Manafort gives Trump a big blow

While until Friday, there was no huge story [or sometimes scandal], it had plenty of interesting items.

Former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will plead guilty to two charges, special counsel Robert Mueller’s office said. Manafort will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy against the US and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice due to attempts to tamper with witnesses Trump tweeted the week of Manafort’s conviction in his Virginia trial last month saying “‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!” Will he deny he said that now? Unknown if Manafort will cooperate with the special counsel’s office in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Not surprising the White House has denied Manafort has anything to do with Trump winning the 2016 election.

Since we know how Trump is, it isn’t surprising that Trump used the platform to launch a fresh round of assaults on the FBI and Justice Department during the 9/11 anniversary.

Rep. Mark Meadows sent to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein a letter alleging a “systemic culture of media leaking” among high-ranking Justice Department and FBI officials. The letter reveals previously undisclosed messages between Strzok and Page, who were involved in both the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and the probe of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Not surprising Meadows didn’t prove that “high-ranking” officials were involved.

Continuing with the Bob Woodward book “Fear: Trump in the White House”, as Trump threatened to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, a letter signaling that intent sat on his desk, only to be quietly removed by Gary Cohn, the chief economic adviser in the White House, Woodward said. Trump didn’t even remember writing the letter [i.e. “Where is that letter?” or in the case of this administration “Who stole my letter?”].

Woodward said Chief of Staff John Kelly was similarly distraught when Trump drafted a tweet threatening to remove all US military personnel from South Korea. Trump was convinced not to send out the tweet in part after Secretary of Defense James Mattis told him those personnel are there “in order to prevent World War III,” according to the book.

Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged in an interview that his father can trust fewer people around him [outside of family] than he would like in the wake of an anonymous commentary claiming there is a “resistance” within the Trump administration.

Trump still doesn’t believe the numbers that died in Puerto Rico last year. “3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000,” he said in a tweet.

He then tweeted “This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!” he wrote. Yes. Over 2900 people died of old age right after Maria. “Raising” billions? The government gave billions. The governor of Puerto Rico is a Democrat. Get it?

Of course [among other things] he is forgetting [or refusing to believe] that [for example] people died from drowning or maybe were in isolated areas of the island where it took rescuers days if not weeks or months to find or report additional deaths. Maybe in his mind, anything after a cut off date isn’t a death related to Maria.

Even House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, said in response to a question about Trump’s assertion that “Casualties don’t make a person look bad, so I have no reason to dispute these numbers.” Slightly jabbing Trump there.

Trump still refuses to accept any blame for the relief effort following Puerto Rico’s monster storm last year. He insisted the operation had been “incredibly successful,” despite shocking new figures putting the death toll at nearly 3,000. He tweeted “We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida….” Exactly who graded his administration’s work? How about there is still a trickle of people in Puerto Rico.

His visit to Texas to assess conditions after Hurricane Harvey was criticized because of his upbeat rhetoric that at times seemed more in keeping with a political campaign than a relief effort.

Trump warned that upcoming storm, Hurricane Florence, would be “tremendously big and tremendously wet” and that the government was sparing “no expense” and was “totally prepared.” We’ll see.

“I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful. Puerto Rico was actually our toughest one of all because it’s an island. You can’t truck things onto it. Everything is by boat,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. He got something right. Puerto Rico is an island but how about airplanes?

Democratic Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is running for a House of Representatives seat from New York, tweeted “The 1 year anniversary of Hurricane Maria is next week. Some of my PR family JUST got power a few weeks ago. People are developing respiratory issues partly due to airborne fungal spores from lack of proper cleanup.”

The emergency supplies were brought in by FEMA in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which smashed the island and left its residents without power, without roofs and without running water. And yet in Ceiba, there are 20,000 pallets of bottled water sitting there. Brought in after Maria but never used even though people on the island lacked drinking water. But the current administrator of Puerto Rico’s General Services Administration claims that after about 700 pallets had been distributed, complaints began to come in about the water’s foul smell and taste. Were they tested?

“John Kerry had illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people,” Trump tweeted. “He told them to wait out the Trump Administration!” This was after former Secretary of State Kerry has been holding some talks with the Iranian regime.

Even current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was briefed by Kerry on his conversations with Iranian officials so he would be aware of Iran’s thinking and [probably to please his boss] Pompeo said “What Secretary Kerry has done is unseemly and unprecedented.” And then added “actively undermining US policy as a former secretary of state is literally unheard of.” Undermining?

Like Secretary of States before Kerry, they still visited other countries to help their country especially when they have good relations. As for Trump, we know he knows nothing about the law. So what was illegal? And I gather Kerry never said anything about waiting until Trump is shown the curb.

As a reminder, after Trump’s election but before he became president and took office, his transition team was accused of reaching out to the governments of both Israel and Russia to undermine Obama administration policies.

As of this week, there are 12,800 immigrant children being cared for by the Health and Human Services Department. That’s the most ever, an HHS spokeswoman confirmed. In 2016, the monthly average of the number of children in care ranged from just over 4,000 to over 9,000. The rate of children being released from HHS has plummeted substantially. At the same time, the average length of time children stay in custody is skyrocketing.

Maybe adding to the NAFTA trade negotiations is potatoes. US potato growers complaining that Canadian growers are dumping cheap potatoes in the US. Canadian growers say it is just the exchange rate. Maybe expect Trump to add some tariffs on potatoes because it is a national security issue. Potato launchers?

For a good laugh, in her book “Mad Politics: Keeping Your Sanity in a World Gone Crazy,” Gina Loudon, who describes herself as a member of the “Donald Trump for President Media Advisory Board,” said “My book actually uses science and real data and true psychological theory to explain why it is quite possible that this president in the most sound-minded person to ever occupy the White House.”

Her book, ranked no. 436,949 in Amazon’s bestsellers rank as of early Friday, refers to her as “America’s favorite psychological expert.” “The writing is turgid, which is amazing for a book written at the 6th grade level,” wrote one reviewer on Amazon.

Her website says she has a PhD. but it doesn’t say in what field. But Loudon obtained her PhD in “human and organizations systems” from Fielding Graduate University, an online school headquartered in Santa Barbara plus a certification in “Body Language Interpretation, and Hypnotherapy.”

Trump tweeted about an article from August 31, when Ford announced that it was canceling plans to make the Focus Active, a compact crossover, in China and ship them to the United States by saying “This is just the beginning. This car can now be BUILT IN THE U.S.A. and Ford will pay no tariffs!”

Wrong. “It would not be profitable to build the Focus Active in the U.S. given an expected annual sales volume of fewer than 50,000 units,” Ford said. So Trump was thinking that Ford would make the car in the US but Ford is actually stopping production of the car to be shipped to the US because Trump’s tariffs would make the cars too expensive. The car is still made in Europe.

Native American tribes in Montana and South Dakota say the Trump administration approved the Keystone XL oil pipeline without fully considering its potential damage to burial grounds and other cultural sites according to a lawsuit.

“I mean, the truth is I think President Donald Trump is the most accomplished President of my lifetime, and I think already one of the most successful presidents in American history.” This coming from Vice President Mike Pence. He’s been drinking that strange Kool-Aid.

A guy now known as “Plaid shirt guy” was escorted out of a Trump Montana rally. He wasn’t enthusiastic even though he was supposed to as he was standing just to the left of Trump behind him.

All he made was funny faces – sort of like saying “serious” or “what”. He was escorted off the stage and was briefly held and questioned by the Secret service.

In two different rallies in the west, Trump was changing his stories. In Indiana, he claimed nine muscular men – eight crying – greeted him and were miners.

But then in South Dakota, Trump claimed nine big muscular men came to him, eight crying, to meet him. But this time they were steel workers – not miners and happened at a United States Steel plant and not at a rally in Indiana. Trump also seems to like “crying” in his fake stories and even used crying in calling politician names.

Trump claimed that multiple Korean War parents of soldiers [read that again a few times] begged him to get their sons’ remains released by North Korea.

Noticed the problem? Those parents would probably be at least 100 years old. So he changed the story and now said it was the children of the soldiers and they were crying.

Commenting about how much he loves [sarcastically] some news outlets, Trump said “The New York Times would not exist” without him. Then he said the New York Times and “CNN and other phone media outlets will be out of business” in 6.5 years when he is out of the White House.

Trump signed an executive order meant to punish foreign entities for interfering in US elections, an attempt to demonstrate muscle on an issue he’s been accused of downplaying. The order will allow new sanctions against Russian or other foreign actors. Experts say it’s redundant because only he can approve sanctions.

“Today’s announcement by the administration recognizes the threat, but does not go far enough to address it….” wrote Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Florida and Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland. The two lawmakers have introduced a bill that would require such mandatory sanctions earlier this year.

Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton denied that harsh reaction to Trump’s Helsinki meeting with Putin was partly what spurred the decision to sign the new order. OK. So why take 3 months to sign it?

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon said and then backtracked that he could beat Trump in an election. He isn’t running. “I can’t beat the liberal side of the Democratic Party.” He added: “I’m as tough as he is, I’m smarter than he is. I would be fine. He could punch me all he wants, it wouldn’t work with me…. And by the way, this wealthy New Yorker actually earned his money,” he said, referring to himself. “It wasn’t a gift from Daddy.”

A group called Make Integrity Great Again tried to block Trump’s Washington hotel from renewing its alcohol license from Washington’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. MIGA seized upon DC regulations to assert Trump is not of “good character” and therefore should not be able to sell alcoholic beverages at the Trump International Hotel. They failed. Hotel has the license still. There was an “an alleged sale-to-minor violation” but not enough to revocation, only a fine or warning.

On his 601st day in office, Trump broke what many people might have assumed was an unbreakable barrier: He said his 5,000th thing that was either totally false or partially untrue. That’s according to the count at The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog. The number has more than doubled in the past 500 days, averaging just over 4 falsehoods in the first 100 days.

On September 7th alone, he hit 125 falsehoods and in a 10 day period [including the 7th], he averaged 32 per day.

Eight major recent polls [including ABC News/Washington Post, Gallup, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Quinnipiac University] show that Trump’s approval has dropped over 2% from the previous pools from each of them on the average. Now a combined average of 347.8% approval.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s approval rating for handling the Russia investigation stands at 50% in a new Poll conducted by SSRS. That outpaces Trump’s approval rating on the matter by 20 points. In the last 3 months, Mueller has gone up 9%, Trump has gone up 1%.

In the same poll, 47% think Trump should be impeached and removed from office while 48% don’t feel that way.

72% say they think Trump should testify under oath for Mueller if asked. Among the 23% who say Trump shouldn’t testify, about half feel that way because they think the President has no obligation to do so, while a third think that testifying could be a perjury trap.

 

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Trump gets hit on two sides

[He was so busy with these two issues, he didn’t have time for anything else!]

In a new book by Pulitzer prize winner, Bob Woodward, multiple current and former Donald Trump administration officials called Trump “unhinged”, “liar”, a “fifth grade” intellect and an aggrieved and abusive “Shakespearean king” raging in the Oval Office. Even worse, unlike most other books, Woodward has them recorded saying so.

“The already discredited Woodward book, so many lies and phony sources, has me calling Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded” and “a dumb southerner.” I said NEITHER, never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff, and being a southerner is a GREAT thing. He made this up to divide!” Trump tweeted. But how does he answer what has been recorded? All doctored? Who discredited the book? Those accused of saying nasty things about him?

“It’s just another bad book. He’s had a lot of credibility problems,” Trump said of Woodward, who has reported on multiple presidents and alongside Carl Bernstein broke news of the Watergate scandal that ultimately led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation.

Woodward sought through multiple White House officials and others close to Trump to secure an interview with him but Trump said he was never notified.

The denials have started. Chief of staff John Kelly denied calling saying “He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in crazytown,” Kelly is quoted as saying at a staff meeting in his office. “I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”

Trump’s former lawyer John Dowd refuted a claim that he had warned that his client’s lies would end up with him in an “orange jump suit” and calling Trump “a fucking liar,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis said he had never used “contemptuous” words about Trump or  had the intellect of a fifth- or sixth-grader. Trump as calling Sessions, who is frequently a target of his rage, as a “dumb southerner” and “mentally retarded.” Former chief of staff Reince Priebus is “like a little rat. He just scurries around.”

“Rudy [Giuliani], you’re a baby,” Trump told the man who is now his attorney. “I’ve never seen a worse defense of me in my life. They took your diaper off right there. You’re like a little baby that needed to be changed. When are you going to be a man?” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson once said after a meeting that “He’s a fucking moron.”

“This book is nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the President look bad,” White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders said. And what about those still in office?

Woodward claims that Trump’s closest aides [Cohn and disgraced former staff secretary Rob Porter] have taken extraordinary measures in the White House to try to stop what they saw as his most dangerous impulses, going so far as to swipe and hide papers from his desk so he wouldn’t sign them. They and others acted with the acquiescence of Priebus. Is that even legal?

Kelly, former top economic adviser Gary Cohn and Mattis have been intervening regularly to avert national security disasters. Former [but brief] White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci says “Maybe it’s all true” and “So, what?”

Trump, showing his outrage over Woodward’s book, supposedly is ordering a real witch hunt in the West Wing and throughout his administration, asking loyal aides to help determine who cooperated with the book. And if that doesn’t push a witch hunt, the new item below will add to it. Wouldn’t be surprised if lie detectors are brought in.

As if things can’t get even more nuts, an unnamed senior Trump administration official assailed Trump’s “amorality” and reckless decision-making in a New York Times op-ed published and said he is part of a “resistance” working to thwart Trump’s worst impulses.

Trump’s “instability” is so profound, the author suggests, that there were “early whispers within the cabinet” about invoking the 25th Amendment, a constitutional mechanism to remove him from office. It’s an idea that was shelved for fear of creating a national crisis.

In the 25th Amendment, if the vice president and a simple majority of cabinet members agree then a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate. The vice-president would be temporarily invested with all the powers of the presidency. But if Trump objected, Congress would need to debate and ratify his removal by a two-thirds majority within 21 days.

[In my opinion, obviously not as an expert in this stuff, it is the duty of the vice-president and cabinet members to use the amendment if there is enough evidence that the president isn’t fully capable of doing his job. We only learned after that President Ronald Reagan wasn’t all there in his second term. So in a sense, someone (or people) were running the country and weren’t authorized to do so.]

“The dilemma — which (Trump) does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,” the Times piece reads. “I would know. I am one of them.”

Not surprisingly, Trump dismissed the op-ed as “really a disgrace” and “gutless editorial” assailing the author and The Times for publishing the anonymous opinion piece. Like most of his tweets he then switch to mention his so-called accomplishments, claiming that “nobody has done what this administration has done in terms of getting things passed and getting things through.” Like?

He later called it “treason” in a one word tweet. But he doesn’t know the constitution or the law. Can’t be charged for treason for what the individual did according to Sen. Lindsey Graham.

“The individual behind this piece has chosen to deceive, rather than support, the duly elected President of the United States,” “Simpleton” Sanders wrote. “He is not putting country first, but putting himself and his ego ahead of the will of the American people. This coward should do the right thing and resign.” So I guess she prefers to keep quiet for all the potentially illegal activities in the administration.

Trump said he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate and uncover the identity of the senior administration official who penned an anonymous op-ed in The New York Times. “Yeah, I would say Jeff should be investigating who the author of this piece was because I really believe it’s national security,” Trump told reporters.

Trump argued the column presents a national security concern because this person still is in the government and shouldn’t be attending high-level meetings. Except we really don’t know how high the author’s access is.

Neither Trump nor the White House have identified a specific crime that has been committed although Trump has used the word “treason” which doesn’t fit the issue. Unless there is specifically something in their that involves classified information, the Department of Justice won’t have much to do. And of course than means Trump will go after Sessions again for not doing anything [unless Sessions stretches the investigation until after the elections – which he should.

[An unofficial rule, which James Comey broken in 2016, is that no investigations are announced or the results announced from 60 days before an election until after the election. We are within the 60 days as of this weekend.]

“I don’t mind criticism, I handle it and I fight back,” he said. “But here’s criticism where you can’t fight back. ‘Cause you have somebody doing it anonymously.” Isn’t he fighting back? He’s using the government’s security agencies to fight his battles – the same one he berates.

White House aides believe they have narrowed the search to a select few who could of written the op-ed.

Trump sought to heighten the sense of urgency for his base in Billings, Montana when he told supporters that if he is impeached, “it’s your fault, ’cause you didn’t go out to vote.,,, But I say, how do you impeach somebody that’s doing a great job, that hasn’t done anything wrong?” Trump said Then the threats came. Trump later warned the United States would turn into a “third world country” because of the precedent his hypothetical impeachment would set. And of course he will lose his job.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the Justice Department “has taken the position … that the appropriate remedy for presidential misbehavior is impeachment.” Not a good sign when it comes from your own party.

Trump is also fuming that White House deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine has mishandled the messaging on the Woodward book. Trump believes the rapid response to the book has been handled poorly and he blames Shine for that.

Trump said he’s poised to slap additional tariffs on $267 billion in Chinese goods, widening a trade war between the two countries. Yet another round of tariffs on $267 billion in goods would bring the total imports from China subject to tariffs to more than $500 billion. That’s roughly the same as the $505 billion in goods that the US imported from China last year. Unsure what brought on the latest tariff talks but with someone this unstable, it could be anything.

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos was sentenced to spend 14 days in prison, pay a $9500 fine, and perform community service. This is part of a plea deal to give special counsel Robert Mueller information he wants.

A government photographer told investigators that he intentionally cropped photos of Trump’s inauguration to remove empty space and make the audience look larger, according to newly released documents. The admission, contained in newly released records from a 2017 investigation, shed new light on what happened after the National Park Service shared a social media post comparing the crowds that attended the inaugurations of Trump and former President Barack Obama.