Revenge and criticism is his specialty

Trump complained about news coverage of the firing of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council in a tweet, saying reporting was done “as though I should think only how wonderful he was. Actually, I don’t know him, never spoke to him, or met him (I don’t believe!).” You know that means he knows Vindman well.

Trump claimed that Vindman “reported contents of my ‘perfect’ calls incorrectly,” which those close to Vindman have disputed and claiming he was given a “horrendous” report by his superior that he had problems with judgment and leaking information. Vindman’s former boss, then-White House Russia adviser Fiona Hill praised his performance.

Alexander Vindman’s twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, a National Security Council attorney, was also fired, “suddenly and with no explanation, despite over two decades of loyal service to this country.” Yevgeny Vindman had never testified or spoke publicly about the Ukraine saga.

If it was just Alexander Vindman who was fired was one thing. But both? That makes things even more like revenge. Then it gets worse: Trump tweets that the military should punish Vindman for what he has done. Unless he has done something in the military that is wrong, good luck there. But what Trump wants is political. A US defense official with knowledge of the matter said there is no Army investigation into Vindman, the Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer weighed in on Trump’s tweets about Vindman, posting on Twitter, “Has any ‘President’ ever been more disrespectful to U.S. service members?”

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly said that Alexander Vindman, a key witness in Trump’s impeachment inquiry, was right to raise concerns about Trump’s July call to Ukraine’s president. Kelly also believes that Vindman told the truth during testimony before House investigators last fall. Multiple former generals and admirals have come out supporting Kelly’s comments. These include Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Adm. William McRaven.

Schumer sent a letter to the acting Department of Defense Inspector General requesting investigations into “any and all instances of retaliation” against witnesses who have made “protected disclosures of presidential misconduct.”

An adviser to Trump said the firings of the major impeachment witnesses was meant to send a message that siding against the President will not be tolerated saying “Flushing out the pipes.”

Prosecutors from the US Attorney’s office in Washington, who are employees of the Justice Department, had said that longtime Donald Trump confidante Roger Stone should be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison after he was convicted on seven charges last year that derived from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, including lying to Congress and witness tampering.

The sentencing recommendation, transmitted to a judge and signed off on by the office’s top prosecutor, had not been communicated to leadership at the Justice Department. The revised sentencing memorandum, which is expected to be filed in Washington federal court, comes hours after Trump publicly criticized the recommendation. Meanwhile, all 4 federal prosecutors quit the Stone case after DOJ pushes to reduce Stone’s sentencing. Other federal prosecutors could follow.

Attorney General William Barr has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next month giving them a forum to press the attorney general on the sentencing of Roger Stone and other controversies that have emerged in the aftermath of Trump’s impeachment trial.

Congressional Republicans downplayed the involvement of Trump and Barr in the sentencing of Stone, saying they see no reason for the investigations that Democrats are demanding. Meanwhile, federal judge, Amy Berman Jackson, has denied Stone a new trial after he made a request for one under seal, according to a notice from the court.

“If I thought he’d done something that’d change the outcome inappropriately, I’d be the first to say,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said. Sure Lindsey.

Barr’s blunt warning that Trump’s constant Twitter commentary and meddling makes it impossible to do his job was a stunner. It set off a deluge of speculation about his motives and potential reprisals from Trump, who brooks no disloyalty. In an interview Barr said “I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”

Trump claims he has the right to intervene. Seems very few presidents ever did – if any. You don’t like the sentencing? Pardon the person after – which I am sure he will.

Trump abruptly withdrew the nomination for Jessie Liu, the former US attorney who headed the office that oversaw Roger Stone’s prosecution, to serve in a top Treasury Department position. Liu had been nominated in December to serve as the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes. Liu’s office inherited many of the major ongoing cases from Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation. Liu submitted her resignation to the Treasury Department.

When Trump was asked what he learned from the impeachment ordeal he responded: “The Democrats are crooked… They got a lot of crooked things going. That they’re vicious. That they shouldn’t have brought impeachment.”

Regarding Stone “We have killers, we have murderers all over the place, nothing happens. And then they put a man in jail and destroy his life, his family, his wife, his children. Nine years in jail — it’s a disgrace.” Sounds like [of course] Stone did nothing wrong. Wouldn’t be surprised if he is pardoned at the end of the year.

The White House is preparing to present a budget that would not eliminate the federal deficit in the next 10 years. There will be a $4.8 trillion budget plan for 2021. US budget deficit ballooned past $1 trillion in 2019, marking the first time the country has crossed that threshold in a calendar year since 2012.

The deficit has continued to grow due in part to tax cuts and a two-year budget deal that has boosted federal spending under Trump. It’s swelled to $984 billion at the end of the last fiscal year, up from $665 billion during his first year in office in 2017. Only $2 billion was allocated to the funds for the Trump Wall – less than Congress approved. The Education Department budget will be cut by $6 billion.

As a candidate, Trump promised to “get rid of” the national debt, telling the Post in 2016 that he could make the US debt-free “over a period of eight years.”

Over 100 US service members have been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries in the wake of the January 8 Iranian missile attack on the al Asad military base in Iraq. The Pentagon and Trump had initially said no service members were injured or killed in the Iranian missile attack. Approximately 200 people who were in the blast zone at the time of the attack have been screened for symptoms.

Last month, Trump said he does not consider potential brain injuries to be as serious as physical combat wounds, downplaying the severity of the injuries suffered in Iraq. “No, I heard that they had headaches, and a couple of other things, but I would say, and I can report, it’s not very serious,” Trump said.

Construction crews blowing up parts of a national monument to make way for the Trump Wall could be on the verge of destroying sacred burial sites. Controlled blasts began inside Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument recently which is adjacent to the monument.

Seems New Hampshire wasn’t thrilled with Trump. At one point, about 14% of Republican voters did not vote for him. Yet he will probably still say it was a landslide or a huge victory or whatever.

Trump tweeted “I would say that was the biggest political Rally in New Hampshire history. Incredible evening!” Without actually checking – if it is possible to check.

Amazon has asked a federal court for permission to get testimony from Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper as part of its ongoing protest over the Defense Department’s handling of a multibillion-dollar cloud computing contract. The document also seeks permission to depose former Defense Secretary James Mattis and what he may have known about Trump’s attitude toward the contract, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure.

Amazon argues in the document that the Pentagon’s explanation for awarding the contract to Microsoft left out “crucial information and details that led to this flawed and potentially detrimental decision regarding DoD’s future cloud infrastructure…. President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to use his position as President and Commander in Chief to interfere with government functions — including federal procurements — to advance his personal agenda.”

Last month, the company asked the court to block Microsoft from beginning work on the contract, which is valued at $10 billion over 10 years. The court has not decided whether to grant that request.

Seems Trump even couldn’t be true during his State of the Union address early this month.

Tony Rankins, a formerly homeless, drug-addicted Army veteran, got a standing ovation at the State of the Union after Trump described how he turned his life around thanks to a construction job at a company using the administration’s “Opportunity Zone” tax breaks targeting poor neighborhoods. But it isn’t quite true.

Rankins, who indeed moved out of his car and into an apartment since landing a job refurbishing a Nashville hotel two years ago, doesn’t work at a site taking advantage of the breaks and never has done so. In fact, he started that job four months before the Treasury Department published its final list of neighborhoods eligible for the breaks. And the hotel where he worked couldn’t benefit even now because it’s an area that didn’t make the cut.

Trump also praised Rankins’ employer, R Investments, for “working to help 200 people rise out of homelessness every year by investing in opportunity zones.” But it also isn’t quite true.

CEO Travis Steffens said he has hired hundreds of homeless to work at the 400 buildings the company has owned over the years, taking advantage of various tax breaks. But when it comes to Trump’s Opportunity Zone breaks, he said, the company has only one building tapping the program now, a warehouse in Cincinnati where no one seems to be working, homeless or otherwise.

Trump’s former communications director Hope Hicks is expected to return to the White House in an adviser role. Hicks will be working for Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner and others in a number of strategic areas. She supposedly left her chief communications officer at Fox Corporation after about 18 months. Her title will be “counselor to the president.” She’s just 31 years old.

As of the end of 2018, only 15% of the 268 items on Trump’s web site shop had a made in the US label. Some don’t have any. Recently, Mark Meadows, Lindsey Graham and Donald Trump Jr were seen sporting “Team Trump” windbreakers indoors [so on purpose]. So you think the windbreakers are American made? I doubt it.

The senate impeachment – part 2

Well, a true democracy where politicians voted with their conscious instead of their party [or their wallet or job] wasn’t seen today when the Senate voted 51-49 not to interview witnesses or view documents that has evidence.

With this vote, it is now all but guaranteed that the Senate will vote not to throw Donald John Trump out of the White House.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer forced votes on four amendments [including to call witnesses] and they were all not surprisingly defeated.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that Republicans’ vote against witnesses and documents “makes them accomplices to the President’s cover-up.”

If there was any bright side [and there really wasn’t], Trump won’t be able to walk in the House this coming week for the state of the Union address and not be able to gloat in his speech that he won. All he won was something that was obvious even before there was a Senate trial. The only question was whether there would be enough Republican Senators that would actually be unbiased. Only 2 changed sides.

Democrats demanding new witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial are seizing on a report that he ordered former national security adviser John Bolton to keep military aid to Ukraine frozen in a bid to coerce political favors. “I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens [Joe & Hunter]. In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination,” Trump tweeted.

Yes. This is like all the other times he has denied he did, say or knew someone.

“The Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify. It is up to them, not up to the Senate!” Trump also tweeted. House Democrats sent Bolton an official request to testify. He declined to appear — because the White House did not authorize him to do so. A letter was sent on October 30 to Bolton’s lawyers requesting Bolton’s voluntary testimony at a deposition on November 7.

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly says he believes Bolton’s allegation that Trump told Bolton that US security aid to Ukraine was conditioned on an investigation of Trump’s political rivals, adding that Bolton should be heard from. “If John Bolton says that in the book I believe John Bolton,” Kelly said.

The White House has issued a formal threat to Bolton to keep him from publishing his book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.” In a letter to Bolton’s lawyer, a top official at the National Security Council wrote the unpublished manuscript of Bolton’s book “appears to contain significant amounts of classified information” and couldn’t be published as written.

Bolton’s lawyer notified the NSC last week that if Bolton is called to testify, he will use some of the part of the chapter related to The Ukraine mess.

Trump mentioned that Bolton’s book contained classified information. However, outside of Bolton’s people, the NSC, and the public was the book leaked and maybe the the NSC?

Bolton wrote that Trump gave him the instructions in May 2019 where the conversation also included acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s lawyer Rudy “Loose Lips” Giuliani and White House lawyer Pat Cipollone. Trump released a statement claiming he “never instructed John Bolton to set up a meeting for Rudy Giuliani….”

A nearly 90-minute recording of Trump at a 2018 donor dinner that included indicted businessmen, Lev Parnas, a person Trump has claimed he doesn’t know. It includes Trump speaking animatedly about removing the US ambassador to Ukraine — at one point stating, “Get rid of her!” Parnas is the Soviet-born businessman who subsequently worked with Giuliani.

GOP Senator James Lankford was interviewed and was asked about this tape which occurred at a dinner. Parnas was chatting with Trump for 90 minutes. Lankford’s excuse? Trump came to the dinner, ate, chatted with a few people and then left. Surely you would remember a 90 minute conversation – let alone other times Parnas was with Trump. Lankford’s other excuse? Do you remember what you did 15+ months ago?

Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow said “Not a single witness testified that the President himself said that that there was any connection between any investigation and security assistance, a presidential meeting or anything else.” Well, when you don’t allow any witnesses who were part of the administration to be called, of course there are none!

Sekulow also said “In the blind drive to impeach the president, President Trump, in reality, strategically has been the best friend and supporter of Ukraine certainly in our recent history. These are the facts.” Hmm. You sure? Withholding the aid [and supposedly not telling them]? If you are expecting a package and it is past a deadline, don’t you call the sender? Blame the Ukraine and not Russia] on 2016 election tampering when US intelligence servers said it was Russia?

Sekulow also said “The transcript shows that the President did not condition either security assistance or a meeting on anything.” Read the transcript.

Trump’s legal team continues to put the blame on Ukraine’s corruption for cutting off aid that partially led to his impeachment even though he hid nothing in the two previous years. Ukraine wasn’t corrupt then? They also claim – with no proof – that Ukraine interfered with the elections and not Russia.

Trump’s legal team are also still claiming that the whole reason to for the impeach Trump is to nullify the 2016 elections because just about everyone in government outside of the administration believe Russian interfered with the election. By nullifying the election, they would claim that Hillary Clinton would become President. Impossible. We would like the last three years of hell to disappear, but it won’t happen this way.

And of course if Trump was tossed out as President, Mike “Expressionless” Pence would become President. But the tossing out would hurt the Republicans’ chances of winning the next election.

Alan Dershowitz, a member of Trump’s legal team, said the charges against Trump – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – were not impeachable offenses, which he said must be a crime under existing law. Legal scholars and Dershowitz himself argued the opposite view during the 1998 impeachment trial of Democratic President Bill Clinton. Dershowitz excuse for the change? He has done extensive research since then and has concluded that “no, it has to be a crime.” Sure Alan.

“When you compare that to what Trump has done with Trump University, with so many other things, I think there’s no comparison between who has engaged in more corruption and who is more likely to continue that if elected President of the United States,” Dershowitz said in 2016. “So I think what we’re doing is we’re comparing, we’re saying, look, neither candidate is anywhere close to perfect, let’s vote for the less bad candidate.”

In a 2016 book, the law professor called him a “destabilizing and unpredictable candidate” who “openly embraces fringe conspiracy theories peddled by extremists.”

In an odd statement, Dershowitz said that while he disapproved of Mike Pompeo berating a reporter, “if he can help bring about peace in the Middle East, I’ll forgive him his rudeness towards a reporter.” Trump praised Pompeo’s behavior toward a National Public Radio reporter [see later] as “very impressive” and having done “a good job on her”.

This coming from the President of the free world: “Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man. He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!” Sounds a bit like a death threat. Corrupt? How? Was he paid off by someone? Trump knows this topic well as he is using his administration with plenty of nepotism. How much was he charging the Secret Service to use golf carts again? [$588,000 in 3 years. Yes. Renting.]

Asked if he took Trump’s social media post as a threat, Schiff said, “I think it’s intended to be.” Critics have accuse Trump of using an anti-Semitic trope in referring to the Jewish lawmaker as “shifty.”

White House spokeswoman Stephanie “Parrot” Grisham told FOX News Channel she had not spoken to Trump about the tweet but, “I think he means he hasn’t yet paid the price with the voters.” Same for Lankford. And yet, Schiff had 78% of the vote in his district in 2018. The Republican didn’t even hit 20%. In a “blue” district, unlikely the voters will switch to the GOP. a.k.a. Useless excuses.

Schiff’s suggestion regarding witnesses: “We’re going to let the chief justice make a fair determination of who is pertinent and who’s not. We’re not going to let the House decide who the President’s witnesses are. We’re not going to let the President decide who the House witnesses are. We will let them submit their top priorities and let the chief justice decide who is material and who’s not. That is fully within your power.” That, of course, didn’t happen.

In the question and answer phase of the impeachment trial, various Republicans have sent questions to Chief Justice John Roberts, who reads all questions first, but would not read any questions that named the alleged Ukraine whistleblower.

The day before the Senate vote on having interviews and bring in documents, Trump did an interview with his propaganda, department, FOX News, where he raked up 27 false claims in a short interview. Everything from impeachment [he didn’t win 196-0 in the House], lower estate taxes and “Man of the Year” in Michigan, USMCA [“the biggest trade deal… in the history of the world”, 2016 election, etc.

At a rally in Des Moines, Iowa – not far from where the Democrats will have their first primary – Trump said about Schiff: “Shifty Schiff is a very sick person… He lies awake at night shifting and turning. Shifting… Shifting and turning in his bed, sweating like a dog…. “Oh what a sick guy he is.” Maybe he should attend one of his wife’s anti-bullying sessions.

“We’re having probably the best years in the history of our country, and I just got impeached. Can you believe it?” he asked. And what does the economy got to do with his corruption? He then added “They want to overthrow the entire system of government… Today I hit my highest poll numbers since I got elected.” You know that last sentence was definitely false.

He predicted a straight sweep for Republicans in the November election, saying the GOP would win the House, the Senate and he would stay in the White House. Sure Johnny.

How petty. Trump’s defense team showed a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi passing out pens to impeachment managers after signing the articles of impeachment earlier this month with Sekulow calling it a “celebratory moment.” So exactly why wait 4+ days to say so? Doesn’t every major signing usually have the president [and not just Trump] do the same thing?

The US doesn’t seem to like it when another country interferes in their election but it looks like Trump will interfere again in the upcoming Israeli election when he is expected to release a “peace” plan. When a part of it was released last year, the Arab countries easily rejected it [no shock that Iranian backed countries would, but others also.] The plan could give a boost to PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Others suggest it is a way to deflect attention away from his impeachment trial and Netanyahu’s issues as well.

More pettiness: A NPR reporter was notified that she was being removed from the press pool covering Pompeo’s upcoming trip to the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. The sudden change came just a few days after Pompeo responded angrily to an interviewer from the public radio outlet.

According to the reporter, Pompeo shouted and cursed at her after the interview ended. Pompeo did not deny that, but he called the reporter a “liar” and accused her of violating an off-the-record agreement. The reporter and NPR said she did not do that, and dozens of journalists came to her defense. Now we know why Trump hired Pompeo.

The reporter said Pompeo also questioned her intelligence by directing the reporter to identify Ukraine on a blank map of the world. An aide fetched the map for Pompeo. The reporter pointed to Ukraine, and Pompeo moved on. In a statement the next day, he implied [without outright claiming] that the reporter actually pointed to Bangladesh, a country thousands of miles away.

And then another NPR reporter was being removed from the press pool covering Pompeo’s upcoming trip to the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan as well. The White House gave no reason for it.
Trump “spiritual adviser” and White House staff member Paula White is defending her recent prayer at her church in Florida that “satanic pregnancies” be miscarried.

Even FOX News, Trump’s former propaganda department, is getting into the polls with 45% approve his performance but 54% don’t [January 19-22 polling]. The same poll said 50% should convict and remove Trump, 44% said no.

Advice columnist E. Jean Carroll’s lawyers served notice to a Trump attorney. She accuses Trump of raping her in the 1990s are asking for a DNA sample, seeking to determine whether his genetic material is on a dress she says she wore during the encounter. Trump would need to submit a sample on March 2 in Washington for “analysis and comparison against unidentified male DNA present on the dress.” Carroll filed a defamation suit against Trump in November after Trump denied her allegation.

Trump said in June that Carroll was “totally lying” and he had “never met this person in my life.” While a 1987 photo shows them and their then-spouses at a social event, Trump dismissed it as a moment when he was “standing with my coat on in a line.” [Of course you know that Trump denies or gives an excuse for anyone who accuses him.]

Trump “won” a German poll as the greatest threat to world peace at 41%. Kim Jong Un, Ali Khameneni, Vladimir Poutine and Xi Jinping combined had less than Trump!

Larry Shannon Hargrove “wrote” a song with the lyrics “You are so impeachable to me/Can’t You See/You Lie and you lie, you just lie and you keep on lying” — all sung to the borrowed tune of “You Are So Beautiful.”

The Senate impeachment – part 1

Note: As most of what was already repeated in the Senate inquiry in the House and elsewhere, I won’t bother repeating them.

The 31st of January could be a big day. There will be four hours of debate on whether to subpoena witnesses and subpoenas, a vote on witnesses and documents and a vote on other motions. If all votes fail, the Senate could move to the acquittal vote.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer criticized Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to have the trial’s opening arguments go into the wee hours of the night, asking, “If the President is so confident in his case, then why won’t he present it in broad daylight?” Is McConnell trying to hide something? He said McConnell is pushing the trial late into the night in “hopes the American people will not be watching.”

McConnell unveiled a trial plan that would give each side 24 hours over two days to present their side. The trial is expected to begin at 1 p.m. ET each day – meaning arguments could go until 1 a.m. ET, or later if there are breaks. Why start at 1 PM and at say 8 AM and therefore finish at 8 PM or so? Eventually an extra day was added and now the 24 hours is spread over 3 days each and not ending late.

Schiff said if the Senate does not allow witnesses and documents at trial, the chamber will be guilty of “working with the President to obstruct the truth from coming out.” As well house evidence will be admitted unless there is a vote in opposition to it.

Schumer has introduced three amendments — all requesting relevant documents from the White House, State Department and Office of Budget and Management. The Senate voted along party lines to table, or kill, the amendments.

Schumer could add amendments for subpoenas for each of the four witnesses they’ve asked for. They are next turning to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, but Schumer also has wanted to subpoena Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton, White House aide Robert Blair and Michael Duffey, a Trump appointee who served in the Office of Management and Budget.

Schiff hit back at the Republicans and Trump by using Trump’s own footage against him.

Trump’s legal team filed a lengthy response to charges he abused his office and obstructed Congress, decrying the attempt to remove him as a “charade” and calling on senators to quickly reject it. 110 pages of boring crap, I’m sure. They warn against dangerous precedents should Democrats’ efforts prove successful and they insist Trump was well within his prerogatives to raise the issue of his political rivals with a foreign leader.

“The Articles themselves — and the rigged process that brought them here — are a brazenly political act by House Democrats that must be rejected. They debase the grave power of impeachment and disdain the solemn responsibility that power entails.”

“He’s been charged with abuse of power, which is not treason, which is not bribery, which is not a high crime and misdemeanor,” GOP Sen. John Cornyn. He’s been drinking the orange flavored Kool-Aid. What Trump did was very close to bribery and corruption.

On the second day of the Senate impeachment, Trump tweeted and re-tweeted over 130 times. An unofficial record for him. He had nothing else to do while flying back from Europe. Instead of, say, governing the country.

Trump, still thinking it is a television game, said he wants a “high profile” legal team that can perform on television and still doesn’t know why he was impeached. This in part may explain why Kenneth Starr and Alan Dershowitz were added to the legal team and Rudy “Loose lips” Giuliani wasn’t.

Dershowitz has been telling his own associates he didn’t want to participate in Trump’s trial. Maybe he thinks it is a losing situation or maybe because it is Trump and his previous comments about him 20 years ago. Trump called him a lunatic then. In an interview from 1998 about the President Clinton impeachment, Dershowitz says it “certainly doesn’t have to be a crime” to be impeachable. This is opposite of his defense of Trump over the weekend.

The Democrats filed to the Senate their trial brief, a summary explaining why the House passed two articles of impeachment last month charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

“President Donald J. Trump used his official powers to pressure a foreign government to interfere in a United States election for his personal political gain, and then attempted to cover up his scheme by obstructing Congress’s investigation into his misconduct,” the managers wrote in the brief. “The Constitution provides a remedy when the President commits such serious abuses of his office: impeachment and removal. The Senate must use that remedy now to safeguard the 2020 US election, protect our constitutional form of government, and eliminate the threat that the President poses to America’s national security.”

Hilariously, Trump’s legal team claim that the impeachment is nothing but a way to overturn the 2016 election [seriously!] and to tamper with the 2020 election.

Trump’s legal team argues that the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, “alleges no crime at all, let alone ‘high crimes and Misdemeanors,’ as required by the Constitution.” The team cited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s repeated denials that he felt any pressure from Trump as evidence that Trump did not abuse his power during the July 25 phone call.

The team pointed to the fact that Trump released transcripts of both the July 25 phone call and an earlier one on April 21 to argue the conversations were “perfectly legal, completely appropriate and taken in furtherance of our national interest.” I guess the Democrats got a different transcript.

It will be harder to win with the second article of impeachment – obstruction. He clearly told members of his administration not to participate in the House impeachment.

White House counselor Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway says Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be against impeaching Trump.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said that the House impeachment managers have been “very professional, very respectful” in presenting their case, despite a couple of “dust-ups” at the beginning of the trial. But he criticized Democrats for being repetitive, saying the managers are “over-trying their case…. It became mind-numbing after a while,” said Graham. “Eventually it gets just hard to follow.” Considering most of what was said was repeated in the House and the media, it shouldn’t be hard to follow.

Normally, if the Senators followed their oath at the beginning of this phase of the impeachment, it wouldn’t be newsworthy. But it’s not the case. Many Republicans made up their mind before the oath. So it was newsworthy when Senator John Hoeven said he will not “prejudge” anything about whether he would support additional witnesses before arguments have finished. Assuming there are witnesses.

White House press secretary Stephanie “Parrot” Grisham repeated that Trump “would love” for witnesses to be called but quickly added: “Also you have to think about executive privilege… This President is actually trying to protect future presidents against this kind of abuse.” When was the last time there was a trial anywhere [of this importance] with no witnesses?

A note that many Republicans have argued that the House should have subpoenaed more witnesses before turning the articles of impeachment over to the House. House Democrats argue that with lengthy court battles over subpoenas, the process would have been drawn out until the 2020 election. The Republicans would of challenged probably every single subpoenas. So what’s the point? Trump himself basically told his staff not to testify [this is for the second article of the impeachment].

At least three Republicans – Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney – have suggested they’re open to considering witnesses. A forth Republican [assuming no Democrats changes sides] would be needed to have witnesses.

Trump shrugged off the proceedings as “impeachment lite” and suggested it was nothing compared to Watergate. But he didn’t appear overly consumed by it. However, he is having some Twitter storms. 130+ on the way home from Europe on Wednesday. 54 before noon on Friday.

Trump was captured on tape at a 2018 dinner with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman [Rudy “Loose Lips” Giuliani’s associates] demanding the firing of Marie Yovanovitch, who was then the US ambassador to Ukraine, according to an attorney for Parnas. “Get rid of her!” a voice appearing to belong to Trump says on the recording. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.”

Trump, marking his second meeting of global political and business leaders at the World Economic Forum (WEF), also told a packed auditorium that trade deals struck this month with China and Mexico represented a model for the 21st Century. If you mean coercion to get the two countries to agree, then yes, they are a “model”. In the case of China, it is the first phase after Trump hit them with huge tariffs.

“I’m a very big believer in the environment. I want the cleanest water and the cleanest air,” he added. Yes. This from a man who relaxed EPA regulations, allowed more oil drilling and pushed for more coal output when coal isn’t in bigger demand and it is one of the dirtiest resources – let alone harmful for miners.

Even with his bilateral meeting with the President of the European Commission in Davos, Switzerland, Trump is still calls the trial a “hoax”.

Thirty-four US service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries following the Iranian missile attack on US forces in Iraq earlier this month, Pentagon spokesman Jonathon Hoffman said. Trump and his cronies, after the attack, said no service members were injured. Days later it was 11 [not announced by the Trump administration either].

Earlier this week Trump said he does not consider potential brain injuries to be as serious as physical combat wounds, downplaying the severity of the injuries suffered in Iraq. “No, I heard that they had headaches, and a couple of other things, but I would say, and I can report, it’s not very serious,” Trump said in Europe.

The attorney general for Washington, DC, filed a lawsuit alleging Trump’s inaugural committee abused non-profit funds by “grossly overpay” for event space at Trump’s Washington hotel for events [in conjunction with the Trump family] around his 2017 inauguration.

An Iranian lawmaker offered a US$3-million reward to “anyone who kills” Trump to avenge the assassination of a top general. He did not say who would pay the bounty offer, which comes a month ahead of a parliamentary election.

In 2019, US retailers announced 9,302 store closings, a 59% jump from 2018 and the highest number since Coresight Research began tracking the data in 2012. Another 1400 job losses from 178 greeting card stores including Carlton Cards and Papyrus was recently announced. Yes. Trump’s US economy is doing well.

Impeached but will live on

As we witnessed something this past week that has only happened twice below, there is a lot to go through.

The House of Representatives took the historic step to impeach Donald J. Trump, charging him with high crimes and misdemeanors for just the third time in American history. A three-month Democratic investigation looked into allegations that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals while withholding US security assistance and a White House meeting.

The Republicans claimed all along and with Trump’s comments that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted Trump impeached. But Pelosi had resisted the push for Trump’s impeachment from liberal advocates both inside her caucus and outside Capitol Hill.

With a Senate majority, the Republicans will surely not remove Trump from office in January and yet the Republicans and Trump are commenting as if it isn’t guaranteed. A charade or do they think 20 Republican senators would vote against Trump?

[I won’t even bother mentioning Trump’s or other Republicans’ comments/tirades because you know it will be the same repeated stuff.]

Democrats say that Trump was impeached because he abused his office by directing a pressure campaign for Ukraine to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, conditioning $400 million in US security aid and a one-on-one White House meeting on the investigation.

Then Trump covered up his misconduct, Democrats say, obstructing Congress by stonewalling all the subpoenas from Congress trying to investigate his conduct. Even if the first article was not the strongest legally, the second article surely was. Rather than fighting in court to force witnesses to appear – a move that could have prolonged the impeachment inquiry for weeks if not months – the Democrats used it as a defiance of subpoenas to evidence of congressional obstruction

Pelosi would not commit to sending the articles of impeachment against Trump to the Republican-held Senate, a surprise move that injects new uncertainty into Congress’ timeline of Trump’s trial in the chamber.

Some Democratic leaders want to withhold the articles until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, agrees to the parameters for the Senate trial that Democrats have called for, as well as agreeing to bring in firsthand witnesses like acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to testify. Exactly how do you have a trial without witnesses?

But the Democrats can’t send the articles because the Senate would have to take it up the day after, blocking votes on two spending packages that must pass before week’s end to avoid a government shutdown.

By delaying the start of what will be a fairly quick trial, Americans will have that acquittal fresh in their minds just before the beginning of the election campaign.

The next step to prepare for the trial is to name impeachment managers who will prosecute the case in the Senate. The vote also paved the way for the House to approve a resolution announcing the managers – though they aren’t likely to be named until the House sends the articles to the Senate.

“Pelosi feels her phony impeachment HOAX is so pathetic she is afraid to present it to the Senate, which can set a date and put this whole SCAM into default if they refuse to show up!,” Trump tweeted. Not really Donnie. Pelosi said she’s waiting for the Senate to outline its process for the impeachment trial before names House managers.

He later claimed that the Democrats only has a “small” majority. Small? The Democrats have a 36 seats more than the Republicans.

Republican Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham told reporters “We cannot have a system where the House impeaches the president, tells the Senate how to conduct the trial, holds the articles of impeachment over the President’s head at a time of their choosing to unleash them.” He also called it “constitutional extortion.” There is nothing in the Constitution or rules say when the articles can be released.

Russian President Vladimir Poutine, Trump’s buddy, said in his annual news conference that Trump’s impeachment was based on “made-up reasons,” and expressed doubts that Trump will be removed from power.

Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii voted “present” on both articles of impeachment against Trump, later slamming the process as politically motivated. But Gabbard announced in September that she had changed her mind and supported an impeachment inquiry.

At a rally in Michigan around the same time of the impeachment, Trump invoked his son’s name while criticizing Elizabeth Warren [calling her Pocahontas still]. But just 2 weeks prior, Melania Trump criticized a congresswoman for mentioning Barron’s name during the inquiry.

Trump said he wasn’t going to watch the impeachment debate. But he appeared to be tweeting about it. So he must of watched it. He said the same thing about other issues that affected him. But ten minutes prior to the tweet, White House Press Secretary Stephanie “Parrot” Grisham put out a statement saying that Trump would be “working all day. He will be briefed by staff throughout that day.”

Graham, one of Trump’s biggest allies, is now calling on Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to testify. Graham wants Giuliani to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee he chairs, and before the Senate trial on impeachment. Graham said Giuliani’s attendance “would be up to him.”

The day before the impeachment, Trump decided to send Pelosi a letter summarizing what the Democrats have done to him [of course, who cares about the country, right?]. While it has all the signs of Trump, it looks like it has been polished up – no swearing, limited bullying, standard lies but nothing out in right field, etc.

But he did threw a few blows. He wildly claimed that “(m)ore due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.” And he accused Pelosi of portraying a “false display of solemnity” during the impeachment process. As well “No intelligent person believes what you are saying,” Trump wrote. He still brings up Hillary Clinton’s loss in the letter! When will he give up?

Even the mayor of Salem, Massachusetts, told Trump today to “learn some history” after he claimed that the people accused in the Salem witch trials had received more due process than he has gotten in the impeachment inquiry. The mayor pointed out on Twitter that the Salem witch trials that occurred in 1692 included the “absence of evidence” when “powerless, innocent victims” were hanged or pressed to death. [I’m expecting Trump to blame him for the trials.]

Unsure what this letter does besides summarizes his frustrations, corruption, bullying and lying over the past 3 years.

Senate Republicans, during their coordination with the White House, have been pushing a speedy trial. Trump has been partial to the idea of a longer trial with witnesses, to make a spectacle of his impeachment. Republicans are most likely worried that if witnesses are called they may not tow the Trump line. Even worse if Trump wants to testify.

Graham is among a number of Republicans who want to resolve the trial as soon as possible, given the almost certain lack of a two-thirds Senate majority needed to convict Trump.

Republican have accepted Trump’s claims that his behavior was “perfect” and now argue that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense since it is not a crime — even though foreign interference in a US election was perhaps a fear that preoccupied the founders more than any other. Republican senators seem to want to avoid the possibility that Trump’s hopes to put up favorable witnesses in a televised show featuring his pet conspiracy theories could besmirch the dignity of their chamber and backfire politically.

Claims that Trump was primarily concerned about corruption in Ukraine are likely to take center stage in the Senate trial. But their credibility is challenged because Trump did not actually mention such wider worries in his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. He did specifically ask for an investigation into Joe Biden and a crackdown on corruption has not been at the center of administration foreign policy in any other nation.

Trump states explicitly that he believes that it was Ukraine — not Russia — that meddled in the 2016 election because Vladimir Poutine “told me.” Wow. He really is dumb. An enemy of the US tells your leader something and he believe that leader more than his own intelligence services.

[I wonder how Ukraine feels that not only did they end up in the middle of the impeachment in the US but then Trump threw Ukraine under the bus (and drove over the country a few time) by taking Poutine’s word that Ukraine was behind the election meddling. If you remember in 2017, Trump then denied there was any meddling.]

The Republican argument pushing back against Schumer’s proposal for four witnesses is starting to take shape, with senior GOP aides making the case that it’s not the job of the Senate to do the fact-finding that the House was supposed to do. Trump wanted to call witnesses at one point.

Republicans have pushed him not to as they think his big mouth would open and he’ll say something damaging. Some other top Republicans who have argued in that a shorter trial without witnesses would spare the Senate from becoming a partisan circus.

Schumer proposal calls for at least four witnesses to testify: Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney Former national security adviser John Bolton Senior adviser to the acting White House chief of staff Robert Blair Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey He also laid out his preference for how long House managers and White House counsel would have to make their cases, cross-examine witnesses and give closing arguments.

Schumer fired back at the Republicans who didn’t want any witnesses by saying a trial has witnesses. What trial has no witnesses. Just another way for the Republicans to stop top Trump administration officials from appearing before the senate. More obstruction.

Trump has already suggested by tweet that he might contest an impeachment in the Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court already has ruled that it has no role in reviewing impeachments. The Supreme Court firmly rejected Richard Nixon’s case in trying to overrule his impeachment, ruling that the Constitution commits impeachment and removal solely to Congress and that the Court plays no role in reviewing impeachment proceedings. Just add it to the many previous lies.

7 Republicans could or hinder the Republicans from having a short trial or a lengthier one. The list is a mix of moderates, those retiring at the end of this term and, well, Mitt Romney. While it is unlikely to get 67 Senators to impeach, McConnell could theoretically keep it short if he gets 51 Senators on his party’s side. In addition, there could be the odd Democrat who doesn’t want the impeachment either.

In 2008, Trump suggested it would have been “a wonderful thing” had Pelosi pursued impeachment against then-President George W. Bush over the Iraq War saying Bush lied. Trump also called former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment ” was totally unimportant and they tried to impeach him, which was nonsense.”

There are 26 formal rules to guide Senators through impeachment proceedings which were first written out in 1868. The rules cover everything from formal scripts to be used during proceedings, to oaths of impartiality that Senators must take – which sounds like some will fail that oath. McConnell and Graham are two – as they already made their decision before the trial started.

Historically, 15 federal judges have been impeached, three presidents, a cabinet secretary in 1876 and a US Senator in 1797 have also been impeached. Trump would be the first to be tried and get re-elected after an impeachment.

Trump said in November 2014 on Fox News that if former President Barack Obama was impeached by the House of Representatives, it would be an embarrassment for his record in office and a “horror show.” Trump claimed that Democrats successfully convinced Republicans not to impeach Obama. He claimed Democrats had convinced Republicans that it would actually help Obama politically. Talking about fake news.

On the night of his impeachment, Trump’s campaign sent out urgent messages to his donors asking them to donate to his “Impeachment War”? The war is over. He lost. He can’t appeal. Donate what? It probably didn’t cost him anything.

A leading Christian magazine founded by late evangelist Billy Graham — father of key Trump supporter Franklin Graham — published an op-ed calling for Trump to be removed from office and urging evangelicals not to support him. “Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election—that is a matter of prudential judgment,” Christianity Today’s editor in chief, Mark Galli, wrote in the op-ed.

Trump accused the Christian magazine of being “far left” and not having links to the family of the magazine’s founder. This adds to Trump’s ego and personality: when he is attacked he attacks back – usually with lies and exaggerations. To call Christianity Today left wing is ridiculous and probably every right wing person knows that. But do they care?

Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, will depart from his temporary post on January 2. The former ambassador was brought out of retirement to take on duties in the embassy after former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was abruptly recalled to Washington at the direction of Trump. Taylor was a key witness in the public impeachment hearings.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, said he passed along information to Trump “a couple of times” about how Yovanovitch had frustrated efforts that could help Trump, including efforts to have Ukraine investigate political rival Joe Biden. Trump, in turn, passed the information on to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Giuliani said. Within weeks, Yovanovitch was told Trump had lost trust in her and she was recalled as ambassador.

Trump tweeted “Impeachment Poll numbers are starting to drop like a rock now that people are understanding better what this whole Democrat Scam is all about!” He’s reading a Rasmussen poll again. Notoriously pro-Trump.

Trump also tweeted “Approval Rating in Republican Party = 95%, a Record! Overall Approval Rating = 51%.” It is your party. You should be at 100%! And according to his polling numbers, George W. Bush had 99% after the beginning of the attack on Iraq in 2003.

The Washington Post’s database of false and misleading claims by the president recently topped the 15,000 mark.

Republicans said it was “inappropriate” for Trump to attack a beloved deceased lawmaker, John Dingell, and his widow, Debbie Dingell, also a member of Congress — by implying he was looking up at her from hell during a campaign rally.

A small group of protesters are gathered outside of McConnell’s office. They are wearing T-shirts that read, “Remove Trump.” They are holding a sign that reads, “Your Choice: The Constitution or Trump.”

Schumer criticized McConnell for blocking “literally hundreds of bills” passed by the House by not bringing them up on the Senate floor. Trump has constantly claimed that it is the Democrats are so busy trying to impeach him when in fact it is the Senate that are holding up bills. Case in point, the USMCA was fixed with the help of Pelosi.

There may be no government shutdown this year. The Senate approved of a nearly $1.4 trillion spending deal to keep the government funded. However, the White House insisted that House Democrats drop language in the year-end spending bill establishing a specific and quick timeline for deploying appropriated aid to Ukraine or risk a veto.

In legal news, a New York state judge dismissed a 16-count indictment against Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, citing double jeopardy laws. It was because of double jeopardy. The Manhattan district attorney’s office said it would appeal the ruling.

Rick Gates, one of the most significant former Trump campaign advisers who flipped on Trump in the Mueller investigation, was sentenced to 45 days in jail and three years’ probation by a federal judge Tuesday morning. Gates, a longtime deputy to 2016 Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, admitted to helping Manafort conceal $75 million in foreign bank accounts from their years of Ukraine lobbying work.

Gates will also pay a $20,000 fine and fulfill 300 hours of community service. He will be allowed to serve his jail sentence on weekends or intermittently during his three years of probation. The judge said his cooperation in the Mueller investigation helped him get a lighter sentence. The judge needed to give him at least some incarceration to deter others from committing crimes and to create respect for the law.

The Trump administration, eager to show progress on prescription drug costs, moved forward on its plan to allow Americans to safely and legally get access to lower-priced medicines from abroad – initially from Canada. Mainly pills would be covered under the plan. Insulin, biologic drugs, narcotics and certain other medications would be excluded, at least initially.

There are a number of bills to cut costs. A bipartisan bill in the Senate and House-passed legislation from Speaker Nancy Pelosi would authorize Medicare to negotiate drug prices and plowing back the savings to provide seniors with new dental, hearing and vision coverage. Republicans are against that bill even though candidate Trump was in favor of it in 2016.

A freshman Democrat, Jeff Van Drew, who strongly opposes House Democrats’ impeachment of Trump, is expected to switch to the Republican Party and is telling colleagues his intentions. More likely that Drew does not want to lose his cushy job in under a year. He won his district as a Democrat. Is he expecting many who voted for him would vote for him as a Republican? Doubt it. Some, but not many. He won by 7.7 points earlier this year.

Drew, currently still a Democrat, may switch parties, now has 8 aides leaving his Washington office. However he is claiming no aides have left his New Jersey district’s office. Sounding already like a Trump leaning Republican, Van Drew said the staff quit because “They were told to; they were told to… they had to or else they wouldn’t work again.”

If you are really bored, you can read the House Judiciary Committee released its impeachment report.

The Supreme Court said that it would hear arguments this term about subpoenas demanding Trump’s financial records. That means we’ll have a decision by June. This just as the election campaign is under way.

The Trump administration is pushing back on a wide-ranging piece of legislation meant to deter and punish Russian aggression and its interference in the 2016 election calling it “unnecessary” and in need of “significant changes.”

Even Fox News has turned on Trump with a recent poll saying 50% of Americans favor Trump being removed from office and 60% said it was “inappropriate” for Trump to ask a foreign country to investigate allegations against political rival.

The US goes into uncharted territory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The shutdown continue into the 4th week and no end in sight

Boy this was a busy week in Trumpland.

Donald Trump offered familiar warnings but scant detail on how he will negotiate an end to a partial government shutdown in an address to the nation meant to convince Americans of a swelling border crisis that most experts say does not exist. Trump warned of “a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border,” one that most experts say is at odds with the facts. But he did not declare the situation a “national emergency.”

Among his comments that were misleading or false:

  • “[Senate Minority Leader] Sen. Chuck Schumer has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past.” But Schumer supported a fence in 2006 – not a wall. Like later on in this blog, does he know the difference between a fence and a wall?
  • “At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall.” In fact, the Democrats have long opposed Trump’s campaign promise that he would build a concrete wall on the US-Mexico border and they never proposed a steel barrier as an alternative.
  • “More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.” Some 58,220 Americans died as a result of the Vietnam War. In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of total drug overdose deaths was 70,327. But since the topic is primarily about the Trump Wall, you cannot say all or most of those killed came from drugs coming into the US from Mexico.
  • “Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90% of which floods across from our southern border.” While Trump’s statistics on heroin deaths are true, it’s unclear what a border wall would do to reduce the amount of heroin coming across the border. There are plenty of ways to ship drugs across a border. According to the DEA’s 2018 annual drug threat assessment, most drugs come in from vehicles [not mules or other individuals] that are trying to enter the US legally [mingling with legal goods].
  • “All Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African Americans and Hispanic Americans.” While some African Americans with little education are affected, economists have determined that immigrants — undocumented or not — tend to help American workers by serving in low-skilled jobs that create more opportunities for the native born to move into managerial and knowledge-based roles.
  • “1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico.” While the statistics is true and 68.3% of migrants and refugees entering Mexico reported being victims of violence during their transit toward the United States, the numbers decrease when traveling in caravans.
  • “How much American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?” he asked. Who’s blood? If he is claiming [for example] the number of illegals killing Americans, what about those Americans killing Americans? How many died in Chicago in 2018? [650 murders, BTW.]

Trump said he had not wanted to deliver the televised speech or make an upcoming trip to the border, finding the new publicity strategy useless but that his advisers had talked him into it. But he did do the speech and took the trip.

In a trip to the Texas-Mexican border, one law enforcement person shows Trump that some are digging tunnels under walls that are currently in place. I don’t think Trump really cared.

At one point Vice President Mike Pence said he would accept $2.5 billion. When Trump was asked about $2.5 billion, he insisted on the $5.6 billion without asking who suggested $2.5 billion.

Three weeks and counting for the Trump Shutdown – or as he calls it a “strike”. Seriously? Does he knows the difference between a shutdown and a strike? Seems the “Art of the Deal” author doesn’t know how to make a deal.

While Trump says he “relates” how those workers who aren’t getting paid feel [hah!], those not getting paid are starting to look for other jobs to make up for the income, others have major issues because of medical problems to deal with, others are having problems paying bills, some may be hit with foreclosure, filing for unemployment, etc.

Department of Labor says that 4,760 federal employees applied for unemployment in the first week of the shutdown. This was a 400% increase over the previous week. Employees who are deemed essential and are currently working without pay are not eligible to claim unemployment.

Trump is still claiming that many of those in government who are not working or who are working without pay are on his side – even though he says they are [all] Democrats. He is getting this information from social media [i.e. his Twitter account]. Even if true, unsure if that is a valid way of polling people. Some could of said yes or no multiple times.

Trump walked out of discussions to end a partial government shutdown, now entering its fourth week, calling discussions with congressional Democrats “a total waste of time.”

“He asked Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi, ‘Will you agree to my wall?’ She said no. And he just got up and said, ‘Then we have nothing to discuss,’ and he just walked out,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Trump said he asked about boarder security and not the Trump Wall. Sure Donnie. Your wall is the only thing on your mind.

When Trump threatened to call the Trump Wall a national emergency to get his money for the wall, it would be challenged in the courts and could cause possibly a constitutional crisis. Even some Republicans are against calling it a national emergency as it could be an abuse of power – no matter how legal it is. South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham supports the move.

If this is a national emergency, it definitely doesn’t compare to real nation emergencies such as after 9/11. There are currently 28 of them that are active since the days of George H. W. Bush [except for Jimmy Carter blocked Iranian government property from entering the country]. Other countries [Venezuela, Yemen, South Sudan and others] are included for blocking their nationals from owning US property or US investing plus terrorism related but nothing involves infrastructure in the US.

Trump claims the Republican party is “totally unified” behind him and later said “extremely united”. Next it will be “extremely totally united”.

He also claims he never said that Mexico would pay for the Trump Wall even though he has clearly said it numerous times since the primaries in 2016. Uh huh.

You would figure that Trump would ease his demands regarding the border wall. Instead, he slightly added to his demands for more money for the Trump Wall and then added further money requests for money to hire further border personnel, detention centers, etc.

He is also changing what the Trump Wall will be made of – from concrete to steel to whatever. He claims “whatever the Democrats” will call it. Doesn’t he know what his wall is made of? After all he has said previously that the wall is already being built. Where? Who authorized paying for what was built? Does he know the difference between building and repairing?

Trump claims that every single living US President wanted a border wall. Not even former Vice president Joe Biden knows of any. Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney equates the George H. W. Bush fence with a wall. But he also can’t say which president wanted a wall. He should seriously look at the definition of what a wall is.

Here’s the list of shutdown over the past few presidents: Trump 3 [including this one – all in 2018; in just 2 years], Obama 1 [over 8 years], Clinton 2 [over 8 years], George H.W. Bush 1 [over 8 years], Reagan 8 [all a few days or less and over 8 years], Carter 5 [over 4 years], Ford 1 [2.5 years].

White House strategic communications director Mercedes Schlapp acknowledged in an interview that US taxpayers will foot the bill for a border wall.

Trump revived his criticism of California, insisting again the state has mismanaged forest management programs and allowed wildfires to rage. Trump’s threat to withhold Federal Emergency Management Agency funds from recent wildfire survivors drew a swift rebuke from California Sen. Kamala Harris, a potential Democratic challenger to Trump for the White House in 2020, as well as the state’s other top Democrats, newly elected Gov. Gavin Newsom and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents the Bay Area.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, whose office manages the Russia investigation, is planning to leave the Justice Department shortly after William Barr, the President’s nominee for attorney general, is confirmed. The source said Rosenstein is not being forced out, and he has conveyed his thinking to the White House. The move may be the clearest signal to date that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is close to wrapping up.

Trump claims that the stock market is up over 30% since his election. Not really. Dow Jones was just under 20,000 on his first day in office and is over 23,000 today. Until a year ago it was a steady climb. Since then, it was gone up and down like a yoyo. At its peak Trump would of been right except for the recent tumble.

In the last 12 years, the number of apprehended illegals crossing the border from Mexico have dropped from over a million in 2006 to 310,000 in 2017. [With a low estimate of $20 billion to build the Trump Wall, it comes out to almost $64,000 per illegal if using the 2017 statistics.] Here is the statistics.

Trump said that he is “in no hurry” to name official replacements for several Cabinet-level positions in his administration. There are acting Interior Secretary, acting EPA director, acting White House chief of staff, and acting secretary of defense. Add as well acting US ambassador to the United Nations and acting attorney general.

Another upcoming resignation. Michael Bright has been effectively running the federal mortgage backer Ginnie Mae as chief operating officer since 2017. Bright was formally nominated to take over the post last May, but his confirmation has been bottled up in the Senate. The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that Bright had submitted his resignation, effective January 16.

[If you do comparisons, in Canada under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, there has been just one resignation from cabinet (and it was this past week) as the individual is leaving politics. This excludes those who lost their cabinet job.]

Mulvaney said when he got promoted, some friends congratulated him or consoled him. Wonder why. He also put the blame of the extra $2 trillion added to the national debt on the House and Senate even though Trump has the right to veto any spending bill and Trump allowed the cut in taxes to the large corporations at the end of 2017.

“Working in the White House is a tremendous privilege and a tremendous opportunity, and if you do it properly, I think it can be a lot of fun,” Mulvaney added. “Fun”?

Just a couple of weeks after saying that he wanted all the troops in Syrian home, Trump has really back peddled. First it could be a very slow withdrawal – if there is even a withdrawal. Now Trump never said there would be a withdrawal. National Security Advisor John Bolton says there is no timetable for America troops leaving Syria. He is promising that the pullout would not occur until the Islamic State was fully eradicated from the country and Turkey could guarantee the safety of Kurdish fighters who have fought alongside American personnel.

Iowa House Republican, Steve King, who has repeatedly expressed xenophobic sentiment and cozied up to politicians affiliated with white nationalist sentiments and movements claims he is just a “nationalist”. That is the exactly the word Trump describes himself. King has retweeted far-right comments, endorsed far-right politicians elsewhere, etc.

 

Trump blames Democrats for shutdown after he said it was his

So it is the holiday season. You think Donald Trump will be “normal” on Christmas Day? I thought So. No.

Trump said a partial shutdown would drag on “for a very long time” and he tried to lay blame on congressional Democrats if there’s no deal over his demand for Trump Wall money. A week ago Trump said “I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.” But now he has tweeted “If enough Dems don’t vote, it will be a Democrat Shutdown!” And later “The Democrats now own the shutdown!” So which is it?

“I’ve made my position very clear,” he said at a White House event. “Any measure that funds the government must include border security.”

The House is set to vote on a bill where the Senate has already approved the bill, which would fund the government to Feb. 8. It would keep funding at current levels, $1.3 billion, for border security and fencing but not for the Trump Wall.

Trump tweeted that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should move to change the Senate rules to require just a simple majority to move forward on legislation [the “nuclear option” to end the 60 vote threshold.] McConnell has explicitly said multiple times on the record that he won’t. And even if he tried, he wouldn’t even have enough GOP votes to carry out the nuclear option since a number of his members are opposed as well.

Could be interesting. Trump will probably want to settle prior to the 3rd of January as on the 3rd, the Democrats take control of the House and will be even more difficult to get something passed that he likes.

The vote would be for a bill where the House passed a bill which includes $5 billion for the Trump Wall. In the Senate, McConnell will need 50 senators to vote to advance the measure but won’t get it because of holiday absences and some GOP are unhappy with how it was handled. If goes further, it would need 9 Democrats [unlikely] to break the filibuster.

If that failed, either a fast compromise or the bill the Senate passed where it doesn’t include the $5 billion. Even if they agreed on that, Trump would most likely not sign the bill as it excludes money for his Trump Wall.

The partial shutdown will affect The Department of Homeland Security [but 90% of 245,505 employees are deemed essential and won’t be], The Justice Department, The Interior Department, The State Department, and The Department of Housing and Urban Development. If a shutdown were to take place, it would be limited in scope. That’s because lawmakers have already funded roughly 75% of the federal government through September 2019 [fiscal end of year].

“We’re going to do whatever is necessary to build the border wall to stop this ongoing crisis of illegal immigration,” White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller said. If it forces a shutdown, Miller replied, “If it comes to it, absolutely.” But that didn’t last long as an option.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders suggested that the White House has found an alternative way to get its requested $5 billion in funding for a US-Mexico border wall, marking a reversal from Trump’s previous position, where the White House could support a compromise bill to avoid a partial government shutdown.

Trump administration officials were looking for ways to build the wall but have not provided details of that effort but leading Democrats have warned that shifting funds around in such a way would have to be approved by Congress.

“We have other ways that we can get to that $5 billion [for a border wall],” Sanders said. “There’s a piece of legislation that’s been pushed around that Democrats actually voted 26-5 out of committee that provides roughly $26 billion for border security including $1.6 billion for the wall,” she said. “That’s something that we would be able to support as a long as we can couple that with other funding resources.” But that’s $1.6 billion – not $5 billion.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer initially offered this as an option to avoid a shutdown, but said the bill wasn’t on the table anymore because it couldn’t pass the House. That was in part because House Democrats are opposed to the $1.6 billion in wall funding. Republicans have warn that “caving” on Trump’s repeated wall promises could hurt his 2020 re-election chances, and other Republicans’ as well.

In a meeting recently with Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi and Schumer, Trump had said he would be “proud to shut down the government for border security.” Proud?

Before the senators adjourned for the night just as the shutdown began, the Senate passed a bill to ensure federal employees who are furloughed get back pay. This is the first time in 40 years that the government has been closed three times in a year. In addition, government workers won’t return until after Christmas at the earliest and maybe longer. Trump had already declared Monday, Christmas Eve, a federal holiday – thinking he may get a brownie point or two.

“I am in the White House, working hard,” tweeted Trump, who cancelled his Florida holiday getaway to his club Mar-a-Lago due to the shutdown. Yes, he is probably watching Fox News while tweeting. As a Fox News reported told Sanders recently “Do your job.”

Trump’s re-election campaign sent out a fundraising email launching what he called “the most important membership program ever – the OFFICIAL BUILD THE WALL MEMBERSHIP.” Trump urged donors to sign up. I wonder what you get for the membership. If he’s aiming at the wealthy, wonder how legal that would be.

That didn’t take long. Trump has at least twice in the past few weeks vented to his acting attorney general, Matt Whitaker, angered by federal prosecutors who referenced Trump’s actions in crimes his former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to. Trump pressed Whitaker on why more wasn’t being done to control prosecutors in New York who brought the charges in the first place, suggesting they were going rogue.

“This is from the President of our country, lying about the lawful execution of a search warrant issued by a federal judge [for Cohen’s establishments]. Shame on Republicans who don’t speak up at this moment – for the FBI, the rule of law, and the truth,” former FBI director James Comey wrote.

Trump has begun polling advisers about whether he has the legal authority to fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. Some described Trump as newly furious at the Federal Reserve chief as markets tumble. But Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin claims Trump never asked about removing Powell.

Earlier this year, Trump’s advisers told him that it was doubtful he would have the law behind him if he fired Powell. The law states Trump can fire a Federal Reserve governor for cause, but it hasn’t been tested on the firing of a chairman.

Top West Wing economic advisers have warned Trump that firing Powell would only exacerbate the problem Trump is ostensibly trying to solve: nose-diving markets. The unprecedented move would likely cause more turmoil. A senior member of the Senate banking committee said that the Federal Reserve is “set up to be independent of the President”.

Remember when Trump early on claimed he was the “law and order” president?  His version of this is contradicting or attacking legally supported investigations, putting his political goals ahead of what is in the constitution and elsewhere, and meddling in court cases before or while they are tried.

Remember how after the invasion of Iraq was “completed” and President George H.W. Bush stood in front of a “Mission Accomplished” sign and from the deck of the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003. And yet 15+ years later, US soldiers are still in Iraq?

As Trump tweeted that he wanted US troops out of Syria in 30 days he also tweeted “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.” Politicians from both parties were surprise, shocked and perplexed that he announced the decision – without even asking for advice from the military or others. There were multiple times within the past month where politicians and military official claims a lot of work is needed to finish off ISIS.

Even though the US will continue to maintain troops in Iraq with the capability of launching strikes into Syria, a US withdrawal of ground forces would fulfill a major goal of Syria, Iran and Russia and risks diminishing US influence in the region. Trump tweeted, “we have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.” ISIS will obviously use this as part of their propaganda saying they beat the US.

Trump claimed one day that ISIS was “defeated” in Syria and were withdrawing troops. The next day he tells other countries to help out in the effort to defeat ISIS.

Next, there are plans to pull out half the 14,000 troops in Afghanistan by summer time. The US has lost over 2,400 soldiers and spent over $900 billion in the 17+ years. Sen. Lindsey Graham went on a trip to Afghanistan, where he fears about pulling US troops out of Afghanistan too early.

Trump announced he would replace Defense Secretary James Mattis at the start of the new year, two months earlier than Mattis’ planned departure. Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, will assume the title of Acting Secretary of Defense starting January 1, 2019. “Acting” again? Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified Mattis about the change.

The Pentagon released Mattis’ resignation letter and Trump began watching the coverage and realized the former general was leaving in protest of him — and not quietly, either. The stream of praise that followed from Democrats and Republicans alike irked Trump.

Right after Mattis’ resignation, Brett McGurk, who is Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL., resigned as well. McGurk also believed that leaving Syria was a mistake. When hearing of the resignation, Trump didn’t know who he was [hired by President Obama]. But look at his title. How can he have that title without Trump knowing him?

The Donald J. Trump Foundation has agreed to dissolve under judicial supervision amid an ongoing lawsuit concerning its finances, according to a document filed in Manhattan Supreme Court by the New York state Attorney General’s office.

It is “a foundation that took in $18,800,000 [US] and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000,” in a tweet back in June by Trump. Gave out more than took in? Even with taxes and administration of the foundation, that looks a bit like money laundering.

Trump continued his rant about his foundation closure saying that his foundation has “done great work and given away lots of money.” $19 million really isn’t that much considering who the foundation donors probably are.

He went after the Democrats, the New York Attorney General, the governor, former Attorney General and the state’s attorney general-elect claiming they all went after him personally. And yet, his base will agree with him even though the attorneys for the Trump foundation agreed on a court-supervised process for shutting down the charity.

Senator Bob Corker blasted Trump after Trump claimed that the Republican was forced to retire after not getting Trump’s support. “Yes, just like Mexico is paying for the wall,” Corker tweeted, before using the hashtag “#AlertTheDaycareStaff.” Earlier, Corker called the standoff over a border wall that has shut down federal agencies a “made-up fight” that is more about Trump scoring political points.

Corker’s chief of staff Todd Womack claimed that Trump had pushed the Tennessee senator to run again [instead of retiring] and offered his endorsement should Corker decide to do so. Corker has been repeatedly critical of the Trump administration, and has previously referred to the White House as an “an adult day care center.”

The Trump administration is finally banning bump-fire stocks. Those who possess the devices, which make it easier to fire rounds from a semi-automatic weapon by harnessing the gun’s recoil to “bump” the trigger faster, will have 90 days to turn in or otherwise destroy them from the date that the final rule is published. Expect the NRA to complain.

Trump tweeted “A REAL scandal is the one sided coverage, hour by hour, of networks like NBC & Democrat spin machines like Saturday Night Live. It is all nothing less than unfair news coverage and Dem commercials. Should be tested in courts, can’t be legal?” Let’s see him try and test it. “Dem commercials”? Where? One sided coverage? So Fox and all the right wing media is also against him? Once again he whines about anything that hurts his overinflated orange ego.

After a federal judge in Texas ruled that the entire Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional, Trump said “I believe we’re going to get really good health care…. he gave few details of his vague plans to provide a better alternative to Obamacare.

Thanks to the Trump tax breaks, millionaires, including these senators, collectively saved an estimated $17.4 billion according to a report from the Joint Committee on Taxation. The same men who pushed this law through, and their donors and backers likely even more so, also benefited immensely from it.

Remember when one of Trump’s few indicators that the economy is going great [even though, for example, there were constant job losses] was that the stock markets were climbing to record levels? Well, he has kept quiet – or at least not mention the stock market – as the Dow Jones sunk below 23,000. Nasdaq has dropped 20% since August 29th record high.

Actual witches would prefer if Trump stop using the phrase “Witch hunt”.

Hilarious but true, someone in Florida started a GoFundMe page to build the Trump Wall. In 6 days, almost $16 million was raised from 255,909 donors. The goal is $1 billion. Good luck there. [The total is slowing down a bit from close to 3 million per day for the first 4 days.]

In a recent Gallup poll, 38% approve of Trump’s work, 60% disapprove. The latter is the highest in almost a year. Approval of those aged 18-29, who went from 35% approval of Trump to 28%.

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that found that 62% of respondents believe Trump has not been truthful about the Russia investigation.