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February 29, 2016
Morning Jolt
... with Jim Geraghty

Happy Birthday, Leap Year Babies! Good news, just a few more decades before you turn 21 and you can legally drink!

‘Just So You Understand, I Don’t Know Anything About David Duke, Okay?’

Donald Trump, in his statement announcing he would not run for president, February 14, 2000:

Note the reference to “a Klansman, Mr. Duke.”

David Duke discussing Trump on his radio program on August 25, 2015: “He has really said some incredibly great things recently. So whatever his motivation, I don’t give a damn. I really like the fact that he’s speaking out on this greatest immediate threat to the American people.”

Trump on August 26, 2015:

“I don’t need his [Duke’s] endorsement; I certainly wouldn’t want his endorsement,” Trump said during an interview with Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. He added: “I don’t need anyone’s endorsement.”

Asked whether he would repudiate the endorsement, Trump said “Sure, I would if that would make you feel better.”

Friday, February 26: Duke declares, “Voting for these people, voting against Donald Trump at this point, is really treason to your heritage.”

Friday afternoon, at Trump’s press conference, announcing Chris Christie’s endorsement:

Reporter: How do you feel about your recent endorsement from David Duke?

Trump: I didn’t even know he endorsed me. David Duke endorsed me? Okay. Alright. I disavow it, okay? (turning to another reporter) Yes, go ahead.

Trump on CNN Sunday:

TAPPER: I want to ask you about the Anti-Defamation League, which this week called on you to publicly condemn unequivocally the racism of former KKK grand wizard David Duke, who recently said that voting against you at this point would be treason to your heritage. Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don’t want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?

TRUMP: Well, just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke. OK? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So, I don’t know.

I don’t know, did he endorse me or what’s going on, because, you know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists. And so you’re asking me a question that I’m supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about.

TAPPER: But I guess the question from the Anti-Defamation League is, even if you don’t know about their endorsement, there are these groups and individuals endorsing you. Would you just say unequivocally you condemn them and you don’t want their support?

TRUMP: Well, I have to look at the group. I mean, I don’t know what group you’re talking about.

You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I would have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them. And, certainly, I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong.

TAPPER: The Ku Klux Klan?

TRUMP: But you may groups in there that are totally fine, and it would be very unfair. So, give me a list of the groups, and I will let you know.

TAPPER: OK. I mean, I’m just talking about David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan here, but . . .

TRUMP: I don’t know any -- honestly, I don’t know David Duke. I don’t believe I have ever met him. I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet him. And I just don’t know anything about him.

TAPPER: All right.

This morning Trump said he couldn’t hear Tapper’s questions. You may notice in the transcript above that Trump never says he’s having trouble hearing the question, and in fact repeats “David Duke” and “white supremacists” in his answers, suggesting he could hear Tapper’s question just fine.

The Last Temptation of Christie

Here’s Meg Whitman, formerly one of Chris Christie’s biggest backers, denouncing him for jumping onto the Trump bandwagon:

“Chris Christie’s endorsement of Donald Trump is an astonishing display of political opportunism,” Ms. Whitman, who was a national finance co-chair of the Christie campaign, said in the statement.

“Donald Trump is unfit to be president,” Ms. Whitman said. “He is a dishonest demagogue who plays to our worst fears. Trump would take America on a dangerous journey. Christie knows all that and indicated as much many times publicly. The governor is mistaken if he believes he can now count on my support, and I call on Christie’s donors and supporters to reject the governor and Donald Trump outright. I believe they will. For some of us, principle and country still matter.”

Christie’s response?

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, I love Meg Whitman. She’s a great friend to me and to Mary Pat, always has been. We obviously, from that statement, have a difference of political opinion. And that’s OK. That’s what makes this country great is that people can have differences of political opinion. And so Meg has always been free to express her views and I honor her. And we absolutely adore our relationship with her and I’m sure it’ll continue.

Don’t be so sure, governor.

Here’s Christie struggling to defend Trump positions he denounced just a little while ago on the campaign trail on ABC News Sunday:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about the policy in this campaign right now.

During your campaign, you ran as a straight-talking truth-teller, specific answers to America’s challenges. And here’s what you tried -- you told voters to question Mr. Trump.


CHRISTIE: I tell everybody who goes to a Donald Trump event, if he gets asked a question, just ask him how. First, he says he’s going to build a wall across the entire border between the United States and Mexico. How? How is he going to make the Mexicans pay for the wall? How? They are a sovereign nation.


STEPHANOPOULOS: You’re backing him now. What’s the answer?

CHRISTIE: The answer is he will do it --


CHRISTIE: -- the fact -- the fact is that he’s going to have to answer that question. And he will. You know, George, this is a February -- this is February of a campaign. And let’s say this. You look at everybody else on that stage -- and there have been many more specifics from a lot of other folks on that stage. And that was part of my argument during the campaign. But there I am, as somebody who’s --


STEPHANOPOULOS: Wait, wait a second. We’re eight months into this campaign. The wall has been his signature issue. He says it’s his go-to line whenever he needs applause. You’ve now had the Mexican president, two former Mexican presidents, the Mexican foreign minister in “The Washington Post” this morning, calls this a racist, ignorant and absurd proposal. You know that Mexico’s not going to pay.

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, George, I’m -- that’s -- what would you expect Mexico to say? That’s of course what they’re going to say. And the --


STEPHANOPOULOS: How is Donald Trump going to force Mexico to pay?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I think that there is great ways to be able to use diplomacy and other tools to be able to come to compromise with nations that are both our neighbors and around the world. And we’re working on those things. And that’s what leadership does. Strong leadership is able to exert those things and be able to talk to folks about what advantages and disadvantages are of certain policies. The fact of the matter is that there won’t be any question about Mr. Trump’s strength and his resoluteness in terms of getting the things done that he’s wanted to get done. That’s what his whole career is --

STEPHANOPOULOS: But what’s the answer to the how? That’s the --

CHRISTIE: And this is the thing that I said. And he will answer that question. But you know, to me, I’m not answering the question for him this morning. That’s his -- that’s the way he will answer it.

At least Christie is being treated well by his new . . . oh.

Get on the plane and go home. It’s over there. Go home.”

Bernie Sanders Supporters Will Not Go Quietly into the Night

Don’t think that it’s all unity and sunshine on the Democratic side. You might think the party would be looking at Hillary Clinton’s solid win in South Carolina and conclude that it’s time to wrap up the flirtation with Bernie Sanders. Here’s a perfectly-timed gesture of defiance:

“As a veteran of two Middle East deployments, I know first hand the cost of war,” said Ms. Gabbard, one of the first female combat veterans to serve in Congress. “I know how important it is that our commander-in-chief has the sound judgment required to know when to use America’s military power and when not to use that power.

“As a vice chair of the D.N.C., I am required to stay neutral in democratic primaries, but I cannot remain neutral any longer,” she added. “The stakes are just too high. That’s why today I’m endorsing Senator Bernie Sanders to be our next president and commander in chief of the United States.”

Gabbard doesn’t mention Clinton by name, but the name isn’t needed. Declaring “the stakes are too high” and the need for “sound judgment” is a hard rebuke to Hillary.

ADDENDA: Donald Trump, speaking in the promotional video for Trump University: “We’re going to have professors and adjunct professors that are absolutely terrific, terrific people, terrific brains, successful. We are going to have the best of the best

-- and honestly, if you don’t learn from them, if you don’t learn from me, if you don’t learn from the people that we’re going to be putting forward -- and these are all people that are hand-picked by me -- then you’re just not going to make it in the world of success. I think the biggest step toward success is going to be: Sign up at Trump University.”

Trump University, which “largely shut down in 2011,” is now the subject of three lawsuits:

According to the New York complaint, none of the instructors was “handpicked” by Trump, many of them came from fields having nothing to do with real estate, and Trump “‘never’ reviewed any of Trump University’s curricula or programming materials.” The materials were “in large part developed by a third-party company that creates and develops materials for an array of motivational speakers and seminar and timeshare rental companies.”


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Trump, the Would-Be Tyrant
Radical Gratitude
Arm the Christians and Kurds in Northern Iraq
The Big Bang
By Roy M Griffis
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