Another week of controversies with Trump

[This is summer time. You would think things would slow down. Nope. Like this past week, I may have to add a mid-week post as well.]

In the wacky world of this Trump administration, Trump has decided to remove Anthony Scaramucci from his position as communications director, relieving him just days after Scaramucci unloaded a crude verbal tirade against other senior members of the Trump’s senior staff. This came at chief of staff, John Kelly’s request. Scaramucci lasted 10 days.

Trump insisted there was “No WH chaos!” but in a day or so, he let go Scaramucci. Some are saying the Scaramucci was getting too much attention when he wants most of it. Scaramucci not only lost his job but he may not even be invited back to his chief strategy officer post at the Export-Import Bank.

Scaramucci and his wife are reportedly calling it quits as she has filed for divorce just days after Scaramucci took on his new role in Trump’s administration. Deidre Ball was tired of Scaramucci’s “naked ambition, which is so enormous that it left her at her wits’ end,” and that “Deidre is not a fan of Trump and she hasn’t exactly been on board and supportive of Anthony and his push to get back into the White House.” Married for 3 years and 2 kids.

Prior to the election, Scaramucci sold his own company thinking that he would get a posting in the administration. Well, he didn’t then. Seems another reason why Scaramucci was in his wife’s doghouse [filing for divorce] is because he supposedly missed the birth of his latest kid. But a divorce could be a windfall for her: his/there assets exceed $50 million. Still, low down on the asset scale compared to others in this administration.

Scaramucci had been blocked from joining the administration during the transition by Priebus, only to eventually be hired by Trump a week-and-half ago. That decision, over the objections of Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, led to the resignation of Spicer and fueled Scaramucci’s profane vows of vengeance against White House staffers who had opposed him or leaked to the press. Priebus was force out last week but it was obvious as he wanted to stay but was gone later on.

Kelly has stated that he is in charge of the White House and none will go around him to speak to Trump. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Kelly “has the full authority to carry out business as he sees fit” and that all White House staffers will report to him, including powerful aides such as Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, her husband, Jared Kushner, and chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Wonder what Sean “Garlic” Spicer thinks of all this. Spicer was at the White House the day Scaramucci was fired and escorted off White house grounds but only for the “transition” phase of his ex-job.

Trump had tweeted in 2012 during President’s Obama’s first term the number of chiefs of staff that have changed [three in over 2.5 years]. Well, Trump is already on his third in not even 7 months – let alone the other senior staff members that left [supposedly] or were fired.

Trump unveiled a new immigration plan to move to a merit-based system, favoring green card applicants who speak English and can financially support their families. The over-arching goal for this bill is to install a system where immigrants are allowed into the US based on their skills and contributions, rather than familial connections or a lottery. But some of those who enter will have family connections that will allow them into the country. I would guess few current immigrants [who aren’t well off] have connections. These applicants won’t be allowed on welfare when they come into the country. No more of that “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…” More like “Give me your filthy rich.”

Stephen Miller, an adviser to trump, claims at least part of the new immigration bill to bring in more Anglophones is based on the Canadian and Australian “points” system – where points are added or deducted according to the immigrant’s background. Extra points for example if fluent in English or advanced degrees or make 150% of the national average income. Deduct points if spouse is less skilled. Interesting – extra points for high achievers such as Olympic medals, Nobel prizes, etc. As it is, the bill won’t pass the senate.

There is some hints that lie detectors could be used to see who is doing the leaks in the administration, according to Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway.

Trump is planning to take a 17 day vacation. But will he still tweet?

While the US has gained about 1 million jobs in his tenure, the US dollar has hit a 15 month low. The biggest gains in jobs were from restaurants and bars – low wage earners.

Trump tweeted “Highest Stock Market EVER, best economic numbers in years, unemployment lowest in 17 years, wages raising, border secure, S.C.: No WH chaos!” Only thing he may be right is the highest stock market ever and his billionaire friend thank him for that. Unemployment rate is lowest in 16 years. Border may be secure but they are still coming in from Mexico.

Trump claimed 33,000 mining jobs created since his inauguration but just 1,000 are coal mining related [and 100 less today than a month ago]. The others are for oil and metals. As well coal mining jobs “created” in a mine near Pittsburgh actually started 2 months prior to his inauguration. He had nothing to do with it.

The administration may subpoena media outlets but could have problems as the journalists don’t have to divulge their sources [first amendment] but the government could go to court to force them to reveal sources or go to jail.

Trump dictated the initial statement from his son, Don Jr., regarding a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer and publicist Rob Goldstone, who had promised the younger Trump dirt on Hillary Clinton’s campaign courtesy of the Russian government. Trump has claimed that he knew nothing of the meeting until the issue blew up and yet he was able to dictate the initial statement?

“I wasn’t involved in the statement drafting at all, nor was the President,” Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow said in July.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner offered an explanation to congressional interns why it was not possible for the Trump campaign to collude with Russia during the election: It was too disorganized for such a conspiracy.

Trump is upset because special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, will probably convene a grand jury aiming specifically at the Russian probe.

The White House worked with Fox News and a wealthy Republican donor to push a story about the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, according to a lawsuit. The story was pushed in an attempt to discredit the US intelligence community’s determination that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and obtained the emails released by Wikileaks, the lawsuit said. The plaintiff is Rod Wheeler, a Fox News contributor and former homicide detective hired to investigate Rich’s death, who alleges that he was misquoted as part of the effort to put the story together. At this time, Fox News website doesn’t mention it.

Trump has reluctantly signed a new sanctions bill from last week against Russia but Russia has already retaliated by telling hundreds of American government employees to leave the country. The bill also added sanctions to Iran and North Korea. Trump said he signed it so the country wouldn’t be so divided. He had no choice. Couldn’t veto and a total of 5 congressmen [House & Senate combined] voted against the bill.

According to a Wall Street Journal interview transcript obtained by Politico, Trump claimed the leader of the Boy Scouts called him to thank him for his Jamboree speech, telling him it was “the greatest speech that was ever made to them.” Of course, this is Trump. An official with the Scouts said they were not aware of any phone calls between the group’s leadership and Trump. I don’t think the Boy Scout President has his number.

Then Trump said “Even the President of Mexico called me. Their southern border, they said very few people are coming because they know they’re not going to get to our border, which is the ultimate compliment.” Except President Enrique Peña Nieto hasn’t called Trump recently.

The Trump administration announced it will waive 37 environmental and other laws and regulations that would impede the first phase of construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border. The waiver applies to “a variety of environmental, natural resource, and land management laws” in the San Diego sector. The 15-mile stretch identified in the waiver also includes 14 miles of replacement secondary fencing. Despite the waiver, construction will not begin for at least several more months because federal officials are currently reviewing a protest by a company that competed for, but was not awarded, a building contract.

Trump, in a conversation with Mexican President Nieto, labeled New Hampshire saying “I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den” according to a transcript of Trump’s January 27 call that was published by The Washington Post. But Trump was again wrong as he narrowly lost the state to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the general election. Democrat Sen. Maggie Hassan called Trump’s comments “disgusting.”

While North Korea tested an ICBM that could theoretically reach half of the United States, Trump was too busy sending out a bunch of tweets bashing the Republicans. [Can I really say his fellow Republicans?] But yes, he did mention North Korea.

After North Korea fired a ICBM, Trump said “We will handle North Korea. We are gonna be able to handle them. It will be handled. We handle everything,” but he offered no specifics about what he plans to do. He didn’t do anything when the first ICBM was fired earlier this month. He’s putting the blame game on China for failing to do anything.

Trump threatened to end required payments to insurance companies unless lawmakers repeal and replace the Obama-era health care law. He tweeted that if “a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!” Except wheat the government is sending them is not a bailout but subsidies. Unsure if he knew that or used bailout so those with less knowledge would think the government is helping to keep insurance companies afloat.  The payments reduce deductibles and co-payments for consumers with modest incomes.

When the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, it included a Republican amendment that forces members of Congress and their staff to purchase their health insurance on the law’s new online marketplaces. But unlike individuals purchasing their insurance on the exchanges, Capitol Hill customers would receive subsidies from their employer, the federal government.

Trump also told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reduce the number of votes in the senate to pass his healthcare bill to 51. Doesn’t he know that it was already set for 50 votes to pass and yet they still failed to pass?

Trump’s statement encouraging police officers to be “rough” with people they arrest has drawn criticism in law enforcement circles for sending the wrong message at a time of heightened tensions with the public. Trump praised the aggressive tactics of immigration officers and suggested that police shouldn’t protect the heads of handcuffed suspects being put in the back of a car.

The group Blue Lives Matter tweeted that Trump’s remarks were made in jest. “Trump didn’t tell police to go out & brutalize people as the media would have you believe,” the tweet said. “It was a joke.” Later Trump tweeted it was a joke but most police departments across the US didn’t think so.

Republican Sen. John McCain slammed Trump amid reports [including from NBC News] that Trump is weighing firing Gen. John Nicholson, the top US military commander in Afghanistan. “Our commanders-in-chief, not our commanders in the field, are responsible for this failure,” he added, referring to Trump and former President Barack Obama. Trump’s deputy assistant, Sebastian Gorka, said the President is confident in Nicholson’s military leadership in Afghanistan. That means Nicholson could be out very soon.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said the Afghanistan strategy would be decided upon by mid-July but the plan has been delayed for months amid sharp disagreements between national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who is arguing for an increase of several thousand troops, and the President’s chief strategist Steve Bannon, who is opposed to getting the US more deeply involved in the conflict. More of Trump’s “no chaos” here. Shouldn’t he make decision?

 

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Another resignation in Trumpland

They must be cranking out the pink slips at the White House.

Reince Priebus says he has resigned as White House chief of staff and was then replaced by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Sources close to Priebus insisted throughout the day he was not resigning, leaving the impression the aide was defiantly hanging onto his job amid public shaming by his colleagues.

Key members of Donald Trump’s inner circle said Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, among the President’s most trusted advisers, had lost faith in Priebus.

“John Kelly is one of our great stars,” Trump declared. “John Kelly will do a fantastic job.” He probably said that about Sean “Garlic” Spicer and Priebus. Look where they are now. Conversations between Trump and Kelly about the role began two weeks ago, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. You think White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci was “preparing the groundwork” after Scaramucci went after Priebus all week? [See later.]

Senate Republicans voted to advance to floor debate on their efforts to re-write health care policy, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie. But hours later, the Senate decisively rejected a Republican proposal to repeal-and-replace Obamacare, a sign of the chaos expected to envelop Capitol Hill as GOP leaders work to find a plan their conference can agree to. Then they voted and rejected just to repeal Obamacare. Why bother. Trump should not be celebrating this small victory. The only reason why it got this far was because they had to compromise between feuding groups within the party.

And a day after a vote to repeal was also rejected.

Looks like a bit of a civil war as House Republicans are fed up and openly blaming their Senate colleagues across the Capitol for torpedoing their party’s pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare. Specifically they aimed their guns at the Republicans in the Senate who rejected the bill.

Trump jokingly threatened to fire his health secretary if a crucial vote to repeal ‘Obamacare’ fails. He made this comment during a speech to thousands of Boy Scouts where he also used some language that may be a bit too harsh for some of them. Bigger question. Why is he talking to politics to a bunch of Boy Scouts – most who can’t vote yet? He has to make everything political.

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are Emails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!” Trump tweeted. So Trump continues to whine about Clinton’s mail server which is OK to him, but it is not OK for the Democrats to push for the Russian probe? Meanwhile Sessions was the first U.S. senator to endorse his candidacy. It was Trump himself who signaled during the transition that he was not going to appoint a special prosecutor to go after Clinton.

And then Trump tweeted “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign — quietly working to boost Clinton. So where is the investigation A.G.” Huh? He’s back to making comments with no proof.

And why is Trump whining about Sessions recusing himself from the Russian probe now – over a month after he did so? Sessions had to do so as he had contact with the Russians last year before his posting. Sessions should never have taken the job as attorney general if he was going to recuse himself according to Trump. [Democrats went after Sessions in his confirmation hearing for making some racist comments in his past. And yet Trump still hired him.] Trump considers Sessions recuse as the most grievous offence in the president’s mind.

Trump badmouthed Senator John McCain during the campaign. Trump wants to take healthcare away from 22+ million Americans. And McCain voted for his bill. It must be his medication. I am wondering what kind of medical attention he got if he was living on the streets or in poverty?

Mocking the Russian investigation in congress, Trump tweeted “Jared Kushner did very well yesterday in proving he did not collude with the Russians. Witch Hunt. Next up, 11 year old Barron Trump!”

Scaramucci all but blamed Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus for leaking information After Politico published a story about how Scaramucci  continues to profit from the sale of his hedge fund SkyBridge Capital, Scaramucci slammed the leak of his Office of Government Ethics forms. This was After wrongly asserting that someone “leaked” information about his finances. “In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony. I will be contacting @FBI and the @TheJusticeDept, he tweeted Wednesday night, adding, “#swamp @Reince45.” And the “If Reince wants to explain he’s not the leaker, he can do that.” Sounds like Scaramucci still believes Priebus is a leaker.

He later deleted the tweet claiming that he had only mentioned Priebus to show that all senior leaders are taking the leak crackdown seriously. The inclusion of Reince in the tweet was seen by some as an accusation. Scaramucci says today’s White House leaks are “so treasonous” that leakers would have been hanged 150 years ago. Scaramucci’s financial disclosure wasn’t leaked at all. It was released after a public records request by a Politico reporter.

Then in an interview published by The New Yorker, Anthony Scaramucci used an expletive to accuse chief of staff Reince Priebus of being a “f—— paranoid schizophrenic” and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon of trying to burnish his own reputation. He also threatened to fire White House staffers who leaked about a dinner he had with the president.

Scaramucci notably said he reports directly to the president, not to the chief of staff.

The bad blood stems from Scaramucci’s view that Priebus was insufficiently supportive of Trump at the end of the election campaign and his belief that Priebus persuaded the president to keep him out of the White House in January.

The president’s senior counsellor, Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway, had earlier speculated that unnamed forces were out to get Scaramucci, saying: “Somebody is trying to get in his way and scare him off.” Something from the Trump playbook.

If Trump were to fire Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would be elevated to the top post on an acting basis. But Trump has also criticized Rosenstein in the past. The name of one long-time Trump ally, Rudy Giuliani, was floated as a possible replacement for Sessions. Interesting to note that Giuliani said Sessions had the right to recuse himself.

According to law, Trump could move someone who has already been confirmed in another position by the senate to take Sessions’ job if Sessions resigns – not if he is fired.  Or Trump could appoint anyone of his choosing to be attorney general while the Senate recesses for 10 days or more in August. This would allow him to bypass Senate confirmation until 2019.

Trump often talks about making staff changes without following through, so those who have spoken with the president cautioned that a change may not be imminent or happen at all. But he also hired Anthony Scaramucci with much of notice to anyone including his own staff.

Trump went on another Twitter outburst saying “Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!” So Trump’s rule [for his opponents] is that if you or you know someone or you know someone who knows someone who donated to the Democrats, then you are biased.

“I would fire somebody that I did not believe could serve me well rather than trying to humiliate him [Sessions] in public, which is a sign of weakness,” said Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham.

“You can be disappointed in someone but still want them to continue to do their job,” said Sanders, Trump’s press secretary. In most companies, if unhappy with an employee they are fired. Trump should know that if he was a great businessman.

Federal law makes it a crime to “knowingly and willfully” give “materially” false statements to Congress, even if unsworn. The consequences are serious: one can face up to five years in prison. Right Jeff, Donald Jr and Jared?

Trump announced that he plans to reinstate the ban transgender individuals from serving “in any capacity” in the US armed forces. The decision reversed a policy initially approved by the Defense Department under President Barack Obama, which was still under final review. The so-called excuse: “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

The military brass contradicted what Trump said by saying they were never consulted and until they get orders they will continue to have transgenders in the military.

A 2016 Rand Corp. study commissioned by the Defense Department concluded that letting transgender people serve openly would have a “minimal impact” on readiness and health care costs, largely because there are so few in the military’s 1.3 million-member force. The cost could range from $2.4 million and $8.4 million, an amount that would represent an “exceedingly small proportion” of total health care expenditures, the study found. More is spent yearly on Viagra than transgender health.

Just over a year ago after the Orlando nightclub attack, Trump tweeted “Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs” and he also said to them “I’m a real friend”.

“A landmark civil rights law doesn’t protect workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation, the Trump administration said.” What’s next? Anything in law is just an advisory?

The Senate passed sweeping legislation slapping new sanctions on Russia and rebuking Trump in a bill that now will head to Trump’s desk. The bill, which gives Congress new powers to block Trump from easing sanctions against Moscow, passed the Senate 98-2. It passed the House at 419-3. Trump can either pass the bill or veto it, but if he does the latter there will be consequences.

The bill was passed with the House’s North Korean sanctions included, and in exchange, the House agreed to take up any future North Korean sanctions bills that go through the Senate. In addition, it could add protection for Russian probe investigator Robert Mueller in case Trump tries to fire him.

Trump visited the Boy Scout Jamboree this week and went political in front of mostly pre-teens [who can’t vote yet]. He went on and on about politics like how President Obama never went [the current President of the US has an open invitation] or about current rants of his [Obamacare, Jeff Sessions, Russia]. He was doing his speech in front of a big flag. With him waiting at one point, it almost looked like a Nazi salute – bring some to comment that it reminded them of 1938 and the Hitler Youth. Others suggested that the Boy Scouts came to see him. I guess Trump had nothing else to talk to them about. He was never a Boy Scout but President Obama was a scout.

The Boy Scouts of America apologized to the Scouting community for the political content of Trump’s speech at the National Scout Jamboree.

Former speaker of the House, John Boehner, said “…they’re not going to repeal and replace Obamacare. It’s been around too long. And the American people have gotten accustomed to it.”

Now the GOP senators are trying the “skinny repeal” which would likely eliminate the individual mandate and the employer mandate. It would also get rid of the Obamacare tax on medical device makers.

Twitter has made it clear that it won’t ban Donald Trump from its service, whether the president follows its rules against harassment or not.

A production company has acquired the rights to Joshua Green’s newly released “Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency” for TV development as a limited/event series. It will tell the inside story of the partnership between Bannon and Trump which led to possibly the greatest political upset in U.S. history. Published last week, the book has earned strong reviews and has landed at the top spot of The New York Times bestseller list. It is based on dozens of interviews conducted over six years.

A mid-week Trump update

[Well for me it’s mid-week as I usually post updates on Friday.]

Not knowing constitutional law [or for that matter ethics] Donald trump thinks he has the right to pardon himself if it comes to it. This would be like a judge pardoning himself before shooting someone.

Of course, the new White House Communication Director, Anthony Scaramucci, said that he just said the pardon part in a tweet but it doesn’t mean he’s thinking of it. Scaramucci even denies Trump has talked about it with advisors. Interesting that a constitutional expert said it is possible that Trump can pardon himself if it comes to it. Politically, it may not be advisable.

Scaramucci also said that he still believes that Russia did not interfere with the US elections even though his own intelligence leaders said he did. Hiding behind the fact that he doesn’t have a security clearance yet [fill out that section properly on meeting foreigners!], he said that once he does, he will analyze the documents and advise Trump. Is that the job of Trump’s advisors?

Meanwhile, Scaramucci was busy taking down tweets he said in the past – some within the past couple of years – including praising Hillary Clinton and criticizing Trump. Ooops.

Scaramucci, in a January 2016 op-ed for FoxBusiness.com, wrote a scathing column in early 2016 aimed at then-GOP presidential candidate Trump, warning that the abandonment of “common decency out of primeval fear” echoed some of the worst examples of US history.

“If a populist prevails in the primary, as appears increasingly likely, the party faces either devastating defeat in the general election or a new, unrecognizable identity. In either scenario, a large swath of the GOP electorate will be forced to eat crow and reevaluate its affiliation. Call it, if you will, a moral debt restructuring, one caused by the reckless behavior of a man who knows a thing or two about bankruptcy.” And they are friends?

So if Trump considers media outlets like the New York Times as “fake news” creators, why did he have an interview with them? Hypocrite.

Trump also complained in a Twitter-storm about Attorney General Jeff sessions having discussed the campaign with the Russian ambassador last year [as mentioned previously, Sessions denied]. Not that there was a discussion but there was a “leak”. What leak? The ambassador told his superiors and American intelligence intercepted the information. Is it a leak if there isn’t anything considered confidential? Trump also tweeted about a leak of Comey’s information but, again, nothing confidential. Did he lie to congress?

The House and Senate reached a deal to slap Russia with fresh sanctions and give Congress new veto power to block any easing of those sanctions – an agreement that could send a new bill to Trump’s desk before the end of the month. It would include new sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. Democrats and some Republicans have expressed concerns that Trump is considering giving Russia back two compounds in Maryland and New York that were seized by the Obama administration in December. Congressional aides say they expect Trump will sign the bill because it will likely pass both chambers with strong, veto-proof majorities.

Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump will work with congress regarding further sanctions against Russia and limit Trump in killing any sanctions. Yet, Scaramucci said Trump wouldn’t do that.

“After 1 year of investigation with Zero evidence being found, Chuck Schumer just stated that “Democrats should blame ourselves, not Russia,” the President tweeted, later adding, “So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?” First, why does Sessions stay instead of this bullying? Some think trump want sessions to quit. Look better than fired. Second, does he know of no evidence. And yet, Trump will probably continue think the Democrats will be blaming Russia for Clinton’s loss. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi agreed with Schumer.

Trump, once again, mislead the US people. In December 2016, helped convince Carrier not to move its Indianapolis furnace plant to Mexico, but now the company is eliminating hundreds of jobs. Trump originally saved 1100 of 1400 jobs and carrier got $7 million in incentives from the state. But what trump failed to say is that starting this week 600 will lose their jobs as part of the agreement. Carrier also promised in upgrading the facility but that may go to automation which means more job cuts.

A week ago Donald Trump Jr said he would be willing to testify in public. Now both Trump Jr and Paul Manafort have an agreement where they won’t testify in public, would give documents related to their infamous meeting in June 2016. At this point they may not be even testifying under oath.

A report cited seven unnamed sources saying Jared Kushner spoke with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak on the phone at least twice between April and November 2016. Kushner’s lawyers denied the story when it came out in May.

The Somalia-based al-Shabab is mocking U.S. President Donald Trump in a new video that said U.S. voters elected “arguably the most stupid president a country could ever have” and says Trump is “making the United States the greatest joke on earth and is now propelling it further to its eventual defeat and destruction.”

Recently, Trump promoted products made in the US. Well you probably can’t count on much – if anything – from his or Ivanka Trumps clothing or accessories line. Most or all of their products are made in China, Vietnam, Bangladesh or elsewhere. He should stop complaining on import and export issues with Canada and Mexico and concentrate on his family’s use of low wage labor in these countries. Ivanka trump has even been pushing for better lives for women. While they are getting jobs, she can start by giving them better wages and working conditions.

Meanwhile Trump opened the doors in another mess: He is now getting around to try and “fix” NAFTA. He is required by US law to announce the sections he wants to fix. Already there will be rumblings as he wants [for example] Canada to remove protectionism for dairy and steel and yet he is going around with his buy American products this week. The removal of the independent arbitration panel will also be a sticky point. Trump wants that removed because every time Canada complained about some US protectionism, Canada won.

A federal judge in DC declined to block Trump’s voter integrity commission from collecting data on voters from 50 states in a ruling, handing a win to an administration inundated by lawsuits over the commission’s request. The commission’s vice chairman, Kris Kobach, sent a letter to all 50 states requesting a slew of voter roll data in late June.

Kobach said he was only asking for what was publicly available under the laws of each state, but the request nevertheless triggered rapid-fire litigation in federal courts, including a suit by a privacy rights group in which claimed the commission had failed to comply with federal law and the request violated constitutionally-protected privacy rights.

Former US attorney general Eric Holder assailed Trump’s voting commission and unsubstantiated claim that voter fraud is widespread, calling the commission “another frightening attempt to suppress the votes of certain Americans.” “The creation of this new federal commission on election integrity by this administration is another frightening attempt to suppress the votes of certain Americans. Make no mistake, this commission, led by a fact-challenged zealot [Kris Kobach], will come up with bogus reasons why further restrictions should be placed on the right to vote.”

A while back the New York Post [owned by conservative Rupert Murdoch] had a blunt assessment by the Post’s editorial board last month about Trump’s Twitter habits at the end of June said, simply, “Stop. Just stop.” That’s it. A 3 word editorial. The New York Post recently labeled Donald Trump Jr. an “idiot” and “criminally stupid.”

Wall Street Journal, also owned by Murdoch, ran an eye-popping editorial in its opinion pages called “The Trumps and the Truth”, which the editorial scolded the president’s family for withholding information about Russia-related meetings and discussions. It said the political realities of Washington “will destroy Mr. Trump, his family and their business reputation unless they change their strategy toward the Russia probe.” The editorial also said that “denouncing leaks as ‘fake news’ won’t wash as a counter-strategy beyond the President’s base, as Mr. Trump’s latest 36% approval rating shows.”

One of Murdoch’s British papers, The Sun, published what it said was a “transcript of the chat” between Trump and British prime minister Theresa May. The leak was embarrassing for Trump: The headline was “Donald Trump begs Theresa May to fix a ‘warm welcome’ for his state visit — and says he won’t set a date for it until he knows he’s going to get ‘a better reception.'”

Fox News, Trump’s favorite media outlet, decided to go after Hillary Clinton recently, trying to deflect all the criticism that hit Trump. They went after her for scandals she has been involved in, why wasn’t she and Bill questioned by the media like Trump has been regarding Russian communication, money Bill received for speaking engagements, etc. A chunk of the stuff mentioned was innuendo or crybaby talk. “Old News” and maybe some “Fake News” thrown in.

In the latest wacky idea from Trump, he says that maybe the wall between the US and Mexico should be transparent. Why? Because Mexican drug smugglers are known to use catapults to send shipments over the wall and he doesn’t want any Americans to get injured by a 60 kg bag of cocaine. Hmmmm. Except for those in urban areas or those graffiti “artists” I can’t see too many people hanging around near the wall. “Hi Sue Ellen. Ready to go sun bathing near the wall?” Nope.

As part of a department-wide reorganization, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly will be merging the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues into the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. Yes. They have synergy. Not. It’s like merging Windows administration with marketing.

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and his golf course in Jupiter, Florida, have filed documents to bring in additional foreign workers under the H-2B visa program, which allows foreigners to fill temporary non-agriculture jobs in the United States that supposedly cannot be filled by US workers.

Buy American, hire American” is what Trump said recently. So why is he bringing in foreigners to work at his properties to do menial labor? As for buying American, think of what an iPhone would cost if it was made in America [it was “designed” in America but that isn’t buying].

Washington Post/ABC News poll found only 36% of Americans approve of Trump’s performance in the Oval Office, the lowest approval rating at the six-month mark of any president in 70 years. Trump claiming that 36% isn’t so bad but still complains that the poll is skewed. In fact, the ABC News/Washington Post poll was probably the closest to the actual results of the November election in terms of votes.

In a SSRA poll, 35% in the poll say they’d like President Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress to give up their plans for repealing and replacing Obamacare, up from 23% who said the same in a March survey. A majority still favor some form of repeal (34% would prefer repeal with replacement at the same time, and 18% favor repeal regardless of whether the law is replaced at the same time).

In another ABC News/Washington Post poll, Trump is barely handling the economy. 43% for, 41% against. 52% think Democrats don’t stand for anything other than being against Trump while 37% do think they stand for something. At the same time, 42% give them a favorable review, 48% don’t.

Support for Trump among Republicans matches the third-highest approval among a president’s own party during a new president’s first six months in more than 60 years, according to Gallup. But his base doesn’t like him using Twitter.

 

Trump hit on all sides this week

Another busy week. Long post!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Big question: What will Melissa McCarthy do now? 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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