “strongly condemns it.”
The parody was shown at a meeting of Trump supporters at his Miami resort.
Journalists covering the White House have called on Trump to condemn the video, in which Trump’s critics and media members are portrayed as parishioners in a church fleeing his gruesome rampage. The fake Trump strikes the late Sen. John McCain in the neck, hits and stabs TV personality Rosie O’Donnell in the face, lights Sen. Bernie Sanders’ head on fire and shoots or otherwise assaults people whose faces are replaced with news organization logos.
Trump’s face is superimposed on a killer’s body. Among the targets: former President Barack Obama, Black Lives Matter, Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Rep. Adam Schiff, who as Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is leading the impeachment inquiry of Trump.
Press secretary Stephanie Grisham says in a tweet that Trump will see the video shortly and that, “based upon everything he has heard, he strongly condemns this video.”
The video and its screening were first reported by The New York Times .
The “unauthorized video” was shown last week “in a side room” at an American Priority conference at Trump’s Doral Miami resort, the event’s organizer, Alex Phillips, said in a statement. Trump was not present for the event.
“This video was not approved, seen, or sanctioned” by the event’s organizers, Phillips said.
The White House Correspondents Association, which represents journalists covering the president, issued a statement late Sunday saying it was “horrified” by the content.
“All Americans should condemn this depiction of violence directed toward journalists and the President’s political opponents,” said Jonathan Karl, WHCA president. “We have previously told the President his rhetoric could incite violence. Now we call on him and everybody associated with this conference to denounce this video and affirm that violence has no place in our society.”
The video includes the logo for Trump’s 2020 campaign but Tim Murtaugh, spokesman for the campaign, told the Times the “video was not produced by the campaign, and we do not condone violence.”
Phillips told the Times the video was played as part of a “meme exhibit” and was not associated with or endorsed by the conference “in any official capacity.” “American Priority rejects all political violence,” he said, and is looking into the matter.
The setting for the massacre is the “Church of Fake News,” capturing Trump’s familiar refrain about news stories and organizations that he deems unfair.
CNN, The Washington Post, BBC, PBS, NBC and Politico are among the news organizations depicted as victims of the fake Trump’s violent fury.


US impeachment hearings grab media spotlight

Updated 12 November 2019

US impeachment hearings grab media spotlight

  • Televised hearings into allegations about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine will begin in the US this week

WASHINGTON: This week will mark a new and unparalleled chapter in Donald Trump’s tumultuous presidency, as the Democratic-led impeachment probe goes public with televised hearings into allegations about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

Beginning on Wednesday, three witnesses will publicly detail their concerns, previously expressed behind closed doors, that the Trump administration sought to tie military aid to Ukraine to an investigation of the Republican president’s potential Democratic rival for the presidency, Joe Biden.

The testimony will be carried by major broadcast and cable networks and is expected to be viewed by millions, who will watch current and former officials from Trump’s own administration begin to outline a case for his potential removal from office.

It has been 20 years since Americans last witnessed impeachment proceedings, when Republicans brought charges against then-Democratic President Bill Clinton.

Democrats in the US House of Representatives argue Trump abused his authority in pressing the Ukrainian government to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma.

Representative Eric Swalwell, a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which will hold the hearings on Wednesday and Friday this week, accused Trump on Sunday of “extortion.”

“We have enough evidence from the depositions that we’ve done to warrant bringing this forward, evidence of an extortion scheme, using taxpayer dollars to ask a foreign government to investigate the president’s opponent,” Swalwell said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Trump argued on Twitter that he was not guilty of misconduct and that the probe was politically driven. “NOTHING WAS DONE WRONG!” he wrote on Sunday.

Democrats consider the open hearings to be crucial to building public support for a formal impeachment vote against Trump. If that occurs, the Republican-controlled Senate would hold a trial on the charges. Republicans have so far shown little support for removing Trump from office, which would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate. The House Intelligence Committee will first hear from William Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, who told the committee in closed-door testimony that he was unhappy US aid to the country was held up by the administration.

Taylor said he also became uncomfortable with what he described as an “irregular channel” of people involved in Ukraine policy, including Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer.

George Kent, a senior State Department official who oversees Ukraine, will appear at Wednesday’s hearing as well. Kent was also concerned about Giuliani’s role in conducting shadow diplomacy — and has testified that he was cut out of
the decision-making loop on Ukraine matters.

On Friday, the committee will hear from former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. She says she was ousted from her post after Giuliani and his allies mounted a campaign against her with what she called “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”

Democrats are likely to call further witnesses after this week.

House Republicans released their list on Saturday of witnesses they would like brought before the committee, including Hunter Biden and the yet-unnamed whistleblower who first brought the complaint against Trump over his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a Democrat, is unlikely to summon either to testify, and even some Republicans have opposed the push from Trump and some of his supporters that the whistleblower be identified.

“I think we should be protecting the identity of the whistleblower,” Will Hurd, a former CIA officer and a Republican member of the committee, said on the “Fox News Sunday” program, “because how we treat this whistleblower will impact whistleblowers in the future.”