And the resignations continue

Note: With the upcoming possible partial shutdown of the government coming Friday at midnight, I’ve decided to post some of the week’s news now and the remainder probably on Saturday after whether there is a shutdown or not.

James Mattis, Defense Secretary, is the latest to leave the administration. He resigned the day after Donald Trump surprised just about everyone with his withdrawal from Syria. Mattis was one of the many who didn’t like the decision. This will add to the list of vacancies to fill in addition to Senate approval for many of them.

“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” Mattis wrote in a pointed two-page letter that he hand-delivered to Trump. Mattis rejects out of hand Trump’s “America First” foreign policy that had led to clashes with a slew of longtime allies — from Germany to Britain to Australia and back.

“We are headed towards a series of grave policy errors which will endanger our nation, damage our alliances & empower our adversaries,” tweeted Florida Sen. Marco Rubio  shortly after the news of Mattis’ resignation broke.

After Mattis, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will be the latest to depart from the Trump administration at the end of the year. Trump tweeted “The Trump Administration will be announcing the new Secretary of the Interior next week.” Zinke became the fourth Cabinet member to leave under an ethical cloud, having sparked 17 investigations into his actions on the job, by one watchdog’s count.

One report has it that White House had been pushing Zinke to resign for weeks and that he was told he had until year’s end to leave or he would be fired. In a private resignation letter, Zinke blamed “vicious and politically motivated attacks” for his departure. The Justice Department is investigating Zinke for possibly using his office for personal gain following a referral from the Interior Department’s inspector general.

Another report describes suppression of science, denial of climate change, the silencing and intimidation of agency staff, and attacks on science-based laws that help protect our nation’s world-class wildlife and habitats.

So if you need to review, Mattis, Zinke, White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders, chief of staff John Kelly and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley will all be out of the White House by early January at the latest and will need replacements and probably all but Sanders needs Senate approval.

Mick Mulvaney, the new interim Chief of Staff at the white House, like other administration and Republican politicians, have in the past objected to Trump’s politics and administration but still either work for him or side with him. At a November 2016 event in South Carolina, Mulvaney said “Do I like Donald Trump? No” but added that he was a better choice for president than Hillary Clinton and in a video said “…he’s a terrible human being.”

Trump and Rudy Giuliani used Twitter and television interviews to deliver a series of broadsides against special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York. Giuliani said he was “disgusted” by the tactics used by Mueller in his probe into Russian election interference, including in securing guilty pleas from the president’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn on a charge of lying to federal investigators. Trump, Giuliani said, would not submit to an interview by Mueller’s team. Isn’t it legal still in the U.S. to make a plea deal?

“Remember, Michael Cohen only became a ‘Rat’ after the FBI did something which was absolutely unthinkable & unheard of until the Witch Hunt was illegally started,” Trump tweeted. “They BROKE INTO AN ATTORNEY’S OFFICE!” Actually, the FBI executed a search warrant obtained from a judge in conducting a raid in April on Cohen’s home, office and hotel room and seizing records on a variety of matters, among them a $130,000 payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels by Cohen. The application for the warrant was approved high in the Justice Department.

Document shows Trump signed a letter of intent to move forward with negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Russia, despite Giuliani claiming the document was never signed. The documents are dated October 28, 2015, and bears Trump’s signature. It was a signed letter of intent that set the stage for negotiations for Trump condominiums, a hotel and commercial property in the heart of Moscow.

“It was a real estate project. There was a letter of intent to go forward, but no one signed it,” Giuliani said in an interview. Trump repeatedly said during the 2016 presidential campaign that he had “nothing to do with Russia.” The deal would of gave Trump’s company a $4 million upfront fee, no upfront costs, a percentage of the sales and control over marketing and design. The deal also included an opportunity to name the hotel spa after Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

After almost two dramatic hours in a courtroom discussing his crimes, former national security adviser Michael Flynn asked to postpone his sentencing for several months so he can have more of an opportunity to cooperate in federal investigations and attempt to mitigate the judge’s disgust with his actions.

Flynn pleaded guilty last year to lying to FBI agents in a January 24, 2017 interview in the West Wing of the White House. Flynn and a former business associates are accused of illegally lobbying for Turkey.

After winning an auction to name a newly discovered blind amphibian, a British company chose Trump as the creature’s namesake, likening its behavior to Trump’s stance on climate change. Dermophis donaldtrumpi was discovered in Panama and has a propensity for burrowing its head in the ground.

Humor time: Looks like there could be a sequel to All The President’s Men. It will be called All The President’s Convicts.

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