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‘Fucking Idiot’: Murdoch mocked Trump after phone call on immigration, book claims

Author Michael Wolff describes alleged foul-mouthed comment by media mogul after discussing visas with the then president-elect

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “‘Idiot’: Murdoch mocked Trump after phone call on immigration, book claims” was written by David Smith in Washington, for The Guardian on Wednesday 3rd January 2018 18.04 UTC

Rupert Murdoch described Donald Trump as “a fucking idiot” over his contradictory views on immigration policy, a new book reveals.

The remark is contained in a fly-on-the-wall account of internecine warfare in the White House written by Michael Wolff, a Murdoch biographer, a copy of which has been seen by the Guardian.

Wolff describes a Trump Tower meeting on 14 December 2016 – during the presidential transition – involving Trump and executives from Silicon Valley companies including Alphabet (parent of Google), Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. Among the issues at stake was a potential crackdown by the incoming president on H-1B visas, the main visa used to hire foreign talent to tech companies.

Later that afternoon, Wolff writes, Trump called Murdoch, who asked how the meeting had gone.

“Oh, great, just great,” the president-elect said, according to Wolff’s account. “Really, really good. These guys really need my help. Obama was not very favourable to them, too much regulation. This is really an opportunity for me to help them.”

The book records Murdoch’s reply: “Donald, for eight years these guys had Obama in their pocket. They practically ran the administration. They don’t need your help.”

Trump is quoted as saying the companies “really need these H-1B visas”.

Wolff writes that Murdoch suggested a more liberal stance on H-1B visas would sit oddly with Trump’s hardline stance on immigration, to which the president-elect replied: “We’ll figure it out.”

Wolff writes that Murdoch shrugged as he got off the phone, and said: “What a fucking idiot.”

H-1B visas admit 65,000 workers plus 20,000 graduate student workers each year. Most are awarded to outsourcing firms, which critics say exploit loopholes to fill lower-level IT jobs with foreign workers, often at lower pay.

Promising to “Buy American, Hire American”, Trump offered varying positions on the issue several times during the election campaign. Last month his administration proposed eliminating a regulation that allows spouses of H-1B visa holders to work.

Murdoch’s remark is a rare, revealing moment of discord in his lockstep alliance with the president. According to New York Times reports last year, the two men speak “on the phone every week” or “almost every day”. Murdoch’s conservative Fox News has been a powerful cheerleader for Trump, who has frequently returned the compliment, urging his supporters to watch it.

The White House confirmed last month that Trump had spoken with Murdoch, 86, to congratulate him on the proposed sale of a significant chunk of 21st Century Fox to Disney for .4bn. According to Vanity Fair magazine, Trump spoke with Murdoch before the deal “to make sure Murdoch wasn’t selling Fox News”.

Trump has opposed AT&T’s attempted takeover of Time Warner, which owns CNN, the network often branded “fake news” by the president. The justice department has filed a lawsuit to block the bn deal.

Wolff, a media columnist, is the author of the Murdoch biography The Man Who Owns the News. His new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, published next week, offers an insight into the close ties between the Trump and Murdoch empires.

Wolff also describes a dinner where John Bolton, a favourite of the then Fox News chief executive, Roger Ailes, was touted for the job of national security adviser. Ailes is quoted as saying: “He’s a bomb thrower. And a strange little fucker. But you need him. Who else is good on Israel? [The eventual appointee Michael] Flynn is a little nutty on Iran. [The eventual secretary of state Rex] Tillerson just knows oil.”

Steve Bannon, head of Trump’s election campaign and about to become his chief strategist, reportedly provided a bizarre objection based on facial hair: “Bolton’s mustache is a problem. Trump doesn’t think he looks the part. You know Bolton is an acquired taste.”

Ailes died last May, aged 77. The book suggests there was anger that Trump failed to call Ailes’s widow, Beth. Sean Hannity, a pro-Trump host on Fox News, is quoted as asking: “What the fuck is wrong with him?”

Earlier on Wednesday the Guardian, which obtained Fire and Fury from a bookseller in New England, reported that Bannon told Wolff Donald Trump Jr’s June 2016 meeting with a group of Russians at Trump Tower was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”. Bannon also reportedly predicted of the Russia investigation: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

The book describes a poisonous atmosphere at the White House, with bitter infighting between factions. Wolff, who previously conducted interviews with Trump in June 2016 and Steve Bannon in November 2016 that were published in the Hollywood Reporter, gained unique access to the West Wing.

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Trump Says He’ll Make a ‘Major Announcement’ Saturday Afternoon About Shutdown, Border

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Washington (AP) — Trump says he will make a ‘major announcement’ on Saturday afternoon about the government shutdown and border security.

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Trump Administration Separated Thousands More Migrants Than Previously Known

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The Trump Administration separated thousands more migrant kids from their families at the border than it previously acknowledged, and the separations started months before the policy was announced, according to a federal audit released Thursday morning.

“More children over a longer period of time” were separated at the border than commonly known, an investigator with the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general’s office told reporters Thursday morning.

“How many more children were separated is unknown, by us and HHS” because of failures to track families as they were being separated, he said.

HHS officials involved in caring for the separated children and reunifying families estimated “thousands” of additional children are separated at the border, the inspector general said.

The report sheds new light on the Trump administration’s efforts to deter border crossings by separating migrant families. House Democrats who’ve condemned the separations as inhumane have vowed to investigate the administration’s handling of the policy and its health effects on separated children, and the inspector general said additional investigations are in the works.

The inspector general report said some family separations continued, even after President Donald Trump in June 2018 ended the policy amid uproar and a federal court ordered his administration to reunify the families. The June 2018 court order called on the administration to reunify about 2,500 separated children in government custody. Most of those families were reunited within 30 days.

However, HHS received at least 118 separated children between July and early November, according to the report. DHS provided “limited” information about the reason for those separations. In slightly more than half of those cases, border officials cited the parent’s criminal history as a reason to separate the families, although they did not always provide details. The court order requiring reunifications said family separations should only occur if border officials could specify when parents posed possible dangers to children or were otherwise unfit to care for them, the inspector general noted.

Federal investigators said they had no details about how many of the “thousands of separated children” who entered the care of HHS before the June 2018 court order had been reunited.

“We have no information about the status of the children who were released prior to the court order,” Maxwell told reporters. [POLITICO]

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Prince Phillip Involved in Car Crash

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#BREAKING Duke of Edinburgh involved in car crash near Sandringham Estate but not injured, Buckingham Palace says.

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