When President Trump displayed a large map of Hurricane Dorian’s path in the Oval Office on Wednesday, it was hard to miss a black line that appeared to have been drawn to extend the storm’s possible path into the state of Alabama.
That might have been intended to bolster Mr. Trump’s claim on Sunday when he tweeted that “in addition to Florida — South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”
Never mind that the Alabama office of the National Weather Service quickly responded to Mr. Trump’s original claim by insisting that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian.”
“We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama,” the office tweeted. “The system will remain too far east.”
So did Mr. Trump — who frequently uses black Sharpie pens to sign legislation — add the mark to justify his unfounded claim about the dangers faced by residents of the Cotton State?
Or did someone else in his administration clumsily modify the map so that it would appear to back up the president?
The black line on the map was drawn to look like the top of the so-called cone of uncertainty that is familiar to weather watchers. The line curved through the southwest corner of Georgia and the southeast corner of Alabama, and into the Gulf of Mexico.
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said that he was unclear what the black line on the map was referring to and that he needed to gather additional information. He later referred questions about the map to the White House.
Asked about the marking on the map, Mr. Trump told reporters that he did not know how it got there. “I don’t know,” he said on Wednesday while insisting that his assertion about the dangers that Alabama faced had been right all along.
“We had many models, each line being a model, and they were going directly through. And in all cases, Alabama was hit, if not lightly, then in some cases, pretty hard,” Mr. Trump said.
“They actually gave that a 95 percent chance probability,” he said. “It turned out that that was not what happened. It made the right turn up the coast. But Alabama was going to be hit very hard, along with Georgia. But under the current, they won’t be.”
The president did not say where he got that information, which is directly contradicted by days of reports from the National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, neither of which publicly reported any threat to Alabama from the hurricane.
Governors in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia have declared emergencies as Dorian grew into a monster storm in the Atlantic. Alabama’s governor did not.
But Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, on Wednesday released an internal map that she said Mr. Trump was shown on Sunday as he traveled from Camp David back to the White House.
The map provided by the White House shows the impact of Dorian touching parts of Georgia and a small corner of Alabama, much like the black line that was drawn on the larger map Mr. Trump displayed in the Oval Office.
“I just know that Alabama was in the original forecast,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday. “They thought it would get it as a piece of it.”
Later in the day, Mr. Trump tweeted a map from the South Florida Water Management District that he said supported his contention that Dorian heading for Alabama.
“This was the originally projected path of the Hurricane in its early stages,” he said. “As you can see, almost all models predicted it to go through Florida also hitting Georgia and Alabama. I accept the Fake News apologies!”
However, the map came with a warning that information from the National Hurricane Center and local emergency officials superseded it: “If anything on this graphic causes confusion, ignore the entire product.”39.9K people are talking about this
Mr. Trump also responded on Wednesday to reports that he had suggested to Vice President Mike Pence that he stay at one of Mr. Trump’s resorts while on an trip to meet with top officials in Ireland.
Mr. Pence’s decision to stay at the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in Doonbeg drew criticism because it meant that the vice president was more than two hours away from Dublin, where his official meetings were being held.
Mr. Pence has family roots in Doonbeg, and Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, told reporters on Tuesday that it was the president who suggested his hotel when he heard that Mr. Pence was traveling to Ireland.
“It’s like when we went through the trip, it’s like, ‘Well, he’s going to Doonbeg because that’s where the Pence family is from,’” Mr. Short said. “It’s like, ‘Well, you should stay at my place.’”
But on Wednesday, Mr. Trump denied that.
“I had no involvement, other than it’s a great place,” Mr. Trump said, adding: “I heard he was going there, but it wasn’t my idea for Mike to go there. Mike went there because his family’s there. That’s my understanding of it.”
Mr. Trump said he did not suggest that Mr. Pence stay at his property.
“I don’t suggest anything,” he insisted.
SHANNON, Ireland—A senior aide to Mike Pence defended the vice president’s decision to spend two nights at President Trump ’s golf resort on an official visit to Ireland, as critics question whether he is using public dollars to benefit the president.
Mr. Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, told reporters on Air Force 2 Tuesday that there was a “suggestion” from the president that the vice president stay there, but said “it wasn’t like a ‘you must.’”
Mr. Pence was in Ireland Monday and Tuesday as part of a trip through Poland, Ireland, Iceland and Britain. He was staying both nights at the resort in Doonbeg, County Clare, and flew across the country to Dublin for the day Tuesday where he met with the president and the prime minister to discuss issues including trade, immigration and Brexit.
“It’s impossible to imagine that there was no place closer and more convenient and cheaper, in essentially all of Ireland, than this,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “It’s clearly not convenient. It’s clearly not efficient. There’s really no explanation besides promoting the president.”
President Trump has faced criticism for blurring the lines between his business and his presidency. Breaking with precedent, Mr. Trump after his election decided to retain ownership of his company, the Trump Organization, and turned over management to his two oldest sons.
Also, I hope you don’t encounter bedbugs. Many people say there are lots of bedbugs at Trump properties. https://twitter.com/donmoyn/status/1168715954928402433 …Don Moynihan
While in Ireland, VP Pence is staying in Trump’s golf resort. Which is in Doonbeg (red pin).
His official duties are in Dublin, which is literally the opposite side of the country.
Apart from enriching the President, what is the purpose of running up taxpayer costs like this?
As president, Mr. Trump frequents his properties, including the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., for weekends and vacations, and has made more than 200 visits to golf clubs he owns since his election. He has also proposed holding the next Group of Seven meeting at the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort.
Mr. Pence, who was joined by his wife, mother and sister, has Irish roots and ties directly to Doonbeg, where a distant relation owns a pub. Mr. Short noted that the vice president was originally supposed to travel to Dublin from London later this week and spend one night in the Doonbeg area, but his travel had to be reorganized after he was asked to visit Poland over the weekend in lieu of Mr. Trump due to Hurricane Dorian.
Mr. Short said that when the plans for the trip changed, extending the time in Ireland to two nights, the resort had already been secured by the Secret Service. He also said that the State Department had approved the cost of the travel. Mr. Trump, who regularly stays at his properties, recently spent time in Doonbeg on a trip through Europe.
Asked if Mr. Trump was letting the vice president stay for free, Mr. Short said “no, this is following normal procedures.”
Mr. Pence is paying personally for his mother’s and sister’s travel for the entire trip, said Mr. Short.
Visiting Ireland has personal significance for the vice president, whose grandfather emigrated to the U.S. from County Sligo in 1923. The vice president has spoken emotionally about his grandfather, who became a bus driver in Chicago, and his roots.
Mr. Pence met with both Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and President Michael D. Higgins Tuesday. In the Irish president’s residence in Dublin, Mr. Pence signed a guest book, writing “in memory of a great Irishman— Richard Michael Cawley —and on behalf of the United States of America we are delighted to be back in Ireland.”
Vice President Mike Pence toured two Border Patrol facilities on Friday, later saying they were “providing care that every American would be proud of.”
Vice President Mike Pence played down reports of overcrowding and unsanitary conditions at two migrant detention centers in Texas that he visited on Friday, but he acknowledged the gravity of the humanitarian crisis unfolding along the United States’ southwestern border.
The tour gave journalists covering the vice president a rare glimpse inside a Border Patrol station near McAllen, Tex., where they observed nearly 400 men crammed inside a cage with no space to lie down and no mats or pillows, according to pool reports.
Before members of the news media were ushered out of the facility, some of the detainees shouted that they had been there for more than 40 days, were hungry and could not brush their teeth. One pool reporter described the stench as “horrendous” — some of the agents wore face masks — and said it was sweltering inside the detention center, which is less than 10 miles from the Rio Grande, the river that divides the United States and Mexico.
“I was not surprised by what I saw,” Mr. Pence said later at a news conference. “I knew we would see a system that was overwhelmed. This is tough stuff.”
Mr. Pence was effusive in his praise of Border Patrol agents, whom he referred to as “compassionate.” But instead of tamping down criticism of the Trump administration’s handling of the tide of refugees, many from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, the photos and videos that emerged from the tightly choreographed tour further inflamed critics.
The visit came 10 days after the release of a scathing report by the independent watchdog arm of the Department of Homeland Security on the poor conditions at migrant holding centers near the border. More than a dozen adult detainees have died while in custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement since the beginning of last year, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
The same day Mr. Pence visited the border, thousands of demonstrators across the United States held protests and candlelight vigils to express their opposition to the White House’s immigration policy. In Aurora, Colo., protesters raised a Mexican flag in front of a local detention center.
“It’s apparent that @realDonaldTrump & @VP have very different definitions of humane and compassionate than the rest of us,” Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, said on Twitter. “Let’s be clear: crowding hundreds of people in cages in sweltering heat without showers or basic necessities is neither humane nor compassionate.”
At the news conference, Mr. Pence tried to deflect the criticism to Democrats in Congress, calling on them to provide additional funding for more beds for the undocumented immigrants detained by ICE. He also sought to highlight his role in a $4.6 billion emergency spending bill that tries to address the border crisis; it was approved by Congress last month and signed by President Trump on July 1.
Michael Banks, the patrol agent in charge of the McAllen detention center, said in a news media briefing that the migrants had been provided three meals a day by local restaurants, along with juice and crackers.
Because of space limitations, he said, male detainees cannot have cots, but they had been given mylar blankets that look like aluminum foil. Crinkling sounds from the blankets could be heard by journalists, who were allowed inside the facility for about 90 seconds.
Earlier on Friday, Mr. Pence visited a cavernous detention center in Donna, Tex., that can accommodate up to 1,000 people. It was built in May and currently houses about 800 migrants, according to pool reports.
The vice president was accompanied by the second lady, Karen Pence, and three Republican senators: Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah. Mr. Lee helped interpret for Mr. Pence, who had asked several migrant children questions in English, according to a pool reporter.
When Mr. Pence asked the children if they had food and were being taken care of, they nodded and a few said “sí,” according to the pool report. But when he inquired if they had a place to “get cleaned up,” the children shook their heads.
Two children told Mr. Pence that they had walked for two to three months to reach the United States. He then said “God bless you” in English and “gracias,” according to the pool report.
Several Democratic presidential candidates criticized Mr. Pence’s appearance at the detention centers. Among them was Julián Castro, the former San Antonio mayor and a secretary of housing and urban development under President Barack Obama.
“Make no mistake, @VP, this is the result of your administration slashing aid to Central America and undermining the asylum process,” Mr. Castro said on Twitter on Saturday. “You and Donald Trump share the blame.”
On Friday, Mr. Pence excoriated one of Mr. Trump’s favorite targets, CNN, calling its coverage of his visit to the detention centers “dishonest.”
“And while we hear some Democrats in Washington, D.C., referring to U.S. Customs and Border facilities as ‘concentration camps,’ what we saw today was a facility that is providing care that every American would be proud of,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks in McAllen.
BREAKING: Fox News’ Shep Smith just trashed Mike Pence over the dismal conditions at the border facilities for migrants.