Trump’s national emergency challenged on all fronts

So far, sixteen states filed a lawsuit challenging Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration. Led by the California Attorney General, it was filed the lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. The attorneys general from Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia joined California in the lawsuit.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Border Network for Human Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union also announced lawsuits. At the core of each lawsuit is the argument that Trump is circumventing Congress to fund the wall along the US-Mexico border by declaring an emergency.

Not surprising Trump tried to hit back at California after the lawsuit announcement by tweeting “The failed Fast Train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!” Trump of course exaggerates especially when a mile of the Trump Wall is expected to cost $25 million. No whining about the other 15 states?

Just 24 hours after California and 15 other states filed a lawsuit challenging Trumps “national emergency” that the Department of Transportation cancelled a nearly $1 billion grant for California to build a high speed rail line. The grant stipulated to build the rail line and said nothing about the rail cars that would be used. Trump used the words “fast train” in a tweet instead of the adult sounding “high speed rail”.

Right after declaring a national emergency, Trump went golfing.

House Democrats introduced a resolution to block Trump’s effort to build a wall on the southern border through his emergency powers, setting up votes in Congress to rebuke Trump’s proclamation. The Democratic-controlled House appears all but certain to pass the resolution Tuesday and put pressure on Republicans in the Senate, many of whom have concerns with Trump’s action.

Key members of the Trump administration pushed a plan to sell nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia in the months after the inauguration despite objections from members of the National Security Council and other senior White House officials, according to a new report from congressional Democrats.

The 24-page report from the House Oversight and Reform Committee is based on internal White House documents and the accounts of unnamed whistle blowers. It said the objectors — including White House lawyers and National Security Council officials — opposed the plan out of concern that it violated laws designed to prevent the transfer of nuclear technology that could be used to support a weapons program.

Trump tweeted “Wow, so many lies by now disgraced acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. He was fired for lying, and now his story gets even more deranged. He and Rod Rosenstein, who was hired by Jeff Sessions (another beauty), look like they were planning a very illegal act, and got caught….. This was the illegal and treasonous “insurance policy” in full action!” Mr. Trump, what is the definition of the word treason?

McCabe recently came out with a memoir called “The Threat” and not surprising those in the Trump administration are fighting back the best they could. Not surprised they were calling McCabe a “disgrace”, a “liar”, Trump’s “illegal and treasonous”. Interesting how they were quiet before the book was released. The book’s release date was delayed because due to the lengthy pre-publication review process conducted by the Justice Department and FBI. I would guess that both of them didn’t have much objection to the content.

The White House argues that McCabe has no credibility because he is under criminal investigation for allegedly misleading investigators in their probe of the FBI’s handling of the investigation into the Clinton Foundation. But he suggested that an independent departmental report used as justification for his dismissal was improperly influenced by Trump.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia [and related] investigation could be complete as early as next week. Attorney General William Barr may be preparing to announce the completion of the Russia investigation.

Rosenstein is expected to leave the Justice Department in mid-March, according to a Justice Department official. A departure next month could potentially serve as another signal that special counsel Robert Mueller’s work is coming to a close.

A judge has approved a request from Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to delay his date to report to prison from March 6 to May 6. In the request, Cohen’s lawyers cited his recent shoulder surgery and upcoming congressional testimony as reasons to delay the report date.

A report came out said that Trump called acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker late last year to ask whether it was possible that Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, who was recused from the case, could take over anyway.

Prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office have prepared a criminal case against Paul Manafort in the event that he receives a presidential pardon. The New York state attorney general’s office has also been putting together a case against Manafort. Although double jeopardy laws generally prevent defendants from being prosecuted twice for the same offense, New York has a tax-related exemption.

The revolving door continues. White House officials have begun to have preliminary discussions about replacing Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats amid concerns that Trump may soon dismiss him, despite Trump’s public denial he’s considering the move. Of course we have heard this before.

Trump said he intends to nominate the current American ambassador to Canada, Kelly Knight Craft, to be the new US ambassador to the United Nations. Craft would be replacing the popular [and one of the very few competent people under Trump’s nominees] Nikki Haley. Trump’s announcement comes a week after his first pick to replace Haley, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, withdrew her candidacy.

You would figure that the Trump Wall would be built near the actual border but in some cases the Trump Wall could be as far as a half a mile away from the actual from the border turning the land between the actual border into no-man’s land.

Actor Alec Baldwin reprised his Trump impersonation for an “SNL” skit that recreated the president’s speech about the border, the budget, and assorted other subjects. Then Trump’s tweet asked “How do the Networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without retribution? Likewise for many other shows? Very unfair and should be looked into.”

Peter Baker of The New York Times noted on Twitter that “no other president in decades publicly threatened ‘retribution’ against a television network because it satirized him.” In the past, Trump has also suggested that NBC station licenses should be challenged, without any evident follow-up.

After Trump’s tweet, Baldwin tweeted, “I wonder if a sitting President exhorting his followers that my role in a TV comedy qualifies me as an enemy of the people constitutes a threat to my safety and that of my family?”

Mike Pence was in Munich for a security conference when Pence announces “I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump”. Now Pence paused for about 5 seconds or so, expecting to get some applause but none [noticeable] came. Awkward!

Meanwhile, also speaking at the same Conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called out the Trump administration over Trump’s claim that German cars pose a security threat. Merkel says a large chunk of BMW cars are built in the US. Ivanka Trump was at the conference.

Puppet, Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said that “The President far and away was the better candidate. He had a better message and he outworked Hillary Clinton. That’s why he’s President. He didn’t need to, nor did he, collude with the Russians.” She might as well record what she wants to say to save her voice.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has refused to deny that he nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in helping to ease tensions with North Korea. Do you blame him? Trump has claimed week that Abe had submitted the nomination to the Nobel committee. A Japanese newspaper reports that Abe made the recommendation after the US government “informally” sought his support for the prestigious award in the wake of the historic US-North Korean summit in Singapore last June. Trump made frequent references to the Nobel peace prize, saying in May last year that “everyone thinks” he deserves it.

Trump recently criticized European allies for not taking back their own captured citizens. Many countries are reluctant to repatriate them because of the difficulty of prosecuting suspected ISIS members based on evidence collected on the battlefield, causing frustration among US national security officials.

Some 59 Americans are believed to have joined the Islamic State, and 13 have faced terror-related charges after being returned to the US. Many more are believed to have died on the battlefield. Us citizens are small in numbers compared to the UK and France who have hundreds who went to fight.

Trump said that he directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to allow Hoda Muthana, an Alabama woman who left in November 2014 to join ISIS, to return to the United States — despite her recent public plea to come back and stand trial in America.

“Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States. She does not have any legal basis, no valid U.S. passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States,” Pompeo said in a statement.

Under US law Muthana would be a US citizen by nature of her birth in the country, though the State Department could argue that her claim to citizenship is flawed because of the immigration status of her parents at the time of her birth. A family representative of Muthana showed her birth certificate to the press.

[Personally, she should be allowed back in the US to stand trial. You can’t remove someone’s citizenship for someone born in the country – especially without any type of legal proceedings. A court should decide her citizenship. Trump and Pompeo have no right to do this. Soon, they will use this tactic to toss out US born citizens for robbing a bank or maybe just a speeding ticket.]

Muthana filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, DC, to prevent what he calls an “unlawful attempt” by the United States to rescind his daughter’s citizenship. The lawsuit filed by her father “seeks injunctive relief preventing the United States government from unconstitutionally robbing [Muthana and her son] of their rights as United States citizens.”

Regarding the Jussie Smollett “scandal”, Trump got in the act [surprised?] by tweeting “@JussieSmollett – what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?” The so-called attackers were Trump supporters after the attack. This coming from a man who has made racist comments to just about anyone not part of his base supporters.

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Is it an emergency?

Is it really an emergency?

So Donald Trump declares a nation emergency. Trump even admitted it in his Rose Garden speech when announcing this so-called national emergency that he didn’t have to. But he did. Why?

Creating the Trump Wall was one of his signature promises when he was running for President and even after he was elected – but part of that was Mexico paying for it. Looks like Mexico won’t. At this point in time, has he actually succeeded in 2 of his promises: reducing taxes for corporations and individuals. But those are generally no brainers. You don’t want to tell your constituents that you don’t want to lower their taxes.

His others were to repeal the Affordable Care Act [a.k.a. Obamacare] and suspend immigration from terror-prone places with both haven’t happened. In the former, he did kill small pieces. In the case of the latter, it failed because of the way it was done.

So, he went to the next “easiest” target, the Trump Wall. The Trump Shutdown delayed him with securing funding for the Trump Wall. When he saw he was not getting his funding to build about 220 miles of his fall [fall short of actually funding a full wall across the US – Mexican border], he [and his cronies] then hinted he would declare a national emergency to get the remaining amount of money and then some.

[BTW, if you do the calculation on the legislatively approved $1.375 billion, each mile will cost $25 million. Ouch.]

But he has been hinting of a national emergency for a few weeks now.

So exactly what changed in the past few weeks? Did hundreds of migrants bulldozed their way through the border? Not that I’ve heard of. Did hundreds crawl through an underground tunnel? No news on that.

So why wasn’t this national emergency announce a month ago? Two months ago? Three?

Maybe Trump saw the writing on the wall. After the Republicans were nearly decimated in the mid-term elections, Trump lost his chance to pass legislation in the House and unless he watered it down to make the Democrats happy and his support base won’t allow that.

Meanwhile, the amount of legal action against national emergency is piling up. You have some Republicans against it. Of course probably all Democrats are against it.

The Democrats in the House are using various legislative rules to block the national emergency. It will pass there but there isn’t enough Republicans disagreeing with it to override Trump’s veto option of anything to try and kill the national emergency.

Add various states and interest groups such as the American Civil Liberty Union and others who will file lawsuits.

Trump has even said that he expects the various lower courts siding against him. But he thinks the Supreme Court will side with him even though there are four left leaning judges who will definitely rule against it and need just one judge to shoot down the national emergency.

Trump, in his Rose Garden speech, said he didn’t have to do it. So why did he? I’m sure you have the answer.

The US goes into uncharted territory

Congressional negotiators say they have reached an agreement in principle to avert a partial government shutdown at the end of this week. But the agreement falls short of Donald Trump’s required $5.7 billion to build the Trump Wall. In fact, the deal is for [just] $1.375 billion or 55 miles or a whopping $25 million per mile.

The number of beds administrated by ICE would drop to 40,520 [interesting number] from currently at 49,057. Republicans want 52,000 and the Democrats wanted in the low 30,000s.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did manage to avert the political disaster of a new Trump Shutdown by securing a pledge that Trump would sign a federal funding bill that lacks all the money for his Trump Wall.

But Trump announced a declaration of national emergency, which he would use to reallocate money for a total of $8 billion in government money to fund the Trump Wall.

If the move is not permanently blocked by the courts it could also come back to haunt Republicans, since it could provide a precedent for a future Democratic president to enact liberal priorities on an executive whim.

Already some states’ attorney generals are preparing to go to court. Trump already believes he will lose in the lower courts only to win at the Supreme court. He’ll be shocked when he loses but then will blame anybody and everybody but himself – as usual.

McConnell was forced to back off his previous opposition to declaring a national emergency in order to get Trump to sign the funding bill. Trump is to grab money from the Department of Defense, which doesn’t require approval from Congress.

“We have so much money we don’t know what to do with it,” Trump said. “I don’t know what to do with all the money they’re giving us.” That’s the $1.375 billion – not what he is siphoning [probably] illegally.

Prior to the agreement, Trump says he doesn’t expect another Trump Shutdown, but added if there is one, it’s the “Democrats’ fault.” He is obviously not happy with the deal. A few of his closest allies in Congress plus his some of his cronies at Fox News [maybe his real advisors] have come out against the deal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is likely to invoke a clause in the 1976 National Emergencies Act that permits Congress to seek to terminate a President’s declaration that McConnell appears to have no power to stop from coming to the floor in the Senate.

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement that declaring a national emergency would be a “lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency…. The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities.”

Note that the constitution states that it is Congress that is to handle monetary issues – not the President.

About 66% of Americans said in a poll released earlier this month that Trump should not declare a national emergency to build the Trump Wall. And only 64% of Republicans thought Trump should go ahead — a figure far lower than Trump’s approval numbers with GOP voters.

Trump also lamented that he wasn’t able to build the Trump Wall earlier in his presidency, blaming others. “Would’ve been great to do it earlier, but I was a little new to the job,” he said. “People did not step up – would’ve been easy, not easy, but it would’ve been a lot easier, but some people didn’t step up,” Trump said, apparently referring to the once-Republican controlled House. He likes to repeat himself.

Trump defended his decision to pull funds from the Department of Defense military construction budget in order to build Trump Wall, claiming that “Some of the generals think this is more important … far more important than what they were going to use it for,” Trump said. “It didn’t sound too important to me.”

“When you look and when you listen to politicians, in particular certain Democrats, they say it all through the port of entry. It’s wrong. It’s just a lie. It’s all a lie. They say walls don’t work. Walls work 100%,” Trump said. Except the Democrats got it from government departments and security agencies.

National emergencies can last for one year and then terminate – unless the President renews the declaration 90 days prior.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced that it will file a lawsuit challenging Trump’s national emergency declaration with ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero saying “By the president’s very own admission in the Rose Garden, there is no national emergency. He just grew impatient and frustrated with Congress, and decided to move along his promise for a border wall ‘faster.'”

Whatever you say on social media can bite you in the butt. For example, in November 2014, in which Trump tweeted, “Repubs must not allow Pres Obama to subvert the Constitution of the US for his own benefit & because he is unable to negotiate w/ Congress.” This was when Obama was to use an national emergency to fix an issue. “Now he has to use executive action and this is a very, very dangerous thing that should be overwritten easily by the Supreme Court,” added Trump.

So what President Obama did 4+ years ago was not good in his opinion, but what he did is good?

In his immigration speech in the Rose Garden, Trump claimed that “two weeks ago, 26 were killed in a gunfight on the border a mile away from where I went.” Mexican authorities found a grisly scene that they described as a gang clash but the bodies were found near the Mexican town of Miguel Aleman, located nearly 130 miles northwest from McAllen.

As well, Trump said, “A big majority of the big drugs, the big drug loads don’t go through ports of entry.” About 90% of heroin seized at the border in the 2018 fiscal year was apprehended at ports of entry. The majority of meth is also detained at the border. In 2018, CBP seized 67,292 pounds of meth at legal ports of entry, compared with 10,382 pounds by Border Patrol agents in between ports, based on available data.

Trump said “You know, we already have national emergencies out there. you know President Obama, President Clinton, President Bush they’ve declared many national … this is not unique….” Except those were real reasons like 9/11 – not an imaginary issue created by him to get his only major campaign promise completed.

One of the sticking points in the shutdown negotiations is the number of detained migrants that can be held at a time. The Democrats want a cap on the amount. The Republicans are refusing saying that the proposal would allow “violent criminals to be released”. But in a statement from the Democrats “This cap will force the Trump administration to prioritize arresting and deporting serious criminals, not law-abiding immigrants.”

[I can see why a cap is needed. The amount of detained migrants which will cost extra resources [security, food, detention centers, immigrant officials, etc.].

Trump tweeted “They are offering very little money for the desperately needed Border Wall & now, out of the blue, want a cap on convicted violent felons to be held in detention!” Which basically means he thinks all migrants are convicted violent criminals. The cap isn’t the only issue stalling the funding process but Trump thinks it is.

Trump continued tweeting “It was a very bad week for the Democrats, with the GREAT economic numbers, The Virginia disaster and the State of the Union address. Now, with the terrible offers being made by them to the Border Committee, I actually believe they want a Shutdown.” While the Virginia mess is a mess, none of what he said otherwise is valid. Even his SoTU address wasn’t a success and the economy is beginning to stall.

Republican and Democratic negotiators are exchanging border security proposals that contain far less funding for the border wall than Trump has demanded, with just days left before a deadline to release their bill ahead of another potential government shutdown. The latest proposals peg the topline funding number for border barriers around $2 billion. Trump has said before that he won’t accept anything less than $5.6 billion – however he caved in to stop the first Trump Shutdown. So anything is possible.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal said “He [Trump] would be out of his mind and irresponsible. I think the President has no choice. If he is the least bit sane and responsible.” But “if the President illegally seizes power to reallocate money, he is violating the constitution and his oath of office and the Congress should act accordingly.”

Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe is confirming for the first time publicly that there were high-level discussions at the Justice Department about recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office in the aftermath of former FBI Director James Comey’s firing. The Justice Department has denied involvement.

The White House called McCabe’s investigation “completely baseless.” Trump, who has frequently criticized McCabe, called him a “disgrace” on Twitter and accused him of being politically biased during his time at the FBI. [That’s par for the course. Trump says that about anyone who goes against him.]

The Senate confirmed William Barr as attorney general. This will be Barr’s second tour as attorney general; he led the Justice Department during the George H.W. Bush administration. He takes over a department that Trump has repeatedly criticized for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Barr said he would not let Trump make corrections to the report before a possible publication, and promised to protect the investigation until its finish. Trump himself was upset as he watched television coverage of his nominee for attorney general describing a warm relationship with the special counsel Robert Mueller in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Unsure why. Barr told him in 2017 he knew Mueller and his wife. Trump nominated Barr last year.

Paul Manafort “intentionally” lied to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, breaking the plea agreement that made him the star cooperator in the Russia probe, a federal judge found. Manafort “made multiple false statements to the FBI, the OSC and the grand jury concerning matters that were material to the investigation,” including his contacts with his Russian associate during the campaign and later.

Mueller’s team has interviewed White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders. It was conducted late last year, around the same time as the special counsel interviewed then-White House chief of staff John Kelly. One likely area of interest was how Sanders composed statements she made on the podium defending the President regarding the Russia investigation.

House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings says that his panel has obtained information that calls into question previous statements made by attorneys representing Trump to federal officials about 2016 hush-money payments to keep an alleged Trump extramarital affair under wraps. Cummings’ committee has obtained new documents showing that Trump’s personal attorney Sheri Dillon and Stefan Passantino “may have provided false information” when they were questioned by federal ethics officials about hush money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

The Justice Department is investigating the leak last year of confidential reports about Michael Cohen’s personal bank records which led to revelations that the former Trump lawyer was profiting by selling his access to the White House. Meanwhile Cohen’s congressional testimony has been postponed for a third time.

Joseph Votel, the top American general in the Middle East, who has been leading the war against ISIS said that he disagreed with Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria and warned that the terror group was far from defeated, in a stark public break with Trump. Votel also said that the US-backed forces on the ground in Syria were not ready to handle the threat of ISIS on their own.

“By the time we get to 2020, Donald Trump may not even be President,” Democratic presidential candidate Elisabeth Warren said to voters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, gathered at the Veterans Memorial Building. “In fact, he may not even be a free person.” Earlier in the day she said “Every day, there’s a racist tweet, a hateful tweet, something really dark and ugly,” Warren said of Trump. I’m expecting Trump will react his usual way.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: Trump’s eldest son, Donald, made light over the weekend of the US government’s history of genocide against Native Americans as part of a slam against Sen. Elizabeth Warren and her claims of American Indian heritage. Donald Trump Jr.’s comment on social media was in response to a tweet from his father, who attacked Warren and emphasized the word “trail” in a tweet widely construed to be a mocking reference to the Trail of Tears, the forced relocation of thousands of Native Americans which led to thousands of deaths.

Trump tweeted “Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race for President. Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!”

Trump. Jr later captioned his tweet by saying “Savage!!! Love my President.”

While not a Republican hot bed, Trump decided to have a rally in El Paso. He claims that the border wall that was previously built has meant huge cuts in the city’s violent crime. Trump did not mention the agreement – which may not be a good thing.

As his crowd belted out “Build the wall” — Trump tried to grope for a way out: “You really mean ‘finish that wall,’ because we have built a lot of it.” Except the portions of the wall prior to his election were fixed a bit but there has been no new wall built since 2017.

Trump claims that the arena for the rally holds 8,000 and the fire department let in an extra 2,000 while as many as 57,000 [!!!] were outside watching on big screens. [He later claimed there was 35,000 – what happened to the other 34,000? Died? Left?] The El Paso fire department says the arena hold just 6,500 with at most another 3,500 outside and they wouldn’t allow more people than the arena could accommodate. He then went on to claim that Democrat Beto O’Rourke [who was holding a rally nearby] had 200 people or 300 people or 50 people [he said all 3 in his speech].

Trump personally paid to have a “golf simulator” installed in the White House residence that allows him to play virtual rounds of golf but has not yet used the new system, which cost about $50,000 and was installed in the last several weeks. [His new “executive time” option.]

Remember at the end of 2017, the Trump administration pushed out sweeping tax reforms where everyone would get lower tax rates – which should mean higher tax refunds? The new rules lowered most individual rates and nearly doubled the standard deduction. But the average refund is down about 8% under the first full year of the overhauled tax code, according to data released by the IRS. Some experts expect to see a drop in the economy because of the lower refunds.

When asked if he would ever get a dog, Trump said “I don’t know … I don’t feel good. Feels a little phony, phony to me”. Trump said “a lot of people” have encouraged him to get a dog, saying “it’s good politically.” Nearly 4 in 10 households, or 38 per cent, owned at least one dog, the highest estimated rate of dog ownership since 1982. I wonder how dog owners will react to his “phony” comment.

Another sign of how economy is doing under the Trump administration is Payless shoes closing their 2,100 US stores and an estimated 10,000 employess will be out of a job. Unknown what will happen to the 1,500 location worldwide and maybe 8,000 employees.

State of the Union address goes south

Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, not surprisingly, went all over the place. At time he was try to please his base, then holding a [short] olive branch to the Democrats, followed by threatening the Democrats, etc.

Trump insisted that if Democrats wanted peace and prosperity, then they could not carry on “partisan investigations.” A sort of way not to get in trouble because just one investigation that opens up a can of worms can ruin him. But investigations can further divide Congress. Or if you want economic prosperity, you can’t investigate the President. One doesn’t work with the other.

He, of course, repeated his push for the wall giving the same excuses we heard before – most not quite true.

He touted the low unemployment rate which it is for now but with the economy showing signs of slowing down, that may not last.

Trump pushed for bipartisan unity because he knows he will have a tough time getting any legislation passed through the House. “We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution…” Doesn’t that describe what he has done?

Trump continues to exaggerate the border and Trump Wall issue while hinting of declaring a national emergency to get it built even though the democrats as well as some Republicans are against it. Some Republicans fear if he did declare, then when the Democrats have power they could also declare a national emergency on issues which aren’t really. A veto by the senators may not so out of reach.

Trump railed against illegal immigration, which he said results in lower wages for the American working class. But what about those who were fired after working at the Trump Organization’s golf courses [see later].

Just a few hours before this speech, he hosted a lunch with TV anchors where he, according to a New York Times report, attacked Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and John McCain — a national hero who has been dead for over five months. Classy.

In his address, Trump called for the elimination of HIV transmissions in the United States by 2030, raising hope and questions about putting an end to the epidemic. The initiative aims to reduce new HIV infections by 75% in the next five years and by 90% in the next 10 years, “averting more than 250,000 HIV infections in that span,” according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Trump’s plan will fund programs in geographic hot spots, data to identify and track the spread of HIV, and the creation of local efforts in targeted areas to expand HIV prevention and treatment.

Many health experts applauded the effort, but some also criticized the White House for cutting funding for HIV/AIDS programs in the past. This include undermining access to affordable health insurance, HIV drugs and cutting funds for HIV research. Also chopped was some funding for other countries.

From CNN commentator Ana Navarro: “If you had been in a coma for the last three years, and suddenly awoke in time to hear just the opening minutes and closing minutes, you would think Trump was a unifying, bipartisan, gracious leader.”

Seems Trump has slimmer pickings for “designated survivor” for the State of the Union address as you can’t choose someone in the cabinet that was not approved by the senate or not born in the US. There are 5 interims who are rejected. 65% of Trump’s top aides have been replaced at least once. Presidents Clinton and Obama were in the low 70s but that was over 8 years.

It is almost a tradition for a member of Congress to bring guests according to the issues they support. From furloughed government works, to someone related to a LGBTQ issue to someone who lost everything in a disaster to someone who is a shooting survivor. In the address after 9/11, a single seat honored those who died in the attack.

To run it through Congress on time, to avert another Trump Shutdown, a deal would have to be reached by Friday or at latest during the weekend. Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would accept a bipartisan agreement reached by the committee.

The border briefing was conducted by unnamed career officials, not Trump administration appointees, at the agency, an effort to turn down the political and emotional rhetoric of the debate so negotiators could more soberly assess the needs on the border and reach a deal. The career officials reported that they agreed with Democrats that new technologies — like sensors and drones — were a higher priority than new barriers.

Trump and his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, met with contractors at the White House to discuss building the border wall very recently. Trump is seriously considering an emergency declaration to bypass Congress and using an emergency declaration to build his Trump Wall.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff announced he was launching a wide-ranging inquiry into Trump’s finances and whether financial considerations were driving decisions made by the administration.

Schiff said the investigation would include a continued probe into Russia’s actions during the 2016 election and contacts between the Russia and Trump’s team, as well as an examination of “whether any foreign actor has sought to compromise or holds leverage, financial or otherwise, over Donald Trump, his family, his business, or his associates.” Schiff said the investigation would also look at whether Trump or his associates have “sought to influence US government policy in service of foreign interests” and any potential obstruction into the various investigations.

When Trump responded to a reporter asking him to comment on Schiff’s opening of a broad investigation, Trump responded by saying “he’s just a political hack trying to build a name for himself,” and then adding that Schiff had no “reason to do that.” and he calls it “Presidential harassment”. Well at least Schiff is a politician and I think Schiff is already well known. You don’t see him putting his hat in the ring to become a real president for 2020.

Schiff has hired officials with experience at the National Security Council to help with his panel’s oversight of Trump’s administration. Trump wasn’t happy. No recent hire came directly from the White House but no idea if any worked in the Trump administration.

Since the day after the 2018 midterm elections, Trump has spent around 60% of his scheduled time [297 hours] in unstructured “executive time.” Some meetings are listed as “executive time” to keep them hidden from West Wing staff members out of fear of possible leaks. He spent 77 hours in meetings and just over 38 hours at events.

On the day after the midterms, Trump’s schedule contained a 30-minute meeting with then-chief-of-staff John Kelly and more than seven hours for “executive time.”

Trump spends his mornings in the residence [until 11 am], watching TV, reading the papers, and responding to what he sees and reads by phoning aides, members of Congress, friends, administration officials and informal advisers.

White House spokeswoman Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders says that “…there is time to allow for a more creative environment that has helped make him the most productive President in modern history.”

The commander of US Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, said in a hearing he “was not consulted” prior to Trump’s December announcement that the US would withdraw its troops from Syria. Votel said the fight against the terror group is “not over” and warned ISIS could regroup after US troops leave.

The Trump administration ordered approximately 3,750 additional US forces will deploy to the southwest border to provide additional support to Customs and Border Protection. That support includes a mobile surveillance capability through the end of September 2019 as well as placing 150 miles of concertina wire between ports of entry. The Defense Department said the total active duty forces supporting CBP at the border will be approximately 4,350.

The governor of New Mexico has pulled the National Guard from border patrols saying “I’m not going to participate, nor do I think it’s appropriate in any shape or fashion to use the National Guard to attempt to militarize the border where we’re dealing with asylum seekers who their constitutional rights continue to be breached.”

Trump is refusing to meet a legal requirement to send Congress a report that requires the White House to determine whether Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is personally responsible for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation that would require mandatory sanctions on those responsible for Khashoggi’s death, prohibit certain weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and report on human rights within the Kingdom.

In an interview with CBS, Trump said:

  • “…Of the thirty-four people [who pleaded guilty in the Robert Mueller investigation], many of them were bloggers from Moscow — or they were people that had nothing to do with me.” Yes but what about Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen and soon add Roger Stone.
  • “Roger is somebody that I’ve always liked, but a lot of people like Roger.” But in 2008 Trump said “Roger is a stone-cold loser.” As well wait until Stone works with the investigation. Trump will change his mind.
  • “And this really is an invasion of our country by human traffickers.” If there is an investigation, why wait 3 weeks for Congress to solve things instead of acting now.
  • “First of all, Roger Stone didn’t work on the campaign.” But in August 2015, “Donald Trump’s campaign said Saturday it has fired top political adviser Roger Stone — who promptly denied being let go and insisted he had quit.”
  • “Even the Mueller report said it had nothing to do with the campaign.” But the report isn’t out yet.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s acting administrator Andrew Wheeler has maintained the custom of his predecessor Scott Pruitt of meeting with far more industry executives and lobbyists than environmental groups. Wheeler held or attended more than 50 meetings with representatives of companies or industry groups regulated by the EPA between April and August of last year, including a company he previously lobbied for.

During the 2016 presidential election, then-candidate Trump was not granted a loan from Deutsche Bank following an extensive debate within the ranks of the bank. Trump’s loan request said the decision ultimately came down to senior bank officials thinking that Trump’s bombastic candidacy made the loan too high of a risk for the bank to take on. The Trump Organization’s request was made in order to get financing for work on a golf property in Turnberry, Scotland, by borrowing against the organization’s Miami property.

The White House announced that Trump’s former physician, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, will serve as assistant to Trump and chief medical advisor. There were allegations that he was “abusive” toward colleagues, loosely handled prescription pain medications and was periodically intoxicated.

Trump also resubmitted his nomination for Jackson to receive a military promotion to two-star admiral. That nomination will not move forward while the Defense Department investigation is ongoing.

Federal prosecutors in New York subpoenaed Trump’s inaugural committee for documents related to donors, vendors and finances, according to a copy of the subpoena, a step that appears to escalate that office’s ongoing investigation of the committee’s activity. It demands documents related to any “benefits” offered to donors, including “tickets, photo opportunities, and/or small group receptions.”

It discloses that prosecutors are investigating a litany of potential crimes: conspiracy against the US, false statements, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, inaugural committee disclosure violations, and violations of laws prohibiting contributions by foreign nations and contributions in the name of another person, also known as straw donors.

Trump campaign lawyers laid out in a court filing he tactics they could use to hold back evidence related to the presidential transition from federal investigators and in lawsuits. They are pushing that the presidential transition should have as much protection around it for being a quasi-governmental operation as the executive branch has.

Trump Organization has reportedly fired over 18 undocumented employees, while admitting that they never fully used the federal system to check their workers’ immigration status in the first place. This in addition to 11 undocumented employees go at its Westchester County golf club. All this after undocumented employee Victorina Morales went public with her story to the New York Times in December. The evidence of the Trump organization’s shady hiring practices-including the alleged use of fake green cards and social security numbers-has reportedly been turned over the New Jersey Attorney General’s office.

While I won’t go into it fully because this blog is about Trump, American Media Inc., publishers of the National Enquirer, could lose their immunity related to the investigation on Michael Cohen when recently the National Enquirer threatened and tried to blackmail primary Amazon owner Jeff Bezos.

Officials from the Trump administration said it would require too much effort to reunite the thousands of families it separated before implementing its “zero-tolerance” policy in April, according to a declaration filed as part of an ongoing lawsuit between the American Civil Liberties Union and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

As Trump claimed how well American manufacturing is doing at the State of the Union address, 4,000 salaried staff at General Motors were laid off as part of the job reductions announced late last year the day before the address. One of the plants closing is in Lordstown, Ohio, that Trump personally promised to revive during the 2016 campaign. Trump claimed GM would soon announce steps that could counteract the effect of the plant closures, though what those actions are remain unclear.

Trump’s apparent gaffe during his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast lit up social media when he referenced the “abolition of civil rights”. It’s not hard to read a screen in front of you that has your speech!

Trump still has ignored doctor’s orders by eating plenty of junk food [brought in from outside by aides] or when eating out having well cooked steak and fries. He has never used the fitness room in the White House. His only exercise besides walking between rooms is golfing but he uses a cart between holes. Because of an increase in bad cholesterol he was prescribed with an increase dose of Crestor.

A new CBS poll found that a majority of Americans – 66% – say Trump should not declare a national emergency to build the wall if Congress refuses to fund it but 73% of Republicans favor it. As well 73% of those polled want Trump to continue negotiating while keeping the government open if he doesn’t get wall money by February 15.

Clash of the titans

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Senate lawmakers that the US intelligence community does not believe Iran is currently undertaking “key activities” needed to produce a nuclear bomb — an assessment at odds with longtime administration claims that Iran is an immediate nuclear threat.

Donald Trump, in a remarkable rebuke that was reminiscent of his past criticisms of law enforcement officials, said the intelligence chiefs were “extremely passive and naive” on the matter.

Trump claimed that his intelligence chiefs, including Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel, told him that “they said they were totally misquoted and totally taken out of context.” Their testimony was televised, and their written assessment of global threats was made public. Two people misquoted? Must be a first.

Trump tweeted “When I became President Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East, and beyond. Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different, but a source of potential danger and conflict. They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back.”

Aside from another punctuation error [“there” instead of “their”], Trump admits that things are getting worse since he killed the nuclear deal [“they are testing Rockets….”].

Scratching your head time. Trump declared that “ISIS was out of control in Syria” when he took over but later then said that when his term began, ISIS was already on the decline, with the US declaring 75% of ISIS fighters killed by December 2016.

Trump said he was “very disappointed” to see the FBI’s arrest of his long-time associate Roger Stone “go down that way,” About a dozen officers with tactical vests and heavy weapons fanned out across the lawn. Law enforcement shined a flashlight into Stone’s front door, and one officer rapped against it, shouting “FBI. Open the door.” The agent shouted seconds later: “FBI. Warrant.” Are they supposed to wait until he wakes up and has breakfast? Trump inflated saying there were 29 people in armored vehicles.

[A former senior FBI agent said that federal arrests typically occur at 6 am. This is the usual course of action is designed to rouse groggy suspects who are less prepared to resist arrest. It is typical to have 10 agents at a scene of an arrest for every individual that would be arrested. As they were gathering evidence and the importance of the individual, additional personnel were needed such as a crisis negotiator, log keeper, public affairs and evidence photographer.]

Trump blamed the Russians for the demise of the Cold War-era pact, known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty. He claims the Russians have been developing missiles that are against the agreement. But some European are not convinced. Yet, it is the US that has halted the treaty. Some analysts worry its demise could fuel a new arms race. In addition, China [not part of the pact] are allowed to build the missiles.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing an amendment to a Middle East policy bill that would acknowledge “al Qaeda, ISIS and their affiliates in Syria and Afghanistan continue to pose a serious threat to us here at home,” a move seen as a sharp rebuke to Trump’s push to withdraw US troops from Syria.

It’s been over 40 days since Trump originally ordered a rapid withdrawal of troops from Syria on December 19 within 30 days. He later extended it to 4 months.

Are you sitting down? According to White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders: “I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times and I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become president, and that’s why he’s there.”

She also said “Look, the President’s made clear that we support Christians, that we support the Kurds,” Sanders said, adding Trump has “made that clear to Turkey.” If you are another faith, you’re screwed.

Remember how Trump boasted that Taiwan manufacturer Foxconn would build a huge plant in Michigan including flat screens with at least 3,000 jobs and up to 13,000? Definitely not 13,000 as Foxconn as they won’t build the flat screens there. Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker lost his re-election in November because the state and local governments gave Foxconn $4 billion in tax help. Foxconn said the US plant “can’t compete” with lower-cost flat panel plants elsewhere in the world.

But Foxconn says it is returning to its original plan to make flat screen panels at a new plant in Wisconsin following a whiny appeal from Trump. Foxconn will probably have to either raise prices for them or a lower profit from them. A company spokesperson said she was not aware of any additional incentives or inducements that were offered to the company in the conversation with Trump. Uh huh.

Trump blamed former House Speaker Paul Ryan for not getting funding for the wall, saying that Ryan assured him congressional Republicans would get the money when the Trump agreed not to veto the omnibus spending bill last year.

A list of treaties and agreements that Trump has pulled the US out of in the last 25 months:

  • Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
  • Paris Agreement [climate pact]
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership [Pacific free trade]
  • South Korean trade deal [renegotiated]
  • NAFTA [North American free trade] [renegotiated but not ratified]
  • UN Human Right Council
  • UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization
  • Iran nuclear deal

In addition, Trump has questioned or threatened to pull out of:

  • NATO
  • World Trade Organization

Electrolux is shutting down its Memphis plant which builds Frigidaire and Electrolux ovens partially because of the Sears bankruptcy and partially because of high steel prices from Trump’s tariffs. There goes 530 jobs. Trump said [at the time of the tariff slapping] the tariffs was meant to boost domestic production of the materials.

An undocumented Guatemalan worker fired from Trump’s Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, will be in attendance at Trump’s State of the Union address next week after being invited by a Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman. The woman claimed that managers helped her obtain fake documents for employment.

Ummm. Trump tweeted “In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!” Moron. “Waming”? Related to Covfefe? “…the coldest ever recorded.” And he’s a meteorologist expert. Let’s not forgetting the difference between global waming [errr… warming] and climate change.