Trump hit on all sides this week

Another busy week. Long post!

Seems like every day there is a major news item. You would figure that Donald Trump would learn to keep quiet and maybe not do anything. Instead he has an interview with a “fake news” organization and then hires someone without telling his top aides.

Today, White House Press Secretary and quasi Communication Director, Sean “Garlic” Spicer, has resigned.

After Donald Trump decided to hire Anthony Scaramucci as the new White house Communication Director, this cut into Spicer’s job and coupled with others issues, he decided to resign. Trump didn’t even notify chief strategist Steve Bannon or White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus of the decision. Maybe they’re out next?

Spicer has been unhappy. Among other things, he was getting some flak from Trump [not surprised there] but also wasn’t invited on various trips including The Vatican [where he really wanted to go] and France. But he has been the subject of various media attacks including the Saturday Night Live skits. He also didn’t have a good start as Press Secretary when he over-inflated the crowd size of trump inauguration.

Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, who has been doing most of the press briefing, has said she doesn’t want to be Press Secretary. White House staffers are said to be shocked. But looks like she has it for now.

Trump asked Spicer to stay on in another capacity but Spicer declined. However, he will help in the transition.

Big question: What will Melissa McCarthy do now? 🙂

Scaramucci is a New York financier and former Trump campaign fundraiser with little to no experience in Washington politics or as a communication director. Trump likes him because he’s fiercely loyal and likes to attack opponents. During the presidential campaign two years ago, Anthony Scaramucci called President Trump “another hack politician” who is “anti-American.” He is also known to say to Trump that “He’s got a big mouth” and that Trump is “probably going to make Elizabeth Warren [a Democrat] his vice presidential nominee.”

Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak, told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, twice with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, according to current and former U.S. officials. Sessions was then a top foreign policy adviser to candidate Trump.

Trump said that he would not have chosen Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general had he known Sessions would recuse himself over matters related to the 2016 presidential campaign. Sessions was one of his earliest political allies. Is this a no confidence vote? Trump scolded Sessions for telling the Senate judiciary committee that he had not met with any Russians during the campaign. It was later revealed he had met with Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, at least two times. So Sessions should of lied.

This past Thursday marked 6 months for Trump as dictator or ruler or “fake president”. In that time…

  • He made 397 comments that were not completely or partially true. In the average of polls, his approval rating is a low 38% and just 50% in counties he won in the election.
  • 42 bills were signed into law – none of them big – and no major piece of legislation signed into law.
  • In addition he had 5 campaign style rallies [all in states where he won in 2016] and just one solo news conference. In comparison Barrack Obama had 11 in the first 6 months.  George W. Bush had 5. He has visited 16 states [as well as DC], most to visit his properties and all east of the Mississippi.
  • Not one mile of the wall between the US and Mexico has been built. Nothing may happen until early next year at the earliest.
  • Trump spent 40 days on Trump properties including 21 of 26 weekends. He claimed in 2012 that the Obamas gone on vacation 16 times in 3 years.
  • He pulled the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership – the only one of 21 campaign promises he kept. He also pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord [although some hints he may flip flop on this].
  • He has 1003 tweets of which former President Barack Obama has been named 36 times. “Obamacare” has featured in 45 posts. As well, “fake” news, media or stories have been mentioned 82 times. Hillary Clinton was mentioned in 22 tweets [mostly early o] and “jobs” have shown up on 46 times.

Trump’s signature campaign promise to repeal and replace Affordable Care Act came to a massive halt after Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas came together to announce that they won’t support the bill. Trump tweeted that Republicans should come together to pass a full repeal and worry about crafting a replacement with Democrats later. “Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!” he tweeted. If they can’t pass the current bill, forget about repealing.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be to vote on a bill to simply repeal Obamacare with a two-year delay. That won’t fly either. It is also expected that in 2 years, there could/should be less Republicans in congress.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Susan Collins of Maine announced that they could not support any plan that would roll back significant parts of Obamacare without a replacement plan in place. This kills McConnell’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He still wants to hold a repeal-only vote “in the very near future.”

White House [deputy] press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the White House’s message to Congress is “do their job.” Aren’t they already?

Trump said that his new plan is to “let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us.” Sure Donnie.

Of the 21 promises by Trump during the campaign, the only one to be completed is to withdrawal from TPP and that needed just an executive order.

‘We’ll let Obamacare fail’ Trump said after the health care bill was defeated [again]. But according to a recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, experts say the market has been on the mend this year. Many insurers stemmed the bleeding in early 2017 and some are on the path to profitability. The expansion of Medicaid to low-income adults is working well in the 31 states that chose to expand, extending coverage to roughly 11 million people. It could fail in rural areas [where Trump did well in the last election] which typically mean that all insurers pull out, leaving consumers who buy their own policies with no choice of subsidized coverage on the Obamacare exchange — or in some cases, any individual market coverage at all.

Trump asked Republican senators not to leave town for their August recess without passing a health care reform plan that makes good on seven years of promises to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Trump’s position is also at odds with comments he made over the last 72 hours, when he publicly pushed to let Obamacare fail and to repeal it without a replacement plan. Meanwhile Trump may still take his time off… to golf.

A super PAC tied to Trump ran ads against Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada who is up for re-election in 2018 and voted against the health care reform. After the Heller had a friendly exchange, Trump said, “Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?”

While Republican Senator John McCain recovers from serious surgery, the vote for the revised health care bill was put on hold [and eventually canceled]. Although he isn’t a fan of Trump he would of voted for the bill.

Senator John McCain is in a hospital after it was revealed that a blood clot near one of his eyes revealed that he has brain cancer. He will be sidelined for a while and with this type of cancer and at his age, it doesn’t look good in the long term. It also doesn’t look good on Trump either. While McCain was a very vocal critic of Trump [especially after Trump’s comments about McCain’s time in Vietnam] he did vote in favor of Trump’s health care bill.

But without McCain, there are 99 senators in which 51 are Republican. The previous legislation that went to the Senate [such as the health care bill] failed because at least 3 Republican senators voted against the legislation – which means the legislation would fail even with Mike Pence’s tie breaker vote. Now with one less Republican [until McCain either comes back or resigns and a special election is called], if at least 2 Republicans vote against, legislation dies.

Trump aides Marc Short and Brian Blase argued that Americans and lawmakers should give “little weight” to CBO projections that millions would lose coverage under the Senate GOP bill. “The CBO’s methodology, which favors mandates over choice and competition, is fundamentally flawed.” They have to blame someone when their facts aren’t proven right.

At closed door meetings with GOP and then all governors at the National Governors Association, Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma didn’t come away too happy. Their efforts left major questions unanswered, Republican and Democratic governors said. They urged governors to ignore Congressional Budget Office estimates that 15 million fewer people would be covered by Medicaid by 2026 and that $772 billion would be cut from the program, compared to current law. [BTW, at the same conference, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau became the first foreign leader to speak at the NGA conferences and walked away with a standing ovation.]

It was disclosed that Trump and an undisclosed [until now] second meeting with Vladimir Poutine at the G20. A senior White House said the discussion was “nearly an hour” but another said it was brief [not an hour]. Another one said it was a very long time. Trump spoke with Putin through Russia’s translator. The US translator at the dinner spoke Japanese, as Trump was sitting next to the Japanese. The White House statement said the conversation took place in full view of other world leaders and said Trump went over to his wife and spoke with Putin near the dinner’s end.

The lack of a US translator or other support meant the US would be without a scrupulous translation or a record of what was discussed. Since Trump didn’t bring a US translator and relied on Putin’s, a senator called it a “basic failure in terms of national security protocol.”

From a previous post, Trump did not have his Russian interpreter when he had his second chat with Vladimir Poutine at the G20 conference dinner. That was because each leader was granted just one translator at the dinner and he chose a Japanese interpreter as he was sitting next to the Japanese Prime Minister’s wife. Turns out the interpreter wasn’t used much as she didn’t want to chat with Trump – almost implying that she spoke no English. In fact she is fluent in English.

Trump suggested it would be wrong for Robert Mueller to investigate his family’s finances and said it would cross a line. He would not say what action, if any, he would take. “I think that’s a violation,” Trump said. “Look, this is about Russia.” Unless he has dealings in Russia which he has denied.

The Washington Post reported in June that Mueller was also investigating if Trump had obstructed justice. “I don’t think we’re under investigation,” Trump said. “I’m not under investigation. For what? I didn’t do anything wrong.” As a legal expert [sarcastically], does he knows what obstruction of justice means?

Trump’s legal team was trying to find ways to undercut Mueller’s role by amassing allegations of conflicts of interest against him.

The same team is exploring how Trump can use his pardoning powers. That include pardoning family, cabinet members and even himself before any charges are brought against them related to the Russian probe. [President Ford pardoned President Nixon before he was actually charged but they knew he would be charged.] Experts say it would be legal to pardon his family [but still not quite Kosher] and cabinet members and others but pardoning himself may or may not be quite legal. In addition, unsure how Congress would react.

Why would you pardon something if they haven’t done anything wrong? If, for example, Trump claims he has no dealings or properties in Russia, why pardon? [He recently hinted that he may have – he isn’t sure or doesn’t really know.]

The House Republicans are unveiling a budget resolution that would dramatically reshape the federal government, requiring more than $200 billion in cuts to mandatory programs and set the path for a major overhaul of the tax code. The conservative House Freedom Caucus continue to call for more sweeping spending cuts. Without them, the budget would fail.

After the mess with Trump Jr., Democrats are seeking to have Jared Kushner’s security clearance revoked. This would effectively have him removed from the White House. Kushner had to revise his security clearance form at least twice [at least 100 foreigners added to the form compared to the original version] and failed to disclose exactly how many people attended that meeting over a year ago with a Russian lawyer.

Most agree that if you are offered information about an opponent from another American, it may be at most unethical. If offered from a “friendly” contact [such as from the UK or France] it is probably unethical. But to get information from a country that isn’t friendly is an issue.

The eighth person to attend the Trump Jr meeting has been identified as US citizen Ike Kaveladze, a senior vice president at the company founded by the Russian oligarch who initiated the meeting. Kaveladze was asked to go to the meeting at Trump Tower last June with the understanding he would be Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya’s translator because she didn’t speak English, but she brought one. Kaveladze has been tied to a money laundering probe.

Trump’s personal attorney, Jay Sekulow suggested that the United States Secret Service may bear some responsibility for allowing Donald Trump Jr. to meet with a Russian lawyer during the presidential campaign. The secret service is there to protect Trump and family. Not to tell them who they can or can’t see. They are not people who you can ask legal questions. Just another blame game.

Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s longtime personal attorney who has been the lead lawyer on the Russia investigation, will see his role recede. John Dowd, the attorney defending Trump in the Mueller investigation, along with Jay Sekulow, will now be the President’s primary personal attorneys for the investigation. The spokesman for Trump’s legal team, Mark Corallo, resigned.

There was still more news [although not as critical]. Will probably send it off after the weekend.

 

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About ebraiter
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