Trump sends the military to Iran and battles the Democrats at home

Donald Trump warned Iran not to threaten the United States again or it’ll face its “official end,” shortly after a rocket landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad overnight. The Trump administration recently deployment of bombers and an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf over still-unspecified threats.

Trump has given his approval to Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan to deploy additional military resources to the Persian Gulf region to deter Iranian threats, according a senior US official. The new deployment includes Patriot missile batteries, reconnaissance aircraft and accompanying necessary forces to provide further deterrence against what the Pentagon believes is a rising Iranian threat against US troops in the region.

The Trump administration is considering using a pre-existing rule that would allow it to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia. A section of the Arms Control Act allows the White House to waive a traditional 30-day congressional notification period for arms sales if Trump declares an emergency, thereby preventing Congress from being able to put a hold on those arms deals.

Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy said if Trump took such a step, he would be exploiting an “obscure loophole” in arms control law and the result “would be a complete abuse of power.” Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, warned about the precedent the move could set, while Republican senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky said they opposed the idea.

Trump says he told Democratic leaders at the White House he couldn’t work with them while they were pursuing investigations into him and his administration. The meeting with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this morning on infrastructure. [Just cancel the meeting instead of wasting time. Of course it gives him time to watch Fox News and catch up on his tweeting.] Trump sort of claimed that Pelosi’s comment that it was a “cover-up” was his excuse to cancel the meeting as he wanted to discuss infrastructure. “I don’t do cover-ups,” Trump said.

Trump tweeted “Everything the Democrats are asking me for is based on an illegally started investigation that failed for them, especially when the Mueller Report came back with a NO COLLUSION finding. Now they say Impeach President Trump, even though he did nothin wrong, while they fish!” Yes. You can impeach someone for doing nothing. I don’t think the 25th amendment allows that. In addition, Mueller’s report didn’t exactly say Trump was completely innocent.

Pelosi has repeatedly shown hesitance – and flat out refusal – to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump. She has justified her position by saying that going after Trump is not “worth” the division impeachment would bring to the country.

Rejecting Pelosi’s characterization of his decision to scrap a meeting with Democrats because of their continued investigations as a “temper tantrum,” Trump accused Democratic officials of being “bad people,” referred to Pelosi as “crazy Nancy” and enlisted several White House officials to publicly corroborate his account that he had addressed Democrats calmly — and not in anger — the previous day.

“The Democrats have done nothing in the House, they’ve done absolutely nothing — I mean other than investigate. They want to investigate.” As for himself, Trump once again proclaimed: “I’m an extremely stable genius.”

Trump lashed out at the media by saying “This whole thing was a takedown attempt at the President of The United States. And honestly you ought to be ashamed of yourselves the way you report it so dishonestly.” [He didn’t call it treason…. Yet.]

Former White House counsel Don McGahn was scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee about the Mueller report – but he defied the committee’s subpoena and skipped the hearing.

“Let me be clear: This Committee will hear Mr. McGahn’s testimony, even if we have to go to court to secure it,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said. “We will not allow the President to prevent the American people from hearing from this witness.” Nadler says he believes the episodes in the Mueller report would have led to Trump being charged with obstruction had he not been president, and that his obstruction has continued since the end of the Mueller probe.

Judge Amit Mehta of the DC District Court has told the accounting firm Mazars it will need to turn over Trump’s accounting records from before he was President to the Democratic-controlled House Oversight Committee. In a 41-page opinion, Mehta dealt a significant blow to the White House as he rejected Trump’s attempt to block the committee’s subpoena, asserting that Congress is well within its authority to investigate Trump.

Trump tweeted back with the usual comments when things go against him plus the judge was Obama appointed. Trump complained that Democrats are trying to “get a redo” on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and “The Democrats were very upset with the Mueller report, as perhaps they should be.”

White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders argued that House Democrats have not accomplished anything legislatively while defending her boss in walking out of the talks. But House Democrats have also passed 235 pieces of legislation since January, including several major bills. Of those, only a handful have been taken up by the Republican-held Senate.

Of the bills that have passed, 17 were also passed by the Senate and became law, including legislation to end the shutdown, to address the Colorado River Drought, and address conservation and outdoor recreation.

Trump ordered all US intel agencies to assist Attorney General William Barr in his review of surveillance issues surrounding Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Trump has long maintained — without any evidence — that entities in the US government were “spying” on his campaign. Trump and his allies also want to know how the Russia investigation got started. Trump was particularly bothered by the subpoena for Hicks, who earned familial status in Trump’s eyes.

The House Judiciary Committee issued its latest subpoena for a top Trump aide to testify, this time setting its sights on his former communications director Hope Hicks [she’s an executive at Fox now]. They also issued a subpoena for Annie Donaldson, former chief of staff McGhan, who was deputy White House counsel, seeks documents and her appearance at a deposition in June.

Deutsche Bank’s anti-money laundering specialists once recommended that transactions involving entities controlled by Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a US agency that investigates financial crimes, according to a new report in the New York Times. The Times reports that Deutsche Bank employees flagged the transactions in 2016 and 2017, and that at least one of the reports involved the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which is now defunct.

Democrats in New York state passed a pair of bills that would allow Congress to get hold of Trump’s state tax returns amid an escalating fight with top administration officials over access to Trump’s federal returns.
Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen alleges that Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow knew that Cohen’s claim to Congress that the Trump Tower Moscow project ended in January 2016 was false, Cohen told the House Intelligence Committee in March. The claim comes from a transcript of the roughly 15 hours of closed-door testimony that Cohen gave the committee.

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani also came to Sekulow’s defense, saying that he was “one of the very most ethical lawyers and honest men I have ever known.” Shockingly [not!] Giuliani then said “Michael Cohen is a serial liar. Cohen should be prosecuted for his blatant perjury before the House committee. Jay should receive the most effective and ethical lawyer of the year award.”

The Michael Flynn court records show that the fired first national security adviser helped Mueller’s investigation on at least three prongs: as the special counsel looked into interaction between the Trump transition team and Russia, WikiLeaks’ release of emails during the presidential campaign and the President’s efforts to interfere with the investigation.

Flynn also assisted the Eastern District of Virginia and prosecutors from the Justice Department’s National Security Division with a now-open case against his former lobbying partner, who allegedly worked illegally for Turkey.”

Trump responded with a tweet: “It now seems the General Flynn was under investigation long before was common knowledge.” Flynn isn’t under investigation. Trump, you are.

When Trump chose Rex Tillerson to be his secretary of state, he praised his “tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics.” In a tweet touting the pick, Trump called Tillerson “one of the truly great business leaders of the world.”

Now, he says “Rex Tillerson, a man who is ‘dumb as a rock’ and totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State, made up a story (he got fired) that I was out-prepared by Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Hamburg, Germany. I don’t think Putin would agree….” I don’t think Vladimir Poutine cares actually – maybe he’s just laughing at the show.

Why now? A reporter on the trip said “Trump has been presented with a large binder of preparation materials for his trip to Europe” for a G20 summit in Poland but didn’t bother reading much of it. This is typical since he barely reads any security reports. Tillerson said roughly the same thing recently. But meanwhile, Trump did hire him on 2016. So who’s fault is it for hiring this “dumb as a rock”?

Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas objected to passing a disaster relief bill, meaning the more than $19 billion in aid may not go to Trump’s desk for his signature before June. Roy cited the lack of money for the border and the $19 billion price tag as two reasons for his objection. Lawmakers had hoped to advance the bill using unanimous consent which would quickly pass it out of the chamber. But it only takes one person to object to unanimous consent.

I’m sure you will ask this question: What does money for Trump’s Wall got to do with a disaster relief bill – unless he considers Trump’s Wall a disaster – which it is. Surprisingly, Trump has said publicly that he would sign this bill even without the border funding he had previously requested.

The Trump Administration has proposed a rule that would roll back an Obamacare regulation that prohibits discrimination against patients who are transgender or have previously undergone an abortion. Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act “prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in certain health programs and activities.”

A Republican congressman Justin Amash became the first member of Trump’s party on Capitol Hill to accuse him of engaging in “impeachable conduct” stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s lengthy investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. He stopped short of calling on Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, which many Democrats have been agitating for. No shocker, Trump lashed out at him.

Canada and the US came to an agreement regarding the removal of tariffs that the Trump admission put on Canada and Canada responded in the spring of 2018. Gone are importing of Canadian steel and aluminum tariffs and [ummmm] playing cards, licorice and bourbon have officially been lifted. This may allow the upgraded NAFTA agreement to be passed by the Canadian government.

Canada had also had retaliatory tariffs slapped extra import duties on aluminum and steel coming from the United States but also 75 other products including sleeping bags, toilet paper, soy sauce and ketchup.

At a Montoursville, Pennsylvania rally recently, Trump said:

  • “Man, this is a lot of people.” – Why on earth show up in the middle of nowhere to a rally where the town’s population is 4,000.
  • And then “I think next time we’ll just have to get a bigger hanger….”
  • “Crazy. You’ve got a thing called the sun. We like the sun better than the artificial not sun.” Huh?
  • “Do we keep our logo? Do we keep our slogan? Make America Great Again or it’s very risky. Changing the most successful slogan has to be.” How do you measure the success of a slogan?
  • “Oh, we have the most beautiful fighter jets in the world being delivered now every day.” He likes to say the word “beautiful”. Probably would say it about poop as well.
  • “And you know what, if we aren’t smart it will end for you with the Second Amendment.” There is no one on record favoring the removal of the amendment.

[Sidebar: National Constitution Center: “In simple odds, the chance of any constitutional amendment being repealed would be roughly the same as a person living to 80 years old being struck by lightning during their lifetime, according to National Weather Service data.”]

  • “They want to knock down all buildings in Manhattan and rebuild them without windows.” What New York City has proposed is retrofitting buildings of 25,000 square feet or more to make them more energy-efficient.
  • “We’ve lost 60,000, not jobs, listen to this. Sixty thousand factories, here’s the good news. We’re building them all back. They’re coming back. All coming back.” 60,000 FACTORIES lost because of NAFTA are coming back?
  • “Look at the thousands and thousands of people we have, now he said he had 600 people.” He was comparing his crowd and not that large versus former Vice President Joe Biden crowd in Philadelphia – estimated at 6,000.
  • “And don’t forget Biden deserted you. He’s not from Pennsylvania. I guess he was born here, but he left you folks. He left you for another state.” Biden left his home state of Pennsylvania when he was 10 years old! Not much of a choice for him. Not really sure that counts as having “deserted” the people of Pennsylvania.
  • “Our country is full. We don’t want people coming up here. Our country is full. We want Mexico to stop….” Is he said he doesn’t want immigrants in general or just Mexicans? I’m sure he’ll accept wealthy foreigners.
  • “We passed a largest package of tax cuts in the history of our country.” Except some found out they are still paying more than the previous year. Only the wealthy got reductions across the board.

Windows 10 19H1 finally released

Very [almost] quietly, Microsoft finally has released Windows 10 19H1 [a.k.a. v1903]. It is based on build 18362.30 – although there are already up to 18362.116.

By the old title [“v1903”], this was to be released in March or early April. We are in the last full week of May. They were obviously some issues but they didn’t want the fiasco of v1809 which was released in November 2018.

v1809 release only managed to pick up around 30% of the Windows 10 users. Many holding out and hoping for a stable 19H1.

The next feature release is expected sometime in the second half of 2019 but is expected to be more like a traditional “service pack” – mostly fixes and corrections and less of new or updated features.

As usual, consumers will probably get notification with the best likely systems [newest usually] to be offered it first.

ISO images are available from the usual sources as well as the Media Tool creation tool is available from Microsoft.

Trump’s Tariffs

Donald Trump tweets “…But China has taken so advantage of the U.S. for so many years, that they are way ahead (Our Presidents did not do the job). Therefore, China should not retaliate-will only get worse!” [Double header. Takes jabs at China and previous Presidents.] Right after China announced it will be raising tariffs on $60 billion worth of US goods beginning on June 1. And right after that, the stock market tumbled again.

Trump has promised as much as $15 billion in aid to the agricultural industry to make up for China’s retaliatory tariffs, but farm trade associations say they don’t know yet how the assistance would work. “There is a lot of speculation about what form it might take and how much it might be, but it does sound like it is on a faster track than the first package was,” said Mace Thorton, spokesman for the American Farm Bureau Federation, the leading agricultural trade association.

The Trump administration has previously provided aid to farmers to cover the impacts of retaliatory tariffs, announcing last year that it provide as much as $12 billion to the industry of which only $8 billion was actually given.

So let’s get this straight. Trump claims that the tariffs will have little to no effect on Americans and yet the government could shell out as much as $27 billion to help farmers [or about $7.50 per American] so he can look like he’s doing something and feed his ego.

Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani intended but cancel a trip to investigate matters connected to the release of negative information about Paul Manafort. The former New York mayor also said he will continue to pursue questions about Vice President Joe Biden’s call in 2016 to remove the top Ukrainian prosecutor, who at one point had been investigating a Ukrainian natural gas company connected to Biden’s son. So Trump is aiming at Biden already.

Giuliani claimed, in 2016, while then-Vice President Biden was pressuring the Ukrainian government to oust its top prosecutor as part of a broad anti-corruption push by the US, his son Hunter Biden was on the board of a Ukrainian company under investigation by that same prosecutor. Ukraine’s new prosecutor general dismissed the case against the natural gas company controlled by one of Ukraine’s top oligarchs.

But the Ukrainian government’s case against the company had been “dormant” since 2014, two years before Biden successfully pushed to remove the prosecutor general. Biden was also joined in his anti-corruption push against the prosecutor by numerous leaders in Europe as well as the International Monetary Fund — none of whom had any family ties to the company.

I think someone got to him finally to cancel the trip. Giuliani reversed course and canceled the trip a day later, claiming without evidence that the Ukrainians surrounding president-elect Volodymyr Zelensky are “enemies of the President … in some cases enemies of the United States” who have ties to Democrats.

Others [including I] would of thought it was because he is getting a foreign government to get dirt on competitor in the US elections was basically what Trump has been accused of for the 2016 elections. He denied these accusations, saying that it wasn’t meddling since the presidential election is a year and a half away. When the dirt you are going for is a potential nominee for president, it makes no difference when.

The Trump Administration is preparing to release a broad outline of proposed immigration reforms that will make the Republicans happy but not the Democrats. But the proposal is short of concrete details and omits discussion of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that Democrats have repeatedly said they want resolved.

The White House is selling the plan as addressing border security and moving toward a merit-based immigration system, which gives preference to highly skilled and educated individuals. The officials touted Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Japan as examples of where merit-based immigration systems work. Except in Canada, they also allow those with no merit and some with merit who were [say] a doctor in their old country is now driving a taxi because their qualifications aren’t at the same level to practice in Canada.

Meanwhile, Stephen Miller, who is widely known as Trump’s key adviser on immigration, was not the author of the immigration proposal. Instead it was Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Expect Trump to whine if the Democrats don’t allow the proposal to pass in the House – probably complain that they are “soft” on immigration. We’ve heard it before. But If the proposal doesn’t address some Democrat concerns, why would they pass it?

Trump is embracing a controversial Florida proposal to import cheaper drugs from Canada, which Republicans have long opposed and many health experts have questioned. Health Secretary Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive, originally called drug importation a “gimmick” seems to be more on the fence now. He’s not against it now.

“Canada simply doesn’t have enough drugs to sell them to us for less money, and drug companies won’t sell Canada or Europe more just to have them imported here,” said Azar a year ago. In addition he said that the last four commissioners of the Food and Drug Administration have said there’s no way to effective ensure that the medication is really coming from Canada, and not a counterfeit factory in China.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented a military plan at a meeting of top national security officials recently that would send as many as 120,000 US troops to the Middle East in the event that Iran strikes American forces in the region or speeds up its development of nuclear weapons, The New York Times reported.

Trump signed an executive order barring US firms from using telecom gear from sources the administration deems national security threats. White House officials declined to identify China and Huawei as the intended target of the executive order. Commerce Department formally added Huawei to the list of companies the U.S. government considers to be undermining American interests and therefore covered under the new order.

“The administration is like a shit show in a dumpster file,” George Conway said once. He is the husband of Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway and is staunchly anti-Trump. Recently he called Trump a “malignant narcissist.”

In further chopping of some money from those who need it to questionably those who don’t, money for Pell Grants for college education [which help low-income students pay for college] will now mostly go to NASA “so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!” Trump tweeted. Because of declining enrollment in the Pell Grant, with a surplus of $9 billion, $1.9 billion was added to the already $2 billion taken away.

Trump had initially also pulled money to help clean up the Great Lakes but caved in after three Republican lawmakers from Michigan lobbied him during a ride from the Grand Rapids airport. Previous cuts included Special Olympics but he also reversed that.

Trump made at least $479 million in 2018, according to his annual financial disclosure by the White House. Since taking office, Trump has broken presidential precedent by maintaining his interest in the Trump Organization, which is run on a day-to-day basis by his adult sons Don Jr. and Eric.

Not surprising here. In the 1990s, Trump would quietly purchase stock in companies. He would then claim that he was thinking of buying shares in the company which would generally increase the price of the shares of the company. Then he would quietly sell the shares, making profit. Eventually investors caught on when he never bought.

Occupancy of Trump Towers, where Trump called it a great place [what else!], in New York has dropped from 99% in 2012 to 83% in 2019 – twice Manhattan’s average. Plus it also has 42,000 square feet of vacant office space. 13 condos since the election in 2016, with 9 where the selling price was listed and 8 lost money on the sell. Issues for this drop include political reasons and security issues getting in the building.

Meanwhile, at Doral in Miami-Dade, which is Trump’s biggest moneymaking hotel, room rates, banquets, golf and overall revenue were all down since 2015. In two years, the resort’s net operating income – a key figure, representing the amount left over after expenses are paid – had fallen by 69 percent. The club expected to take in $85 million in revenue in 2017 but took in just $75 million.

Eric Trump, who runs the business day-to-day, rejected the idea that the Trump brand is damaged. “This story is completely senseless,” he said in a statement. “Our iconic properties are the best in the world and our portfolio is unrivaled by anyone.” A Trump Organization issued a statement implicitly contradicted its own tax consultant and blamed factors that had nothing to do with Trump’s name. The company cited fears of the Zika virus in 2016, and hurricanes in 2016 and 2017, for driving tourists away from South Florida.

Trump to claim that his unwillingness to release any past tax returns — the first post-Watergate president not to do so — was a non-factor in the 2016 election. Instead, he claimed that was a reason that people voted for him. It is impossible to verify.

There are major issues across the globe that is affecting the US including instability in Venezuela, trade pact with China and heightened tensions with Iran and Russia. What did Trump do recently? Play a round of golf [did he cheat?]. I guess he doesn’t think they are critical.

You know that this will happen often. Trump has pardon 2 friendlies. One is Patrick Nolan, a former Republican legislator who allied with Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner. He pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge after an FBI sting and spent 29 months in federal custody. The other is Lord Conrad M. Black who wrote a book about Trump and who was convicted on four counts of fraud in 2007 and spent three-and-a-half years in prison.

Do you use e-Transfer? You may want to read this

Do you use e-Transfer [or equivalent]?

e-Transfer allows you to send money from your account to someone by Email or text message. You specify the amount and to whom. You also include a security such as what is my mother’s maiden name or my paternal great grand-father’s first name. Of course the recipient would know the answer. The sender could pay a small fee for this service.

The transfer is sent to the individual by Email or text message. After a period of time [maybe 30 days], if the Email or Text message isn’t opened and then money is transferred, then transfer expires and the send can reclaim their money.

So what’s the problem?

There has been at least a couple of cases where the recipient never got their money from the sender because by the time they opened the Email, the transfer was already transferred to someone – just not them.

Once the Email is received, anyone can take the money transfer. And that is the problem.

In the cases, the recipient had their Email account hacked. The hacker figured out what the recipient’s Email address’ password was and monitored it for Email such as this [or maybe other financial Emails].

The recipient complained to their bank but the bank wouldn’t do much initially because the recipient’s account was hacked with a simple password. Somewhere on the web site, in fine print, it says that the bank won’t allow any guarantee if it find an account was hacked or other had security issues. The recipient said the bank’s web site says the transfers are secure.

Moral of the story?

Make sure you use an unique password for all Email and financial accounts. Don’t use something like “MyMoney1” for a password for one account and “MyMoney2” for another as a hacker may attempt to try changing just the number on other sites once they figured out one. The same applies for special characters.

Obstruction, tariffs, and subpoenas

Special counsel Robert Mueller announced that he would appear before the House Judiciary Committee tentatively on May 15th. That’s the date the Committee has proposed, and are hoping the Special Counsel will agree to it. The denial comes after two missed deadlines by the Treasury secretary, who has previously called the request by House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal under an obscure statute of tax law “unprecedented.”

Donald Trump said Mueller should not appear before the committee just two days after telling reporters Attorney General William Barr should make that decision. Trump questioned why Mueller needs to testify after spending 2 years on his report. He, of course, had to throw in that there was no collusion or obstruction or the other usuals.

The White House has instructed former White House Counsel Don McGahn not to comply with a subpoena for documents and testimony related to the committee’s obstruction of justice investigation from House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, teeing up the latest in a series of escalating oversight showdowns between the Trump administration and congressional Democrats.

McGahn’s decision not to comply with the subpoena could push Nadler to hold McGahn in contempt of Congress, just as he’s moving to do with Attorney General William Barr after the Justice Department defied a subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report and underlying evidence. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote to Nadler directing the committee to request the documents from the White House, and not McGahn.

The White House requested that McGahn publicly state that Trump didn’t obstruct justice, but McGahn declined. McGahn previously told Mueller’s investigators he didn’t believe Trump obstructed justice.

The Justice Department has informed Nadler that the “President has asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials” and called the vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress “politically motivated and unnecessary.”

Nadler accused Barr of turning the Department of Justice “into an instrument of Trump personally rather than an instrument of justice and representative of the United States.” The House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Barr in contempt of Congress.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. for him to return and testify again, and the committee is now at a standoff with Trump’s eldest son. One option Trump Jr. is considering in response to the subpoena is to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights, and another is just to not appear at all.

The subpoena for Trump Jr.’s testimony marks an escalation of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s probe into Russian election interference. The committee has recently begun re-interviewing witnesses, including Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who appeared for a second time earlier this year.

Hundreds of former Justice Department officials said in an open letter that Trump would be facing multiple felony charges stemming from the Russia investigation if he were not President.

The letter posted online by Justice Department alumni, who served under presidents from both parties, said the report from special counsel Robert Mueller contained repeated instances of Trump committing obstruction of justice, and that he would have been charged with obstruction if he was not protected as President by an opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel that Mueller cited.

Trump has escalated its trade war with China, hiking tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese exports hours after trade talks held in Washington failed to produce a breakthrough. Tariffs on the targeted exports increased from 10% to 25% at 12:01 a.m. ET on Friday, prompting a swift rebuke from Beijing. Last minute negotiations failed. Trump said the new tariffs were because China “broke the deal.” It seems China is backtracking on commitments to change laws over intellectual property and trade secrets, competition policy, and currency manipulation. Of course Trump claimed Iran has broken the nuclear deal – with nothing proven.

The American Apparel and Footwear Association estimates that a 25% tariff on apparel imports will increase costs for a family of four by $500 a year. If Trump thinks that this round of tariffs will help the American economy, he’s dreaming. Probably job losses because of higher prices. Limited manufacturing jobs as good luck in building a new factory to make more expensive shoes so fast.

Trump hoped to force China to further open its market to US exports, stop the forced sharing of intellectual property with China, and rewrite trade deals he said have unfairly benefited Beijing. The Chinese economy is fundamentally more vulnerable than that of the US. If China retaliates it could make quite a few things more expensive such as toys, shoes and iPhones [oh well].

The Trump Administration ordered the Pentagon to deploy a carrier and a bomber task force to the Middle East in order to send a message to Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was for security issues or threats that involve Iran and US allies in the region. Then Pompeo abruptly canceled a scheduled trip to Germany where he was planning to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel “due to pressing issues,” the State Department. In both cases, no specific explanation was given.

Iran announced it was partially withdrawing from a landmark nuclear deal, marking a serious escalation in Tehran’s faceoff with Trump and the United States. President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech that Iran would reduce its “commitments” to the deal, but would not fully withdraw, amid heightened pressure from the US in recent weeks.

Rouhani said Iran will keep its excess enriched uranium and heavy water, rather than sell it to other countries as previously agreed to limit its stockpile. The move comes a year after the US unilaterally withdrew from the deal, over the stringent objections of other signatories.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin denied a request from House Democrats for access to six years of Trump’s personal tax returns. “I am informing you now that the Department may not lawfully fulfill the Committee’s request,” Mnuchin wrote in his letter, written in consultation with lawyers from the Department of Justice.

Democrats initially directed their request to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, the only person with the legal authority to turn over the returns, but Mnuchin has interceded twice in the matter, citing his role overseeing the federal tax collector.

The Trump administration is considering deporting migrant families with court-ordered removals, a move that senior Department of Homeland Security officials have resisted in the past. The idea, described as a way to “send a message” to smugglers, is “under serious consideration.” The Department of Homeland Security, suffering from a lack of resources, is unable to deport all those who are ordered to be removed from the country and has said it focuses on the people it deems the most dangerous.

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens accused Trump of exceeding his presidential powers in an interview published Thursday, telling The Wall Street Journal that Trump “has to comply with subpoenas.” Stevens, who served on the Supreme Court from his appointment by President Gerald Ford in 1975 until his retirement in 2010, is a lifelong Republican whose rulings often leaned left.

The Pentagon has diverted an additional $1.5 billion in Defense Department funds from various accounts in order to fund the Trump Wall, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said and has found a way to reprogram the $1.5 billion without harming readiness. However, he added that the Pentagon wouldn’t be diverting any more funds to the wall.

In 1985, Trump reported losses of $46.1 million from his core businesses – largely casinos, hotels and retail space in apartment buildings. They continued to lose money every year, totaling $1.17 billion in losses for the decade. Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer. His core business losses in 1990 and 1991 – more than $250 million each year – were more than double those of the nearest taxpayers in the I.R.S. information for those years.

Trump responded in a series of tweets by saying “Real estate developers in the 1980’s & 1990’s, more than 30 years ago, were entitled to massive write offs and depreciation which would, if one was actively building, show losses and tax losses in almost all cases. Much was non monetary. Sometimes considered ‘tax shelter,’ you would get it by building, or even buying.” Doesn’t sound like his tweeting. Too adult like wording.

He’s cheating his own government with tax shelters. If this was another businessman, would Trump as President allow this to continue or send off abusive tweets.

This can’t end well. Trump has laid tentative plans to upend the traditional Fourth of July celebrations in Washington, moving the fireworks show from the National Mall and perhaps including an address from Trump himself. Major backlash if he goes political. The fireworks display on the Mall has been a time-honored nonpartisan tradition for nearly half a century. The plans involve moving the fireworks show closer to the Potomac River and adding a second stage for entertainment.

“Despite the tremendous success that I have had as President, including perhaps the greatest ECONOMY and most successful first two years of any President in history, they have stollen [sic] two years of my (our) Presidency (Collusion Delusion) that we will never be able to get back…..,” Trump said in a tweet. Stolen? He didn’t do much. So very little can be “stollen”.

At a rally in Florida, Trump said “And don’t forget, we don’t let them and we can’t let them use weapons. We can’t. Other countries do. We can’t. I would never do that. But how do you stop these people?” Someone in the audience interrupted Trump, shouting: “Shoot them!” With Trump replying “That’s only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement.”

In the sports section…

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora will not join the team during its visit to the White House soon because of displeasure with the Trump administration’s relief efforts in Puerto Rico. There were parts of the country without power for almost a year, and nearly 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico alone as the result of the hurricane. A few other players will also not attend.

At the Kentucky Derby, after the horse Maximum Security was disqualified for having illegally impeded other horses, Trump had to give his 2 cents work by saying “”The Kentucky Derby decision was not a good one” and “Only in these days of political correctness could such an overturn occur. The best horse did NOT win the Kentucky Derby – not even close!” Ummm. “Political correctness”?

After Facebook barred seven users from its services, citing its policies against “dangerous individuals and organizations,” Trump is siding with the people who were banned and railing against social media “censorship”. In various tweets he said “It’s getting worse and worse for Conservatives on social media!” He ignored the fact that some of the banned users are extremists who make a living by deceiving their fans.

Legal issues for Trump continue

It was a relatively quiet week for Donald Trump. But you know that can change quite fast.

Trump accused the New York attorney general’s office of illegally investigating the National Rifle Association. “The NRA is under siege by (New York Gov. Andrew) Cuomo and the New York State A.G., who are illegally using the State’s legal apparatus to take down and destroy this very important organization, & others.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office announced in a statement it had launched an investigation into the NRA and had issued subpoenas to the organization, but did not confirm what the probe was in regard to. The investigation could be about chief executive officer, Wayne LaPierre, for financial misconduct where LaPierre improperly used $200,000 of NRA funds to purchase clothing from an NRA vendor. Another example of Trump’s obstruction of justice and him using his power to help friends.

Trump, three of his children — Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka — and his business are suing two banks to block them from turning over financial records to congressional committees that have issued subpoenas for the information. “The subpoenas were issued to harass President Donald J. Trump, to rummage through every aspect of his personal finances, his businesses, and the private information of the President and his family….” Trump’s attorneys wrote in the complaint.

The lawsuit in New York’s Southern District claims that the subpoenas the House Intelligence Committee and House Financial Services Committee sent to Deutsche Bank and Capital One aren’t valid because they violate banking privacy law and they are not for shaping legislation. Yet at least one other court has said previously that claims like those can’t stop congressional subpoenas.

Seems Robert Mueller is not happy with Barr’s summary report, saying in a letter to Attorney General William Barr: “As we stated in our meeting of March 5 and reiterated to the Department early in the afternoon of March 24, the introductions and executive summaries of our two-volume report accurately summarize this Office’s work and conclusions. The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions. We communicated that concern to the Department on the morning of March 25.”

It took around 3 weeks from the time Mueller’s report was sent to Barr and Barr released his shortened version of the report. Between then, Barr claimed that Trump was vindicated but Barr’s version left out many key findings and didn’t summarize the right findings in others. Barr has since been grilled in a Congressional committee and now may not answer further questions but could be charged with contempt.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler sent his latest offer Attorney General William Barr to try to reach an agreement in his effort to obtain the unredacted special counsel report and the underlying evidence before Nadler moves forward with holding the attorney general in contempt of Congress.

Trump indicated that he’s not willing to allow former White House counsel Don McGahn — a key figure in the Robert Mueller report and Trump’s efforts to obstruct the investigation — to testify before Congress. So more obstruction of justice.

White House counselor Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway said that Trump could use executive privilege to block McGahn from complying with a congressional subpoena. McGahn was a key player with direct knowledge about Trump’s efforts to undermine the Russia probe.

Trump and Russian President Vladimir Poutine spoke by telephone for “over an hour,” during which they briefly discussed special counsel Mueller’s report and other issues, White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said. I’m sure there was Trump saying “There was no collusion with you but of course there was.”

In a Kremlin’s readout, Poutine warned Trump against “outside interference” in Venezuelan affairs, saying such efforts would “undermine the prospects for a political settlement of the crisis.” Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro was ready to leave the country when Russia told him to stay put. That’s not outside interference? The Kremlin denied this.

The Democrats agree with Trump on a $2 trillion infrastructure bill but may not pass the senate as GOP senators are balking because warn that they will oppose any measure that adds to the deficit. You think Trump will still whine that the Democrats aren’t working with him? The agreement calls for a 35 cent a liter tax to help. Republican lawmakers were not invited to the White House meeting that involved Trump and Democrat leaders that hammered out the agreement.

The city of San Francisco is suing the Trump administration over its new rule protecting religious providers when they object to providing certain types of care. The lawsuit claims the administration’s rule will restrict access to contraception, abortion, HIV treatment and a host of other medical services.

Economic commentator Stephen Moore has withdrawn his name from consideration to sit on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Moore previously said that women should be banned from refereeing, announcing or beer vending at men’s college basketball games, asking if there was any area in life “where men can take vacation from women.” In a 2000 column, Moore complained about his wife voting for Democrats, writing, “Women are sooo malleable! No wonder there’s a gender gap.” And there are other gender comments that aren’t good either. Too many Republican senators are against him to win the bid.

Joseph Yun, the former State Department Special Representative for North Korea, confirmed that he signed an agreement to pay North Korea $2 million for the release of American student Otto Warmbier in 2017. He did so with the approval of then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and that it was his understanding Trump had also signed off on the decision. But the Trump administration has said no money has been paid for release of Warmbier.

White House national security adviser John Bolton also confirmed that Yun signed a document pledging $2 million for Warmbier’s release and that the US has not made any payments. It happened before Bolton joined the administration.

Recently Trump tweeted, “‘Donald J. Trump is the greatest hostage negotiator that I know of in the history of the United States. 20 hostages, many in impossible circumstances, have been released in last two years. No money was paid.’ Cheif (sic) Hostage Negotiator, USA!” It is one thing he can probably be proud of in this less than stellar administration.

At a Wisconsin rally, Trump’s claimed that mothers and doctors are permitted to execute a baby after it leaves the womb. Obviously false. The bill he referred to would mandate that health professionals do all they could to keep a baby alive if it was “born alive” and would penalize anyone who let a baby die [after the baby was born].

Wisconsin governor, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, planned to veto a GOP-backed state bill that could have meant life sentences in prison for doctors who intentionally did not provide medical care to babies born alive after a failed abortion but Trump [maybe confusing the two or not] said “shockingly stated that he [Evers] will veto legislation that protects Wisconsin babies born alive.” The legislation doesn’t say that.

US deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein submitted his resignation, ending a two-year run defined by his appointment of a special counsel to investigate connections between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia. His last day will be May 11. The departure had been expected since the confirmation of William Barr as attorney general in February.

Trump, upset that a major firefighters union have endorsed Joe Biden, went on a Twitter storm, sending out about 60 tweet, many related to the endorsement for Biden and claiming that many firefighters support him. No actual proof of course. He even tweeted “I’ve done more for Firefighters than this dues sucking union will ever do, and I get paid ZERO!” Doesn’t help him.

The White House Correspondents’ Association came and went with no comedian. Trump of course still skipped the dinner even if no one was expected to roast and filet him. He ended up at a rally in poor Wisconsin.

Presidential historian Ron Chernow gave a speech in lieu of a comedian. Among Chernow’s jokes:

  • “I was puzzled by this news [Trump banning anyone in his administration from attending], but then I learned a rumor was circulating in Washington that I was going to be reading from the redacted sections of the Mueller report and everything was explained.”
  • While referencing Trump’s recent comment that America “is full” when speaking about immigration, joked that Alexander Hamilton [from the musical “Hamilton”] was an immigrant who arrived, “thank God, before the country was full.” He added, “Frankly I don’t know why they let the guy in, clearly someone slipped up at the southern border.”
  • “You’ve got to put your name on stuff or no one remembers you.” Chernow remarked, “As best I can tell, [George] Washington committed only one major blunder as President: He failed to put his name on Mount Vernon and thereby bungled an early opportunity at branding.” He wryly added, “Clearly deficient at the art of the deal, the poor man had to settle at the lowly title of ‘Father of his Country.'”
  • Chernow finished his speech by paraphrasing a line by Mark Twain: “Politicians and diapers must be changed often — and for the same reason.”

Trump has now said more than 10,000 false or misleading things [said or tweets] in his first 827 days in office, according to The Washington Post Fact Checker – or just over 12 per day [one every 2 hours]. In just 3 days from April 25-27 [at a rally and the NRA conference], he 171 in those 3 days alone. The last seven months have 3 times the rate of his first 600 days.

The University of Virginia men’s basketball team will not be celebrating its national championship with Trump at the White House, per a statement from the head coach. “With several players either pursuing pro opportunities or moving on from UVA, it would be difficult, if not impossible to get everyone back together. We would have to respectfully decline an invitation,” Bennett said in the statement.

The Baylor women’s basketball team, whose members also became national champions this year, announced Wednesday that it would be attending a ceremony at the White House that will include Trump.

In a poll commissioned by CNN, Trump’s approval rating actually as at its highest [at 43%] in over 2 years. When you scratch your head, don’t take out too much hair – if you have hair. In addition 44% of Democrats and 46% of independents believe the Democrats are going too far to investigate Trump.

About two-thirds still say Trump ought to release his tax returns (66%, including 52% who consider it important for a president to do) and 54%, say the President is not doing enough to cooperate with Democratic investigations. 37% say Trump should be impeached and removed from office, 59% say they do not feel that way.