Trump goes to Japan and still gets into trouble

On a long weekend [Memorial Day weekend] where Americans pay tribute to those who have fallen defending the country through various wars and Trump decides to visit Japan to do business, visit the new Emperor and play golf. And a reminder that Japan brought the US into World War II 78 years ago. Could he have chosen the following weekend?

Trump told reporters as he was preparing to leave he would be witnessing “something that hasn’t happened in over 200 years,” though didn’t specify what he meant. Nobody ever does.

While Japanese President Shinzo Abe took Barack Obama, to what is regarded as the best sushi restaurant in the world [Sukiyabashi Jiro], Abe will be taking Trump to a Japanese BBQ restaurant. I was expecting McDonald’s or Burger King.

No shock that Trump is whining that Japan is another country that has a big trade surplus over the US and Trump is thinking of dumping tariffs on Japanese made vehicles. It seems every country in the world has a trade surplus over the US – at least in Trump’s mind.

Tradition holds that American presidents and political candidates avoid politicking while on foreign soil, but Trump frequently disregards such norms. But Trump commented negatively against a fellow US politician by saying that he agreed with Kim Jong Un that Joe Biden has a low IQ. He is siding with a dictator over a former Vice-President. But White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says Trump “agrees” with the assessment. Is there a difference here? Trump also thinks that it is a “signal” that he will beat Biden if Biden wins the nomination. From a dictator?

In a press conference in Tokyo [something he doesn’t do in the US], Trump claims that there has been no testing done by North Korea recently. Wasn’t there one in mid-May? Trump also claimed that since he killed the arms deal with Iran, that Iran hasn’t been behind any terrorist activities and he claims Iran has economic issues. So why sending a fleet of ships towards Iran?

Trump said he also has no problem if North Korea fires off short range missiles [that will ultimately end up near Japan]. But National Security Adviser John Bolton says it is an issue.

An unidentified North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson called Bolton a “war monger”, “ignorant” hard-liner and “human defect” after he described its recent tests of short-range missiles as a violation of UN Security Council resolutions. Bolton told reporters in Tokyo on Saturday that there was “no doubt” that North Korea’s recent missile launches violated UN resolutions, and that sanctions against the North must be kept in place. Trump later downplayed the missile tests.

North Korea tested short-range ballistic missiles on May 4 and 9 – first time in 17+ months.

“I hereby award you the United States President’s Cup,” Trump told Asanoyama, the sumo champion, as he read from a scroll. Trump, Abe and wives went to a sumo wrestling match and didn’t sit on cushions as they usually do but chairs. Wondering if the trophy will end up on eBay. Trump managed to squeeze in some cheeseburgers for lunch yesterday with PM Abe. I wonder what Abe thought of this. In a foreign country. Can’t eat that country’s food?

Trump claimed in a tweet that “numerous” Japanese officials had told him that Democrats would rather see the US fail than see Trump or his Republican Party succeed.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller says that “If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” His investigation could not clear President Donald Trump and that charging the President was not an option his office could consider. He emphasized that Justice Department guidelines did not allow him to charge a sitting President, and as a result, his office did not determine whether Trump had committed obstruction of justice.

House Judiciary chair Jerry Nadler said “He [Trump] is lying about the special counsel findings, lying about the testimony of key witnesses in the special counsel’s report, and above all, lying and saying that the special counsel found no obstruction and no collusion.” Trump previously said Mueller’s investigation found him innocent when Mueller’s investigation could not charge a sitting President.

Yet Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said “Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s remarks today confirmed what we already knew. There was no collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign, and there was no case for obstruction. President Trump has been fully and completely exonerated.”

Speaker of the House Pelosi says it is Congress’s duty to “investigate and hold the President accountable”. Many of the Democratic candidates for President have already said this pushes close to impeachment.

So if Trump thinks that he is still exonerated in the Russian investigation by Mueller, why did he send out the day after many tweets attacking Mueller? Trump said:

  • The investigation cost $40 million. The Justice Department estimates maybe $25 million but excludes the last 7 months.
  • Trump said, “Robert Mueller would have brought charges, if he had ANYTHING, but there were no charges to bring!” except by longstanding Justice Department guidelines which said that a sitting President can’t be indicted Trump said Mueller had “unlimited access, people, resources and cooperation,” except Trump and his son, Donald trump Jr., refused to answer any questions.
  • Trump said Mueller was “highly conflicted,” except the Justice Department cleared Mueller of any conflicts when he took the job in 2017.

Trump tweeted that he had “nothing to do with Russia helping me get elected,” then minutes later, telling reporters: “Russia did not help me get elected.” He also insisted that he’s been tough on Russia and that Moscow would have preferred Hillary Clinton as president [with no proof of this].

Asked about impeachment by Congress, he called it a “dirty word” and said he couldn’t imagine the courts allowing him to be impeached. “I don’t think so because there’s no crime,” he said. Except it is not the court that will impeach him but congress. Does he know anything about the constitution?

Attorney General William Barr has said he was surprised Mueller did not reach a conclusion, though Mueller in his report and again in his statement said he had no choice. Barr and then Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein then stepped into the void, deciding on their own that the evidence was not sufficient to support a criminal charge.

Trump threatened to impose new tariffs on Mexico if the country does not step up its immigration enforcement actions, combining his boiling border-related frustrations with his preferred method of punishing foreign countries. Trump said in a White House statement that the first round of tariffs would begin on June 10 at 5% “on all goods imported from Mexico.”

The statement said Trump would carry out his threat under authority from the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and that he would lift tariffs only “if the illegal migration crisis is alleviated through effective actions taken by Mexico.” The news sent the Dow Jones dropping 300 point at one point the day after. In addition, it may push Mexico not to sign the new NAFTA agreement just as Canada is about ready to sign.

Vice-President Mike Pence visited Canada’s capitol, Ottawa [not Toronto], for a visit and chatted with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about trade, China, abortions, etc. Seems that US news site for the most part, didn’t know about it. I guess Pence’s boss is more interesting.

White House and lower-level US Navy officials traded emails about keeping a warship named from the late John McCain’s father and grandfather out of sight ahead of the President’s trip to Japan. Trump claimed he denied knowing about the plan and said that he wouldn’t have supported it. The ship ultimately was not moved nor was anything done to obscure McCain’s name. Petty.

Judge Haywood Gilliam of the Northern District of California blocked Trump from tapping into Defense Department funds to build parts of his Trump Wall. It blocks the administration from moving forward with specific projects in Texas and Arizona, saying Trump couldn’t disburse the funds without congressional approval. The ruling does not prevent the Trump administration from using funds from other sources to build the projects.

Current and former officials have described White House trips on Air Force One as grueling endeavors accompanied by long hours, but several privately said the flights overseas are easily the worst. The duration can stretch nearly 20 hours. Sleeping space is limited. The televisions are streaming Fox News constantly. And if the headlines flashing across the bottom of the screen are unfavorable to their boss, aides know it’s time to buckle up for a turbulent ride.

When staffers can sleep, finding space is a problem. With no designated sleeping spots, they claim miniature couches or lean back in office chairs and prop their feet up on the desk. Some spread out on the floors of conference rooms or on leather benches along the side of the plane, and more seasoned staffers have learned to bring yoga mats to soften the floor. Trump had promised to renovate Air Force One and the backup[s] but hasn’t.

Trump is scoffing at Democrats’ attempts to pry loose his tax returns, saying his refusal to release the records as a candidate didn’t hurt him in 2016 and voters “didn’t care” about the issue. Was this one of his “polls” where he asked one of staffers whether or not they care about his taxes and then used the answer as an assumption for all Americans?

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About ebraiter
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