President Donald Trump tweeted a photo of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer eating a donut alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin to defend himself from scrutiny of his possible ties to Russia. The photo was previously posted on the blog The Gateway Pundit, which Trump has indirectly cited before. The site has a history of publishing false information but was recently given White House press credentials.
Trump And His Aides Under Scrutiny For Possible Ties To Russia
CNN: “More Trump Advisers Disclose Meetings With Russia’s Ambassador.” Multiple current and former aides to President Donald Trump met with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. either during the campaign or soon after, “at a time when the Trump administration’s relationship with the Russians was under close scrutiny,” according to CNN. Those aides include “Trump's senior aide Jared Kushner and ousted adviser Michael Flynn”; Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was forced to recuse himself from any possible Russia probe; and “national security adviser to the Trump campaign” J.D. Gordon. From the March 2 article:
President Donald Trump's senior aide Jared Kushner and ousted adviser Michael Flynn met with the Russian ambassador to the United States at a time when the Trump administration's relationship with the Russians was under close scrutiny.
Kushner and Flynn sat down in December at Trump Tower with Sergey Kislyak, according to a senior administration official, who described it as an “introductory meeting” and “kind of an inconsequential hello.”
The meeting lasted for about 10 minutes, the official added.
Flynn was fired from his role as a national security adviser after he misled the administration about his conversations with Kislyak, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday said he would recuse himself from investigations into the Trump campaign relationship with Russia after news emerged that he too had spoken privately with the ambassador.
Another national security adviser to the Trump campaign, J.D. Gordon, also disclosed Thursday that he had met with Kislyak, this time during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. That meeting was first reported by USA Today. [CNN.com, 3/3/17]
Gateway Pundit Pushes Photo Of Chuck Schumer With Vladimir Putin, Which Makes Its Way To Trump’s Twitter
Gateway Pundit At 7:10 P.M. March 2: “Flashback: Chuck Schumer Meets With Putin In New York City.” Defending Trump,The Gateway Pundit claimed that while New York Democratic Sen. “Chuck Schumer continues to push the Russia conspiracy,” “it was Schumer who met with Putin in New York City – not Trump.” A photo of Schumer and Russian President Vladimir Putin eating donuts tops the piece. From the March 2 article:
Where’s the outrage?
Democrat Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer continues to push the Russia conspiracy.
But it was Schumer who met with Putin in New York City – not Trump.
“The picture above was taken in 2003 as Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, enjoys a Krispy Kreme doughnut and coffee with Senator Charles Schumer from New York as Putin visits the first New York gas station of the Russian company Lukoil.” [The Gateway Pundit, 3/2/17]
Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson At 8:09 P.M. March 2: “Chuck Schumer Must Resign Immediately! The Horror!” Paul Joseph Watson, an editor of conspiracy website Infowars who has a history of publishing false information, tweeted the photo and wrote, “Chuck Schumer must resign immediately! The horror!”
Drudge At 9:43 A.M. March 3: “SCHUMER AND THE RUSSIANS.” Drudge the next day posted the Schumer-Putin photo with the headline “SCHUMER AND THE RUSSIANS,” linking to the Gateway Pundit article.
[Drudge Report, 3/3/17]
Trump At 12:54 P.M. March 3: “We Should Start An Immediate Investigation Into @SenSchumer And His Ties To Russia And Putin. A Total Hypocrite!”
Gateway Pundit Takes Credit For Trump’s Tweet. Gateway Pundit founder Jim Hoft tweeted, “BOOM! POTUS Trump Uses Gateway Pundit's Story to SLAM Chuckie Schumer.”
Trump Has Cited Gateway Pundit Before
Trump Pushed Misleading Claim From Gateway Pundit Claiming He Caused Decrease In National Debt. Trump on February 25 tweeted, “The media has not reported that the National Debt in my first month went down by $12 billion vs a $200 billion increase in Obama first [month].” The claim, which came after conservative pundit Herman Cain made the same point on Fox & Friends Saturday, “mirrors an article posted on the Gateway Pundit website a few days earlier,” according to PolitiFact. PolitiFact said the claim was misleading, noting that the “national debt fluctuates up and down depending on the day,” and calling the claim “mostly false.” From the February 25 article:
In an early morning tweet Saturday, President Donald Trump echoed a post on a fringe website claiming that the national debt has decreased by $12 billion since Trump took office.
“The media has not reported that the National Debt in my first month went down by $12 billion vs a $200 billion increase in Obama first mo.,” Trump posted on Twitter Feb. 25, 2017.
The tweet mirrors an article posted on the Gateway Pundit website a few days earlier. It was repeated by conservative pundit Herman Cain on Fox News shortly before Trump’s tweet.
“On January 20th, the day of the Trump Inauguration, the US Debt stood at $19,947 billion,” the Gateway Pundit website reads. “On February 21st, a month later, the US Debt load stood at $19,935 billion. Trump cut the US Debt burden by $12 billion and 0.1% in his first month in office!”
Dean Baker, an economist with the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research, said the temporary dip in the debt is triggered by the timing of tax payments and government spending, “both matters that he has not affected one iota.”
Added Neil Buchanan, a George Washington University law professor and author of The Debt Ceiling Disasters: “No one who knows anything about budgeting would take a 30-day change to have any meaning at all. There is no credit to take, because it's like noticing that rainfall numbers from one month to the next are not exactly the same or that attendance at baseball games is not a constant number.”
Trump would be wise to not read too much into this figure, which sounds more noteworthy than it actually is. The national debt fluctuates up and down depending on the day. While the debt is “down” after one month, experts say that trend will reverse and the debt will continue to rise.
This factoid is a gross misrepresentation of the state of the debt and the role the new president had in shaping the figure.
We rate this claim Mostly False. [PolitiFact, 2/25/17]
Gateway Pundit Is A Fringe Blog With A History Of Pushing Misinformation
Gateway Pundit Has Repeatedly Pushed False Information. The Gateway Pundit has a history of falling for fake stories, publishing articles with factual inaccuracies, and pushing fact-free conspiracy theories about a wide range of topics, including former President Barack Obama’s birthplace. The website was recently given press credentials by the Trump administration, and founder Hoft posted a photo standing behind the lectern in the White House press briefing room, displaying a hand signal associated with the racist “Pepe” meme affiliated with the “alt-right.” [Media Matters, 1/25/17, 2/13/17]